Mr. Sandman


Minecraft: Story Mode • Completed Chapter 2 of Episode 6 • 15G • 7.73% of gamers unlocked this

A bit of an opportunity session this morning, and while I still had Minecraft: Story Mode on the recently-played / pinned list on the Xbox, I figured it was a good a chance as any to grab an achievement and liberate myself from trying to squeeze in a gaming session tonight. Because, to be honest, I could really go for a few more hours sleep.

Unlike yesterday, I actually sat and watched a bit of this episode. Not through any great desire to engage with the story, but more out of a sense of ‘nothing better to do’. The morning wasn’t entirely wasted, I still managed to get my son dressed while tapping whatever input I felt like at the time to keep the story going, and the lack of a huge combat scene helped … though Chapter 2 largely concentrated on the death of a character (that’s not a spoiler … we meet him for about 30 seconds), and the subsequent detective work that Jesse et. al. put in to learn ‘why’ he might have been killed.

I can kind of see what the intent behind Story Mode was. Almost like an episodic, monster-of-the-week style structure, that might have allowed it to continue in perpetuity. As Phil Spencer has alluded to in the past, the Xbox Game Pass is conducive to releasing episodic content like this, though I think it will take a different title to get me on-board after (and I know I’ve already whinged about this yesterday) the Story Mode season pass debacle.

With that in mind, there are plenty of fresh IPs waiting to be tapped, or even some older titles that could do with a reboot. If anyone has the sharp business mind needed to make it happen, it’s Phil Spencer.

In Phil We Trust.


Invitation to Die For


Minecraft: Story Mode • Completed Episode 1 of Chapter 6 • 10G • 8.19% of gamers unlocked this

I think I’ve shared my deep-rooted disdain of Minecraft: Story Mode in the past. The bait-and-switch if the ‘season pass’ and needing to buy extra episodes to ‘complete the season’ and all the rigmarole associated with it still makes me bitter to this day – unknowing whether to be angry with Mojang/Microsoft or Telltale or both. Either way, a later sale meant that I was able to complete the collection, but it still stings and I’ll never be able to play Story Mode without feeling the slight sting of bile on the back of my tongue.

Alright, enough hyperbole. Tonight was all about an easy achievement. It was after training, I had two tired kids, and I had only a few minutes to spare between dinner and bedtime – so I tried to slam through the first chapter while I ate. Of course, some glitch required me to stuff around in the Microsoft Store, check the game files, and then eventually restart the game in order to begin the episode, but I got there in the end. I’m not sure how and why I got up to Episode 6, but I did a quick achievement check before I started to make sure I was on-track, and then kicked the episode off.

And then I ate my dinner, providing only the occasional button press for a combat scene, but leaving the dialogue pretty much on its own – particularly if there were viable silences to use. I pretty much do that for most of my Telltale games now, but the developer has smartly cottoned-on to attempts at set-and-forget gameplay, mixing movement scenes with terminal fights should you miss or miss-hit a button press.

In all honesty, I wouldn’t be able to tell you what’s going on with the Episode 6 Story. The team are breaking into a house, I know that, but really I’m completely oblivious to the big picture.

My guess is, at an 8% completion rate … so are a lot of other people.

Man Made


Portal Knights • Craft your first item • 15G • 62.22% of gamers unlocked this

I’ll be honest, this was a bit of an opportunistic grab as my wife jumped in the shower, my son wanted to play a game and I wanted to earn an achievement in the small space of 10 minutes between me arriving home from work and needing to leave for personal training.

Mission accomplished.

I skipped through all the guff at the start and I started looking at the achievement list to see what was possible. I couldn’t see anything off-hand, so I followed the tutorial prompts on screen as best I could – sure enough, this was the first achievement that unlocked, and with that I had grabbed my keys and was out the door. Not before making sure my son switched back to his own account first, of course.

With that in mind, I don’t feel like I’m well-positioned to give any great insight or assessment into Portal Knights. I think it’s something Minecraft-esque with its crafting and stuff, but I can’t really be sure without giving it a much more detailed go.

And, to be frank, I don’t think I’d be rushing to give it anything other than a ‘go’ – sans detailed – if my son hadn’t convinced me.

Anyway, it did it’s job for today, and for that I’m grateful.

Pork Chop


Minecraft PE: iOS • Cook and eat a pork chop • 10G • 6.54% of gamers unlocked this

I forgot that I sat up after midnight last night and played around a bit with Minecraft. My mind is so frazzled with the holiday season that sometimes these things just drift effortlessly out of my head. Tonight my mother is coming to stay for a few pre-Christmas days, so I figured my gaming time will be a bit limited tonight, so instead I turned on the Xbox around 7.30am and tried to score a quick achievement from:

Child of Eden. Turns out there are more levels. Also turns out I’m not very good at them under pressure. After two deaths towards what appeared to be the end of the level, I bailed.

The Wolf Among Us. I thought maybe there was a short chapter or cutscene-heavy section I could work through, but the game loaded on a chapter that required me to actively control Bigby, so that got sidelined fairly quickly.

Slime Rancher. I had remembered Major Nelson talking about an achievement for simply jumping off the cliff behind the ranch, but I tried that twice to no avail. I then went running to see if I could get one of the unlockable areas to trigger an achievement, and despite stumbling across some very new landscapes from my Rancher experience, none of them were obviously enough to trigger the achievement.

I left home a bit dejected and figured I’d have to find some way to squeeze in some Telltale time tonight, but I remembered this one on the walk into the office, and so, I’m likely left with this one for the day. A game so underplayed that one of the most basic achievements only has a six percent earn rate.

There is a small chance that I’ll get some TV time this evening, but to be honest, I’m battling through a head cold that I’ve most likely caught from my kids, so it would be kind of nice to call it a day. We’ll see how I feel tonight.

Thank God for iOS Xbox Games.

Valley White clear


Trackmania Turbo • Complete all White Valley maps (Any medal) • 15G • 9.60% of gamers unlocked this

Just a quick one tonight, on account of a fairly full day – including training tonight and two episodes of The Leftovers (and a long overdue shower still needed before bed!). I am somewhat keen to see whether this pace of 20 minutes of gaming in Trackmania can yield an achievement as the levels get progressively harder. Tonight’s last level – Level 20 in the entire game – was perhaps the most insightful (so far) about how complex things can get. So I wouldn’t want to be in a position again where I’d bet the house on it, but while I’m still relatively in the honeymoon period with the game (which I anticipate for a few more levels yet), I’ll take the win.

In other news, I’m just keeping a bit of an eye on what my options are for gaming-on-the-go. I fired up Minecraft on my iPhone today to see whether there was anything – if not immediately achievable, then at least something I could work towards. There’s a not-insignificant chance that I’ll have to head out of town to deal with some family stuff soon, so I’m just making some anticipatory moves. Insert your favourite inspirational quote about being organised here!

Adventuring Time


Minecraft Pocket Edition: iOS • Discover 17 biomes • 40G • 5.77% of gamers unlocked this

Wednesdays continue to be the bane of my time-prescious existence, so while I had hoped to maybe tackle one or two Windows 10 achievements tonight, a quick dabble in iOS Minecraft saw me end up with this achievement after, strangely, being killed by a zombie.

I’m concious that I’m thinning out my backup options for times when I’m desperate, but I’m somewhat encouraged by Microsoft’s Windows 10 lineup – led by the recent announcement of Age of Empires IV, which gets me all sorts of excited. Of course, some of these titles are going to be highly dependent on my 2012 Macbook Pro being able to handle them, or whether the budget needs to extend to something a little more beefy. Time will tell.

Cow Tipping


Minecraft: Xbox One Edition • Harvest some leather • 15G • 52.32% of gamers unlocked this

I was planning on having a session of Telltale’s The Walking Dead this morning, but of course the kids woke up, and I’m also at the part in Episode 4 where I have to go hunting around the school for various bits and pieces ready to escape Savannah, so I didn’t feel like I could invest enough time and energy into the process in order to grab the achievement before I left for work (plus I know there’s lots of zombies in that section so it’s probably not suitable for kids over breakfast), so instead I skimmed my available options and came across Minecraft.

I saw the news yesterday that Microsoft are releasing a very trendy Minecraft edition of the Xbox One S, so I felt like it was a good sign that I could quickly earn ‘something’ in there, particularly after my surprise in Minecraft iOS about the unlisted achievements, but thankfully a quick look at the list highlighted a glaringly obvious option in harvesting some leather. AKA, ‘kill a cow.’ I had spawned into one of the old worlds, or, more specifically, one of my son’s worlds, so I wasn’t sure that there would be any cows – but after about ten quick minutes, I found one stranded on a cliff.

A couple of quick swipes with the axe saw him … MOOve along (sorry).

Tonight’s plan is hopefully a bit of achievement tidy up. Maybe I’ll have a go at that Walking Dead level, or maybe I’ll push through some more of Ryse. Either way, I should have some time to play ‘something.’

In other gaming news, I also preordered my Xbox One X Project Scorpio Edition today! Not just your regular run-of-the-mill One X, no, this baby has emblazoned Project Scorpio on it – and that pleases me no end. It’s a great name – and it brings me joy – and I think it’s worth spending a few extra bucks on something like that.

Saddle Up


Minecraft Pocket Edition: iOS • Tame a horse • 20G • 14.45% of gamers unlocked this

I had zero intention of playing any Minecraft today, but I wanted to check-in and see where things were at in light of the recent announcement about ‘Minecon Earth’, the new global Minecraft convention, designed to be more inclusive of players rather than a discreet event in a single city. I love the concept, but I’m not really a Minecraft player, and I’m probably too far behind to catch up and learn every single eccentricity needed to be a true Minecraft master, but I can appreciate it as a learning tool and an accessible game that kids (and adults) are using to simply have fun.

With an after-work event planned, I’m travelling light today, so it’s just me an my iPhone in terms of Minecraft options, so I popped my head into the latest build of Pocket Edition to see what’s happening. I heard a rumour that there was going to be integration between iOS, PC and Console, so I figured now was a good a time as any to see what I had on offer, and so I created a new world and spawned in.

Now, despite being a Minecraft novice, I have a good idea how to create a crafting table, get myself a sword and a shovel and build a basic home. I never really play long enough to go out at night and fight monsters, and because I’m still not very good at building beds, I get sick of staring at a black screen during the Minecraft nights and eventually switch off. Nonetheless, I started with what I was good at, and built my sword and my shovel, and wandered over to a nearby black and dotty horse to attack it … just because. Instead, my fat, chubby fingers just ended up making me mount it, and soon after the achievement unlocked (To cut a long story short, I ended up jumping off and killing the horse as well – unlocking me another achievement in the process for harvesting leather).

So, I’m going to claim that as my achievement for today, but more importantly, it’s left me confused about what other achievements I haven’t unlocked in Minecraft. The in-game list doesn’t show either of the achievements I earned today on it (the Xbox App does and my gamerscore reflects the achievements, otherwise I wouldn’t claim them) so I suspect that there’s probably a few pieces of low-hanging fruit available for me on iOS Minecraft. I’m going to do a bit of an audit and see what’s left on the list (via the App rather than the game) and keep them in my back pocket for those pressure days.

To Boldly Go…


Minecraft: Story Mode • Completed Chapter 6 of Episode 5 • 50G • 11.64% of gamers unlocked this

The Destiny 2 Beta has started (which I’ll provide some thoughts on in a couple of days once the beta has concluded) and after playing it for a little bit this morning, I was convinced that this was how I planned to spend my night, so I fired up Minecraft: Story Mode to tidy off one of the chapters and earn the final achievement in episode five.

It still smarts that we got shafted with the ‘second’ season pass for Story Mode, but the games are harmless and acceptable to have on the TV while the kids eat breakfast, so I suppose they have their place. The story today felt much more self-contained, which I’m fairly certain is the intention of the ‘Part 2’ episodes, with a slight common thread linking them. In this instance, the ending of the episode provides the catalyst for what will be the start of episode six, but (and I say this without playing it), it is also setup to be a standalone episode on its own.

Because it is, essentially, a new IP for Telltale, I have zero investment in the characters. Good guys, bad guys, I can’t even really keep track of who is who because of the morally ambiguous nature of everyone’s decisions, switching allegiances, redemption, all that touchy-feely stuff that you expect in something prefixed with the term ‘Minecraft.’ Still, the real world is a pretty miserable place at the moment – we could all do with a burst of positivity.

Or perhaps a nova blast of positivity?

(That’s a Destiny reference for those playing at home)

Out of the Blue


Minecraft: Story Mode • Complete Chapter 5 of Episode 5 • 40G • 11.84% of gamers unlocked this

Eleven percent. That’s how many people who started Minecraft: Story Mode failed to make it to Episode 5 – and do you want to know why? Because many of them, like me, got suckered into buying what was essentially the ‘season pass’ when it first launched, only to be bait-and-switched halfway through the season to try and be sold a second bundle to ‘complete the season’. You see, the main story of Minecraft essentially wraps up in 3-4 episodes, and then spirals out to a serial-like show. Sure, I love episodic content, but Mojang or Telltale or both really stuffed up the messaging with Story Mode at launch, and judging by these stats, it looks like it’s barely recovered.

Nonetheless, there is nothing a good sale can’t get in the way of, so I picked up the ‘complete the series’ pass for a few bucks during Xbox’s recent sale. The game is fundamentally the same, and I was able to pick it back up again (it wouldn’t have really mattered if I could or not – the storyline is so on-rails in overly typical Telltale). I’ve been working my way through it but truth be told I’m slightly hooked on Diablo III at the moment, so the instant the kids are in bed, I’ll be back to Sanctuary to drag my Demon Hunter up to Level 70.