It’s in the Bag

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Microsoft Bingo • You have unlocked 50 Luggage of any type • 50G • 19.87% of gamers unlocked this

First thing’s first: Yes, I have used a stock image for this achievement, because I really couldn’t be bothered posting another Microsoft Bingo screenshot from my other achievements because – frankly – they all look the same. Instead, in the absence of a good Bingo picture, I’ve gone with something generic to gambling, so you can enjoy that particular aesthetic while reading today’s post. Oh … alright, let me throw a couple of old screenshots into the mix as well.

Today’s achievement is largely the result of a mistake. Last night, while setting up my new PC, I wanted to make sure OBS was working correctly, and would be able to handle a stream – so I set it to broadcast a clicker (AdVenture Communist – a spin on AdVenture Capitalist) to run overnight. Sure enough, this morning got a bit away from me, and so even while I write this – AdVenture Communist is still broadcasting to my Twitch Channel, silently clocking-up potatoes and medicine while I’m beavering away at work on a Friday lunch-break.

And so, this left me with a fairly ‘lite’ selection of games to choose from. Anything from Steam would automatically disconnect the stream, and with still half the day left, regardless of whether anyone was watching or not, I didn’t really want to be faced with a blank screen pumping out across the internet airwaves with my name on it – and so I hunted for a good ol’ fashioned Xbox PC game to play.

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And, well, because I was short on time, I settled on Microsoft Bingo.

I’ll be perfectly honest, this really was a quick-and-dirty achievement for me. I even went so far as to hunt through the achievement list to see what I could grab quickly. I settled on just smashing through a couple of games, splurging the coins that I had on whatever I needed to, and landing something. Two games in, I had enough bags to get me over the line for this 50G … this is classic achievement hunting at its finest, ladies and gentlemen.

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And so, this frees up my Friday night to play something a little more ambitious on that shiny new gaming PC. I have a new webcam, a new set of speakers and a whole lot of enthusiasm to put it through its paces … watch out world!

Glasslands

Halo 5: Guardians • Completed Mission 3

I felt like playing something ‘meaty’ tonight. Something that I could really sink my teeth into – an epic story with characters that held meaning, a winding narrative arc and a hand crafted world that offered the pinnacle of escapism.

That game was going to be Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, but with a 30GB update, I’ve managed to play a few different games and even now the update has just ticked over 22%.

Malcolm Turnbull’s National Broadband Network, ladies and gentlemen.

I decided to venture into Halo 5, purely following some discussion, nothing in particular, but loose comments made about Halo Infinite. I am fairly confident that I’ve got another 2-3 years before I need to be across my Halo lore (which I’m still terrible at), but even still it seems like a glaring omission on my nerd, and especially my Xbox, credentials.

Here’s the honest truth, though: Halo isn’t really my cup of tea. I understand it’s influence on gaming culture and why it might hold the hearts of many a gamer, but the cartoony style graphics, the gunplay, the pacing, none of it really tickles my tits. I play these games so that they are ticked off my insurmountable pile of shame, but give me a mindless puzzler or even a more solid shooter any day.

Will I continue with it? Sure, I can’t see why not. I offer no promises as to how quickly though. If it is any indication, it’s been about one year and two weeks since I last picked it up.

Perhaps that Halo Infinite date isn’t looking so far away after all …

Achievement a Day 2017 – 2018 (Year in Review)

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About sixteen months ago, I had an existential crisis. I don’t think that is particularly uncommon for people in my position or demographic, but it was enough to prompt me to resign from my desk job in the city and make a commitment to spend more time with my family, and doing things that I enjoyed – rather than continue to persevere in a job with people, and in a field, that I simply didn’t enjoy.

A little over twelve months ago, I had the idea to reinvigorate something I had tried, and failed, to do while I was working: earn a gaming achievement every single day. I guess the intention was that my new outlook on life meant that I needed less emphasis on my ‘job’, and having an activity that I was passionate about, that also had some purpose to it, meant that I wasn’t confined to the common trap of self-identifying as my profession. Instead, I could be a writer, a gamer, and a miserable white-collar 9-to-5’er as well. I figured the turn of the financial year was as good a time as any, and my passion at the time was pretty uniquely Xbox, and so with that in mind – I set myself some personal barriers, and started my journey.

For many, many gamers, earning an achievement a day isn’t actually that much of an effort. For variety streamers and even home enthusiasts, they complete this requirement unconsciously. The time and energy they put into their gaming means that achievements just tick into their account effortlessly. However, they also – like me – have birthdays, and families, and Christmas and work functions and any multitude of life events that they can go to without the mental burden of having to ‘squeeze in’ an achievement.

Others, do make an effort. Psyonix VP Jeremy Dunham (in)famously claimed that he pursued an Xbox Achievement and a PlayStation Trophy every single day. A quick look around the internet will also prompt you to stumble across the occasional long-term achievement hunter.

My point here is that I’m neither new or unique in my approach to achievement hunting. I don’t have a 2,000 day streak, there’s been some days when I’ve only earned one achivement and there’s been others that I’ve absolutely ‘cleaned house’. But for the 2017-18 Financial Year (and a little bit before that as I ‘warmed up’), I’ve earned, and documented, my journey towards obtaining an achievement every single day.

So, what did I learn?

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I did learn that gaming can impact on those around you. Sometimes, towards the end of the day – I would have to try and wrap-up whatever we were watching in order to jump onto my Xbox One and knock-out an achievement. I will be honest, that sometimes meant that I was somewhat bullish about sharing the TV, even at the expense of watching something that I enjoyed as much as other family members.

There were a couple of times where my achievement hunting required me to push through right to the stroke of midnight, and there were others where I deliberately (and overtly, I usually made-mention of the fact) would stay up past midnight when I knew there was an achievement to be obtained – essentially ‘freeing up’ the following day. It is these small allowances that were necessary in order to get through what I’ve affectionately thought of as ‘Year One’. And it these strategies which I will most likely carry forward into ‘Year Two’.

So, what’s next?

I’ve thought about this a lot over the past few months when I seemed fairly confident that I was ‘going to make it’. I typically have balanced out my effort to grab an achievement on Xbox and then still make comment on other games as I’ve played them, particularly the likes of God of War which I’ve fawned over the past few months, as well as, more recently, a few puzzle games such as Puzzle Agent 2 on PC. Is that sustainable? Probably. Do I want it to be? I’m not really sure.

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Right now, I am very very happy that I’ve completed my self-imposed challenge. I’ve done it within the parameters I set myself and in the time I allowed. I know, from history, that sometimes it’s easier to broader the horizons a bit and allow yourself time to experience new things – and in the gaming sense this means trying new games, from small indie romps through to the latest offering from a AAA First Party Studio. Xbox has done a pretty good job under Phil Spencer to deliver on those offerings, but practically speaking – sometimes it’s easier to get a quick lunch-break achievement rather than burn out during the day at work and then pursue a gaming session at night. I’m spending nearly ten days away from my normal gaming devices later this year, but I can promise you I’ll be taking my iPad and my Vita. It’s these instances that I want to allow myself some flexibility on, so the balance I’m seeking here is, essentially, ‘achievable but challenging’.

What does this mean?

Simple. From tomorrow, 1 July 2018, you are going to still get your achievement a day. However those achievements may no longer be exclusively Xbox. I don’t want to lie though, I still find the Xbox to undoubtedly be (forgive the marketing Kool-Aid) ‘the best place to play’, meaning that there will likely be a disproportionate number of Xbox achievements to other platforms – but I also don’t want this to come back and bite me on the bum when somebody does an audit (no doubt when I’m a rich, famous gamer) who finds a ‘gap’ in my record.

With that in mind, this leads to my second change. Scheduled posts. Every day this past year (except one accidental error in posting slightly after midnight) I have played a game, written a post and published it on this blog – but whether it’s timezone changes, daylight savings, or just gremlins in the system, I still have a number of days where posts appear to be ‘doubled up’ on particular days, and completely absent on others. My solution to this will be to schedule a post every evening just before midnight in order to get, roughly, a consistent battle rhythm when it comes to posts. Some days I might still earn the late night or ‘wee hour’ achievements, but you will still see the post time as being from late the following night. I hope that this brings about some consistency going foward, but if there’s any issues, then I may consider doing a ‘minus one’ approach to posting, and just automatically post, even if I have to backdate, at lunchtime, 12pm on the day I earn them. Watch this space.

And now, I plan on settling down for the evening, watching a bit of Netflix and doing very little for the rest of the day. Tomorrow is the start of a new adventure, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what I’ve missed out on across the gaming spectrum. There’s a Steam Sale in full swing, I’ve recently obtained a new Humble Bundle (well, they took my money out) and I have some cheap-and-cheerful PlayStation discounts to dive into from their sale earlier in the year.

It’s a good time to be an achievement hunter.

It’s an even greater time to be a gamer.

Sharp Dressed Fox

Super Lucky’s Tale • Equiped your First costume • 20G • 4.75% of gamers unlocked this

And now, the end is near. Today is the final achievement in my challenge. Super Lucky’s Tale takes the cake for offering up achievement number 365 I have written about on my journey throughout the past twelve months. Actually, we all know that’s not true – I’ve gotten carried away and written much more about other achievements over the past twelve months – but this one is ‘official’, and while it perhaps doesn’t have the same shine on it like a Destiny 2 Raid Achievement or a ‘game completion’ achievement for the likes of Dark Souls, but I was able to get this achievement with my son beside me as we laughed about a silly little fox putting on a policeman’s outfit and sunglasses – and you know what? That was perhaps the best achievement I could earn today.

I still really love Lucky, I feel like that he is as good as the likes of Banjo-Kazooie or Ratchet and Clank, but he is stuck down the back of the room and flagged as an ‘outsider’. Much the same way that any publisher has trouble breaking into an established genre, up-to-and-including characters, Lucky isn’t really talked about in the same breath – if at all. I would be very surprised if most people have heard of him – and judging by the rarity of some of the achievements in the list for this game (including today’s!), I suspect that there’s a fairly small percentage of people who have felt inclined to pursue a illustrious career playing Super Lucky’s Tale.

I’m going to publish a few thoughts about the year that was in just a minute, so I don’t want to wax lyrical about earning an achievement every day here, other than to say that it’s been a great ride, and I’m pleased I could find a few silver linings in my gaming life as a result of it.

Thanks to everyone who has read, commented – either here or privately – and supported the journey (whether you knew you were or not!) This blog will still be here for a while yet, with some small changes to how I’ll be doing things.

More to come on that soon!

In the meantime – thanks again. In the wise words of one of my favourite former television personalities: May all your games be good ones.

Nailfile Cake

BattleBlock Theatre • Free a fellow prisoner • 5G • 67.62% of gamers unlocked this

How much fun is this game?! I feel like BattleBlock Theatre has always just been one of those sweet little arcade games that sits in the back of your mind as something that you might have played, or maybe you didn’t, but nobody really requires you to have committed to it because it is otherwise a fun, but innocuous title in among the AAAs of the world.

I can’t really remember when I downloaded BattleBlock, but I was just putting my shoes on for the morning and I figured I’d give it a go. Sure enough, twenty minutes later I’m still playing – the kids are running late for kinder (not that they cared! They loved BattleBlock as well!), and there’s suddenly a mad scramble to get everyone breakfast, dressed and out the door.

Perhaps these fun little titles are best saved for times where there’s less time pressure that a Friday morning in my household.

I unlocked a couple of achievements in this early run, but I think the game is fun enough that I might persevere and unlock a few more.

I’m still working my way through the God of War Valkyrie’s at the moment, stopping at the moment to work my way through the Trials of Muspelheim (there’s a Valkyrie in Muspelheim that I’m heading towards, so this isn’t so much of a detour). I’m absolutely committed to milking GoW for as much and as long as I can in pursuit of a platinum trophy, so I expect to be banging on about it for a bit longer yet, but wanted to give some context as to why I’m not playing things that would otherwise be considered ‘fun’.

… fun, like BattleBlock Theatre fun. And damn good fun it is!

Wanderlust

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Microsoft Bingo • Complete 25 Bingo matches • 100G • 25.75% of gamers unlocked this

I’ve actually had a few different games just running quietly in the background of my laptop for the day. I played a bit of Imperia Online earlier – something that is supposedly connected to Xbox Live on Windows 10, but even when I earned an achievement (seemingly for a certain population figure), there was no record of it on the Xbox App or my account – and so I kicked that achievement to the curb and went hunting for something else that I might be able to obtain.

Of course, the temptation for something really mindless is hard to pass-up – particularly at this stage in the journey, and even more importantly, at this stage of the week. Tonight promises to be an excellent episode of The Handmaid’s Tale if it stays on-par with the rest of the season – and there’s some not-insignificant cliffhangers to wrap-up tonight that I’m very, very keen to see.

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And so I went with Microsoft Bingo. It’s not some AAA action shooty bang, it is a simple game where you mark off numbers as the balls roll up with the respective digits on each of them. It’s Bingo. Plain and Simple.

And daub is still a ridiculous word.

Jet Lag

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Microsoft Bingo • You have endured five numbers that cannot be daubed, called in a row during a match • 40G • 65.75% of gamers unlocked this

I have a fairly severe case of the can’t be bothered’s tonight – my darling children have been doing a red-hot job of keeping me up overnight, and so I could do with a much needed few extra hours sleep, so instead of watching some Netflix and then smashing out an achievement, I let the good times roll in Microsoft Bingo instead while Shameless played out in the background.

I still think ‘daub’ is a strange word, but it gets me an achievement (and a not insignificant GS addition for the day). I have quite a bit of time to dedicate to a solid bit of gaming tomorrow, so with that in mind – I’ll try something a bit more substantial then!

These Dreams

State of Decay 2 • You destroyed 5 plague hearts. Gross. • 20G • 25.46% of gamers unlocked this

I took advantage of the Xbox UI’s ‘closest achievements’ feature to decide what I’d play tonight, and it turned out that State of Decay 2 was second on the list (behind a pesky Diablo III achievement that I’ve struggled to get since the game launched).

In the tune from Frozen: Do you want to kill a Plague Heart? Well, I wanted to – so I did. One of the things that achievement hunting versus just ‘playing the game’ does is it forces you to risk a little more and play a little differently than if you were trying to – as the game dictates – keep your community alive and build. Instead, I found my character at near-death a couple of times, and infected with the blood plague, but instead of retreating and patching my character up – I doubled down and swung my crowbar at that plague heart like there was no tomorrow.

I’d be terrible in a zombie apocalypse.

Now that my achievement is out of the way, I’m planning on a bit of a session in Destiny 2. No reason, other than I’ve been itching to play a good shooter recently, and this should do nicely (still no additional achievements added with expansion pack 2, sadly).

Two days left until Xbox E3 press conference … someone call the Rocky Horror Narrator … I have such antisssssssssssssssipation.

Bite to Eat

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The Food Run • Eat 100 pieces of food • 5G • 91.88% of gamers unlocked this

As promised, a lazy little 5G to get through today while I’m away from my console. The thing that’s annoying about this game is that it wasn’t in the ‘Xbox Live Games’ tab on the Windows 10, which makes me wonder how many other bite-size (pun intended) games there are hidden on the store.

I haven’t had a look at the achievement list for this, so I don’t know what level of commitment is needed to get to 100%, but I’m still relying on this being a quick-and-easy fix to keep things running smoothly for the next month.

Road Warrior

State of Decay 2 • You killed 50 zombies with your car door • 15G • 39.85% of gamers unlocked this

I am actually a bit time-poor over the next couple of days, so I wanted to just try and polish off the rest of the easy State of Decay 2 achievements before I move in with my life. Turns out, I ended up earning two achievements tonight – which would normally be fine – but part of me is also a little bitter that I couldn’t store one up for tomorrow.

Another example of why expanding the repertoire is worthwhile. I have played quite a bit of Vita today, and I’m sure the host of trophies I earned on my lunch break would have been equally good reading if I could have found time to document the experience!

The other achievement I earned tonight was for killing a juggernaut, which would probably pose a pretty big challenge, but really – I just rammed him a few times with the car I’d used for the titular achievement. I have to say though, killing the juggernaut was far more satisfying.

The other thing I tried tonight was a quick online game. My motivation was simply to try and grab an achievement, but there was nothing on offer before the network connection dropped out (on my host’s end, I suspect), and booted me back to my own game.

Insert shoulder shrug here.