WildStar: a PSA About Harvesting Your Neighbor’s Garden
Jul08

WildStar: a PSA About Harvesting Your Neighbor’s Garden

Work is still owning my brain and will continue to do so for the rest of the week, so just a short post today. But first, look at my Aurin! Isn’t she adorable? … that’s pretty much all I wanted to say about that.

2014 07 07 22 34 55 WildStar 6760 214x500 WildStar: a PSA About Harvesting Your Neighbors Garden

So let’s talk about gardens in WildStar. Specifically, your neighbors’ gardens.

WildStar has the totally amazing option of setting your plot to share harvested goods between the plot owner and the harvester. In my guild we generally set everything to 50/50, although some kind folks give as much as 75% of the haul to the harvester. The share ratio setting affects every plug on a plot, and there’s no way to specify just one.

This works out really well for mining and survivalist (logging, essentially) plugs. Guildies have steady access to raw materials, avoid harvesting bots in the open world, and when I log on at the end of the day I usually have a mailbox full of materials that would otherwise not be used. Harvesting nodes refresh in about 30 minutes for standard plugs, so even if someone just logged your last tree as you logged on you won’t have long to wait for a fresh crop. Everyone is happy!

(It’s also a great way to encourage people to visit each other’s housing plots and be social, but that’s a topic for another post.)

Gardens, however, are a totally different beast. A harvested plot will not respawn without seeds. The majority of seeds come from… harvesting plots. If a harvester does not resow garden plots after harvesting, the garden owner is very much getting the raw end of the deal because a) they only get 50% (or whatever the setting is) of the seeds b) the empty plots aren’t generating any more plants.

Even if a harvester does resow, it doesn’t always compensate the garden owner. Some seeds and their resulting plants are much more valuable than others. If I fill up my garden with logicleaf and grimgourds, both quite expensive right now on Evindra, and you replace it with the much cheaper and more available spirovine… well, I might make a face when I log on and notice.

So a Public Service Announcement: harvesting your neighbor’s mines and survivalist plugs is rad! But please don’t harvest their garden unless you have a previous agreement, and if you do then please resow with the same seeds.

Thank you.

Cat Context 54: Clip Show!
Jul02

Cat Context 54: Clip Show!

cat context vertical Cat Context 54: Clip Show!

There is something worse, and it really does blow. When a long-running series… does a cheesy clip show!

- The Simpsons

Liore, Arolaide, and Ellyndrial were all swamped by real life this week, so we’ve put together a selection of some of our favorite moments from the last two years.

This episode includes selections from:

Cat Context 1: Enter the SWTOR Bikini Warrior
Cat Context 5: “Skynet is lying in wait in a slave Leia costume!”
Cat Context 8: Bears Are the Enemy of All Men. . and Orcs
Cat Context 14: Yes, but how does this all relate to Mass Effect?
Cat Context 28: E3 Postmortem, Console Premortem, and Free-to-Play with Syl
Cat Context 35: Steam Machines, FF14, Bad Raider Memories
Cat Context 41: Game Trivia Showdown 2013!
Cat Context 46: Warlords of Draenor – Insta-90s, Proving Grounds, the Ability Pruning
Cat Context 49: Ready Player One review, WildStar patches, ArcheAge alpha
Cat Context 50: Our Second Birthday! Ask Us Anything!

If you enjoyed this podcast, please “Like” or “Favorite” it in your media consumption method of choice! It makes us feel nice.

* Free Music Archive page for our theme, in THE crowd by The Years

Steam Summer Sale Conclusion
Jun30

Steam Summer Sale Conclusion

Work has been totally crazy for the past couple of weeks and it looks to be continuing for at least the next few. Unfortunately when my day job gets intense I quickly lose both the time and the creative oomph to write blog posts, so expect light coverage for the next little while.

I managed to make out pretty well in the Steam Sale, with a final total of 9 games for just under $50. A big part of that number was a willingness to deal with the rotten UI and dig up indie classics. I bought five games on the last day of the sale for $20, none of which showed up on the front page in any way. There are still good games to be had during a sale, but Steam sure makes it a pain to find them. Anyway, on to the list!

Tomb Raider – $4.99
Many people whose opinions I respect said this was great, plus I like buying games with leading ladies. Am I eager to play it? Mmmmmmmm, maybe. I’m not necessarily an action game kinda gal, and apparently this has a lot of Quick Time Events. But hey, $5!

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons – $2.99
I have heard wonderful things about this game! It’s sort of.. co-op with yourself. You control both brothers at once using the thumbsticks on your USB controller. I suspect it has a sad ending, but I’ll play it anyway.

Banished – $9.99
In retrospect I probably could have waited until this was closer to $5 in a future sale, but that’s a Steam Sale for ya. Banished is a “hard mode” city simulator. Citizens, prepare to starve!

Transistor OST 300x300 Steam Summer Sale Conclusion

Transistor – $14.99
Mine! For some reason $15 is my happy place for new games. When Transistor was released last month at $20 I made a face and decided to wait, but it was an easy decision to pick it up during the sale. This is probably the game I will play first of all the ones I just bought.

Organ Trail: Director’s Cut – $2.99
Sort of a novelty game, this is the classic Oregon Trail set in the zombie apocalypse. Am I going to spend hours playing this? No. But will I get $3 of entertainment out of naming my companions after real life friends and then giggling when they die of dysentary? Oh hell yes.

System Shock 2 – $3.99
Not an indie game, but a classic one! Created by Ken Levine and Irrational Games before Bioshock existed, this is considered to be a great old creepy space game. I’ll start this once I finish KotOR. (PS: Syp is playing through System Shock 2 right now and blogging about it.)

Cook, Serve, Delicious! – $3.99
This game was all the rage amongst bloggers about six months ago and it seems right up my alley. CSD is a combination of obvservational skill and fast fingers, and I am sure I will play the hell out of it.

Gunpoint – $4.99
I played this game originally at PAX Prime 2013, and oddly enough I wasn’t terribly impressed with it at the time. I think I was wrong though — the gameplay seems to combine stealth and puzzle solving in a way that is very appealing and I’m looking forward to giving it another shot.

pamplemousse 500x375 Steam Summer Sale Conclusion

Dominique Pamplemousse – $3.49
The official website describes this game as “a unique and offbeat stop motion animated detective adventure game about gender and the economy” and apparently there is also singing. Someone on Steam gave it the dreaded “walking simulator” tag which pretty much guaranteed that I would buy it just to make a point. I suspect this title is more Art than Game, but so what.

So how did you do in the sale?

Guest Post: Ode to WildStar Mount Flair
Jun25

Guest Post: Ode to WildStar Mount Flair

This post was written by guildie and occasional Cat Context guest Vajra (aka LoFi in WildStar). Thanks, Vajra!

You’ve been playing Wildstar for a few weeks now, and you’re starting to feel like you’ve made your character truly your own. Your armor is dyed and painstakingly color coordinated. Your house is decorated to look like some sort of crazy outerspace jungle gym, and the neighbor requests come by the droves. You’ve got it all figured out, right? Then someone zooms by on a motorcycle with a giant, rotating disco ball on the nose and shelves of steaming ramen hanging off the sides, and your mind is blown. Customizable mounts are a thing now. You just got Wildstar’d.

Apparently Carbine felt that individual customization options in MMOs were lackluster up until now, because Wildstar lets you add a personal touch to just about everything – your character, your gear, your outfit, your house and even, as it turns out, your mount. Every mount in the game has options to add cosmetic gubbins to it, the most visible examples being the various hoverboards: those colorful floating skateboards have decorative struts, stabilizing fins, and wings that can be tacked on for a heap of gold or Renown. But that’s just the start — the tip of the space iceberg, so to speak.

800px Trask Mount with Ramen Flair 500x364 Guest Post: Ode to WildStar Mount Flair

Ramen Delivery Service flair! Image from jabbithole.com

The ground mounts available at level 14 are where the really crazy after-market customizations can be found. They have an intimidating variety of cosmetic options, some of which you can buy right from the vendor that sells you the mounts – put brightly colored bunny-ears on your ride, or a brain in a jar, or just some extra armor plating to make yourself look extra tough. But the mount flair you find at the capitol city vendors? Those are just a small sample.

Want to hang thumping boomboxes off the sides of your crazy space motorcycle? You can do that. How about a suite of sensors and holographic readouts that make your mount look like a mobile command post? You can do that, too. How about giant gold exhaust pipes shaped like fearsome (and curvaceous) swordmaidens? You got it, cupcake.

While they don’t add any gameplay advantage (except possibly stunning enemies into submission in PvP with the glorious, glorious bling on your tricked out ride), the mount customization options give you a reason to keep speeding around on your ground mount long after you’ve gotten access to a hoverboard – and to keep doing group content. A number of the mount flair sets only drop in dungeons, or must be bought for obscene amounts of Renown, which requires grouping to earn. For the Path fans, each of the four paths has a themed set of mount flair that unlocks as you gain path levels as well. My Engineer – a Soldier – can look forward to strapping bulging packs of guns, swords and explosives all over her motorcycle, until it resembles a rolling ammo dump. An ammo dump with a giant disco ball on it. Because reasons.

While not every set of flair items visually “clicks” with every mount – a woolie mount with screens seemingly impaled on its flanks with metal brackets can be wince-inducing – there are enough different sets that every player should be able to find some mount customization items that fit their personal style and ride of choice. It’s a great addition to a game that already bristles with a fearsome array of ways to make your character unique – and really, really flash.

Building a Better Steam Sale
Jun24

Building a Better Steam Sale

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m sort of underwhelmed by the Summer Steam Sale this year. I know it’s fashionable now to point at our own enthusiastic consumerism during past sales as the problem but I actually think that Steam is as much to blame for the current sale malaise as we are.

I mean yes, we have all bought a lot of games over the past 5 years of sales. In some cases we have bought more games than we could ever play in our lifetimes. (I was inordinately pleased yesterday when the Steam Calculator told me that I’ve played 56% of the games in my library. That’s over half! I am some kind of game playing wizard!)

And I think I’m just part of the general trend when I say that my tolerance for high prices on new titles has been whittled away by seeing today’s $60 releases become tomorrow’s $5 specials. I’ll shell out for the pleasure of being part of an MMO launch, but otherwise any game over $15 inspires much soul searching before purchase.

So sure, part of the current malaise is our own damn fault. We delved too greedily and too deep, and even declaring — as I did last year — that I am not buying any (non-MMO) games between Steam Sales hasn’t really brought the magic back. But a huge part of the problem I think is that Steam is having a merchandising crisis.

There are so many games on the service, and more are added every day. Bloggers and YouTubers who were dedicated to covering every Greenlight title have had to give up and resort to highlights. By May, more games were added to the service in 2014 than in the entirety of 2013!

graph2 500x320 Building a Better Steam Sale

And in this brave new world of thousands and thousands of games, what do the daily sales bring us? Skyrim. Again. I find it hard to believe that there a gamer in the world who thinks they would enjoy Skyrim but hasn’t bought for $5 yet.

Steam is kind of a victim of their own success when it comes to merchandising. (A victim with huge piles of cash, but still.) Valve has always very strongly resisted taking any kind of editorial control over their selection, preferring to put tools in the hands of the users and developers, and while I understand why they have taken this approach it essentially means that there are tens if not hundreds of games that I would enjoy but will never see.

I appreciate that the sale has to put up big name blockbusters for both financial reasons and public perception, but I would love to see more effort made to dig up lesser known treasures for the front page. Torchlight II is a great game, but it’s also been in every seasonal sale for the past two years.

I could even possibly be coerced into doing my own digging for treasure through the deep Steam library, if their service wasn’t so difficult to use. Lists of games under a category are given a tiny part of the screen and will only show 10 titles at a time without coaxing. And if you go visit a game page on the list and then hit your back button your pagination is lost and you have to flip through tens of titles again to find where you were! There’s also no indication in the list of quality, whether it’s a Metacritic score or even just a list of player-generated tags.

To be fair complaining about mismanaged Steam Sales is pretty much the height of first world problems, but I think a few changes on Valve’s end could bring back some of the old sale magic. Put more lesser known titles in the Daily Deals, make it easier to find games I might like to play in the “back catalogue”, and STOP PUTTING SKYRIM ON THE FRONT PAGE.

Thank you.

PS: So far I’ve bought Tomb Raider for $5 and Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons for $3.

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