Posted in Books, Gaming Goals

Looking back at Syp’s gaming journey in 2021

Hey, look at that, another year done! Today is both the last day and last Bio Break post of 2021. Figure that this calls for a little self-indulgent reminiscing before charging into 2022.

MMORPGs

Let’s take a look at MMOs first, since that’s my primary focus for video gaming. I read back through all of my gaming goal posts and whipped up a little chart to show which titles I was engaged with at any various point during the year:

At the start of 2021, I had all but completely lost interest in retail World of Warcraft and strongly shifted to WoW Classic. This held a lot of interest for me through the launch of Burning Crusade Classic and right up to the Blizzard scandal breaking. Haven’t touched either game since, although I do sorta miss Classic from time to time.

Lord of the Rings Online was a mainstay of the year aside from an early summer break. Things really took off for me in the fall when I got into the Treebeard progression server and invested a lot of time in a character there. While I haven’t played War of Three Peaks or Gundabad, I feel like I got a good year out of that title.

Elder Scrolls Online was another mainstay of the year at the start and end, although always to varying degrees. Sometimes I was really, really into it, and sometimes it was a “eh, I’ll log in once a month to dawdle around.” I also tried one last, big push to get into FFXIV, going all the way through Stormblood but arriving at the same place I always do with this game — feeling that it’s bland and not really for me.

I bounced off of New World far faster than a game I was so greatly anticipating, which is the biggest personal disappointment of the year for me. I was delighted, however, to return to the world of Fallen Earth and ended the year really pumped for SWTOR.

Some old favorites, such as DDO, GW2, RIFT, and Star Trek Online, got little to no playtime this year from me.

As usual with MMOs, it’s the memories and shared experiences that I’m going to take away as far longer lasting than any in-game accomplishments. I mean, if I could repurpose all of that WoW Classic or FFXIV time which amounted to an abandoned character, I would do it. But it’s just how it goes, and I’m glad that I at least got to meet some great folks and bang out a few blog posts about them.

Other games

It really wasn’t a big year of gaming outside of MMOs for me, although there were a few exceptions. Wildermyth turned out to be as amazing as everyone said it was, and I want to return to it soon to blog another campaign. I quite enjoyed returning to do another blog series on RimWorld. Tried out Pillars of Eternity 2 — liked it, didn’t stick with it, should come back some day. I might’ve dinked around in Cyberpunk 2077, I don’t remember.

I only did two retro game series this year — Torchlight II and Curse of Monkey Island. That’s an all-time low for me, but I kind of needed a break from doing those older games, so I took it. Not quite sure when I’ll return, but I have hopes that it’ll be something you’ll read in 2022.

Most of the mobile games I played this year were the same old ones — Bloons TD 6, Clash Royale, Battle Legion, bit of Shattered Pixel Dungeon.

Books

Really didn’t get as many books read this year as I wanted, either in print or audio. I’d really like to change that next year.

Let’s talk print, first. I loved going through the remainder of Terry Pratchett’s Night Watch series for the first time. Far From the Light of Heaven was a great scifi mystery in space, The Last Graduate was an excellent follow-up to Naomi Novak’s magic school series, Hollowpox was fine but not quite as enthralling as the first two books in that series, Velocity Weapon wasn’t quite up to everyone’s high recommendations, Spellbreaker was fine. I started a ton more books that lost my interest — I’m not going to force myself to finish something I don’t like.

For audiobooks, a lot of it was listening through old favorites, such as Harry Potter, Dark Tower, Jurassic Park. I did The Last Watch, which really let me down after reading all sorts of kudos for these books. Locked In was a decent enough scifi yarn.

Other than books I read to my kids and some for church, that’s about it. I totally slacked on reading!

See you on the flip side

That’s it for Bio Break this year. Thank you thank you thank you for reading my often silly and insignificant ramblings. I look forward to sharing a whole lot more in the months to come.

And if you haven’t, check out my cult movie review site, Mutant Reviewers, MMO music podcast (Battle Bards), and Community Rewatching 101 podcast.

Posted in Gaming Goals

Syp’s gaming goals for January 2022

December 2021 in review

  • This felt like a fun and “full” month of gaming, even as the Christmas season made things far more hectic and busy than usual. I’ve been getting used to my Macbook, grabbed three titles from GOG (Spellcaster University, Baldur’s Gate 2 enhanced, Loop Hero), and snagged most of the 15 days of free games from Epic (notably Vampyr, Shenmue 3, and Mutant Year Zero).
  • In Lord of the Rings Online, my Captain worked her way through the Minas Morgul expansion and got to level 128, while my Treebeard Minstrel topped out at level 50 and got through almost everything in the base game. I also did a whole bunch of Yule Festival activities to get cosmetics for my minnie.
  • I ended up getting pulled back into Star Wars: The Old Republic in a big way. I experimented with some new characters but ultimately decided to pick back up my Operative for the time being. She ended up going through Iokath, which was brand-new content for me.
  • Elder Scrolls Online activity took a bit of a dip, but I did plug away at more Western Skyrim questing during these weeks.
  • I am ashamed to say that I only got a few Fallen Earth sessions, mostly due to being at the bottom of the totem pole and limited time.
  • Otherwise, I started up a new RimWorld playthrough series that’s going pretty well!

January 2022’s gaming goals

  • I’ve got a post coming early next week about 2022 plans in general, but I’ll say right here that I would like to dig through more of my gaming backlog in the coming months, MMOs and otherwise. But for the most part, I’m going to keep on going with the current games that I’m enjoying!
  • In SWTOR, I want to get through at least two planets on my Operative and hit level 75.
  • In LOTRO, I’m focusing down on my Captain for the time being. If she bridges the content gap to (and even through) War of the Three Peaks, I’d be happy.
  • In Elder Scrolls Online, I want to finish up Western Skyrim and move on to Summerset.
  • In Fallen Earth, I want to wrap up Clinton FARM.
Posted in Rimworld

RimWorld Reborn Part 3: Mawwage is what bwings us together today

While I appreciate traders coming by my humble outpost, I really could’ve done without three elephants and a goat casually stampeding through our recreation room. Unfortunately, while they were there, a mad capybara attacked — and one of my guys accidentally shot a trader instead of the animal. Relations kind of took a dip south on that one.

Life goes on as usual for a while until a disease springs up. I don’t know what “fibrous mechanites” is, but it doesn’t sound pleasant. Thank goodness we have a back-up doctor at this point!

A raid from an enemy tribe gets tricky when an elephant wanders across the field of fire, gets shot by one of my guys, and goes on a rampage. The three melee fighters quickly move in to stab and bludgeon the poor creature to death, and we come out mostly unscathed.

The colony takes a break from the routine for a joyous occasion — Mauci and Dezi are finally tying the knot. This grand ceremony is witnessed by all, including, for some reason, a rhino and cobra.

Compared to my last RimWorld playthrough, this colony has been downright tranquil. Most of the threats so far have been mild — a fire here, parasites there — and nobody’s been seriously hurt. The colonists are working on researching up to guns and gun turrets, but in the meanwhile all of them have at least a bow or a revolver on hand for raids.

Squint and Dezi, who are never the best of friends on good days, get into a row after Squint makes fun of Dezi’s accent. I guess a bit of a fist-fight is good for them, since they worked it out in the end.

Posted in Lord of the Rings Online

LOTRO: Counting down to Moria (again)

When this post goes out, LOTRO’s Treebeard server is going to be a mere week away from going into its first expansion, over a half-year after the world’s launch. Everyone in my kinship is very much ready for it, having been in a holding pattern for months now (exceptions made for those frantically leveling to catch up, of course). I’m almost there — and it’s going to come down to the wire whether or not I’ll actually be ready for the first day of mountain delving.

It’s really OK if I’m not. Even pokey levelers have tons of time to catch up with this server unlock cadence. Right now I’m in the thick of the epic story, book 9 of 15 I think. The first volume of the epic is notoriously scattered across Eriador and has a lot of travel time, although the extra milestones I picked up a while back have really helped with this. Once I’m done, I’m going to need to hash out Eregon, but it might actually be better to do that after the unlock since I’ll get a level or two from that zone alone and get an edge on Moria.

I’ve been looking for any opportunities to group up with people, too. Without a proper group finder, it’s always up to chance if people are looking when I’m logged in. I did get in a quick kin run to take down the Yule raid boss. Since my gear isn’t great, I died a few times. Still, it was fun just to be with a bunch of people instead of on my own.

Over on Landroval, my Captain’s been steadily climbing the steps of Minas Morgul. I’m debating whether or not to drop the side quests and simply gun for the Black Book of Mordor and then maybe do some deeds afterward. I like Minas Morgul on the whole, but when you’ve been inside of its walls for days and days, it can start to feel a bit sloggish.

That all said, this is my final LOTRO post for 2021! I’m glad I’m engaged in it going into the new year, and I have high hopes for both of my characters’ adventures in 2022. I would very much like to get to Fate of Gundabad in a few months, and Erebor housing really has me psyched. Both of those will be a chunk of change, so I’m going to have to do some budgeting.

Posted in Star Wars: The Old Republic

SWTOR: Iokath is completely tasteless, odorless, and among the more deadly planets known to mankind

After consulting with my SWTOR guild and a common sense calendar, I came to the conclusion that it maaaaayyy not be the best time to get into a new character. This is for two reasons: I would like to try the mix-and-match creator that comes with the combat styles, and if I’m ever to see the actual new expansion, it might be prudent to invest in the one character I already have at level 70.

So after a year, I returned to my good ol’ Operative Yeti. She was pretty much ready to go right out of the gate, having just finished the Eternal Throne expansions. So to Iokath I go! I mean, I have no delusions of catching up in a month and a half, nor no real desire to speed through brand-new content to me, but it’d be kind of cool to see it in 2022.

One other change that I made was subbing up. It’s been a long, long time since I last did, but since my account didn’t have Onslaught unlocked, I was due to hit both a content and level wall without at least a month subscription. And I figure that in addition to securing the content, I’ll be pocketing some much-needed cartel coins for new character unlocks (assuming that I’ll go back down to preferred).

Iokath so far is… fine. It’s this mechanized planet where a superweapon wiped out all of the biologicals and left a bunch of droids behind. I think SCORPIO is running the show, too. Anyway, the whole place has a bit of a sterile factory feel to it, and after fighting a billion sky troopers in the Eternal Throne chapters, I’m not super-excited to be wading through even more droids.

At least it’s a good proving ground to get back into my combat rotation. I’ve found that some changes have happened to my skills since I last played, which has thrown me off. I’m not triggering tactical advantages as much as I used to, and that limits my abilities. So I think a respec is in order at some point.

Posted in Rimworld

Rimworld Reborn Part 2: Party in the freezer!

Summer, year one. All things considered, my colony is doing exceedingly well — almost suspiciously so. We have food, power, some defenses, a lot of farms, herbs, and even two prisoners that we’re slowly but surely trying to convert. As we wait for the other shoe to drop, the colony begins tunneling out some bedrooms to make people happy.

Huzzah! One prisoner — Carcam — converts to the colony, and the total population count goes up from 3 to 4. She’s a pretty good all-around colonist with an affinity for medicine, although she is a bit slothful.

We do get a whole lot of powerful storms, although most of the lightning strikes result in fires that are quickly extinguished by the rain. I just hope one doesn’t hit our generator. Probably should move that under the mountain. You think?

During this particular storm, Dezi decides it’s a great time to throw a party. Inside the freezer. Which is completely dark. She’s a daft one, that Dezi.

Tired of fussing with cooking meals, I switch over to a nutrient paste dispenser (which, incidentally, uses half the amount of food per meal). I got a laugh out of this, because it meant that our poor prisoner not only is stuck in a storage room but now has to contend with people tromping in and out all of the time to get a meal.

A gang of slavers travels through and offers to trade. Yup, RimWorld lets you engage in some slave trading if you so desire. I didn’t really have enough money to free any of them, wasn’t going to start a fight I couldn’t win, and wasn’t about to sell my prisoner. Good thing, too, because after a couple of days O’Donovan joined the colony and brought our population up to five.

Posted in Star Wars: The Old Republic

SWTOR: Returning in style

I feel like I have Star Wars on the brain lately. It’s nothing to do with the newer Disney stuff, I can assure you; it’s more just being away from that IP for a while and kind of missing it. And speaking of being away for a while… I also feel those heavy World of Warcraft twinges now and then. It’s been a good while since I’ve been back in Azeroth and there’s something about how WoW’s combat and characters feel I currently wasn’t getting.

Both of these ended up subconsciously and then consciously prodding me in the direction of another MMO, one I haven’t played seriously since almost a year ago. I flirted with a new character back in October, but it didn’t stick due to time reasons. However, this month I dove back into SWTOR and found a perfect solution for what I’m craving.

I splurged to buy a race that I thought looked nifty — the Nautolan — and made a new Gunslinger for some fun adventures in a galaxy far, far away.  I really dig her look, and went with a generally nice if snarky attitude for her interactions.

It’s been a whole lot of fun slipping right back into this game, especially after I found a guild that was just right for me. Chatty, active, not too big, not too small. My first night with this crew and we were planet-hopping to do world bosses. It was a whole lot of fun and fulfilled some of my social gaming needs I’ve been lacking as of late.

A few days before I found the guild, I found Santa Claus. This guy was recruiting some “little helpers” to assist him in forming a one-person guild. I got paid 5 million credits for just standing around for five minutes, which wasn’t too bad at all. And that way I could use a million right off the bat to unlock HK-55 from my legacy panel to use as a companion.

I’ve had a good time playing a screenshot tourist, too. I love the colorful worlds of SWTOR and keep pausing to soak in the details before leaping back into the fray.

With the new expansion on the horizon, I have hopes that I might grow some roots with this game and character and actually stick around to make it through all of the content. That would be an amazing journey in 2022, that’s for sure.

Posted in Lord of the Rings Online

LOTRO’s lack of a good dungeon grouping tool shames the studio

Oh, LOTRO devs, you’re just as geeky as we are, aren’t you? Got some Parks and Recs fans among your team?

This past week was pretty quiet for my adventures in Middle-earth. My Minstrel did a few more rounds of Yule festival quests but eventually tapped out once I felt like I got enough rewards. I really don’t like burning out on these things, and it was already taking 30-45 minutes every day to make these rounds that I could’ve been spending on actual questing.

I focused on getting as many Wildwood deeds done on her as I could, promising myself that no matter what, I was going to move on to Eregion this week. Meanwhile, my Captain continued to fight street by street up through Minas Morgul. It’s the perfect sort of activity for when I want to watch a movie on the side and not be overly concerned with making fast progress. There’s still a lot to do in that expansion before I move on, especially if I’m going to do the deeds (which I should).

A continuing point of frustration I’ve had in LOTRO as of late is a desire to actually run dungeons — and no good path to do this. My guilds do run stuff on occasion, but it’s nothing super-organized. The LFF channel isn’t that chatty with groups. And the instance finder is an abomination that should shame SSG into making something that actually works.

I really don’t get it — LOTRO has so many dungeons and no good LFG tool for people to use. Every other MMO I’ve played has a good dungeon finder. Not this one. It feels like laziness on the part of the studio, creating a situation that is very disadvantageous toward anyone except those who belong to super-organized raiding teams.

I don’t want to run raids, I want to see all of these cool dungeons. 15 years into this game, and it’s shocking how few of them I’ve ever witnessed. Every time the game announces a new dungeon, I just shrug because… OK, I’ll never get to run it, and it’s not for a lack of wanting to.

It’s seriously so dumb that it drives me to other MMOs just to get a dungeon diving fix. Why that’s an OK situation for SSG to create, I have no idea, but it’s ridiculous and it’s been going on for far too long.

To be fair and offer some praise, I really like the move to doing quarterly producer’s letters. We got the first of these last week covering what’s coming at the start of 2022, and it seems all good. Treebeard’s going to Moria on January 5th (yay, I should be more than ready by then), we’ve got the new dwarven housing (which is going to suck my wallet dry, I just know), the legendary item reward track is supposed to arrive, and we’ll get a new zone: Angle of Mitheithel.

It’s a little odd that this is yet another zone in the 40s, which seems like overkill at this point. But hey, it’s a new region to explore, and I’m psyched anyway!

Posted in Music, Podcast

Battle Bards Episode 207: Seeing Red

Episode 219: Peace and quiet Battle Bards

If anyone's ever told you to "take a chill pill," then the Battle Bards have your full dosage in today's episode. Exploring peaceful and serene tracks from MMORPGs, Syl and Syp find their inner calm — before the inevitable slaughter. Episode 218 show notes Intro (feat. "A Farmer's Life" from WildStar, "Dream of Peace" from Lineage II, and "Silverfrost Mountain" from Blade and Soul) "Aro to the Sun" from Runes of Magic "Settler's Campsite" from Aion "Serenity" from TERA "Ammon Vale" from World of Warcraft "Shire Nights" from LOTRO "Aquarium" from RuneScape Which one did we like best? Jukebox Picks: "Be'elze Territory" from Valkyrie Elysium and "Closing Medley" from Space Quest III Outro (feat. "Fishing" from Lineage II) Talk to the Battle Bards on Twitter! Follow Battle Bards on iTunes, Stitcher, Player.FM, Google Play, iHeartRadio, and Pocket Casts! This podcast is produced using copyrighted material according to Fair Use practices as stated under Section 107 of the 1976 Copyright Act.
  1. Episode 219: Peace and quiet
  2. Episode 218: Dungeon Fighter Online
  3. Episode 217: Legend of Edda

Have you ever gotten so mad that you literally saw red? Better yet, have you ever heard the color red when you’ve listened to an MMO’s soundtrack? In this episode, the Battle Bards explore the diversity that exists within this singular blood hue. What does red sound like? Find out in this hour!

Episode 207 show notes (show pagedirect download)

  • Intro (feat. “Red Broth” from Warframe, “Red Menace” from Stargate Worlds, and “Crimson Cove” from City of Heroes)
  • “Scarlet Raven” from World of Warcraft

  • “Ruby Weapon” from FFXIV

  • “The Scarlet Desert” from EverQuest

  • “Red Land” from Aion

  • “Bloody Ice” from Cabal Online

  • “Red Scar” from Ragnarok Online 2

  • “The Morning of Crimson Peak” from Blade and Soul

  • Which one did we like best?

  • Jukebox Picks: “Main Theme” from Red Dead Redemption, “Will of the Spirits” from Tales of Arise, and “Rain” from The 7th Guest 
  • Outro (feat. “Redwood” from Aion)