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2015 was an interesting year in gaming. I had fun with friends and I spent about half the year playing a single game. I didn't watch many movies, but I liked what I saw.

Early in the year, I went back to Diablo III, where I completed campaign mode with every class of character for both genders. There is still much for me to do in the game, outside of campaign mode, but this is a game I've really enjoyed playing.

Spring brought the release of GTAV for the PC, which I pre-ordered and got to enjoy once again. I had a couple of video issues, but I managed to resolve them with a simple configuration setting. This was the game that made me realize how ignorant I was about choosing a GTX 690 for my new Alienware PC. I didn't realize it was a dual-GPU card, until now. I played a little bit of GTA Online, but not much.

Hearthstone: Heroes of WarCraft is a really fun card game featuring WarCraft characters and mobs. I enjoyed it, although I wish the game had a much stronger single player aspect to it. I'd love to be able to play against an AI instead of people. That's really why I haven't spent much time playing it. Still, it's a good game. You can spend money on it, but I have not. I did save up some earned in-game gold to buy some stuff, though.

Summer brought the much anticipated 1.3 update for Terraria. It was amazing! I got to play on a server with my fellow Cheerful Ghosts and I had a lot of fun. Once we were all ready for Expert mode, I had pretty much already moved on. Expert mode didn't last very long for us, but that gives us another reason to run another server. I also learned how to use Tshock, which is really awesome.

About this time, I also found out about a new Early Access game called Ark: Survival Evolved. This has turned into my game of the year. I have really enjoyed it and continue to play. While the game has a strong PVP aspect to it, I've been playing strictly PVE on my own in a single player mode. It's a bit like Minecraft, but includes dinosaurs and other creatures that can be tamed. Many of them can be mounted and serve various purposes. I've also enjoyed the various holiday events. I'm very tempted to write a much longer post about why this is my Game of the Year.

A local friend told me that he was playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. I found the entire series on sale on Steam, so I decided to go for it. The first two games in the series weren't all that wonderful, but the third was fantastic! I enjoyed riding around the open world on horse back with plenty of quests to do. The story was also very excellent.

This Fall, Fallout 4 was released. It was a bit difficult at first. In fact, it took me around 5 times of starting a new game to finally get into it. I ultimately decided to tone down the difficulty a notch. Once I got into it and was comfortable with it, I began to enjoy it. Perhaps my only complaint with the game is that some quests are never ending and you're constantly getting notifications that they are available. It took me a while to decide to just finally start ignoring them. One of the things I enjoyed was the fact that pretty much all that junk you collect can be used in crafting a variety of structures and mods for weapons and armor.

StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void was also released this Fall. I haven't spent much time with it, honestly. I struggled to complete the first prologue mission in Whispers of Oblivion. After a bit of research, I was able to figure it out and make my way through it and the remaining two prologue missions. This ended up how I've had to complete many of the beginning missions of LotV, having to do so research to figure out how to complete them. I've been playing on Normal difficulty and it's been a while since I've played any StarCraft, so I had a rough start. I have taken a break from this after once again having difficulty in a mission.

Jurassic World was fantastic! It seems like nearly a reboot of the original, but I thought it was quite awesome. New dinosaurs were introduced along with good characters. I enjoyed buying the JP Blu-Ray collection and watching all of the movies with my son.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens was simply great. I really enjoyed taking my son to see it. While our 3D experience wasn't great, the movie was fantastic. I'm looking forward to seeing at least a sequel.

Since I got an Amazon Gift Card for Christmas, I decided to use it to rent a movie and watch on my TV via my PS3. I watched The Avengers: Age of Ultron and I enjoyed it as I usually enjoy Marvel movies.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 01/06/2016 at 03:21am

Originally I saw Jurassic World in the theater with my partner and friends. It was a fun movie and I enjoyed it but not as much as watching a second time. After the second viewing I was really hooked, it's a really nice follow up and sort of does the "Force Awakens" thing which is to say it takes just enough from the original and does enough on it's own to be very enjoyable. Since it made a ton of money I expect sequels and if they are as good as World, I am in.

GregoPeck   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 01/06/2016 at 04:09am

I kind of had a similar feeling. I mean, I enjoyed it the first time, but I was really into it the second time. Maybe that's because I watched the previous ones before watching it. Good point about "Force Awakens," I agree. It was basically a Jurassic Park reboot, but different. The story was essentially the same, yet it wasn't. I liked the characters and the dinos that were in it.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 01/08/2016 at 04:41pm

One thing I guess I never realized about Ark: Survival Evolved is that it has a PVE mode! I figured it was just like the swarms of other multiplayer survival games, only with dinosaurs. Very cool :)

GregoPeck   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 01/08/2016 at 11:19pm

Well yeah, it's primarily PVP, but I only play in single player mode (PVE). I have made an Ark friend and have been invited to play on an official PVP server. However, I'm doing some things on my own and not sure I'm ready to join. I'm not of fan of PVP, but apparently this server has neutral tribes and thus they don't do a lot of PVP.

Not only dinos, but other similar creatures as well. like the ape, Gigantopithecus, and the monkey, Mesopithecus. But, there's also tech stuff and weapons such as various firearms including small guns, rifles, grenades, and rocket launchers. Some things in the game seem to be more effective against dinos than humans and vice versa. One of the creatures, Dimorphodon, specifically targets humans, even when they're riding a dino. Usually when you attack a dino, it targets your dino, but not you.

I've played nearly 600 hours and I'm still playing and enjoying this game. Updates are frequent, including new items, creatures, bug fixes, and optimizations. I've also become a part of the community on Steam and the official forums at www.survivetheark.com. I believe the game is still in the alpha (pre-beta) stage, but it's really good for an alpha. One thing I like about the community is that I also feel like a beta tester, reporting bugs or issues I find.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 01/08/2016 at 11:29pm

It does sound fun. I'll try to check it out when it comes to PS4, which is supposed to be sometime early this year. My big anticipation right now, though, is The Division, which is due out March 8th. Epicness awaits (hopefully they don't muck it up)!

GregoPeck   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 01/09/2016 at 12:38am

It is very fun, I think. I'm afraid playing on a PVP server won't be as fun because people will try to kill you and your creatures. Although, I also think it would be fun to play co-op with other people. On default settings it takes a very long time to tame some dinos. My new Ark friend recently said she found a level 120 (which is currently the max level for wild creatures) Spinosaurus and that it was going to take 4 hours to tame. Server admins can change a wide variety of settings to increase taming speed, harvesting amounts, XP earned, difficulty, etc. You can do that for single player mode, too. I've changed some settings, making it a little bit easier. I'm still playing on default difficulty, which seems to mean that I won't see a wild dino above level 40 and I probably won't see supply drops with higher levels of gear. Gear has different levels such as Primitive (the most basic), Apprentice, Journeyman, and Mastercrafted (the highest). Depending on the level of the gear, it's stats can be higher along with crafting costs. So, an Apprentice Pike will have a higher damage stat than a Primitive one. Saddles will have more armor.

I am aware that the game is supposed to be coming to the PS4. I think the ETA is this summer. XBox One already has it in it's Early Access-like program. So, XBox players are testing out the game now, just like us PC gamers. However, the versions are not cross-platform compatible. So, a PC gamer isn't going to be on the same server as an XBox gamer. The PC version is a expected graduate from Early Access this summer, too.

I'll also mention that I've started a fresh new game/character/map a few times now. I've been backing up my local files and reverting to them when something goes wrong (like death). I have made an error with that which made me decide to start over again a few months ago.

I'll be happy to continue talking to you about Ark. You can hit me up some time if you want to talk about it. I also recommend the link I provided in my last comment. I've also been watching Paul Soares, Jr., Zueljin, and Sl1pg8r on YouTube. Paul plays in single player mode while Zueljin and Sl1pg8r play together on a private server along with other really cool people.

Travis   Admin wrote on 01/09/2016 at 02:55pm

The more I hear about ARK the less I'm interested. It just seems like the big thing these days is survival games, and this is just another one but this time with prehistoric creatures.

Then you read that the level of grind required to accomplish anything is so high as to be prohibitive, and to breed some of the high level dinos you have to spend a few actual real-life days incubating an egg, making sure the temperature is right, and... wait there are air conditioners?

The other main criticism is that you can get basically invincible creatures with no skill beyond reading the wiki and obsessing over getting the conditions right.

Then there's the "gotta catch 'em all" aspect that requires more obsessing over.

Now you're telling me there are dinosaurs that, by default, take 4 hours to tame? And that unless you do save file swapping when you die, you're permadead?

It seems like if you want to sink hundreds of hours into obsessing over things it's great, and there are plenty of people who like that kind of game.

GregoPeck   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 01/09/2016 at 09:34pm

Yeah, survival games seem to be pretty popular. I like them, though. Minecraft and Terraria have given me a strong desire to play similar games. This game, to me, is much like them. There's survival, crafting, pets, exploration, etc. It seems to me, still, that FPS games are extremely popular, especially FPS or survival games that feature zombies. I really don't understand the great appeal for that.

Yeah, the amount of grinding sucks. It does seem to (by default) take a long time to incubate an egg. I haven't messed with breeding yet, so I have no personal experience to speak of. Yes, there are air conditioners (along with various other high tech items). Air conditioners actually help by increasing hypothermal and hyperthermal insulation. With the right amount of them (4 or more), you can incubate an egg no matter the environmental temperature, apparently.

Yeah, you can get some pretty OP creatures. However, they recently did a huge rebalance of stats, which has upset a huge amount of people as many tamed creatures received a larger nerf. Some creatures, such as Giganotosaurus are sill quite OP.

I enjoy the Pokemon-like "gotta catch 'em all" aspect.

Yes, some creatures take a very long time to tame. There are also other challenges such as an increase in the speed of how long it will take them to wake up from being knocked out. There is a hardcore option for permadeath, but it is not on by default. When you die, you can spawn in certain general areas or on a bed you've made. You can then go back to where you died and retrieve the items you lost.

The game is still in Early Access and there's plenty of criticism about it. One of the main things is that it's not yet very optimized, so it runs poorly for most people. Even with my GTX 690, I'm only getting about 50 FPS and I have to force the game to use DirectX 10 instead of 11 just to get that. I also use other command line launch options such as removing sky details. I have also created a special shortcut for it that makes it run as a high priority process. I have also "unparked" my CPUs and told the game to "use all available cores." The game looks great in DirectX 11 mode and without all of my special options, but I lose 10-30 FPS by running it that way.

Thanks for the reply! =)

Travis   Admin wrote on 01/10/2016 at 02:44am

I don't even consider Minecraft and Terraria to be survival games, though. Not in the sense of what the genre has become anyway. "Surviving" in Terraria is just a matter of walling in a 3x4 rectangle. But the idea of gathering, crafting, etc. I'd imagine are similar throughout. Rust, for instance, has a crafting interface very reminiscent of Minecraft.

Travis   Admin wrote on 01/10/2016 at 02:47am

Also WRT the hardcore option-- the way you mentioned swapping saves when you died made me think you just died entirely, but I guess based on your reply here you do that just so you don't have to go searching for items. It sounds like the Minecraft way, or the Medium-core Terraria mode.

Travis   Admin wrote on 01/10/2016 at 02:50am

(apparently I just want to make notifications tick up for you guys, and it has nothing to do that I don't have my thoughts in order to make one comment and have it done :D)

Your reply actually alleviates some of the issues I thought I had with the idea of the game. But then that's the problem-- all I have is the idea. I wish games still had demos.

GregoPeck   Super Member   Post Author wrote on 01/10/2016 at 03:08am

I've heard of Rust, but don't know anything about it.
What does "WRT" mean? Well, yeah, I don't like dying and I don't like losing items upon death. When I play Minecraft I use the command that lets you keep your inventory upon death. But, yeah, it's very dangerous in Ark to die and then have to go try to retrieve what you lost. Your body may be there, or eaten. Even if it is eaten, you'll have a pack that sits there for a certain amount of time, giving you time to retrieve it. However, that pack does despawn (along w/ your body) after that time is up. Retrieving your pack from some places can be near impossible, like if you fell into lava in a cave or died in the deep sea. But, yeah, I use a back up system for death and when other things go wrong, like losing a dino.

Some games still have demos, but not all of them.

Travis   Admin wrote on 01/10/2016 at 04:33am

WRT = With regard to

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