Launchers, Accounts, & Games… Oh My!

launchers

Now that Nico has moved home for a bit, our household includes the following:

  • 3 gaming desktop computers
  • 1 Xbox One
  • 1 Xbox One X
  • 1 Playstation 4
  • 1 Playstation 4 Pro
  • 1 Playstation VR
  • 3 Nintendo Switches
  • 2 Nintendo 3DS’s
  • 1 Nintendo 2DS
  • 2 Playstation Vitas
  • 1 Nintendo WiiU
  • 1 Playstation 3
  • 2 SNES Mini
  • 1 3DO
  • 1 Playstation Portable
  • 1 HTC Vive

And that’s just gaming specific hardware! (Not to mention, I’m probably missing something…) The three of us also have game-capable smartphones which we definitely game on every day. (Disney Heroes and Pokemon Go FTW!)

But wait, there’s more!!!

For the consoles, we’ve got PS Plus, Xbox Live Gold, and Nintendo Switch Online (Family Plan). For the PC gaming, it starts getting messy. Since we like to play MMO’s, we each have our own accounts for games like World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV Online, MapleStory 2, etc. And since World of Warcraft is a Blizzard game, we each have a Blizzard account and have the Battlenet-Blizzard-whatever-the-hell-it’s-called Launcher installed on our computers. Through this Launcher, we can play World of Warcraft, Diablo III, Overwatch, Starcraft 1 & 2, the latest Call of Duty, and/or Destiny 2, provided we’ve bought the games. For Final Fantasy XIV Online and MapleStory 2, those games have their own launchers (which need to be installed in order to run), as well as the ability to install them via Steam.

Speaking of Steam, we each have a Steam account and the Steam desktop app installed. We’ve enabled family sharing so that we can play each other’s games. Steam revolutionized PC gaming when it established itself as a one-stop digital distribution platform for PC gaming back in 2003. It quickly became the primary place for people to buy/install games and if you had a Steam account, that was enough. Today, however, that is far from the case. GOG.com created a DRM-free digital distribution platform that focused on older, classic games while some video game publishers decided to create their own distribution platforms and restricted their games to their own platform. So in addition to Steam, we’ve got uPlay for Ubisoft games, Origin for EA games, GOG Galaxy, and Bethesda.net for Bethesda games (Fallout 76) installed. OMG I almost forgot about Epic Games for Fortnite…

And I’m not even done yet!

If you have Amazon Prime, you can connect your Twitch account and have access to Twitch Prime, which gives you free games every month. Guess what you need to install in order to access your games… Yep! The Twitch desktop app! And let’s not even talk about the fact that because of how Amazon and Twitch connect my husband and I each have our OWN Amazon Prime accounts even though we live IN THE SAME FREAKING HOUSE!

Discord recently entered the arena, as well. You know, the chat app that gaming communities use to stay connected to each other. They have a storefront now and if you pay for THEIR subscription (called Nitro), you get a bunch of “free” games. In order to launch THOSE games, you have to have their app installed. Of course, if you’re already using Discord’s app for chatting, then this isn’t a major problem, but it’s still ANOTHER installed app. Discord’s app can also scan your system and launch games on other platforms for you. So if you wanted to play Mass Effect 3, it will launch Origin and the game for you. How nice. As of right now, no one in our household is paying for Discord Nitro, although I’m considering it. The list of games that comes with the subscription is pretty nice. Not to mention, you get other chat perks and the knowledge that you’re supporting their platform.

Oh, how could I forget the other company that recently entered the fray? Yep, the Fornite giant, Epic Games. It offers a free game every couple of weeks or so and a storefront for games. They don’t have a whole lot there yet, but I expect it will grow fairly quickly.

So let’s put all that in a list so we can have a visual comparison with the gaming hardware:

  • 3 Blizzard
  • 3 Final Fantasy XIV Online
  • 2 Nexon
  • 2 GOG Galaxy
  • 3 Steam
  • 1 uPlay
  • 3 Origin
  • 3 Bethesda.net
  • 2 Twitch Prime
  • 3 Discord
  • 2 Epic Games

So where was I going with this…? Oh right…

THIS IS TOO MUCH!

I know, I know… I could always choose to stick to one console or one digital distribution platform, but as I’ve mentioned many times before, I want to play all the games. And to be fair, over the past decade or so, things relating to accounts and DRM have improved quite a bit!

Still, I feel like there’s got to be some kind of solution to this problem. On the other hand, as long as video games are created by for profit companies, there will never be any meaningful incentive to standardize how we consume games. Nico tells me that he’s always trying out new games that have their own launchers, etc. and that at a certain point, he just stopped thinking about it because this is just how it is. All I know is that I regularly look at “This PC” in Windows Explorer and my C: drive is often red because it’s full. I’ll admit, it’s a smaller drive (only 465 GB). Hey, SSD’s were stupid expensive when I got this machine! XD I’ve gotten into the habit of installing games that don’t require a lot of speed and/or power on my secondary drive since there’s 2 TB of space on that one.

7/15/18 Game Update

Here’s what you might see us play this week:

Mom & Nico:

  • Final Fantasy XIV Online (PC) – Patch 4.3!
  • Dungeon of the Endless (PC)

 

Just Mom:

  • Torchlight II (PC) – playthrough

 

Just Nico:

 

6/24/18 Game Update

Here’s what you might see us play this week:

Mom & Nico:

  • Final Fantasy XIV Online (PC) – Patch 4.3!
  • Diablo III: Reaper of Souls (PC) – Season 14!

 

Just Mom:

  • Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix (PS4) – playthrough
  • Condemned: Criminal Origins (PC) – playthrough

 

Just Nico:

 

6/3/18 Game Update

Here’s what you might see us play this week:

Mom & Nico:

  • World of Warcraft (PC) – Gearing up in Argus for Battle for Azeroth
  • Final Fantasy XIV Online (PC) – Patch 4.3!
  • Divinity: Original Sin II (PC) – playthrough
  • Raft (PC) – surviving, hopefully

 

Just Mom:

  • Parasite Eve (PSOne Classic) – Final Boss – playthrough
  • Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix (PS4) – playthrough

 

Just Nico:

 

5/20/18 Game Update

Here’s what we’re working on this week:

Mom & Nico:

  • World of Warcraft (PC) – Gearing up in Argus for Battle for Azeroth
  • Final Fantasy XIV Online (PC) – Patch 4.3!
  • Divinity: Original Sin II (PC) – playthrough

 

Just Mom:

  • Parasite Eve (PS One Classic on PS3) – playthrough

 

Just Nico:

 

Mom’s Backlog Update 5/16/18

I’ve made some decent progress on this project since I started it! Amazing how much you can get done if you figure out a way to hold yourself accountable… So let’s talk about some of these games:

FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 & LIGHTNING RETURNS: FINAL FANTASY XIII

tbc

I feel that overall the Final Fantasy XIII series is unfairly maligned. It is certainly not the best in the franchise, but it isn’t the pile of shit that so many people seem to think it is. When I started this backlog project, I had already completed the first game and was about halfway through the second. I enjoyed my time with the first game and the second felt like a reasonable continuation. Since XIII-2 pretty much just focused on two characters, though, I didn’t care that much about what was going on, so I just wanted to finish the game as quickly as possible. The protagonist was portrayed physically as an adult, but behaved and reasoned like an emo teenager, which drove me nuts. Still, the battle system was fun. I liked the paradigm system and how clever use of debuffs could turn a difficult fight into a faceroll. I kinda suck at games sometimes, so I like things that make fights easier and honestly, it’s a different type of skill to be able to use status effects and planning to take a boss down more easily. It’s called strategic thinking…

That to-be-continued ending, though. WTF was that? I’m glad I didn’t play this game when it was brand new. I’m pretty sure I’d have been pretty pissed off about that blatant cash grab. (Today I’m a bit more accepting of the idea that the game was planned to be in 3 parts. Back then, probably not so much!) So I started playing Lightning Returns and absolutely HATED it. I gave it a few more days of playing for a few hours each time. And I still hated it. When I thought, “Okay, time to work on my backlog game,” I was filled with a sense of dread instead of excitement or determination. This is the first time I’ve made a conscious decision to NOT complete a Final Fantasy game. Ever.

So why? I am a firm believer in the idea that a video game should be fun and this game just did NOT feel fun to me AT ALL. First of all, the looming time limit created a constant feeling of anxiety. Even with game mechanics in place designed to mitigate the time limit, it just completely stressed me out. Second, the Schemata system was EXTREMELY confusing. Even after reading the in-game tutorials, I couldn’t really figure out what I was supposed to do as far as upgrading my gear or whatever. I would find these new outfits everywhere, but wasn’t sure how to use them or whether they should replace something else. Maybe I should have put the game on Easy instead of Normal? Ugh. Easy setting on a JRPG? Hell, no. And finally, talk about annoying characters and non-compelling story. I spent so much time rolling my eyes that I’m pretty sure I saw my brain more than the game.

A lot of people really liked this game. Fun means different things to different people. That’s totally cool. You can enjoy it for me! 🙂

NI NO KUNI II: REVENANT KINGDOM

ninokuni2pau

Between finishing FFXIII-2 and starting Lightning Returns, I played Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom. This game was AWESOME! Although I beat the game, I’m still trying to 100% it. SPOILER ALERT: The story was very Ghibli and very Japanese in that everything ends up good. Even the bad guys, pretty much. That idealistic tone is one of the major complaints other people have with this game. I didn’t mind it. Maybe it was because I had just come from FFXIII-2, where the ending was absolutely depressing. Who knows… Another major gripe with the game that many people have is that the battles are too easy. Personally, I found them to be just right, although as I gained levels, it DID become rather faceroll-y if I wasn’t fighting optional bosses or something. I’m still working on getting high enough to tackle the entire post-game bonus dungeon, so if you want a challenge, beat the game and unlock that.

The one thing I hated in this game was the skirmish battles, which are like real-time strategy battles, I think. (I honestly don’t know. I hate playing RTS games…) Fortunately, if you grind enough, your units become so powerful that you can just mow everything down without really trying. I need to defeat all 50 skirmish battles to get that 100% trophy, so I’m still working on that. Ugh.

Kingdom building was definitely fun. I felt compelled to level up every building and research every ability just for completion’s sake, but this benefited me in battles, as well. If you decide to play this game, DON’T NEGLECT YOUR KINGDOM. Although you don’t need to totally max it out to beat the game, if you don’t level up your kingdom, you can’t progress story until you do. And in order to do that, you need to recruit a certain number of people, which generally involves completing side quests. I watched someone do this on Twitch. I was amused and felt sorry for him at the same time.

I will post again when I hit the 100% completion mark.


OTHER STUFF

The other game I beat recently was Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology on 3DS. I enjoyed it immensely, but if you want to get the true ending and the new true ending, just use a guide. I honestly don’t know how people do it without it. This game involves a LOT of time travel between two different timelines. Sometimes you can’t do something in one timeline until you’ve done something else in the other. Then there are the side quests that only open up in certain times after certain events, etc. This was an excellent game. I highly recommend it.

I added a few other games (besides Lightning Returns) to the “Nope, Sorry!” category. Here are my explanations:

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons – I really wanted to play this game because I enjoyed A Way Out a LOT. (Same crazy guy developed it.) Unfortunately, my brain just couldn’t handle the separate controls per hand. I was constantly pressing the wrong buttons and going in all the wrong directions. It literally gave me a headache. Some of it could be done one side at a time, but not everything, so I had to give up. 😦

Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse – I SUCK at platform games. I fell to my “death” around 15 times in the same location during the 2nd level of the game when I finally decided to stop banging my head against a wall.

ICO – This REALLY bummed me out. The camera in that game made me SOOOOOOOOO sick. Motion sickness in games is a huge problem for me. I’ve tried to power through it and I end up having to lie down for 2-3 hours. Not worth.

Shadow of the Colossus – Given that this game was by the same people as ICO, I was worried that I’d get sick from it. I didn’t, although the camera REALLY SUCKS. Unfortunately, it was just TOO hard. I got past the first two Colossi and it took me 30-40 minutes EACH! (I shit you not.) I really enjoyed trying to figure out how to defeat them. I may go back to this game later. I liked it that much!

5/6/18 Game Update

Here’s what we’re working on this week:

Mom & Nico:

  • World of Warcraft (PC) – Gearing up in Argus for Battle for Azeroth

 

Just Mom:

  • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (PS3) – playthrough

 

Just Nico:

 

4/2/18 Game Update

Here’s what we’re working on this week:

Mom & Nico:

  • Final Fantasy XIV Online (PC) – roulettes & Eureka

 

Just Mom:

  • Final Fantasy XIII-2 (PS3) – playthrough
  • Ni No Kuni II (PS4) – playthrough

 

Just Nico:

 

3/18/18 Game Update

Here’s what we’re playing this week:

Mom & Nico:

  • Phantasy Star Online Blue Burst (PC) – grind, grind, grind
  • Divinity Original Sin II (PC) – playthrough
  • Final Fantasy XIV Online (PC) – weeklies and dailies
  • Diablo III (PC) – Season 13

 

Just Mom:

  • Final Fantasy XIII-2 (PS3) – playthrough
  • (Hopefully!) Ni No Kuni II (PS4) – playthrough

 

Just Nico:

 

Gamer Mom

I did not consciously plan to become a parent when I did. I was 19 years old when I discovered that I was pregnant and being both gifted and cocky, I was quite certain that I could totally handle it. I was, after all, smarter than almost everyone I knew. How hard could it be?

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As I’m sure you can glean from that previous paragraph, young people are AMAZINGLY stupid. Because of MY choices when I was younger, I put nothing past the stupidity of a young adult. NOTHING.

Anyway…

At 19, with the exception of being completely obsessed with the Magnavox Odyssey 2 in the late 1970’s as a small child, I had virtually no experience with video games. No one in my friend group really played them and they simply weren’t a part of my world. Out of sight, out of mind, I suppose. Not to mention, the idea that “girls don’t play games” was totally still a thing. 😛

At some point, working at my retail job while pregnant became too difficult, so I was home a lot. My now ex-husband really wanted a Super Nintendo, but I told him that it was a waste of money. So he bought one anyway and said that it was for me so that I’d have something to do while I was bored at home. Pretty sure the first words out of my mouth were something along the lines of, “What the hell am I going to do with a Super Nintendo? I don’t play video games!” I was pretty pissed off about it, but the money was spent, so I wasn’t about to let his purchase go to waste. And it WAS true that I was bored at home a lot. It came bundled with a copy of Super Mario World, so I popped that in and tried video games again for the first time since I was probably 7 or 8 years old.

I completely fell in love. Head over heels, madly, deeply, and utterly in love.

Honestly, I’m not really sure what it was about that game that hooked me the way it did. I soon started regularly visiting Blockbuster Video and renting Super Nintendo games. I rented anything that looked interesting or was based on an existing IP that I enjoyed. So I played many different genres including platforming, fighting, racing, and action. That was how I discovered Final Fantasy and Japanese role-playing games. The box of Final Fantasy III (actually VI) looked interesting. I lost it. I had to pay a lost item fee, but it was worth it. That game still resides in my list of top 3 games of all time.

Playing role-playing games was easy while Nico was a baby. However, once he got a little older, he definitely wanted to do what Mommy was doing. At some point, I picked up an original Sony PlayStation, which was another truly excellent console in terms of JRPG’s. Think Wild ARMs, Final Fantasy VII, Legend of Dragoon… But I digress… Toddler Nico was now big enough and coordinated enough to hold a controller on his own. So I picked up games like Crash Bandicoot, Glover, and Spyro the Dragon. At around the same time, I started flirting with the manager of the game store. So when I’d score a free demo or something, Nico thought I was SO COOL because I knew the man in the game store. (Don’t worry, I wasn’t trying to use my feminine wiles to get free shit. We’ve now been married for over 13 years!)

Even though these games I bought were single player experiences, Nico always had to have me around. “Mom, did you see that? Did you see what I did? Mom! Mom!” He still does this to me today. He also needed me to read the text so he’d always know what was going on. Of course, sometimes he’d exclaim exasperatedly, “Oh my god, Mom, so much talking!” He still complains about that today, too, but he reads everything himself. 😛

Our first multi-player experiences involved a fighting game and racing/platforming. I am NOT a competitive gamer. I hate fighting people. I much prefer working together toward a common goal, but in the 1990’s, there weren’t a lot of cooperative games for consoles, so if I wanted to actually play something with Nico, it was going to be competitive. First we played Killer Instinct on the Super NES. This is the only fighting game I ever got any good at and I consistently kicked his ass. He hated that. So we didn’t play it much. I suppose I should have let him win once in awhile, but that’s just not in my nature. I bought a Sega Dreamcast and picked up Sonic Adventure. The multiplayer in the Sonic Adventure games is a combination of racing and platforming. Nico proceeded to consistently kick MY ass, but at least we had something we BOTH enjoyed playing. (I didn’t mind losing. Especially to him.)

The Dreamcast would prove to be a great place for us to game together. Sonic Adventure 2 was even better than the first one and there was even a level that I could beat him once in awhile! Green Forest! And then came Phantasy Star Online. This game (along with Diablo II) is probably what began my slow descent into the world of MMO’s, since it was like an MMO lite. (I started playing EverQuest not long after this.)

When the first Kingdom Hearts game released on the Sony PlayStation 2 in Japan, I bought an import copy and we played the game together. He did most of the gameplay stuff while I read and tried to translate the text. Considering that I had almost no Japanese knowledge at the time, I’m surprised that we actually managed to beat it. Too bad there were no achievements back then, though! We never changed out our original keyblade! We had no idea you could… XD

Nico and I continued to play games separately and together. When he was around 10 or 11, we taught him how to play EverQuest and got him his own computer, account, and everything. Unlike me, he didn’t jump into every MMO that released, but when World of Warcraft came out, we all jumped into that. Now we all play Final Fantasy XIV.

As a teenager, Nico continued to play just about any game I put in front of him. Since even his solo gaming involved me as a spectator, I pretty much let him play any game he was interested in. I always enjoyed watching him play games like Assassin’s Creed or Metal Gear Solid because I could just enjoy what was going on in the game without getting frustrated about making some kind of bullshit perfect jump or something.

I did have a couple of rules besides the obvious make-sure-your-homework-is-done rule. Rule #1: No Grand Theft Auto games. Rule #2: If you’re going to play a FPS game like Halo or something online, no voice chat. He was, after all, still a child. And while I was okay with him playing M-Rated games because he and I would actually talk about the games, I couldn’t control the multitudes of man-children who like to shout racial and gender slurs over XBOX Live. I also didn’t want him exposed to games that were specifically about being bad. Not yet, anyway. I knew he’d encounter that stuff eventually, but it was important to me that he not encounter it until he was old enough to really process the ramifications of, say, picking up a hooker in your car, paying her for sex, then running her over and stealing her money.

I finally relented on Grand Theft Auto games when GTA IV came out. As a high school teenager, I felt that he was old enough to play it and understand why I DIDN’T want him playing these games when he was younger. It’s no secret that I’m a feminist and I raised my son to be one, as well. I think the no voice chat rule just kinda phased out eventually. I don’t remember ever making a decision about it. He eventually just became an adult and he could do/play whatever he wanted.

There’s a College Humor skit called “N00b Boyfriend” that I find hilariously funny because although I’m not THAT bad, I imagine I would be somewhat like the parents in that skit. I’m not nearly as douche-y, but I guarantee that I’d be grilling any of Nico’s dates about Horde vs. Alliance or whether or not they invert the Y-axis on a controller. Horde and yes, in case you’re wondering, but as long as his date was actually able to answer my questions, I’d be happy.

As a gamer mom, I’ve tried my best to make sure he always has all the gear he needs to be a gamer son. Within reason, of course! I don’t just buy him everything. He’s a college graduate and a grown man now, after all. But with student loans and all that, sometimes it’s hard to keep up with this hobby. So I help when I can. Besides… Who else can I talk to about video games? He and I share a bond and a history that partially developed through gaming. I honestly hope that we can keep playing games together until I’m dead and gone. Eventually, it may be that I’ll be playing with HIS kids instead of him. I’m cool with that. As long as I can keep playing…