You Should Check Out Friends At The Table. I Just Think They’re Neat.

I spent most of last night (technically the 13th, not the 22nd, since I write these a week ahead of time and then juggled all of this week’s posts around so I could tell everyone how much I enjoyed the Diablo IV beta) watching the Friends at the Table crew (well, most of them) play King of the Castle on Twitch. I participated a little bit, since you can sign up to become a noble in the kingdom playing out on a stream game if the streamer has it set up correctly (and I can’t think of why you wouldn’t, given the fun I had last night), and it was a very enjoyable experience. Between the amazingly accurate Gilbert Gottfried impression, one of the players using a fun voice changer for her roles, and the overall humor of the group, I recommend checking them out (this link is to the YouTube upload of their stream). It was a very fun time and while there will be some loss of fun because you can’t participate in the voting after the stream has ended, it is still a hilarious few hours of a video game that is absolutely worth your time. There’s even a wonderful, friendly troll and a campaign to legalize a plant that makes everyone feel great when they’re around it all the time.

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Getting Back Into New Stuff (Podcast Edition)

I’ve been listening to mostly the same podcasts for the past two years. To be entirely fair, there’s been a lot for me to catch up on, since I got into podcasts late in general and very late in regards to some of these longer-running podcasts, specifically. That said, I hit a point last summer where I was entirely caught up and had listened to or watched all of the Patreon bonus content I cared for, but I wound up starting a string of full-series re-listens that I’m still working through now instead of trying something new. I needed something familiar and comfortable, so I just listened to stuff all over again. Some of it was nice, since I missed things here or there the first time and a second listen-through cemented the stories and characters I loved so much more firmly in my mind. Most of it, though, was just something I enjoyed to fill the silence of my evenings, combat the tinnitus I’m developing, and drown out the constant thumping, bumping, and creaking of my upstairs neighbors. Over the past few weeks, as I’ve pushed myself to start trying new things again, I’ve finally started making progress on my “to-listen” pile.

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The Diablo IV Closed Beta Was Too Tempting To Pass Up

I had such a great time playing the Diablo IV closed beta this past weekend (around chores and preparations for my impending trip), that I decided to break with my usual writing habits and post this the day after I wrote it. I didn’t want to wait two whole weeks (since I’ll be taking next week off for said trip) to tell everyone how much fun I had, especially when there’s still time for people to give the open beta a try if I post it this week.

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My Final Thoughts On Chained Echoes

I finished Chained Echoes last night (you can find my early thoughts here). I mean, I’ve still got a bit of post-game type stuff to do (unlocking the last two ultimate weapons, getting and upgrading some of the ultimate armors, etc), but I’m most of the way through that as well and only the final (extra) boss fight really appeals to me. Clearly, I didn’t need the fully upgraded ultimate everything to finish the game. I managed to figure out a system of abilitys and debilities in battle that has worked pretty well for me and I can now reliably put out enough damage while keeping my Damage Per Second anchors alive that I was able to get through the final plot boss fight fast enough that I think the game was struggling to do all the cool stages of the fight before I blew the boss away. I even tested it against a timed encounter that’s part of the “collect the macguffins to unlock the ultimate hidden boss fight” line of challenges that had been absolutely unbeatable only a few gaming hours earlier (I’d literally tried it before heading off to the final area where I got the ultimate armors and weapons and whatnot) and managed to end it faster than I thought was possible. I’m not sure I really need to do more of this kind of collection and gear imrpovement stuff before I take the hidden boss on, so I might try to bang that out tonight or this weekend.

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My Coping Mechanisms Were Overwhelmed

I don’t think I’ve ever had a week that has tested my coping mechanisms as much as this past one has. 2023 has been a rough year, but this past week has been a special brand of hell. Not only have I had to deal with a few incredibly stressful events such as cancelling a flight and booking a new one, confronting my body image and gender identity issues as I get fit for a suit and buy new clothing, and trying to ramp up my performance at work even more as projects get shuffled around and my timeline gets drastically reduced, but I’ve also been trying to juggle preparations for this trip I’m going on. I have dropped every single ball multiple times this week (or had it knocked out of my hands by circumstance) and, despite wanting nothing more than to crawl into a hole for twenty-four hours so I can rest and recover before cleaning up and trying again, I have had to carry on immediately. I honestly don’t think I’ve had a week where I’ve had to just suck it up and keep going when I’m this stressed and miserable since I moved out of my parents’ house.

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Becoming a World Traveler In Dragon’s Dogma

For what feels like a year now, I’ve been working my way through Dragon’s Dogma. I tend to play in bursts, usually doing nothing else for a weekend or for a few week nights in a row, and then moving on to somehting else for a while. Most of the time, I wind up getting distracted by a new game that feels more urgent than the relatively ancient Dragon’s Dogma which doesn’t even have a release year for its sequel. One time, I got frustrated with a bug and losing three quarters of an hour of inventory management, so I set it aside long enough that I forgot what had caused the bug in the first place and promptly ran into it again when I went back. I’d saved more recently, this time, so it was easier to fix the problem, but it did keep me from diving too deeply into the game that round. The past couple weeks, though, as I try to save some of my recently acquired Switch games for my impending trip, I’ve focused more of my time on Dragon’s Dogma and discovered that the real reason I stop playing most days is because it takes so damn long to get anywhere.

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Getting Back Into New Stuff (Anime Edition)

After years of living alone and even more years of borrowing someone else’s Crunchyroll account, I’ve finally started watching new stuff again. Mostly anime right now, since I don’t feel like wading into the intermittent cesspool that is Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, or whatever else I’ve got out there. So much TV and streaming-centric movie stuff has happened in the last decade and so much of it ran for so long that even thinking about trying to catch up on what I’ve missed or saved for later has me feeling fatigued. In the anime sphere, it’s a bit easier. Most shows feel like they take longer to come out, the overall runtimes/episode counts are shorter, and it’s also a bit easier to get recommendations from my friends since I’ve watched so much less anime than any other type of TV show. I can usually just ask for the top five shows from a few people and watch what comes out of that without needing to worry too much about whether or not my taste aligns with my friends’.

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Being Anxious Saved Me From A Worse Disaster For Once

I’ve been busy with getting ready for a trip. I’ve known about the trip for a while, but with everything else going on this past year, I couldn’t afford to spend time and energy on trip preparations until this month. Now, as the final weeks count down, I’ve had to systematically prepare myself in a situation where I don’t really have that much room for delays or procrastination. Unless I wanted to give myself a truly awful final week before the trip, I needed to methodically work through everything in a timely manner. Thankfully, I’m good at getting organized, so it was incredibly easy to come up with a broad to-do list and then sort tasks into a day-by-day order that would still leave me with time to rest so I wasn’t burning myself out before the trip. Unfortunately, everything blew up pretty much immediately when I lost an entire day to discovering that my flights had changed and the agency I booked with not only hadn’t notified me, but didn’t even seem to be aware that anything had changed when I started digging into it.

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Saying Farewell To My Last Dungeons & Dragons Campaign

It took us three sessions, a total of about ten hours, to wrap up my last remaining Dungeons and Dragons campaign, but we did it. I got to deliver final lines, talk about the world the heroes built, and finally close the loop on themes I’ve been building for years. It was a hefty, emotional moment for the four of us, as we said our goodbyes to the characters and the world they had saved, that left me choked up. Even if we struggled to meet regularly and it took us two years to get to where we were before we started to wrap things up, we’d still invested a lot of time and thought in our characters. It would have been nice if everyone could have been there, at the end, but sometimes people fall by the wayside and there’s no bringing them back. I just find it interesting that it was the players who learned this lesson instead of the characters (who managed to bring back a friendly NPC using a True Resurrection spell after they’d failed to bring them back during our first year with a pair of raise dead rituals gone wrong).

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Infrared Isolation Will Return On April 8th

As a result of how busy I’ve been and how busy I expect to stay, I’m not even going to try to get a chapter of Infrared Isolation ready for any Saturday this month. I’ve got a two-week skip planned for the end of the month anyway, since I’ll be traveling and am planning to not update my blog at all while I’m on the road (though I expect I’ll have plenty to write about after my trip). So I’m just starting this now. Gonna save myself a whole lot of mental effort and strife, and do my best to get rested before I have to go on my first trip to Europe.

To be clear, there will be no new chapter posted on the 11th (today), the 18th, the 25th, or the 1st of April. Aside from today, there won’t even be a disclaimer post. I will post a reminder on the 27th not to expect anything new until the 3rd of April. I’ll actually focus on my vacation and what my friends and I are doing for once, instead of trying to keep this place going constantly.

On the 8th, though, I’ll have the next chapter queued up and ready to go. Until then, enjoy your weekends.