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Category Archives: Xbox One Gaming

Xbox One Gaming: Bioshock 1 and 2

I’ve been playing the remastered versions of these games and I remember when they first came out for Xbox 360… and how it frustrated the shit out of me.

I couldn’t figure out how to play the game; the pamphlet that came with the disc wasn’t helpful at all and I remember tossing my controller aside in frustration and disgust just a few minutes into playing the game. My son-in-law had had a good time laughing his ass off at me and telling me that he was playing it and how much he liked it and how easy it was.

Bullshit! Then I got the second game… and realized that it didn’t make sense because I hadn’t even gotten into playing the first game. I had set both of them aside to play other games and when I traded in my 360 for my first Xbox One, I also traded both games in, too… and forgot about them.

Until, one day, I was in the store and looking for something new and different to play… and saw the remastered games, including the third one which I had owned… and didn’t like because it was really not like the first two games at all. Both were $9.99 and I said, “What the hell – lemme get them again and really play them this time!”

Bioshock is a “weird game.” It’s dark and gritty. Set in an underworld city that’s seen better days and filled with a lot of corpses and people who’d gone batshit crazy after being hooked on a series of differing “plasmids” that not only gave them amazing abilities but, yeah, made them lose their minds, too. As I got into playing Bioshock 1, man, because I hadn’t played the game before, everything was a surprise for me. It’s an FPS – first person shooter – and it was… easier to play since I’d gotten used to playing this type of game playing Borderlands. I don’t know how many times I got killed but, eh, you learn to expect this. Being able to acquire weapons and my own set of “plasmids” so I could do battle with the crazies took some getting used to. Being worried about running out of cash to buy stuff and ammunition with and, yeah, running low on “Eve,” which powers the various plasmids to be found and used.

Getting deep into which weapon would work in a certain situation and being able to quickly switch weapons when the one I thought would work wasn’t working… and then doing that without getting killed in the process. One of the things the game calls for is for the player to either rescue a “Little Sister” for her ADAM… or to harvest it from her. Rescuing her frees here from the effects of the ADAM she’s been collecting and consuming… and harvesting it from her kills her.

You get more ADAM when you harvest it, and you need all you can get. But first, you have to defeat the Big Daddy that is protecting her, and they are no joke. I would defeat one – and, sometimes, after he killed the shit out of me – and if I had to harvest her ADAM – because I needed it to update my stuff or get new stuff – I felt… bad about having to kill her. Silly, huh? I’ve played the game twice and I got an achievement (which I didn’t really care about) for going through the whole game without harvesting a Little Girl the first time around.

In a time where a lot of games are all about multiplaying with other users – and even across the many platforms now out there – both Bioshocks are about you against this murky, gritter, underwater city while being taunted and hunted by, in the first game, the guy who built it and, in the second, by some ditzy chick who had taken it over and, I guess, after I killed not one but two guys who wanted the city all to themselves… and me dead. While part of the end game for Bioshock 1 is for you to become a Big Daddy – which is well into the game – Bioshock 2 starts you out as a Big Daddy and as I played it, I realized that, yeah, if you don’t play the first game, just playing the second one doesn’t makes sense as far as the story line goes and because Bioshock 2 is a continuance of Bioshock 1 – you’ve just changed characters.

I’d played both the first time and it was worth what I’d paid for them. I’m done with them and looking at my other games and trying to decide which of them I wanted to play… and went back to play both of them again and as is my habit, trying to play them better than I did the first time. And I did. And not so much. Discovering a lot of stuff the second time that I hadn’t been aware of the first time. I’ve played both games three times now… and all three times have been different. And since I have three Xbox profiles, yeah, I get to play them on my other profiles, and you’d think that I’d have them down pat…

And you’d be wrong about that. The many times I screwed up and said to myself, “You know better! You knew what was coming!” And still fucked it up in some way. Incredible. I’m having fun playing a very old game and, yeah, I’m wondering why I got frustrated when I tried to play it so many years ago. When I finish writing this, I’m going to finish the games I have in progress; I’ve found that because both are set in an underwater world, it… gets to me. Gives me that closed-in feeling that, I think, speaks to how well the game designers did their job because I’m playing the game and feeling… wet. Damp and moldy. I’m not just playing the game – I’m in the game.

Maybe I’ll buy the third game again and give it a serious try. I remember playing it and it was… confusing but it didn’t really hold my interest because, as I said, it’s nothing like the first two games and it’s more aboveground than being anywhere near the water. I dunno. What I do know is how silly I feel not being able to play the first game when it came out.

But I’m making up for that!

 
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Posted by on 26 June 2022 in Xbox One Gaming

 

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Xbox One Gaming: Minecraft – The Supersized Building

The other day I wrote about my project to double the size of a building I had created and the work I had to look forward to and especially making a mountain go away. The good news is that the supersized building has been built… and it is amazing.

It looks the same as all the normal-sized ones do… just way bigger. I’d had a problem lighting it up until I realized, duh, this one is twice the size of the others so making it all nice and bright inside wasn’t going to happen and I still don’t know how I’m going to do with without cluttering things up… and I might not even try to bring more light to it… because it looks amazing being lit up as much as it is.

It has a cathedral-like look to it. My daughter had dropped in to see it and noticed that between the way I have the ceiling designed and the lighting, the ceiling looks just like Starfleet’s insignia and I hadn’t noticed this until she mentioned it but the moment she did, I also realized that the normal-sized buildings “didn’t have this look” because I can easily light them up so that there are no shadows anywhere.

Hmm. Still, the work to build it was harder than I thought it would be in that it took much longer to build the ceiling and, sometimes, it got to be so repetitive that it actually had me nodding out a few times. Creating the floor’s pattern was… a bitch. I’ve made it a point that when I build one of these to make sure that no two floors are the same and, really, to make every floor unique and this one really had me talking and cussing to myself because of the sheer size of it and then, once I had the “feel” of it, making sure that I didn’t screw it up… which I almost did a few times. Normally and once I get one side of the floor created, it’s easy to fly back and forth to make sure I’m duplicating the pattern faithfully and accurately… but this building is twice the size and jetting back and forth just “complicated” things and so much that when I finally got it finished, I found that I’d missed putting in some blocks here and there – and when my daughter visited, she found a few more I had missed.

But that wasn’t the bad part… and this part of it was pretty bad. No – that would be sticking to my original plan to make that mountain go away. I’d “take a break” from the monotony of working on the actual building to work on the mountain that was blocking the view from the building’s windows… and I was regretting the decision to make it all go away. I did try using TNT and in the hope that it would make this very boring and monotonous task easier but, nope – all that did was make more of a mess than anything else so I spend a lot of near mindless hours whittling away at it, one row of blocks at a time.

I am happy to report that it’s all gone. In whittling it all down, I even found the “entrance” to an underwater cavern that I’m now thinking about what I’ll have to do to it so it can be explored in Survival mode and without drowning in the process. It was hidden under the mountain and had I not removed it, I wouldn’t have known it was there. Still, there were moments during its removal that I just wanted to stop fucking with it; on top of building the supersized version of my building, it was too much. Not only did I have to remove all the dirt and other stuff, there was also a lot of trees that had to be removed and some of them were those damned double oak trees that, if you don’t get all of the blocks of wood out of them, the tree won’t go away until you find and get rid of them

I do not like the double oak trees one bit. Those who play Minecraft knows that once you chop down a tree, the leaves can drop stuff like sticks, apples, and saplings of the tree that got chopped down and I did my best to collect as much of those things as I could and store them in a couple of chests I had stashed in another but close-by location… because I might “make my daughter happy” and replant all of the saplings I’ve collected. Maybe. I love my daughter… but I might not love her that much as far as this project goes.

The building is done. The mountain is gone. I still have work to do. I still have to create rooms that players who may visit can call their home base as they explore things. I have to start and finish the landscaping that I do for every building. So as to not spoil the beauty of the building’s interior, I’ve opted to create rooms in the center section of the building by digging into – and down – the sides of the center section, something I’ve done before but this time it’s different.

I usually create a “stairwell” in the center of the building so that the floor’s pattern flows from one side to the other but for this build, well, I did that… but not as deep as I’d normally do it – it’s only three levels deep which (1) makes the floor’s pattern flow amazingly but (2) creates a bit of a problem creating side rooms because the “ground” is the “ceiling” so there’s grass above and that’s just not going to cut it. I was “running out of gas” after having removed the last huge chunks of the mountain so I only got as far as creating the entryway to the space where I am figuring out how to create the number of rooms I have in mind… and with the understanding that I can’t see what I’m doing.

Normally, I would build these rooms aboveground and I can see what I’m doing and all that; building them underground isn’t going to be easy but it’s on my list of things to do and, officially, the building won’t be “certified for occupation” until I get them built and outfitted to my liking.

Why go through all of this? It’s… therapy. Kinda. I have to remember how to build the damned things; I have to think about where I’m building it and not just on the surface but under it, too. I have to make myself “stick to the plan” at all times and not take shortcuts or let stuff like huge, mountain-like hills/structures stop me from the building. If it’s in my way, it’s got to go. It’s about focus. Attention to detail. Just putting my head down and doing all that has to be done so that the build gets completed the way I always want them to be.

It keeps my mind active. It takes my mind off of the neuropathic pain I continue to have to deal with and especially in my right hand. It makes me “sit still” and not be fidgeting all over the place and like I normally tend to do. As much as building one of these “gets on my last good nerve,” it is… calming and relaxing which, during this build, had my heart rate coasting along in the low 70s.

The supersized project isn’t at 100% but it has been… interesting. I am telling myself that I’m not going to build another one of this size and that’s just me bullshitting myself because I probably will because I do have fun doing it and, yeah, it’s therapy for me. I’m going to try to get some pics of it so I can show it to you and especially what I did with the floor this time around.

 
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Posted by on 23 March 2022 in Xbox One Gaming

 

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Xbox One Gaming: Minecraft

Those of you who Minecraft might understand what I’m about to say and those of you who don’t, well, you might be able to relate to this because there are some things in life that can happen in the way I’m about to speak to.

So… there’s a building that I created and took from a simple structure – and it wasn’t what I had wanted to build in the first place – to something that whenever I build one, I have a “hard time” believing that I created and built it.

This is the building I’m talking about. Building it required me to do some “math” because this game is… weird in that doing stuff with an even number of blocks – like ten, for example – might not “work” the way you want it to… but eleven blocks will. I know why this is but I can’t explain it but, to continue. I had to figure out how many blocks I needed to create the “foundation” that the rest of what you see was going to be built upon… then I had to build it and that started with clearing out that whole area you see where the building is sitting and “fenced in” with bushes.

Sometimes, that’s easy depending on the seed that’s randomly generated… and sometimes, it’s just not feasible to build one because there’s not a place I’d find suitable. It has to be built on flat land; I tried to build one without “terraforming” the area and, well, let’s just say that I’m not going to try that again. From finding the right place and landscape to actually building one of these can take a couple of days or more and depending on what I have to do before I can start building and if I feel like messing with it. I keep telling myself that I’m not going to build another one because it is labor-intensive but when you look at the picture, yeah, it’s worth it… sometimes.

I was playing with my grandson the other day… and building yet another one of these because, well, I don’t really know why I did but I was doing it and he thought it was cool (but he thinks almost everything I do is cool) and he said that he didn’t know how I could make it better and I said something like the only way to make it better would be to make it bigger… and like these building aren’t big enough already – but you might not be able to see that from the provided picture but it’s so big that bats hang out in there – and if you know about Minecraft’s bats, you get an idea of things.

As I’m watching my grandson working on something he was building and giving him the occasional hint or pointing out that he missed something, I was thinking about how I could make my building bigger and with the understanding that just doubling the number of blocks used to create the foundation wasn’t going to work… because that would make all of the blocks even-numbered ones. Like, to create the front of the building – and after creating a column-like thingy, there has to be 23 blocks between the two columns… but doubling them would make it 46 blocks… and 46 won’t work… but 47 will. I “did the math” and since I know how many blocks are needed just to create one side of the foundation, well, that was easier than the next problem:

Where to build it. I created a few worlds that didn’t fit the bill, like being in a frozen wasteland or in a desert which both had wide open spaces – and read this as meaning no trees – but the terrain was just too uneven and would required way too much work to make it totally flat and as I need it to be. I did use those worlds to test my “math” and I just had to build three parts of it to know that I got it right because I have learned that if I screw it up – and I have screwed it up – it will always happen with those first three sections because the fourth section won’t line up properly.

Hang in here with me, okay?

I found a world that would work for me. Kinda. Lemme start the front-side of the building because that will tell me how much “terraforming” I will have to do. I did that and realized that there’s, um, not quite a mountain smack-dab in the middle of where I can build this… which means that if I want to build this giant-sized version of the building in the picture, I’m gonna have to make that almost a mountain go away. I thought about using the game’s TNT to do some blasting except I’ve found that, um, I’m not all that good at figuring out how much TNT I need and not enough or too much will make sure that I’ll have to work harder than I have to so it’s take that bitch down to the ground one block at a time, one section of a time and while building the foundation as I go along.

There’s just no easy way to do this. I am determined to do this and I didn’t even get to completing the second section of the foundation before I started asking myself, “What are you doing… and why are you doing it?” So far, I’ve been working on this for three days (today will be day number four) and I only have two final sections to complete for the foundation and then the harder work can commence… but I gotta get rid of that damned mountain first. Not just part of it: All of it. Why? Because I like building these things and without having obstructions blocking the views from the many windows in the joint. Now, I have left some stuff “blocking” the view because I didn’t feel like obliterating whatever the blockage was but for some damned reason, I’m going to remove that mountain and as much as I’m not liking having to do it, I’m also having fun doing it.

I’ve been destroying all of the trees and smiling to think about my daughter reading me the riot act for (a) destroying all those trees and not using them and (b) having little or no intention on replanting them. Out of a kind of respect for my Minecraft teacher, I have been avoiding killing the cows, sheep, chickens, and pigs that have been getting in my way all along. Yeah, some of them died… but not at my hand; it’s not my fault they jumped off the ledge that I wound up creating as I take the mountain apart a section at a time! When they’ve done that, I have collected the meat and other stuff they left behind and stored it in a chest I have stashed somewhere out of my way.

It’s not exactly “fun” doing a project like this but I find it to be relaxing as much as it gets on my nerves. Removing a mountain is a ridiculous thing to do and no matter its size. I know this because I’ve done it before and I don’t wanna talk about that any more than this. I’m relaxed. Focused. My Fitbit is happy because my resting pulse is in the low 70s. It is driving me fucking crazy because the more I hack at the stuff I need to go away, it doesn’t feel like I’m really making a lot of progress and, yep, I’m still asking myself, “What are you doing?” I know what I’m doing. I know why I’m doing it. It just doesn’t really make sense to do all of the shit I’ve been doing so that I can get to doing something that I know is going to be a bitch doing… because building the building in the above picture was a bitch… and now I’m making one twice its size.

Why? Because I can. I have the willpower and determination to do it. I actually like having to figure out what needs to go and what needs to be built up or even created to support the building… and it also gets on my nerves. Those of you who don’t play Minecraft might not see or understand why doing something like this is, indeed, a lot of fun since it doesn’t sound like it is… and that’s because it isn’t. But I’m going to do it because, yeah, it’s fun and even therapeutic in a way because I have to build this place from memory and from the ground up; I have to give some very serious thought about the floor and letting the “artistic” side of me come forth to create a pattern on the floor that doesn’t exist in any of the other buildings I’ve built so that while the shape of this building will always be the same, all of the floor are different. I have to… feel the floor then figure out how to do what I’m feeling… and working around the critters the game keeps spawning.

I’ve got a lot of hard work to do before I can get to the hard work of building this giant-sized place. It requires calm patience to keep hacking away at the mountain and being insanely determined to wipe it out. I could work around it and a few times last night, I was gonna do just that but this is also a lesson in if you start something, finish it and no matter how much shit you gotta go through to finish it.

You tear down a mountain to the ground… because it can be done. My daughter would shit a couple of gold bricks and I thought that my late son-in-law – and who was a better builder – would have dived in with me to do something I know that both of us didn’t like doing… because why the hell not? It can be done… so let’s do it. He would have broke out lots of TNT and, against my advice, blown shit up big time and that, too, is fun… if you’re not going to be the one who has to clean it up.

I just had to add this because, well, I was thinking about it as I shut down the work site for the night and looking at what I have left to do… and I’ve only gotten rid of maybe half of the mountain. Half. The nearly completed foundation is… mocking me and reminding me that I’m not finished with it and the longer it takes for me to get to finishing it, the “harder” building it is going to be but, yeah, are we having fun or what?

I am. And not. I don’t have to do this but I’m going to. I started it and I will see it through because I’m not a quitter and this mountain isn’t going to defeat me… well, this time.

Time to go to work. There’s still some mountain to be moved and while I can’t move a lot of the mountains that life can put in my way, I can move and remove this one.

 
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Posted by on 16 March 2022 in Xbox One Gaming

 

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Xbox One Gaming: Some Messed Up Stuff

It’s not all that uncommon that when you have a wireless Xbox controller, it’ll lose it’s connection to the console for a moment even though Microsoft doesn’t really offer an explanation of why it’ll do that. It’s annoying and depending on the game you’re playing, a disconnected controller can get you “killed.”

I was playing Elite Dangerous and getting back into playing the game after having decided to take a break from it back in October. As I was hauling some goods from one sector of space to another, my controller would suddenly disconnect and it was a pain in the ass because the game doesn’t stop when paused and given the cargo I was carrying, I knew there was a chance I could be attacked at any moment and with a disconnected controller – and one that refused to reconnect – I could get dead in a hurry.

Fortunately, I could plug my controller into the cable I’d connected to my console and everything went back to normal but I’m baffled and miffed as to why it kept disconnecting. Was it the battery and, as such, not enough power going to the Bluetooth radio in the controller? I even noticed that when I changed batteries, the controller wouldn’t reconnect. I know that it got updated a few days before and noted that since that update, my controller, which has faithfully worked for the years I’ve had it, is just fucking up. I don’t know what was in that update but what I do know is that there’s no way for me to back it out so I can ignore the console’s attempts to update it again.

I don’t mind using the controller when it’s wired… except I have to sit somewhere else because the frigging cable ain’t long enough to reach where I normally sit… and it’s even more “messed up” because having to sit closer changes my perspective when looking at the TV; instead of me looking straight at it, I’m looking at it from an angle or, if I sit on the futon, I’m seriously close to whatever’s going on and for Elite Dangerous, it takes some getting used to and why I don’t sit on the futon.

Maybe I need to replace that controller but, damn, it was working as expected before it got updated and while I could get an aftermarket controller, I don’t have much faith in them. I’ve gotten them before and they’ve broken too easily or just stopped working so I’ve bitten the bullet and paid for a genuine Xbox controller… and those puppies aren’t cheap and more so being on a fixed income.

I have a second controller but the only game I can play with it is… Minecraft because I fucked up and dropped it and broke the left “bumper” and my attempts to super glue it back together failed so until this bullshit started happening with my “main” controller, the second one sits in the charging station and when I need to change batteries, well, there it is and I can keep playing and recharge the spent battery… and I know they’re old and in need of replacing because they’re running out of juice faster than normal and, yeah, maybe they’re the reason why my main controller keeps losing its fucking mind in its wireless mode.

Now I’m playing Elite Dangerous wired to the console but playing Minecraft with my second and busted controller because I don’t need the broken bumper to play the game and, oh, yeah: It’s staying connected and it is to note that the second controller hasn’t been updated since I got it… a few years ago and I’m not going to allow it to be updated should that really be the problem. Microsoft’s solution to this is to either go wired… or buy a new controller. The less-expensive option might be to see if I can find a cable that’s longer than the long one I already have so that I can sit where I normally do and comfortably so. I have kept putting off replacing the broken second controller and I very much regret doing that so, in a way, this crap is the price to be paid for not replacing it when I could do it.

Mea culpa… but, perhaps, not my fault that my main controller doesn’t want to reconnect; it’s like the console and the controller aren’t talking to each other but my attempts to pair it again hasn’t worked; there’s a button on the controller for this and, when pressed should put the controller into pairing mode and I have to push the same button on the console. They both do some blinking and connect but, shit, it’s not happening. I’d suspect that the issue is with the console except the second controller connects and stays connected so that’s not it.

This sucks and it’s inconvenient at the worst. Like most gamers, I have everything I might need right there next to me when I’m playing and, yeah, if I have to go into the kitchen, I sometimes take it with me so I can do something if/when I have to, like playing Elite Dangerous. Until I can either find out why my main controller is acting stupid or find a longer connecting cable, I’ve been relegated to having to move to play any game with my main controller because I learned that if I sit back where I normally sit, I get unplugged. Nothing sucks more than a wireless controller that doesn’t want to work wirelessly.

Big-assed sigh. If it’s truly an issue of my main controller being too old to work with the current console software, I’m just gonna have to find it in my limited budget to replace it and, shit, to replace the broken one and both sets of rechargeable batteries. Today, I’m going to replace the main controller’s rechargeable batteries with AAs and see if that makes a difference and if it doesn’t disconnect – or it does but reconnects – then I know what the real problem is and those batteries are way cheaper than buying a new controller… but I still need to replace the broken one.

Crap. I had a thought of starting one of those funding things so I can get new stuff and, nah, I don’t feel right doing that and for this reason but having this thought took my mind off of scraping around in my head and thinking about how the wireless controller works and, yeah, I do know how it works and it made my head hurt when I was learning this stuff back when I was working. I’ll figure it out but until I do, I just gotta work with what I have to work with.

Okay. I got this out of my head and it’s time to test my battery theory while looking for an extra-long connecting cable… and figuring out when I can afford to replace everything.

While still waiting to see how bad this snowstorm is really going to be.

 
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Posted by on 28 January 2022 in Xbox One Gaming

 

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Xbox One Gaming: Halo Infinite

I sat and waited with some impatience for Xbox to release this game and more so when it is free for me to play. But I have a… history with Halo.

My now-late son-in-law, when the first Halo game came out, implored me to play this game so much that I relented; he lent me his copy of Halo (that’s back when that could be done) and I loaded and started the game and without a single clue how to play it. Well, um, the first time I ran into the bad guys, I never got past them because they kept killing me over and over; not only did I not know how to play the game, it was one of the first first-person games and I had a hell of a time trying to figure out how to move my character and as if, you know, the character was me which, in a way, it was.

My first exposure to the Halo gaming franchise was a disaster. I vowed to never play a first-person game again… and wound up breaking that vow but even when I finally got the hang of playing a first-person game, I still wouldn’t go anywhere near Halo until, many years after that first horrible experience, my son-in-law convinced me – again – to play the game. So I did… and felt kinda stupid because Halo is, indeed, a great game to play… now that I knew how to do the first-person thing.

I’ve played almost all of the Halo games and being the Master Chief has been “annoyingly good fun” because there are aspects of the game that just makes me insane and, specifically, not having dedicated weaponry to play with and having to rely on picking up weapons wherever and whenever I could and, oh, yeah, still getting the shit killed out of me.

And my experiences so far with Halo Infinite aren’t any different. Now, I do know how to run around and kill things and blow them up – and thanks to the Borderlands game I once refused to play. I expect to get killed and this game hasn’t disappointed in this; I’ve run into situations in the game where I’ve gotten killed so much that I don’t even react to it unless I did something stupid which, um, I tend to do playing any Halo game. The storyline picks up where the last game left off and that’s a good thing because I don’t have to figure out why I’m doing what I’m gonna have to do – and this is important.

Started the game and got the campaign part loaded, which had me scratching my head and wondering why it was loaded when Microsoft/Xbox finally made the game available to those of us who have GamePass but, okay, I loaded it and got to playing. A moment to refamiliarize myself with the controller functions – moving, looking around, aiming and shooting – and let’s get into it. I have a lot of missions to do and as I started doing them, I was quickly reminded why Halo and I don’t get along with each other all that much. Don’t get me wrong – I think the game is a very good one but, damn… it’s still Halo and I think I might be suffering from some “PTSD” due to my first failed attempt to play the game.

I’ve had a lot of moments where I’ve gotten so frustrated over some situations that I’ve just put the game on pause, set the controller down, and then spend a few moments talking to myself about how fucked up the situation is and saying shit like, “How am I supposed to get in there (or up there in some cases)?” I’ve figured it out but not before getting the shit killed out of me and most of the time by something I didn’t see or expect. Like, there’s this one spot I ran into after completing a mission that had not one but two bad guys I blundered into… and I didn’t know they were there or that I’d be made to deal with them before getting back to my ship and moving on.

Well, folks, I spent maybe an hour and a half of getting demolished by the bad guys and specifically the “chopper” machine they were riding and just running me over with and, again, I never saw them coming because there were “the usual” bad guys I had to get rid of. Man, was I pissed! I finally figured out that I could hijack their ride and like I could do with other enemy ride and now it was about using their own weapon against them… and it was easier said than done because another thing I “hate” about Halo is how squirrely the vehicle are; going in a straight line is a bitch and driving the “chopper” was even worse; I’m trying to get to the bad guy and he wound up killing me because I had a bitch of a time getting the machine to go in the direction I wanted to go in.

By the time I figured it out and killed both guys – by running them over and using the chopper blades that defines the machine, I was emotionally worn out and my hands were tired and sore from having to work the joysticks in ways I’m not used to – and I’ve driven or flown a lot of machines in the many games I’ve played. Shit. Fucking Halo. The one good thing is that once I kill bad guys, they don’t respawn; it’s a blessing because I’ve spent a lot of time being killed before wiping them out… and just standing there to take a much-needed break and to figure out where the hell I’m supposed to go… and how I’m going to get there.

Like the one time I was on one side of a ravine and my objective was on the other side… and it wasn’t obvious how I was supposed to get over there. I thought I could use my grappler – a familiar Master Chief tool – to get across but, yeah, good old MC still can’t jump worth a damn and my attempt to grapple over resulted in me dying. I wound up going around Robin Hood’s barn to get to the other side and not without getting killed a few times… then proceeded to get killed even more before I finished the mission. I think I “hate” Halo because it makes me feel like I never learned how to play it… or any other similar game.

But I will not be defeated by this game. I am, if nothing else, persistent because I know the game can be beaten but, damn. And this is playing it on the easy setting because I know better to play it right away in the harder settings and I am not going to play it with a bunch of other people because I know I won’t be able to “trust” them since everyone plays Halo differently. I don’t have the patience for this and I don’t particularly like how a lot of games want to “force” players to form teams in order to play; it’s not that I don’t play well with others but they’ve proven not to play well with me.

Fuck them. Here’s another reason why I’m playing a game that has, historically, given me fits: My son-in-law, the guy I’ve played so many games with, is no longer with us and I feel very sad to be playing a game I know he would have been very hyped to play… and hyped to get me to play it with him. So far and giving my progress so far, he would have loved this new Halo game. I could, at times, “hear” him saying, “Dad, watch your back!” or, “Dad – you go left and I’ll take care of the right side!” or even having something to say about how the game is playing or how amazing the graphics are… or being grouchy when I start busting his ass for doing something “dumb” and dying because he just charged right on in there which, yeah, he loved doing in such games.

Or giving me a raft of shit about getting my ass killed a lot. Or agreeing with me about how “impossible” the task before us appears to be but he would have figured it out way before I would have. In a way, I’m playing this game in his memory more than anything else. He got in my case big time about failing to get past the first part of the first Halo game and, yeah, I don’t want to “hear” him busting my ass over not playing and finishing this new game… because I know he would and that made playing games with him a fun thing to do.

If you have an Xbox and GamePass, go play Halo Infinite and have fun with the challenges it presents and, um, don’t get killed a lot.

 
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Posted by on 11 December 2021 in Xbox One Gaming

 

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Xbox One Gaming: Minecraft

I’ve been playing around with the game’s Cliff and Caves experimental mode and I don’t know about the cliffs – because I haven’t seen many of them – but the caves are freaking amazing!

I just wish that my late son-in-law had lived to see this. I’m puttering around in my third experimental world and got to thinking about the many times I’d play with my daughter and her husband – and sometimes their children would join in – and we’d have one hell of a good and hilarious time doing stuff.

They taught me how to play Minecraft and a game when I first saw it, I wasn’t feeling at all. I had purchased it but it would be many months before they corralled me into playing. They were hard taskmasters and especially my daughter. Now when I create a new world and start putting stuff together, I can still hear her getting in my case about cutting down trees and not replanting them or giving me grief about the “wholesale slaughter” of cows, sheep, chickens, and pigs.

Her forte – her Minecraft superpower – is creating gardens for food and fishing, along with great organizational skills when it comes to putting things in their proper place so that items can be easily found and, of course, if you took something out, you’d better restock that item… or else.

My late son-in-law was the explorer. He wouldn’t think twice about going off in a direction and far, far away from the established base, often without good weapons and food. Listening to my daughter get in his ass about eating before he died was better than watching TV; or we’d have no idea where he was… then I’d hear him curse, the followed by a message saying that he’d died in some way, like falling off a cliff or running headlong into a mob of skeleton archers and, something he used to laugh at me about, falling into lava and getting deep fried.

He could find… stuff. He’d come back from exploring with his inventory filled with goodies that we couldn’t find a lot of at the base. He was also good at getting lost in his own mine system, too, something that never failed to get me laughing at him and more so when he had taught me how not to get lost. Oh, and he was an amazing builder and preferred working with wood and, wow, he was just seriously good at it – who knew?

My superpowers are building and mining although neither of my teachers were often thrilled about my way of digging. I dig down to bedrock then carve out huge areas to expose iron, coal, and the most prized item, diamonds. Like my son-in-law, I learned how “play in the lava,” something my daughter isn’t fond of; he and I found it to be quite relaxing and necessary because as my daughter had learned, where there’s lava, there’s diamonds… well, most of the time.

I felt quite sad because I’ll never play Minecraft with him again. It feels weird to play and not see him pop in to see what’s going on in my world and helping me get stuff squared away or sometimes running off somewhere to do some building, exploring, or gathering… or just being a pain in my ass “messing” up my carefully crafted stuff. I learned the hard way not to leave a world open but not playing the game… because there was no telling what mischief he’d foist upon me in my absence, like building a wall around my character or like the time he filled my home base with… live chickens.

Playing with my grandson is… an adventure and when he’d play with the three of us, man, he would push their buttons something fierce or we’d be talking about something and in my headset I’d hear one do the yell for my grandson to watch out – then I’d hear the telltale sound of a creeper exploding, followed by the message that his character had died.

Again. He’d sometimes drop by my world and give me a hand with stuff or try his hand at building places and has a fondness for treehouses and something that I’ve never tried to build… but probably because falling out of the tree and dying ain’t my idea of a good day playing Minecraft.

Sometime their youngest daughter would be playing with them and I’d join their world… and just get a kick of listening to them interacting with each other and, as you might guess, my son-in-law getting da bizness from his wife and daughter over either his annoying antics or reminding him to eat or get back to doing whatever he had been tasked to and not what he was currently doing.

As a team, we could get some stuff done. My daughter came to check out my second experimental world that has an amazing system of caves that, after exploring and almost getting lost, I discovered were actually connected. After I stopped her from trying to redo the stairs leading down to the main cave area – and something her husband used to do – when she saw the main area, the first thing she said was, “He would have loved this!”

Then pointed out that he would have gotten lost and I laughed because it was the same things I thought when I discovered the area and started working and exploring it. She gave me a little grief about having done some stuff in Creative mode but I guess she forgave me when I explained that I was a few seconds from falling to my death and losing all of my stuff and stuff I wouldn’t have been able to recover so, yeah, I hustled into Creative mode and saved my ass and since I was in it, used those abilities to build some stuff and explore a lot more stuff.

But I think she liked what I’d done even though she wasn’t happy that I had employed her late hubby’s method of putting torches down haphazardly to light the large, open areas – that can make it hard to find your way out and as she reminded me when she kinda got lost but eventually got back to where I was.

So much fun. In the current world, I’m having a hard time finding coal and I’m sure that being in this experimental mode has something to do with that; it got me thinking about him because he would have joined in, took a look around, and then gone off somewhere and returned with more coal than I’d know what to do with. Or he’d give me the coordinates for a village he found and we would have robbed the village of anything we could put them use. Or he’d probably find a deep-assed ravine – we both liked exploring them and beginning with figuring out how to reach the bottom without getting killed.

Playing the game ain’t the same without him…

 
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Posted by on 31 October 2021 in Xbox One Gaming

 

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Xbox One Gaming: Borderlands 3 – The Handsome Jackpot DLC

I’ve been playing “catch up” with this game to get all created characters to the same level and as I was working on my lowest level character through the game’s main story items (that character was below level 30 while all others are in the high 60s), it was time to take a break from the main story to hit Handsome Jack’s casino for some loot and mayhem.

Okay, so… Handsome Jack. We didn’t see him in Borderlands 1 and I don’t readily remember if there were even whispers of his presence at this point. We do get introduced to him in Borderlands 2 and, wow: What an evil asshole he turned out to be! Gearbox and 2K kinda “backtracked” to point out some stuff that Jack may have been involved in where Borderlands 1 went but the “man in the mask” really made his presence felt throughout Borderlands 2 and to the point where the guy who “played” and voiced the character won an Emmy. It was a stellar performance and to the point where the only other character you wanted dead more than Handsome Jack was… Claptrap, who is, hands down, the most annoying character I’ve ever had to deal with in any video game I’ve ever played.

The Pre-Sequel backs up big time to tell the story of how Handsome Jack got to be the power-mad lunatic we met in Borderlands 2. This game, strangely, wasn’t entitled as “Borderlands 3” and there were a lot of players who didn’t like the great departure from the first two games but, yeah, I liked it a lot even though Jack wasn’t the antagonist, well, not until the game’s really big boss gets defeated and, okay, now you know why Handsome Jack is the most feared entity we saw in Borderlands 2.

Good to know. Things get a little weird, though: To beat Borderlands 2, you gotta kill the shit out of Handsome Jack and I don’t know about anyone else who played the game but I took a great deal of pleasure killing the shit out him time and time again in both playable modes and with every character I could do it with and true to how the games are played, often with inadequate weaponry which just makes you get creative and tasks your ability to be that creative trying to off Jack first and then defeat The Destroyer… but you want to blow his ass away since while you’re battling him in the final phase of the game, he’s talking more trash and as he does throughout the game and you just want to make him go away.

Good fun. So Borderlands 3 comes out and during its development, a lot of players were wondering if we’d get to see Handsome Jack get reincarnated but there are a lot of references to Lilith ending Jack (and she didn’t, actually) but, okay, Jack’s gone and you don’t see a whole lot of Hyperion’s presence in the game, either – that’s the company Jack worked for then eventually took over. So Gearbox and 2K figured out how to get the handsome bastard back in the game by introducing the Handsome Jackpot DLC and kinda reintroducing Timothy, a poor slob who got conscripted to be one of Jack’s doubles who got trapped on the space-borne casino when it went into lockdown mode upon Jack’s demise and now the mission is to get in there and do what you gotta do so that Mad Moxxi can take over the dilapidated casino and because Jack stole it from her to begin with.

The Borderlands franchise has always been… gritty. Dirty. Many locations have seen better times and the first time I played the Handsome Jackpot DLC, it gave me the creeps because it was. well, trashed to be nice about it. It still gives me the creeps and as i played yesterday, I could feel how running around the place was making me feel at a subliminal level while feeling a certain kind of “joy” and irritation to be dealing with the ghost of Handsome Jack and how, even in death, he’s still being the ultimate asshole by reminding me that he took great joy fleecing those who came there to seek fortune only to find themselves buried under tons of unpayable debt to the handsome bastard. I like the storyline of the DLC but one of the reasons why I like playing it so much is that it’s one of the opportunities in the game to make money and more so when, in true Borderlands fashion, early into initial gameplay, you don’t have a lot of money to play with but, yeah, you kinda get used to this but the other games provided a way to “farm” money (and other loot) and this DLC, I supposed, was the answer to this since there’s no places in the main story where you can keep coming back to clean the place out of whatever money is lying around.

As I do whenever I play the game, I slipped into “stone cold killer mode” and methodically went through the main story as differently as I could; different tactics and approaches and, to my surprise, finding places that I’d never been in or even knew existed… and I’ve been playing this game for a long time. I got through the early main story items and particularly the ones I don’t care much for; every Borderlands game has parts, missions, etc., that I just hate doing but since they’re main story items, ya can’t progress through the game without doing them. I’d just defeated the one boss – Graveward – who, at least for me, is the toughest boss to defeat and I needed a break and… money. My character wasn’t even at level 30 at this point and I had so little money that I was basically in the Borderlands poor house but I knew how to take care of that: Do the Heist on the casino. I knew that by the time I got to the end and defeated the final boss, I’d have a million dollars or so and enough so that I wouldn’t have to worry about buying improved weapons or paying the stupidly high prices attached to respawning when you get killed.

I anticipated leveling up my character closer to level 40 which is in the neighborhood I want to be in as I continue on with the main story stuff… but after I do my best to clean out the casino for as much money as I can get my hands on. Almost every ammo case in the casino has money in it; in some areas, there are busted up slot machines that you can get money from… including the ones who come to life and tries to blow you away. You’d think that with as many times as I’ve played this DLC, the animated killer slot machines wouldn’t surprise me since I know they’re there but, yeah, they still do and, besides, the Borderlands franchise never fails to be able to keep players on their toes in some way and even when you know what’s going to happen.

Other than my low cash levels, I had an even bigger problem and one the game just throws at you. I’d gotten my hands on a legendary corrosive assault rifle made by Vladof (one of the many manufacturers in the game) but one that, normally, I don’t play with but the games are good at making each character an expert with a certain type of weapon and legendaries are, well, they’re the shit and often quite powerful. The one I had found was a level 18 weapon which, if it hadn’t been a legendary one, would have – should have – stopped being effective, oh, maybe somewhere around level 23 or 24. I get past level 30… and I’m still using this particular weapon because none of the other ones I have are doing that good of a job of taking out the bad guys and, well, I’m “worried” because at some point, this level 18 weapon will stop being effective and, as it tends to be my bad luck, during a battle where I need it to be effective. I’m running around the casino killing shit and I’ve never been so aware of my weapon deficiency like I am now and I’m cursing Gearbox and 2K – and not for the first time – because I know that, again, at some point, this low-level legendary will become as useless as the other 30 or so items I’m carrying in my backpack.

Those of you who have played Borderlands knows exactly what I’m talking about and those of you who haven’t, well, you don’t have to take my word for it – play any of the games and find out for yourself. Then, if I didn’t have enough to worry about as far as my weaponry was concerned, I’m making rookie mistakes and of the kind no seasoned Borderlands veteran should be making like how I somehow managed to walk right off the edge of a platform and went out of bounds and died and, yep, taking a good chunk out of my limited funds; it had me laughing to myself to be reminded that while you can respawn in the game, it’s never without putting a dent in your wallet. I remembered trying to figure out how the game decides how much money it costs… and gave up trying to figure it out and, well, I never liked doing math to begin with. Stepping off that platform – and something I had never done before playing the DLC – cost me about twenty grand that I couldn’t afford at the time all that much… but I guess it was okay because I was having an unusually hard time finding weapons that were effective and making me rely on that level 18 legendary that, at this point, had pretty much outlived its usefulness.

The main thing, though, is that I’m having fun dealing with this. This particular DLC isn’t exactly hard or difficult, not like much of the main story stuff can be or like some of the other DLCs really are, well, at least for me. I’m going from place to place, shooting bad guys, blowing shit up, etc., and I’m constantly being reminded that the weaponry is character specific and that some of the weapons aren’t ones that I would normally use or prefer… but that’s the beauty of any of the Borderlands games and DLCs: Being able to do more with less. Finding the right combination of items even when some of them aren’t the “best weapon” available in the game. Or that weird thing where I actually found a weapon that one of my other characters just kicks major ass with but for the current character? Not even close. In one of those rare moments, this DLC is pissing me off because I’m making progress… and not making progress… and I’m still relying on a weapon that, as I got down to the final moments of the DLC, wasn’t doing a whole lot of good or damage.

I defeated the final boss of the DLC… with a pistol. I don’t particularly like the Jakobs weapons. They’re “antiquated” items that often require a lot of trigger pulls or don’t hold a lot of ammo and other things that I’ve learned just annoys the shit out of me but, yep, I defeated the final boss of the DLC with a Jakobs pistol. A six-shooter. Not even a legendary one. I’m running around the final battle area switching weapons as fast as I can and came close to dying way too many times which, given the level of the character and the mode it was in, shouldn’t have happened, well, not the way it was. Nothing is working against the final boss; my grenades are pretty much useless, the legendary that had, up to that point, served me well wasn’t doing shit and I was more than glad that I could hit the button to look at my inventory without getting killed but frustrated because of the thirty or so weapons I had on hand, I’d tried them all… except for this Jakobs pistol that, normally, I would have sold for cash given my dislike of them.

I equip it and I’m already thinking about what else I can do to defeat the final boss and knowing that I don’t have a damned thing in my backpack that’s gonna get the job done once and for all; I’m going to get killed and respawn… and start the level all over again… with a bunch of weapons that have been proven to be woefully inadequate. I hate this game… and I love the shit out of it. I take a deep breath, make myself comfortable, and resume the battle with this “crappy” six-shot pistol that has the saving grace of reloading very quickly and the next thing I know, the final boss is defeated, the gun in my hand is trailing smoke out of its barrel and all I could do was shake my head over how things can wind up working and when, “normally,” they usually don’t.

Those of you who’ve played Borderlands knows how… improbable it is to take out a boss with a pistol. During my main story play, I took out a boss… with a shotgun. I shouldn’t have been surprised that a Jakobs pistol offed the final DLC boss but, yep, I was. It’s stuff like this that, to me, makes playing Borderlands so much fun while being pretty annoying at the same time. So I finished the DLC and went back to the next main story task facing me, got to one of the remaining “big bosses…” and took him out… with that same Jakobs pistol because despite getting more weapons and nice legendary ones, they didn’t do shit against this particular boss but yet another weapon I’m not fond of got the job done. Again.

 
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Posted by on 20 October 2021 in Xbox One Gaming

 

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Xbox One Gaming: Borderlands 3

I’ve stepped away from playing Elite Dangerous for the moment and went back to a game that gives me both fits and a lot of… pleasure. I remember the resistance I had about playing this game because I’d tried to play first-person shooters before and I sucked badly at them so when my son-in-law and daughter kept leaning on me to play this game – and made sure I’d play it because they bought it for me – I was like, well, shit – might as well see what all the fuss is about and they did spend their money so I could play it with them.

And I found that, um, I like killing shit and blowing shit up. A lot. So I was playing yesterday and caught myself thinking about how much fun I was having methodically and efficiently killing and destroying everything that was getting between me and the goal of taking on the boss… and then doing a number on it. I could have activated one of my established profiles/characters and it would have been fun… but not as fun as starting a new game and, well, there’s something… gratifying about having to start from scratch and turning the new character into a stone-cold killer and, um, reflecting the way playing this game makes me feel.

Not that I’d really go out and start a killing spree but those of you who play games like this knows what I’m talking about and the harder the game makes it to kill shit, the more satisfying it is to do some very serious killing. The Borderlands games go out of their way to not make playing them all that easy by not making it easy to find the weapons and other stuff that would make it easy. Like, yesterday, my character got to level 60 and I got there primarily using a level 45 weapon which you’d think wouldn’t work against higher level bad guys… but that’s the thing about Borderlands because it can work… and not so much. Ah, but the thrill of playing this game is also learning to make the best of the stuff you have because there’s no telling if you’ll ever get your hands on the stuff you really need.

And while this can be frustrating at times, oh, yeah – just being able to kill shit and blow shit up is so… relaxing even if, um, even if I wind up having to respawn because they managed to kill the shit out of me, which was happening at the moment my character got to level 60. I was mowing them down with my “usual” methodical way, clearing section after section and even differently as I’ve done with the other established characters when the level 45 weapon that had served me surprisingly well all this time failed me and, ultimately, got me killed.

Oh, I was “pissed” – and I always get “pissed” when I get killed and more so when I know I did something stupid… which is pretty much what I did to get offed at that point in the game. On the real, I chided myself because I know better; it’s not like way back when I was learning how to play Borderlands 3 and I have to give it to Gearbox because the game plays almost in the same way across all four of the games – no one counts the pre-sequel game as “Borderlands 3” even though it came out before Borderlands 3. There is a bit of a learning curve to go from playing Borderlands 2 and 3 but, yeah, you learn that there’s some shit you shouldn’t do because it’s gonna get you killed.

Ah, but the fun part is getting killed, respawning, and coming back with a vengeance and as I went about exacting that vengeance, oh, man, was I feeling all nice as I did it! There’s a critter in this game called “Tinks” and, well, they’re midgets – and I do not use that word to offend anyone – that are fun to kill… and a pain in the ass because they’re not only small but those fuckers are fast, too. I’d gone into an area that I knew would be chock full of these annoying motherfuckers and with the thought that since I’d been leaving a high body count of bandits, this wasn’t going to be any different so I dived right on in… and the game picked that moment for the weapon that had served me so well to stop serving me well and when I got surrounded by no less than eight Tinks, well, I got offed. And I was pissed because I knew better; again, it’s not like I’ve never played any iteration of this game before.

But, okay – my bad and my mistake… and one they were going to pay for once I respawned… and the devastation I wreaked upon them was… glorious and close to making my dick hard to be so focused and methodically about making them have to respawn and the messier I made that for them, the better it felt. Yeah, I had to switch to another weapon in my backpack but, man, I really did like the one that decided to “quit” on me! It delivered brutal deaths to the bandits that dared to face me even when they were a level higher than I was or had weaponry that shouldn’t have depleted my shields but, yeah, they did… and it meant nothing as I shrugged off their attempts to make me have to respawn again and just killed the shit out of them and no quarter given.

Those of you who have played the game – or any game like it – knows what I’m talking about. You know the game is going to do everything possible to defeat you… and you’re not having any of that even when you accept that, yep, it’s gonna hand your ass to you and not because you screwed up. And that’s okay… because paybacks is a bitch and revenge is a motherfucker when you can come back and perform a wholesale slaughter with every means at your disposal to do so.

I was having such a hell of time slaughtering bandits that I actually got tired of slaughtering them and had to put the game on pause for a few to catch my breath, as it were… and went on to that level’s boss… and killed the shit out of it and in near record time for me. And, yeah… it felt good. So relaxing. If you could have watched me playing, you might have thought that I wasn’t really into the game and that I might have been… somewhat bored but looks can be deceiving because I was having a fun good time being a cold-blooded, stone-cold killer of bandits.

It’s just that every now and then, I actually catch myself having fun; I’ve played this game so many times that I no longer have to think about how to play it and to the point where I’m pretty much on autopilot and thinking about other stuff but, yeah, sometimes, I become rather aware of my… killing sprees. That “thrill” of selecting a sniper rifle and placing a perfect headshot on a bandit or knowing that I jumped into the middle of mess and got to spraying and praying and when the dust cleared, I’m the only one standing there and looking for more bandits to kill. Or getting in the midst of them without them knowing I’m there… and raining death and devastation upon them and knowing that there’s nothing they can do about it…

Well, until they actually do and usually because whatever weapon I’ve been using just stops getting the job done. It always gives me one of those “oh, shit” moments to empty a whole clip of ammo on a bad guy… and he’s still standing there shooting back and now I gotta think if there’s something in my backpack that’s gonna make him – and his friends – go away. Sometimes there is and sometimes I just gotta work with what I have and I’m often very thankful that I made it through the situation and have it firmly in mind that I need better shit to kill these fuckers with. I took out one boss… with a pistol. If you’ve played Borderlands 3, you probably now how… unlikely it is to take out any of the bosses with… a pistol. Why? Because nothing else I had at the time did shit against the boss and the only gun I hadn’t tried was… a pistol. Once I switched to it, yeah, I was… amazed that it even worked… but the game can be like that because, when playing with a different character, I took that same boss out… with a shotgun. And another time… with a sniper rifle.

And besides all that killing and destruction, this is what makes playing Borderlands 3 so much fun to play because you never know what’s going to work even when you know what should work. My weapon of choice is any flavor of submachine guns… but I’ve played where the weapon that works is an assault rifle and, yeah, even the less favored pistol or shotgun. The game has grenades… but you can’t count on them working once you get past whatever level the grenade happens to be but it’s so much fun to carpet bomb their asses by using every grenade I’m carrying… because it’s so much fun to blow shit up and so very relaxing even if, say, unloading all 14 grenades at my disposal doesn’t kill many bandit. Shit… if throwing one doesn’t work, throw all of them… and let’s see what happen. I’m currently using the Firestorm grenade and, man, talk about raining fire down? Throwing one and seeing the devastation can get me to giggling… but throwing all 14 of them all at once?

Oh, hell, yeah! What a rush! And to think that I once resisted playing this game way back when it first came out!

 
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Posted by on 15 September 2021 in Xbox One Gaming

 

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Xbox One Gaming: Hitting the Gaming Wall

I have over 100 games that I own and thanks to GamePass Unlimited, access to many more games. I’d gotten hooked on Elite Dangerous and playing it for hours on end until, one day, eh, I wasn’t feeling it. Unlike the majority of players, I don’t wanna be bothered with PvP stuff (player versus player) and being attacked, pirated, and dealing with the many asshole players I’ve been hearing about. I play in Solo mode so it’s me against whatever computerized NPCs the game decides to throw at me as I operate my ships as freighters or break out my passenger liner to go on long trips. But the last time I actually played, “business” was bad; there weren’t enough high paying jobs to justify taking a ship out; fuel and repair costs for the ships I normally use are quite high and while I do have enough credits on hand to offset those costs, if a job isn’t paying at least a half-million credits, it’s not worth it.

That aside, I just wasn’t feeling the game and I knew it was because I had hit the gaming wall more than anything else. I went to play Minecraft and to test out the new (and for now, experimental) features the game has added and, okay, wow, they were pretty cool… but instead of starting a new world and going through my start-up process, which is usually the best part of the game, bleh – it was a bit of a bother and another symptom of hitting the gaming wall.

I went to a game I hadn’t played in a while: Prey. I picked up where I had left off only to realize that I had seriously fucked up because I didn’t make sure I was fully stocked up before tackling a situation in the game that can be hard to get through if you’re not fully stocked and loaded for bear. So I said, “Fuck it; lemme start a new game!” I could have literally fought my way through the existing game but when you hit the gaming wall, it’s just too much work. In the new game, I blew right past the part where I got stuck in the existing game but as I progressed, the dulling effect of the gaming wall hit me and… I stopped playing.

Another of my go-to games is Borderlands. I’m pissed that my console’s DVD drive died (and they always seem to do that for unknown reasons) so I couldn’t play the games I have discs for but I have Borderlands 1 and 3 digitally and decided to play Borderlands 3 to see what new stuff had been added to the game. I picked my favorite character to continue what I’d been doing with her and got into it but, wow, that character is very powerful and with equally powerful weaponry to match so while I usually take “pleasure” in going on wholesale slaughtering binges, bleh, it wasn’t fun because the gaming wall was really falling down on me. I decided to start a new game, which is usually fun to do as I build up the character and easily so since I’ve defeated this game more times than I can remember and I do love slaughtering the bad guys. But I got to a point in the game and, ugh, I was more aggravated than anything else and while I haven’t quit playing, I’m not eager to get back at it so much.

This is nothing new; ever since I started gaming, I’ve had many moments where I just don’t feel like playing and to the point where I wouldn’t even bother to turn the console on and, at the time, making my son-in-law call me to find out if I was okay because he wasn’t seeing me online. As a bit of an aside, I’m still very much troubled by his sudden and unexpected death almost three months ago now and even after all this time has passed, it feels very weird to be playing a game and knowing that he’s never going to jump in or call me to tell me about certain games. His passing still bothers me but as the show must go on, so must the gaming… but the gaming wall still showed up anyway and becomes more of a pain because while I could watch TV or read, ugh – not much worth looking at on TV and some of the books I’ve been reading are “hard” to read and the wall is so bad that I don’t really feel like playing any of the games on my iPad but since gaming is part of my daily routine, I can fight through the wall’s effects but, yeah, ugh.

You’d think that because I’ve been gaming for as long as I have – and that I’ve hit the wall at times along the way – that I’d be used to it and would have figured out why I hit it and why it even happens at all… and I haven’t even come close to figuring it out. It’s not that any of the games I have are boring because it a game doesn’t interest me, I don’t acquire it. It’s not that I don’t have access to a lot of potentially exciting games because I sure as hell do; Xbox has, through acquisitions and other deals, has more games than I can shake a controller at from major players like Bethesda, EA, and Ubisoft and I have games from all three companies that I love playing… until I faceplant the gaming wall, that is.

It always comes out of nowhere and without the slightest hint that it’s going to appear in front of me. I was in the middle of doing a cargo run in Elite Dangerous and I just wanted to quit before I even delivered the cargo. I did complete the job and there were other jobs to be done… just didn’t feel like doing them so I took my ship back to my home station and parked it and it’s been there for over a week now as I’ve been playing other games in an attempt to break through the wall. It’s just weird; the only way I can break through the wall is to keep playing even though I don’t feel like playing but long experience with running face first into the wall has taught me that if I wanna get through this, I gotta keep playing.

I used to think it was just me but my now-late son-in-law, along with my daughter and their children who I often play with and the other games I often play with, would tell me the same thing and it’s not unlike the ongoing complaint about TV: Hundreds of channels to watch, not a damned thing on any of them worth watching. You can be gaming your ass off and even across multiple games and at some point, the wall appears and just stops you dead in your tracks… and I’ll be damned if I know why.

So I’m off to do some gaming and chipping away at the gaming wall. The “bad” part is that I also feel a very bad case of writer’s block coming on so if you don’t see anything from me, you know what happened.

 
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Posted by on 26 August 2021 in Xbox One Gaming

 

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Xbox One Gaming: Elite Dangerous Progress Report

It’s been a while since I wrote about playing this game and the first thing to report is how addictive I’m finding it. There’s so much to think about in this game and so many things that can be done that there are days when I tell myself, “I’m not gonna play it today; I’ll play Minecraft or one of other games I have…”

Then crank up the console, check for updates… and open Elite Dangerous. Because I play in Solo mode – and that’s because I’m just not into the cut-throat way a lot of people play the game – I get to do whatever I’m doing without being bothered with other humans – the game’s NPCs – non-playable characters – give me enough grief at times when they decide to attack me during a cargo or passenger run and the passengers sometimes get on my last good nerve wanting to get taken all around the place and often complaining when they “think” I’m not getting there fast enough.

Not my fault that they chose to take a trip than can be, combined, hundreds of jumps long. I have the best ship for this: The Beluga. I’ve learned to arm it to the teeth and the ship includes a fighter and pilot who can join me in defending the ship from the NPC bad guys. And speaking of ships…

The best ships cost a lot of credits and a few times, I’ve amassed over one hundred million credits and this is a good point to either upgrade ships in my fleet or to buy the next best one and by the time I get finished purchasing and outfitting a new ship, I’m usually “broke” but that’s okay; I’m used to grinding in a game. Grinding is just doing mission after mission after mission and in my selected “profession” as a Trader and Explorer, it can get pretty boring but if you wanna make the credits, you learn to stick to it rather than to take “the easy way” to make credits by attacking and destroying other players or doing the one thing I’ve yet to wrap my head around, which is mining. I’ve done the tutorial for this several times and I can fire my mining laser at an asteroid and break a piece off easily enough but when it comes to capturing it and putting it in my cargo hold? I suck at it and that bothers me something fierce because I just can’t seem to catch up with the errant piece and, to date, I’ve only managed to successfully mine something once.

My everyday ship is the one called a Python and it’s a favored multipurpose ship for a lot of players. It can carry 200 pieces of cargo which, for most jobs, is pretty decent but its main attraction is its firepower and ability to dogfight when outfitted with the right mix of weaponry. I had bought the next level ship: An Anaconda and another ship that is favored among other players. It has decent cargo capacity when outfitted properly and you can pack in a lot of firepower but it’s downside is that the base configuration is slow; its thrusters leave a lot to be desired and its ability to maneuver at slower speeds just drove me crazy and especially when I’m trying to line up and deorbit to make a planetary landing. The game has Engineers, specialists who, upon meeting their criteria, can provide stuff to pump up many aspects of ship.

At first, I wasn’t all that interested in this aspect of the game but when I bought the Anaconda and, um, gotten my ass shot off a few times because of its poor maneuverability, okay, let’s do some engineering but even then there’s a problem I can’t get around: Some of the best improvements require a payment in, say, iron or sulphur… which you cannot buy at any station… you have to mine it and I suck at that. There are other modifications available and getting the components needed is often easy enough since many jobs pay in those materials and you can always go to a Materials Trader and wave your fingers over stuff to get what you might need.

It took me a bit of time to get the Anaconda engineered to the point where it moves better but I’ve still had some interesting moments trying to deorbit and once – and only for the second time since I’ve been playing – crashed into the planet and got destroyed. Bummer. But one of the things I get a kick out of when buying a new ship is learning how to fly and fight it and once I outfitted it with a fighter, well, when I couldn’t get away from being interdicted and had to fight, asses got kicked and names were taken and most of the time the attacker realizes they’re overmatched and run away; sometimes they come back and continue the fight, though. While both the Python and Anaconda have decent cargo space, I found I needed more; when you advance through the Trader ranks, you get access to the higher paying (and riskier) jobs and having credits is just as important as having good ships.

So I bought the Type-10 Defender which is a beast of a ship. More than decent cargo capacity but more slots available for weapons and a fighter bay. The downside? It’s like driving a fully loaded tractor trailer without power steering and it’s stuck in mud. It is so slow to move that trying to evade an interdiction is a lot of work… but the good part is that if I gotta fight, yeah, buddy, let’s do this! I had to engineer the shit out of this ship just to make it move better and even after doing that, it’s still kinda slow when maneuvering. Mine is outfitted to carry 408 pieces of cargo and, yeah, fully loaded? Still maddeningly slow but I’ve learned to fly and fight it well enough.

One of the decisions I have to make every time I start the game is what am I going to do and which ship am I going to use and while the Type-10 is a beast of a “warrior,” it’s ponderous movement is a liability that I’ll say I don’t want to deal with… but I’ll take it out anyway and a few days ago, that decision cost me dearly when I got blown away and “respawned” and by the time my insurance payment came out, I had gone from having just over 50 million credits to… just over a million. I hate when this happens; the grind is bad enough and now it gets worst to get as many credits as possible just to cover the insurance payoff in case I get my ass shot off again.

But I worked through it and while I’ve not gotten my credits back to a place where being able to pay for stuff isn’t a problem, I did the one thing I didn’t want to do: Traded in my Anaconda for one of the best ships in the game: The Federation Cutter. It is a beast of a warship with respectable cargo capacity and other players have said time and time again that the “FC” is that ship you do not want to fuck with unless getting blown up is something you enjoy. I didn’t want to get rid of my Anaconda but the good thing is that at some point, I will be able to buy another one – and I will.

So today, I’ll be in the FC and taking a trip to a couple of engineers to apply what modifications I can. I’m still kinda/sorta outfitting it and the thing I already like about it is that I equipped it with a fighter bay that can carry, at this time, two fighters and will eventually upgrade it to carry four of these puppies. I’ll be out there learning how to fly and fight it which is actually a lot of fun if not a bit nerve-wracking at times. I took it out briefly last night, leaving my home base and going just outside the No-Fire Zone so I could deploy its weapons to make sure the ship didn’t shut itself down and a mistake I’ve made a couple of times. Today, as I journey to the Engineers, I’ll be testing every aspect I can think of including landing on a planet which, for me, is “harder” than fighting any of the ships I have except the Python – it can turn and burn really well for such a large ship.

I just can’t seem to stop playing this game. It often gives me fits and doing some stuff is so boring that there are a lot of times when I’m flying along and not paying attention – and watching TV on my tablet or playing another game or reading on my iPad. I recently reached Elite status as a Trader, which is a big deal; I’m close to reaching Elite status as an Explorer and currently at 96% and it’s a bitch progressing because even when I find unexplored systems and sell the data to the folks who buy it, I’m just not selling enough to get that last 4% in – yet. But the grind will help with this, too.

Time to get to grinding. There’s work to be done and bad guys to kill and credits to make…

 
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Posted by on 2 July 2021 in Xbox One Gaming

 

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