Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Fun

Monster Hunter: World grinding harder and faster

rathalos is having none of my shit.
Oh, shit. Rathalos is pissed!

Before jumping into Monster Hunter: World, I have to vent my spleen about casual games, which I’ve played for years. Before I was a ‘hardcore gamer’, I played Hidden Object, Match-3, Solitaire, and Time Management games. Big Fish Games is the Steam of casual games, and I have a membership there, which means I get one ‘free’ game a month. I should stop my membership, but I do enjoy a casual game now and again when I want to give my mind a break. The thing is, though, once I started playing hardcore games*, I noticed things about casual games that would not fly in the hardcore world. One, unskippable opening cut-scenes. Look. Devs. We need to talk. Cut-scenes need to be skippable, especially before I’m allowed to fiddle with options. The first thing I do when I play a casual game is go into the options and turn off all the sound. Why? Because I can’t stand the background music that usually plays, and the voice acting is usually atrocious. Besides, when I play a casual game, I usually have a video/stream in the background, so I want to concentrate on the latter. It’s different when I play a hardcore game because I want to be immersed in that case.

Two, the code is atrocious. There are so many more bugs in a casual game than a hardcore one, and I don’t know why. Theoretically, it should be easier to make a casual game than a hardcore one, but then again, the people doing the development probably don’t have as much knowledge. That’s just a wild guess on my part, but it makes sense. I’m playing a solitaire game that’s a murder mystery at the same time. I played the first in the series and noted a few major problems. But, because there aren’t many murder mystery solitaire games, I gave the second a shot. Well, it has the same damn problems. One, it randomly crashes. Or, should I say, not so randomly. It’s when I try to use a power up. After I click on the power up and use it, the game either freezes or I can click, but I can’t pick up any cards. Sometimes it simply freezes on its own. The other bug is that sometimes the gold cards you need to collect can’t be clicked. And, finally, at the end of a round after I’ve cleared every card, it won’t exit into the ‘you won’ splash screen.

This doesn’t happen every round, but it happens enough for me to be frustrated with the game. They are the same goddamn problems I had with the last game, and you’d think they’d fix them between games. Here’s another issue I have with casual games in general–they keep putting out the same shit. There’s one solitaire company that puts out the same game once a month or so with just a palette swap, a change in themes, and nothing else. They’ve wised up a bit and write game descriptions for a much more exciting game than they provide, but they don’t change the games at all. I’ve bought a few, and they’re good enough to pass the time, but they’re nothing to write home about.

It seems as if casual games are stuck in a rut. Devs put out the same game over and over again with a slight story change. Everything is paranormal, and there’s usually a family member who’s gone missing. I will say the Hidden Object games usually work fine, and they look good, but there’s no heart to them. I haven’t found one in a long time that had a good story or that really captured my attention. I know that’s not why I’m playing them, but I would like more than mind-numbing boredom when I play.

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Gonna make me sweat

The full crud hit me on Thursday, and I’ve been slogging through it ever since. I spent Thursday, Friday, and Saturday feeling like complete and utter shit. Today (Sunday), I woke up feeling a bit better, and I’m hoping it means that I’m on the tail end of this thing, or at least the legs of it. I’ve taken Excedrin Migraine (generic version) every day since then, and it’s helped stave off the incipient migraine.

Side note: I go back and forth about calling what I get migraines because there are a lot of people who are elitist about migraines. “Oh, you think that’s bad? I can’t get out of bed for three days and have to lie in complete darkness and stillness with a cold towel over my face the entire time.” “Migraine medication? How lucky that it works for you. It doesn’t help me at all.” I know there are a variety of migraines, but I’m still chary because I don’t want to have to listen to a harangue about why what I have isn’t a migraine. But, I know it is. I get nauseated, and everything starts turning gray. I feel as if I have a steel band closing around my forehead, and if I’m lucky to catch it in time with the Excedrin, then I’ll just feel the mild effects for a few hours as they slowly dissipate.

I haven’t been able to do much other than watch videos, go to Cubs, and play Monster Hunter World. I’m starting to get serious about the end game of MHW. I’ve allowed Nergigante to build up in my mind, and now I’ve freaked myself the fuck out. I still can’t get out of Dark Souls mode of thinking that each monster is a Boss (with a capital B), which means I dread each fight. It doesn’t matter that I don’t die against the monsters nearly as much as I die against the bosses in the Souls series–I still equate the two.

It’s hard for me to answer whether or not I’m still enjoying the game. I am, but there’s an accompanying sense of dread/resentment/obligation. There is just so much to do, and when I unlock additional quests, I’m more, “Oh, not more shit to do” rather than “Hell, yeah!”

It’s also hard for me to gauge how I’m doing because I only play solo. I’ve fainted maybe a total of a dozen times, and have failed a quest because of being carted three times twice (LR Diablos and LR Kirin, but as I have pointed out several times, one of the cartings on Kirin was because of a glitch/lag). I don’t think that’s so bad, but I don’t know because again, I don’t play with other people.


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Monster Hunter: World griiiiiiiiiind

here's my (guild) card.
Does this pose look cool?

There is a weird tension inside of me when I play Monster Hunter: World these days. I still get caught up in the hunt-kill-loot loop, but I’m becoming resentful that there is so much content. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but I get that way when I start feeling overwhelmed. It’s not an uncommon phenomenon, and it’s marring my enjoyment of the game. Whenever I think of playing, I think of all the quests I have yet to do and all the things I need to craft, and, and, and, my brain starts to rebel.

Let me be clear: much of this is my own fault. You can zip through the main missions and hit the credits in 30 – 50 hours, or so I’m told. I spent nearly a hundred hours in Low Rank, and I could have easily spent a hundred more. I only got into High Rank because I forced myself to make progress, which is how these things work in general for me. I remember playing The Witcher 3 and having to make the conscious decision to not finish everything in the game. It’s difficult for someone with OCD traits like me to not go after everything in the game. It’s why I ended up hating Skyrim–I tried to do all the covenant quests (or whatever they’re called in that game) and I lost all interest in the game by the 50th hour.

The frustrating thing is that I know this about myself, and I still feel almost unable to stop myself. In MHW, I made myself cross the threshold into High Rank, and then so much shit unlocked. So. Much. Shit. Also, things came at me at a rapid clip, and in another ten hours or so, I had unlocked the last area of the game (and the last third of the game). I have a ton of quests still in High Rank, and I’m not ready to go to the last third of the game yet because I know what’s coming. Fucking Elder Dragons. I don’t like killing dragons because I’m Taiwanese* and because I know these are super-hard. But, all the best weapons and armor comes from the Elder Dragons, so…..Oh! Also, I’ve played solo the entire game, and I know that’s going to add unnecessary stress to the fights.

I’m not playing solo only because of my ego–I don’t like multi, and I especially don’t like multi with randos. I know the MH community is supposed to be more helpful than most, but I still don’t trust that I’m not going to get an asshole in my group. In addition, I don’t want to be the albatross around my team’s neck, and even though I’ve soloed the game and have only failed two missions by being carted three times (Diablos once and Kirin once, but one of the carts on Kirin was because of a glitch/lag), I still feel like I’m crap at it.

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Dragging through the mud

I don’t get sick often, but when I do, I–wait, that’s a lie. I get sick a lot. Or rather, I get sick in clumps. I may not be sick for months, but then I get sick, it lingers, I start getting better, I get sick again, and I can’t seem to drag myself out of it. During one epic episode, I had bronchitis for eight months. EIGHT MONTHS.

I got seven to eight hours of sleep last night, which is another reason I know I’m sick. I don’t sleep that much in one go unless I’m sick. I’m still exhausted, and I just want to sleep.

A little Monster Hunter: World talk. Just a little because I need to run to Cubs then go back to sleep. I took on the Pink Rathian with little problem except for her goddamn poison. I forgot to spec out for that (I can negate poison completely), and she got me three times with that goddamn tail of hers before I cut it off. Still. She wasn’t *that* much harder than the regular Low Rank Rathian (with whom I had very little problems), and my speculation is because I’ve fought so many goddamn dragons/wyverns in Dark Souls.

I’m back to wanting to master the Charge Blade again. Except, it’s going to take an appreciable amount of time in order to do so. I’m also back on the Insect Glaive train, having used it to totally dismantle the High Rank Tobi-Kadachi. Granted, he’s not that tough, but the Low Rank Tobi nearly wrecked my shit the first time I fought him. Anyway, I love the mobility and the range of the Insect Glaive and how easy it makes it to mount the monsters. I’m keeping it in my repertoire of viable weapons.

I just ran to Cubs and now I’m tired. I will cut this short and write more about MHW on Friday, the actual designated Fun/Video Games day. In the meantime, watch someone much better than I, Casey DeFreitas from IGN take on her most hated monster–Kirin.

General Housekeeping and ginger lemon honey tea

tzitzi ain't got nothing on me.
Did someone call for an Uber?

Hello. I am still sick with sinus issues, so I will not be posting anything of substance today. In addition, I was between phones late last week, which is why I didn’t post anything on Friday*. I’m thinking of doing an overhaul to my website in general, but it’s in the very nascent stages.

Just briefly: I made it to High Rank in Monster Hunter: World (finally!), and things have really opened up. I’m kind of overwhelmed by how much there is to do, and I wished I hadn’t wasted so much time in Low Rank. I fear I’m reaching burnout, and I’m only a third through the game.

That said, I really have to get out of the Dark Souls mindset of thinking that every monster I face is a boss. It’s not. I didn’t get carted once until Anjanath (Anjy), and I’ve only failed a quest by fainting three times twice. Once on Diablos (whom I call Derbler) and once on Kirin. The latter was horrid my first time because I brought the wrong Switch Axe to the fight. I mistakenly thought because he’s an Elder Dragon, he would be weak to dragon. He is not. Also, I glitched once at the precise time he was kicking me and got carted. If it weren’t for those two things, I would have had him.

After I failed the quest, I went back and maxed out my armor (yes, I had Level 3 Thunder Resistance already) and grabbed the proper Switch Axe (the one that does fire damage) and kicked some unicorn ass. That’s it. Actually, I bombed his ass into oblivion, and it felt good. I then watched someone else fight Kirin with a group of four, and I felt bad for Kirin. He’s a beast to fight, though, and he reminds me of the motherfucking ice area of DS II (DLC).

I’m up to tracking the old Rathian, and I’m not looking forward to it. I also still have to do the Power Couple (Rathian and Rathalos) and two other Rathians. That’s a shit-ton of Rathians, and I’m not sure I want to do it. I know the old Rathian turns into Pink Rathian, which is a higher level of Rathian. I probably should fight one or both of the other HR Rathians before taking her on, but, eh. I don’t know. I thought the HR Anjanath was going to be orders of magnitude harder, but she wasn’t.

Oh! Also, I’ve done almost everything solo so far, but I know I’m reaching the point where I probably won’t be able to do it any longer. I’ve been watching videos of people fighting the Elder Dragons (the real ones, not Kirin), and, yeah. Each fight is going to be epic. Also, I’ve come across Beetlejuice (real name Bazelgeuse) once, and he’s a dick. The Angry Pickle (Deviljho) was recently added in a patch, and I cannot wait to run into him (I can wait a very long time, thank you very much).

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Getting stuck in Monster Hunter: World

he's kinda cute, actually.
He’s just taking a nap. Honest.

I’m sixty-plus hours into Monster Hunter: World, and I’m starting to feel a little wear-and-tear on my soul. Obviously not enough to stop playing, but I’m realizing that the way I play games is not how this game is supposed to be played. Give me a storyline and a hundred side quests, and I will do all the side quests before tackling the main mission. This happened with Skyrim, by the way. I loved it for the first 50 hours, and then I started resenting the game. I buckled down and finished the game in another 25 hours (not finishing the DLC). I loathed it by the time it was done, and it colored my whole view of the game afterwards.

I’m not at that point with MHW, but I can sense the beginning of the end for me. I’m sixty hours in and still in Low Rank. I know that’s ridiculous, and I should be done with Low Rank by this time, if not high rank. The problem is, I have this fixed view that the monsters are bosses, and I have to gear up for them like I do in Dark Souls. Remember, I lived and breathed Soulsborne games for the last few years, and it’s what I know and love. I’m elated if I beat a boss in less than ten tries, and I’ve only one-shot the joke bosses (Pinwheel, for example).

So, I went into MHW thinking that each story mission monster was a boss, and then I was surprised by how relatively easy they were once I actually fought them. I didn’t faint once (that’s dying in this game) until I fought Anjanath, and that was probably twenty hours into the game. I haven’t failed a mission due to fainting three times (hard lose), but I did have to abandon the Rathalos mission because I only had three minutes left, and he flew off again like an asshole. One of the things I don’t like about this game is that if you don’t have any hint where something is, you can wander around for several minutes without a clue where to go. I wasted an entire mission (50 minutes) looking for two goddamn lumps of meat in the Rotten Vale, and it was all for naught.

Side note: In general, I don’t like looking things up in the wikis. However, with this game, if I give it an honest shot and can’t find what I’m looking for, I’ll look that shit up. That’s how I know where the lumps of meat are, but I haven’t redone the mission because I hate fetch quests. Even if I do love the Meowscular Chef and want to pump up my canteen.

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A ton more Monster Hunter: World–and a little bit of Dead Cells

what could possibly go wrong?
I’m sure nothing bad will happen here.

I’ve played a shit-ton of Monster Hunter: World this week, but we’ll get to that in a second. Dead Cells was officially released on August 6th, and I reinstalled it to see if I could finally beat the goddamn boss at the end of the (Early Access) game. I’ve written several posts about it and why I quit playing it, even though it’s an excellent game. Before I talk about that, I have to address the regrettable controversy surrounding Dead Cells, one not of its own making, and one it does not deserve at all. An editor at IGN, Filip Miucin, plagiarized Boomstick Gaming’s review video for the game. When the news dropped, I was on the fence because the few things I saw weren’t that egregious. There are certain phrases that come up in every review about this game–rogue-like 2D Metroidvania platformer, for instance–and the notable things about the game are, well, noted in each review*. But, looking deeper into it, there’s no denying that Miucin copied Boomstick Gaming’s review, and IGN acted admirably by investigating and then firing him.

Miucin was a YouTuber before he became an editor at IGN, which, you know, maybe not the best of ideas, but so be it. After the debacle, he put out a video he labeled an apology, but was anything but. He said it was unintentional and that the other example provided was just click-bait for Jason Schreier (Kotaku writer). Miucin challenged the internet to find other examples of him plagiarizing, which is the last thing you want to do in his position. Turns out he plagiarized from Wiki, his own colleague at IGN, and his resume was a template stolen from LinkedIn. He’d been doing it for years, and he probably thought he could get away with it at IGN because he hadn’t been caught before.

Anyway, the point isn’t Miucin’s despicable behavior, but the fact that Motion Twin (the devs) doesn’t deserve this. They’ve put out an amazing game that has vastly exceeded expectations, and yet, forever, they will be linked to the Miucin debacle. In addition, Motion Twin has an egalitarian pay system. Everyone who works for the team gets the same pay. They all get the same bonuses. It’s a small team, which makes it even more amazing. The game is gorgeous and addictive, and I still can’t beat that damn boss.

My one biggest gripe is that it can take me up to an hour to make it to this boss. I can be as overpowered as hell, and the minute I step into the castle, it doesn’t matter. No matter how fat my health bar or how strong my weapons and skill, I get destroyed by this boss. I’ve met him twice since I reinstalled the game this time, and I lasted at most a minute the first time and maybe fifteen seconds the second. I cannot beat this boss no matter what load-out I have, and it’s mostly because I can’t practice against him often enough.

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Monster Hunter: World; my new Dark Souls

the killing blow!
Ah, Great Jagras, I know you so well.

I’ve mentioned that when Monster Hunter: World was released on consoles, I got unreasonably hyped about it. Why unreasonably? Because I played the previous iteration on 3DS and HATED it. Oh my god, it was so terrible. I hated everything about it, but not because of the game itself. I hated it because I don’t do hand-held consoles, or consoles in general, really (PS4 and Bloodborne excluded), and so many of the mechanics of the game were stupid as shit. I’m sorry. Even MH fans have to admit that the egg quests were pure horseshit. Funny side note: I chuckle that MH is my initials as well as Monster Hunter. Anyway. For whatever reason, when MHW came out on console, I was immediately intrigued. I watched all the videos of gameplay I could, and I was captivated.

Then, time went by, and the luster wore off because one, I wasn’t buying it for console no way no how, and the PC version wasn’t coming out in the foreseeable future. Two, I hated the way the monster limped, drooled, and twitched as they were about to die. It really bothered me, and I didn’t think I could do that to a poor creature who wasn’t attacking me. See, that’s the thing in Monster Hunter. Much of the time, the monsters are just going about their business, not paying attention to you at all. Mind you, I’m still in Low Rank, so it might be different once I progress further, but I’m getting ahead of myself. They weren’t doing any harm to the hunter, and really, you’re the aggressor. It’s a colonizing mentality that doesn’t sit well with me.

Anyhoo, MHW came out for PC last week, and Ian pre-ordered it and installed it. Through the magic of family/friend share on Steam, I was able to demo it without buying it. I created my character, mulan rogue (all my characters are such named), and I was pretty happy with how she looked. I couldn’t find hair as long as mine, but I found one hairstyle with a high pony and the hair reaching halfway down her back, so that’s what I chose. I made my Palico (cat companion) black, of course, and called him shadow. I jumped into the game and because I’ve seen the opening a few times, I knew the basics of what I was doing at the start.

Let me tell you, there is a shit-ton to learn about this game. The menus and meta-game information are overwhelming. The thing I like, however, is that you don’t really need to delve that deeply in the beginning to have fun hunting. I didn’t touch any load-out-related issues until I was many hours into the game. The tutorials suck, by the way. Don’t expect to learn much from the game. You’ll get the bare-bone basics, but that’s it. It’s up to you to learn in other ways, including looking it up and watching videos.

I spent a considerable amount of time in the training area because I wanted to try all fourteen weapons. Yes, I know it’s overkill, but that’s just the way I roll. I already knew I was interested to the Switch Axe, the Charge Blade, and the Insect Glaive. Yes, I’m that person, and, yes, I like to make things harder on myself. I know, I know, the Sword and Shield is the safe choice, but my god, it’s so boring. I know I didn’t even scratch the surface of it, but it just felt blah in my hands. Same with the Longsword, which is the other newbie-friendly weapon. It didn’t do anything for me, and I gave it an honest try. I zipped through the Lance, the Gunlance, both the Bowguns, the Hunting Horn, the Hammer, and the Great Sword. Didn’t care for the Bow, but I did like the Dual Swords quite a lot. However, I’m not a dex person, so I set them aside for my three babies.

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Breaking out of my comfort zone

life is sweet; life is good.
A typical street in Gozo.

I’m still recovering from my trip to Malta, and I want to talk more about it while weaving it with my travails in video gaming. Here’s my first post about Malta if you want some background into what I’m going to write here.

As longtime readers know, I have a very troubled relationship with sleep, fraught with tension, misery and pain. It’s slowly getting better over the past few years, and it’s reached the point where I can sleep up to six hours at one time.  I know you’re scratching your head and thinking, “What’s so great about that, Minna? I can do that every night!” Exactly, my friend. It’s something any person *should* be able to do, but let’s quickly recount my sleeping history.

Ever since I was a wee child, I’ve evaded sleep. My mom would put me to bed around eight or nine, and I’d stuff the towel under the door crack and read until midnight or later. Fast-forward to college my first year, and I was sleeping 3 1/2 hours a night. I couldn’t fall asleep until three or four in the morning, and I had a 7:45 a.m. class. Then, I’d go home for vacation and sleep 15 1/2 hours the first day while simultaneously catching a cold. In my twenties, 4 hours was my average. I stretched it to 5 in the next twenty years, and then with the help of taiji, I bumped it up to 6 – 6 1/2 hours.

Malta fucked with all that. I don’t think I slept more than three hours in one stretch, and I was so tired the whole time. Going in the ocean helped, but that only lasted as long as we were on the beach. Once we returned to the retreat center, I’d be hot, miserable, and tired again. There were a few moments of clarity as to how spoiled I am. How well-off Americans are in general, really.

It was interesting because I’m very aware of politics in America and how I’m a triple minority (Taiwanese, bi, female), fast becoming a fourth (old). I’m a person non grata, and I’ve resigned myself to my fate. My standard of living, however, is quite high in comparison to life on Malta. I’m not romanticizing when I say that life is much simpler on the island of Gozo. Well, maybe I am romanticizing it a bit, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that life is slower and a bit more easy-going on the islands than here in the US.

The other strange thing is how quiet it is in Gozo. In the States, there is a low-level hum that is as constant as it is ubiquitous. Even if there’s no other sound, the drone of all our electric shit surrounds us. In Gozo, there is none of that. When the people are quiet, all is quiet. It was one thing I really enjoyed about Malta. Honestly, if I had air, I would have found the quietness to be serene and peaceful.

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Finding a needle in a haystack

worship me!
Look at my dad hotness!

It’s been a over a month since I’ve played a Souls* game, and I’ve been adrift ever since. I don’t have any Souls game installed on my laptop, which is really strange as the three games have dominated my life for the past few years. There are other games I’ve played since, for example, Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator. I didn’t really feel it when I first played it, but it slowly grew on me. I made my dad a chubby awkward Asian guy with a scraggly beard, pierced ear, glasses, and death metal t-shirt. As I tweeted, I basically created me as a dude. I named him Morgan because that’s my favorite name, and it was off to the races! Let me meet the hot dads and find true love!

What did I love about this game? Right off the bat, I love the diversity. The dads were of all races, backgrounds, and body sizes. On the other hand, it was set in a suburban cul-de-sac, so there wasn’t much economic diversity, but I appreciated the conceit to keep all the dads in one area. I found the beginning slow-going. I moved to this cul-de-sac with my daughter, Amanda (my husband/her father had died at some point in the past), and we’re settling in. It’s very dialogue-driven, which is a bit tedious in the start. I went on a few dates, then put the game away, thinking I would never play it again.

I went back for whatever reason, and I really got into it. Yes, each of the dads was a specific stereotype, but there was some death to them as well. Except for the bad boy dad, but I probably shouldn’t have slept with him the first night I met (and drank) with him. Is he a dad for real? Hard to say because I never saw his kid. Robert, I think his name was, but who cares because he was just DTF. My favorite was Hugo, the high school English teacher who had a secret passion for WWE-like wrestling. He had delightfully-rumpled hair and dressed sharp, and we did trivia and cheese night at a local pub. He was hot, hot, hot, but…his son was a terror. Disrespectful, mouthy, and a budding vandal. I’ll just say it. I hated him.

In this game, if you go on a third date with a dad, it’s the real deal. It means you’re getting serious with him because isn’t that how it works in the real world? I didn’t want to get serious before I dated all the dads to the max, so I set about doing that. Yes, I dated them all twice (if you can call messaging Robert on Dadbook, yes, that’s what it’s called and not getting an answer a ‘date’), and let me tell you, it was fun. The mini-games were eye-rolling, but I liked the variety. Plus, there’s a sweetness to the game that I didn’t expect. It’s so full of heart, and I can’t hate on a game that just wants to spread the love.

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