April Showers Bring Forth May Flowers

It’s the end of the month again, so I recap things that happened in April 2017.

Black and red cat earphones from Manufactory Breached

I still feel like a total blogging newbie, despite this being the ninth month that the blog has been up and running. I’m finding it useful to take a moment at the end of a month and look back at the stuff that happened.

This month, I’ve mainly been playing The Sims 4, but I’ve also started dipping my feet back into MMOs with a few sessions of The Elder Scrolls Online and The Secret World. On Twitch I’ve been watching streams about Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE and Secret World Legends, as well as binge watching TV shows.

Singularity

I’ve been continuing to play The Sims 4 and enjoying new experiences that the game has to offer. One of those new experiences was the launch of the PlantSim Challenge during mid-April. The game developers will occasionally patch in new challenge events offering players rewards for completing certain tasks. This is the first time I’ve seen such an event activated in-game and I really liked it!

PlantSims (humanoid plant-like sims) started appearing around the neighbourhood and the challenge involved collecting six special magic beans from them and growing a mystic portal tree. The type of bean you got depended on the emotional state of the PlantSim at the moment you asked for a bean. Some of these were easy to get, as I’d often see confident or playful PlantSims walking around, but the final one I had to get was the angry bean. I had to be really mean to an unfortunate PlantSim to make him enraged enough to give me what I wanted.

The mystical magic been portal tree in The Sims 4

After collecting all the magic beans I needed, I decided to grow the mystic portal tree in the community park, so that any of my sims could visit it and use the portal. The portal takes your sim to a magical place, where they have the chance of obtaining Forbidden Fruit. I managed to get one of these fruits, but for the moment I’m just keeping it around as a memento.

The other new experience I tried in The Sims 4 this month was having a married couple try for a baby – for this I picked the pre-made couple, Bob and Eliza Pancakes. I wasn’t really sure what to expect – despite having seen this before in previous iterations of the game, The Sims 4 was all new territory. The first attempt was a failure, and I found it really helpful that they added a pregnancy test option to let you know for sure.

After a successful attempt, I played Eliza through the entire pregnancy, which was pretty easy, and then got to watch her give birth at the Willow Creek Hospital. I was a little bit disappointed that the doctor at the hospital wasn’t the sim I had been working through the medical profession, but seeing her husband Bob freaking out in the waiting area was hilarious.

Iggy Pancakes playing with his dad Bob in The Sims 4

After a couple of days with the new baby, Iggy Pancakes (following the canonical name given to the first child of the Pancakes family by the developers), I decided to age him up to toddler stage. Toddlers are a relatively new feature of The Sims 4, having only been added in February 2017, so I was really intrigued to see what the developers have done with it.

In previous versions of The Sims, the toddler stage wasn’t that exciting to play, being focused more on potty training and taking care of the toddler’s needs. So far in The Sims 4, I’ve found the toddler experience to be a lot more interesting. Toddlers have emotional states just like every other sim, and there seem to be a lot more family oriented interactions you can do like tucking them in to bed, playing with them and teaching them skills with objects like their own toddler tablet. There are different levels of skills to learn, and as the toddler progresses in the skill line, then more interactions will presumably be unlocked.

Multiplexed

April is the anniversary of The Elder Scrolls Online. It’s a simple experience boost event, with extra loot containers rewarded by completing regular daily quests. I’ve been on a hiatus from ESO, so I didn’t really participate in the event, but I did pop in long enough to unlock the unique anniversary cake memento for this year.

During the weekends, I’ve been visiting The Secret World. It’s been pretty dead following the announcement that it is going to be replaced by Secret World Legends later this year. It’s somewhat upsetting to be logging in during prime time play hours and seeing Agartha virtually empty, whereas a short time ago it would have been buzzing with activity. I guess people just aren’t feeling any compulsion to stick with the game after the developers have effectively decided to abandon it.

Despite this, the weekend groups for Noobmares raids are still running, and it’s nice to get together with friends and play content which we enjoy, even though we’re not really doing it for the loot any more – except for rare clothing drops… those are always needed. I even managed to get the black and red cat earphones from The Manufactory Breached dungeon that have eluded me for years, thanks to a generous donation from a pantsless wonder.

Completing the New York Raid wearing cat earphones in The Secret World

Streamscape

Funcom returned to Twitch this month with developer livestreams of Secret World Legends. The game is currently in a closed beta phase, and people participating in the closed beta are under a non-disclosure agreement. Fortunately, the developers are allowed to talk about it and have so far shown character creation, the first part of the new tutorial and some group dungeon gameplay.

What Funcom has revealed about Secret World Legends so far has initiated a few discussions amongst The Secret World player-base about whether the switchover to reticule mode combat is going to exclude players who may have video game motion sickness or disability issues. There’s also the continuing discussion about why Funcom is abandoning its existing playerbase and building a new game which so far just looks like a tweaked copy of The Secret World that doesn’t go far enough to address the retention and acquisition issues that have plagued it for years.

Elsewhere on Twitch, I’ve noticed a lot more activity from HeathHimself, with several new episodes of Let’s Play Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. I haven’t had time to watch two of the streams that I missed yet, but it’s nice to see more of the game (which I can’t play myself due to it being a Wii U exclusive). Heath seems to be streaming a whole lot more now that he’s got a Nintendo 3DS with a video capture card and acquired a bunch of new followers.

Flixation

I’ve spent a few days this month away from games and binging on TV shows. I’m currently watching season 4 of Marvel’s Agent’s of Shield and season 2 of Blindspot, which are both getting close to airing their season finales. I love both of these shows and they’ve both shown excellent quality in storylines recently. Hopefully, they both get renewed, but you can never be sure with the fickleness of American TV networks and their tendency to cancel great shows before their time.

They should learn from the BBC and Doctor Who, which will never go away, and returned this month with series 10, featuring Peter Capaldi’s final run as The Doctor and new companion Bill. So far, I’ve liked the two new episodes I’ve seen and Bill seems to offer a fresh perspective to question The Doctor’s actions.

I’ve wanted to start watching something new for a while, and I ended up picking up and binge watching every episode of Lucifer. It’s about The Devil deciding to abandon his position as lord of Hell and moving to Los Angeles, where he ends up being drawn to a police detective named Chloe who is mysteriously immune to his powers of charm. Wikipedia describes the show as a “fantasy police procedural comedy drama” which is pretty accurate and somehow works amazingly well despite sounding pretty far-fetched. I think the great cast of the show contributes a lot to its appeal.

The season 2 cast of Lucifer
Lucifer season 2 cast ©20th Century Fox

Come what May

What’s coming up in May? Now that I’m hooked, I plan to continue watching new episodes of Lucifer, which has four episodes left to air throughout May. They’ve already been renewed for a supersized 26 episode third season, so I’m looking forward to seeing more of the story unfold.

On 2 May 2017, the penultimate episode of Living World Season 3 will be released in Guild Wars 2. ArenaNet have released a trailer for the next episode, titled “Flashpoint” and it has got me ready to make a return to GW2 and continue the adventures of my characters.

I also need to find the time to return to The Elder Scrolls Online and finish the Ebonheart Pact storyline before the Morrowind expansion releases in June.

Despite the old saying about April showers, the month was pretty dry in terms of blogging activity. There were a few topics that I could have written about, but didn’t get around to. Perhaps May will see posting activity bloom?

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