Grumpy Gamer: How I Will Have Spent My Summer Vacation
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Grumpy Gamer: How I Will Have Spent My Summer Vacation

By Jeff Sproul -
13

So, as you can probably imagine, I'm what you might call "indoors-y." If I so much as think about going out into the sun, I get a burn and an itchy rash. This is the closest I come to working on my "tan":

And yes, the complexion is essentially accurate.

I do, however, tend to be at my busiest during the summer months - I'm a country boy, after all, and stuff needs to get done during the warm weather. Consequently, my game time, precious as it may be, is usually truncated during the summer months. And this is made worse by my internet service, which tends to cut out on humid, hazy nights when the temperature drops to the dew point.

That's right, folks. Summer makes the Grumpy Gamer grumpy. 

So, during the precious few hours that I do get to spend gaming, I want to make the most of it. I have my summer mostly planned out, according to release schedules and whatnot. 

Currently Playing

For this month, I was planning on taking advantage of a full week of double-XP in Star Wars: the Old Republic. Unfortunately, the first week of July turned out to be particularly busy for me, plus there were thunderstorms, so of course I missed out on basically the whole thing. Instead, I will be focusing on preparing for the launch of Update 14 in the Lord of the Rings Online, scheduled to launch mid-month.

LotRO is upping the level cap to 100 with this update, and I still have a bunch of toons stuck at 65, 75, or 85. Each successive expansion or major update, my stable of level-capped characters thins out just a little more. Currently, my only level-capped character is my Hunter, who will be making the brave sojourn into Western Gondor and opening that level gap just a little further.

August will be at least partly a SWTOR month, for sure. Mid-month is when subscribers get early access to the Galactic Strongholds content. It pleases me immensely that this expansion is actively encouraging players to stay indoors by giving them a house to in which to hide from the treacherous sun. Most delightful of all is that one of these glorious retreats from terrible nature is located on Tatooine, the very embodiment of sunshine weather. I imagine the player houses will have delicious air conditioning for those dog days of despicable summer.

In the interim, I'm going to try to re-kindle my interest in the Elder Scrolls Online. I was all amped up for ESO during beta, but when the game actually launched... I dunno. The bloom was off the rose, I guess. I am still subscribed to the game, and still maintain that it's outstanding, but we writers sometimes suffer from burnout - even when the game is amazing.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, though, and since I haven't bothered with it in weeks, my guess is that it will be rip-roaring fun the next time I log in. And hopefully there will be somewhat fewer bots bombing around making things miserable for everybody. But probably not.

And I'm going to remain stubbornly resistant to the "charms" of / blissfully untainted by the wickedness that is WildStar. Honestly, bunny-aliens.

Q3 & Q4 Nostalgia

Reuben tried to get us jazzed for the new releases coming up later this year. I suppose it might have worked for some of the other Ten Ton Hammer guys, but roughly 90% of the list left me feeling cold. Most of the titles felt gimmicky, or were focused on PvP, or somehow found a way to ruin zombie survival. I am only slightly more enthused for the single-player RPGs scheduled for launch this year.

In particular, the Witcher III: The Wild Hunt and the next installment of the Dragon Age series have my attention.

The Witcher was the first RPG I bought for my brand new gaming computer back in the sepia-toned days of aught-seven. I had just built a respectable gaming rig with my tax return, and I wanted to see what the awesome new graphics card could do. The fellow at the game store (because this was back in ye olden days when they still sold games in stores, and we had to walk 40 mile barefoot through the snow uphill both ways to buy 'em, by golly) recommended it, saying he figured it would push my brand spankin' new Radeon card a bit.

I got it home, played it for about 7 or 8 minutes, and then I was introduced to LotRO. The limited amount of time I had with the game wasn't bad or anything, but the intro to MMOs kind of killed everything else for a while. The story has always seemed pretty cool, so I reckon it's time to reinstall that game (2 gaming machines later), see what's what and prepare for the third title in the series when it comes out next February.

I thoroughly enjoyed Dragon Age: Origins, the first title in the series. It was different enough to be interesting, but familiar enough that the world didn't feel totally alien and off-putting. The story was fun, the characters were neat, and I enjoyed the spell synergies - honestly, I've used the Grease + Burning Hands trick in D&D so often that it boggles my mind they never found a way to add it into actual D&D computer games. Plus it had that whole vintage BioWare vibe, before they got bought out by the evil suits at EA and became The Man.

Of course, I particularly enjoyed the game after I got it modded beyond reason. Those brilliant deviants at NexusMods have some really interesting ways to completely change your game. The porno-style cut scene replacers were probably my favorite aspect of the whole modding experience.

This, of course, is NOT one of those scenes. 

I never got into the DLCs, or the expansions, or the second title in the series. Again, not because DA: Origins was a bad game, but because MMOs have essentially ruined me. And the copy of Dragon Age: Origins that I had at the time was - ahem - a borrowed one, which has since been returned to the original owner.

I see that the original title, its expansion and all DLC is bundled up on Steam for $29.99. In preparation for Dragon Age: Inquisition, due out in October, I may have to revisit the unforgettable land of... erm... well, Wikipedia says "Ferelden," on the continent of "Thedas," but that doesn't sound right for some reason. Anyway... revisit the unforgettable land of wherever and save the world from the evil forces of... that one guy, the evil dude. And, like... tree people or something, and somebody rode a deer like it was a horse. Plus the porno sex scenes, because those I do remember.

So that's my game-plan for this summer: hiding from the terrible sun with some old friends. What are your goals for the sunshine months? Let us know in our comments.

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About The Author

Jeff "Gunky" Sproul
Jeff Sproul, known by many as The Grumpy Gamer, has an undying love for The Lord of the Rings Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic. There must be something about MMOGs based on classic trilogies...