Thursday, May 24, 2018

How I Spend Money on Games

I hold myself to a very strict rule when it comes to games:
I never pay more than $30 for any single game.
There have been a few exceptions, which I'm about to discuss.

I will start by acknowledging that this rule is pretty much impossible for console gamers or anyone who's a fan of AAA titles. The current standard price of a new console or AAA game is going to be $40 to $60 (and sometimes more if they're baiting you for 'gold' editions). If you are in this category and still manage to wait until the price drops to $20 or $30, I commend you. You probably know all the pains of the internet spoiling the entire game before you get to play it.

If you're a PC gamer, though, this rule is a lot easier to follow. There are a lot of fantastic games for $30 or less -- and it's easy to browse through game sites that offer indie titles or bundles of games for just a few dollars. This has been the bread and butter of my self-imposed rule. You don't have to spend a lot of money to get great games.

But sometimes, it's worth it to give extra.

The Myst 25th Anniversary Collection

If you missed out on this Kickstarter, then I'm very sorry for you. As it is, I didn't find out about it until it had less than 2 hours left. Anyone who's played PC games since the 90's has probably played at least one of the Myst games (and if not, shame on you). Always beautifully designed, each of the 7 games in the series from the release of the first game in 1993 to the last in 2005 held lush worlds ready to be explored and nearly-impossible puzzles to solve.

My first encounter with the series was actually the second game, Riven, which my aunt showed me at her house. I loved it, even though I had no idea what to do and wasn't aware of the story behind the games. Fast forward a few years, and I finally had the first game for myself and everything suddenly made sense. I own the first three games as physical copies, and have digital copies of the fourth and sixth games. I never acquired the fifth game, Myst IV: Revelation, because it was produced entirely by Ubisoft and they are notoriously greedy and never have discounts. It's also not even available on Steam or GOG.

Imagine my giddy surprise when someone on Discord shared the link to the Kickstarter! After a quick check of my bank account and a little math, I went ahead and pledged the tier that would net me digital copies of all 7 games, DVD copies of all 7 games, a Myst Book box (to store the DVDs, and has blank journal pages and a hidden compartment), digital Myst Book extras, and an LCD Linking Book panel which shows video fly-throughs of the games in the Myst Book's window, making it look like an actual Linking Book from the series. I consider that pledge worth every penny! If I could have, I would have gone up another tier to get Gehn's pen and inkwell -- because that tier also came with digital copies of the three books.

My pledge cost, with shipping: $187

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire - Obsidian Edition

This was another recent acquisition, but it was also an inevitable one. I adore the first Pillars of Eternity game, even though I haven't come anywhere close to finishing it. I've restarted it several times with different characters because there are so many different opportunities and ways to play the game. Choices matter, outcomes change the game flow -- and it's just beautifully made.

So when I saw that Pillars of Eternity II was coming out, AND that it was about the Deadfire Archipelago and you get a ship and fight pirates... well, if you know me at all by now, you know I cannot refuse anything like that. I bided my time and waited for a good deal, though, knowing there would be one somewhere. I had managed to acquire the Royal Edition of the first game (top tier, all goodies) for practically a steal on (which has become too iffy these days even if you purchase the transaction protection) and paid less than the cost of the Champion Edition (middle tier). I loved it so much that I also bought the Collector's Edition Guidebook.

The deal I found was only a few days before the game released, and it was on the Fanatical website (formerly Bundle Stars). I was able to get the $75 Obsidian Edition (top tier) for -- again -- less than the Deluxe Edition (middle tier).

My cost, with all future DLC and preorder bonuses: $53.19

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

After following this game's development for over a year, I knew I had to preorder it. I opted to do so through my local GameStop because I wanted to have a physical copy of the game. The preorder came with some sweet extras in the form of an extra character skin and some weapon runes. I didn't get much else out of preorder, and I had to update via Steam anyway. My only real regret is that at the time I didn't have a controller that would work well with the game even using an app to make it masquerade as a 360 controller. The keyboard controls were hard, and I never got very far in the game. My husband has the game (and the sequel) on the PS4, so I hope to play more of it sometime.

My cost, with extras and preorder bonuses: $52.99

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II

This one is the first significant exception I have made to my spending rule, and to this day I have no regrets. I adored the first game in this series. There was plenty of action as you fought waves of mythical monsters, and also lots of humor from the witty, snarky banter between Van Helsing and his ghost companion, Katarina. It was even one of the games I can say I finished (though I haven't earned all of the Steam achievements).

Then Neocore said they were doing preorders for the second game, and they reeled me in. There were cosmetic in-game pets, vendor discounts, armor/magic items, extra storage, an art print, a map, a CD of the soundtrack in a leather case, a leather mousepad, all future DLC, and... you could get your name in the game's credits.

I was a total fangirl. I didn't even think twice about forking over the money to pay into the Legendary Supporter tier. No regrets. And I happily told everyone I knew about the game -- and streamed it on Twitch. If you were wondering, they came out with a third game to finish the storyline and have since also released a Final Cut version that has all three games combined.

My cost to become Legendary: $200

What are some rules you have for yourself when it comes to spending money on games? I'd love to read about them in the comments! Comment on this entry between now and June 1st for a chance to win a copy of The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing: Final Cut ($45 value).

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Donation Incentives Update, Now With Milestones!

I have updated my offering of Personal Incentives for donations... and finally finished a list of Milestone Incentives for all donors. Don't be shy -- please comment and let me know what you think of them! (And yes, I know the update date is wrong on the milestone image.)

Friday, May 18, 2018

May Feature Entry: The Sexy Brutale

This is probably not about the endangered species you expected,
but at least you get to try saving them.

May 18th is Endangered Species Day, and it's harder than it might seem to find a game to fit that particular theme! Even so, I did come up with a few options and let some people select which one fit best. Like last time, I've listed the other options at the end of this entry in case you're interested!

The Sexy Brutale is a misleading title, perhaps making you think the game's content is inappropriate and/or scandalous. Well, the only scandal is that the guests of the titular casino (The Sexy Brutale) are being murdered by the staff. It's your job to relive the same day again and again to figure out how to prevent each murder and gain powers that will aid you in the following preventions.

In essence, this is what happens when you mix up Groundhog's Day, Clue, Phantom of the Opera, and puzzle games. Still with me? Good.

The game opens with a brief explanation:

...and proceeds to introduce you to yourself, the masked Lafcadio Boone. Your mask is plain with a bloody handprint on it, placed there by a creepy, red-glowing girl who appears to be dripping blood and disappears into a pool of blood on the floor. She explains that the handprint protects you and that the others will not be able to see you or chase after you -- which does not lessen the panic attack when they are in the same room and everything goes ominously red. I discovered that only means you're unable to see much and cannot take actions in the room when others are present.

However, even though you're unable to do things with the other guests or staff in the room, you have a wide variety of options available when you are by yourself -- and both a lot of time and not a lot of time in which to use them. At the start of the game, you have a broken pocketwatch which forces you to relive the hours of 12 pm to 5 pm. When 5 pm hits, you're dropped back at your original prone location and anything you picked up disappears. You essentially have to scout around a lot first, figure out where the objects are (and at what point they become available to grab!) and make use of them before your time runs out. 

The tutorial phase of the game equips you with all the skills necessary to prevent the first murder, as it limits you to a select few rooms and hallways. The further you progress, the more rooms and areas open up to you. The bloody girl explains what you need to do to prevent the murders, but apparently cannot help you directly or she'll be discovered. You're taught how to interact with objects, how to listen to footsteps in an adjacent area, how to spy through keyholes, how to hide, and how to beat feet through a door.

The game does a great job of making you want to play more, too. The first murder scene is in a beautiful chapel -- I mean, really, the artwork in this game is beautiful. And knowing that the rest of it takes place in the casino and that you're in a mansion... well, you just KNOW that there will be some great scenes to explore.

Now, once you finish that tutorial and save the first victim, it turns out that he was the clockmaker for the mysterious Marquis who is hosting everyone. Because of this, you can now make use of the clocks all over the mansion -- IF you can find their corresponding key so you can pick a new clock as your respawn area -- AND you finally get the full day to use instead of just 12 to 5 pm.

I haven't managed to play much further than this in the game yet (that is, I haven't saved any more lives because the next one you have to save two people at the same time and there are CCTV codes required, among other complications!), and I really don't want to spoil anything for anyone who might be interested in playing it. So this is where my screenshots end!

What else can I say about the game? Plenty!

The soundtrack. Guys. GUYS. This soundtrack is phenomenal. You can find it on YouTube, but be careful if you're avoiding spoilers because those are there as well. I would even caution you not to go listen to the music without being in the game -- something about the music and the ambience together is what really makes it work.

Even if puzzle games aren't your thing, I would suggest giving this game a try. If you don't want to invest, try a Let's Play and see if that piques you any!

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Those Other Games I Mentioned...


Feist -- A desperate, savage survival experience full of stunning visuals, dynamic creatures, and a haunting soundtrack. (Released Jul 2015, Mostly Positive reviews)

Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty

Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty -- Once a happy floor waxer in Oddworld's biggest meat processing plant, Abe stumbles across his boss's secret plan to turn the factory's slave labor force into the latest in the RuptureFarms Tasty Treats line of novelty meat snacks. Abe now has to save his own skin from the grinders, but simply escaping the flesh farm is only the start of his Oddysee - for many dangers await Abe on his journey to discover his destiny. (Released Feb 2015, Very Positive reviews)


Redshirt -- A comedy sci-fi sim about social networking aboard a space station, starring the station's most ambitious low-ranking peon: you! Navigate the professional and interpersonal politics of the ubiquitous "Spacebook" to curry favor among friends and colleagues without dying when you're sent out on a mission. (Released Nov 2013, Mixed reviews)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

LOTRO Executive Producer Letter: Classes, Festivals, Dwarves, and a Spider

Today's letter from Executive Producer Rob Ciccolini (aka Severlin) left me with some mixed feelings, but overall pretty excited!


If you play LOTRO and keep up with the notes for Bullroarer, then you've likely already seen some of the initial plans for tweaking classes. I am generally not happy about the proposed changes to Hunter and Lore-master, and admittedly don't play enough of other classes to weigh in on them -- but some people are happy and others are not. I just hope all the people who can actually access Bullroarer and give quality feedback will do so! The good news about this process is that they plan to stagger it and work in gradual phases instead of massive, sweeping changes across the board all at the same time.

Update 23

This part doesn't really get me excited because I haven't even made it to Mordor yet, but it still sounds very awesome! The Lonely Mountain, the Iron Hills, and the Grey Mountains will get the dwarf fanatics pumped up -- and the instance cluster, promise of a new raid later in the year, and level cap increase to 120 will take care of everyone else.

Minas Morgul & Shelob

I am sad this has been pushed off to 2019, but also kind of happy they want to devote more time and size to it. Anyone who's played Shadow of War but is also a LOTRO player is probably twitchy with anticipation of this part of the game.


I'm intrigued by the Seasonal Instances that will accompany the Summer Festival. It reminds me of the special raids in RIFT during the Anniversary event, as well as Instant Adventures. I just hope SSG does it right (so far, their track record is pretty good). The fact that they mention the instances being able to be done solo is a plus in my book. Group content in the game is plentiful (especially with Mordor, I hear), so giving some love to the solo/duo players is great to see.


  • The ability to see sheathed musical instruments? I'm on the fence here. I hope they make the visibility optional, or set it up with cosmetic options the way they have standard weapons. Not all instruments look good dangling from your back or waist!
  • Harvestmath additions? I hope this isn't just talking about the continuation of the Bingo Boffin quest they started last fall. That was great, and I look forward to the next leg of it, but something new that can be done every day of the festival would be great!
  • And all I can say about tying off loose ends in North Rhovanion, including Gundabad...

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Weekend Update: LOTRO, God of War

That was remarkably nice and gentle, Elrond. 
Good job with the bad news for Snarkqueen.

When you've spent weeks grinding the Anniversary Scavenger Hunt, it can definitely feel like a few thousand years have passed in the blink of an eye! But those sweet, sweet rewards were very much worth it, and I feel very accomplished for having completed the vast majority of it with only a little help.

In other news, YES -- that is a character named Snarkqueen. She is on the Arkenstone server, and I hope to use her for future LOTRO-themed blog entries. She is a High Elf Warden and probably won't get as much game time as I'd like simply because I enjoy playing alongside the Away Shall Fade kin on Landroval. (You guys are awesome.) I just didn't have any open character slots over there.

The monthly feature entry is on schedule for the 18th, though the cough/sniffles/sneezing I've developed may or may not interfere with that. This is what I get for going to a doctor's office for an annual exam.

My husband has also asked me to play God of War so he has someone to talk to about it, so I'm going to give that a go in the coming days, too! He said it was hard for him to play on Normal, and that I should play on Easy. That worries me because he usually likes hard games. Anyone out there have experiences with the game to share?

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

May Feature Forecast

Check back on the 18th for this month's feature entry, 
or sign up to have it delivered to your e-mail when it's posted!