29 September 2010

Shameless Plug (But not for me!)

I'm a huge book nerd, a biblophile even.  If haven't read them yet, I highly suggest checking out Brandon Sanderson. 

Sanderson brings a lot to the table.  If you've heard absolutely anything about him, it probably involved his amazing magic systems.  Which really are just plain brilliant and great fun.  That's not all though, he builds...well, you can't say 'beautiful ', because two of them are actually pretty dark, but they are extremely well done.  His characters, their motivations..reading his work makes it clear that he has an understanding of how people work.

Anyway, he's put out nine books in his four or so years of being published.  The quality of his books never suffer for their quantity.

Elantris is his first published novel, and feels a bit more 'safe' than his other books.  The overall progression is slower and there isn't much action (till the end, but he has a flair for endings that could be describes as a bit of an avalanche.)  The story itself progresses rather nicely, as do the character relations.

After Elantris, he worked MISTBORN (capitalized because he does so when talking about it on his site, and it looks right to me.)  MISTBORN takes place in one of his darker worlds.  Long ago, a great evil fell across the land, choking life from it and threatening to eradicate all life.  Wherever it's influenced touched, life was crippled, plants wilted, crops died, famines came and people died.  Swords were ineffective against it, armies useless.  To drive it back, a great hero rose up to drive back this evil.  He failed.  The Dark Lord rose up and ruled the world for a few thousand years.  Fun stuff.

Warbreaker has an interesting story behind it, sort of.  Rather, it's interesting in that you can download it for free off of Sanderson's website, and it still got onto the New York Times Best Seller list.  If you want to get into this writer, this is a great starting point.  Because it's, you know, free.

The Way of Kings is his most recent book, and another series.  This is going to be the defining series for him as an author, what Lord of the Rings was for Tolkien.  Storms ravage the land, settlements and plant-life reflect this.  Grass itself draw into the ground to avoid damage, cities are built behind Stone bluffs for protection.  The book itself is filled with some beautiful illustrations and, well, this book feels kind of hard to describe.  Not only is it written extremely well, it's very enjoyable and works fantastical equipment into the setting pretty well.

Doing the art for Sanderson (symbols, maps, cover art, illustrations), is Isaac Stewart.  He sells some of his own merchandise in relation to some of the stuff sold on Sanderson's personal site.  The bookmark you can order, for example, is quite amazing and definitely worth the two dollar price tag.  If you're looking for decoration for your wall, I also suggest the MISTBORN poster of the Allomatic Metals.

He also boasts the standard merch, t-shirts, and not so standard, such as decals.  (And, the bookmark, poster, looks like more merch will be put up on the site over time, so checking back every now and then will be a good idea.)

Also, there's a contest on the site at the moment that I'm hoping to win.  You enter by posting links to his site somewhere, and notifying him of the links.

So, part of this post is for me.  Hoping I win a free shirt.

Anyway, happy hunting, all.

EDIT: Thanks to....actually, the name of the person who responded to me wasn't in the email.  Anyway, I failed at wording in the above paragraph when I was talking about Inkwing.  "He sells some of his own merchandise", specifically.  That implies that Isaac creates his own stuff, and sells it.  Which isn't at all what I meant.  Or, it kind of is.  As far as I can remember, Isaac does create the symbols used, but I could be wrong and will be checking that fact tonight.

Right, trying again.  Some of the stuff for sale (at the time of this post, most of the stuff, actually,) features stuff from Sanderson's books. 

I was also told that Inkwing will have new shirts in October, designed by someone named Ben (no last name given,) who was one of the other artists for The Way of Kings.  Also noted that he might be doing prints for Inkwing as well.

Here's to hoping he does, the art in The Way of Kings is simply wondrous, an artist with that skill has to create more.

Guess who!

Hey guys! It's Skiddy, and I'm here to tell you that I'm not dead... just without a computer.  Since we last spoke, I've gotten a job and already have a laptop lined up so I can feed all of you hungry visitors with some much needed tech news.  As of now, the laptop looks like it'll be in my hands in a week or so, so you'll just have to wait to get your daily dose of my snide comments and sub par writing.

Until then,

Skiddy, signing out.

25 September 2010

Playing as a Dead Baby Has Never Been So Fun

Though the ones pictures do not include a dead baby, it does show off one of the new enemy types of the sequel, called The Pack.  They're a fairly quick physical orientated...thing.  Running up and tearing your face off with their elongated fingers is what they do best.

Onto the multiplayer beta.  It's actually fairly enjoyable.  There are two 'teams', the engineers, and the necromorphs.  (For those of you who don't know, necromorphs are the game's primary enemy.  And, by that, I mean a necromorph is a corpse infected by an alien virus that turns them into something really freaky.)  The engineers are tasked with accomplishing some goal based on the map, such as getting something so you can..do something, I'm not exactly sure what.  The other team, the necromorphs, are tasked with running mindlessly into the the engineering team and attempting to get a kill before having their limbs forcible removed.

Engineers get three weapons.  The Plasma Rifle, high fire rate, large clip, decent accuracy.  The Plasma Cutter, fires a line of plasma, either a vertical line or a horizontal line.  The third, and last available in the beta, is the javelin.  Using it sets a mine that will explode when triggered.  You know, how trip mines generally work.

Three of the necromorph classes are available, the  Pack, pictured above, the Lurker, and the Spitter.  Like I said before, the Pack is best at running into someone with the player mashing their attack button as fast as possible.  The Lurkers are possibly my favorite, they excel at chilling back and throwing spikes at the engineers.  Lurkers, are very interesting to me.  As you may have noticed, they have spike-tentacles coming out of their backs, which is their primary form of attack.  I mentioned the necromorphs getting their limbs removed, that's actually the only way to kill them.  Body shots do nothing, removing two or three limbs is the only why to stop one of them.

Lurkers, however..
Their life is measured by their tentacles, rather than their limbs.  This means that the more damage they take, the more tentacles they lose, and the less spikes they can shoot at once.

Finally, we have the Spitter.  She (I think) sits in the middle of the Lurker and the pack, having a chargeable..spit attack.  This have been my favorite class (to actually play, it was the concept of the lurker that I liked.)  But then, I've always liked medium-ranged classes.  The Spitter is fairly tanky, and has decent mobility.

You may have noticed that I haven't really said much about the Engineers.  That's because, well, they're just engineers.  If you've played the first Dead Space game, it's very similar to playing as Isaac from the first game.  Your life meter is on your back, you press a button to run, curb stomp, etc etc.

So, First Impressions:
Doesn't seem like much has changed, they've only added to the game.  From what I've seen, if you liked the first one, or want to know how the story continues, then go ahead and grab it.

Happy Hunting all,

24 September 2010

Real Life, it has no off button, nor save function

Jeez, it's almost like they actually except you to attend school more than three days a week.  So inflexible, right?

Anyway, add my apologies to Skiddy's.  It looks like it might have been a bad idea trying to offer daily updates when we don't have definite, consistent access to a machine to post and write from.  However, I'm going to try once again.

The FFXIV beta is over, and is up for play for those who pre-ordered the collector's edition.  From what I read, the game's performance has improved to smooth frame-rate heaven.  I'm really sorry that I didn't get to post videos or screen shots, but the game would crash when I tried to.  Didn't find anything worthwhile, really.  So it's not too much of a loss, you could probably get a good idea of the games visual appeal by looking up some videos of it on youtube.

I do, however, have a new subject to tackle.  For those who follow this kind of game, Dead Space 2 is coming out soon and the multiplayer beta has been released to Playstation 3 owners, which I'll be participating in.  With this style of gameplay, it'll be easier to catalog details and specifications of the game, so expect (no really!) a write up of my first impressions tomorrow.

Till then,

17 September 2010

I Apologize Deeply

I apologize for the lack of updates recently, but it looks like I'll be on an indefinite hiatus.  I don't have access to a computer most of the time, and making you guys(the few of you who read it, that is) come back expecting an update, only to find the same thing for a week, is bad stuff :|.  So, if there are any updates, there will be an unknown amount of time between them and they will probably be by Tempest Nix.

Again, I apologize, but stuff happens....

10 September 2010

Little late, but here it is

Managed to get some actual playing in today (read: few hours into the game, maybe half way past the game's first 'cut scene'.)  Combat is fairly interesting, though I don't think I have a full grasp on it yet.  Effectively, you have this bar, use an ability, and the bar goes down.

My character, for the purpose of this overview, is a thaumaturge, essentially a battlemage (read: my kind of character).  They have some of the kick your standard mage has, but can afford to be near the front lines.  This also means I have three buttons to press in combat.  First is poison darts, second is...something, it's an area of effect that lower resistance to it's damage type, the third skill is the same as the second but of a different energy type, astral I think.  Using each skill will also put it on cool down for a few seconds, meaning you have to press your other buttons. 

So far, the best measure of a skills cool down that I've found is how long it would take your action gauge to full recharge after using that specific skill, and no others.  There are some draw backs to this.  It makes the game feel like one of the earlier console games.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing.  Yea, this is an MMO, but it's a Final Fantasy MMO.  It does feel a lot different from FFXI, but in a good way.  It seems more accessible, for one.

First synopsis.  If you are looking for an MMO, but aren't a hard core gamer, or can only afford so many hours of play time per day, then this may be the game for you.  Over all, it's a casual game, and I think a casual gamer would enjoy it.  The ATB-ish system for ability use means combat does have a bit of a slower pace than most traditional MMOs.

 I don't even think my character has hit level two yet in his class (thaumaturge) though he is 'physically' at level two.  I have no idea what this means.  I think, when completing a quest of killing monsters, you get XP for both your class and your...'physique'?  In a way, this encourages playing multiple classes.

Assuming your physical level has any sort of impact on your stats, lower level areas should be less trouble when revisiting them.  Alternatively, maybe your physical level determines almost all of your stats, this would also encourage trying other classes, as you could still progress through the world without having to go to the 'noobie' areas.

This marks the end of my first post of my playthrough, sorry I didn't have too much to say about the game, hopefully the next post will have more information.


At least, that's what I typed up last night.  Apparently Blogger decided to save it as a draft instead of publishing it.

Or maybe I dreamt clicking 'publish' and just went to sleep.  Either way, sorry readers, again.

iTouch nano.... Watch?

If you didn't think these Apple 'innovations' could get any better, here's a good one.  The new iPod(iTouch nano) had a mysterious clip on the back of it.  Speculations of its use flew around the internet, and many thought it would be used to clip it on to your jeans and/or shirt.

So... Now we know its real use.

It's a watch!  That's right! We now have the ability to make our new iPod a freakin' watch.  So, if you've got your head so far up Jobs' rectum, you can pay a mere USD $17 to buy a strip of whatever that is to get yourself an iWatch!

I truly fear for the people(see sheep) who really go our and buy this gimmick.  Please, PLEASE, tell me that people aren't actually going to pay $17 to get a strip of this mystery fabric.  Not only does it make you look like a complete douche/hipster/Apple fanboy/sheep, it seems like it would get annoying if you actually... I don't know, listen to music on it.

Like I said, for this price, you could go buy 16GB Zune HD and, with this addition, a new set of semi-decent earbuds.

Image courtesy of Gizmodo

08 September 2010

My apologies, dear reader.

     As you probably noticed if you check the blog daily, I have not lived up to my promises, and I am deeply sorry.  For the most part.  I should have posted this the day after I got Final Fantasy XIV running, but I'm fairly certain playing that game robbed me of part of my motivation.

     Partly, this is my fault.  I went into the game with the absolute wrong expectations.  I was thinking that I was going to experience a decently paced, action orientated game with an involving combat system, ala Demon's Souls.  That was stupid of me.  I took on these assumptions because I found options for a game pad while the patcher was patching, I neglected to realize it's still a Final Fantasy game, an MMO no less.

     This should not be taken as an accurate appraisal of the game.  By that, I mean my disappointment.  To phrase it another way, I picked up Rock Band over the weekend hoping to jump into matches and camp with a sniper rifle.  Doesn't make much sense, eh?

     So what I will be doing, is going back to the game some time tonight.  Personal obligations have gotten in the way of my making any kind of progress towards what I said I would do, and again, I am very sorry for that.  So.  Either late tonight, or sometime tomorrow, expect my write up of the game and of it's systems.

'nother thing, Skiddy set us up the bomb a twitter feed: go ahead and follow it, I'll be partially using it while playing FFXIV.

UPDATE:  I forgot to post the link.  Derp.

The Future is Here [Pt. 2]

Researchers at the University of Utah have successfully translated human brain waves into words. This breakthrough in cybernetic technology will allow people to merely think to produce words on a computer screen. This could help patients who suffer from any number of ailments speak for the first time. As of now, the program/hardware only has a 48% accuracy rate when it comes to more complex 'motions', but a mind blowing 90% rate when it came to more simplistic actions such as saying yes or no.

Time will only tell where this technology will go in the future, perhaps we will see some sort of technology akin to what we was in the Bruce Willis movie "Surrogates", allowing people to live through a technological 'shell'. We could even see some sort of militaristic, gaming or any other number of technological breakthroughs with this technology... or this is just a ploy by the our cybernetic overlord to dig further into our brains.

Either way, we're in for some major advancements in the near future.

P.S. Sorry for the lack of updates, my faithful readers, I was lazy :\

05 September 2010

An Overview of Class Systems and Patches

First of my patching troubles is no longer a problem, now I only have to deal with the actual patching. Several hours after the progress bar siting just at 98.xx percent, it finishes and the built-in audio output begins to play as my elation rises.

Until I look at the window again. The first part of the update, the initial updates, was in three parts. The first two went by very quickly once the date started flowing, hardly even noticed parts one and two, though this wasn't the case with three. Like I said in the first paragraph, it stalled around 98% of the download, and promptly decided to stay at that mark until several more hours passed. Thank god for television and free-to-play games.

The second set of updates, the part I'm currently on, is composed of nine separate parts, of which I'm currently on four.  During the writing of this, I have actually experienced another network failure.  The game play looks like it could work, and from what I've seen of the options, this game looks like it will be a very nice, refreshing experience to contrast with other MMOs.  If you played it's predecessor, I think you'll be in for a familiar treat as the game supports gamepads by defaults and features a similar and, possibly, an even more robust class system.

      In Final Fantasy XI, the first of the MMOs, you were able to have character gain levels in several classes independently.  Though, your 'character level' was considered to be the current class you had selected.  Meaning, if you started out as a thief, and played until you were level 14, then you'd be considered a level 14 thief.  If you switched over to, say, Black Mage, then you'd be considered a level 1 Black Mage and your levels in Thief would have no effect on your character, with an exception.  You could also choose a second class to compliment your 'main', or current class, called a 'sub-class'.  The sub-class had a single restriction in terms of raw power, it's level could never exceed half of your main classes level.  So if you're current main class was Thief, you could increase your level as a Black Mage until it was level 7.  For a further increase, you would have to make Black Mage your main class or pick a different main class that would have a high level cap for your sub-class (say, if you had warrior at level 20, then Black Mage could go up to 10.)

     That should give you a good idea of how classes worked in FFXI.  As far as I know, and can remember, they have done away with the sub-class system.  From reading up on the features of the game, it seems as though your class and the current abilities you have access to will be determined by your equipment, this includes what many people know as 'professions'.  What this means, if you have a sword and shield equipped, you'd be called a warrior.  If you decided to polish and stow away your sword, in favor of a fishing pole, then you'd be considered a fisher. 

     I have some mixed feelings about this, though I lean towards the side that it's a good change.  While multiclassing systems are nice in that you can tailor your character to your liking, you miss out on some nice, unique design possibilities.  Take a look at the ever popular World of Warcraft, the paladin class.  They have these really cool spells that are unique to them.  'Bubbles', as the community calls them, as spells that give some kind of defensive bonus to the target.  These can be used in many different ways, they can allow the tank to hold off more damage than he would be able to normally, or could save the parties squishy wizard if he drew the attention of enemies.

     Now, the paladin class is one of the most versatile classes in the game.  They can take damage extremely well without dieing, they can deal pretty good damage with out worrying about taking too much due to their defensive stats, and they can even heal.  It's very easy to see this class as a Priest/Warrior combination, which would be very accurate.  What limits a paladin is called 'talents'.  In short, you get a set amount of points, and three different 'trees' that you can spend them in.  The catch is that the stronger 'talents' are farther down the tree.  To get the stronger talents, you have to spend points to even get access to them.  This prevents a single character from being able to take massive amounts of damage, dealing just as much, and still being effective at keeping allies alive.

     On the other end of the spectrum, let's look at multiclass systems.  In essence, they work like this:  You pick two classes, and have access to both of their features.  A warrior can wear heavy armor and larger weapons.  A priest can heal wounds and rejuvenate allies.  So you could become very similar to a paladin, with a few ways to heal and keep your allies safe.  But it is not nearly as effective.

     One other thing that Paladins get in World of Warcraft are called 'Seals'.  These are basically a way to enhance your basic attack.  The first Seal you get access to is called Seal of Light, it adds a small amount of damage to your own attacks.  The true way to make use of these, however, are spells called 'Judgement'.  Judgement of Light, for example, puts a debuff on the target.  This doesn't actually impede the target's ability to act in anyway, what it does is it gives every hit the enemy receives to heal the attacker for a small amount.

     Look at it from a design point of view.  If you are playing a paladin, you get a skill that allows you to do damage, and also heal your allies by them attacking, which includes yourself.  This let's you do both things paladins are a combination of, a warrior and a priest or 'healer'.  On the other hand, let's see how close it'd be likely to get.

     From warrior, you could wield a heavy weapon and heavy armor.  From priest, you could get abilities to heal your allies or protect them from damage.  Casting a spell from the priest class would force your character to stop acting for a short time, meaning they might lose the attention of enemies, meaning the ally they were trying to heal might take even more damage in that time.  That's bad design.

     The only real way to fix it would be to create specific abilities that you could access only with a combination of specific classes, which kind of defeats the point of a multiclass system, which is why the system World of Warcraft uses works.  You lose options in a closed class system, but you gain power.  Because a paladin can only do a specific role at once, they gain tools to do that role very well, such as the Seals and Judgements.  One ability to fill a role and a half, against two abilities to fill one role.

      These are the problems that are inherent in many designs, but developers rarely try to address these problems.  And, now, you have them presented to you, so you are now aware of them.  What should you do?  Bring them up, continue to make them known.  Or don't, which ever you want.  Publishers are supposed to create games for consumers, gamers, to enjoy.  Just keep this in mind, when ever a team of developers is trying to say 'we want to do this, because we think it can help the game', bring up points like these.  Let's use a constructive, advancing method of development to make games better.  Consumers have the real power in this relationship, we give money to these teams to make games, we make their jobs possible.

     So why not help them do their job better?  If they're trying to create a working multiclass system for their game, bring up the ups and downs of the system, and the ups and downs of a different system, tell them what you like about each, tell them what you don't like from each.  Which support from the community like this, developers could advance their work in completely new directions, taking the best parts of each, and finding ways to make them work together.

     A few paragraphs ago, the updater for the game I'm supposed to be writing about finished updating, so I'll break off here to go play it so I can, you know, write about it.  Hope you enjoyed the little filler post, though looking back at it, it didn't turn out to be too little..

Final Failtasy XIV Open Beta

As I'm sure no ones, because no one cares, the new Final Fantasy MMO has gone into open beta.  And, in contrast, as many people know but don't care about, I love betas.  As long developers are going to want more publicity and free labor for their game, there will be betas.  Whether these betas are closed or open, I will generally find a way to get into it.

Today, I signed up for the beta I was just speaking of, and I think it'd be appropriate for my first series of posts to be of my chronicles of this game.  I'll be throwing up one post at the end of each day, detailing my experience and the features I had screwed around with that day.  Though this day will be an exception,  technically there will be two posts regarding it, this one telling our small audience that I will be taking on this beta, and later will be about my experience today.

Though it'll have to wait for me to actually update this bloody game.  So far, the patcher has failed twice.  Not looking good, Square.

03 September 2010

Another Killzone... yay?[Rant]

If anyone has known me for an extended period of time, they'll learn that there are two things I truly hate.  Apple and Playstation fanboys.  The latter will be my target audience of this post.

First we had Killzone 1, a mediocre FPS with mediocre graphics and piss poor gameplay.  I rented it for my PS2 a week or two after it came out and I returned it the second day I had it;  it was just THAT bad.  Needless to say, I absolutely hated it.

Fast forward a couple years.  I'm just chillin', watching TV and I notice an ad spot for Killzone 2.  I'm immediately skeptical about the quality of the game, but I thought I might at least try it.  Again, I rent it, I play it, but this time my reaction was different.  Killzone 2 was actually pretty decent.  Huge graphics improvement, game play improved immensely and the online was great.  All in all, I'd give it an 8/10.  Then I hear these Sony fanboys talking about the perfection that is Killzone 2.  I tried to reason with them, I tried telling them that it was a good game and that's all.  They wouldn't hear any of it and immediately disregarded me as a Microsoft fanboy.  This stoked the fires inside me, telling me to grab a knife and rid the world of this infestation of stupidity, but I held myself back.

Now I'm browsing over some tech news for a story and then I see this.  Now, don't get me wrong, I'm excited for the game itself, but I'm not excited about the coming onslaught of fanboy bullshit.  Depending on how good KZ3 is, I may end up strangling several fanboys before being arrested and convicted of murder.

With that, I bid you farewell for the remainder of the weekend as well as Monday.  If anything is posted between now and then, it will be by my friend Sudatze.

Military decides "Medal of Honor" has no place on PX shelves.

The hit franchise "Medal of Honor" has been pulled from AAFES store shelves.  Any and all locations on Airforce bases, as well as Gamestops located on military bases worldwide will no longer keep the game on its shelves, and will be cancelling any pre-orders placed by soldiers on base..  This decision was based on the fact that the Taliban is portrayed in the game....

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the Taliban in pretty much all modern war games?  Such as Call of Duty Modern Warfare and Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2(HINTHINT).  Apparently this has caused stress in war veterans due to the aforementioned Taliban.  Since the only people visiting these on base stores are directly linked to Afghanistan, the game is just too much for them to handle.

Besides the fact that buying this game is a completely personal choice, why aren't other war games being pulled as well?(I.E. MW2, MW, Black Ops, etc.)  There are not now, nor has there been any mention of removing these games from sale in the future.  I, myself, have no served time in Iraq, but I do know many people have served one or more tours overseas; perhaps it's just too realistic, maybe it just hits too close to home.  I guess this kind of decision is just.... above my pay grade.  Badum tss.

[Update as of 3 September, 2010]

An airman has defended this ruling, stating that the Call of Duty games are different... because they're fictional.  I somehow don't buy that excuse.  Something smells a bit fishy here, but I'm not quite sure what it is yet.

Another soldier is actually offended by the decision to ban "a game seeking to honor the military through authenticity," read the article on Kotaku 

02 September 2010

To be honest, I believe that G4 is the premier source of all that is video games. With shows like X-Play and AOTS, they've got the market by the short hairs. That being said, expect to see a lot of their videos here.


01 September 2010

First the iTouch XXL, now the iTouch mini?

So, if you didn't think apple could get any more unoriginal, you were so wrong it actually hurts. Apple has now released another variation of the iTouch... this time it's SMALLER! That's right, we've got a new iPod nano, and it features a touch screen that's approx 1.7'', which is quite a bit smaller than the previous model, which sported a 2.2'' screen. It will retain the original 30-pin power adapter, which is standard for all ipods.

It comes with all the amenities we've come to expect from apple (Multiple colors, multi-touch, hold button on the side, compatibility with iTunes, etc., etc.) and then some; we've got an FM radio tuner with this one!(Welcome to the 21st century, apple!) If you didn't care for the arm band for running, this one can clip on to your clothes, but only time will tell exactly how durable that's going to be.  Expect to dish out USD $149.00 for the 8GB model, USD $169 for the 16GB.

So, to recap, we got the iTouch XXL a couple of months ago, and now we're getting the iTouch mini with a back clip and an FM radio tuner.  Such innovation!

Or you could go buy a 16GB Zune HD for $157.54.