What are you playing?

So I finally sat down and learned how to play Stellaris.

Well I say "learned" but it's more like "muddle through enough until I'm familiar with the interface and then get my ass kicked by the aliens".

I haven't really played any Paradox games before, so all I can do is compare Stellaris to other 4X like Master of Orion and Civilization, and so far it compares quite favorably. It feels like there are a lot more nuances when it comes to empire management and foreign relations, for example I can't just attack enemies at will, I need to have a casus belli, but gradually uncovering these aspects has been both difficult and rewarding.
 

figmentPez

Staff member
Stranger Things Puzzle Tales, a mobile game included with Netflix.

It's.... Well, it's a little like Puzzle Quest, in that it's a Match-3 / Bejeweled-like with RPG elements, with a story mode that's seems to crafted solely to be about why every ST character ever is fighting waves of monsters using polyhedral gems that don't ever roll like dice.

On one hand: Match-3! Stranger Things!

On the other hand: This is so needlessly complicated. There are at least a half-dozen different in-game currencies. Characters level up at least two different ways, and it takes multiple types of currency to do so. There's so much shit on timers. It was very clearly designed to have real-world money funneled into it, but there's no actual monetization outside a Netflix subscription. I think Netflix may have bought another game and reskinned it.

I'll probably keep playing until it gets frustrating.
Update: I hit a wall and this game is badly suffering from either having been a F2P game when it was being developed, or taking way too much influence from F2P games. Leveling up your characters is locked behind collecting duplicates in your roster and promoting them to higher ranks by combining duplicates. My characters are currently too low level to have even a chance of progressing on in the story, but to level them up I'll need to get higher ranked characters, so I'm just stuck waiting for daily/weekly tasks to get enough of the various currencies to gamble on random character drops. I have no idea how long it will take to get enough to progress. I figure at least a week, and probably multiple weeks.

The developers don't seem to know that they can't get any more money from me. There's no microtransactions in the game.

It's also frustrating that the most enjoyable game mode can only be played once a day. There's a Slay the Spire-esque mode where you travel down a branching path, battling enemies and gathering upgrades as you go. My first experience with this Portal mode was really thrilling. I was collecting characters that I didn't have, who were at much higher levels than my main party, and the balance felt great. One I hit the first level cap, though, Portal mode dropped to merely fun. Finding characters along the path became a poor option, since they weren't dramatically higher in level, and didn't have any equipment. So fighting enemies and getting an upgrade became an objectively better, but more boring, option.

I'm not sure why Portal mode is limited to just one run a day, since the rewards are really crappy, and it'll take me weeks more to be able to buy anything with the special currency you earn in that mode.

This game would have been a lot better if it had dropped almost everything else and revamped Portal mode as the main attraction.

As it is, I'm not sure how long I'll keep up with this. I would have liked to have finished the story mode, but I'm not going to do a daily grind for weeks just to experience a crappy non-canon story that doesn't fit into the universe at all.
 
So I know I said I'm never buying a Ubisoft game again, and I think I've stuck to that, but my wife saw someone playing Just Dance 2023 Edition on a Switch and she wanted to get it, so I bought it for our Switch.

First, the good. It runs well, the dances are fun, and it's one of the few gaming experiences I can share with my wife (she's very much not a gamer).

Next, the bad. Why the fuck does a dancing game require an always-online connection? Why does it require a Ubisoft account? It's been so long since I've played a Ubisoft game that I'd forgotten my Ubisoft password and had to reset it, so that was another chore.

And then, the worse. Apparently the servers for the game have been getting hammered the last few days, so we couldn't actually play it until last night, approximately three days after buying it. But it never actually said "Servers too busy" or anything like that, it just gave a nondescriptive "Error" message and then kicked us out of the game. Plus like 80% of the songs and dances in the game are locked behind a subscription. You can see the songs, you can preview the dances, but if you want to play them, please pay a monthly fee, kthnxbi. No monthly fee? Play the handful of free songs we deign to offer you.

Finally, the worst. I look like a hippo having a stroke when I dance.
 
My daughter used to love the Just Dance series. Then we discovered that all those extra songs, the 80% locked behind a paywall, go away when the next year’s installment comes out regardless whether you pay for them or not.

So enjoy Just Dance 2023… for exactly one year. And then be ready for it to be essentially bricked sometime around next December.
 

Dave

Staff member
Oh god help me. I got peer pressured into it I swear! A friend wanted to do it and I finally gave in. I fell off the wagon and fell off hard.

My new character is a Wargen Warrior.
 
Trying my hand at Abe's odyssey, both the original and the remake "New and Tasty". The remake while still challenging is a BIT easier in the early stages.
 
Hades

Nabbed this during the recent Steam sale. I'd played it before through the Game Pass, but wanted to own it for myself. It's, of course, a great game. But I find I'm really not looking forward to the grind-a-thon. Especially for the stuff I want like diamonds or most especially gemstones to build up the home area. I've only beaten Hades himself once so far, and it was close one (I had literally 1 health left). I just can't seem to make any good builds that help me survive or defeat him.
 
Spider-Man: Miles Morales

View attachment 42994

Oh my god New York, Peter Parker's only been gone for one day. ONE DAY. Can you chill the fuck out?
I too am playing this (almost done) and it has been a good time. Five years ago I would have called the Roxxon guy a cartoonishly over the top mockery of a CEO, but now he's a fucking measured and tempered portrayal.

Also, this just happened and I don't think Miles can claim to have not taken a life.
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I did play last time in French :) Kids asked me to play in English this time. Sorry!
There is lists of trade codes actually that exist that people are using to get specific pokemon. 4448 - 4448 should be all dittos with the purpose of them being cross language. About to try and will let you know how long it takes.
 
I did some looking and if you have Nintendo online, you can use link trade code 4448 4448 and trade for Dittos.

I got a foreign language one on try three.
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Jinx!!
 
I too am playing this (almost done) and it has been a good time. Five years ago I would have called the Roxxon guy a cartoonishly over the top mockery of a CEO, but now he's a fucking measured and tempered portrayal.

Also, this just happened and I don't think Miles can claim to have not taken a life.View attachment 43070
I finished the game last night, 100% other than the stuff that can only be unlocked in NG+, and overall great game. It feels like it should have been just a really big DLC for the original Spider-Man game, and overall I think that game is still better all around, but I love Miles and loved every second of this game.

Except for looking for sound samples. Fuck that obviously padded middle. Cool suit though so... I still did it.
 
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The randos in Darktide are the worst. In a game where the mechanic is stick together or your "shields" dont regen, to many people think they are a one man army.
And just now, this pair went afk for 5 minutes because they had to get food. Why start a match then? The BF got pissed when we started a kickvote. "We dont want to starve" he said. Then dont start a fucking game till you have eaten. Gamers are mentally stunted.
 

GasBandit

Staff member
The randos in Darktide are the worst. In a game where the mechanic is stick together or your "shields" dont regen, to many people think they are a one man army.
And just now, this pair went afk for 5 minutes because they had to get food. Why start a match then? The BF got pissed when we started a kickvote. "We dont want to starve" he said. Then dont start a fucking game till you have eaten. Gamers are mentally stunted.
Wow. I've had some real losers, but nobody THAT bad.
 

GasBandit

Staff member
Oh man, you have no idea what it's like in public co-op these days. This is completely accurate.

--Patrick
Right now I have no CHOICE in Darktide. They haven't implemented private groups like Vermintide yet, so every single game I've got randos. But I have yet to have someone go AFK to eat mid-mission.
 
So I'm still plugging away at Stellaris, gradually learning the systems and trying to make them work for me.

So there was this neighboring empire that was pissing me off because they kept trying to claim my systems. So I built up several massive fleets and started a war against them, which I won fairly easily. I captured several of their planets during this process, but then after the war ended these planets suffered massive unrest, because the native populations had been enslaved by me, the alien invader from the skies. Apparently people object to being enslaved, who knew?

Anyway, I tried mollifying them with extra amenities and perks, I tried suppressing them by building structures that reduce crime, I tried setting new policies that would correspond to their original ethics, but nothing worked. So in the end I decided screw it, and ordered the native populations to be exterminated. And then this caused my empire's economy to go down the crapper and I started suffering huge monetary losses every year. Apparently exterminated people can't work, who knew?

So I needed to either make more money or save money, and I couldn't make more money because I'd gone all genocidal and killed off a good chunk of my workers, so I decided to reduce my expenditures by scrapping the fleets I'd used to win the war previously. This helped somewhat, because all those ships were costing a pretty penny to maintain, but it still didn't bring me into the black.

So while I'm there trying to untangle my economy, the empire I'd defeated previously, apparently noticing that I now had no military forces, decided this would be a good time to declare war again to retake their lost territory. Apparently having a military can serve as a deterrent to aggressors, who knew?

And some other neighbors, who'd noticed me going all genocidal earlier, thought this would also be a good time to declare war too and punish me for my horrible crimes. Apparently some people don't like it when you commit genocide, who knew?

Anyway, that's where I closed down the game. Boy I learned a lot.
 

GasBandit

Staff member
Today I finally earned enough gems in Idle Champions to purchase my sixth (and probably final) familiar - Armored Juniper.

1670251008980.png


Juniper cost 30,000 gems. Gems can be purchased with real money, but I'm making it a point to not make any real money purchases in this game. So I earned gems the slow way - by getting about ~500 per completed quest and ~10-15 per defeated boss every 5 waves.

This has literally taken me months.

But that sixth familiar makes all the difference in automating quests (familiars automatically click things for you). So now I can let the game play itself for me even more efficiently than before!

Incidentally, my other familiars are:
1670251174353.png
Mage hand, 250 gems
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Gelatinous Cube, 5,000 gems
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Pixie, 10,000 gems
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Baby Guenwhyvar, was part of a free promotional pack
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Awakened Toadstool, was part of another event pack

So yeah... Juniper alone cost me about twice as much time as all my other familiars combined.

What's next? I don't know... I can only use six familiars, but I notice I can get Boo (who'd pair nicely since I already have Minsc in my roster) for a mere 70,000 gems >_< Maybe this time next year?
 

GasBandit

Staff member
Curse you. :p
Don't worry, if you don't have something else to do while you play it, you'll get bored of it fast :p the offline mode does not adequately compensate your party for the time actually spent - you have to keep it running to really progress in most cases.

Mostly for me, it gives me something to click on while I watch youtube videos because I seem to be getting more attention deficit in my advancing years and cannot sit still to watch something without having something else to fiddle with simultaneously.
 
Don't worry, if you don't have something else to do while you play it, you'll get bored of it fast :p the offline mode does not adequately compensate your party for the time actually spent - you have to keep it running to really progress in most cases.

Mostly for me, it gives me something to click on while I watch youtube videos because I seem to be getting more attention deficit in my advancing years and cannot sit still to watch something without having something else to fiddle with simultaneously.
No, no...idle phone games are my jam. And most of them are the same...you really have to keep them running to progress quickly. My only saving grace is that they're not available on PC, where I can run them for 6 hours my first day while doing meetings all day at work. I'm gonna be sucked in so hard.
 
And after finding some patches for my COMPLETELY LEGITIMATE COPY so I could finish the last boss of the game (it shipped with a glitch that hardlocks the game during or after the last boss every time), I'm done with Miles Morales. Great game with some really cringey writing but still absolutely nails the emotional beats. It's probably my own parental trauma but I get suckered by any story where the dad isn't (or wasn't) complete garbage.

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What's next? I don't know... I can only use six familiars, but I notice I can get Boo (who'd pair nicely since I already have Minsc in my roster) for a mere 70,000 gems >_< Maybe this time next year?
Now that I'm good and thoroughly sucked in...

There are other uses for familiars, depending on how much automation you want to run. You can have them autolevel your party members...so that's a conceivable 16 familiars needed (6 for the playfield tapping, up to 10 for the party members, depending on formation).

1670517118194.png


Additionally, you can have a familiar randomly click an Ultimate Attack every 30 seconds, so that would be 17 familiars needed.
OR, you can have a familiar assigned to a specific Ultimate Attack, so, near as I can as I can tell, 26 familiars will pretty much automate everything except for choosing specialties early-ish in a run.

So, you know, in case you need future goals :D
 
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GasBandit

Staff member
Now that I'm good and thoroughly sucked in...

There are other uses for familiars, depending on how much automation you want to run. You can have them autolevel your party members...so that's a conceivable 16 familiars needed (6 for the playfield tapping, up to 10 for the party members, depending on formation).

View attachment 43121

Additionally, you can have a familiar randomly click an Ultimate Attack every 30 seconds, so that would be 17 familiars needed.
OR, you can have a familiar assigned to a specific Ultimate Attack, so, near as I can as I can tell, 26 familiars will pretty much automate everything except for choosing specialties early-ish in a run.

So, you know, in case you need future goals :D
I know there's other things familiars can do, but I thought you were limited to 6 in a single party? Or maybe that's just 6 clicking in the formation...
 
I know there's other things familiars can do, but I thought you were limited to 6 in a single party? Or maybe that's just 6 clicking in the formation...
Just 6 in the clicking formation on the playfield.

And evidently you can end up using much more for various background quests, split parties, and such. This guy is using about 42 of them.
 

GasBandit

Staff member
Just 6 in the clicking formation on the playfield.

And evidently you can end up using much more for various background quests, split parties, and such. This guy is using about 42 of them.
... it had never occurred to me to use the multiparty system to just banish Bruenor Battlehammer to round 15 of Cursed Farmer FOREVER... But it also doesn't sound very lucrative until I got a lot more Torm's favor. I think I have like something x10e14 or something right now, so I got to get to round 300-something for that needle to start moving again.
 
Stray

I love this game so much. I got it during the Autumn sale, ran it 'just to try it out' and eight hours later...

I'm usually not a fan of stealth or jumping games, but I liked this one because it didn't try to trick you into failing. The challenge of jumping was finding the right path and you just had to pay attention to where the security drones were scanning. It's a nice challenge for casual gamers. The Zerg rushes--er, Zurk swarms could get very frustrating, but the respawns are quick and the Zurks are only in certain areas so that was fine. I didn't care about the 'combat', I just enjoyed exploring the areas as a cat and interacting with the Companions. The story was interesting, and I liked the characters and wanted to help them. I love that the developers obviously have cats so the cat behaved like a cat (I loved the cat's reaction to getting the backpack!). I liked all the random objects set on tables and ledges waiting for some asshole to come along and knock them off. I liked that when you get to the other levels of the city, you can look down at the levels you came from and see the places you explored and get a better sense of the world you're in.

I did have to remap the controls for keyboard/mouse--wtf were they thinking on the defaults?!--to deal with the Zurks. I moved Meow from Alt to the right mouse button (I don't use first person view anyway), so that I didn't have to do WASD, Jump, Run, and Meow all on one hand at the same time while Zurks were chasing me.

I ran into two annoying glitches. On the quest to get the death ray, the scientist got stuck and wouldn't open the door. Thankfully, restarting fixed it. A worse glitch was when I died doing one of the Zurk gauntlets in the sewers and the respawn was in the middle of the big room with the lever and all the egg sacs--and they had all respawned. So after I died again from an unexpected swarm, I knew to make a beeline for the wall on the next respawn.

The ending was bittersweet--having the cat curl up next to the dead robot was so sad. I didn't want to leave him there! And I hope there's a sequel where we can find the other cats again.
 
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