Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Tuesday's Gray

This morning I find myself in the unusual position of having all the time in the world to write a blog post but nothing much write about. Still, when has that ever stopped me?

As is traditional at this time of year, I have a week off work with nothing much planned. Having worked for the same company for almost twenty years I've accrued a lot of holiday entitlement and this is the time of the year when it has to be used or losed... er lost. Just to make things even more complicated, although I'm one hundred per cent certain I only had a week's holiday left and that's all I booked, I've been given this week and next week off.

It sounds like a simple error but since I had so much time off sick last year, no-one's really sure how much holiday I might still be entitled to, least of all me, so it's not impossible it could be right. I've queried it but the entire operation is transitioning to an online self-booking system which is currently both in lockdown and not working properly, so it can't be accessed, not even to check anything, not even by the administrators. It's supposed to be fixed by Friday, but until then no-one can tell me for sure if I'm working next week or not. It's kind of like living in a Kafka novel as rewritten by Enid Blyton.

There's a ton of stuff I could usefully do around the house, indoors and out, but the weather is miserable and I'm not going to be cutting any hedges or mowing any lawns any time soon. It's even too dank to get on with much indoors - at least in our old, drafty, mostly unheated house. That's going to have to wait for the fine weather, assuming we ever get any.

I have to admit that spawning a second boss who hates both sides in the middle of a boss fight is a new one on me.
So I'm holed up in my room playing games. That ought to give me plenty to write about, only the games I'm playing are the same games I always play and I'm doing the same things in them I always do. It works for me but even I'm struggling to squeeze anything worth posting out of yet another round of dailies and Overseer quests.

The game I'm playing most is Divinity: Original Sin 2. In theory I could write about that but I pretty much said everything I had to say about it in the last couple of posts. I don't want to bang on at length, re-iterating the same set of problems, none of which have gotten any better as I put in more hours.

Neither do I want to give the impression that I dislike the game or that I think it's bad. I don't think either of those things. It just annoys the merry hell out of me, partly because of any number of really irritating design choices and because, even though I don't much want to play it, I can't leave the blasted thing alone. It's like an itch you know you shouldn't scratch because you'll only make it worse and then you do and it feels good for a little while and then it itches more so you scratch it harder...

I did finally get to the end of the part on the prison island. That took me... hang on, let me open Steam and check. I bet it's going to be longer than I imagine... thirty one hours. That seems like an awfully long time to get through the opening act but even then I left a ton of things unfinished.

*Fake edit* - It would seem long for an opening act if that's what it was but it's actually Acts 1 and 2 by some counts. And 31 hours seems to be on the short side compared to the times many people are quoting. 

Just you wait, pal.

The big boss battle at the end was the most fun part of the whole affair. My first attempt was a wipe but there was a point at which it was obvious it was going to happen so I saved the game. It was the first time I'd tried doing that in the middle of a fight and I didn't expect it to work but it did.

When the last of the party went down I loaded back into the middle of the fight and had the toughest fighter run away. I was surprised to find that once he got out of range he dropped out of combat. He just stood around until the rest of the party died then he crept back up and rezzed them from a distance, one by one.

Meanwhile the enemies just wandered about chatting to each other. None of them healed up or did anything useful so I was able to get all my people into position for an ambush, which they executed rather smoothly. A bit of mopping up and that was it.

I wasn't quite sure whether to congratulate myself on a job well done or scold myself for exploiting lazy game mechanics. Given that D:OS2 has been around for a long time and the version I'm playing touts itself as "Definitive", you might think these loopholes would have been closed by now so I'm letting myself off the hook.

Either way, it was a really fun fight. I like the combat in the game a lot. It's all the rest of it I'm not so keen on.

I found it especially jarring to be hoiked into a lengthy dialog with a snarky NPC I couldn't recall meeting before, when I hadn't even had time to loot the bodies. It was even more annoying to get a pop up at the end of the conversation warning me that if I accepted the NPC's offer to get me off the island all my Journal entries would be marked closed and I wouldn't be allowed back.

I bet you wish you'd taken a moment to heal up and rebuff now, eh, Alexandar?
Shintar posted about pick up groups skipping trash mobs and, by implication, the annoying prevalence of speed runs. Apparently this infuriating mentality even infects NPCs in single-player games now. Malady (for it was she) literally huffed, turned her back and went to stand at the edge of the water, staring into the middle distance and tapping her foot in impatience when I insisted on finishing looting the dead before accepting her offer.

And now I'm on a boat. I was really hoping to get off the island and into something approximating an open world setting but no such luck.

Doing some research while also trying to avoid spoilers I see that the game as a whole is very unbalanced in terms of length of chapters. Some estimates suggest I'm already more than two-thirds of the way through the main storyline. I had been thinking of dropping the whole thing - I really couldn't face another two chapters like the last couple - but if the rest is a lot shorter I guess I'll press on to the end.

Anyway, that's what I've been up to and what I'm likely to go on being up to for the rest of the week and quite possibly next week. I suppose I ought to take a look at Brew Day in EverQuest II at some point. I didn't realize it had started but according to the Wiki Brell threw the doors open last week. I wondered why my pack pony was offering me holiday harvests.

There's a Brew Day Overseer questline, apparently, so I guess I'd better crack on with that. Sloppy on my part. I'm quite annoyed with myself now. Fortunately it's a long holiday (just like mine might turn out to be) with nine days still to go.

I'd better get on with it.

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