Thoughts on the Nintendo Switch and Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Hey there, here are some quick thoughts on the new Switch and Zelda.

So I got myself a Nintendo Switch and my reactions so far are pretty mixed. I don’t see it quite replacing my 3DS since it doesn’t have the battery life nor does it have the social features such as Street Passes or the Miiverse. I don’t see it replacing my PS4 as my primary console either. In fact, I don’t see myself shelving my WiiU until the Switch has a decent and substancial library.

On the other hand, the major launch title for the Switch, Zelda: Breath of the Wild, is simply fantastic. It’s a game that makes me feel like I am legitimatly exploring a vast new world. It doesn’t really “feel” like a game cluttered with objectives like most open-world games are. Nor does it feel like an environment constrained by walls or other boundries. The best way to describe Zelda: BotW it is that it’s an experience. An experience that I can definitly put in my personal top 10 as one of the greatest games of all time.

So the Switch may be a mediocre console, but you’ll be missing out on the definitive edition of Zelda: BotW…and being able to play it on-the-go is something you can’t do with the WiiU version.

If it wasn’t for Zelda, I would consider the Switch a flop. But with many games up on the horizon: a new Mario, a new Splatoon, Fire Emblem Heroes, etc. There is hopefully a bright future for the Switch. I for one am going to enjoy exploring Hyrule for many weeks to come.

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Something About Simplicity

A few weeks ago I had about enough. So many games, so many hobbies at home to keep me preoccupied. I felt exhausted just trying to keep up.

It’s important to keep things simple.

More about my Gaming Groove

Not much this month with gaming. I’m still trying to sort out that “Gaming Groove”

I picked up Final Fantasy XV recently and ran into some issues with it. The gameplay was fun, but I wasn’t really digging the story. This is fine if the story was just a couple hours…but this being a 40 hour JRPG it really, really held me back.

So what do I do? Do I fight it to the end? Do I simply stop playing? I can only answer that question for myself. There’s a huge PSN sale that’s been going on for a few weeks, but I’ve opted to skip on some wishlisted JRPGs for the reason of length and time.

Then I got into some flight simming again…or tried to get my setup for it. X-Plane 11 came out recently with some much needed optimizations and is everything I want in a sim, or almost everything.

The problem is that I’m transforming it into a VR powerhouse. I love VR and I really think it’s the future of gaming…but there are only so many USB ports and space on my desk to use for this purpose. This is a problem.

For most of my games, I have no issue with space. Yet with X-Plane 11 and DCS I need:

  • Two USB slots for my Thrustmaster Warthog
  • One USB slot for my CH Rudder Pedals
  • One USB slot for my TrackIR
  • Space on top of my monitor for the TrackIR
  • Space on the left and right side of my desk for a giant 15lb HOTAS joystick
  • Space under my desk for the rudder pedals.

That’s four USB slots and a whole lot of little space to maneuver. I tried unplugging stuff, putting it in the closet…but when you gotta set all this up for a 30 minute “flight”; it’s very, very tedious and cumbersome.

The Oculus Rift on the other hand needs:

  • One USB Slot for the headset
  • Two USB slots for the sensors
  • One USB slot for the wireless controller
  • Space on the left and right side of my desk for the sensors

Now we’re talking about eight USB slots being used up. Not to mention I still need USB slots for my keyboard, mouse, headset, and webcam. When you’re trying to rearrange things in the back (all USB cables being black and unlabelled). It gets very confusing, very quickly.

Then desk space becomes a problem. I have speakers, a controller, and sensors all vying for the same left/right area on my little desk I bought at Target. I managed to create space for the sensors using a wall mounted shelf, but the speakers and controller are still fighting for a small area on my desk.

So I have to ask myself. Is it worth it? Do I want my computer to be a flight sim tool, or a gaming/VR powerhouse? I’m siding toward the latter. Which brings up a new problem: What do I do to fufill my desires to fly, especially cool WWII aircraft that I really like?

 

I’ve had the solution the entire time. Buried in my closet is my old Saitek X52 Pro joystick. It was the first HOTAS joystick I purchased before getting the Warthog…yet it fits the bill as far as what I need as I go toward a more casual gaming route.

  • Only requires one USB slot, doesn’t need rudder pedals
  • Takes up less space on my desk
  • Very light, weighs about one pound altogether.
  • Better compatibility with my games (Elite Dangerous even has its in-game HOTAS modelled after the X52)
  • Less buttons and easier to use.

So I got the right joystick, what about the games? It doesn’t really work well for DCS or X-Plane 11, so scratch those options. Yet it works great for War Thunder and Elite Dangerous…both of which are VR capable. There just so happens to be a big sale on War Thunder right now on a bunch of collector planes and about half a year of a premium membership, and a bunch of “Golden Eagles” for other stuff.

So I decided to go back into War Thunder, spent hours having fun yesterday flying different tiers of planes for different countries.

For civilian flight needs there’s also Aerofly FS2. It’s a more casual sim in Early Access, but it has all of the US Southwest, New York, Switzerland, and plans to add more regions (hoping for PNW!). It also has a choice of military aircraft as well and runs great in VR at a whopping 90+ FPS on my GTX 1080, where X-Plane would be lucky to crack just 30FPS.

So…yeah. I hate quitting on some good sims. When I get a bigger place and a bigger desk I’ll definitly consider going back into simming. But for now I just don’t have the physical space or time to do so.

So that sums up my feelings and frustrations. There’s a few other things…such as if I should get back into strategy games or not. But that’s a topic for another day.

Found my Gaming Grove

Today has been a pretty good day.

The last few weeks have been an exploration in what I really like with gaming. Sure, I like all types of games, but there isn’t really one genre that stands out for me other than simulators, and that’s more of a weekend thing.

The big problem I have is that there are a lot of games, especially JRPGs that don’t quite respect my time. A 40 hour enthralling JRPG or an endless MMORPG sounds great if that’s the only game I own. But I have a lot on my backlog and simply cannot devote so much time to one or two games.

On the flip-side, there’s games like Overwatch that I enjoy immensly. Easy to learn, hard to master.

So today I came up with a list of games I can play as an adult casual gamer. Overwatch stands out, as does Rainbow Six Siege, Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2, Destiny, GTAV multiplayer, and other FPS’s. There’s also War Thunder and World of Warships for some good wartime gameplay.

I think limiting myself to short gaming sessions is the best choice at this stage in life. That’s not to say I won’t play epic single-player games such as The Witcher 3 or some good  simulators…but I’m just not going to go out and buy every single AAA game that comes out.

 

That leads me to my next point. Socialization. I’ve become really bored at home. Granted, Seattle isn’t the best place to make friends (look up Seattle Freeze), but there’s nerdy groups out there of people. What better way to get into a group than to play a cool board game.

I used to be huge into board games growing up. I spent a few months with my cousin as a kid in rural Oregon, and the only form of entertainment we had was board games. I started to get serious into them and as an adult I find myself with a huge and amazing selection of fine games.

I have a few friends and family members who would love to play some good board games. If I can’t do that, I could always set up some session at a local board game group. It’ll get me out of the house, help me socialize a bit more, and would be just a lot of fun.

So, I picked up a couple of board games (had some bonus points and got them on a huge discount). Star Wars Imperial Assault and Dungeons and Dragons: Castle Ravenloft. These should be a huge amount of fun. I’m very excited.

That’s about it for now, if anyone wants to game up, just drop a message. See ya!

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Finding my Gaming Groove

I find myself with a lot more free time these days. With that I grow bored of simming all the time.

Pulling out the heavy joystick, rudder pedals, Oculus Rift (or TrackIR), waiting for the program to load, setting up my flight plan, looking up a start-up procedures. It can be quite complicated and exhausting. Especially if I’m playing a combat sim where I’ll probably end up getting destroyed by SAM, AAA, or other aircraft. Too much of it can feel like a job…especially if I’m unfamiliar with the aircraft.

Racing sims are the same. It can be a pain to pull out the wheel, stick, and pedals; get them bolted down to the desk; pull out the Oculus, and then spend 10 minutes of setting up just for a few laps around a track.

So what about other games? Lately I’ve been trying some different genres, but haven’t found a genre I’m really into. Some of the big budget AAA games feel too linear, that I’m playing an open-ended movie while getting distracted by hoards of bad-guys who keep getting in my way from the main story. I feel like the time invested could just be used in watching a good series on Netflix instead…heck I feel like just opening a “Lets Play” on YouTube and watching someone play for me, while skipping the boring parts.

I’m bouncing back and forth between two MMORPGs. FFXIV is finally starting to get good now that I’m finally done with the main story and on to the expansion content. But it feels way too grindy at times, and the story (again) makes me feel like there’s a fast forward button.

Elder Scrolls Online is okay. But too repetitive at times as well. I swear if I walk past another dungeon with an NPC standing in front of it asking for my help. I’m just going to punch that NPC in the face.

Tried exploring some CRPGs. Played through Skyrim and kept bouncing back between wanting to be some cool Nordic Warrior, a Wood Elf archer, or a Breton Mage. I spent more time on that stupid intro sequence than actually playing the game…which is a problem I have with nearly every CRPG. I can’t just enjoy playing from one perspective. I think the Witcher 3 is the only notable example of a CRPG that I can enjoy given I can’t change the look or class of Geralt. And that I do like!

Now I find myself exploring some strategy games. I played a bit of Total War: Warhammer and found it enjoyable. Two hours of my morning were gone with “Just one more turn” in effect. I ended up screwing up by engaging in a two front war and couldn’t be arsed to roll back to a previous save. I just said “Screw it” and let the enemy AI decimate my armies and my cities…and you know what? For once, I didn’t regret it.

I’m going to try a few more strategy games. I really hope I can find my niche. But it seems like sims is the only thing I’m really into at the moment *shrugs* :(.

Weekly Update

Heya!

This week has had its ups and downs with simulation. I’ve had a difficult time getting into civilian sims, namely X-Plane. The lack of VR support doesn’t bother me as much anymore, but flying airliners does.

I don’t get it. I’m having no difficulty flying an A-10C Warthog or a F-15C Eagle, shooting down tanks, and flying back to base. Yet, when it comes to trying to set up approaches in an airliner, I have a difficult time and it’s simply just not fun for me.

Perhaps I just need more patience, or perhaps it truly isn’t that fun for me as I’ve spent a majority of my time in smaller prop-planes. Just this morning for instance, I made a quick IFR flight over the Puget sound in a small Cessna 172 and I enjoyed every minute of it. I may consider flying in a Baron 58, a Cirrus SR-22, or a DA-42 later. That to me is more fun.

Doesn’t this plane just look awesome?

So perhaps I’m just taking X-Plane the wrong way and trying to force myself to play it as others do when they share their pictures of 737’s or Airbus’s…instead of enjoying it in my own way.

Today though, my mission is to rerender some areas of X-Plane. I had nearly 200GB of Orthos that I deleted, they took simply way too much space. I found ZL15 a good balance in space and texture resolution. For now just rendering commonly flown areas in WA. Should take a few hours or so. Afterwards I plan to render parts of Southern California, Las Vegas, and Arizona. After that I want to render parts of Florida, Colorado, and parts of the UK (Because I always wanted to visit the UK). It’ll be a good weekend project.

I’m also considering doing some sort of cross-country tour, I’d like to fly down the West Coast using a variety of different aircraft and perhaps Livestream it and post a lot of pictures as well.

In non-simming news, I’ve been replaying Red Dead Redemption in anticipation for RDR2. I never finished the first game, so this will be a great excuse to actually get into it and finish it up! Farming Simulator 2017 is coming out next week, which I have already preordered and am totally excited for.

Other than that, my ISP gave me a notice saying as of next month I’ll be capped to 1TB. On one hand, it sounds like a good reason for me to stop using them and switch to another provider…but I’m going to use it as an excuse to cut back on playing newer games and spend time on games I already have. While my focus is on RDR for PS3, I’m also wanting to focus on Rise of the Tomb Raider on PC…perhaps do some live streaming as well. Also the upcoming Farming Simulator 17 will be taking much of my time too.

That’s it for now. I’m busy with other stuff in my personal life so I’ll be at home a lot. I’ll be on a nice little stay-at-home vacation :).

Gaming or Simming?

One of the things that bothers me about being an adult gamer is the element of choice. I’m fortunate enough to have the capability to play the latest games in the best settings possible. That’s great. But too much of something good isn’t good at all.

Lately, I’ve picked up Mafia III. It’s a good story marred by repetativeness in many of the missions. Do I continue the game despite the flaws? Do I wait for a patch? Do I just move on?

The Witcher 3 is another good example. Fantastic game worthy of the “GOTY” title, yet recently traded in my PS4 copy for a PC copy to enjoy the maximum quality graphics. The problem is that I also traded in 20+ hours of gametime, forcing me to start all over again. I can’t bare through repeating the story when all the suprises are already known to me. Unlike a good book or a TV show, I can’t just skip chapters or jump to the next season. I’m stuck with starting all over again.

Something I usually bring up in these posts is my fascination of sims. DCS has taken much of my time, as X-Plane, Train Sim, etc. Even Space Sims like Elite Dangerous or arcade-style “sim” War Thunder is a huge thing for me. There’s no story in any of them, yet I can sink 20 hours into doing nothing but target practice in my A-10C Warthog on a bunch of idle low-armored targets.

Yet what of the other games? Why can’t I invest that same 20 hours into Mafia III or Witcher 3? Why am I just so bored? Why can’t I jump into Overwatch for 3 hours and rank to level 100+ like so many others?

I’m not sure I can answer those questions. I cycle interests so frequently that it’s better to not ask and just go with the flow. Maybe, eventually, I will delete some unplayed games from my hard drive. But until then my sims are what brings me a lot of enjoyment…and I should definitly consider cutting back on my normal gaming purchases since they all end with the same story…me not finishing them :(.