October to November

Well, I wanted to do more gaming…and that’s what I got. And other stuff too!

Last month I talked about maybe starting exercising. Well, maybe I did! Start, at least. Ring Fit finally got restocked, so I got that. I kinda went into it blind, but hearing how people thought it was actually useful. And…it wasn’t what I was hoping for, to be honest. I was hoping the rpg mode would be a little more robust than it is. But the regular exercise portion is pretty good, at least as far as it can go. Really felt those planks.

I also decided to start jogging again. When I was a kid I really enjoyed running; I wasn’t the fastest, nor had the most endurance, but it still gave me time to think (or rather, daydream), and it was something I could do on my own. I fell out of that during high school, and when I got fat it went right out. (When I tried to lose weight wayyy back when Katawa Shoujo came out, I tried running again, and got shin splints so bad I felt them for years.) But now that I’ve lost weight, it shouldn’t be so bad on my joints and bones (and heart and lungs), so I gave it a go a couple weekends ago. Trouble is, I still have all those habits about pacing and suchlike from when I was younger and fitter, and went a bit too hard, and hurt myself. But I got all better after about a week, and decided to try again this past weekend. It went well, no injuries at least. And it didn’t feel like torture, as it has for over a decade. So now that’s a thing I can look forward to, at least until the ice comes back (my timing is always impeccable).

Crazy talk.

And for gaming? I finished Assassins Creed Odyssey, as you might have guessed by now. I think it was only a couple days after the post where I said I wanted to finish it. Expect a review…soon, now that Steam is letting me access my cloud screenshots again. Just finished the main story, didn’t really get into any of the dlc, except for one of the bonus side missions.

More Genshin Impact, as you might remember. At this point I think I’m at AR 37, and have finished the main story and most of the available side quests. At this point it’s just another mobile game, but more fun.

No, I haven’t uploaded any more pictures from this game, yet.

October is the time of Halloween for all those persistent games, even in Japan. ESO had it’s usual stuff, which was boring tbh. STO had its one day F13th mission as normal. The Japanese games were a bit more interesting. The ones I play each had their own, new events, with story and everything. But, they were all in the middle of the month. Very odd. Only Granblue Fantasy had its event extended to the actual day of Halloween, and that was just a Halloween-themed Premium Friday quest. Some day Japan might understand this holiday, but it wasn’t this year.

I also started a couple of games. Craftopia I already talked about. Just last night, wanting to play a not-anime not-fantasy game for once, I started No Man’s Sky. Pretty fun so far. Though I lost the abandoned ship I claimed. Whoops, should have put a base there. (I know what planet it’s on, but not the precise coordinates.)

As for next month…it’s my birthday! Maybe someone will remember. I won’t even get to do something at work, because it’s a Saturday. (I always like mentioning my birthday to my workers when it’s too late for them to do anything about it; makes me fell mysterious and not embarrassed when they try to sing or bring me cake or whatever. Not that I’d have workers this year anyways…) So more games for me, I suppose. I’ll continue in No Man’s Sky and Crusader Kings III, and the rest of the stuff I’m doing right now, since Cyberpunk got delayed again.

August and September

I got a lot done this month. Or at least it seems so. Not everything I thought I might do, but still a bunch.

First off, I did accomplish my goal of having a proper Blaugust, writing a new post every day. Some of them weren’t the best posts, but there was only one that was completely no-effort, so good on me. Having the prompts really helped some days. I didn’t write about everything I wanted to, but I did get to most of it. Like, I didn’t get to reviewing the Princess Connect anime, but at least I watched the first three episodes (and almost wrote about them, but then I remembered something else more timely).

I actually started two new games. First, Harspace: Shipbreakers, which I wrote about the other day; and then Assassins Creed: Odyssey, which I haven’t yet. Both are good, fun games. Both took me away from the other games I’m playing, and made me wish I had more hours in the day to play.

I also kept up with the dailies, and more, in my other games. Just dailies in ESO and STO, and significantly more in the mobile games I’ve been playing. Pokemon Masters really has revamped things with its latest major update, and it’s more fun to play; plus, it has its anniversary celebration going on right now.

I actually got back into Granblue Fantasy in a real way, for some reason. I guess it was the extra quests with the summer celebration. But I put actual effort into Rise of Beasts, and actually participated in guild wars (I think I broke my (admittedly pathetic) record for honors). I was planning on 40-boxing Sarasa up to 5*, but decided to just use the classic method after looking at all the materials I didn’t have that I still needed.

As for next month, there are definitely some thing’s I’m looking forward to. Crusader Kings 3 just came out today, and I’m itching to get into it. Genshin Impact should come out this month, I think, and that’s something else worth investigating, if I don’t think it will infest my computer with CCP funny business (it’s not Tencent, but it’s still mainlander Chinese I’m pretty sure). Craftopia is coming to early access soon, and that looks like it might be my jam.

Double Cartoon Review: Lower Decks ep 4 and Granblue Fantasy ep 14

Since two episodes of different stuff came out this week, I’m going to review both at once. Good thing, because I don’t have much to say about either, but two is good for one blog post.

Lower Decks was, once again, OK. Not as good as the last episode, but still OK. It was, however, the most consistently funny episode yet: there weren’t some of the highs of the last episode, but there weren’t as many luls between the lols either.

The trouble remains, once again, the character of Mariner. She increases her Mary Sue levels once again. One might object, saying that she’s clearly a jerk. But this show comes from a school of thought that being a jerk is fine, if not good, if one is correct and/or funny. Mariner is right in every instance in this episode. It was nice to see her get a bit of character suffering, but it didn’t last. (Also, why do they just skip Lt.jg? They even have one of those this very episode.)

I’m also getting a bit weary of the “major crisis takes over the ship” gag. It’s like they think there must be a major action sequence every episode. I think this is where a lot of the not-Trek feeling comes from.

There was a serious misstep with the latest (and last) episode of Granblue Fantasy: there were two separate stories, one of which featured Gran. It seems almost like that section was an afterthought, even though it wasn’t: the animation and art is the worst in the series, almost constantly off-model and simple. It was mildly amusing seeing Lucha Gran, but it would have been better with Djeeta.

Much like the second part was. It’s clear that’s where the budget went to: most of the art is at the level of the best in the series, even the random mob shots. It’s also much more entertaining, a send-up of the shoujo-yuri genre. (Once again, Vira steals the show in her scenes.) I’m of course biased, but it was much better. And even funnier, with that ending. I wish the whole episode was this part, fleshed out.

Granblue Fantasy: Collaborations in Canon

Collaborations are a popular thing with long-running games, at least in Japan. They’re often used as a means of cross promotion with existing properties, or just plain promotion of new properties. They tend to be promotions of both sides: the players of the game the collab might check out the other thing, and fans of that other thing might come play this game. I say “thing” because they could be other games, or a movie, anime, or whatever (Final Fantasy Brave Exvious famously had a collaboration with…Adriana Grande).

That’s all well and good, but in an RPG of some sort, those collabs often come with a some sort of story. Since these collabs might not even be in the same genre, they might try to justify their inclusion into the RPG. The lazy way is just to use a dimensional portal, or some other use of Multiverse; for example, this is what is used in Dragalia Lost, though at least this is justified already from the game’s story (and Fire Emblem Heroes as well, which was actually used to some good effect in the last collab). But not all games use this, at least not exclusively.

Today we’re going to look at Granblue Fantasy’s inclusion of collabs into its story (or rather, have already looked at, because that’s what the image at top is). This game uses pretty much every way you might think to include characters from other franchises in a way that isn’t too crazy:

  • First, those franchises are considered already a part of its world. Some of these aren’t too jarring, since they are already medieval fantasies, like Princess Connect or Slayers. But Street Fighter (modern) or Attack on Titan (industrial fantasy)? At least GBF can justify this by saying it’s just another isolated island in the sky.
  • We do have one isolated example of merely being a different timeline. This is easy to do, since Gachapin and Mukku are just characters, rather than using an entire fictional work. Also, it’s from a comedy event, so things don’t need to make sense.
  • The next is same universe, but different worlds. As in, the characters could hop on a space ship and travel normally. This makes sense for Pretty Cure, since that’s a thing that happens in that show (though teleportation works faster, and is what is used here). For Persona, the GBF world is connected to the same collective unconscious as the Persona series. (This also has the implication that PreCure and Persona are the same world.)
  • This next one – same multiverse – is what I described previously. In GBF all of these examples use the same effect for how the characters get to the GBF world, so that implies that it’s the same mechanism. (I don’t know why the Shadowverse collab used this, but it did.)
  • The last one is a little more off. I used “different multiverse” just because it’s a different mechanism (in story). In those, the various characters don’t get physically transported to the GBF world. It’s basically a “it was just a dream” plot device. This is my least-favorite method – it just seems so cheap.

Granblue Fantasy: Where Are They Now?

In a game like Granblue Fantasy or Dragalia Lost, it’s often assumed that if a new character comes out for the player to recruit, that said character joins the main group. But looking at the story, that’s clearly not the case. Granblue Fantasy has a lot of characters, and a lot of people joke that there are like 200+ people on that airship (the Grancypher). I decided to group them up based on whether they are actually on the ship, and if so, how much? While this image is a bit more self-explanatory than yesterday’s, I’ll still describe it a bit:

  • Permanent resident basically means what it says: the Grancypher is their home, and serves as their main base. They won’t always be there – in fact, they might take long breaks – but that is where they come back to. Basically, they take their mail there. At least until they accomplish what they joined the crew to do in the first place, wherein they become Former Residents. So permanent isn’t forever, just for the duration of their personal adventure.
  • Temporary resident is like the Grancypher is their vacation home. It’s a place where they always have at least some of their stuff, but it’s not where “home” is. Or, it might be home, but they are gone so often that it might as well not be (I think most of the Society crew is basically here, though they basically leave Beatrix to be babysat on the ship).
  • There are some characters that don’t live on the ship, but show up often enough that they may as well be part of the crew. They always have a place, but they don’t keep their stuff there. Like a good friend, not family. Often these characters just happen to meet up with the crew often enough to become popular, or the crew actually goes to visit them every so often.
  • The “taxi” thing is for those people that just go along with the crew when they happen to be going in the same direction.
  • And then there are the characters that never even joined the crew. Even though they’re characters that you can pull from the gacha, and they might even be important to the story, they might never even step foot on the ship.

I went into this thinking there wouldn’t be so many permanent residents, though really I shouldn’t have. The lower-rarity characters are mostly older characters, when the storytelling was simpler and less confident, and people would just join up for the flimsiest of reasons. And those characters would just basically join up, and that’s the last we hear of them – they’re completely irrelevant from then on, unless they are somehow popular and get an alt. The ranks of higher-rarity characters include a lot of characters that come from events, which usually involve the crew going somewhere and things happen to other people, that the crew helps them with. This generally eliminates the need to introduce the character, so they can just get to a proper story for the character stories (which every gacha unit has). Since these characters are more memorable, they became over-represented in my mind.

I don’t have all the characters in the game up there. Some of the newer characters are absent, though I don’t think there’s anyone of particular note. I also didn’t know what to do with some characters, since I don’t have them (or haven’t read their character stories), so I just left them off. That includes all of the Oracles; I figure most of them become permanent additions to the ship (since they are pretty much all outcasts for one reason or another).

Also, I have to say that Tiermaker is a good site. It makes a way to present a lot of info in a concise and attractive manner. A picture is worth a lot of words, especially if you can put words on that picture. There is a definite risk that this will become cringe delivery, like demotivators did, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. I have at least one more GBF lore thing I can do with it, just off the top of my head (I could do a roles thing like I did with Dragalia Lost, but I think it’s redundant, since they are so much more clear, and the story actually uses them when relevant).

July and August

July was pretty simple. Pretty much did the same thing as usual: ESO, Dragalia Lost, a bit of STO, Granblue Fantasy, Pokemon Masters, and so on. That’s the thing: when you have so many games that are every-day-games, you don’t get much chance to play other games. But, I did manage to fit a couple more in.

First, V4. It’s Nexon’s new (to the West anyways) mobile MMO. Yes, you can play on PC, but it’s obviously built for mobile. I won’t be giving a whole review in a post, because it doesn’t deserve one. It’s terribly boring, especially on mobile. Basically just auto and press buttons when they show up. Not terribly deep, nor engaging. I dropped it after three days. The story is nothing at all. Extremely generic. And the mobile aspect limits one of the few good things these Korean grinders have: character customization. It’s relatively limited here, though compared to some other games it’s still decent enough. But you still end up with some soulless character, no matter what you do. Oh well, it’s free to try out if you want.

Next, I got Destroy All Humans. I loved this game on PS2, and was quite excited for the remake. And the excitement actually was justified. I am going to do a full post review, once I finish it. It’s not a perfect remake, but nothing ever is, and the good well outweighs the disappointments. From the sales figures we can estimate, it looks like this sold even better than originally, so there’s a decent chance the superior sequel will also get a remake (and I’ll finally be able to finish it – a game-breaking bug/scratch prevented finishing the PS2 game).

For the next month, I’ll continue on my present course. I have a new character in ESO that I’m leveling, a High Elf healer, so that will take some effort. I’m getting better at Bang Dream, though I might have hit a skill plateau. Granblue Fantasy has daily missions for the next little bit, as part of their summer celebration. STO will have its summer Risa event starting next week, so I’ll be participating in that (the ship isn’t the one I wanted, but what’re you gonna do?). I of course need to finish Destroy All Humans. Pokemon Masters got a major update, which actually significantly changes how you interact with the game, so I’ll be keeping up with that too.

I think I’ll also make a list of the games I’m keeping up with for the near future, what I’m planning on playing, what I’ve dropped, and so on. That seems like something that might help me keep focused.

Daily Games:

  • ESO
  • Dragalia Lost
  • Granblue Fantasy
  • STO
  • Pokemon Masters
  • Bang Dream

Games playing until finished:

  • Destroy All Humans

Games to play when I feel like it:

  • Cities Skylines
  • Stellaris

Dropped games this month:

  • V4

Games I should look at again:

  • Blue Reflection
  • Atelier Ayesha
  • Splatoon
  • FF12
  • Tales of Zestiria

Pointless Armor: A Rant

I think it should be pretty clear what the purpose of armor is: to defend oneself from the attacks of another. However, in many fantasy works, particularly video games, armor doesn’t seem to do that, not really. I’m not going to complain about fantasy armor designs here, nor about armor-as-fashion. I’m talking about armor that literally does not do what it’s supposed to: protect the user from attack, even in the areas it covers.

And again, this rant is inspired by the current event in Granblue Fantasy. (Major spoilers for the one person in the world that cares about the game and hasn’t played the event yet.) At one point, the character shown at top, Polaris (who is a general-champion, of course) catches up with the enemy prince (who is also a general champion, despite being the usual spoiled evil useless brat prince character). Being a good person, and not overconfident, she gets the upper hand. But the prince uses one of his own soldiers as a shield, which is just enough of a distraction that he is able to kill Polaris. So far, so good, typical use of a friendly npc death to raise the emotional stakes of the story. (I don’t like it – it’s yet another instance of FKHR’s war on non-human characters in this game – but it works dramatically.) And it’s not like Polaris is particularly armored – the only really effectual piece would be the breastplate, and even that’s low, and a stab in the side is completely unblocked.

No, the trouble is how it came. That fellow above was the prince’s human shield. Who the prince ran through with his sword, to get to Polaris. This guy actually has proper armor on his torso. A sword would have to go through at least one point in his armor, if not two or more, to get to the potato. Unless that is quite shiny cardboard armor, that’s just not going to happen. If that’s how it is, why even wear armor at all? Just be like Dancho, who runs around in a short dress.

That was what ticked me off this time, but it happens all the time. How many cutscenes do we have of boss-type people who just clear out armored mooks with just a flick of their sword? How often to players go up against heavily armored enemies, which just seems to mean that they have a bigger HP pool, or perhaps slightly lower chance to hit?

And of course this goes beyond games. The recent Witcher series, among many examples, is terrible with this. One scene in particular, that shows up a lot in reviews (and maybe even the trailers? I don’t remember) just turned me off to the whole show: Geralt is in a big battle, and armored guys are taken out just as easily (and thoughtlessly) as the unarmored peasants in another episode. And even in space, armor seems to be mostly useless: what is the point of stormtrooper armor, if even teddy bears with sticks and rocks can take them out?

The thing is, armor protects, and generally quite well, if it’s well-designed. Otherwise, people wouldn’t use it. Even a thick jacket can protect against sword slashes, let alone proper armor. Those armored knights weren’t quite invincible, but they were juggernauts on the battlefield, which is why they prevailed for hundreds of years. Armor is only ditched when it’s ineffective. So why don’t we see that reflected in games? In movies?

General Champions: A Rant

It’s often a thing in RPG’s, and fantasy in general (especially anime) that the officers are warriors like the soldiers, just +1 for every rank. So your grunts are basically cannon fodder, while your generals are basically armies in themselves. Not just the special heroes (or villains), not just the player characters, but just regular generals.

I have no idea how this became a thing. Maybe it’s from ancient myths, where the leaders (usually princes or kings) were heroes, generally at least a descendant of a god distantly, if not directly. Basically, these guys were already great, so they deserve the power and wealth that comes from being great. And being great and powerful, they are nobility, and naturally have men at their command. I guess that would make sense.

A game where generals and rulers are definitely not Heroes.

Especially when you consider that the officers in the old armies tended to be the nobility. In the feudal systems (which most fantasy is based on), the bulk of men for armies would be provided by the various smaller-scale rulers, as armies are expensive, and food needs to be grown. Even as full-time armies became more common, military leadership continued to be a thing for the rich, especially for non-inheriting sons: education to become an officer is expensive, and sometimes spots were explicitly paid for.

But while those officers might have been nobility, they weren’t more proficient at actually fighting, generally. Knights might have been, but again, they had the money to train, and to get special equipment. And a knight wasn’t necessarily a general, or even a high-level officer.

So we have these generals in fantasy (and sometimes sci-fi) that are supposedly great at fighting. Not just great, but often super-human. And of course they are going out to the front, if they even have an army at all, to be the boss after a bunch of mooks.

But that’s not what generals do. That isn’t what all but the lowest-ranked officers do. Generals stay back, and plan. They lead. They command. None of those things require the generals actually to be up in the thick of things, and indeed are actually counterproductive to their jobs. Sure, the general needs to be close enough to see what is going on, but too close, and that vision becomes both too narrow and too unclear.

They’re called judges, but it’s the same thing.

If these powerhouses are going to be officers (because mooks always follow a strong leader), they should be low-level, like a Lieutenant or a Captain maybe. These are officers that would be up at the front, doing the fighting. It would also give them a significant amount of authority, in the immediate area.

But such a low rank just wouldn’t do for a significant adversary for Our Heroes, now would it? The villain should be someone Important. And therefore they need an important rank. General would do. I almost think that these characters are powerhouses just so that, when the heroes defeat them, the battle is effectively over: without a general, the evil army just retreats.

Even when the general (or ruler) is in the rear where they’re supposed to be, they’re still a boss. Often one of the last bosses. It’s like, Our Heroes fought all this way, through waves and waves of mooks (or went around them), and now they face the real challenge. But why would you hold such an effective warrior back? I can see holding resources back, only spending them as needed, but as soon as the mooks were getting beat, the strong people should have been sent straight out.

The thing that set me off today was the most recent Granblue Fantasy event. The girl at the top (Shura) isn’t even really an officer, she’s a tactician. A brainiac, not supposed to fight. Yet she’s right there with Dancho (who, ironically in this case, is a strong fighter that isn’t in a leadership role in the army) fighting the big boss at the end – said big boss who cuts down mooks like they weren’t even there, who can literally dodge bullets (oh, and he’s also an enemy general). But she’s not the only one – every general in the story is a great fighter, such that the mooks all stand around and watch them fight each other. The rulers, same deal (the young king on the Good Side, and the young prince on the Bad Side). Even Shura’s little sister, who isn’t special in any way besides being the big bad’s girlfriend (a fact the story points out several times) is still leading a decent-sized force.

But obviously not just Granblue Fantasy. Just out of games I’ve played recently, Dragalia Lost does this. Fire Emblem is basically this idea: the game (though to be a little fair, many of them are Heroes in the Greek sense – but not anywhere close to most of them). It’s a thing in ESO. Heck, you could name most any JRPG. Even in STO, the player character is Grand Admiral Awesomepants Death Machine.

Mistakes Were Made

Like most people, I buy games I think that I’ll like. Of course, you can never know until you actually sit down and play it. But most people at least can figure out what genres they tend to like and dislike, or certain staple mechanics, story beats, art, etc.; and avoid those things they don’t like.

But apparently I’m not most people. Because I keep buying games I should know I have a low likelihood of liking, but something else is part of it and I get it. I have never liked tactical games, yet I keep getting them, thinking that I will like this one, because of some thing or another. Every other game has done it wrong, but this one will be fine.

Another one of those is fighting games. For some reason I just can’t git gud, and gittin’ gud is pretty much the whole point. But I thought this time it will be different. Granblue Fantasy VS will be the first fighting game I like. I should have known better; but I not only bought it (and on Steam, where there are no codes for the main game), I got the season pass, which is mostly about more characters.

Now, I had reason to think it really would be different this time. There is a single-player/coop “RPG mode,” which tells its own story, in a sort of beat-em-up mode (though it still uses the fighting game inputs and stuff). Speaking of, there is a simplified input mode: the devs wanted players of the main game (an old-school turn-based RPG) to be able to play this too. But that’s no good when playing online, and it’s hardly any better in the RPG mode. And the story doesn’t justify the game (it’s actually kinda bad, even by Granblue Fantasy standards).

I played about 9 hours so far. I paid $80 for it. Talk about buyer’s remorse.

The Month Past, and the Month Yet Ahead

It’s the official beginning of April (the 1st doesn’t count), so here I am, to describe what I did, gaming-wise at least, last month, and what I hope to do this month.

As I mentioned before, I got a Switch. A new system naturally means new games. And, as I mentioned before, I got them: Splatoon 2, Hyrule Warriors, and Breath of the Wild. I also got the cheap standard-style controller, just for fun, which turned out to be the right call, as it’s what I mostly use (I also play on TV, always, so far).

Started with Splatoon, which is a fun game, but not really my speed. I’m not all that into competitive shooters in general, nor console shooters. Once I got access to the noob roller, though, things started looking up, but I was kinda frustrated by the lack of coordination between the competitive, coop, and single-player modes. So I only played a little bit of that.

Next came Hyrule Warriors, which was a game I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. I know it’s not really cool to like it, but I did. In fact, it might be my new favorite Zelda game; it’s definitely up there, at any rate. Not just for the cute girls, either, though it does have that.

Speaking of cute girls, isn’t BotW Zelda very cute? This is a seriously fun game. Also frustrating sometimes. Like, why even have those stupid forced gyro sections (remember how I got the cheap controller?)? But still, very good. /v/ has been crapping on this game since day 1, and there are some valid criticisms there, but it’s an extremely good game.

Granblue Fantasy Vs. came out on Steam. So I got it with the Season 1 pass. $80, and it doesn’t even come with gacha game codes. Bad move, but I guess it was to prevent cheaters. Even with the simplified controls, it’s too much for me sometimes. Even in the single-player modes. I’m just not a fightan’ game guy, no matter how much I want to get into the genre.

Also did the normal stuff in the various gacha games. Granblue Fantasy had it’s 6th anniversary celebration practically the whole month, which included a ton of free rolls; those turned out pretty well for me. That anniversary event was good too; it disappointed a lot of people, but I thought it was quite good – I think it was just got overhyped, over practically nothing. (Also, fujos and yumes mad that the brute got the unit instead of the bishi.) Dragalia Lost is currently having it’s 1.5 anniversary celebration, which is cool I guess.

As far as MMO’s go, haven’t really done much. ESO is seriously on the backburner for me – too many other games I’m actually excited to play right now, rather than the inertia that drives my MMO playing.

As for next month, I plan to finish BotW. Not 100% it or anything (I’m not going to be posting videos of me doing cool stuff – I can barely handle the basics!), but I’ll finish the game to my liking. Then it will be Fire Emblem Warriors. After that, who knows?