Sunday, January 31, 2016

GTASC 2016: Week 3 Report

I was a little worried nearing the end of this week, as we were only 1,000 points above the elimination line with about 6 hours to go.  I have to remember that we're still early in the competition, so the ~100 teams that were behind us weren't all going to blast ahead while I was asleep.

We ended the period 1,017 points above the line.  I really should not have been worried.

Anyway, here's what I worked on this week:

Neverwinter - 404 TA Score - Oh, boy, Neverwinter.  I hit level 70 at the beginning of this scoring period, which unlocked epic dungeons and three new campaigns.  I got achievements for some of the epic dungeons and skirmishes, but I still have a long way to go on that front, as the highest-level dungeons require my character to be a lot stronger than he currently is.  Plus I still need to get my secondary character up to level 70 as well.  I imagine there will be a lot of Neverwinter grinding in the next couple months.

The good news: this new content is a hell of a lot more interesting than the painfully repetitive "vigilance" tasks that got me from level 60 to 70.  It's hard, to be sure, but it's a lot more diverse, so it feels a lot less tedious.

The Walking Dead: Season 2 - 545 TA Score - Yeah, I know I'm way behind on this one.  I bought it back when it was new, but I never got around to playing it.  Figured it would be an easy way to get a few hundred points this week, and it definitely was that.

I'll admit: I wasn't really feeling the story through the first three episodes or so.  Yeah, I though Clementine's development was done really well, but it wasn't until the last third of the game or so that I truly got invested.  I ended up with a pretty good opinion of Season 2 overall, but it took a while to really grip me.

Just Dance 2014 - 283 TA Score - Big surprise, I'm sure - I kept grinding away at this one, earning 5 stars in a handful of songs.  I think I still have a decent ways to go, though I haven't actually counted up the number of songs I've completed (the in-game menu is atrocious, so it's a huge pain to check how many stars I've earned on each Classic routine).  I did, however, pop the achievement for burning 2000 calories, which came with a sizeable TA score.

Polychromatic -  1047 TA Score - More Polychromatic as well.  I knocked out the skill-based achievements with a little practice.  After that, it was just a matter of grinding out a bunch of points.  Overall not too bad of a completion.

I also realized this week that I've failed to mention a couple of the other games I've been grinding recently: Magic Duels and Kinectimals Unleashed.  I'm far from earning any achievements in either of these games, but I'm doing daily quests to keep inching closer.  Slow and steady.

That does it for this week's gaming on my end.  What were you playing this week?

Until next time, have a good one!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

GTASC 2016: Week 2 Report

Another week down, and 385 teams remain.  Here's what I was up to this week:

Rare Replay - 966 TA Score - This week, I focused on Atic Atac, Lunar Jetman, and Killer Instinct Gold.

Atic Atac and Lunar Jetman are older games like the ones I played last week, and they also aged terribly.  Lunar Jetman in particular is trash - really awkward controls and plagued with awful slowdown when too many objects are on screen.  It's all characteristic of the earliest video games, but it made grinding out the achievements a pain.  Granted, the in-game cheats make it doable, but it still sucked.

For Killer Instinct Gold, I just got the easy achievements for playing each game mode and playing as all characters.  I spent maybe 10 minutes in the game, which I'm putting off because I usually need a lot of practice to do decently at fighting games, and I'm not quite ready to make that commitment.

Neverwinter - 0 TA Score - More of the same grind, completing daily quests and slowly working to level 70.  No achievements this week, but I did sink a decent amount of time into it.

Just Dance 2014 - 146 TA Score - Also similar to last week's activity, but I managed to wipe up a few random achievements in this one.  The bulk of the points came from winning all the game's dance battles (which was pretty easy, to be honest), but I also kept working towards 5 stars on every song.

Polychromatic - 888 TA Score - Polychromatic is an old-school, arcade-style shoot 'em up, with all the usual pros and cons - it's challenging and can be exciting to continually push for a higher score, but it gets repetitive pretty quickly.  Still, this type of game is typically good for a decent chunk of TA Score, and while I still haven't earned the hardest achievements, over 800 points in about an hour-and-a-half of gameplay is a great contribution to my team.

And at that point, I stepped back as it seemed we had reached a safe score for the week.  We're still in the opening weeks of the contest, so we haven't reached the point where each scoring period will be a challenge.  Gotta keep pacing myself.

That's what I've been up to this week; what have you been playing?

Until next time, have a good one!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

GTASC 2016: Week 1 Report

It's finally 2016, so it's time for the next round of the Great TrueAchievements Score Challenge.  Teams are back up to four members this year, and Team Lazy Eye is looking to improve on last year's 75th percentile performance (our best one so far).

In addition to scoring as much as possible, I plan to write up little summaries of my performance each week, including brief descriptions of my thoughts along the way.  Mini achievement-oriented reviews in a sense.

Here's what I was playing this week:

Gems of War - 735 TA Score - Despite getting lots of praise, I was never a big fan of the Puzzle Quest formula.  Taking turns matching gems on the same board as your opponent encourages you to make matches specifically to prevent big combos instead of trying to set them up yourself.  It can lead to profoundly frustrating gameplay, as the random gems that refill the board dominate can create losses out of nowhere and some real feel-bad moments.

Gems of War doesn't really expand on that premise in any meaningful way, but it was a free game and reasonably mindless, so I got into it.  The downside?  It took me nearly 120 hours to reach level 100, which earned me the final achievement in the game.  It has a fantastic TA ratio (7.35), which is awesome, but it required many hours of mind-numbing grinding this week (and in the weeks prior).

Neverwinter - 176 TA Score - Neverwinter is a pretty reasonable MMORPG, especially for a free console title.  The latest updates have added some pretty disappointing content (unabashedly repetitive questlines, for one), but it's good for some serious TA Score if you can dedicate the time to grind up in levels.

Most of what I've done with Neverwinter this week was daily Guild quests to farm Guild Marks, Along the way, I completed 10 normal dungeons and finished killing the required number of giants and trolls to earn three achievements.  Not huge, but my main character is tantalizingly close to the level cap, which will unlock a lot more content and allow me to nab several more achievements.  Looking forward to that in the next few weeks.

Rare Replay - 1708 TA Score - This was the big one this week.  A collection of a ton of classic Rare games (though sadly not the most iconic Rare games in my mind, the Donkey Kong Country series, for obvious trademark reasons), Rare Replay has a lot going for it.  To be totally honest, though, a lot of the early stuff hasn't aged very well at all.  Even so, I'd definitely say it's worth the investment.

On the achievement front, I focused on Snapshots (little challenge levels specially designed for the older games), Gunfright, and Snake Rattle N Roll.

Gunfright and Snake Rattle N Roll are both perfect examples of games that haven't aged well, but the save and rewind features make the achievements for those games trivial.  They're not terribly time-consuming, either, as I spent less than 2 hours on each of those games.

Snapshots can be very challenging, as you can't save or rewind, so you have to do it all legit.  Still, with some practice (and occasionally a good guide), I was able to knock several of them out this week.

Just Dance 2014 - 9 TA Score - I've been a fan of rhythm games since I first played DDR back in high school.  The more recent motion-sensing dance games scratch that same itch, albeit in a different way.  Another upside of Kinect games is that they typically have pretty inflated TA Ratios, so they're great for a competition like the GTASC.

This week's achievement was just liking a dance video that somebody uploaded, so it required minimal effort (for a surprising Ratio of 1.77), but I also worked on earning stars, inching closer to the achievements for earning 3 and 5 stars on all songs.

And that was it for this week.  The GTASC is a marathon competition, as it lasts all year, so I'm trying to pace myself a bit.  As a result, I've spent a lot of time grinding towards big achievements instead of rushing full speed ahead.  Looking forward to an epic performance this year.

Anyway, that's what I've been up to this week, what have you been playing this week?

Until next time, have a good one!