Friday, April 12, 2013

Red Dead Redemption Xbox 360

I finished Red Dead Redemption. I liked it. I can't remember the last time I played an Old West video game, but the best Western game I've ever played. The look of the game is perfect. The glorious sunsets, the sun scorched deserts, the antique firearms, and flawless horse animation -- I can see why this game is so highly recomended!

I played on "hardcore" difficulty where combat is an enjoyably deadly affair and death is dealt with a single bullet (or two). I particularly enjoyed the challenge of ridin' an' shootin' but I didn't enjoy the "deadeye" slow motion and only used it as a crutch when I was outgunned.

My favorite memory was hunting mountain lions with a knife. Every once in a while, when I was playing RDR I'd hear a roar and then see a Mountain Lion kill my character, with no hope of retaliation. (On "Hardcore" difficulty mountain lions are deadly!) After a while I learned to anticipate their arrival. Horses whinny in fear whenever they sense a dangerous predator, but Mountain Lions are the only silent and invisible predator. Even so, all my Mountain Lion hunting trips ended with me as the prey. My first break was when I stumbled across a sleeping Mountain Lion. I had never seen one before and it was very helpful to get to see what it was that was hunting me. I tried to soften it up with some small arms fire, but it escaped.

After that I set out bait. I saw a lot of wolves and boar, but precious few mountain lions. Eventualy I encountered one by chance, wounded it and chased it on horseback. My plan was to kill it with my knife, but instead my horse trampled it to death and I was no closer to my goal. The big breakthrough for me, was when I finaly attracted a Mountain Lion to some bait. I was up on top of a tall hill looking down, and I got to observe it's sneeking pattern and most importantly how it moves. An RDR lion moves like a race car. It even fishtails when it accellerates. After that, hunting them was easy. One I hunted from horseback, and the other I was on foot.

I also enjoyed the battles on the river and the stage coach. Those were a lot of fun.

That said, I did not enjoy the third act. It's non-Western and the gameplay takes a turn for the worse. Whereas in the first two acts I was very happy to blaze away with my cowboy weapons in real time, act three has a bunch of cheap ambushes that can only be survived with "deadeye." The third part is full of Plot! History! and Acting! that is lamentably bad. Worst of all, everyting is played against type. The lawmen are unlawful, the villian is not a villian, the revolutionary is not revolutionary, the anthropologist is not an anthropologist and so forth. The effect is a disorienting nightmare and I was glad when the game ended.

RDR doesn't have the fun or lasting appeal of DDO, but I enjoyed it for a few weeks. My 6yo daughter thought the horse stuff was great, and was forever commanding me to lasso and break more wild stalions.

Red Dead Redemption is a solid game set in an exotic milie but don't listen to the actors or play Act III.

3/5 stars.

Hello World

This is my first Blogger post. All the posts previous to this one were imported from the now Dungeons and Dragons Online fan-site where I used to blog about my DDO hobby.

 Now that I'm on Blogger, I'm going to expand the focus to my gaming in general, and not just DDO. I also paint miniatures, play Xbox 360 and occasionaly get the time to do some real face-to-face gaming. I also do a bunch of "fun" stuff with my kids (6, 5, 2, 10mo) but that's generaly not blog worthy. (Although see the post where my Daughter slays the Church pinata with her jedi powers.)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Hello world

Hello world

That which is eternal offline is not dead...

Like Chthulu, I spring from my watery offlineness and devour 1d4 investigators!

I've got my computer back, my game back and MyDDO back. So how was it back in game?

Session 1: I was holding my little 10 month old and rocking her to sleep while onehandgaming. I did it successfully with my other three kids but my youngest is more rambunctious.

My first quest after my extended absence was that house K quest with the fire caves. It used to be a really tough quest, but now that I'm geared up (and have access to 30 fire resistance from the guild airship) it's really a cakewalk. And to make it even easier, I arrived late. So I ran through the entrance took a right, jumped over the lava...

...and my daughter kicked my mouse arm. My dwarf spun like a top, landed in the lava, and got hit with a fire trap. I was like "right click, G1, G9! G9! G9!" and DDO was like "DING!"

Luckily, someone else managed to drag me out of the lava and rez me. Then I tagged along and finished the quest.

Later on, I put the baby to bed. I got my nice chair, my quality earphones (which look yummy to a teething baby) and turned down the lights. Man, this is such a good game! The sounds are so full, the action is so engaging. I enjoy other games too but DDO is really outstanding.

Re: MyDDO. I'm sad to hear that MyDDO is going away. Writing about my experiences here has been a really fun part of the enjoyment cycle of playing DDO. I've enjoyed it so much I'm going to try to start up a new blog and salvage as much of my content as I can. I've enjoyed your comments here and look forward to seeing more in the internet!

Neener neener: I won a Chronicles comment Turbine Code!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Retrogaming: Currently playing DDO on a fun-size netbook

Currently, my main is at the Harbor bank and my gaming rig is a HP 210.

Q: Does that ancient netbook even turn on?
A: Yes. I vaporized the previous owner's bloatwear so it boots up and turns in while plugged into the wall. However it won't charge the battery (internet says HP BIOS is buggy) so it's strictly an AC laptop for now.

Q: Can you install DDO?
A: Yes. The install took 12 hrs but now DDO is installed.

Q: Oy! Can you move? You ain't undead are you?
A: My one (and only) toon is in the Harbor right now. The snow is falling really thick and, at least for now, I'm not able to move.

Q: And so it has finally come to this!
A: Yes. Although with any luck I'll be able to limp to house C for the tokens once the Festivult snow storm stops.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

U17: NEW augment system + my main = Panic!

You can read the offical announcement here:

I'm excited. This new augment system consolidates and replaces two systems I never used: EPIC and GUILD crafting.

EPIC CRAFTING was fun to read about. I thought long and hard about putting in the time and effort to get some gear and slotting it with something cool. But by the time I was epic questing ready True Reincarnation was released. Insufficient dedication to the endgame means I traded all my tokens for hearts of wood and never did anything with Epic Augment Crystals.

GUILD CRAFTING did not appeal to me. I was in a big and successful guild but even so, I didn't like the timers on the stuff.

So, since Ive never done either of those, I'm looking at the NEW augment system with fresh eyes. I'm asking "is it better than nothing for TR twinking?"

CLEAR: Not interesting to me. At low and mid level, Clear slots offer attribute bonuses that are comparatively weak.

RED: These will provide a small boost to my Cannith Crafted twink gear. The ability to do an extra 1d2 fire damage in Waterworks will be fun. I also have an eye on the byshyk augment for that pesky Devourer of Dreams.

BLUE: These go on shields and armor by default. So for me that will probably just be armor. There's plenty of nice things, and I suspect that a blue Slot on armor will compete pretty well with named armors.

YELLOW: Far weaker than RED or BLUE but available on everything. This looks great to me, I can really see getting some flexability out of this.

PURPLE, GREEN, ORANGE: These hybrid colors are exclusively assigned according to the whims of the Devs (which is the same thing as random, but more arbitrary.) I'll reserve judgement until I see how they parcel them out.

NAMED AUGMENTS: What are they good for? It is a mystery.

Additionaly, I'm glad that GIANTHOLD RELICS are used to buy augments from vendors. As it stands now, I think that the new augment system will play a minor role in equiping my TRs.

Bravo Turbine. Now hurry up! :)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

My first time: Tomb of the crimson heart

Yeah yeah, I was gonna do the whole chain last night but I got a late start. Makes for a short post anyway.

I put the wife and kids to bed and hopped onto DDO later than I intended. I've completed these quests before (Necro 1) but I did it as part of an overleveled favor farming PUG. I was basically running as fast as I could to avoid getting left behind. I don't remember the geography or the story or anything.

No one joined my PUG. I blame it on the lateness of the hour, the alure of festivult, and the proliferation of Otto's irresistable boxes. And it probably doesn't help that despite the fun of Necro 1, it has a rep for stingyness of loot and xp per second. And anyway, the people who are attenuated to that are farming EPIC XP.

But thats ok. Honestly I kinda like soloing now that I'm on my 3rd TR. The stats and gear make it a snap to do traps and self heal. My DPS is slow, as always, but that's a trade off I've made every time.

This quest is mostly against wights. They have good HP and low DPS (just like me!) so the resulting conflicts are slow battles of attrition. Me and the hireling got in over our heads once, theres some optionals with a mob of human cultists and they've got Magic Users that work in tandem. The soundblast stunning was a bit much for the hireling, but nothing that a rez shrine couldn't fix up.

No, the real problem I had last night was my ancient foe...


See, there's a half dozen identical hallways in this quest. All of them are suspiciously long and empty and yeah they all have blade traps that line the walls. Anyway, my problem was I was running around with my big red band leader hat of spot and my GM voice of even more spot and I had plenty of advance warning on all the traps. Whenever I saw the trap-sense warning I stopped swapped hats and trinkets a few times and disarmed everything. No problems, I even disarmed a trap on a natural 1.

So anyway, I got a trap-sense warning and spotted the trap from maximum range. The little white ray transmitted through a wall to find the thing. And then the wife and baby started to wake up. I rushed in there opened the trap and then checked to see if there was any way to complete the quest immediately.

The log said I only needed to find one more rune so I started running franticaly. I found the last of those trapped halls. I started to swap into my trapfinding gear but then, to save time I double checked with my spot gear. Nothing. Totaly safe.

So I ran through the hallway. Halfway there I got a trap-sense warning, and also got chopped by a big blade trap. Now for the Hubris part: instead of jumping to avoid damage while casting lay on hands and running to safety. I stood there like an evil mastermind thinking "Inconcievable!" And then the blades hit me again and I thought "I do not think that word means what you think it means." And then I made the wrong decision, I leapt and jumped forward into the next trap.

My hireling ran in too, and her spider summons ran in also. The nearest shrine was way too far, so I recalled ran back in, resummoned a hireling, resummoned a spider and went back to the hall. Sure enough there was a trap box in the exact spot where I reflexively started to look for a trap box. I also saw a new bug, the spider that followed the hireling and I to our doom? It was still in the trapped hallway just hanging out.

I brought the new spider summon in to say "hi" but they didn't interact or anything.

I found the missing rune and opened the final chamber. I got there and was impressed. Whereas the rest of the tomb was a maze of twisty passages, all alike this final throne room was really cool. High ceiling and the floor sloped up to the throne at a very steep angle. Not at all practical, unless the purpose of the throne room is to intimidate.

I dispatched the guards, ascended the ramp, approached the throne and battled yet another pair of human Magic Users. The same kind of group that had given my hirelings such problems. They also had the Mummy King that ruled this wicked throne room.

Since he was so good at interior decoration I assumed he was mostly harmless and focused on the casters. But no sooner had they fallen my wife and baby arose from their slumber. I aimed my character at the entrance of the throneroom and hit "autorun."

Ten miniutes later, I returned. I was running stupidly into the entryway doorframe, but the mummy was back on his throne. I approached the throne again and we battled. He hits pretty harder than I gave him credit for.

That was all I had time to do, but tonight is DDO-nite for real! I'm gonna finish up my level 5 bravery bonus quests (Tomb of the XYZ heart, and Delera's tomb part 1) and then level up!

Friday, January 11, 2013

DDO now and forever!

DDO tonight! DDO forever!

Tonight: It's been a week since I've played, and months since I've played uninterrupted. But tonight is DDO-nite!

I stopped because of computer problems. An error message that announced every five miniutes that Windows Explorer shut down unexpectedly. That error message played havoc with all the other programs, so we stopped using our PC and did exclusively iPhone computing for a few days while Windows 7 fixed a half dozen "orphaned files" whatever that is. And then after that my wife monopolized the computer to make up for lost time. But tonight it's my turn to play DDO.

It's gonna be great. First I'm going to finish the "Tomb of the XYZ heart" quests. Then I'm going to take level 8. Then I'll reset my enhancements and respec into a Paladin 6 prestige class. I'm not sure what to take yet but I'm leaning towards Hunter of the Undead.

Oh right, and I also have a ML8 Air Guard full plate that I'll swap into. I don't think I'll do any of the Festivult stuff though. I'm too excited to get back into the game.

Forever: Long term I'm weighing my computing options. It runs DDO satisfactoraly, but the computer itself seems old and crappy. The fans are really loud, the drive makes odd noises, and worst of all my wife says it's too ugly to be seen outside of the basement (for lack of a better word.)

There's a few options I've been playing with:
Upgrade the (dying) hard drive, upgrade the meager power supply, and buy more graphics cards. I haven't priced this out yet but I presume it will be cheaper than a new computer, although I'll still have the stigma of playing in the basement (for lack of a better word.)

Migrate to iMac. My wife is crazy about apple products and next on her shopping list is a new computer. I've heard that people can play DDO on macs, and that Turbine will make DDO for iOS soon(tm). So if that's true, I don't need to buy anything. I can just play on the iMac (assuming that it's an upgrade from my five year old
PC). And I won't have to be in the basement (for lack of a better word.)

Buy a gaming laptop. Honestly I'd love to have the ability to set up my game outside of the basement (for lack of a better word). I'm not sure how much money I have to drop on a laptop to get a good gaming rig for DDO. And even if it is an upgrade, I'll still lose out on the larger screen size.

Who has a realy cool gaming laptop? Who plays on a mac? If this computer dies and fails it's system shock roll, I will be forced to make a snap decision!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Today I am a proud Jedi Papa. (Warning: Contains Star Wars and not DDO)

I have a dim memory of when I was a kid meeting another kid. His name was Luke, just like Luke Skywalker. And I thought, gee that would be cool if one day I had a son and I named my son Luke because then I could say stuff like "Luke, *I* am your fatha!"

Well I do have kids now. None of them is named Luke or any starwarzy name, but doing the accent is fun. Especialy when they're playing Lego Starwars.

Son: Papa! I can't make the Legos work!
Me: Use the force!
Son: Help me!
Me: No. That is the "Jump button." "The force" is the red "B" button. Use the force!
Son: I'm pushing it! But it's not staying!
Me: Use the force by pressing AND HOLDING IT. Feel the force *flow*!
Son: I'm trying!
Me: Do or do not. There is no "try."
Son: It worked! Thank you Papa!
Me: Congradulations! You've taken your first step into a much larger world.
Son: (kung-fu sound effects)

He's still a padawan-knucklehead or whatever. But my oldest is six years old now and she's got that "control" thing that Yoda is always talking about. She's an elegant Jedi of a more civilized age, not so clumsy or random as her little brother.

Today at church we celebrated Epiphany, the so-called twelfth day of Christmas. On this holy day, the three kings (aka three wise men) followed the star to Bethlehem to give praise to our Lord Jesus Christ. In celebration we re-enacted the story. Sang songs, feasted on hotdogs and chips and finaly, beat a star shaped pinata with a club until candy fell out.

As is our tradition, we lined up all the kids from shortest to tallest. The first kids are the tinyest, and often need help to raise the bat high enough to even touch the streamers of the star. Then the pre-schoolers and little first graders step up and take their swings. Sometimes they hit it hard enough to rip off a streamer, sometimes they hit accurately enough to hit the body of the Pinata itself. And then the firstgraders step up, they swing one handed for the most part, but it's obvious who has played baseball because they swing for the bleachers, and often hit the pinata's arms with enough force to spin it, or even break the arms off entirely.

My daughter was among the last firstgraders. She stepped up and I watched excitedly to see if she remembered her training. Sure enough, she grabbed the stick as a Katana, and delivered a powerful overhead strike. Not perfect, but she had the timing and aim to hit the candy filled body and not the arms. The blow sounded a loud crunch, but her stick rebounded without having cut through the dense pinata body. But the force of her blow opened a great rip in the far side of the pinata, a horizontal gash that opened like an ear-to-ear smile. Then the weight of the candy took over and the whole bottom hemisphere collapsed and dangled by a thread.

The Pinata handler gave the rope a few good tugs and the children, Ewok-liked, rushed in to gather the candy that my daughter cut out of the Pinata. My daughter.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Years Resolutions: Be Moby Dick

2012 -- worst year ever!

I knew in advance that 2012 was not a year to pile on resolutions about looking prettier or doing something whimsical every sunrise. I only had one resolution last year: Be Moby Dick.

Moby Dick is pretty cool. He's a Sperm Whale -- the largest living toothed animal. Twenty times more massive than JAWS. Infinately more non-extinct than dinosaurs. Sperm Whales are so cool they eat GIANT SQUID for breakfast.

Like all sperm whales at the time, he is hunted by whalers who try to kill and process him. But he is also hunted by the most accomplished whaler of all time -- Captain Ahab. The first time the two of them meet, Moby escapes and Ahab is crippled.

And here is where the story gets strange. Captain Ahab blames Moby Dick PERSONALY. Ahab has a reputation for delivering angry tyrades, and it's well deserved!

But Moby Dick doesn't care what Ahab says. And neither do I. :)