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.


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...