So I Started Playing Ingress

I make some strange decisions.

Lately I’ve been trying to re-evaluate some things in my life. What I want out of it. How to get my finances straightened out while handling my (currently) 68 hour workweek. Dealing with the ever present depression and hopelessness of it all.

An anime adaptation of a mobile game got me to try said mobile game again, and I’m not doing too horribly considering.

5/5/2019

Probably could do better. Probably will. This is something I intend to do rather casually, possibly meeting people as I go on. In a perfect world, this would be a solid excuse to get out of the house.

I’ve admittedly only seen a couple of episodes of the show. It is surprisingly dry, suffering less from being an adaptation of a mobile game that takes a few liberties with its source material and more from its attempt to sell viewers of the show on the drama of the in-game events themselves. The game involves two separate factions working against each other to tag “portals” (real life places of interests that can be claimed within the game map) and take over territory yet together on certain world events; the anime by comparison uses those same mechanics to have an overarching storyline about a kid detective who can see the pasts of people by touching them and an amnesiac scientist looking to discredit the scientific institute she used to work for. As my mother would say, “it is definitely a thing.”

I genuinely did not think this game was still so popular. In fact, I did not think it was very popular at all in the United States. The trailer to the show claims over 25 million players, but Wikipedia claims the game has only been downloaded around 20 Million times… and that’s downloads, not active players. One unofficial source places the number of active players at approximately 800,000. Still, that’s more popular than I anticipated. A cursory look suggests that the regional scene I am near has a few dozen players, some of which being more active than others.

I’m far too busy to keep a lot of this up, but it’s an interesting diversion at least. Just need to make sure I’m not playing while driving. That won’t end well, for obvious reasons.

Midrasche in the City – Or How I Enjoyed a Game Even Though it’s Older Than My Kids

Torn City bills itself as a “text-based MMO”, although it’s perhaps better described as a “browser game” (that does have its own client) . In it, players assume the role of a Torn citizen, and they can be whatever they want to be. A soldier! A criminal. A businesman! A lawyer!

I’m mostly a wall slut who spends their time racing.

Allow me to explain.

I picked up this game after a Facebook advertisement recommended it to me. Comments under the advertisement seemed enthusiastic, so I dived in. I figured I would keep my head down, lay low, get a hang of things and go from there.

Three days in someone recruits me into a Faction. Welp, so much for laying low.

It’s not a bad game. It was created in 2004, which means it is INCREDIBLY top heavy, and a lot of the older folks don’t like new players at all. So my advice to you, if you are just joining this game, is to simply not post in Help or Trade chat. If you do, you’ll get attacked out of the blue for no reason. That’s another issue – once your 14 days of newbie protection are over, anyone of any level can attack you. If they do it right, you won’t even know who it was that attacked you – just the mysterious “someone.”

There’s a lot of friendly people too though, and a lot of solid guides. It’s not hard to pick things up and get an idea of where you are going. There is a mantra repeated frequently: “Torn is a marathon, not a sprint” – encouraging the playing of the long game.

I spend a lot of my time training stats, talking to Faction mates, and racing. There is a racing side-game that is very involved in which a player starts at E class and works their way up to the mysterious A class, all in hopes of some honor badges which ultimately make the player stronger. The definition of the word ironic, I’ve been forsaking cars suggested by guides and going for cars I would consider driving with consideration for the game’s “handling” stat and I’ve been doing excessively well. As I type this, I’m about 5 more first place wins away from B class. I anticipate having that within the next two days. Multi track drifting agogo.

Of course, being in a Faction means you are expected to participate in Faction wars. In this game, wars take place by having contested piece of property, represented by a “wall.” Players who want the property and players who want to protect it jump on the wall, and the time they stay on the wall generates points. Of course, instead of jumping on the wall on either case you can simply attack and hospitalize individuals who are gaining points. This game calls newer players whose only job is to be on the wall to waste the energy of whomever attacks them “Wall sluts.” It is a shame that is the best I can accomplish at this point in the game but damn it, I’m trying.

You also can work for companies, or create your own. Different businesses have different perks but also different requirements as to what it takes to be good at the job and thus benefit the business. A factionmate encouraged me to get a job at an Adult Novelty store, which are a great way to increase one’s in-game happiness and ultimately slow down one’s opponent via “bondage.” The problem was, it was poorly run. The director was not very communicative, and did a poor job of training his fellow members. After two weeks of that, I jumped ship to work at a Mechanic Shop – a job that offers great perks to those who race, at the cost of only being useful for those who race. It’s been going a lot better, although the owner of the previous business has taken it upon himself to harass me in the most hilariously futile ways. He bountied me. His faction told him to stop, after I bountied him back and his people started asking “what’s this?” Then he bountied me again, but anonymously. When I hired someone who worked at a Cyber Cafe to confirm it was him, he started attacking and hospitalizing me outright. If only he put that much effort and energy into running a business, it might have its second star despite being open for 6 weeks!

There’s a lot of other things going on under the hood, like accepting missions from the town’s notorious loanshark Duke, or flying across the world running rareties like flowers and plushies… or drugs and weapons, if that’s your cup of tea. It is a game that completely frustrates me, yet also encourages me to keep at it. So that’s what I intend to do, for now. Who knows, maybe I’ll get strong enough to leave my own mark!

. . . on the pavement. In blood. Because I will die a lot more times. Just watch.

Why I Uninstalled Dragalia Lost Today

I have played Dragalia Lost since it released; I finished downloading and installing on September 27th at three in the morning. I remember showing it off to a coworker who looked it over with lukewarm reception, before reminding me that I was at work to, well, work.

Today is December 3rd. Not even a full three months in, and I am uninstalling this game. It’s not that I dislike the game; I get a lot of enjoyment out of it that I haven’t had since the last mobile game I sank years into (Brave Frontier.) I love the music, and I feel the artwork is solid. But the game has some problems, and the developers have made some choices, that I feel don’t bode well for the way I play games, or for that matter where this game is going in general. It’s time for me to be proactive and bail out, while the bailing out is good.

Dragalia Lost is a mobile game, developed by powerhouse Nintendo and mobile developer Cygames. Cygames is perhaps best known for the mobile franchise Granblue Fantasy; Nintendo’s most well-known foray into traditional mobile gaming would arguably be Fire Emblem Heroes. These two coming together to make a game seems like a recipe for success, and on the surface I’d argue it is. Dragalia Lost is an action RPG with a town management system and something of a dragon romance simulator all thrown into one. A good portion of the early game is focused on solo play; the end game focuses on players working together either with a single character as a group of four, or as a team of four working with three other teams to accomplish a goal. Along the way weapons need to be crafted, character abilities need to be unlocked, and dragons need to be fed and leveled. One of the unique pulls to Dragalia Lost is that the rewards aren’t just drops for better items and growth, but actual story – unlock enough character abilities, for example, and you’ll unlock story segments about why they want to be a part of your team, their personal struggles, and how they advance. It is notably well thought out.

What isn’t thought out is the part where you, as a player, get to play with other people. As a game where Player VS Environment is the sole goal, one would think there would be better tools in place to gather with your friends and complete these goals. Yet surprisingly, Dragalia Lost completely drops the ball in this regard. There is a friend’s list, which allows you to use a character pre-set by other players to complete solo content, but no way for those friends to join up with you if you are queued for a mission. There are no guilds or player houses in Dragalia Lost to meet up with like minded players you might know. Instead, you can que for a room and wait for random players to join in, or you can lock your room and hand the room ID out to players through other means like Facebook groups or Discord. You’ll probably want to go the “locked room” route because if you leave your room open for randoms to join, you have little control over who joins; if a player who is too weak to assist wants in on your run, there is no way to kick or remove him. Likewise, if a player joins but then fails to mark themselves as “Ready” the whole group cannot move forward unless you as the group leader make the decision to either do the event without the player (thus having an empty slot) or throwing the entire team out and starting over fresh. It’s frustrating.

There’s also something to be said about the cost of playing. This game is free to play, in the sense that anyone can download it and play it. However, to have competent units, you’ll need to participate in the gacha system. Getting a higher tiered unit is unlikely; the best chances I’ve seen so far are you’ve got about a 2% chance each pull of getting a 5-star (top-tier) pull, and that pull will be either a unit, a dragon, or a Wyrmprint (this game’s version of an equipped accessory). For a dragon or a Wyrmprint to be at its best, a player needs five of them (one base, four more to “Unbind” it and in the process upgrade its inherent abilities.) The most common way to pull is the “ten-pull”, which for 1500 of the game’s currency allows for ten pulls, at least one pull of which is guaranteed to be a Four-Star pull. 1500 of the game’s currency costs roughly $32 American dollars.

There are players that have spent literally hundreds of dollars on this game and have yet to get a single five star unit. Yes, by comparison there are those who have rerolled (started the game, pulled with the free currency they were given, and then thrown out the results and started again) until they have a 5-Star unit for free, but even this can take dozens upon dozens of tries. The game does hand out free pulls periodically, but this seems to do little more than to make the player feel like what they really want is just another pull away.

There is also something to be said for the number of events that have come out. In about 10 weeks, there have been no fewer than 5 events. Most of these events have a similar focus: get a team to a certain level of skill (“Might”) and use to in solo fights and raid battles, to meet specific goals and acquire certain points. Often, these events hold a “Blazon Pull”; this grants players who are doing events “Blazon tickets” and two tickets allow for a pull for an item out of a pool of around 400 to 700 items depending. These are exhausting. Lower tiered fights may grant less than ten Blazon tickets; the highest tiered fights around 30. Players will need to go through five separate pools to acquire the key items advertised (usually a Wyrmprint and a dragon).

Competing in these events requires good units with good skills, and some of these skills are tied to your player castle. The buildings here affect everything from passive boosts of element types to passive boosts to the users of specific weapons. Keeping up on all this can be exhausting. Of course, if you have the cash, you can always purchase packs that give you the items needed to upgrade these buildings so that you don’t need to spend hours farming them yourself, or you can spend cash to upgrade your buildings now instead of waiting what starts as hours but quickly evolves into literal days.

In short? A little over ten weeks in, and I’m already feeling burnout as I try to keep up with everything expected of me to keep up, and I’m not even one of the top players! The encouragement to spend money to hopefully get the best units, or to definitively make the best weapons better, coupled with the need to spend hours at a time on a game just to unlock wyrmcards that won’t be relevant after the next event and dragons that are barely useful when fully unbound leads to a frustrating and unsatisfying experience. The game is also proving to be exceptionally repetitive; sometimes it feels like an event is just an older event reskinned for a different gacha pool and elemental resistance. I am at a point where I see these problems getting worse, not better, and that’s why I feel the need to stop playing this game now rather than becoming further invested in it only to be further frustrated down the line.

Etrian Odyssey V

I have very limited time, so I haven’t been able to sink the time into this that I would like. However, I’ve finally made it to the third Stratum, which means Masteries are unlocked. As a result, I feel more confident in releasing and sharing my guild card, complete with a Masurao with 5 ranks in New Challenger.

There’s a few growing pains I feel with this fifth iteration, mostly on how difficult it is create a character with a class not preferred by it’s race, especially after retiring one you’ve done this with previously. Overall, however, I feel this game is a solid challenge with some real surprises (like that post-game boss they stuck on the second stratum for some nefarious reason.) If you’ve liked previous games in the franchise, I’d encourage you to check this one out.