Monday, January 31, 2011

A Few Followups

Okay, so after a long weekend in which I had lots of gaming time to spend, I was able to put some serious time into Magicka and Dead Space 2.  I have a few follow up points to add to the two posts I made about each game. 

We all know Magicka's gameplay is immensely enjoyable.  It turns out, playing the Adventure Mode on multi-player is also immensely enjoyable in its own way.  The multi-player Challenge Mode, however, is just fucking brilliant.  I haven't had that much fun since granny got her britches caught in the wheat thresher.

I'm 10 hours into Dead Space 2, and I'm not finished with the game yet.  And these have been some of the highest quality 10 hours I've spent in a game, let me tell you.  I played the game today until my head was about ready to split open.  (From the throbbing headache I got from all the squinting and screaming I was doing.)  I have also figured out why this game makes me as giddy as a Girl Scout in a Teddy Bear factory.  Someone has finally, FINALLY made a shooter that is truly well done by TODAY's standards, but uses the old-school idea of the Lone Hero Battling Through Hell.  So many shooters released today are all about the tactics.  All about squad control.  All about leading a team of NPC nitwits into battle.  And I've learned through my years of experience with shooter games that MY preferred type of shooter is where I'm one badass fighting my way through the levels ALONE.  And that is EXACTLY what this game gives me, and it gives it to me in both quantity and quality.  (Herp.) 

One last point I'd like to bring up:  Isaac Clarke is officially on my list of Most Badassery Badasses. 

Deadspace2 2011-01-29 18-24-23-30

Now playing: 3 Doors Down - Citizen/Soldier

Friday, January 28, 2011

Dead Space 2

All right, now this is more fucking like it! 

I play a wide variety of games.  And by that I mean…all of them.  But the shooter is my old glove.  It's where I started.  Where I came from.  And I get this warm and fuzzy feeling all over when I play them. 

The first computer game I played was Doom.  The second was Quake.  After that I only remember Half-Life, followed by Counter-Strike…and I think you get the idea.  When I started playing Dead Space 2, I was filled with this really weird sense of nostalgia for the year 2004…the year Doom 3 was released.  Because this game is so damned similar to Doom 3 it's scary.  Pun intended. 

Deadspace2 2011-01-27 14-59-52-18

Okay, enough of my fanboying over shooters.  Dead Space 2 is a survival horror shooter, as I mentioned, very similar to Doom 3.  It's in outer space, it's got a lot of sci-fi mumbo jumbo, and there are monsters lurking about in every dark corner, vent, closet, bathroom, locked room, train car, and whatever else a monster could possibly hide in.  Hell, sometimes they just appear out of thin air.  And if you ever seen unbroken glass, you can bet your ass a monster will be breaking through it as soon as you take two steps towards it.  There are also a lot of monsters that enjoy making you think they're already dead, ready to leap up at you as you approach.  I've come to the conclusion that killing you is actually SECOND on the monsters' to-do lists.  The first is making you poo your pants. 

Deadspace2 2011-01-27 15-02-13-70

Before we move on, I just want to say that the above screenshot reminds me of the end of the original Nightmare on Elm Street film, where Nancy's mother dissolves into the bed.  I'm not sure why, but I thought of that when I saw this in-game.  Weird. 

Anyway, the story is as follows:  After whatever the fuck happened in Dead Space, our hero is in this weird hospital on a space station orbiting Saturn.  Shit goes wrong and lots of people start dying.  When Isaac wakes up, there are monsters trying to kill him and there are hospital administrators trying to kill him.  All in all, not a good day, but a typical day for Isaac.  The man's seen more death than the Ghost of Christmas Future. 

After a harrowing half hour of walking around without a weapon of any kind, and another half hour of walking around in a straight jacket, we're finally treated to some bad-assery and given proper gear. 

Deadspace2 2011-01-27 18-44-54-78

I just want to point out that the above screenshot wins the Fucking Cool Ass Screenshot of the Month award. 

Combat in this game is the same as the first game — headshots aren't useful at all.  You want to shoot off arms and legs to kill the monsters.  It was an interesting concept in the first game and it hasn't lost its appeal.

Deadspace2 2011-01-27 18-48-20-61

If I had to make any gripes about the game, one would be the checkpoint save system.  I hate checkpoint saving.  If checkpoint saving were the leader of a small terrorist country, I would fly to it and assassinate the son of a bitch myself.  There is nothing fun about replaying 15 minutes of gameplay that you just played through, only because you didn't know that yellow thing would blow up when you stomped on it.  If developers insist on continuing to use the gods-fucking-awful idea that is checkpoint saving, then put in more checkpoints for the love of Crom. 

Deadspace2 2011-01-27 20-49-06-39

Also, I think I may be experiencing some bugs with the hacking system.  My icon for the hacking module keeps vanishing on me, and when it does it's basically impossible to solve the hacking riddle before the timer runs out. 

Other than that, I really don't have any complaints.  Just one more, and it really has nothing to do with the game as it is now.  EA has announced DLC packages for Dead Space 2, and have explicitly stated they will not be releasing them on the PC.  The DLC will be for the console version of the game only.

Hey EA!  Fuck you very much, and your mother, and the horse you fucked your way in on.  Thanks. 

Deadspace2 2011-01-27 20-52-27-67

The javelin gun is rather fun, btw.  It's a ripoff of every other spike shooting gun that has existed in every shooter since 1998, but it's still fun.  (Let's see:  Crossbow in Half-Life 2, Stake Gun in Painkiller, Rail Gun in Quake, Rail Gun in Red Faction, and on, and on, and on…)

The gravity gu…I mean the grabber gu…I mean the FORCE GUN is conversely not so well done.  It just doesn't have the OOMPH as its counter-parts in other games.  Which really pisses me off, because I should be using it more.  Maybe then I wouldn't be running out of ammo every fucking time the lights go out.  Swearing incessantly at the monsters, contrary to popular belief, does NOT kill them. 

Deadspace2 2011-01-27 20-55-49-16

Right, so I should talk about the graphics.  Simply put, they fucking rock.  The darkness and the blood all over the walls and stuff is really, really what screams Doom 3.  But everything else about the graphics is an improvement from there.  The creatures are more detailed and arguably more horrific than anything you'll see in Doom 3, and in this game you actually get to see your bad-ass self instead of just his arms most of the time (ah the good 'ol days of shooters when things were always first-person). 

Deadspace2 2011-01-27 20-57-19-00

The game does get a little be repetitious when it comes to the “monster triggers”.  Pick up an item, kill monster.  Open a door, kill monster.  Dead monster on the ground is never dead.  Unbroken glass in the window will get shattered.  Closed vent will blow open.  It's all too predictable.  But, of course, there's really only so many ways you can have a monster jump out at you, isn't there?  One time I'd like to see one just tear its way out of my chest like an Alien facehugger.  That'd surprise the shit out of me for sure. 

There was one unique encounter I had so far that I should mention.  I really liked this:  I was on this train, and of course it crashed.  I mean, that's just to be expected.  If there is a moving vehicle of any kind in a game, you can bet your ass it's going to crash and blowup. 

What was interesting about this, though, is that I fell out of the train and my leg caught on something.  I was left there, dangling UPSIDE DOWN.  And then the monsters came.  That was exhilarating. 

Deadspace2 2011-01-27 21-04-38-65

All in all, this game is an exceptional example of the survival horror shooter game.  One of the best among the best.  It has me leaned forward in my seat, sometimes swearing loudly at the screen, occasionally just screaming, and many times yelling, “I'm out of fucking bullets!  Again!” 

Now playing: Toshiro Masuda - Orochimaru ~Fight~

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Whenever I see a game on Steam for $9.99, it always makes me a bit suspicious.  “You get what you pay for” is still a very true statement, and is also true in this case…but not as much as you might think.

Magicka is an RPG game that parodies all RPG games that came before it.  Every fantasy-based idea and concept that you've ever seen will be jabbed at here, and each one is charming and will make you, at the very least, giggle a bit.  For example:  I happened to find a secret area containing a sword in a stone.  Upon looting it, the game gave me an achievement and stated I just looted Excalibur.  I looked at my character, and he was now wielding the sword…complete with the stone still stuck to it.  There are endless more of these humorous moments scattered across every pixel of this game, and they give the whole package an attitude and flavor that makes it very enjoyable to experience.  Another really funny moment happened when I stumbled upon a woman in the game with a big exclamation point over her head.  Naturally, I thought, “Oh, a questgiver!”  Upon speaking to her, she proceeded to thank me for killing the goblins I had encountered on my way there, and that she would give me some coin, except that she can't because the game doesn't have an inventory.  She then commented on the fact that she wishes she could get rid of the big exclamation point that's been following her around. 

Obviously, this isn't a game with a deep and engaging storyline.  But nevertheless, it's surprisingly entertaining.

Now for the combat.  Where the story and content of the game left me amused and chuckling, the combat left me intrigued, challenged, sometimes mildly annoyed, but mostly entertained.  The idea of it is that you have base powers that you then combine into any myriad of combinations to make spells.  Fire + Earth = Fireball for example.  The challenge comes in when you learn that every base has an opposite.  (You can't use fire and water together, for example.)  And, some mobs are impervious to certain types of magic.  This means you're left with only a few seconds when you encounter a creature to figure this out and decide what kind of spell you're going to create to defeat it, preferably before it eats you out of your pretty robes. 

Put both of these together, and you're left with quite an enjoyable indie game that is well worth the $10 to get it.  The game has some problems as it stands now, and I've noticed it's been patched every day since I've purchased it.  I think a lot of these problems lie in the multi-player aspect of it, and they're working to correct these quickly.  If they do, I think they'll have a really solid game on their hands.  Add a working multi-player aspect to this game, and you've got something that is quite the deal for the price, and surprisingly enjoyable for how simple it is. 

Below are a few screenshots I've taken, with comments below each one.  Enjoy!

Magicka 2011-01-27 12-56-37-17
When you start the game, you're introduced to Vlad.  Who continuously tells you he's not a vampire.  It seems he has everyone else convinced as well. 

Magicka 2011-01-27 13-00-39-59
The spell animations are very good and fun to look at.  The sounds are decent as well, and give the spells the needed OOMPH required to make you feel like a badass.

Magicka 2011-01-27 13-10-12-54
Your head my explode from all the parodies, especially if you have a vast knowledge of the Fantasy RPG genre.

Magicka 2011-01-27 13-12-12-59
I wield the sword in the stone.  With the stone attached. 

Magicka 2011-01-27 13-19-19-41
Pew pew!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sab's Simple Strats: Chimaeron

What the hell is it?
A big fucking hydra in Blackwing Descent

How's it work?
It's a fight about self-control on the part of the healers, and guaranteed death on the part of the tanks.

What the hell does it do?

  • Caustic Slime.  Huge ass damage to everyone within 6 yards.  Split.
  • Massacre.  Huge ass damage to everyone.
  • Feud.  The three heads of the hydra fight with each other.
  • Double Attack.  Chimaeron hits the tank twice with one swing.
  • Break.  Stacking damage and healing debuff on the tank.
  • Mortality.  Immune to taunt and reduces healing taken by raid by 99%.
What the hell do I do?

The fight is two phases.  100% to 20% health is Phase 1.  If I have to explain when Phase 2 is, then angry horse is angry.

Start the fight by talking to Finkle.  That's not optional.

DPS to 20%.  DPS like hell at 20%.  Tanks will eventually die from no healing.  DPS has to get creative to survive until the boss is dead.  Use defensive cooldowns and kite.

Everyone:  While Finkle's Mixture is active, everyone should stay spread out.  The person hit by Caustic Slime will be reduced to 1 health.  While Finkle's Mixture is inactive, everyone except the two tanks should stack up to split the damage of Caustic Slime.

DPS:  Nothing too special.  You may have to do some fancy pants shit if you get aggro at the end of the fight.

Healers:  There is no point in healing anyone except the current tank to over 10,000 health.  Use self-control. There is no point in healing ANYONE during Phase 2.  DPS instead.

Tanks:  Swap at 3 stacks of Break.  Die in Phase 2.  

Sab's Simple Strats: Atramedes

What the hell is it?
A blind dragon in Blackwing Descent.

How's it work?
The fight is based on a sound bar mechanic.  Basically, if you are bad and get hit by too many avoidable things, the boss will kill you himself for being a dumbass.

What the hell does it do?

  • Sonic Breath.  Ground phase.  Cast at the player with the highest sound.  Does damage and adds sound.  Follows the player.  Moves faster depending on how much sound the player has.
  • Searing Flame.  Ground phase.  Must be interrupted with the gongs.
  • Modulation.  Ground phase.  Unavoidable raid-wide AoE.
  • Sonar Pulse.  Ground phase.  Discs of sound energy that move around the room.  Avoidable.
  • Roaring Flame Breath.  Air phase.  Interrupt with the gongs.
  • Sonar Bomb.  Air phase.  Bomb hits target on the ground.  Avoidable.
  • Sonic Fireball.  Air phase.  Avoidable.
  • Roaring Flames.  Air phase.  Flame patches on the ground.  Avoidable.
  • Hitting a gong afflicts Atramedes with Vertigo.  Interrupts him and increases damage taken by 50% for 5 seconds.
What the hell do I do?

Everyone:  Limit the amount of sound you "make" as much as possible by avoiding all avoidable damage.

Ranged DPS:  You will probably have the most sound, and therefore will be most likely chosen by Atramedes to receive Sonic Breath and Roaring Flame Breath.  When chosen for Sonic Breath, it is your job to kite it away from the rest of the raid.  When chosen for Roaring Flame Breath, it will probably be your job to not only kite it away from the raid, but also run towards and gong and interrupt it.  Make sure you still DPS Atramedes during the air phase while avoiding all the shit.  If you have super speed increasing abilities, you may be chosen to interrupt the Roaring Flame Breath during the air phase.

Melee DPS:  You will not be able to DPS Atramedes during the air phase, so focus on avoiding all the shit.

Healers:  Keep a close eye on the targets of Sonic Breath and Roaring Flame Breath.

Tank:  Tank the boss.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Maze

So I finally had a rather neat idea for something to build in Minecraft.  Sure, I've had ideas of stuff to build before — such as the underwater house that John and I constructed one evening — but I wanted to make something for him that was rather unique.  And, admittedly, something that would freak him the hell out. 

Cutscene to…THE MAZE. 

Javaw 2011-01-25 00-45-45-10

I honestly don't know how many blocks long it is.  Basically, I just cleared land until my diamond shovel broke and then I made a square.  From that, I created one path through it (not straight of course), which would serve as the ONLY solution to the maze.  From that, I created MANY different diverging paths from that one solution, all of which are dead ends. 

I had two setbacks in the form of Creepers.  Two of the little bastards got the jump on me while I was laying my sandstone and blew big holes in it.  That sucked. 

Javaw 2011-01-25 00-46-09-90

But, finally, it was done.  The interesting part was that the last thing I finished was the ceiling.  Which means that I have no idea what kind of creatures managed to fall inside its walls before I sealed it up.  Not to mention how many other nasty things have spawned in the dark hallways AFTER I sealed it up. 

Javaw 2011-01-25 00-46-21-02

Obviously, I did my job very well.  It only took John about a minute and 45 seconds to utterly freak out and just exit the game.    

Javaw 2011-01-25 00-46-32-57

I think next time, I'll create a smaller maze without zombies…but with TRAPS. 

Now playing: Linkin Park - Burning In The Skies

Monday, January 24, 2011


I was moving some things around on my PC tonight, and I happened to take a look at the icons I have on my desktop.  That's when I saw Vindictus, which I'd utterly forgotten about.  Fortunately, I happened to be in the right mood to try something new, so I loaded it up. 

Currently, there are only three different “classes” to choose from when creating a new character.  Two of them are female, the other a male.  I chose the male, and was told it was a warrior-type dual-wielding character.  Fine.  Great.  Let's go. 

I played through the prologue when I first downloaded the game back in October, and I was utterly confused as to what the hell was going on.  It wasn't much better the second time around, either, except for the fact that I knew what strange shit was going to happen.  It still didn't make any sense to me, though.  So basically, you're a rookie soldier in this regiment of mercenaries.  There's a huge-ass spider climbing the bell tower, and you're deployed to go handle it.  (I couldn't make this shit up if I tried.) 

Since the spider is fucking huge, and it's climbing a huge tower all King Kong style, it would be incredibly easy to just shoot the damned thing down.  At first, that looked to be exactly what was going to happen, until a young woman runs up and stands in front of the ballistae.  Why this girl wants to save a big giant spider, I have no idea.  But hey, I'll go with it. 

So instead of easily shooting the thing off the tower with giant spears, we're going to go up and talk to it.  Really?  Okay, fine.  Maybe I'll still get to kill something…

We enter the bell tower with a whole regiment of soldiers.  Then, all of them are killed/wounded by arrows fired by evil gnolls.  All of them except me and this girl, of course.  How cliché…

In any case, I then have to battle my way up to the top of the tower.  The combat was pretty basic — left mouse button was my primary attack, and the right mouse button was my secondary attack.  Space bar to dodge.  A couple of things stood out to me right away that I really liked.  First of all, it's the animations on the fighting.  This game uses the Source engine, and takes full advantage of the amazing physics that the engine is capable of displaying.  I was smashing wooden beams and barrels and you name it as I fought the gnolls.  Splinters of wood flew everywhere, and their bodies went flying as well.  Also, I was able to pick up debris off the floor and fling it at enemies as well, which was incredibly entertaining.  Also, it appears that when you pick up something, like say a wooden beam, you can both primary and secondary attack with it as long as you want, or you can hurl it at someone in the distance.  Really cool stuff. 

Ok, so I get to the top of the tower, and the girl starts talking to the big mean spider.  Then, a rune begins to glow on its head, and it goes flipping berserk.  Uh-oh.  Guess who had to fight it?  Oh yeah. 

Vindictus 2011-01-23 22-25-50-39

Since it was a prologue, of course the fight was simple.  There were times you have to dodge, but it didn't really matter if you did or not.  You were never really in any danger.  The fight was rather fast paced, but it was repetitive.  Primary, Secondary, Dodge.  Repeat.  Still, the graphics were lovely, the sound was great, and it was the prologue.  I wanted to see more. 

After the prologue, I was taken to the character customization screen.  Okay.  Now we're getting somewhere…OH GOD WHY DO I LOOK LIKE SOMETHING OUT OF AN ANIME?!

Vindictus 2011-01-23 22-37-19-79

No, really, WTF is this shit?  Devil May Cry meets The Shire?  The game is made in Korea, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that it looks like an anime.  But I didn't even know the Source engine was CAPABLE of making things that looked like anime.  Shows what I know.  Right.  Anyway. 

After I was finished creating my character (and cringing at the fact that no matter what I did, he looked like Yokai Kurama) and was actually dropped into the persistent world, I began to see the parts of the game that remind you that the game is free.  For example, you don't just walk up to NPCs in the game to get your quests.  Instead, you're taken to a semi-animated screen with a portrait of the NPCs in the corner. 

Vindictus 2011-01-23 22-38-58-31

Now, I will admit that this kind of grew on me after the shock of “OMFG where are the NPCs!?” wore off.  But I felt it best to remind everyone that you're not going to get the ROBUSTNESS of a full-fledged, big budget MMO.  And look at the outfit on that NPC I'm talking to there.  It looks like she could whip out a lightsaber at any moment.  Use the force, semi-anime looking redhead!

Also, now that I've showed you this screenshot, it would be a good time to go over the UI.  The controls are a little ftwangy when compared to other games.  Yes, ftwangy.  I made that word up.  For this very purpose.  It means “a bit weird but hey it works”.

So basically, your mouse moves your camera direction.  That really threw me off at first, but I got used to it.  If you want to switch it so you actually have a mouse pointer and can click on your screen, you just press the ESC key.  (And press the ESC key again to go back to “camera mode”.)  The ALT key does something too, but I haven't figured out what yet.  I've been able to access everything that I need with the ESC key. 

Movement is standard WASD stuff, with other keys around those providing other controls.  E for pickup.  Space for dodge.  And my personal favorite:  R for “kick them while they're down”.  Yes, there's a special key for that.  I kid you not.  And as far as I can tell, there's no jumping. 

Okay, so I picked up my first quest!  I have to go to the MERCENARY TRAINING GROUNDS.  Of course I do.  But hey, at least I don't have to go kill 10 wolves or bears or boars or whatever.  That's a bonus, I suppose. 

So, the Mercenary Training Grounds is an instance, which I accessed by going to the docks and taking a boat there.  As I was doing this, I was out in the persistent game world for the first time.  And I was thus treated to General Chat! 


I could say something witty here about that, but it would just cheapen the moment.  So I'll just let that stand on its own merits. 

Okay, so I'll admit, as I was going through this training exercise with my anime character, I was compelled to yell “Kamehameha!”, “Bankai!”, “Rasengan!”, and every other anime catchphrase ever uttered by a prepubescent martial arts hero.  But enough about that.

Vindictus 2011-01-23 22-43-48-36

There's an interesting twist to the combat — you can increase the power of your secondary attack depending on how many times you've chained your primary attack.  Pretty cool stuff.  I also like the little tutorial image in the lower left corner that they give you, and yes, that image is animated in-game.

Vindictus 2011-01-23 22-51-11-60

This is just me delivering the killing blow to the last boss of the training exercise.  I thought it looked neat.  Though I question the realistic quality of blood spewing from a tree.  And, the the glowing pink stuff is gold falling from the corpse.  Don't ask.  I don't even know.

Vindictus 2011-01-23 22-51-34-55

This is how you loot.  When you kill something, a black ooze escapes the mob and wriggles around on the ground.  You walk over to it, and yank it apart.  I don't even know what to say about that.  It's so BIZARRE.

Vindictus 2011-01-23 22-52-07-66

The game is INCREDIBLY flashy.  I nearly went into an epileptic fit when I hit level 2.  I had lights going off and sounds going off and things flashing in my eyes and I nearly went blind.  The only thing noisier was the sounds my mother was making as she was watching the Steelers game.  (They won, btw, and are going to the Super Bowl.  Yay.)

Vindictus 2011-01-23 22-54-15-47

This is me accepting a quest.  The NPC giving it to me is, of course, in the lower left hand corner of the screen.  The middle image is just a flavor image regarding the quest.  The important stuff is in the upper right.  Quests are called “Battles” in this game.  The name of the mission is listed there, with the difficulty, location, and reward.  Pretty basic stuff here.  Nothing out of the ordinary. 

Vindictus 2011-01-23 22-54-58-96

Just when my eyes recovered from the LEVEL UP RAVE that the game blinded me with…I then turned in a quest.  OH DEAR GOD MY EYES.  Aside from that, however, in this shot you can see the inventory screen in the upper right.  Also rather basic, though there's one thing you can notice there that really, really horrified me beyond belief.  See the items with an “E” in their upper left corner?  That means they are “equipped”.  Yup, your gear stays in your bags even though you're wearing it.  WHAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN. 

Minus 100 internets.

Also, I was rather annoyed by the fact that the quest reward item for this was one level higher than me.  Really?  I could understand if it was a drop I got out in the world.  But it's the quest reward!  If I'm high enough to do the quest, how am I not high enough to wear the reward? 

Minus 50 internets. 

Vindictus 2011-01-23 22-56-13-62

And the last shot I have for you is a similar shot, but here you get a really good view of the room I'm in.  It's not really a room, though, more so just a backdrop for you to look at while going through your character screens.  It is slightly animated, however, and I actually found it quite nice to look at.  Also, I'm mousing-over a piece of gear, so you can see the tooltip.  Rather typical here — It tells you such basic things as proficiency, vendor price, weight, stats, durability, etc.  Classic MMORPG stuff. 

Ok, so my final thoughts.  For a game that is free, I'm very impressed with the quality.  The prologue had great cinematography, it had voice acting, etc.  There's a lot of detail in the world, and the graphics look fantastic.  The combat is fun, albeit it was getting a bit repetitive for me when I stopped playing a little bit ago.  However, I'm also in the process of training a new skill, so I'm guessing that will add more and more variety to the game for players, and alleviate some of the repetition of just pressing two mouse buttons all the time. 

On the other hand, DEAR GOD EVERYONE LOOKS LIKE THEY'RE FROM “INSERT GENERIC ANIME SHOW HERE”!  Also, your class is gender dependent…say what? 

Bottom line, this thing looks like the Poor Man's MMORPG.  If you don't want to pay the 15 bucks a month for WoW, then this game would probably entertain you at the very least.  While I was walking around town, I saw a level 37 player, and his gear looked fantastic.  It made me want to keep going and see how cool I could get my character to look.  I probably won't, but the desire was there and I can see other people having fun with it. 

That said, if you're bored and looking for something different to try for a while, I'd recommend this game.  You're not going to lose a thing, since it's free.  But, if you're happy with your current MMO, there's no reason to try this one.  There's nothing new or better here.

Now playing: Muse - Resistance

Friday, January 21, 2011

Working from Home

We had quite a bit of snow last night, coupled with freezing rain before it actually dropped to a temperature cold enough to snow.  This lasted until around 6:00 AM this morning, so I decided just not even attempt to go into work.  Remote access, for the win. 

In other news, I got a lovely letter in the mail today.  That's sarcasm.  It was from the tax collector telling me I owe $991.  Gee thanks.  I hate the government, especially when they penalize me with late fees for something I had no idea was due.  Because THEY failed to tell me. 

Ah well.  Nothing I can do but pay it and kindly tell them to please, in the future, send me the notices so I know when it's due.  As the old adage goes, “You can't fight city hall.”

Now playing: Three Days Grace - I Hate Everything About You

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Supermarket Story

It's been a while since I've had a good supermarket story to tell.  Well, the wait is over!

So yeah, I went to the supermarket over lunch today to get a few things.  I'm standing in line to check-out, and there's a woman in front of me with perhaps 20 items.  She brought her own shopping bags with her -- cloth ones that she may or may not have made herself.  She had given the cashier three of them.

The cashier proceeded to bag the lady's items in these three cloth bags.  After the three bags were full, the cashier then began putting the few remaining items into a plastic bag.  This caused the lady to flip out and begin waving her arms in a manner I can compare only with an epileptic fit.  She started mumbling something about killing the environment while putting a hand over her mouth in utter shock and dismay.  Then, she began wildly sifting through her goods for another cloth bag, which she found and literally threw at the cashier while frantically telling her to use that instead.

As the lady was slowly wheeling her cart of goods away, still within earshot of me, I placed my few items on the counter and told the cashier, "Hello.  I would like plastic bags.  Please place each item in its own bag so they don't touch each other.  Thanks."

The cashier first looked at me like I had 9 heads, and then started laughing hysterically.  The lady slowly wheeling away turned and looked at me with a look that can only be described as the perfect mixture of horror, shock, and murderous intent.

Sometimes, I really enjoy myself way too much.

Sab's Simple Strats: Maloriak

What the hell is it?
An ugly creature in Blackwing Descent who is very bad at science.

How's it work?
The fight has two phases.  100% to 25% health, and then 25% to 0% health.  Uniquely, you have a limited amount of time to get him to that 25% mark.  During Phase 1, there are 3 mini-phases, depending on which color vial he throws into the cauldron.  Red, Blue, and Green.  Green is always third and sixth.  Red and Blue are randomized.  You will never have the same color twice in a row.

What the hell does it do?

  • Arcane Storm.  Channeled.  Must be interrupted every time.
  • Release Aberrations.  Releases 3 adds each time.  Can be interrupted.
  • Remedy.  Self buff that heals.  Can be dispelled/stolen.
  • Consuming Flames.  Red vial ability.  Debuff on 1 random person.  Deals fire damage per second for 10 seconds.  Any additional magic damage taken by the player while this debuff is active will increase the damage of the ticks by 50%.
  • Scorching Blast.  Red vial ability.  Frontal fire cone.  Damage split between the players.  
  • Biting Chill.  Blue vial ability.  Summons a ring of frost around a player.
  • Flash Freeze.  Blue vial ability.  Does damage and encases a player in a block of ice.  Must be destroyed.  Blows up upon destruction.  
  • Debilitation Slime.  Green vial ability.  Increases damage taken by 100% for everyone in the room for 15 seconds.  Also suppresses Growth Catalyst.
  • Release All.  Phase 2 ability.  Releases all remaining adds plus two Prime Subjects.  
  • Magma Jets.  Phase 2 ability.  Release fire fissures on the ground.  Do damage and leave a damaging flame patch.  
  • Absolute Zero.  Phase 2 ability.  Ice sphere.  If it gets within 6 yards of a player, it will explode.  
  • Acid Nova.  Deals nature damage to all players for 10 seconds.  
Additionally, the Aberrations have one ability.

  • Growth Catalyst.  Increases nearby allies damage dealt by 20%.  Reduces damage taken by 20%.  10 yards.

Finally, the Prime Subjects have two abilities.

  • Growth Catalyst.  Same as above.
  • Fixate.  Fixates on a player.  Forever.
That's a lot of shit.  What the hell do I do?

In it's simplest form, this fight totally revolves around the adds.  A certain number of his casts need to be interrupted, and a certain amount of adds need to spawn and then killed during the Green Vial Phase.  If you do this correctly, the fight is relatively easy.

  1. Ensure you have a slowing effect on the boss.  Slow, Curse of Exhaustion, Mind Numbing Poison, whatever.  Maloriak's casting speed needs to be slowed down
  2. Assign 1 player to interrupt every Arcane Storm.
  3. Assign 1 player to interrupt the Release Aberration cast, using this schedule.  This will ensure you have 9 adds up each time, for a total of 18 (which is the required number).  If you do not kill 18 adds before Phase 2 hits, Maloriak will release the remainder when he hits 25% health and they will be alive for Phase 2, which will result in a raid wipe since you will have no way to kill them.
    1. Let it cast.  Sometimes Maloriak will interrupt it himself when the Arcane Storm timer overlaps with it.  
    2. If Maloriak interrupted his first cast, let this one cast.  Otherwise, interrupt it.
    3. Interrupt.
    4. Let it go.
    5. Let it go.
  4. Spell Steal or Dispel Remedy from the boss.
  5. During the Red Vial Phase, everyone must stack up on the MT when Scorching Blast is fired.  The only players who do not stand in Scorching Blast are the OT (when he has adds), and the person with Consuming Flames (since they have a debuff that will be increased by the Scorching Blast).
  6. Spread out during the Blue Vial Phase.  
Main Tank:  Tank Maloriak in the center of the room.

Off-Tank:  Pick up the aberrations.  Keep them away from the boss.  Pick up the Prime Subjects at the start of Phase 2 as quickly as possible, before they fixate on another raid member.

Healers:  Damage on the MT is moderate.  Damage on the OT will be heavy when all adds are up.  During the Red Vial Phase, you will have a lot of raid damage to heal.  During the Blue Vial Phase, be quick on healing the target of Flash Freeze.

DPS:  Quickly break other players out of Flash Freeze.  AoE nuke down the adds as soon as Maloriak jumps to them and starts the Green Vial Phase.  You only have 15 seconds to wipe them all out.  Ignore the Prime Subjects in Phase 2 and focus on killing Maloriak.  Do not push Maloriak to 25% before the second Green Vial Phase occurs, or that will result in a raid wipe.

Optional Note:  If you find yourself ahead of the DPS curve, ranged DPS can kill the first set of aberrations that spawn each time to reduce the incoming damage to the OT.  This means the OT will be tanking 6 adds instead of 9.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sab's Simple Strats: Magmaw

What the hell is it?
A really big worm in Blackwing Descent.  

How's it work?
Two phases.  Normal phase where he's attacking the tank and using abilities.  Burn phase where he's stunned and taking 100% increased damage.

What the hell does it do?

  • Pillar of Flame.  Big fire ball.  Fire ball hurts.  Does and AoE damage and knockback after a few seconds, and also spawns Lava Parasites.
  • Ignition.  Half the room's floor becomes covered in fire.  Magmaw will also slump down on this area, doing massive damage to anyone there.
  • Mangle.  Magmaw eats the tank.
  • Sweltering Armor.  50% armor reduction on the eaten tank after he's spit out.
  • Molten Tantrum.  Raid wiping ability if no one is within melee range of Magmaw.
  • Infectious Vomit.  Caused if someone gets a Lava Parasite, which will happen if a player gets within 8 yards of one.  It spawns more parasites.  They reproduce like bunnies.
What the hell do I do?

Everyone:  Stay away from the Lava Parasites.  Avoid the half of the room that is affected by Ignition.  Run away from the Pillar of Flame.

Tanks:  Turn Magmaw so that the melee can stay in a group and be relatively behind the boss opposite from you.  Use defensive cooldowns when he eats you.

All Ranged Players:  Stay in a tight group some distance away from Magmaw. Move together to make getting away from the Pillar of Flame easier.

Healers:  Expect extra healing to be necessary on the tank during the Mangle. Try to regenerate mana during the Burn phases.  You'll need it.

Melee DPS:  Do not try to kill the Lava Parasites.  Use DPS cooldowns during the Burn phases.  Two of you will be assigned to chain Magmaw to initiate the Burn phase.  You click on Magmaw's head, which acts like a vehicle.  Use the chain ability and target the large spike.  Both of you must do it near the same time, or one chain will break.  Do this as quickly as you possibly can.  The longer you take, the longer the tank will be taking Mangle damage, which is immense.

Ranged DPS:  Slow, kite, and kill the Lava Parasites.  Use DPS cooldowns during the Burn phases.  

Sab’s Simple Strats: The Omnotron Defense System

What the hell is it?
A council encounter within Blackwing descent consisting of 4 stone constructs of Dwarven design.

How’s it work?
First Construct Activates à Second Construct Activates, First Construct Shields à Third Construct Activates, First Construct Goes Inactive, Second Construct Shields à Fourth Construct Activates, First Construct Still Inactive, Second Construct Goes Inactive, Third Construct Shields. 

Repeat.  Laser Beam indicates which construct is next.  Transition occurs when the most recently activated construct’s energy bar reaches 0.

What the hell do they do?

·         Power Generator.  Whirlpool.  Keep boss out of it, positioned so that melee DPS can stand in it and DPS the boss.
·         Arcane Annihilator.  Big damage spell.  Interruptible. 
·         Power Conversion.  Transition shield.  Don’t attack him when it’s active.

·         Lightning Conductor.  “Living Bomb” type mechanic.  Person who gets it needs to run away from the raid.  Tank can get it.  Raid runs away from him then.
·         Electrical Discharge.  Unavoidable AoE.  Stay spread out to reduce how many people are hit by it.
·         Unstable Shield.  Transition shield.  Don’t attack him when it’s active.

·         Incineration Security Measure.  Fire AoE.  Don’t move the boss. 
·         Acquiring Target.  Targets a raid member with a red laser, with a big attack to follow.  Don’t stand in the path of the beam.
·         Barrier.  Transition shield.  Don’t attack him when it’s active. 

·         Poison Cloud.  Increases damage taken by 50%.  Don’t stand in it.  Put the boss in it.  If tanking Toxitron, be mindful of where the raid is, as you don’t want the boss too close to them due to the next ability.
·         Poison Protocol.  Slow moving slime adds.  Untauntable.  Target a random person and moves towards them, blowing up and leaving a poison patch on the ground if they reach the target.  Must be kited and killed. 
·         Poison Soaked Shell.  Transition shield.  Don’t attack him when it’s active.  Well okay, attack him a little bit. 

What the hell do I do?
Tank:  Requires two.  Since only two constructs are active at a time, you only need to tank one of them.  If there’s a whirlpool, get the boss out of it.  If Arcane Annihilator is being cast, interrupt it.  If your boss shields, stop hitting it.  If Magmatron is AoEing, don’t move him.  If there’s a big red laser, don’t stand in its path.  If there’s a poison cloud, put the boss in it.  But, make sure there’s not a whirlpool hiding under the poison, and if you have Toxitron, make sure you’re not moving the boss too close to other raid members.

Healers:  Stand in a whirlpool if you’re running low on mana.  Spread out when Electron or Magmatron is active.  If they are both active at the same time, be prepared to heal a lot until one of them deactivates.  Get away from everyone if you get Lightning Conductor.  Spam heal/shield/HoT the target of the big red laser.  Don’t stand in the path of the big red laser.  Don’t stand in the poison clouds.  Kite the poison adds if they target you.

DPS:  Stay spread out, especially when Electron or Magmatron is active.  Stand in a whirlpool for a nice damage boost.  Get away from everyone if you get Lightning Conductor.  If you have defensive cooldowns, use them if you are targeted by the big red laser.  Do not stand in the path of the big red laser.  Don’t stand in the poison clouds.  Kite the poison adds if they target you and nuke them down as fast as you can.  Do not DPS a boss that has an active shield.  


I need something to do.  My projects here are at a standstill, and there's nothing I hate more than being idle.  Okay, that's a lie.  I do like being idle sometimes.  But only when my bed is within reach so I can lay on it!  Last time I looked, I didn't have a bed at work.

Nor will I ever mention that fact, because they'd probably give me one just in an attempt to keep me here longer every day.

I have an idea.  TO THE LABORATORY!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dirty Harry

I actually don't remember if I have ever watched the original Dirty Harry in its entirety.  If I did, it was decades ago and I wouldn't have remembered a bit of it anyway.  I watched it last night.  I'm trying to recall why I was spurred to watch the movie, and I think it was a big tangent I was on in Wikipedia yesterday.  I somehow ended up on Clint Eastwood's filmography.

This movie was released in 1971, so I was expecting one thing when I started watching it:  to be bored.  This was a different time and a different mentality when it came to movies.  Back then, they would start very slow and the action would build up.  These days, filmmakers correctly assume that their audience wants to be entertained as soon as the title fades out.  Instant gratification.  Now, now, now.

I was pleasantly surprised that this movie did not start out slow.  But what was also quite intriguing is that it also didn't start out with a slam-bang action sequence like you would see in a James Bond film.  It started with a sniper on a rooftop shooting a swimming girl in the neck, followed by the police investigating the aftermath.  No chase scene.  No shootout.  No crazy stunts or explosions.  But, I was interested.  I was entertained.  The point I'm making here is that it was good film making, and it was done without crazy special effects or tricks.  Yes, I'm making a jab at today's movies.  Some of them could learn something from this film.

Moving on, let's go over my least favorite and most favorite parts of the film.

As for least favorite, not much to say here.  There are a few things that are dated, so I cannot complain too much since it is a 1971 film.  The only thing I will mention is how Harry reacted to Scorpio going free.  I'm sure any police officer, especially one with the number of years of experience that Harry clearly has, would know what would happen if he would arrest, torture, and gather evidence from Scorpio without a search warrant to enter the premises.  The fact that he was surprised at the District Attorney's decision made him look a little bit thick.  But I suppose, in 1971 the general public didn't really know all that much about police procedures.  Movies and television weren't as "smart" then as they are now (I use that term loosely).  But still, I didn't like that.  That's really the ONLY negative thing I have to say about the film.

Now for the positives.  The story was a simple one, but excellent.  Basically, there's a serial killer in San Francisco, and he's toying with the police.  Harry goes after him, breaking rules as he does so.  In the climax, Harry solves the case in his own way, renouncing his badge at the end of it all.  You're left with a tremendous amount of respect for the guy.  He did things the way any one of us would have wanted to do it, which is naturally not the "RIGHT" way to do it.  Harry is a man disillusioned with the "system", evidenced by his line late in the movie:

District Attorney:  "It's the law."

Harry:  "Well, then the law is crazy."

I really like Harry's character.  He's cynical and rough, which is just the way I like my heroes.  He's the kind of guy who really doesn't want to do what he's doing, but he knows he really has to do it because it's the right thing to do.  The bank robbery scene is probably my favorite part of the whole movie.

All in all, it's an excellent movie that I would recommend to anyone.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

I got to work this morning (yes, I work on MLK Day, unlike the government), and I opened up a web browser.  My home page is set to Google.  While there, I noticed on the front page that the normal Google logo was replaced by 4 children playing hop scotch.  I was confused as to what this meant, so I put my mouse on the image to see what the caption was.  It simply said, "Martin Luther King Jr. Day".  I looked at the image again to see why the hell a picture of 4 kids playing would be relevant to MLK, and realized that two of them were black, and two of them were white.

The fact that before I read the caption, all I saw was 4 children playing, is enough to tell me that perhaps MLK's dream will, one day, come true.  

Friday, January 14, 2011

I Disagree

So, if I am taking insane amounts of damage, you want me to kite the boss?  Really?  So you want me to move the dragon around so he cleaves the melee?  Breathes fire on the ranged?  Tailswipes the healers?  STILL HITS ME BECAUSE HE MOVES FASTER THAN I DO?

The correct answer is "Utilize damage reduction cooldowns."

There are very, very, very few cases where a boss is designed to be kited, and in those instances he will naturally gain some kind of buff that gives him additional damage done while also slowing down his movement speed so he actually can be kited.

It's situational and a minority of boss fights.  Sorry, your pretty picture is incorrect.  

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Why So Serious?

That line has been in my head for a couple of days now.  I've been trying to remember why, and I just got it:  Yesterday during the pizza party here at work, when I went into the kitchen to get my pizza, Rodney commented that I looked too serious.  That led me to turn to him, tilt my head to the side, and say the line.  I really want to watch The Dark Knight now.

Moving on, I had a really, really bizarre dream last night, and I'm pretty sure it was a recurring one that I've had before (and possibly finished last night).  I was kidnapped by a sexual predator, and he had me tied up to a chair in his apartment.  I don't recall any of the nasty things he did to me, but I'm pretty sure he DID do nasty things to me.  I was rescued by two or three people that were complete strangers to me, and I don't recall how they found me.  I vaguely remember that I somehow contacted them, but I really can't remember exactly how it went.  In any case, someone untied me while my captor was out, and I pretended to be still tied up when he returned.  Then I punched him in the balls.  It was quite satisfying.

I suspect the dream was a recurring one because I had this slight feeling of familiarity through the entire thing last night, and one of the things I recall thinking when I woke up this morning was "Oh good, I'm glad I got that finished."

That leaves me to only wonder why I would dream of such a thing.  I've never had a fear of being kidnapped by a sexual predator, nor is it something that I'm prone to think about...ever.  My ONLY theory is that last night, someone in my raid was having trouble with their wireless internet, and when it was suggested they actually use a wire, they said to do so would require laying down on their basement floor.  This naturally led me to make a Silence of the Lambs reference about putting the lotion in the basket.  It's possible my mind went to that movie and the kidnapped girl in question, during my dream last night.  But, that doesn't explain why I feel the dream was a recurring one, unless I'm simply mistaken about that.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I'm this close || to buying DC Universe Online.  


I've cut down on my perusal of forums.  I guess you could call that a New Year's Resolution, even though any time anyone asks me what my New Year's Resolution is, I tell them 1920x1080.  

The reason for this reduction in forum reading is quite simple:  I don't care about your opinion.  It saddens me to admit it, but I really don't, and this is mainly because it sucks and you presented it in a way that makes me want to punch you in the face for being so stupid.

I'm generalizing here, of course, but it gets my point across.  When I want an answer to a question, I want the answer to my question.  That's it.  I don't want to hear about your posturing.  I don't want your useless opinion on why the topic of discussion is stupid.  I don't want to hear what you did my with my mother last night.  Basically, I don't want to hear from you at all.  You should just shut the fuck up and sit the fuck down.  Maybe go make me a sandwich.  

Since forums encourage people to share their opinions, wanted or not (usually not), I've come to the conclusion that I just need to avoid them whenever possible and only utilize them when I just can't find the information I need elsewhere.  

Misanthropy is a wonderful thing.  

Sunday, January 09, 2011

I've Returned

Whew, well that was certainly a very quick December.  I'm surprised I remember any of it.  The month typically goes fast because of all the running around in preparation for the holidays.  This year was even worse, because I was quite busy at work and I was also preparing for a week long trip to England. 

For those of you wondering, yes, my holidays were fantastic and so was my trip.  Thanks for asking. 

I would have posted here sooner, but I've been getting over a rather nasty cold that's been thoroughly kicking my ass ever since I got back into the country.  Just this evening I've actually started feeling like my old self again, although I still have a bit of a cough.  It's nothing I can't handle, however. 

Having a look at the coming year, it looks like it's going to be a rather interesting one as far as gaming is concerned.  For starters, we've got a brand new WoW expansion full of new raid bosses to take down.  And there's a metric shit-ton of great looking games coming out this very year, as well, some of which have already been released. 

And now if you'll excuse me, I've got some pissing around to do in WoW, while I wait for Neverwinter Nights 2 to finish downloading.

Now playing: Them Crooked Vultures - Spinning In Daffodils


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...