Thursday, December 02, 2010

Christmas Shopping!

I'm planning on going out and finishing any shopping that I need to do on Saturday.  The goal here is three-fold:  Finish getting presents for my family, purchase the things I need to clean my place up for the big day, and purchase food.

The presents thing is pretty self-explanatory.  I already have the majority of the gifts that I need.  All that's left, really, are a few odds and ends, some gift cards, a card or two, etc.  (Making a list, checking it twice...)

The cleaning supplies are needed because I need to spruce the place up a bit.  Christmas Day is spend in my place, and obviously I want to exude some semblance of cleanliness.  (Not that I'm a slob the rest of the year, mind you.)

As for the food, the purpose there is to gather ingredients to try my hand at cooking.  I have two new cookbooks that I recently purchased from Pampered Chef.  I'm looking forward to the disaster that is sure to follow.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Me vs. Tire

It snowed last night.  It was snowing this morning when I left the house.  And it was still snowing when I was half-way to work and got a flat tire.

As you can imagine, I am not having the best of days thus far and it's only 8:30 AM.  I'll admit, I quite honestly contemplated driving the rest of the way to work on the faulty tire.  A stupid thought, I realize, but you have to understand that it was fucking cold, fucking snowing, and I was on a fucking freeway where people don't give two fucks about other people.  I knew that if I stopped to change that tire, my life would be in danger the entire time.  But sadly, I was only half-way to work and I could tell the tire was REALLY bad. So I had to do it.

Since the gods offer me no breaks on this fine day, naturally the flat was on the driver's side, and thus I had to change the tire on the traffic side of the vehicle.  I was able to pull off the road a rather comfortable amount, but I could be 50 feet away from that freeway and I would still fear for my life when people are driving past you at 80 MPH.  In the snow.

I had no choice in the matter.  By the time I was finished, my pants were soaked from the knees down, my hoodie was covered in dirt, my right hand was bleeding profusely in two places, and both my hands were so cold I could barely even move them any longer.  

But I hadn't been run over, and the tire was changed.  And like the trooper that I am, I continued on my way to work and got there only about 30 minutes late (but still an hour before I would even be considered "late").

So now, it's a matter of waiting for Danielle or Jeff to get here so I can head over to NTB and get a new set of rear tires.  I'm hoping that perhaps this day will cut me a break at last, and I'll be able to get the new tires today.  If not, then I'm going to have a new set of problems to deal with when 5:00 PM rolls around.  I'm 35 miles away from home and no one in my family knows the location of my office.  Simply put, I'm on my own.  But that's okay.  I'm used to it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Come Fly With Me

I have three stories I want to share.  This is the first, and it's regarding a specific quest in Fallout: New Vegas called "Come Fly With Me".  I really, really enjoyed the story of this quest chain, and it has prompted me to share it here.

If you've read my previous post about New Vegas, you'll remember that the main storyline revolves around tracking down the man in the bad suit who shot you in the head right as the game begins.  The "Come Fly With Me" quest begins as an off-shoot of that main quest line, as most of the side-quests do.  There's a sniper in the city of Novac who has information about the man you're chasing, but he will only divulge it once you do something for him.  Quid pro quo, Clarice.

His task for you is to send you to a RoboCo test facility nearby and clear out the infestation of ghouls there.  If you'll recall my previous, previous post with the video, I mention this briefly and that video is me inside the test facility.

The voice coming from the intercom (mentioned in the video) actually belonged to a human.  While I found it odd that a human was inhabiting a building full of feral ghouls, I was even more surprised to find that he was actually living with a bunch of intelligent ghouls.  What was even more surprising were the circumstances of their situation, which I discovered by speaking to the ghoul's leader -- a glowing, radioactive creature named Jason Bright.  (The humor in the fact that he glows and is named Bright was not lost on me.)

Through conversations with both the human (named Chris), and Bright, I discover that the ghouls are basically a religious cult.  They're working on repairing three test rockets inside the facility, which they plan on using to embark on their religious "Great Journey" to reach the "Far Beyond", where they will meet their creator.  It's so reminiscent of those cults who make their followers drink poison Kool-aid.  I was actually slightly unnerved.

Anyway, to make things even more interesting, I find out that Chris believes he is a ghoul, even though he is a perfectly normal looking human.  He believes this because he has gone bald.  That may seem utterly ridiculous to you, but you have to remember that it's been 200 years since the Great War, when the nukes destroyed everything.  Everyone has grown up in Vaults, and it's certainly possible that he was never taught that humans can go bald at middle-age.  He was horrified and believed he was exposed to some chemical that turned him into a ghoul.  He considers himself grotesque, just like the ghouls are.  So, he joined this cult of ghouls, thinking he was just like them.  It is *sort of* far fetched, but does make sense when you think about it.

Even worse, I discover that Bright *does* know that Chris is human, and does not plan on taking him on this "Great Journey".  Additionally, he views Chris as a sort of sacrificial lamb.  Chris has the knowledge to get the rockets working and launch them, but he will die in the process from the radiation he'd be exposed to during the launch.

This was a tricky situation for my character, as I typically don't play him as someone who feels it's right to judge others.  But, given my own distaste for organized religion, I was compelled to interfere in this scenario.

I started out by explaining to Chris that he was a human, and that the ghouls were using them for their own purposes and had no intentions of taking him with them.  This took a few lines of dialogue to achieve, but finally I got my point across and he was understandably miffed.  My preferred result here was to get him to survive the launch, but still send the ghouls on their "Great Journey".  Then everyone would be happy.

Sadly, the sadistic side of me kicked in as soon as Chris mentioned that he wanted to sabotage the launch.  I actually tried to convince him otherwise through two waves of dialogue, but the option to sabotage was still there after that, and the temptation was far too great.  I probably *could have* eventually changed his mind.  Oh well.

Anyway, I then had to collect three items for Chris.  Two of them were to get the rockets working, and the other, Sugar Bombs, were for the sabotage.

Now, either someone in QA screwed up, or no one imagined that someone would take this particular path.  After the launch of the rockets (where I got a nice bird's eye view of them all exploding gloriously), I went back to find Chris.  He was alive and well, but when I talked to him, he asked me what happened.

At first, I thought this was a clever ploy by the game developers -- giving Chris amnesia and not really remembering what happened.  But my dialogue choices suggest that it was just broken.  I had:

"There was a mechanical malfunction."
"I sabotaged the rockets."

Wait a second...*I* sabotaged the rockets?  Given there are always 20 different ways to do one thing in this game, I'm quite sure that it is possible to actually do the sabotaging yourself.  But I didn't choose that path.  So sadly, this sort of broke the immersion for me.  Still, it was a fantastic quest line.  

Monday, November 22, 2010

New Vegas, Con't

Okay, so the main story here is that you're a courier of some sort.  Your latest job gets you kidnapped by a guy in a bad suit, who shoots you in the head and steals your package.  Not nice.  What follows is a long trek across the Mojave Wasteland while you follow this poorly dressed casino man, doing enumerable side quests along the way.  It's the standard Fallout recipe for fun, and I must admit that after all these years it still hasn't gotten stale for me.

I always play my Fallout characters in a certain way:  They are inexorably good, but very independent.  They don't like relying on other people or being part of a larger organization.  Thus, the additional (and required) faction choices in New Vegas makes me bristle.  It's a nice new feature they've added, but I would have preferred if they didn't link them together.  What I mean is, when I do a quest I'm going to get good rep with one faction and bad rep with another no matter which choice I make.  Obviously I can decide which faction gets the positive rep, but I want to be able to choose to gain rep with NONE of them.  Because that's how I play.  It feels too limiting.

Putting this minor annoyance aside, the rest of the game is brilliant.  It looks, feels, and plays exactly like Fallout 3, and that is probably the greatest compliment someone could give to this game.  Because, Fallout 3 was a masterpiece.  There are also some areas of the game that have been expanded upon from the original -- namely, companions and crafting.

You can keep the companions feature.  As I said, I play my characters to be independent wanderers, and have no use for companions.  But I can see people who enjoy Bioware games (Mass Effect, Dragon Age) enjoying this expanded feature immensely.  I enjoy it too.  In those games.  Not here.

The crafting feature is orgasmatic, however.  So.  Many.  Recipes.  One of my favorite things to do in Fallout is simply wander around, explore, and scavenge.  I'm always one looted body away from being encumbered because I pick up EVERYTHING.  And with so many new things to craft in New Vegas, I actually get to USE all these items now!  It's a scavengers dream come true.

I would be a lot further through the game at this point, but I ended up re-rolling my character.  I didn't like some of the choices I'd made, and wanted to take a different path.  If the game is going to force me to choose a faction to side with, I certainly don't want to pick the ones who keep slaves.  Unfortunately, before I realized this, I had already won their favor.  I didn't mind going through the first part of the game once again though, mostly because it's so damned fun. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

New Vegas

Ok!  I'm finally getting into this game.  Hey, it only took me a month. 

Here, have a small video about it:

That should give you a chuckle or two. 

Now playing: Angels & Airwaves - Secret Crowds

Friday, November 19, 2010

Getting into the Game

I was quite pleased when I learned the actual Shattering of Azeroth was going to take place a week or two (probably two) before the actual release of Cataclysm.  I would have been mildly annoyed if I had to waste an hour or so to go explore the changes before heading into the new areas to level.  Yay for that.  So, as it stands right now, when the Shattering does occur, I have two things to do:

1. Get the new faction city tabards.  My 25-tabard achievement will then be complete.

2.  Explore the world, get the new explorer achievement.

And maybe...

3.  Start doing the new old world quests?  I've no idea about this one, because I've no idea how the new Loremaster achievement is going to work, or whether my current Loremaster achievement will be linked to it in some way.  Honestly, I really hope I don't have to do every quest in Azeroth all over again.

Apparently Blizzard is going to release information regarding this some time today, so hopefully I'll find out.

Anyway, that's what's going to be keeping me occupied until December 7th.  (In addition to getting my last 5 AV wins.)

Next I'm going to provide some advice when it comes to gaming forums.  Any time you want to find more information about a game, chances are you're going to end up in some kind of forum, whether it be the official forum hosted by the company, a fan site, or just a generic forum for gamers.  Forums are a double-edged sword.  Typically, when it comes to forums, I think of this line:  "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy."  Unfortunately, it's also a place where you can find just about any information that you need about a game, if you know how to find it.

Golden rule for using forums:  Assume that every single post you read is false.  Never, ever, ever think that one post by one person is the answer to your question.  Read the entire thread(s).  The most frequently repeated answer is then probably the correct one.  Forums are filled to the brim with people who want to give you bad information or crave attention, and sometimes it can be difficult to decide if someone is one of these people, or if they are actually trying to be helpful.

My only other advice to you is to not get discouraged.  Unfortunately, when you give human beings the tool of anonymity, they will use it for nefarious purposes.  They will post false information, flame you, call you a bad player, tell you that something is easy and that they can do it with one hand behind their back while jerking off and drinking red bull while fucking your mother, all because they crave attention, get a high off of the false sense of superiority, or because they are bored.

So, you need to take an entire thread as one piece of information, and use your common sense to process its contents to derive the correct information you're trying to find.  It can be challenging, but sometimes you'll have no other means of acquiring what it is you need.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Of Love and Family

A co-worker of mine pointed me towards the below story.  It was posted by a Blizzard forum poster, and is a story sent in by someone who met their spouse through World of Warcraft.  The story reminded him of John and I.  The thought that some time in the future I may have a similar story to tell makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  

Of Love and Family

World of Warcraft is a game where 30% is the appeal to me is the gameplay and the personal feeling of achievement, and 70% is all about the community and the friends you make. We all know that good feeling we get when we accomplish something amongst friends, rather than with a group of strangers who found you by spamming the trade chat looking for ANYBODY to help them out. It just isn't the same, am I right?

Finding friends on World of Warcraft is great. I've met friends there who I later met in real life and they're still solid friends even after three years -- even if some of them have stopped playing for whatever reason. We are still unbreakable friends, and we have World of Warcraft to thank for that.

I, however, found SO much more than a few friends.

I used to play on Hyjal as a night elf warrior. My friend, Ezekielx, used to ask me to help him out with quests a lot, and one day he asked if a friend of his could tag along. Of course, I said yes, and that's when Vytala came into my life. I helped her and Ezekielx MANY times after that, but I found Vytala to be a very interesting person.

We spoke and played together for almost a year, adding webcam, cell phone numbers, and email addresses along the way! I soon found myself falling in love with this woman and, as one thing led to another, I discovered that my feelings were whole-heartedly returned!

Before I knew what hit me, I was in the airport waiting for her... and there she was. On September 1 2007, I met the woman who would make me the happiest person on the planet. I lived in Denmark and she in Florida, and there were almost 4000 miles between us, but it made no difference to us. Soon, however, the ticket prices were piling up and Vytala decided that she wanted to come live with me. I was incredibly excited and we spent a wonderful year in my home country, running a very successful leveling/questing/PvP/casual raiding guild named Divine Oath (sucky name, we know! -.- We regretted it the moment we took it!)

Things changed, though, when she discovered she was pregnant! She decided to take a break from playing and wanted to go home to be with her mother. She hadn't been home for three years and missed it. (Hey, she travelled to a foreign country to be with me and I was more than ready to do the same for her.)

Today, we still live close to her wonderful mother in Oregon and we've been happily married for a year! We have a wonderful seven-month old daughter named Elena, who is growing faster than we can keep up.

Thank you, Blizzard Entertainment, for helping me find all that I hold so dear!

(I am Sapphirea/Sapherion/Sapphestis(A) *Darrowmere* Ecthelion(H) *Hyjal*, and I found love in World of Warcraft. My daughter is very thankful!)


Sapphirea - Darrowmere

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mindless Rambling

This is one of those days where just about everything is annoying me more than it really should.  I'm not particularly sure which higher power I pissed off today, but it seems to be holding my happy thoughts hostage.  That bastard.  

In all seriousness, though, I can rightfully explain the reasons for my volatile mood today.

First off, my neck is bothering me.  Over the weekend, probably Saturday night, I must have slept in a rather awkward position or something like that, because it's been aching me ever since.  I can't turn it from side to side very quickly without getting a shot of pain, and when I'm stationary, I'm left with this annoying dull ache.  I'm sure this is having quite a big effect on my general mood.  It's better today than it was yesterday, but the fact that it's been grinding away at my nerves for 3 days now tends to make one a bit grumpy.

More indirectly, lately I've been feeling as though I lack substantial accomplishment and the satisfaction that goes with it.  I blame this on a number of different things.  Primarily, work is pissing me off.  I'm working on a project that is an utter cluster-fuck.  While I appreciate the fact that I'm being relied upon for a very important task, I'm annoyed by a phone call I received this morning from my boss.  Though I'm sure it was not his intent, he basically threatened me to succeed or people would lose their jobs.  No pressure!  

So basically, I'm just not in a very good position there.  I'm quite certain that my team and I will be able to come up with a solution that will work and get us by.  I'm just not sure how much pain I'm going to have to put them through in order to get there.  I know that some people put a lot of pride into their work and are willing to do whatever it takes to succeed.  While I, too, am willing to put in that extra effort to get things done, I do not and never will want my job to be the focal point of my life.  Ever.  I have no desire to work 80 hours a week and weekends in order to succeed.  (And in my opinion, if that is required to succeed, there's something horribly wrong, somewhere.)

Generally, though, these kinds of work-related annoyances don't generally affect my mood all that much, because the other aspects of my life counter-act them.  It just so happens that I'm facing a few unfortunate circumstances at this particular time.  First of all, I usually get a tremendous sense of accomplishment out of playing WoW.  We're currently at the ass-end of an expansion at this time, however, so there's not left to do in-game right at this moment.  To add insult to injury in that particular regard, each time a new phase of the "Invasion" is launched, my server is unable to participate fully because of bugs.  Last time, half of the quests were bugged for a day.  This time, half of the actual invasion is bugged and we have yet been able to queue up for two of the new elemental bosses.  This has yet to be fixed, and the Blizzard FAQ states "we do not have a solution to this problem at this time".  

But enough whining!  It totally goes against my character.  (I blame my neck.  Seriously.)

I got an email today asking me to join the beta for Darkspore.  Naturally, my reaction was "WTF is Darkspore?".  Apparently it's a game based on the ending of Spore.  You travel the universe fighting off evil Spore creatures.  That's...actually kind of interesting.  But I hated Spore.  Pass.  

In other news, I saw an awesome one-liner on the forums today.  "Allow me to dredge up some care from Give-a-Fuck Bay!"  I lol'd.  I'm definitely using that at some time.  I'll file it away in my brain along with "Enough with the tears, Captain Crybucket!".  

Yay, realism!

After more than a month, Blizzard is fixing the flapping wings on the flying mounts.  Can I get a big 'ol "IT'S ABOUT MOTHER FUCKING TIME!"?  


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Damn you, 1985!

What the hell was wrong with us in the 80's?  All those horrible, horrible bands.

Today, I found my horror of 80's hair bands coming back to haunt me a bit.  I had XM radio on as I was driving to work, and I heard a song that sounded pretty good.  So I pressed the trusty 'ol Info button to see the band.  It was Von Bondies.

Immediately, my mind began to twist that into believing it was the love child of Bon Jovi and Blondie.  Thinking of those two having sex was enough to nearly make me drive into a ditch. 


So yeah, Von Bondies makes good music that sounds nothing like Bon Jovi nor Blondie.  But DAMN they chose a horrible name for themselves.

Monday, November 08, 2010


Since we turned our clocks back this weekend, you'd think that I'd be more inclined to wake up earlier for work.  Yeah, right.  Apparently my brain doesn't give a crap what time it is, and decided it was going to remain unconscious for an extra hour this morning.  Oops.  

On a different topic:  gorgonzola.  

I've no idea why that word is in my head, but it is.  And therefore I must share it.  It is kind of a funny word to say, isn't it?

Friday, November 05, 2010

Missed That One

So apparently Vindictus was released about a week ago and I missed it.  Oops.  Looks like it's getting good reviews.  I just haven't been in the mood to try out many new games lately, which sort of makes me sad.  Hopefully that'll change soon.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

It Is My Artform

In a state of random boredness (yes, boredness is now I word because I said so), I was perusing the MMO Champion forums because you can always find quality entertainment there.  The trolls are always good for a laugh, and the trolls pretending to be offended by the trolls are even more entertaining.

The one thread that caught my eye this morning was one regarding a DPS pulling mobs. Specifically, the OP was an enhancement shaman wondering why tanks and healers get angry with him when he decides to pull more mobs while/before the tank and kill them himself.  I really won't get into the details of all the replies he has gotten to the thread.  You can go read it yourself if you'd like.  Here's a link.

What I want to do instead if offer my own thoughts on the subject.  I could do so on the forums, but honestly I don't even think I have an MMO account and I can't be arsed to create one.  (Yes, I said "can't be arsed".  John is slowly assimilating me into his dialect.  Insert resistance is futile joke here.)

Ok, so in a nutshell, here's the question from the OP:  Why do people get angry when a DPS tries to speed up a run by pulling mobs on his own?

And here are my thoughts on the subject, broken down into bullet comments in no particular order.

  • My first comment is a question.  Why is everyone always in such a hurry?  I do not understand why a lot of people deem it necessary to want to finish a dungeon in five minutes flat.  If they are bored with the content, it seems a bit masochistic to queue up for random dungeons then.  If they are merely trying to make some gold quickly, then they are being selfish by affecting the other members of the group in order to speed-up their own personal gain.  If they want to stroke their epeen by showing how big and tough they are, they should go into the dungeon by themselves and solo it.  If they are an impatient person, they should make some friends and run dungeons with them, instead of submitting random strangers to their incessant hyperactivity.  TL;DR:  If they want to pull mobs at THEIR pace, then they should queue up as a tank.
  • The tank is responsible for the pace and control of the dungeon.  This is going to sound elitist to some of you, I'm sure.  But that's the way I perceive Blizzard's design of the game.  I mean, it's even on the front page of their website:  "You will have greater success with a heavily armored class like a Warrior or Paladin to soak up damage and to lead the party through the dungeon."  In case I've confused any of you, the keywords you're looking at there is "lead the party through the dungeon".
  • Tanks are in pretty high demand, because the job is both thankless and (to most) not as fun as DPSing.  It also takes a bit more effort than DPSing.  Therefore, the number of tanks available at any time is directly affected by two kinds of people:  Those who just don't like it and would rather blow things up instead, and those who just don't want to put in the time or effort to do it properly.  There's nothing wrong with that.  One of the reasons why I enjoy tanking so much (aside from the fact that I actually DO enjoy it) is because it's a role that's always in demand and makes me feel like I'm actually doing something worthwhile.  To each his own, as they say.  Getting to my point, however, sometimes you will end up in a situation where a DPS person has queued up as a tank simply because they wanted a quick queue.  In those particular situations, as long as all party members involved agree, I don't see any problems with other DPS pulling mobs -- since it's more than likely the "tank" is either too inexperienced at tanking to be effective or really wasn't interested in doing the job in the first place.  Right now we're in-between expansions and the dungeons are not challenging anyway.  So yeah -- have at it in that case!
  • BUT -- if the tank is actually a new or inexperienced tank who is truly trying to learn what he/she needs to do and improve, then you just need to back the fuck off.  Let the guy/gal learn and do his/her job, because that's why he/she is there.   If you're not sure, trying asking!  If they don't mind, then go crazy.  But if they are trying to learn what they need to do, back off!  Remember that you queued up for a RANDOM DUNGEON. If you randomly get a tank trying to improve their abilities, that's what you were given and you should deal with it.  Taking an extra ten minutes to finish a dungeon isn't going to kill you.
  • Similarly to my previous point, sometimes a well-geared and experienced tank will run random dungeons in order to "stay frosty".  This is certainly the case for me, and is even more true these days as I've been retuning my own abilities with the drop of the latest patch.  Therefore, while I enjoy being challenged by good DPS, the last thing I want is some asshat deliberately pulling groups before I'm ready for them.  Similarly to how DPS gauges how well they're doing by their DPS, and healers by assuring no one dies, I gauge how well I've done in a dungeon by how I've kept threat, how well I protected the rest of the group, and how smooth I made the run for everyone.  If there's an asshat deliberately making me unable to properly do my job, I become frustrated and annoyed.  If I found myself in this type of situation, I'm sorry to say that most likely I would just leave the group, because I know that if I were to ask the offending party to cease what they were doing, my request would be answered with a rude retort anyway.  So, why would I bother, when I can simply re-queue.  I'm a tank, and my queues are instant anyway.  I guess, in those cases, it's win-win, right?  I mean -- I leave, so that over-zealous DPS can tank the instance now that I'm out of the picture.  Right?  Otherwise, they'll be waiting fifteen minutes or so for another tank, and I don't see that happening since the whole point of the over-zealous DPS doing what he's going is to "speed up" the run.  Right?  My logic is flawless.  Though my sarcasm is more powerful.
To wrap things up a bit, I just want to say that 95% of my random dungeon runs are quite enjoyable.  Across two different battlegroups, I haven't run into many annoying people while tanking.  Unfortunately, the only bad experiences I've had have been as a healer, specifically tanks treating me badly.  But this only serves to make me even more proud of the fact that I'm able to excel at the role without developing the ego that seems to sometimes come with it.  My current guild has dubbed me "the calmest dude in the universe".  

Monday, November 01, 2010


I believe I've mentioned here before that I don't often remember my own dreams.  This is probably for the best, because they're usually fucking bizarre.  I just so happen to remember one from last night, and it's a valid case in point.

I was somewhere with my brother.  This is bizarre in and of itself, since I haven't seen him in months.  We were at a store of some kind, though I cannot remember which.  It may have been Wal-Mart or something like that.  When we left this place, we were in a white car that may have been the one my Dad drove several years ago before he got the one he has now.  My brother was driving.

As we were pulling out, this other car, containing a man at the wheel and a woman in the passenger seat, was trying to pull into where we trying to pull out of -- It was a lane of the parking lot, IIRC.  The problem being, this other car was on our side of the road.  My brother said something, and I can't remember exactly what it was, but he then pulled out and just ran right into this other vehicle.  I remember that it was most definitely on purpose.  He quite enjoyed doing it, too.

This then led to a car chase, with the two of us using back roads to lose this other car.  Eventually, we were driving in between railroad tracks.  I specifically remember the gravel being quite large and throwing up a lot of dust as we drove across it.  The quality of the railroad tracks began to degrade, becoming more and more rusted.  Eventually, we came to a large bridge, and there were three sets of railroad tracks going across this bridge.  Two of them were decrepit, and the bridge itself looks dangerous in those parts.  The one set was shiny and new, however, and the bridge looked much safer there.

We discussed which path we should take, theorizing that if we took one of the dangerous looking tracks, we were much less likely to encounter a train since the tracks are obviously not used any longer due to their extreme rust and decay.  Eventually we decided to take the newer tracks, as the bridge was quite rickety otherwise.

The last thing I remember is driving very, very fast in REVERSE as we're trying to outrun an oncoming train that appeared on the newer tracks that we took.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

When I was a kid, say around 10 years old or something like that, there was a cartoon show I enjoyed watching called “The Real Ghostbusters”.  Obviously, this cartoon was based upon the movie that came out in the mid 1980's, and was a tremendous success (spawning a sequel, a very enjoyable video game, and if you believe the rumors, a third movie). 

This is all relevant to the title of this post because I distinctly remember, for two or three years in a row, a “The Real Ghostbusters” marathon would be on TV on Halloween night.  It was a natural choice for a kids marathon, given the whole theme of the cartoon was about ghosts — a staple for Halloween, of course. 

The thing I remember most about watching these marathons when I was a kid was waiting eagerly for the two episodes that features a ghost called Samhain.  I adored this character because his name was actually more than just a silly sounding name given to the villain of a children's television show.  The word “Samhain” is actually where the whole Halloween holiday comes from — it being a Celtic festival originally spelled “Samuin”, and is an Old Irish word that roughly means “Summer's End”. 

I really don't know why, at the time, I knew all of this.  If I remember correctly, I believe the Ghostbusters did actually explain it fully, so that's probably how.  I certainly didn't have the Internet to fall back on back then.

Anyway, in homage to my childhood, I found episodes of The Real Ghostbuster online, and I'm now going to give them a watch. 

Now playing: Mark E. Smith - Winamp *** 4172. Gorillaz - Glitter Freeze Ft. Mark E. Smith

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Matter of Quality

I watched the original “Nightmare on Elm Street” movie yesterday.  I was in the mood for a good horror flick, since Halloween is this weekend and all.  Over the weekend, I had actually watched the new 2010 version. 

After watching the 1984 edition, I began to think about what makes it so much better than the new one.  This isn't the elitist in me saying this either, because I tried really, really hard to enjoy the new one.  And, when viewing the new one without drawing any comparisons to the original, I did quite enjoy it.  The idea is still quite fresh — using dreams as a means to scare you.  No one else has really done it other than Freddy Krueger. 

So why exactly do I enjoy the Wes Craven version so much?  I've come to a few conclusions.  First, I eliminated what WASN'T the problem.

It's not Freddy.  I think Jackie Earl Haley did an exceptional job.  The makeup was different and it worked just fine.  He had the right attitude.  The right laugh.  The right swagger about him.  He made the role his own and he pulled it off. 

It's not that the new film is too dark.  If you watch the original 1984 movie, that is also quite a dark film.  I would say it's the darkest of them all.  Freddy is not the wise-cracking jokester that he became in the later sequels.  He's a monster in that movie, and the film is quite scary.  It has both the psychological scares, and the “jump” scares. 

So, I've come to the conclusion that the problem with the new film is the main cast (aside from Freddy).  In the original film, I truly like the four main characters.  They're VERY likeable.  This is especially the case with Nancy, played by Heather Langenkamp in that movie. 

In the new version, I simply don't like Nancy.  She starts out as quite unexceptional in the beginning of the film.  They try to portray her as being strong, and it just doesn't work.  Later on in the film, they try to make her seem strong willed.  Instead, she seems cold and kind of a bitch. 

Sadly, the only character I actually liked from the new movie was Quentin.  And I truly believe this is the main reason why I think the film is so bad, especially compared to the quality of actors that were in the original. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

PD's 10 Scariest Moments in Gaming

Halloween is almost upon us.  So, I figured it would be a good time to list out what I think are the "10 Scariest Moments in Gaming".

Keep in mind that this is MY list.  I don't play all genres of games, so obviously your favorite might not be on the list.  Also, these are in no particular order.  

1. Friday the 13th (NES) - Generally, NES didn't really have scary games.  That's a Nintendo thing, I think, and the same concept is true even today with the Wii.  This game wasn't really all that scary, but it did get your heart pumping when Jason jumped out of nowhere to attack you (as he often did).  I remember screaming out loud when I was quite low on health at one point from being chased by zombies and ducked into a cabin to find health, only to have Jason in there waiting for me.  I peed a little, too, I think.

2. The Suffering - At the beginning of the game, when you first break out of prison, you're walking alone, in the dark.  You enter a cafeteria, and begin to hear the sound of metal scraping against metal.  Naturally, you expect something to jump out of the shadows at you.  Instead, something drops down from the ceiling right in front of you.  I shat myself.

3.  Doom 3 - entire game.  Specifially?  Turn on hard-core mode.  The zombies will sometimes reanimate.  Nothing matches the jump factor of casually glancing behind you to see a zombie shambling up to chew on your skullflap.

4. Quake 4 - The sequence when you are turned into a Strogg.  It's simply horrifying.

5. Amnesia - This game SEEPS fear.  Even the main menu scares the fucking crap out of me.  It's actually the embodiment of the type of fear that I don't like -- scariness mixed with DESPAIR.  Ew.  GET IT OFF.  *showers*

6.  Half-Life 2 - Ravenholm.  'Nuff said.  I had to go watch a Disney movie after playing that level.

7.  Dead Space - Claustrophobic fear.  Ugh.

8. Fallout 3 - Going into an abandoned Vault for the first time.  More claustrophobic fear, but at a different level from Dead Space.  In Dead Space, you pretty much knew there were monsters around at some point.  Vaults in Fallout 3 *could* be completely empty.  You never knew what you were going to get when you walked into one, and that added to the atmosphere.  Anticipation of something frightening is often more frightening than actually seeing it.

9. Aliens vs. Predator - The entire marine campaign.  Obviously.

10. Bioshock 2 - The first time you see a Big Sister.  Another moment where I nearly shat myself.

Monday, October 25, 2010


I feel like talking, but I've no idea what I want to talk about.  This is due to the fact that I'm in a disgustingly good mood this morning.  You may find that odd, considering it's Monday morning.  Who the fuck enjoys Mondays?  Ah, but this Monday is different, because it's the only day I'll be at work this week.  Oh yes.  Now you understand.  

So where to begin with my ramblings?  Well, first off, I've ordered a bunch of Warcraft books.  I initially planned on purchasing only "The Shattering", but then I realized that the book is new and not yet available in paperback.  I have a hatred for hardcover books, unless it's a book that I don't actually plan on reading.  They are bulky, heavy, and annoying.  If I want the book for the art, fine, hardcover is probably the smarter choice there.  But if it's something I actually want to read, chances are most of the time I will be reading the book in bed.  I don't want the corner of a hardcover digging into my left nipple.  That's just not comfortable at all.  So, I instead bought some of the earlier books to read first, which should keep me quite occupied until the paperback version of The Shattering is released.  

Speaking of hardcover books digging into my right nipple, I cracked open the Sword of Shannara again last night.  It's been a few months since I've done any reading of that monstrosity, and I'm quite surprised I even knew what was going on.  The progress there is slow.  I'm on page 225-ish out of...God knows how many.  Thousands.

Ok, enough about my nipples.  I started playing Fallout: New Vegas over the weekend.  I'm having issues getting into the game.  It's not the game's fault, either, it's just that I'm simply not in the right mindset to play it right now.  The fact that it looks, plays, and feels EXACTLY like Fallout 3 should be enough to tell me it's going to be a great one, given how much in love with Fallout 3 I am/was/will be forever.  But, it's just not what I want to be playing at this time.  I'll get deeper into it later.

Aside from that, I'm looking forward to a week away from work, and more time spent with mai Pookie.  (I'm in so much trouble for using that word...)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mastering Mastery

I'll admit, at first I didn't really consider Mastery as important right now. I assumed that it would come into its own later on when I started obtaining new pieces of gear having that stat on it from the start. So yeah, I pretty much dismissed it at first. But it bothered me, because I started to think it was rather silly for this new stat to exist and it to have no value to me. That seemed wrong.

So, as much as I didn't want to, I began calculating the numbers. When it comes to things like this, I never give a crap about precise calculations, for two reasons:

1. This is a game.
2. I am not a computer and therefore precise calculations are pointless.

Therefore, I always tend to do my calculations BROADLY, so I have an idea of what is correct without the lengthy algorithms and equations that other theorycrafters tend to create. It just hurts my brain less, and gives me the same general information.

So here is my theorycrafting of the Protection Warrior's Mastery Rating.

There are three stats in question. Dodge, Parry, and Mastery. I have other stats on my gear that can be re-forged (Hit and Expertise), but I need those stats to remain as-is to keep myself at the required 8% and 26 numbers, respectively.

Therefore, the main question to ask is: How much Dodge and Parry should I Reforge into Mastery?

To answer this question, we first need to take the following things into consideration:

1. First, we must realize what Mastery does. For a Protection Warrior, each point of Mastery increased Block and Critical Block chance by 1.25%. Mastery at level 80 (without any on your gear) is 8. So, all Protection Warriors gain 10% block and 10% critical block from Mastery at level 80 without any Mastery stats on their gear.

2. The next thing to take into consideration is that Mastery is not susceptible to diminishing returns, while Dodge and Parry are. This suggest that no matter what, Mastery will eventually become more valuable than Dodge or Parry. Obviously, finding the threshold would be important, but not really all that important yet.

3. We must take the "Hold the Line" talent into consideration, as it increases my chance to critically block by 10% for 5 seconds after a successful Parry.

4. We must also take Shield Block into consideration, as it increases my chance to block by 100% for 10 seconds, every 30 seconds talented. This makes half of my Mastery benefits useless for 30% of the time.

I can resolve concerns 3. and 4. right now. Because of Hold the Line, I conclude that it is most beneficial to keep Dodge and Parry nearly equal (since their benefits, DRs, and calculations are nearly the same), but keep Parry *slightly* higher. I also conclude that while Shield Block does make half of Mastery's benefit useless 30% of the time, it makes the critical block portion of it more beneficial, and therefore can be removed from the equation since the two balance each other out.

I didn't want to do a whole bunch of calculations if I didn't have to (and luckily, I didn't have to), so I first decided to see if I could increase my "unhittable" window simply by reforging. If so, then it's a no-brainer. Instead of hurting my brain, I just decided to do the re-forging and look at the numbers. it's just easier that way. So let's do a before and after, shall we?

All right, so when something swings at me, the game rolls 1-100. Before re-forging, I had a 5% chance to be missed, 22% chance to Dodge, 22% chance to Parry, and a 30% change to Block. Therefore:

Game rolls 1-5: Miss
Games rolls 5-27: Dodge
Game rolls 28-49: Parry
Game rolls 50-79: Block
Game rolls again
Game rolls 1-90: Block
Game rolls 91-100: Critical Block
Game rolls 80-100: Full hit

Most satisfactorily, when I reforged my Dodge and Parry equally into the Mastery, keeping Parry slightly higher, was left with a 5% chance to be missed, 19% chance to Dodge, 21% chance to Parry, and 40% chance to Block. So now:

Game rolls 1-5: Miss
Games rolls 5-24: Dodge
Game rolls 25-45: Parry
Game rolls 46-85: Block
Game rolls again
Game rolls 1-60: Block
Game rolls 61-100: Critical Block
Game rolls 86-100: Full hit

And no further calculations are required. This is all gain, and a no-brainer.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Culture Gap

We have a visitor in the office for three days this week.   At its core, I view this as a slight annoyance, since I actually have to dress respectably for three days this week.  Woe is me.  This is doubly annoying due to the fact that I bought several new t-shirts from Old Navy over the weekend, and now I can't even wear them this week.  /whine

On the bright side, however, this visitor is a fellow co-worker who works for our company, from an office in Belgium.  She came from an acquisition of ours called Porthus.  This is her first time in the United States, and we took her out to lunch yesterday at a restaurant called Primanti Brothers.  If you don't live in Pittsburgh, you're not going to know what this place is.  But rest assured, it is just about the most American place we could have taken her, and that was exactly the whole point of its choosing.  The expressions on her face were quite priceless.  It started when we ordered drinks.  Obviously we weren't going to drink alcohol, since it's a work lunch, so I had a Dr. Pepper.  She really didn't know what she was doing, so she simply ordered the same thing I did.  Needless to say, she was quite surprised by how "sweet" the drink was.  "It's like candy..." was the description she gave.

Let's more on to the food.  As I stated, Primanti Brothers is quite American, but also unique.  It's a sandwich shop at heart, and the gimmick they have is that their sandwiches come with coleslaw and fries on the sandwich, along with whatever meat and cheeses you happen to choose.  Quite unhealthy, of course, and thus quite American.  Surprisingly, she found her sandwich to be quite good.  I really was surprised by that, because Europeans simply don't eat like we do.

It's quite interesting to watch this lady interact with us and react to our culture.  I can imagine that when I made my trip to Copenhagen a couple of years ago, the people there were just as amused by my reactions to their culture as I am right now.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I be so stealthy, dat even mai blog posts be invisible!

(PD: /facepalm)

Hallow's End

Y'know, I had my own blog once. I'm not sure why I just can't have that back.

(PD: Because you enjoy talking about yourself WAY too much.)

Hey! Stay out of my posts, 'ya Blog Nazi!

ANYWAY. While I was at the Bank of Dalaran yesterday, I noticed some jack-o-lanterns, which reminded me that Hallow's End has begun. I like Hallow's End. Maybe this year I'll be able to complete my collection of masks. I have so many of them, though I'm not entirely sure why I need this male Tauren one. In any case, the only ones I seem to be missing are both kinds of Troll masks (I like Trolls...they're cuddly), and a female Draenei mask.

While I was riding around trick-or-treating, there were some more earthquakes. I wonder what's causing those? I hope it's not serious. While I am sort of bored these days, now that the fighting against the Lich King in Northrend is finished, I definitely wouldn't want to see another war so soon.

I think I'll go fishing.

Arguing with Myself

You may see some strange posts popping up on here in the next few days.  It seems my WoW characters are not satisfied with how little I talk about them, and really don't like what I have to say when I do.  So, they've demanded that I give them access to my blog, so that they can make posts on their own.

If they start talking about gear score, I'm banning them.  You guys hear me?!

Monday, October 18, 2010

My Thoughts on the 4.0 Tanking Warrior

Patch 4.0 has been out for a week now, and that has given me sufficient time to basically re-learn how to play my character.  Below are some of my thoughts.  For your amusement, the header of each section is a song title.  

Ready to Start
The first most noticeable difference, aside from the sweeping changes to the talent trees, is the fact that rage is now quite different.  I would go sofar as to say that right now, pulling mobs is much more difficult than it was before, due only to the fact that the amount of rage we can generate before pulling a pack of mobs has been severely nerfed.  Bloodrage is gone and replaced by our shouts, but the added 10 rage over a few seconds feature is gone.  So right there, we've got 10 less rage to work with than we had before, and we're not even getting hit by a mob yet.  Also, Bloodrage placed us in combat, which means the rage didn't decay as quickly as it does using the weaker Shout version of it.  The combination of these two things means that unless I'm charging into the pack of mobs, I'm SEVERELY struggling to get the pull started correctly.  I've been thinking about whether or not I think this is something that needs to be adjusted by Blizzard, and I've come to the conclusion that I think it does.

Somebody Like You
One thing that sort of annoyed me about the sweeping changes is how the four tanking classes are now even more similar than they were before.  It's unfortunate, as I feel I've lost just a little bit of what made me unique.  It makes me nostalgic for the times when warriors where the Horde's only tanks.  On the positive side, this means that it's going to be even more difficult for anyone to justify any tanking class as being superior to another.  In my opinion, there simply isn't a superior choice, even before these changes.  Now it's even more apparent that they are all balanced quite nicely.  Sure, you may have a situation here or there where one might have a slight advantage over the other.  But it's not going to be a major advantage and it's not going to happen often.  That's a good thing.

Bleed It Out
While the single target tanking rotation has stayed basically the same, the AoE tanking rotation has completely changed.  To me, this rotation felt clunky as all hell to me at first.  But now that I've worked with it for a while and practiced it, I actually believe it is much better than it was before.  Basically, it goes like this:  Charge in, Rend your target, Thunderclap to spread the Rend, Shockwave now that it's damage is increased by Thunderclap, Cleave, and Thunderclap again.  From this point, you can fill in the waits on cooldowns with single-target attacks.  With this rotation, I'm actually finding that I can hold mostly everything without tab targetting through the mobs to give each one of them attention with single target attacks.  Obviously, if someone is nuking the fuck out of a mob that I'm not targeting, yes, they're going to pull it.  Duh.  But if they are AoEing the pack, usually they will not pull.  That is an improvement from before.  I realize that we're not going to be AoEing everything down in Cataclysm, but this makes me feel better about the whole thing.  Because, what I'm sure we will be doing in Cataclysm, when we're not CCing, is focusing on one target and letting incidental AoE hit the other mobs.  This makes me confident that I will be able to hold onto these mobs through something like that without having to switch off of the main target (and risk losing it because of the DPS focus nuking it down).  And I'd like to say that Thunderclap spreading Rend is my current favorite thing ever.

The Anthem
Shield Block again costing rage sucks.  There, I said it.  All it means is that I'm going to not use it as often as I should, because I need the rage for other things.  It's back to TBC when the button was left unpressed most of the time.  Making a tank decide between taking less damage and having more rage in which to cause threat IS NOT FUN AND INTERESTING.  It's annoying.  Stop it.  There will never be a situation in the game...EVER...where I would ask myself, "Hm, would I like to take less damage here, or would I like to generate more threat?"  Because you know what?  The answer is always both!  And if I really do want to take less damage...I'm going to use Shield Wall!  Amazing, ain't it?  Yeah.  Stop making Shield Block useless.

Overall, my general opinion of things is that while tanking feels a little bit different now, it's still pretty much the same.  Which is good, since I wouldn't be happy if everything I enjoy about it was just gone.  Instead, they've kept the foundation of tanking there and just changed a few things so that it's not completely the same 'ol stuff.  That's probably the best route they could have taken with it.  

Personality Reviews

It's that time of year here at my office when we do our annual performance evaluations.  The title of this post is a bit of a jab at these, because personality ends up factoring into these reviews no matter how hard you try to keep them out.

This is the third year in a row that my company has completely changed the format of the review documents.  I think they do this on purpose to prevent us from copy/pasting last year's data.  Not that we would EVER do that.  *cough*

Dealing with people is something that I've never been good at, though my life's experiences have been shaping that skill slowly as time goes on.  I've always considered myself to be a bit on the naive side, which isn't good when you're managing a group of people.  You will always have someone who tries to manipulate or take advantage of you, and its necessary to be able to see through any such attempts.  This is probably why I've never much cared for a managerial position.

On the positive side of things, it looks like my company will actually be taking the reviews into consideration now when it comes to deciding on salary increases.  Any normal person would probably scratch their head in confusion at such a statement, because, yes, it should be common sense that things should work that way.  Sadly, you don't know my company.

Tally ho.  

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Patch Day

WoW's Patch 4.0 came out today, which begins the first step towards the Cataclysm.  Today saw the implementation of a number of game changing things, the biggest of which being the sweeping talent tree changes.  Abilities have been changed, some have been removed, and there are even some new ones. 

Whenever something like this happens, it always makes you question whether or not you really know what you're doing.  I've never been one to extensively research things online.  I do it sometimes, especially if something is confusing me, but I always make the decisions about my character on my own.  He's MY character.  Someone else is not going to tell me what I'm supposed to do with him. 

So when it came time to spec my talents, I did it my way.  I read each one and I made the choices.  This morning, I went to Elitist Jerks to see what they thought.  I was pleased to see their suggested spec was nearly identical to mine, with only minor differences.  They took the self-healing talent, I took the Impending Victory talent. 

Seems that I still do have some idea as to what I'm doing.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I like this time of year, right when summer ends but before we enter “Tundra Season”, where I curse the world for just how freaking ass cold it has made the mornings and all I want to do is curl up under my nice warm bed covers. 

I'm not sure if I'm just in a really good place in my life right now, or what, but these days I have been feeling quite content.  I attribute most of this to the fact that I've found someone whom I enjoy being with immensely, and whose affections towards me are the same as mine for them.  That's a wonderful feeling, and if I ever had a trace of cynicism in me towards other human beings, this person is slowly melting them away. 

It's not exactly all rose-colored glasses for me, but these feelings I have right now are enough. 

Now playing: Middle Class Rut - New Low

Friday, October 08, 2010

I'm fucking tired and it's my own damned fault.  Seriously, I need someone to come into my house and smack me over the head with something at about 11:30 PM so I can actually get a decent night's sleep once a week.

Monday, October 04, 2010

She Got a Boob Reduction

I was playing the new Tomb Raider game last night.  They have foregone the "Tomb Raider" name, and adopted a more Indiana Jones-like naming convention:  Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. 

The game is good.  The controls have been simplified, and it's got a more arcade-game feel to it.  But these are not bad things, actually.  I find this game to just simply be a lot of fun, and that's really the whole point.  If you like adventure games and puzzles, I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Bunch of Nothing

Over the last couple of weeks, there have been several occasions where I had something interesting to write about here, and I just never got around to doing so.  It actually hasn't been a matter of being too busy, but rather that I've been occupied with other things.  Basically, I've been forgetting to blog. 

So here I am now, and as you could probably guess I've forgotten all the things I've wanted to say.  If you start making "Old Timer's" jokes here, I will beat you with my walker and throw my dentures at you.  Fucking whippersnappers.  Now go get me some jello.

Anyways, I guess I'll just provide an overview of what's been going on in my life recently, and perhaps that will enable me to remember some of the specifics that I wanted to write about. 

To start with, I've canceled my subscription to The Lord of the Rings Online.  I finally lost interest in the utterly boring quests, and bailed.  Let us all mourn the death of my aspiring elf hunter.  Cut down in the prime of his immortal life.  He was 30. 

Next, I've picked up Civilization V.  My relationship with strategy games is rocky.  Here's the problem:  I'm a nester.  I tend to enjoy staying put and making what I've got the best it can be.  This totally goes against the idea of a strategy game, where you basically *have to* expand, invade, and branch out.  That's the whole point of these games, of course.  I struggle with this, and thus I'm not very good at these types of games.  I drive people utterly insane when I play Bioshock 2 in multi-player.  I'll box myself into a room and leave traps of death everywhere.  That's just the kind of player I am. 

Regardless of this, I'm still enjoying Civ5.  I plan on making some videos of me playing the game, simply because I can.  I might even add some of my own commentary to them.  Again, just because I can.

And now, a list of things to do:

1. Make the above mentioned Civ5 videos.
2. Create that Christmas List so I'm not utterly lost when shopping season arrives.
3. Upgrade my EU WoW account that I keep forgetting to upgrade.
4. Learn how to not suck at both Civ5 and SC2.

That'll do.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Question of Interest

Last night, I reached level 30 in Lord of the Rings Online.  I wanted to wait until I got to a respectable level before I actually made a commentary on the gameplay, as I felt that was the only way to be rather fair about it.  Level 30 seems like a good time.

Right.  First, the good.  Middle-Earth has never looked better.  The world looks utterly fantastic.  Each zone makes you feel like this is exactly what Tolkien had in mind when he thought up his world, and at the same time provides something new to look at that doesn't look quite like the place from which you'd just come.  I'm guessing that was pretty damn tricky to pull off, but they did it brilliantly.  The actions of the NPCs are right on the money.  Hobbits act like you would expect -- homely, excitable, and a bit naive.  The same goes for all the other races, and the voice acting is spot on.  The epic quest line is engaging, dripping with lore, tied directly and intricately into the main story-line of the books, and a whole lot of fun.  The combat is pretty standard, with a traits system taking the place of a normal talent tree. 

Now for the bad.  Unfortunately, this will be a bit longer. 

First of all, the quests are boring.  Aside from the epic quest line, they are generic, bland, and put you to sleep.  You'll be sent out to kill X number of wolves, boars, bears, cats, snakes, monsters, ghosts, whatever.  Or you'll be sent out to collect X number of plants, animal parts, treasures, whatever.  There are a few escort quests, some tracking quests, a lot of go-talk-to-this-person quests.  All of which we've seen before and none of which are inherently interesting. 

The character animations are stiff.  There are some aspects that aren't too bad, such as the fluidity of the cloak on your back when you're running.  But for the most part, your character moves like he's got a stick up his ass. 

The design of the gear is horrendous.  I seriously have not found a helmet yet that I want to display.  For about 10 levels, I avoided upgrading my cloak because it had a hood that covered my head.  That looked really cool in and of itself, but was even better because it covered up every God-awful-looking helmet that I've gotten.  (Read:  EVERY helmet I've gotten.) 

Some quests are horribly unbalanced.  Most quests that are one level above me I can complete with relative ease, as it should be.  But every once in a while, there will be mobs that just appear to be WAY more difficult than they should be.  For example, in the Lone-Lands I had to kill these level 29-30 gaunts.  The quest was marked "Level 28 SOLO".  At level 28 I tried to kill these gaunts.  I couldn't.  I tried again at level 29.  Still couldn't.  I tried again at level 30.  I *barely* was able to kill one.  So I was forced to farm the same mob 5 times to get my required number of kills.  The fact that I can't solo a level 28 mob at level 30 is a problem.

So for the bottom line, there are better MMO choices out there.  I feel that the only people who will get a lot of enjoyment out of this game are those who are huge fans of Tolkien's lore, or those who simply need a reason to hate WoW. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

So laggy, I'm moving in reverse.

Yesterday, it became clear that Turbine was utterly unprepared for the ramifications of going free-to-play.  They've been caught with their pants down.  I don't like the idea that perhaps they were simply looking to make more money without preparing their hardware for the added stress on their servers, but sadly that seems to be pretty much the case.  They have a few days to fix their shit and change my mind, however, and hopefully they will do just that. 

So the actual problems:  First of all, there are way too many people playing the game right now.  Do I think this is going to continue?  No, I don't.  I honestly don't believe the game is good enough to sustain this surge of popularity.  I think things will return to normal once the free-to-play shininess is gone.  This added influx of players is also causing major server lag and server crashes.  I ended up getting WTFPWNT in the game twice in a row last night because I was frozen in place by lag while a mob three levels lower than me slowly beat me to death.  I could see the mob, and I could see it owning me, but I couldn't move or attack it.  Brilliant. 

It was frustrating enough that I just closed the game and did something else.  How many people did the same thing, and just won't ever go back?  There's a lot of lost profit right there. 

I did go back, however, and this morning the lag was much better.  That only lasted about 15 minutes though, as they took the server down for maintenance.  At least that's progress — it was an emergency maintenance on the server and not a crash, so that means they are at least trying to rectify these problems.  That's a step in the right direction, and enough to convince me to keep an eye on their progress.

Now playing: Snow Patrol - Run

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I don't have any screenshots of this game because anytime something screenshot-worthy happened, I was too busy screaming like a girl and thus couldn't press the screenshot button.  So you'll just have to use your imagination a bit.

This game is all about setting the proper atmosphere, and that atmosphere is utterly creepy and disturbing.  You start the game as a guy named Daniel who is lying on the floor of an old castle in 1839 England.  You don't remember much.  (Thus the title of the game.  Hint hint.) 

This game is unique at what it does.  You have no weapons, but you can pick up just about anything.  Mostly, you're searching for tinderboxes, and oil for your lantern.  These are needed to provide light, because without light you start to lose your sanity.  This causes you to start shaking, stumbling, and seeing things.  All of which are quite unpleasant. 

You progress through the game by solving puzzles, which so far have ranged from pulling secret books from shelves in a library in order to trigger a mechanism, to knocking apart a false wall, to finding a key in a wine cellar.  These puzzles give you back some of your sanity, which is quite useful. 

So far, all of the moments that have made me jump have been nothing more than strange sounds or odd occurrences.  Doors opening by themselves.  Scraping behind walls.  Loud crashes.  Pianos playing themselves.  Stuff like that. 

Finally, though, near the point where I stopped playing the game (mostly because I was getting too freaked out to continue), I saw some kind of…creature…in the wine cellar.  This is where I realized how the game was doing a very good job at combining all of their strengths to scare the living shit out of me.  For you see, that creature on its own, while creepy, would really not have scared me that much in any normal circumstances.  However, the combined effect of seeing it unexpectedly out of nowhere, at a distance, in a dark cellar, with creepy background music, and having NO WEAPONS with which to defend myself….yeah.  That's just utterly terrifying. 

All in all, if you like that kind of game, you'll enjoy this one. 

Now playing: Snow Patrol - Chasing Cars

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Lord of the Rings Online

Right.  So yeah.  As if I need another MMO in my life.  Not really.  But anyway!

I wouldn't call myself a Blizzard fanboy.  Yes, I play their games, and yes I enjoy their games.  I enjoy them immensely, and I think they make good ones.  But I'm not one of those individuals who gets all butthurt when someone bad mouths them, either.  I have my own beefs with some of the things they do.  (I can't have friends in Europe?  Really?  In this day and age when the world is smaller than ever because of the vastly advanced ways with which we can communicate with people all across the world, you can't make a system that allows me to chat and play with my friends in Europe?  You fail.)

ANYway.  The Lord of the Rings Online went Free-to-Play on Tuesday.  It was a pretty big event.  Servers went down all day long so they could implement the changes and also patch in the new content they've released for us.  And you could tell that people were interested in it.  When I went to log-in around midnight on Tuesday, my server, Brandywine, was full and I had to wait in a queue for about five minutes to get into the game.  That's *never* happened before (in the whole 6 days I've had the game!).  Naturally, part of this could be due to the new content they've released, and not simply because the game has changed their subscription methods.  I mean, the same thing happens to WoW.  Right now the population of WoW players is down pretty low.  When Cataclysm hits, it'll shoot back up again.  That's the natural progression of an MMO.  If you wait too long to give people new things to do, they're going to lose interest and leave. 

But it will be interesting to keep an eye on LOTRO and see just how much of an effect, if any, this new subscription format will make on their subscriber base.  I know that for me, the only reason I finally decided to try out the game was because of this change.  Then again, that simply means that I didn't think the game was good enough to look at before this, so already in my mind it's an inferior game.  

I'll probably save my thoughts about the actual game for a later post when I can also provide a few screenshots.  But the one thing I will mention right now is my love/hate relationship with the graphics engine.  Simply put, the world looks BEAUTIFUL.  There are places in this Middle-Earth that are simply breath-taking.  And these gorgeous landscapes are UTTERLY RUINED by the abhorrent animation renderings on the player characters.  My toon looks like he's walking with a stick shoved so far up his ass that he's poking his tonsils. 

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Long live the king!  That is, until he becomes an undead tyrant bent on the destruction of the world.  Then he must die.  Again.  With fire. 

Anyway, yeah, so I finally got Kingslayer last night.  Kind of ironic, since I've been doing heroic-modes in Icecrown Citadel for a few weeks now.  (7/12 at the moment.)  But anyway, it was good to get that done.  I now feel that I've finished the expansion in full.  Closure is a good thing. 

Monday, September 06, 2010

Mafia 2

This game instills in you a certain feeling, and that feeling is one of not quite being in control of any given situation.  For a game of this nature, that's a double-edged sword.  For the most part, it works out just fine.  Sometimes, though, you're left wishing you had a bit more control over what happens to your character.  In this day and age when sandbox-style, open-ended games are all the craze, it's kind of surprising. 

So in Mafia 2 you play as a Wiseguy in 1945 Empire Bay (which is basically a fancy fake name for New York City).  The thing that appealed to me right away was the painful attention to detail the developers put into ensuring you really felt as though you'd just been dropped into the year 1945, but at the same time made the city feel alive

Mafia2 2010-08-25 23-02-08-80

The thing that stuck with me the most was the radio stations.  All the music matched the period.  And, in the pre-prison 1945 gameplay, the music was often interrupted with news about how the Allies were faring in World War II in Europe. 

They just added so much to this game to add a bit of flavor and life to it.  For all you self-respecting straight males out there, there are Playboy magazines randomly strewn about the city for you to find and collect.  Just like the one Steve here is reading. 

Mafia2 2010-08-25 23-09-00-54

So right.  On to the story.  First things first:  It's too damned short.  For a game that has drawn SO many comparison to the Grand Theft Auto series, this game is about 1/4 the length of a typical GTA game, and a lot less open-ended.  I can understand the limited open-endedness.  If that's how you want to make your game, then fine.  You'll find no side missions here, nor any real reason to go randomly exploring.  You can steal any car and rob any shop, but none of these activities provides a unique feeling, nor gives you anything terribly worthwhile. 

Mafia2 2010-08-25 23-28-16-55

The missions, however, are exuberantly entertaining.  If you go into this game with the knowledge that you'll basically be playing a linear, gangster-based third-person shooter, you will be quite pleased.  This is where the game shines. 

Mafia2 2010-08-25 23-44-23-15

This game borrows every cool thing it can from just about every mobster movie ever made, including but not limited to the Godfather films and Goodfellas. 

Mafia2 2010-08-27 23-37-48-53

There will be an incredible amount of killing and stealing.  Lots.  Lots and lots. 

Mafia2 2010-08-29 11-20-04-12

And, sometimes, your friends are the ones who are killed.

Mafia2 2010-08-29 11-31-22-36

I would have liked a bit more character development, but there was a enough to get me engaged in the main story and actually want to know what happens. 

Bottom line though — if you're looking to do a hell of a lot of shooting, a hell of a lot of stealing, and a hell of a lot of car stealing…and look great while doing it (see below), then this is the game for you.

Mafia2 2010-08-29 16-32-11-78

Now playing: The Temper Trap - Fader

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Ah, September

Today is the first day of September, which reminds us that soon (very soon), Fall will be upon us.  I don't mind Fall, other than the fact that it serves as that unpleasant reminder about Winter not far away.  Screw Winter. 

Monday, August 23, 2010


I've been playing the hell out of Torchlight since Friday night.  Overall, since then, I've clocked a whopping 21 hours into the game according to Steam.  That's a lot.  There are two reasons for this.  The first is that I recently read about Torchlight 2, and the fact that it should be available in the Spring of 2011.  That inspired me to play the first one, especially since the second one mentioned that it will have co-op.  Sweet.  Secondly, I needed something to play until Mafia II comes out on Tuesday.  (And something to fall back on, should Mafia II end up sucking the big one.)

Steam has added 66 achievements to SteamCloud since I last played the game.  I have 26 of them so far.  And yes, I will admit that part of the reason I'm still playing the game is so that I can get more achievements.  I beat the final boss of the game after 8 hours. 

Now playing: Linkin Park - Shadow Of The Day

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Hi. My name is PD and I'm an RTS noob.

Now, you're all supposed to say, “Hi, PD!”. 

In any case, I don't know what you people see in this genre, but I certainly don't see it.  Perhaps  I've just played too many action games, too many RPG games, too many shooters.  I don't know.

I'm not giving up though.  I'm going to play Starcraft 2's single-player campaign and I'm going to play practice matches against the AI until I just suck, instead of UTTERLY SUCK.

Now playing: Foster The People - Pumped Up Kicks

Saturday, August 07, 2010

This is a great quote.

“Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you; you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.” — Bob Marley

Now playing: Coconut Records - Nighttiming

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Oooh, a milestone!

Happy 5th birthday PD Chronicles!  To celebrate the five year anniversary of my blog, below are links to five blog entries that I feel are memorable.  I'm not going to call them "The most memorable" because I'm too fucking lazy to sift through every single blog post I've made in the last five years.  That would be insane.  So you go!  Enjoy the little trip down memory lane.

Pictures from Copenhagen

Performance Review

Public Restroom Facilities

The Midget Story

The 25 Most Shocking Moments in Gaming


Holy smokes.  The last post I wrote for this blog was on October 18, 2017.  Through the little more than  two years since, this blog has be...