Goldilocks and the Three Bears

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Asphyxia • Roberta tells a chilling horror story

The game I was trying to think of yesterday was Victor Vran, which is the quasi-Diablo III knock-off, but it seems like my cursory look at the achievement list means I might have been optimistic grabbing one today. I’ll get something I’m sure, but the nearest achievement looks to be getting to level 10, so my twenty minutes of playtime and reaching level 2 this morning indicates to me I have a bit more work to do.

In the meantime, there’s visual novels.

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I didn’t realise how close I was to 100%’ing Asphyxia, considering out of the three achievements I had left, one of the playthrough gives you two and then it’s just another ten minute (if that) whip-through to completion. The same situation as last time, skip all dialogue and use a guide, but if it wasn’t for my out-and-out honesty, you’d never actually know.

Curse my ethics.

I want to make a bit of a final push in the story mode of Destiny 2 on my Xbox Account over the next few days, as I’ve started in on the Barons and I’m hovering in the early 40s level-wise … and I have a few 500’ish weapons willing me ‘over the line’ in terms of light level. I certainly didn’t have any problems last night playing Destiny 2, and – after a while – you begin to forget about the gorgeous graphics on PC and just settle in for the ride.

Maybe the universe is telling me to get a new TV?

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Confessions of an English Opium Eater

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Asphyxia • De Quincey confides in Samantha

I feel like Fridays are a good day for some Japanese Visual Novel gaming. There’s something about the slow pressure of everything that is, or was, due the past week needing to be done before you go home, but at the same time, there’s elements of set-and-forget in VN’s that really appeal to the overlap between my sense of wanting to play games, and my needing to do ‘actual’ work.

Some confessions: yes, I’m using a guide to work my way through the multiple endings of this game, and yes, I’m using auto/skip mode. This is nothing more than an achievement harvest for me – and I make no apologies for it. For purists, I promise you, I have a whole swag of achievements ready to pop on Forza Horizon 2 and 3 tonight (I didn’t realise how close I was for some achievements of FH2 until I looked at the ‘Forza Hub’ App this morning), and I have plenty of indie games kicking around if you really, really need something ‘more’.

But, this is my blog – my challenge. And, as I say, no apologies.

In other gaming news, my usual coffee lady discovered that I had a passion for esports, and introduced me to her husband who I’m led to believe has a stake in the Direwolves. I had to hover between being commercially envious, and simultaneously excited about the opportunities that someone with the same level of passion and enthusiasm for gaming as me had. Like a giddy fan, I left him my name, email and number – but I feel like he’s in the same position as me … ready to make the leap but not quite sure where the market lies and how to go about it.

Time will tell how this plays out.

In the meantime … there’s some Japanese Visual Novels to play … well, read … well, turn on and start, anyway …

Goodbye, cruel world

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King Arthur’s Gold • Commit suicide

I’m fairly philosophically opposed to suicide, and I’ve been fairly vigilant about avoiding the topic as a trigger since my own brush with anxiety and depression, but I think the ‘subject’ versus the ‘action’ remain quite different, and I’m not so debilitated that I cannot look at the concept objectively.

This act of ‘suicide’ however, is far from what this achievement is for. This is, essentially, a reset – the same that LittleBigPlanet requires you to do as early as the tutorial, and involves little more than having your player character pick things back up where they left off at the last checkpoint. The function itself is likely to be used for instances where you are stuck or cannot progress through the story without backtracking a bit, but for today – it was more a case of my lunch-break rapidly about to run-out and I hadn’t yet earned an achievement in King Arthur’s Gold.

With any luck, I might have a chance to play some more Spider-Man tonight and grab another trophy. If I haven’t fallen asleep out of sheer exhaustion first.

Well Practiced

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Battle Chef Brigade • Win the practice match against Thrash

They say the night is darkest before the dawn, so I’m hoping that today’s pit of misery is over. I summarised my joy(!) yesterday of trying to wrangle a sick household, but overnight didn’t get much better, so I’ve been spending much of my day with the world’s worst headache … akin to a shocking hangover without the joy of having a drink.

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I actually managed to spend some time playing Spider-Man today, and while I thought that I made good progress, it obviously wasn’t enough to trigger a trophy. So, I jumped onto Steam to see what I could get from any of my games and somewhere along the way I had downloaded this game: Battle Chef Brigade.

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This is essentially a progress achievement for completing the first tutorial ‘battle’, but boy there’s a lot to unpack in this game. Go hunt for ingredients, then cook them, stir them, then serve them up. All those individual elements have mechanics of their own which I suspect require some mastery as well, but it’s a bizarre concept that I guess will take a bit more time to learn, but for now – I’m satisfied just having learned the basics.

A Place where there is No Darkness

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Orwell • Complete Episode Two

I have had a hell of a day. To cut a long-story short:

  • Both kids up at 3am
  • One kid very sick
  • One kid in peak tantrum mode all … day …
  • One wife now very sick
  • Father-in-Law air-lifted to hospital with chest pain
  • Mother-in-Law staying with us while FIL on-the-mend
  • Sick kid just had a major bowel evacuation that required … cleanup.

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So, this afternoon during a quiet patch I headed back to Orwell. It seemed less time-sensitive than other games, and there was no risk of being ‘logged off’ (think: Destiny 2), so I fired it up, and when there was a chance, I did a bit of data-mining to see what I could find. Turns out – I saved a whole bunch of people from another explosion.

I feel like that level of effort is appropriate for a day like today.

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Even after a month off, I still feel like the drip-feed of narrative offered by Orwell hasn’t left me wondering what’s going on. If I’m honest, there’s probably a few main characters that I need to be reminded of, but the interface of Orwell gives you enough information to jog-your-memory that it’s not an insurmountable barrier.

And so, the journey continues. I have half-a-mind to jump into a Gambit match or two in Destiny 2 before bed just to unwind, but that 3am start … well, boy … it’s a killer.

It's in the Bag

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Microsoft Bingo • You have unlocked 50 Luggage of any type • 50G • 19.87% of gamers unlocked this

First thing’s first: Yes, I have used a stock image for this achievement, because I really couldn’t be bothered posting another Microsoft Bingo screenshot from my other achievements because – frankly – they all look the same. Instead, in the absence of a good Bingo picture, I’ve gone with something generic to gambling, so you can enjoy that particular aesthetic while reading today’s post. Oh … alright, let me throw a couple of old screenshots into the mix as well.

Today’s achievement is largely the result of a mistake. Last night, while setting up my new PC, I wanted to make sure OBS was working correctly, and would be able to handle a stream – so I set it to broadcast a clicker (AdVenture Communist – a spin on AdVenture Capitalist) to run overnight. Sure enough, this morning got a bit away from me, and so even while I write this – AdVenture Communist is still broadcasting to my Twitch Channel, silently clocking-up potatoes and medicine while I’m beavering away at work on a Friday lunch-break.

And so, this left me with a fairly ‘lite’ selection of games to choose from. Anything from Steam would automatically disconnect the stream, and with still half the day left, regardless of whether anyone was watching or not, I didn’t really want to be faced with a blank screen pumping out across the internet airwaves with my name on it – and so I hunted for a good ol’ fashioned Xbox PC game to play.

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And, well, because I was short on time, I settled on Microsoft Bingo.

I’ll be perfectly honest, this really was a quick-and-dirty achievement for me. I even went so far as to hunt through the achievement list to see what I could grab quickly. I settled on just smashing through a couple of games, splurging the coins that I had on whatever I needed to, and landing something. Two games in, I had enough bags to get me over the line for this 50G … this is classic achievement hunting at its finest, ladies and gentlemen.

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And so, this frees up my Friday night to play something a little more ambitious on that shiny new gaming PC. I have a new webcam, a new set of speakers and a whole lot of enthusiasm to put it through its paces … watch out world!

Achievement a Day 2017 – 2018 (Year in Review)

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About sixteen months ago, I had an existential crisis. I don’t think that is particularly uncommon for people in my position or demographic, but it was enough to prompt me to resign from my desk job in the city and make a commitment to spend more time with my family, and doing things that I enjoyed – rather than continue to persevere in a job with people, and in a field, that I simply didn’t enjoy.

A little over twelve months ago, I had the idea to reinvigorate something I had tried, and failed, to do while I was working: earn a gaming achievement every single day. I guess the intention was that my new outlook on life meant that I needed less emphasis on my ‘job’, and having an activity that I was passionate about, that also had some purpose to it, meant that I wasn’t confined to the common trap of self-identifying as my profession. Instead, I could be a writer, a gamer, and a miserable white-collar 9-to-5’er as well. I figured the turn of the financial year was as good a time as any, and my passion at the time was pretty uniquely Xbox, and so with that in mind – I set myself some personal barriers, and started my journey.

For many, many gamers, earning an achievement a day isn’t actually that much of an effort. For variety streamers and even home enthusiasts, they complete this requirement unconsciously. The time and energy they put into their gaming means that achievements just tick into their account effortlessly. However, they also – like me – have birthdays, and families, and Christmas and work functions and any multitude of life events that they can go to without the mental burden of having to ‘squeeze in’ an achievement.

Others, do make an effort. Psyonix VP Jeremy Dunham (in)famously claimed that he pursued an Xbox Achievement and a PlayStation Trophy every single day. A quick look around the internet will also prompt you to stumble across the occasional long-term achievement hunter.

My point here is that I’m neither new or unique in my approach to achievement hunting. I don’t have a 2,000 day streak, there’s been some days when I’ve only earned one achivement and there’s been others that I’ve absolutely ‘cleaned house’. But for the 2017-18 Financial Year (and a little bit before that as I ‘warmed up’), I’ve earned, and documented, my journey towards obtaining an achievement every single day.

So, what did I learn?

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I did learn that gaming can impact on those around you. Sometimes, towards the end of the day – I would have to try and wrap-up whatever we were watching in order to jump onto my Xbox One and knock-out an achievement. I will be honest, that sometimes meant that I was somewhat bullish about sharing the TV, even at the expense of watching something that I enjoyed as much as other family members.

There were a couple of times where my achievement hunting required me to push through right to the stroke of midnight, and there were others where I deliberately (and overtly, I usually made-mention of the fact) would stay up past midnight when I knew there was an achievement to be obtained – essentially ‘freeing up’ the following day. It is these small allowances that were necessary in order to get through what I’ve affectionately thought of as ‘Year One’. And it these strategies which I will most likely carry forward into ‘Year Two’.

So, what’s next?

I’ve thought about this a lot over the past few months when I seemed fairly confident that I was ‘going to make it’. I typically have balanced out my effort to grab an achievement on Xbox and then still make comment on other games as I’ve played them, particularly the likes of God of War which I’ve fawned over the past few months, as well as, more recently, a few puzzle games such as Puzzle Agent 2 on PC. Is that sustainable? Probably. Do I want it to be? I’m not really sure.

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Right now, I am very very happy that I’ve completed my self-imposed challenge. I’ve done it within the parameters I set myself and in the time I allowed. I know, from history, that sometimes it’s easier to broader the horizons a bit and allow yourself time to experience new things – and in the gaming sense this means trying new games, from small indie romps through to the latest offering from a AAA First Party Studio. Xbox has done a pretty good job under Phil Spencer to deliver on those offerings, but practically speaking – sometimes it’s easier to get a quick lunch-break achievement rather than burn out during the day at work and then pursue a gaming session at night. I’m spending nearly ten days away from my normal gaming devices later this year, but I can promise you I’ll be taking my iPad and my Vita. It’s these instances that I want to allow myself some flexibility on, so the balance I’m seeking here is, essentially, ‘achievable but challenging’.

What does this mean?

Simple. From tomorrow, 1 July 2018, you are going to still get your achievement a day. However those achievements may no longer be exclusively Xbox. I don’t want to lie though, I still find the Xbox to undoubtedly be (forgive the marketing Kool-Aid) ‘the best place to play’, meaning that there will likely be a disproportionate number of Xbox achievements to other platforms – but I also don’t want this to come back and bite me on the bum when somebody does an audit (no doubt when I’m a rich, famous gamer) who finds a ‘gap’ in my record.

With that in mind, this leads to my second change. Scheduled posts. Every day this past year (except one accidental error in posting slightly after midnight) I have played a game, written a post and published it on this blog – but whether it’s timezone changes, daylight savings, or just gremlins in the system, I still have a number of days where posts appear to be ‘doubled up’ on particular days, and completely absent on others. My solution to this will be to schedule a post every evening just before midnight in order to get, roughly, a consistent battle rhythm when it comes to posts. Some days I might still earn the late night or ‘wee hour’ achievements, but you will still see the post time as being from late the following night. I hope that this brings about some consistency going foward, but if there’s any issues, then I may consider doing a ‘minus one’ approach to posting, and just automatically post, even if I have to backdate, at lunchtime, 12pm on the day I earn them. Watch this space.

And now, I plan on settling down for the evening, watching a bit of Netflix and doing very little for the rest of the day. Tomorrow is the start of a new adventure, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what I’ve missed out on across the gaming spectrum. There’s a Steam Sale in full swing, I’ve recently obtained a new Humble Bundle (well, they took my money out) and I have some cheap-and-cheerful PlayStation discounts to dive into from their sale earlier in the year.

It’s a good time to be an achievement hunter.

It’s an even greater time to be a gamer.