Guitar Status: October 7, 2013

Oct 07 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

It’s been a month since I gave a guitar status update, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been playing Rocksmith: it’s just that I didn’t have anything particular to write about. (Though there was one weekend day where I didn’t practice guitar because we spent the afternoon singing in Rock Band 3 instead.) I was basically just going through the new DLC that I downloaded; some was quite good (the songs from The Strokes and My Chemical Romance in particular), some was pretty boring to play (funk is nice to listen to and probably fun enough on bass but not so great on guitar), and Love Hurts was fascinating enough that I think I’ll write about it on my main blog.

But now I’ve finally played those enough that the game has decided to go back to the regular rotation. I’ve already started being a little more selective in what to play, ejecting songs from events if I don’t think I’ll enjoy / learn much from them, and I plan to do that more. And I plan to get back to practicing specific songs (and even sections of songs) instead of just going through events.

And I might learn a few more songs outside of the game: in particular, I’m thinking this arrangement of Itsumo Nando Demo might be worth learning.

Of course, it doesn’t make much sense to talk too much about my plans, because Rocksmith 2014 will comes out in just over two weeks, and once that’s out I’ll be spending my weekends diving into what’s new there…

Comments Off on Guitar Status: October 7, 2013

Ni No Kuni Status: June 13, 2012

Jun 14 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

I picked up Ni No Kuni yesterday for the first time in a while. For two weekends, I’d been too busy to play it; last weekend, I wasn’t so busy, but I was catching up on other stuff; and I’m busy this upcoming weekend. So I figured I should play it mid-week.

Upon starting it back up, I left the town I’d been in, and traveled to the next dungeon. It was dragon-themed, and started off looking puzzle-ish, with flames blocking one route and another route having a locked door. So I went in the third direction.

At which point I ran into tough monsters, and poison floors; these combined to cause me to act defensively in combat, and for me to worry about running out of magic. I didn’t take various branches of the dongeon, because they were covered with poison and I didn’t think they contained anything crucial (just chests with bonus stuff); I did reach a room that let me turn off some of the flames. So, with difficulty, I made it back to the entrance, where I could save and recharge.

What I couldn’t do was advance: the locked door was still locked, and I’d only turned off half the flames. So I guess I needed to do more exploring in that first direction; at the time, I assumed I should go down some of the poison branches, but now I’m thinking I should have used a spell to let me float over some pressure-sensitive plates in the room where I turned off the fire. In fact, now that I type this, I should have used a spell to let me float over the poison floors; silly me. (Maybe I would have thought of that if I’d been playing more regularly.)

But, ultimately, I’m going to stick with the lesson I took out of that hour and a half of play: this game is not for me. I don’t like JRPG’s, my Japanese isn’t good enough for me to enjoy the narrative (and I strongly suspect the narrative isn’t that good), and if my goal is to learn Japanese, there are much more effective ways for me to spend my time. No regrets about ordering the game and playing through the beginning, but I should have put it down some time ago, and have done so now.

Comments Off on Ni No Kuni Status: June 13, 2012

Ni No Kuni Status: May 20, 2012

May 21 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Still chipping away: I didn’t make a lot of progress this weekend, but a little progress is better than nothing. We went back to the pig city, and told the king about the missing staff and the graffiti in the ghost valley. He told us that the graffiti was associated with pirates near a jungle village, and gave us a passport that would cause the villagers to grant us entry. And he also taught us a teleport spell so we could return to cities we’d previously visited; I’m not currently planning to do that, but I’m glad it’s an option.

I wasn’t sure where the jungle city was, and I didn’t get an arrow on my map, but I figured heading for the boat might work, and sure enough, once I got on the boat, the map did tell me where to go. So I sailed there; there was some drama going on with a religious artifact (some stones used in a festival?) and a girl were both missing. But both showed up quickly, I’m not sure what was going on with that. We were told to go north to find the pirates; that’s where I stopped.

Comments Off on Ni No Kuni Status: May 20, 2012

Ni No Kuni Status: May 6, 2012

May 07 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

This week, I did the second half of the dungeon I started last week. That second half turns out to be a ruined city, rather than a crypt; I rather enjoyed the layout there, both in terms of its geometry and its art. I used a few too many items during the final boss fight (it took me a while to realize that yes, I really should spam healing), but I did okay. After which I went into the crypt behind the boss and found that somebody had already been there and taken the magic staff I was apparently looking for; that person left some graffiti, so we decided the next step was to go back to the pig city and ask around.

On our way back, we stopped at the house before the ruined city with the girl in it; it had been destroyed, and looked like it had been destroyed for years. So it turns out the girl was a ghost of some sort as well. Then we went back to the city, and I saved when I got there.

Comments Off on Ni No Kuni Status: May 6, 2012

Ni No Kuni Status: April 29, 2012

Apr 30 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

For the second week in a row, I played some Ni No Kuni: not a lot, but I’m chipping away at it.

I took on a few errands in the city, but I didn’t actually finish any of them. Then I left the city, heading north to the ghost valley. That was a pretty standard dungeon; I did fine against the monsters, which is good, because I was afraid that my avoiding fights in the overworld might have gotten me a bit underpowered. No problems there, though.

Then, at the end of the valley, there was a house with a girl living there. I fast forwarded through the conversation more than I should have (especially given that the stated goal for this exercise is to learn Japanese!), but I think the gist was that she first lived there to look after the graves of her parents, but now is looking after graves more generally? There was something about the next area that she needed help with, so we volunteered to help fix it, or something.

I remembered that, back in the city, I’d crafted a new gun for Gyro; partly because of that and partly because Maru had been running out of magic, I used him a lot in the dungeon. (Though his gun still isn’t very effective, I should see what his magic is like.) That inspired me to look more in the crafting menu, because clearly it’s not just for disposable items: I found a recipe for a +50 magic point ring that I had the ingredients for, so I crafted one of those and gave it to Maru. (Oliver was already wearing one.) That should help with long fights in the future, I hope.

After that conversation, we went to the next part of the dungeon, which looked like a crypt of some sort; there was a save spot right at the beginning, so I saved there and stopped.

One response so far

Ni No Kuni Status: April 22, 2012

Apr 22 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

I didn’t feel like immersing myself in guitar this weekend, so I ended up playing Ni No Kuni for the first time in almost two months. I’m definitely losing steam here – I’m not devoting as much time to the Japanese as I could, and I’m also not that into the gameplay, so I’m not super motivated to continue. And I suspect that the combination of those will mean that I miss out on gameplay details that will make it very hard for me to progress, so I’d be pretty surprised if I made it too much farther through the game. Having said that, I am getting something from it Japanese-wise, and if I want to put in more time on that side of things, I can, so I’m not stopping yet.

Anyways: spent some time in the pig people city, looking for the next wise person. I’m not sure exactly what happened – we said some passphrase that let us into an alley, we met with somebody with a sick girl (I think a little sister?), then we put on pig disguises and went into the palace. There, we had a big boss battle, I was worried I wouldn’t make it through but we did manage to survive. Then, we met the king, who seemed to be the next wise person, but he didn’t want to help. At some point in this process we got a medicine and gave it to the sick girl; she got better, and we got a heart piece from her which we gave to the king, so he got better.

In this last scene, Gyro revealed himself to be (I think) the king’s older brother. (So the king wasn’t a pig person, which surprised me – are all these pig people humans under the armor?) The king didn’t teach us any new spells, but he told us the next place to go, I think some sort of ghost place.

Comments Off on Ni No Kuni Status: April 22, 2012

Rock Band Status: March 18, 2012

Mar 18 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

What with GDC, I didn’t play Rock Band at all last weekend, and basically didn’t do anything musical for almost two weeks straight. This weekend was a little busy, but clearly I didn’t want to let that happen again, so I made sure to play some Rock Band on Saturday.

Which was, of course, great! I went through my regular round of practice pieces, and then on to new pieces: only three this week (like I said, I was a little busy), which were:

  • Combat Baby: super fun. Nice single note bits, pleasant chords that were mostly bottom three/four strings but with some interesting seventh fret playing around. Learned something (especially about the latter) from playing it plugged in.
  • Viva La Resistance; great song (one of my favorites to listen to on the disk), though actually not my most favorite to play guitar on. In particular, the alternating strumming is sometimes a bit too fast, especially when playing it muted; it improves significantly when plugged in. But even so I made it through it fine and there are a fair number of non-tremolo parts to enjoy; and it’s a reminder that I should get back to finding five minutes to do tremolo practice every evening. (Easy enough to do while cooking dinner, after all.
  • Ziggy Stardust: the arpeggiations were extremely similar to those in More Than a Feeling, it had nice power chord mixture, single note runs, all around lots of fun.

In fact, tier three guitar has been great all around: More than a Feeling and Working for the Weekend remain two of my favorite songs to play. (I should probably come up with a tier three practice list to return to, and quite possible all three songs that I learned this weekend will go on it.) So maybe that’s my current sweet spot? Which is gratifying: I’m sure I’ll hit a wall at some point, but I’m halfway through the difficulty curve on Expert and I’m still doing more than okay. The flip side is that I’m not coming close to perfect on any of these; but that’s good, too, I imagine I learn the most if I can do well enough on a piece to enjoy it and to motivate me to really learn it while having enough flaws in my playing that I really do need to work to learn the piece.

Liesl and I also started chipping away at the DLC backlog on Saturday (on fake guitar/bass); nothing too striking there, though Call Me was a reminder that I really like singing along with Blondie. (I fear that the high notes there are just enough on the edge of my range that I’d be nervous singing when anybody else is along, alas.) And Liesl and I should go through the Hall and Oates and Heart songs on harmonies, too.

Today I put in my piano practice; felt rusty (and my fingers actually felt sluggish, through a combination of the temperature and being out of practice), and the Three-Part Ricercar sounded as bad as I can remember in a while. The Six-Part Ricercar started bad, too, but eventually got better; I really am getting close to not sounding horribly incompetent at that. And I went through some songs from My Neighbor Totoro at the end, always fun to play through Ghibli music.

Comments Off on Rock Band Status: March 18, 2012

Ni No Kuni Status: February 26, 2012

Feb 27 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Again, I only played in the middle of the week, but at least I’m chipping along. We found the girl we were looking for, and fought a nightmare. Then we went back to the fireworks maker; she turned out to be his daughter, and made some big fireworks for us.

We went back to see; the fireworks made it past the storm, and we arrived at the next city. It looks like some sort of mining town or something, with pig people?

The battles seem to be getting tougher; I guess my skipping battles and not doing anything serious with items may be starting to bite us. Also, I was surprised that there wasn’t any dungeon in the casino city. (Though there was a battle arena for Imagines that I skipped.)

One response so far

Ni No Kuni Status: February 20, 2012

Feb 21 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Another week where I didn’t play Ni No Kuni at all on the weekend but at least I chipped away in the middle of the week. Though I was quite tired that day when I did it, and it was a very dialogue-heavy section, so I barely know what happened!

I went to the casino city, looking for this fireworks guy. I think he wanted me to find his star pupil, so we went looking for her. We started in the casino, but we couldn’t find her; Gyro quite liked it there, but Maru was of rather the opposite opinion. We went to the inn after that, and must be about to trigger a plot point, because the game saved automatically. Rather than sleeping, though, the other two left; I needed sleep in the real world, however, so I stopped there rather than trying to figure out what was going on.

The other Ghibli experience of the week was going to the new Ghibli movie, The Secret World of Arrietty. In the lower tier of Ghibli movies, I would say, but their lower tier is still pretty good.

Comments Off on Ni No Kuni Status: February 20, 2012

Ni No Kuni Status, February 12, 2012

Feb 14 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Like the last several weeks, I didn’t find time to play Ni No Kuni over the weekend, but fortunately I’d played it a bit in the middle of the week. I went to get on the boat; before that, though, I recruited another party member, a thief named Gyro. And Shizuku retired from battle, preferring to take an advisory role. In battle, Gyro has a distance attack, meaning that all three humans are better suited for the back row; one could doubtless come up with a class/race based reading of that apparent desire to send the Imagines up to the front lines to absorb all the damage…

And then I got on the ship! Which opened up the world map; you don’t just teleport from place to place, you have to control the ship. And right off the bat, we ran into a big storm, which forced us to change plans, going to a resort casino city to stock up on fireworks ammo or something. The down side of that trip was that the seas are full of wandering monsters, and, unlike, land, you can’t see them in advance to avoid them. Not quite Skies of Arcadia levels of annoyance, but not great, either.

I was being sloppy and had my first full-party death during this process. It turns out that the game revives the whole party with full HP/MP when you restart after a death; I like that decision, and it’s keeping in character with the game’s generally quite forgiving nature.

Comments Off on Ni No Kuni Status, February 12, 2012

Next »