Monday, May 31, 2021

May Songs

Three days 'til the end of the month. I guess I'd better get on with it. That's about how long it takes to put one of these things together. 

It goes faster if the tunes flow. Sometimes I try to work on that as I go along but most days it takes me longer than I'd like just to come up with a title at all. I don't have time to keep an eye on continuity too.

From memory, this wasn't a very inspired month. I seem to recall a few flat patches. Maybe I can fix that in edit. I'll try to show my workings a bit more than usual, too. That was, after all, the original reason for doing these posts. 

April Songs - April Song - Biker Boy - He's a Swede. He calls himself a boy but he looks like a man. He might be fifty from the pictures I've seen. I'd lay odds he's no biker, either. He can't seem to decide whether he wants to be the Pet Shop Boys or Morrissey so he's going with both and it's working for him. Nice found footage video, too, although I don't think he had anything to do with it.

Truth  In Advertising - Negativeland - I was originally going to use The Kids Are The Future by the Faction, which uses the phrase in the lyric. I found it in the usual way, a search on, but when I came to listen to it again for this post I realized I didn't really like it. I thought I might be able to do better so I just typed "truth in advertising song" directly into YouTube. I've done that a few times of late. I'm finding it gives better results. Or at least different.

YouTube had several exact matches for the title. I would generally rather use a full song than a fragment of lyric. It seems more, oh, I don't know, organic? Authentic? Honest? Aesthetically pleasing? All of the above. Can't always find one, though.

I picked one and listened to it. It was Truth In Advertising by Presque Vu. I liked it a lot more than the Faction. It had been on YouTube for four years and it had zero views. Not one person has ever heard it. That's an impressive non-achievement. I felt a bit guilty for spoiling the perfect zero.

And in the end I didn't use it anyway. I listened to Negativeland and liked it more. Plus it has a video. That would have swung it, anyway.


Take My Money - Addicted - Juliana Hatfield Three -  The problem with obsessing on videos is that sometimes the version that has one isn't as good as the version that hasn't. I love Juliana Hatfield but this live take with the reformed Three isn't really a patch on the studio original. Other times, of course, the video version is better than the studio recording. I always link the "offical" version under the title if the video I use is different so everyone can hear both and make up their own mind. As if anyone cares. 

But I care. Mark Kermode, the film critic, has a whole raft of idiosyncratic things he won't do while a movie is playing, even if he's the only one there, because to do them would be disrespectful, not just to the film-makers but to the movie itself and quite possibly to the abstract concept of cinema. I think he sounds crazy when he says things like that but then I do things like this because it would just be, yes, disrespectful not to include the original recording, even though I know no-one is going to click the link and listen to it. But I don't do it with covers. I won't bring out the "foolish consistency" quote again.

Gallic Shrug - No. 1 Party Anthem - Arctic Monkeys - Well, this is all falling in to place, isn't it? After that last existential digression the only reasonable response is a gallic shrug. I have seriously not listened to enough Arctic Monkeys. I love the last album to death, the one the fans weren't so sure about, but the older stuff I haven't studied closely enough. I'll get right on that.

Rusty Time Machine - Lethargy - Guided By Voices - I learn so much doing these posts. I've known there was a band called Guided By Voices for as long as I can remember. I had a notion they were some kind of semi-acoustic, folk-rock act. Yeah, well, I got that wrong. If I'd have known they were on Matador it's a mistake I wouldn't have made. You can learn a lot from the label.

I started out just looking for songs about time machines, not rusty ones. The rust was a bonus. There are a lot of songs called, exactly, "Time Machine". can offer you three dozen. I listened to a few but the only one I liked was this one. It's by a Czech band called Vivian Void. That's them in the video. It isn't always so I thought I'd mention it. Made me think of Daisies and even more of Valerie and Her Week of Wonders . It's very Czech.

Live Or Dead? - Shwingalokate - De La Soul - No video, not that it needs one. I own the album it comes from but I haven't listened to it for a long time. I did consider going with Deathwish by Vice Squad. Not because I like it, although I don't not like it, but because I regularly used to end up on the last bus home with Beki Bondage, the singer. Not with her, with her. Just on the same bus as her. She always used to sit right at the back. Probably a punk thing. Vice Squad are still around and Beki barely looks any older than she did then. Given that she has to be no more than a couple of years younger than me, that's slightly freaky.

I Got Class - It Thing Hardon - The Cramps - Pretty sure Lux is being ironic. I mean, the full quote is "I got class up the ass". You can always rely on the Cramps. 

Echoes In The Canyon - Describe - Perfume Genius -  I'm really on it this month, aren't I? Another Matador act I had pegged as sounding completely different. I swear I've heard other Perfume Genius stuff and it did not sound like this at all. I really need to start paying more attention to, well, everything. This is very good, esepcially that loooooong fade.

Who's Running The Show? - Addict - Sunmi -At least I had a rough idea who Perfume Genius was. Sunmi is completely new to me but then I am no expert on K-Pop. I barely know how to punctuate it. There are two songs in the video and Addict comes first if you want to save some time. I'm guessing it's one of Sunmi's signature tunes because there are loads of live versions on YouTube. I watched half a dozen. It didn't take long. The whole song clocks in at under two minutes. I think the performance I've picked is the best but then I would, wouldn't I? Otherwise I'd have picked a different one.

Where's My Kamera? - Who Writes Your Lyrics? - Princess Superstar - I wish there was a video for this. If there was I wish it would be as good as the one she did for Bad Babysitter. I'm using good in my special way, there. Isn't Princess Superstar a great name? It's genius because it's two words banged together, each of which you can add to almost any other word to make another great name. It's fun. Try it.

Dead Can Dance - Perfect Life - Steven Wilson

"When I was thirteen I had a sister for six months.
She arrived one February morning, pale and shellshocked,
from past lives I could not imagine.
She was three years older than me,
but in no time we became friends.
We’d listen to her mix tapes;
Dead Can Dance, Felt, This Mortal Coil…
She introduced me to her favourite books,
gave me clothes, and my first cigarette.
Sometimes we would head down to Blackbirds moor
to watch the barges on Grand Union in the twilight.
She said “The water has no memory.”
For a few months everything about our lives was perfect.
It was only us, we were inseparable.
But gradually, she passed into another distant part of my memory,
until I could no longer remember her face, her voice, even her name.

We have got
We have got the perfect life... "

Now that's a lyric. Also a mix tape I'd like to hear.

Constant Headache - Joyce Manor - And so is this a lyric, for so very, very different reasons. I could write a fucking essay on why. For the record, I do get why people think it's from the dog's point of view, even if Barry Johnson, who wrote it, doesn't. Welcome to the intentional fallacy, Barry. It changed my life. If you let it, it'll change yours.

It isn't, though. From the dog's PoV, I mean. Unless you want it to be. Then it is. 

I utterly do not believe in guilty pleasures but I know enough about appropriateness and appropriation to know I shouldn't claim claim any right to own this. Yeah, but I kind of do. That's how art works but I don't need to tell you.

Break The Code - So Fucking Cold - Turismo Girlfriend World Tour -  It's getting very sweary in here all of a sudden. Also odd. That's a name and a half for a band. Is there some kind of random surrealist band name generator app I don't know about? I'd say the video's not what I expected but with a name like that what was it I was expecting? Yeah, still not that.

Blessed (Again) - Blessed - Lucinda Williams - I love songs that are all on one chord. Okay, two. But mostly one. Somehow you don't expect to get one from Lucinda Williams. That makes it all the more wonderful. She's recuperating from a stroke right now. Look after yourself, Lucinda. Come back strong.

Some Things I Know - Southbound Train - Nanci Griffith - Whoever put this up (It was Ray Wilson) has literally put his 30 year old VHS tape into the machine and filmed his television! That is something I've wanted to do forever. It's so much less hassle than connecting all the leads and digitizing the damn thing. Props to you, Mr. Wilson! (Does anyone say "props" any more? I shouldn't think so. Not to mention I was too old to say "props" without cringeing back when people did say it.)

I Will Ascend - Misdemeanor - Foster Sylvers - Oh, come on! That's ABC! By The Jackson Five, who you are pretending to be! Alright, alright. Inspired by, then. Damn lawyers.

Queen For A Day - Skating Polly -Is that a young Gary Glitter on drums? Maybe Eugene from the Rezillos? I don't know, from some angles it could even be Elton John. And I can't count how many videos I've watched where someone gets food rubbed in their face. I just know I wish it was fewer.

(Another) Another World - The Creators - One hundred and seventy two views in seven years. That'll teach you to sound cool, clever and complex.

That's Entertainment - The Jam -  I came to the title for this post in a roundabout way. I was searching for something to do with time slowing down and I got a match with the line "Days of speed and slow-time Mondays" (Most of the 1980s for me, that was...). I was pondering whether I could work it into shape when it suddenly occured to me - the title! 

The original's under the green but I've pulled out a wonderful cover by Indonesia's Brilliant At Breakfast. At least, I think it would be wonderful if you could hear it over the end-of-the-world firework show. Maybe that's what gives it such an edge.

I Believe In Progress - Progress - Public Service Broadcasting  - Featuring Tracyanne Campbell from Camera Obscura on vocals. My favorite comment from the YouTube thread: "I'm listening it to it as I'm doing research for my masters in electronic engineering". Really? You surprise me.

The Rain, The Park And Other Things - The Cowsills - I just typed a paragraph about how I first came to hear this track and then I thought about it and realized I had no idea if anything I was saying was true. Did I first hear this on a random compilation album I picked up at a car boot sale? Was it on a mixtape someeone once made for me? Did I run across it on YouTube? I have no fricken idea any more. 

I can tell you I've loved it for many years. I can also tell you I've never heard anything else by them that comes close to the boisterous, elegaic, wondering feel of this small epic. I own one album by The Cowsills on vinyl and that I did buy at a car boot or if not then a jumble sale or some kind of rummage. It's called Captain Sad and his Ship of Fools and it might be a concept album. The cover's all kinds of disturbing and the sleeve notes, by Michael Zwerin, are an extended apology for liking the band, who, as far as I can make out, were basically a real-life version of the Partridge Family. Given Zwerin played with Miles Davis in the forties and was the jazz critic for the Village Voice at the time he got the commission to write about the Cowsills, you can understand his ambivalence.

The Cowsills still perform together today. I guess the family that plays together really does stay together.

Get Good - Vanessa Carlton - I'm guessing she's at least a little bit famous, what with some of her videos having more than a quarter of a billion views, but naturally she's new to me. It's a big world and getting bigger every day. I love the sparseness of this. It's bleak. I listened to a few of her other tunes, hoping for something similar but it was all fairly unremarkable pop-rock. Oh, well.

Alone Again Or - Love - One of the best songs with one of the best titles from one of the best albums of the 1960s, cut to a scene from Wes Anderson's Bottle Rocket, a movie I own but am not at all sure I've ever watched. There are several good covers of this floating around, notably Calexico, Gold Lake and the Damned, who had a hit with what seems to be a note-for-note remake. No-one ever gets the mariachi part quite right, though.

Make It Worth my While - Ten Percent - Double Exposure - There was a time in my teens when every third song on the radio sounded almost exactly like this. I can't say it's much of a madeleine for me but I could probably have it on in the background for hours without really noticing it was playing. Is that a good thing?

Reelin' In The Years - Steely Dan - Problematic. I love this and I love Do It Again. Alan Freeman used to play both of them on his afternoon show when I was maybe fourteen and just begining to figure out what I liked. The complexity of the lyrics and the clean, ringing tone of the guitars made a huge impression. Those songs still sound fresh to me today. Unfortunately, the band came to represent the exact kind of overwrought music-for-musicians I came to despise. "Unfairly used as shorthand for worthy musos your dad would like" says the BBC's review of The Very Best Of.... I'd agree with all of that except for "unfairly".

Chinese Whispers - Melys - This is one where, if you're going to bother to listen at all, I'd strongly recommend the studio recording linked under the green title or this Peel Session version. The live one is fine and nice to watch but they were all a lot older then, there's none of the weird sonic architectonics of the studio version and the vocals are mixed way too far back.

Some background information: Melys is the name of the band not the singer. It means "Sweet" in Welsh. They did eleven Peel sessions and Chinese Whispers came first in the Festive Top 50 in 2001. In what seems to have become the disturbing theme of this month's post, I can't remember ever having heard of them before. And that's odd when you consider the only way this band could be any more up my street would be if they actually lived in my house.

Job Well Done - The Girl Can't help It - Little Richard - I originally planned on using a live clip of Babes In Toyland wrecking this in style but we've probably had enough poor quality live clips for one post. I never really noticed it before but this is another all-on-one-note song. Makes you wonder why anyone bothers using any more.

Make Your Mind Up - Chairlift - I can't lie. I did consider using Bucks Fizz and their infamous Eurovison winner. I was hoping someone of note might have done an ironic cover but there's probably not enough irony in the ironosphere for that. I'm not going to link to the original, either, even as a matter of record. If you want to see it, go find it yourself. I watched it live on TV when it happened and I wouldn't want to be responsible for inflicting that experience on anyone. Infinitely better to have Chairlift.

And that about wraps things up for this month. Turned out better than I expected. Some good tunes in that lot. Only three more to do before I slacken the ropes . Although it did occur to me I could cycle into declaritive titles supported by allusory sub-titles and have cake and eat some. We'll just have to wait and see.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Make Your Mind Up

posted a poll about how long people generally give a new game before deciding whether or not they like it. It got me thinking.

If I pay money for a game, I am going to play it. No ifs or buts. I might not finish it. I probably won't finish it. But I will play it, for long enough to feel I've had my money's worth.

I don't buy games on impulse. I think about it first, often for a long time. I don't buy games unless I'm sure I have both the time and the inclination to play them right away. 

Games I get for free, though, that's a different story. These days, with so many places giving them away, I get to try far more new games than I have for years. Probably the last time I played anything like this many new-to-me titles would have been back in the 1980s.

Just today I downloaded three new, free titles from Amazon Prime - Healer's Quest, The Blind Prophet and A Blind Legend. I could have taken several more but I try to sift out anything I would never play and most things I probably wouldn't.

That still leaves quite a lot of games I might or might not play, depending on circumstances. Games like that I do download but sometimes they sit around for a while before I take a look at them.

When I eventually get around to trying them out it can be a multi-stage process. Stage one can be very short. A game that fails then might not last more than a few seconds, rarely more than a couple of minutes.


It's the stage when I find out if the game really is what I thought it was. Mostly I decide which free games to take and which to leave based on the short description offered by whichever platform is trying to tempt me. They're not always as accurate as you might wish.

If I'm unsure I sometimes go to the publisher's website or find a full review but as often as not I take the basic description on trust. If, when I get into the game, I find I've been misled or, more likely, I've misinterpreted the terminology ("adventure" is such a vague descriptor for example) I'll usually realize my mistake in the opening moments, often as soon as I see the controls.

If the game passes the truth in advertising test it's on to the gameplay. Stage two is whether I can play the thing at all.

Sometimes I find I've made a good choice in theory but not so much in practice. Krikket was talking about occasionally having no patience with learning curves. I'm generally fine with the learning process when it comes to mechanics and systems. I actively enjoy coming to grips with those.

My problem is one of facility. There are plenty of games, even whole genres, I literally can't play at all. I probably could learn to play them although I'm not even sure about that. In the eighties, when I was young, had far better reflexes and was willing to spend hours and hours trying to do things I wasn't much good at, I was still objectively bad at anything requiring precise movements or fast reactions.

If I start a new game, even if I like the look of it, as soon as it becomes clear to me I can't do the things the game is asking me to do because I can't manipulate the controls well enough, I will stop. That generally takes no more than five or ten minutes although there are some edge cases where I really like the game and the controls aren't actually impossible. Then, I might struggle on for anything up to an hour before reluctantly throwing in the towel.


If the problem is intellectual rather than physical I'll stick it out a good while longer. There are games where I don't find out how much I dislike the mechanics until I've come to understand them properly. A few mmorpgs have fallen on that hurdle, by which time I could have been playing for a week or two.

Once I've established that the game is what I thought it was and I can actually play it, the final stage is whether I think it's any good. That can take a while. 

I'm not a broad church gamer. I know approximately what I like and I'm roughly going to stick with it, more often than not. I'll happily try something unfamiliar if it sounds interesting but mostly I color inside my own lines.

That approach has obvious weaknesses but the strength is I get a good sense of where each individual game stands in relation to other, similar, games I've played. I don't demand originality, I don't even demand excellence but I do expect a minimum level of competence. 

If I find myself playing something that seems significantly sub-par I'll bail fairly quickly. Even so, it often takes a while. I've played enough games that start badly then improve to be willing to wait at least until the end of the first chapter before cutting my losses.

The grey area comes with games that are competent examples of their genre but which lack any real flair. Perhaps unsurprisingly, those seem over-represented in the free handouts. I might persist with a game like that for a couple of hours or for several sessions before I finally just lose interest and walk away.

Enough with the generalizations. These are the most recent half dozen games I've tried and about how long it took me to decide whether I liked them or not.And whether I did.


Edgar - Bokbok in Boulzac - "Crackpot outcast Edgar sets out to Boulzac to save his squash, and instead uncovers an unearthly secret at the heart of the city. A colourful, surreal and utterly bonkers point-and-click narrative adventure."

I got this from Amazon Prime so I don't have an exact count of how long I played it but it was less than an hour. The description is reasonably accurate. It certainly is colorful and although I found the point-and-click controls a tad cumbersome it's a pretty traditional adventure, mechanically anyway. The setting and story are both about as surreal as you'd expect from a 90s TV cartoon, which is what it reminded me of. The art is very nice. Very French.

Unfortunately I found the gameplay repetitive and the narrative tedious. I had a vague feeling it might develop into something more interesting but it was taking far too long getting there and I didn't have the patience to wait. I'm not planning on going back for another look.

Close To The Sun - "Deep in international waters, Tesla’s Helios stands still. An unbound utopia for scientific research, Rose Archer steps aboard in search of her sister, quickly to discover not all is as it seems. A single word covers the entrance… QUARANTINE!"

Another from Amazon Prime. I downloaded this a while ago but I only started playing it this afternoon, specifically for this post. I was planning on stopping as soon as I could answer the question of whether I liked it or not but I ended up playing straight through the prologue and the first three chapters, which took me a couple of hours. I knew within five minutes I liked the game.

It's visually delightful as the screenshots show but the main reason I kept playing was the gameplay. It's a walking sim with puzzles and I found both the pacing and the difficulty almost perfectly pitched to hold my interest. I only had to check a YouTube video once and even then it was just to work out the mechanics of a puzzle, not to find out what I needed to do. I had a jolly good time right up until the maniac with the knife appeared. 

The big problem with Close To The Sun is the writing. It's not terrible but it is jarringly ill-judged at times. The setting is an alternate 1890s but everyone sounds as though they were born a century later. It's also very sweary and the swearing is very modern in tone. The low point came when one character called another a nerd. Why pick a historical setting if you're not going to bother to use it? 


Metaphobia - "Metaphobia is an investigative mystery game in the style of classic 1990’s point-and-click adventures. Take control of Richard Elmstat in his journey to solve his father's murder."

Free on Steam. Very accurate description. Can't say I didn't get what I was expecting. Unfortunately it's dull as ditchwater. I lasted about half an hour but I wanted to stop before that.

I kept going for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it trundled along without many obvious stopping points. There's almost no time wasted going from location to location and most of the puzzles are simple. The conversations drag on a bit but generally it moves quite fast. Secondly, it became obvious early on that the prosaic detective story was going to take a turn into X-Files territory and I was curious to see where it would go.

Not curious enough as it turns out. Probably not going to go back to this one.


The Supper - "The Supper is a short adventure game about the darkest side of the human soul. Ms. Appleton was always a wellspring of kindness, until The Voice started talking to her."

Free on  Steam. It is short. I finished it in twenty-two minutes. At that length the question of how long you'd play it before you decided whether you liked it becomes moot. 

The graphics are cute for a game so gory. The controls I found a tad fiddly but basically fine. The puzzles are perfunctory for the most part. The story is snappy, succinct and satisfying. It's a tapas of a game and there's really no reason not to play it all the way through.

Little Nightmares - "Immerse yourself in Little Nightmares, a dark whimsical tale that will confront you with your childhood fears! Help Six escape The Maw – a vast, mysterious vessel inhabited by corrupted souls looking for their next meal."

This was free on Steam yesterday, which is when I got it. Today it'll cost you £15.99. I got a great bargain. It looks amazing and it grabbed me the instant I logged in. I would love to play it but... I can't.

It's the perfect example of a Stage Two fail. I understand the mechanics. I understand the controls. I just don't have sufficient dexterity and motor control to use them with anything approaching comfort or facility. 

I played Little Nightmares for twelve minutes before I gave up but I knew it was hopeless long before that. It's a testament to how much I wanted to be able to play it that I lasted that long. I might have struggled on for a while longer had it not occured to me that all I really wanted to do was explore the wonderfully-realised world and find out what happened to the delightful lead character and I could do it much more enjoyably by watching someone who can actually play the game.

There's a full playthrough with no commentary on YouTube. It lasts almost two hours. I'll watch that instead and save myself hours of frustration.

Plot of the Druid - Nightwatch - "Plot of the Druid: Nightwatch is a free prologue to the full game Plot of the Druid. A fantasy point-and-click adventure game that uses high-definition hand-painted drawings to capture the feel of old-school pixel art. The script has dry, sarcastic British wit that’s reminiscent of Simon the Sorcerer, Discworld, and Harry Potter."

Free on Steam. I was dubious about this even for free and I was entirely right to be. Being British, I do not find the phrase "dry, sarcastic British wit" appealing in any way whatsoever. It's lazy stereotyping, bordering on offensive - and not just to Brits. Like we have the copyright on sarcasm.

The comparisons are interesting. Harry Potter, I guess, is there because of the magic school setting. If there are any other similarities they passed me by. The other two, though, are quite accurate. Plot of the Druid - Nightwatch bears almost no ressemblance to any of Sir Terry's books but it is in direct line of descent to the horrible video game adaptations. The game it very much does remind me of, though, is indeed Simon the Sorceror, a boorish, thick-headed punfest I was unfortunate enough to pay money for several decades ago.


If anything, I thought this was better than Simon. Less cringeworthy, anyway. The jokes weren't funny but they didn't set my teeth on edge. The voice acting sounded like friends of the developers reading carefully from a script but at least no-one was doing a "funny" voice. As for the "Beautiful hand-painted HD artwork in the style of old-school pixel art" I think I must have missed it. Take a look at the screenshots and judge for yourself.

The gameplay was alright. I played on Young Apprentice difficulty, the easier of the two settings. There were a lot of puzzles. The harder difficulty, Master of Disaster, has more. Hard to see how you'd fit them in. Not many of the puzzles made any logical sense but then I don't suppose they would in a game like this. Be silly to expect it.

I started out thinking I'd last about five minutes but in the end I finished the whole thing. It took me about eighty minutes. I enjoyed it  more once I could turn into a racoon but then I would, wouldn't I? On balance, I didn't hate it but I sure as hell won't be pleging the kickstarter or buying the finished game, if and when it arrives.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Job Well Done

As Wilhelm reported , EG7 recently put out a video for their first quarter 2021 report. It appeared on a YouTube channel belonging to Direkt Studios. According to Google Translate's version of the Swedish, "Direkt Studios is the channel for you who need the latest information from the financial market." Among other activities, they "upload educational clips, CEO interviews and company-specific features daily with the financial market as a common denominator."

They also act as a platform for paid promotions: "Film clips that are financed by the companies themselves, so-called commissioned films, appear on the channel. Always read disclaimer!" The EG7 video is one of those: "Direkt Studios handles technical production and distribution of this broadcast on behalf of EG7. The content of the broadcast is put together by the company in cooperation with Wildeco and is not part of Nyhetsbyrån Direkt's editorial activities."

I'm not even going try to find out who or what Wildeco might be. All of this is very not interesting indeed, except as it contrasts with what went before. 

For the longest time there was SOE, veering wildly between coming across like a well-meaning, out-of-touch uncle or a passive-aggressive partner. There was always a scent of anarchy around SOE. You often felt something bad was going to happen but no matter the current crisis, you never worried too much. You always knew there was a megacorp standing in the shadows, ready to swoop in and pay the bond when the team woke up in jail.

Towards the end, though, it began to feel like the grown-ups had gone on vacation and left the kids in charge. Next thing you knew there was a wild party going on and things had gotten completely out of hand. 

 Kerran | EverQuest Next Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia

People were coming up with all kinds of crazy ideas they couldn't wait to tell the world about, even though it was plain no-one really had a clue how to make them happen. Livestreams would turn into long, rambling conversations between people clearly not used to talking to camera while shorter PR pieces devolved into what felt like try-outs for a career in stand-up. An unsuccessful career.

I'd link a couple of those but I can't seem to find any. Mercifully they don't seem to have survived. The internet's supposedly infallible ability to record all human digital history is often overstated.

When Sony corporate finally came to check on how things were going on and found out what had happened while they were away, party time was over. It wasn't just a case of putting things back in order and re-establishing some ground rules. Sony sold the house and moved out of town.

Honestly, as a longtime customer, it felt like a relief. The sale was a worrying time but things had gotten so bad I didn't see how it could get much worse. And it didn't. It got better.

It got better but it didn't get any simpler, that's for sure. If there was one overiding feature of what we can now call the Daybreak Years it has to be the sheer obscurity of it all. We never knew who owned what, who was paying, who was in charge, what the plan was, anything. "Follow the money", the saying goes. Well, we tried that but we couldn't find it. Someone hid it too well.

It was a thrill ride and kind of fun in a scary way. Great for conspiracy theories and wondering if the games were still going to be there when you woke up next morning. It might have been wishful thinking but even in the weirdest moments I never felt quite as unsettled by any of it as I was during several periods under SOE - the massive data breach, for example, or, worst of all, the PSS1 debacle.

Even so, comparatively comfortable as I was with Daybreak, I wasn't sorry when whoever it was that actually owned the company decided they'd gotten whatever it was they'd wanted from it. I don't imagine any of us will ever know who or what that was.

The new owners seem... reassuring. Reassuringly professional. Reassuringly clear. Reassuringly boring. From what we've seen so far, EG7 have managed to come across as enthusiastic and interested but also staid and stable. It's a good trick if you can pull it off.

The Q1 video is pitched squarely at investors but with an astute awareness that gamers will watch and comment on it anyway. I'm not going to do that. Wilhelm summarizes it excellently and it's a short and painless watch if you want all the details. 

The one aspect that catches the gamer's attention has to be confirmation that there's another AAA mmo in development. It's somehow related to one of the greatest brands in the world”. Initially I took that to be hype for EverQuest, since EG7 have been bigging up EQ's significance as a brand ever since they bought it. 

As both Wilhelm points out, though, one of the assets EG7 acquired through the purchase of Daybreak's portfolio appears to have been a license to produce a game featuring some subset of the Marvel Universe. Now that really is a world-ranking brand.

It's also been let slip that sub-studio Dimensional Ink, the one that runs DCUO, is working on a new game. It wouldn't take Thor's hammer to knock two and two into four there. Except that it really would be weird to have the same studio operating and promoting mmos for both DC and Marvel at the same time. Imagine the cross-promotional opportunities!

What started me thinking about all of this wasn't the video. That's old news. If I'd wanted to talk about that I'd have done it a few days ago. No, it was some other, even older news, something that has passed me by altogether.

When I logged into EverQuest II this morning I was greeted with a flurry of pop-ups telling me a whole bunch of the infusers I had in my bags had been made obsolete and replaced. I turned to the forums to see if I could find out why. There was a short downtime yesterday, unusual on a Thursday, and a small patch when I logged in so I thought there might be some clarification in the patch notes.

There wasn't. I still have no idea what was wrong with the old infusers or why I need new ones. While I was on the forums, however, I noticed some unwelcome news

Dreamweaver, Community Manager for both the EverQuest titles, is leaving. Actually, he's already left. He posted his goodbye notice a couple of weeks ago but I only saw it this morning.

I read through the whole thread, all seven pages of it, and it's astonishingly positive. Well, other than the two pages wasted on bickering between several forum regulars. I also went to the EQ Forums to see what people there had to say and it was much the same story, minus the childishness.

Both games have a long and extremely checkered history when it comes to Community Managers. There have been some absolute shockers over the years, quite a few forgettable non-entities and very few universally appreciated and respected professionals. Judging by the stream of accolades, Dreamweaver was definitely one of the good guys:

"You were a great community manager"

"You were the best mod we ever had in EQ2"

"You will be missed as you went to bat for the community on many occasions and have left mighty big shoes for your replacement to fill."

"You were the BEST!"

And plenty more along those lines. I always found Dreamweaver affable and noticeably non-confrontational, two things I absolutely would not have said about many of his predecessors. That said, as with all people doing their job well, I didn't really notice him at all most of the time.

If it hadn't been for the Kander's Candor podcast series I probably would have struggled to remember his name but listening to him on those fixed his cheerful voice in my head. He always seemed both interested and amused by everything he had to talk about and most importantly he always sounded genuine. I wonder if the podcasts will carry on or whether they were something that will disappear along with Dreamweaver.

Other than to record his passing (Let me make it quite clear. He hasn't died. He just got a better job. Which no doubt we'll eventually hear about eventually.) I wanted to comment on a surprising missed opportunity. Pretty much no-one used the thread to make portentous comments about how the Community Manager signalled the end of the known universe!

No-one got up on their soapbox and made a speech about how EG7 were going to fire everyone and all the games were headed for maintenance mode, if we were lucky. No-one took it as the first shot in a flame war (well, except those few kids at the back, fighting among themselves). Everyone just popped in, dropped a compliment for a job well done and moved on.

Okay, a couple of people made passing mention of rats and sinking ships and one person made a crack about Dreamweaver being the only person left working there that any other company would want to hire but by the standards of the EQII forums it was a remarkable show of positivity.

Whether the future under the new owners will be bright or blighted is something we'll only find out as that future turns into the present but I think I'd already be prepared to go as far as "We're no worse off than we were", though, and that's not nothing. Maybe I'm not the obnly one who feels hopeful, for once.

I'd like to wish Dreamweaver well in whatever endeavor he's begun, not that he'll ever read this (although you never know... it is on the internet, after all). And best of luck to whoever takes over the CM role. It's going to be a hard act to follow.

Although it could be worse. Just imagine what the job's going to be like if that new triple-A game does turn out to be set in Norrath.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Chinese Whispers

I'm just going to put this down as a marker. I don't imagine anything will come of it but just in case Swords of Legends Online blows up I'd like to be able to say I wasn't asleep at the wheel when it happened. 

Swords of Legends Online, a name which acronyms neatly but misleadingly to SOLO, is the latest on the seemingly-endless production line of mmorpgs from the East. It distinguishes itself from the crowd in a number of ways, not least its imminent launch on Steam

The game already has a well-known publisher in the west, Gameforge, on whose platform you can find such familiar titles as Aion, Tera, Runes of Magic and now Wizard 101 but immediate availablity from launch on Steam trumps that. The first closed beta just finished a couple of days ago. You missed it. So did I.

The next beta runs for a week, starting on the first of June. If you want in, unless you can snag a free key you'll have to pay for the privelige. SOLO is going with the popular-in-the-west Buy to Play payment model. $39.99 (£35.99 for me) gets you the game but there are, of course, deluxe packages if you'd like to pay more. If you pre-order via Steam you can download the game right now in readiness for that second closed beta. Your order guarantees a spot.

Oddly, it seems the game used the subscription model in its home territory, which seems like something of a turnaround. The home territory in question is China. This is a very Chinese game. It's part of a well-established Chinese series, there's a highly-successful Chinese TV show and the whole thing takes place in a Chinese mythological setting. There's an article on MassivelyOP that gives chapter and verse on all of that.

MOP wasn't where I first heard about the game, though. I have no idea where or when that happened. I'd had the name in the back of my mind for some reason but I knew absolutely nothing about it. 

It wasn't until I saw a brief mention of the game on the Friendly Necromancer's blog that I started to pay attention. He compared the game to Guild Wars 2 and since that's the only mmorpg Mrs. Bhagpuss plays these days I wondered if it might be something that would interest her. She's also quite interested in and knowledgeable about certain aspects of Chinese mythology so it seemed like it might be worth bringing it to her notice.

I watched the embedded video and it certainly looked like a visually impressive world but then don't they all in the videos? I made a mental note to keep an eye on it and left it that.

Then today I saw that MOP article I linked earlier. It's a bit of a rave. You don't see too many of those on MOP so when one turns up it carries a bit more weight than when, oh, let's say I might rave about something. 

Carlo Lacsina, the writer of the piece, seemed almost apologetic for liking SOLO. There were repeated mentions of how it was a WoW clone of sorts. I took that as a recommendation although I'm not sure that's how it was intended.

Carlo summarised SOLO thus: "in terms of gameplay, it follows the WoW formula: There’s an open world to explore with quests, dungeons to grind, arena PvP, crafting, the holy trinity, and flying mounts. It features a hybrid of the tab target and action combat styles." That ticks a lot of my boxes. As you can see from the trailer above, it also has some very impressive housing options, something that definitely can't be said about WoW. I was intrigued enough to go do some research of my own.

Well, I say "research". I read the Steam page and watched about fifteen or twenty minutes of a promotional livestream that happened to be on at the time. The whole thing lasts over four hours and it's on YouTube now if you have an entire evening stretching out before you and no idea what to do with it. (Pretty much anything other than watching four hours of two guys chatting about an mmorpg you never heard of until today is what I'd recommend but, hey, who am I to tell you how to spend your time?)


After that I watched a bunch of YouTube videos. Well, I say "watched". I watched two or three. The rest I skipped through, stopping briefly when I spotted something I wanted to know more about. There are dozens and dozens of SOLO videos on YouTube already. This game is generating some interest, that's undeniable.

All the ones I watched were very encouraging. No-one seemed as taken with the game as Carlo but no-one had anything very bad to say about it, either. Annoyingly, a couple that I really enjoyed I now can't find again and since, as I mentioned a while back, I have the history switched off on my YT account, they're going to have to stay lost. It doesn't really matter- I have plenty more.

Josh Strife Hayes, always entertaining, gets plenty of sarcastic mileage out of the game's claim to be "An MMO unlike any other", mainly in contrast to what he sees as its very traditional feature set. Which, of course, is just what attracted me to it the first place. He also speculates about the potential for SOLO to end up being Pay to Win, something he sees as a specialty of Gameforge. I consider myself to be relativeley immune to P2W so that doesn't bother me much either.



Sarumonin talks about the leveling system which sounds very much like the kind of thing I like. One of the videos I can't find explains how the speed of levelling has been heavily slowed down for the Western release. Apparently in the Chinese version you can go from character creation to max level in a couple of hours. I'm happy they changed that. 

He also describes the combat system as having both action controls and "standard tab target you can use if you desire". He compares the action combat to "Tera or Blade and Soul" and mentions there's a hybrid version that uses tab and action in tandem.

These days I'm fine with action combat systems although the one time I played Tera, which was many, many years ago, I wasn't at all fine with the way it worked there. Blade and Soul, though, I like. Mrs Bhagpuss, although she's perfectly capable of using most action combat systems (she's tried DCUO and Black Desert Online for example, and got on fine with the fighting), doesn't like not having control of the mouse at all times. Neither do I, come to that.

The problem with the term "tab target" as a description of combat is that it doesn't really get to grips with what I want to know, which is can I click a hot bar with the mouse pointer to use my spells and attacks? Most games never make that clear in the promotional material and since pretty much everyone who ever makes a video uses the keyboard shortcuts to cast it's impossible to tell from watching them.

In the end it doesn't much matter to me personally. If I can click the hotbars with the mouse, perfect. If I have to use the keyboard for that then I'll just go straight to the action combat instead. It would be nice if people would explicitly say "you can click the hotbar with the mouse during combat" though.

The MMO Ronin very nearly says that in his nice, laid-back review of the alpha test from late May but he's still not one hundred percent clear. He's very good on questing, story and dialog. He makes the very lucid point that the story seems to have plenty of moments that would have siginificance for fans of the series but which will be lost on Western players. That's unfortunately inevitable with properties of this nature, I guess, although honestly I've had the same experience playing World of Warcraft while never having played another Blizzard game before.


He also mentions that for the alpha most of the spoken dialog was still in Chinese and even some of the text hadn't been translated. You can hear that in Lady Silversong's "First Look" video, for which she leaves the sound on. You can hear how nice some of the music is, too.

And speaking of the music, just take a listen to the Official Western Release Gameplay Trailer. Now that's a tune!

That's probably enough videos for now. As I said, there are a lot of them. And watching them did help me make up my mind. Not make up my mind to buy Swords of Legend Online. Nothing that dramatic. Just make up my mind to add it to my Steam wishlist so I can think about buying it when it comes out.

So I've done that. And that's all I'm going to do about it, for now. 

No need to go crazy.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Reelin' In The Years

I had fun in Dry Top yesterday. It was busy and bustling, lots of people crashing around, rushing from event to event, chattering excitedly in map chat, some of them scolding each other for not doing what they should, others calling out help and advice. Today, after I'd done my dailies, I decided I fancied a bit more of that. 

It was always on the cards. I wrapped up my post on Guild Wars 2's "Return to Living World" event by wondering whether I might "turn it into a long-term project, knock off a mission now and again, whenever the mood takes me". The mood did take me but mostly I was curious to find out if the instanced content had gotten any easier in seven years.

Not that I could remember all that much about it. I get flashbacks about some of the really bad boss fights once in a while but I have a feeling most of those were in Season Three. I really couldn't remember anything that happened in Season Two.

I started on the first part, Return to Disturbance in Brisbane Wilds around ten o'clock this morning and finished the last part, Return to Fort Selma around four this afternoon. Over two days the whole thing probably took me about five or six hours.

I have some thoughts and observations.  In no particular order, here they come.

The achievement window is misleading. I looked at it quite carefully when I was writing the post yesterday and I had the impression it would take four meta-achievements to complete. It doesn't. It takes twenty-four. That is quite a difference.

The wiki explains it much more clearly: 

There are a dozen achievements in the first meta-achievement and completing them all does not get you an Ascended Weapons chest. Completing those twelve achievements gets you a choice of one of a set of weapon skins or six mystic coins. It also counts as the first of the four meta-achievements you need to complete Tier One of the Seasons of the Dragons meta-meta-achievement. That gets you an Ascended Weapons chest.

If you look at the chart above, Tier One is the shortest of the four. Tier Two and Tier Three require six meta-achievements each and Tier Four takes eight. I'm not at all sure we know yet just how that breaks down in terms of distribution cadence but if every one of the two dozen meta-achievements is going to be released as a separate instalment lasting one week, as the first two are, the whole event is going to last six months.

And if that's true, and if you take it that the Return to Living World event is effectively the pre-launch build up to the expansion, you could read it as confirmation of a minimum six-month wait before we see the release of End of Dragons. Considerably longer than I was expecting.

Or you could ask why, if this is the pre-expansion hype train, the token that gives you an EoD Legendary precursor is the reward for Tier Two rather than Tier Four. On a weekly release schedule you can get that one in fourteen weeks, which takes us into the begining of September, which was round about when I was thinking the expansion might drop.

So much for speculation. How about the experience?

The first meta-achievement was much faster and easier to complete than I was expecting. Dry Top being so busy made completing the six achievements there very straightforward but I don't think it wil be very much harder even when things quieten down. The achievements all set a very low bar.

I was expecting a lot more trouble with the instances but they positively whizzed by. I took my newly re-built asura ranger, now using the official Metabattle Basic Ranger build and fully kitted out with ascended armor and weapons. Apparently the people who come up with these metas do know what they're doing. Everything just melted

It was not like that first time around. As I moved through the chapters it all came back to me, the story and the fights. I could recall all the parts where I'd struggled originally. Seven years ago I described the fights as "tough and messy". Back then I was duoing  Living Story episodes with Mrs. Bhagpuss and I commented that "it often felt like two people were needed". This time around it all felt very easy with just me.

Clearly either I have gotten better or the content has become comparatively easier in the light of changes made to the game by the developers  and the theorycrafting done by players. I'll give you a clue which it might be: I have not gotten better.

With the fights on fast-forward, the drag anchors are your companions. Other than in one or two cut scenes there's no way to skip the dialogue and since these are story episodes there's a lot of talking. Worse, there are many situations when the mission can't progress until all the NPCs are in the correct position and some of them like to amble along like nuns at the seaside. (I've seen nuns at the seaside - trust me, no nun ever stepped lively with ice-cream in hand).


Since I mentioned the characters and the story, here's what I thought about it the first time: "I enjoyed it a lot". I thought the characterization was "coming along nicely" and the voice acting was "good". As for the writing, well, we'll get to that.

It seems I was more easily impressed back then. Or maybe standards have actually improved. I think it might be that, believe it or not. Listening and reading today, most of the dialog seemed quite flat. There were one or two jokes that didn't land and a lot of lines came dangerously close to being filler. 

The voice acting didn't seem anything like as good as I remembered, either, but that may have been because the characters still seemed to be searching for the people they were going to become. I'd say both the writing and the acting are generally of a higher standard nowadays, at least when everyone's not off working on an expansion.

The really strange part was how different the characters were. Almost without exception, everyone came across as less experienced, less confident, less jaded and less worn down. That's something of an unexpected compliment to how they've been handled across the years. They really have lived through some stuff, haven't they?

Especially Taimi and Braham. I'd completely forgotten just how young Taimi was back then. Everyone treats her like a child and she acts like one, too. Braham indulges her, Rox dislikes her and makes no effort to conceal her feelings. Taimi whines, snaps and behaves like a hyperactive twelve-year old. She's petulant, impatient, self-obsessed and lacks all the confidence, gravitas and pathos I associate with the character now. 

Braham, on the other hand, seems older, calmer, less... insane. He seems like a steady kind of guy and a solid big brother figure. Of course, at this point he hasn't had his mother murdered in front of him while he watches helplessly. Rox is her old, unhappy, insecure self. A little bitter, a little angry. I'd forgotten she was like that once. 

As for Marjorie and Kasmeer, the second chapter, Entanglement, is the one with the unfortunate incident involving Marjorie's sister Belinda and a large mordrem tendril. At least Marjorie doesn't have to watch it happen. I remember that scene well. I'd forgotten how freighted with nuance the dialog is, though. Boy, that was going somewhere. I don't recall if it ever arrived.

Here's the thing about the story, the characters and the dialog in these episodes: it may not be great writing (it really isn't) but it means something in the context of the game. In my original first impressions piece I described the plotting as "somewhere around journeyman comic-book level (that's a good thing) with the dramatics hitting a solid soap-opera groove". That might not be a ringing endorsement but it's a much better review than I'd give the second half of the Icebrood Saga, not to mention most of Path of Fire and the interminable Joko storyline.

I wasn't entirely sure I was getting the full original experience at times. Once or twice it felt like scenes were missing. There's one part where everyone leaves Taimi in Scarlet's hideout to carry on her research. Something happens that scares Taimi and sends everyone rushing back to check on her. The dialog is all about some big, scary event but as far as I could see, nothing had happened. I also hit one bug when all the characters just stood around, motionless and silent, and nothing would make them carry on. I had to log out and redo that section from the beginning.

Overall, though, it all went pretty smoothly. I can't see much prospect of my making it all the way through twenty-four sessions of it, especially not once we get to Season Three, which I remember being much less fun than Season Two. I would like to get as far as the free precursor. That looks doable, maybe.

And finally, on yesterday's theme of doing it for the money, even though I didn't get an Ascended weapon chest, there is one hell of a lot of loot to be had. I could barely stagger away with all the bags that were thrown at me. It's not very good loot but there's a lot of it. And the first meta-achievement itself is worth nearly twenty gold in Mystic coins, if you're strapped for cash, always assuming you don't want the weapon skins. Not a bad return on time invested.

All things considered, I'm quite looking forward to the next two episodes of Return to Living World dropping next week. That's something I never thought I'd hear myself say.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Make It Worth My While

This afternoon I found myself doing something I thought I'd never do again: the Dry Top meta. Not that I have anything against Dry Top or its eternally recurring sequence of set-piece bar-fillers. It's the original model of the map meta format Guild Wars 2 has been using for about as long as I can remember and it's aged better than a lot of the iterations that followed it.

No, I just never thought I'd have any reason to go back and do the whole thing from start to finish. I guess, technically, I still don't. All I really needed to do was complete ten events and I might have done that in half a cycle or less if I'd been a bit smarter about moving around the map or if I'd happened to land in something a little more organized.

I'd still have stayed for the whole thing, most likely, anyway. As well as ten events I also need to pick fifty plants, mine fifty rocks and chop fifty logs. And I'd have had to be there for the sandstorm that exposes all the buried chests because I need to open ten in the east of the map and ten more in the west.

Why, you may well ask, do I suddenly want to do all of that? Haven't I managed perfectly well for many years without setting foot in Dry Top, far less going there with "needs"?

Yes, I have. And I could carry on that way, too. Only I saw the news squib on MassivelyOP about the repromotion of Living World Season Two and it struck me I could get a blog post out of how weird an idea I thought it was. 

I had it in mind to spin the news into a piece about how ArenaNet will never be able to follow Daybreak, Jagex, Blizzard and the rest down the retro-nostalgia-progression-classic path because of the way the game is structured. I'll add that one to the growing list of posts I'm thinking about doing. I'll have an actual draft post backlog at this rate.


As I was thinking about it, I realized it was Tuesday. (Yes, I had forgotten what day it was. I've been furloughed since New Year. That's my excuse). Tuesday is patch day in GW2 so I thought I'd see if the update notes had appeared on the forum, which they had. 

I had a read of those and noticed, to my considerable surprise, as well as the expected return of the old there was also some rather more interesting new: "Taimi and Gorrik are setting up a lab in the Eye of the North. If you've completed Episode 5 of The Icebrood Saga, check in with them for the latest information."

If it hadn't been in the patch notes I'd never have known about it, although if I hadn't known about it I wouldn't have missed much. When I logged in I was met by one of those big envelopes that fills the center of screen to let you know ANet have sent you mail they don't want you to miss. 

I opened both the letters I'd been sent. One told me what I already knew: Season Two was back in play. The other offered me free unlocks for the first couple of chapters in case I didn't already have them, which, of course, I did. 

There was nothing pointing me to the Eye of the North and no mention of Taimi or Gorrick. Neither was there any orange headline in the events listings that fills the top right of the HUD. Nor was there any change to my Journal, which told me I was, as always, nine years late for the presentation of my Krewe's submission for the Snaff Prize.

Nothing for it but to go and see for myself. I ported to the Eye, hoping I'd at least receive some kind of indication where to go when I arrived. No such luck. In the end I just ran around until I happened to spot a couple of conversation icons, little green-tinted speech bubbles, hanging over some tiny figures in a corner at the very back, next to the scrying pool.

Taimi explains this is where she and Gorrick (for it is they) have chosen to set up their new lab because it's next to the only available dragon, Aurene. They seem pleased. I was unconvinced. The pair of them reminded me of Harry Potter trying to pretend his cupboard under the stairs was a real bedroom. 

I ran through the desultory conversation options. I asked several questions about the aftermath of the recent deaths of the two elder dragons, Jormag and Primordus. From the brief replies I gather no-one knows anything. Some dragon minions died, some didn't. The missing magic is still missing. The people Jormag froze are thawing but no-one knows how long it will take or if the victims will survive it.

Finally, Taimi suggested it might be helpful if I relived my previous dragon-killing experiences, at which point I finally tumbled what was going on: it was all just a set-up to get me to go do the same, old  Living Story stuff I'd already been told about by letter. 


Just to be sure, I did as she suggested and went to look in the Scrying Pool. There was a new dialog option: Relive Your Adventures In Dry Top . I clicked on it and it ported me to Dry Top. Not a special, back-in-the-day instance of Dry Top. Just plain, old regular Dry Top. 

It was busy. I might have stayed for a few events just for the fun of it, since I was there anyway, but before I'd decided, someone in chat started talking about a Legendary Amulet, then someone else linked it, and finally a third person suggested typing "Seasons of the Dragons" into the Achievements search box. So I did.

Almost since the game began, the paucity of rewards for completing content has made GW2 something of a standing joke in the genre. The old meme about two blues and a green is very nearly as true today as it was in 2013. Someone at ANet wants people to do these new achievements, that's for sure.

For completing the meta-achievements for the all four promoted chapters of the revived Living Story you will receive:

An ascended weapon chest

Your choice of precursor for an End of Dragons legendary weapon.

A 32-slot bag

A legendary amulet.

As it so happens, none of that is so good I feel I have to do content I don't want to do just to get it. I have unopened Ascended weapons chests in the bank, I can make 32 slot bags (and what's more I can afford to) and as I've said on many occasions I have never understood the point of legendary items. 

Even so, I'm more than willing to agree those are good rewards. There are even some decent rewards for doing the individual chapter metas. The first one gets you, among other things, three Mystic Coins and your choice of a nice-looking weapon. There are some skins there I'd use.

Best of all, there's no rush. The new achievements are permanent. They don't go away when the promotion ends. You can take as long as you like, making this a decent option for something to work on when there's nothing much else happening. Which, let's face it, is quite often in GW2.

I said at the start of the post that I never imagined myself doing the Dry Top meta again. While it's certanly true I had no plans in that direction, it was always possible I might have done it on a whim. I enjoyed it when it was current content and it's still good, knock-about fun today. 

The chances of me ever feeling the urge to run through an old chapter of the Living Story, though? Infinitesemal. Most of it I didn't much enjoy the first time. I only did it for the story and I've seen how that turned out. Why would I put myself through it all again? 

For the loot, of course. That's why we do this stuff, at least half the time, isn't it? And even though I don't especially want the items I listed above (although who can turn down a free 32-slot bag?), the sheer novelty of a GW2 event with good loot might be enough to make me feel I really should take advantage of the developers' momentary lapse in judgment.

I can do the six achievements in Dry Top, at least. Those are very easy and not at all unpleasant. After that I guess I'll try the first of the LS2 missions just to see how it goes. I am slightly curious to see if the small amount of power creep the game's experienced with two expansions has made any of those attritional boss fights any more palatable.

The open-ended timescale makes it feasible. I could turn it into a long-term project, knock off a mission now and again, whenever the mood takes me; a rainy Sunday afternoon, a dull Wednesday evening when I have nothing better to do. I wouldn't say it sounds exciting but at least it doesn't make me come out in a cold sweat.

Maybe they could put that on the poster.

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