Tag Archives: Mass Effect

Finding Joy in Your Leisure

This might sound obvious, but… it can be easier to lose track of than it seems.

It can be easy to confuse an activity that you tend to enjoy, with always enjoying that activity no matter what you’re doing.


I’ve had to confront this concept several times lately. First up was in video gaming.

I wrote a while back that I was trying to decide on a game to play, because I was feeling the itch to play some video games and had not played much in a while. I had beaten Deus Ex Mankind Divided and then played a good amount of Mass Effect Andromeda but not much since. I toyed around with a lot of thoughts, but finally decided that my best option was probably just to power through Mass Effect Andromeda to beat it.

However, after playing a bit, I realized that I was really just going through the motions. System-wise, I’m so powerful every fight is just blasting through things. I’ve already turned up the difficulty once. By allowing you to learn all the abilities in the game, it lets you become just so good that the fights aren’t the point.

So then, the point is the relationships and conversation, right? But I’m continually amazed at how shallow some of the relationships have ended up, as in I just expect more conversation topics, more things to pop up. I started a relationship with Vetra, and it has been thoroughly bland. For a game with a ton in it, honestly it needs even more. At least my twin is finally awake…

I’ll get back to the game at some point and beat it, I imagine. Knowing that there won’t be any DLC – when the DLC in the previous Mass Effect games were some of the best parts, is disheartening. And knowing there won’t be a sequel. Those were the sorts of things that kept me going and kept me re-playing before, but now I just don’t know.

Basically, playing the game felt like it was me just playing to play a game at all, the action of which is not where I find joy. I don’t just play video games – I play video games I enjoy. Sometimes we have to push ourselves to get through parts we don’t like, things like that, but the game at its core needs to make you happy, or else why are you playing?

To answer the question what to play, I bought XCom 2 as the price dropped to a great spot. I’ve been loving it – they captured the feel of the first game, with some good improvements and changes both in system and thematically. It’s also a good one to pick up for a bit, do a mission, and put back down – fitting my life nicely at the moment.


The other thing I had been doing was some mobile gaming, in this case Magic the Gathering: Puzzle Quest. I don’t think I’ve fully written up a review, but it’s a pretty fun one. It’s free to play but they would love to sell you the in-game currencies, which you can use to buy both Planeswalkers – your avatar – or card packs. You also get cards slowly over time, and the currencies over time and from playing. There was definitely some learning curve; there are some elements that are automated and ordered for the computer to handle, so then you have to figure out control of the interface so that things play out like you intend. This is also the computer AI’s weakness in the game, as it tends to let things flow and there are several types of actions it does not take.

If I were to give a new player advice, it would be that there is a set of tutorial games in the Story section, not as the first option in those but by swiping to the side. Play through those, they not only teach you a lot of things (some of which I had learned or looked up online by the time I found the trainings, and some which I learned then), but they give you some free cards. If I were to give a second piece of advice, it’s join a coalition.

I actually started thinking of this post a while back when I was realizing that what I had reached a point of doing in this game was grinding dailies. There are Events which come up on a continual basis, you play games to gain rank, get currencies, get booster packs, and rank against other players for top rewards. The rewards are all great, but the continual basis of these coming up means you could just every day have a ton of this to play. I had fallen into playing every possible game in these Events (there’s a limiting factor of how many games you get to play, and which color of decks), and was staying up late playing the game like crazy, basically not realizing how much time I was putting into it.

Into grinding dailies.

I was getting close to cutting myself off completely, when the friend who got me into the game invited me to join a coalition he was joining. It’s a group of up to 20 players, who get a chat channel, and who have access to the occasional coalition events. These have great rewards, and you get rewards both from how you do and from how your coalition as a whole does. Some other events also include coalition points, but not all of them.

And this has helped me to cool down on my playing, to slow down. To not just play all of the dailies. I can focus instead on the events that include coalition play, but not stress myself, keep myself up at night, or just generally get distracted and play the game like crazy. Mobile games can do that, and it’s important to temper yourself. Many are also built to be a time filler that you can pour too much time into. I think I’ve found a good balance, by doing some stuff that’s fun and has a group feel to it, and to skipping some of the solo stuff that was just me feeding the game my time.

Because it’s not just about the act of playing, it’s about enjoying playing.


There are plenty of other things I could talk about. Quitting listening to podcasts that I don’t like, just because they’re on the topics I’m interested in. Really, I haven’t been reading enough lately to have an example here – though I will say, MtG Puzzle Quest is a decent game to play while listening to an audiobook!

But let’s just go with one other topic.


It’s been a bit since I’ve written a long form post here on the site, which maybe that fact alone ties back to my topic here. A lot of what I do, and have been doing since we moved to the new Comparative Geeks last year, is back-end work on the site: scheduling posts, putting podcasts together, these sorts of things. Those take up a lot of time where I could be creating instead, and they’re just plain not as fun as creating.

And it’s important to remember that something like this site is a side-project for us, not a job or a money maker. It’s a labor of love, and therefore it’s important that you love doing it. Holly and I have made it through by helping each other as we’ve waxed and waned in interest, we’ve kept the dream alive.

So while we’re about to take a long hiatus, I think that absence will do a lot to make the heart fonder. We haven’t taken a break this long before, but I think we’ll be back strong. We also have been planning on moving back to WordPress dot com, where there would be less behind the scenes management to worry about.


 

Remember that your leisure should be fun. I’ll try to do the same!

Audio

Week in Geek Episode 1

Week in Geek, episode 1, recorded 8/22/17. News since last recording (in this case, the trial run episode on Comparative Opinions!), including: the events in Charlottesville; movie and TV news including Galaxy Quest, the Joker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, James Bond, and Jessica Jones; and the end of Mass Effect.

RIP Mass Effect.

Oh, and we reference this YouTube video series: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1wnSv_bpbnoJy9DVwu_x3wzzbD0Zo4PK

Our other podcast is Comparative Opinions, find it and old Week in Geek episodes on ComparativeGeeks.com. Subscribe for new episodes!

Music is by Scott Gratton: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Scott_Gratton/Intros_and_Outros

BioWare’s New IP: Anthem

Before it got showed off at E3, I wasn’t really aware that BioWare was working on a new intellectual property. After all, they just released Mass Effect Andromeda and though we haven’t beaten it, it sounds like it’s open to sequels. Meanwhile, the ending of Dragon Age Inquisition definitely sets them up for Dragon Age 4. So they have two large universes they are continuing on with, which seems like a lot to be working on.

So with those two games being similar sorts of party-based RPGs, just one fantasy and one science fiction, I suppose it makes sense that if you were to be making another game, you would try to step out of that genre a bit. Enter Anthem.

The early reactions to this game compare it to Destiny, although I couldn’t quite tell if it was an MMO or more just multiplayer up to a certain number, a la Borderlands. Unfortunately, I’ll bet it’s not split-screen like Borderlands is, meaning that the odds of Holly and I playing this one are low.

Which is sad, because this game looks great! It further pushes some of the movement elements that we’ve really enjoyed in Andromeda (and which Holly used even more in playing Re-Core). It’s a big open science fiction world. And the loot!…

Basically, it looks like you’re playing Iron Man.

Different suits, different weapon loadouts, class-like functions on them (like the big old tanky one). I mean, even multi-target targeting and shooting missiles out. Very Iron Man. But like, in the, wouldn’t it be fun to be Iron Man sort of way.

It took me a while watching the video to quite realize that what I was hearing was the players, and not the characters, chatting. Still, it sounds like the main writer from KotoR and Mass Effect is working on this one, so story should still be important. Honestly, I would expect nothing less from BioWare.

If there’s a single player campaign, we might still end up getting this one and playing it that way. If there’s split-screen, we’re absolutely getting this one. If it ends up on our Mac computers, we could play this one. But requiring two X-Box One’s (or PS4’s) for a married couple in a single household? There’s a whole host of games that we can’t play because of the multiple consoles needed. So we’ll see where this one ends up!

Anthem is currently expected late 2018, so plenty of time between now and then (or possible delays) for all these details to sort out.

Audio

Mass Effect Andromeda First Impressions – Comparative Opinions Episode 40

Welcome to the Comparative Opinions podcast! This week, hosts David and Holly talk through their first impressions now that they’re a little ways into Mass Effect Andromeda! The game is a great jumping-in point for the world of Mass Effect, so it’s a good one for fans and newcomers alike. They try not to give too many spoilers, as well.

Comparative Opinions is a weekly half-hour-ish podcast hosted on ComparativeGeeks.com. Subscribe for new episodes every Sunday!

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Music is by Scott Gratton: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Scott_Gratton/Intros_and_Outros

Mass Effect Andromeda Female Characters

So I have only gotten through the first two planets on Mass Effect Andromeda so don’t know that I can talk too much about the game overall quite yet. The one thing that I have definitely noticed is that there are some amazing female characters so far. There were definitely some strong female characters in the past games as well, but I don’t know why in this new game I am definitely loving so many of the female characters. Most of them are coming along the adventure with you, but there are others that you just interact with along the way. It has just felt kind of refreshing to see a lot of females getting stuff done and taking care of business.

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