Eleven-Four

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Kiryn's place for rants about stuff. (version 6.0)

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Why I am quitting Outernauts

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

I’ve thought highly of Insomniac since the Spyro trilogy. I bought my playstation for that game, and it’s still one of my favorite series of all time. The fact that the Spyro games made after Insomniac were terrible convinced me that they were only good in the first place BECAUSE of Insomniac. So when I hear that Insomniac made a facebook game? Immediate signup. You’ve convinced me by name alone that I should play this game. The fact that it’s Pokemon in space is just icing on the cake.

I love this game! I love catching critters and leveling them up and seeing what they evolve into. I love the combat system, I love the music (this is the first Facebook game I’ve played where I leave the music on, it’s really good!)

Unfortunately, the game does not love me back.

With the amount of Energy I have, I can fight three or four battles, dig up a handful of plants, collect money and fuel from my homeworld, and then I can’t do anything else for an hour while I wait for my Energy to regenerate, by which time I’ve forgotten about the game and gone off to play something else.

As this is an RPG, I go in wanting to make progress on my character. Unfortunately, since the critters around me seem to level up as I do, and it is downright impossible to kill something if the skills themselves aren’t powered up through use, it’s a waste of Energy to try to get more of a feeling of progress by leveling up my weaker critters. They’re going to hit for 4 damage, die horribly in one hit, and I’ll lose the fight.

My only team capable of actually fighting effectively is my starter that I’ve been using since the beginning plus two critters I only recently caught at a high level. The entire rest of my team is too pointlessly low level with low level skills to be any use, and the item requirements for that “Training Dojo” are far too strict for me… I still have yet to find all of the items necessary to train even one of my critters up a single level. I’ve been wandering around this cave for days and still haven’t found a single stalactite. I hope this isn’t that “you can only get them from your friends” nonsense that will make the related quest (and this entire building) completely pointless for me.

But if I stick to my main team, the experience I get from killing enemy critters is so low that I might go up one level in two gameplay sessions. This results in me not even getting the mental reward of progress that I’d normally get from a game: level up, finish a quest, craft some neat item… all of these things require more than one play session to complete. There are no smaller rewards within reach during a single play session.

All of the items I can craft require items that drop off of enemy types I never encounter in the wild (such as flying types) or say they are found in certain places (such as caves) though I’ve never found any in such places. Either way, it is far from obvious where I can go to work towards these items.

Almost all of the quests I have right now either require items I can’t find or friends. I hate pestering my friends for things, since very few of them actually play facebook games (and those who do are already busy playing their existing games to add another). I might have one quest that actually leads me through the story, but it’s buried so deep under all of the other quests I can’t complete that I waste time digging through the unhelpful quest icons looking for what I need to do.

I could honestly see myself going into a classic RPG grinding trance in Outernauts, walking around and fighting enemies repeatedly in order to level up for my next fight, getting lost in the game for hours. What actually happens, though, is that I go into the game, I fight a few things, I start to get into it, and then the game tells me to go away, and my excitement level drops like a rock. I get frustrated at the game because I was having a lot of fun, and that frustration is the last thing I feel when I close down the game.

Therefore, the first thing I remember when I look at the game on my sidebar is this frustration, that I shouldn’t even bother clicking on it if it’s just going to leave me angry again when I close it.

As a serious gamer, I am obviously not the target audience for a game like this. I say this with every facebook game I try…. I am wanting something that this game cannot provide, so I’m going to stop wasting my time on it. I wish them luck in earning money from people who have more facebook-gaming friends and disposable income than I do.

For a Pixar movie, Brave was pretty disappointing.

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

(Warning – spoilers)

I utterly agree with this review. I’ve had this movie getting my hopes up for the past year, and I had two or three different possible storylines in my head before watching it. Sadly, any of those would have probably been better than what I got.

I am mainly unable to ignore the giant gaping plot hole in the middle of the movie. Why, exactly, did she need to bring the bear with her into the castle? Couldn’t she have gone in to get the tapestry and some thread and brought it out to the bear?

And what part of the spell said that it had to be fixed near the bear? She could have gone in, with the bear hiding outside, fixed the tapestry (which is a perfectly natural thing for her to want to do, she can just say she regrets that she ruined her mom’s tapestry and wants to fix it as an apology, which is actually kinda the truth even if nothing supernatural is going on, so anyone who passed by should believe her), and then gone out to see if it worked.

No explanation was given for why she had to risk her mom’s life by sneaking her through a room of people who kill bears on sight and who are all actually carrying weapons at the time. She obviously didn’t need her mom’s help to fix the tapestry (I’m not sure how the bear would have done it anyway, with no thumbs), because she ended up doing it herself anyway. No explanation is given for why she apparently needs to bring the fixed tapestry TO her mother, as I would make the assumption that just fixing it would do the trick regardless of where the enchanted bear happens to be.

Also, I’m rather disappointed that they don’t really do anything more with the prince guy. I was hoping that they’d go back to HIS throne room and mend HIS broken engraving, and make HIM human again somehow. It’s really a bit sad that most of my better alternative storylines directly undermine the whole “female empowerment” thing that this movie was trying to do by causing the girl to fall in love with someone and realize that getting married isn’t so bad after all, but dammit, this is a disney princess story with no love interest!

They made all three of the suitors unlikable on purpose so that it felt less like she was objecting because she wasn’t ready to get married, and more because all three of her options were ugly as sin and she hates all three of them accordingly. You are rooting for her less because you agree with her viewpoint and more because you can’t stomach the thought of anyone getting married to any of them. I was personally rooting for the monster-bear to turn out to be a handsome prince like in Beauty and the Beast, and I was pretty sad that they just outright murdered him.

It plays out more like the parental-disobeyment fantasy that was The Little Mermaid. “I don’t agree with what my parents tell me to do, so I’m going to run away from home and consort with dangerous shady characters in order to get what I want, and see? Everything turned out just the way I wanted in the end, and everyone’s happy with it, especially my parents! I was right all along!”

But honestly, nothing at all was resolved. She thinks she got what she wanted, but all she ended up with was a compromise that she STILL has to choose one of those three horrendously ugly boys, but now she picks which one to marry based on which one can win her heart rather than which one is (perhaps accidentally) better at archery. It seemed to me like she still wouldn’t be allowed to choose whoever she wants. What happens when she’s older and she falls in love with someone who ISN’T the firstborn of one of the clan leaders? I sadly smell a sequel.

From the previews, I was expecting more of a “oh, you want to change your fate? *cackle evilly* Your new fate is to DIE!!” and gets teleported somewhere far away where she gets attacked by a bear, but she somehow befriends the bear and it helps her get back home to her family, because she misses her parents and they miss her, and upon defeating the evil witch and being reunited, they all come to a reasonable compromise about the situation.

Or the witch says “oh, you want a different fate? Here, take mine!” and switches bodies with her, so that the witch has the body of a young girl, and everyone else sees Merida as an old woman. Not sure where the bear comes in on that one though. Maybe she befriends the bear somehow so that she can have a powerful ally in hunting down the witch.

Maybe combine the two! Witch teleports her far away AND takes over her life, expecting that the girl will be killed by the bear and the witch will be free to enjoy the cushy life of a princess. Merida befriends the bear using her awesome courage and travels back home to stop the witch.

Ultimately, I think her request of the witch was utterly foolish. Ask to change your fate? Without giving any thought as to WHAT you are changing it to? Are you insane? That could be interpreted any number of ways. Do I just think this way after a lifetime of seeing this trope played out in terrible ways, and someone without such stories wouldn’t think about it? Honestly, she deserves it, after making such an open-ended request of someone who is so incredibly obsessed with bears. And we never do see her family’s reaction to the crazy number of bear knick-knacks that suddenly appear at the castle two weeks later.

But really, the witch doesn’t feel much like a villain. She doesn’t have any ulterior motive in doing any of this, other than “ooh, that thing is shiny AND IT HAS BEARS ON IT. Okay fine, I’ll make your stupid spell. Gimme!” She’s a well-meaning, misunderstood crazy person.

A Disney princess story that has neither a love interest nor a coherent villain? No wonder this movie was disappointing.

I will give it one thing, though, the music was astounding. I’ll leave you with my favorite song from this movie. It really makes me want to feel the wind beneath my wings again.

Rules for my Second Playthrough

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

This is mainly to give me further challenge and try to break my bad habits in this game, but also to feel more immersive and try to put myself in my character’s shoes.

1. No dragons. Complete no quests in the main story past what you need to do in order to get out of the tutorial. This way, no random dragons will spawn in the world, and you can go about your business peacefully. I’ve already completed the main quest chain, and I find the dragons more annoying than anything else at this point. This rule also equals no shouts — even though you’ll occasionally find a word in a dungeon, without absorbing dragon souls, you have no way of using them.

2. No stealing or otherwise breaking the law. Not even untraceable gold and coinpurses. I will bend this rule slightly if an NPC gives me a quest that specifically requires me to steal something or break into someone’s house, and then I will ONLY steal the thing I am told to steal, nothing else. Lockpicks can be carried and used, as long as they are only used to open doors or chests in dungeons. (I am forced to make this minor exception because Skyrim has no “open lock” spell as Oblivion did.) This basically means no Thieves’ Guild and no Dark Brotherhood (mainly because I’ve already finished Dark Brotherhood and have no interest in furthering the Thieves’ Guild quests).

3. No non-magical weapons. I must do everything with spells. The only weapons I am allowed to equip are staves. This will force you to use tactics and take advantage of all of the different utility spells the various magic skills have to offer.

4. No light or heavy armor. I make an exception ONLY for when I happen to find a piece of heavy or light armor that has a non-combat enchantment on it that I will equip only while using that non-combat skill, such as a steel plate helmet of Alchemy.

5. Drastically limited looting. I am only allowed to pick up the following objects: potions, alchemy ingredients, food, wine, jewelry, gemstones/soulstones, ingots of gold or silver, money, cloth armor, staves, rare books (especially the 50+ gold ones that grant skill points), spell tomes, and any enchanted light or heavy armor pieces that have interesting enchantments that you want to disenchant for use later (such as the aforementioned steel plate helmet of alchemy), and obviously quest items. (*note: You are allowed to carry ONE set of heavy armor + weapon for the express purpose of giving it to prisoners on the road when you free them, if you plan to do so. You can replace this set if you give it away for this reason, or trade in pieces for better ones you find.)

Your main source of income should be unwanted potions and enchanted jewelry. It doesn’t really make sense to be carrying around dozens of sets of armor in your backpack, and this tries to reflect that. If you’ve already got enough food for the next week, try to avoid stuffing every potato and loaf of bread in your backpack. That stuff is heavy, and there’s no reason to hoard food when you’re going to have plenty of time to find more before you run out. Avoid carrying entire wheels of cheese, because you can’t split them into smaller slices in any way (new cooking recipe, anyone?) and it just doesn’t feel right to be devouring two pounds of cheese for lunch.

6. No companion characters. You’re going this alone, except for your various Conjurations. Companion NPCs are too easy to hurt with destruction spells, especially the spells you get at the higher levels that are all about AoE. You are allowed to purchase and ride a horse if you wish, since most of your combat is going to be inside of dungeons where the horse cannot follow. Dogs, however, are not allowed. If you happen to unlock any housecarls from quests, they can go ahead and live in your house while you’re gone, but they’re certainly not following you on your adventures.

7. You must sleep every night. This game tries to ignore sleep, but your character must be exhausted from staying awake for weeks at a time. When it starts to get later than 8 pm and all of the shops close down, try to find a room at an inn if you don’t own a house in that city. If you’re away from home, try to clear out a bandit camp or something with tents you can sleep in for the night. Sleep until at least 6 am the next day if you get to bed early, and sleep in later if you stay up past 10 pm. Try to think about how tired your character would be after a day of solid adventuring. Do try to get an early start before starting on any particularly long journeys, so that you’ll have plenty of time to explore that cave and get back before dark.

8. Eat meals on a regular basis. Carry around food and beverages, not to devour during battle when you need health restored, but so that you have plenty to eat when you’re away from town. At each mealtime, try to select a realistic variety of foods that might make up a real meal, like meat, vegetables, starch, wine, and dessert. You can eat vegetables raw if you have to, but always prioritize the cooked ones, and never eat raw meat or fish. Try to put yourself in your character’s shoes, and see how you would feel about having nothing but a bushel of raw potatoes for breakfast.

9. Stick to the roads. No cutting through the wilderness directly towards the arrow on the compass, which usually results in wallwalking and carefully falling down steep cliffs in order to reach your destination because the road to that place is far from obvious on the map. Liberal use of the Clairvoyance spell will lead you to the proper roads to your destination.

10. No fast travel. You must walk on the roads manually between any of your destinations, dealing with any enemies you encounter along the way, and picking up any alchemy reagents you find. In addition to reducing the chance that you’ll accidentally stay up past your bedtime, this encourages you to focus on quests that are near your current location, and not hop all over the place through the countryside.

11. You must increase your Magicka every time you level up. Stamina is of no use to you except in running away, since you don’t use weapons and you won’t be looting enough to be overburdened. Having low health will encourage you to be more tactical and avoid getting hit instead of taking the blows. And of course, having as much mana as possible will help you cast as many things as possible.

12. When you level up, you must put your Perk point for that level into whatever skill caused you to level up. If you leveled up from casting a destruction spell, put it into Destruction. If you leveled up from enchanting some rings, put it into Enchanting. If you leveled up from selling something, you put it into Speech. Et cetera. There are two exceptions to this. The first being if you leveled up due to finding a book that taught you a skill point in something you’re not allowed to use, such as heavy armor or archery. The second being if you have no further perks available in that skill, since you have taken them all already and do not yet have a high enough level in that skill to learn the next. In both of these situations, you can choose a perk in any skill of your choice.

13. No blacksmithing except for jewelry and magic staves (which are craftable using a certain mod). This mostly goes without saying, since you’re not equipping any armor or weapons, so you have no need to craft them or improve them. You’re also not picking up any of the materials that would be used to craft them.

14. No stashing of loot in your house, except for placing rare books and spell tomes on the bookshelves. If you’re getting overburdened for whatever reason, sell off your extra potions or something.


Mods used to assist with this:
1. Novice level destruction perk makes novice spells free rather than half cost. These spells do so little damage, they’re basically just used to give you a “basic attack” when you’re out of mana, or so that you can spend your mana on more tactical things like summons, frenzy, armor, or healing. I basically only take that mod and the staff crafting one from this pack.

http://www.fileplanet.com/223507/220000/fileinfo/Elder-Scrolls-V:-Skyrim—Magicka-Empowered-Mod-v1.4

2. Various other destruction tweaks to allow it to scale better with level, such as adding a third rank to increased elemental damage perks and causing the expert/master perks to increase spell damage further. Improvements to the cloak and rune spells to make them more worth using.

http://skyrimnexus.com/downloads/file.php?id=611

3. Cooking recipe additions, allowing you to cook things that already exist in-game such as baked potatoes and grilled leeks, as well as several new recipes. This should cut down on the number of raw vegetables you’re carrying around.

http://skyrimnexus.com/downloads/file.php?id=1409

http://skyrimnexus.com/downloads/file.php?id=1958

4. Optionally, remove the compass at the top of the screen to reduce your temptation to walk towards the arrow, and force you to find where the enemies are on your own by looking around and seeing where that arrow came from.

http://skyrimnexus.com/downloads/file.php?id=1914


My new character is a thin wisp of a high elf (because high elves are best with magic y’know) with green eyes and a suitably elven name that I cannot remember except that it starts with an M. She is a bit high and mighty and disdainful of getting blood on her hands and clothes. She tries to kill her enemies from a distance with destruction spells and summoned creatures, and certainly isn’t going to go running off of the path to hunt and skin a deer or something. She has no interest in stripping her defeated enemies down to their underwear so that she can drag a giant bag full of quasi-valuable leather armor to the nearest shop. She’s not even sure she knows how to hold a sword.

She is currently level 10 and has joined the College of Winterhold, though she has no interest in following them on their little field trip. She plans to join the Stormcloaks when she returns to whatever cold-themed name that city had, halfway because my last character joined up with the Imperials and halfway because she’s trying to overcome racial stereotypes, or something. I’m still working on this RP stuff.

Worgen Starting Area

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

Overall, I really liked the Worgen starting area. I wish the other races’ starting areas had this much phasing and storyline.

When I made my dwarf shaman, I wasn’t racing all over the zone in a mad dash to save our people from the troggs and surrounding natural disasters caused by the cataclysm. I didn’t have an epic battle against an enemy faction leader alongside my own king and other important major figures. (I only knew that the dwarven king got turned into a solid diamond because I read about it online in the Cataclysm lore updates, and because I stumbled into that tunnel while doing a cooking daily in Ironforge.) And I certainly didn’t end the zone by taking on a dangerous mission to battle my way onto a horde gunship, barely escaping before it exploded in a fiery ball of awesome. Nope, none of that in the other races’ starting areas.

Here’s a screenshot of my Worgen at the moment, in her snazzy white starting area greens:

Nitpicks about Gilneas:

  • An overly large number of my low-level quests only had reward options that I was unable, as a priest, to equip. Gee, thanks for this USELESS JUNK, Godfrey. What a jerk. I started getting increasingly angry at quest givers who only offered mail and leather rewards, so I started counting. By the time I hit level 6, I had gone through at least FIVE quests that did not offer a reward I could use. What’s up with this? Last time I checked, worgen can be all three cloth-wearers, but only one mail-wearer. You’d think they were pre-Cataclysm Tauren, from how many cloth rewards their quest-givers offer.
  • The short machinima in the graveyard has the sloppiest camera work I’ve ever seen. Any emotion that scene may have had is overwritten by how very aware I am that the major characters and their speech bubbles are off the right side of the screen and the camera appears to be intently focusing on a small shrub behind the fence rather than the gravestone or our characters.
  • No equipment vendors to be found whatsoever in the latter sections (I don’t know about the earlier sections, but I doubt it), which was especially frustrating to us because my husband was playing a warrior, and specced into prot when we hit level 10. He couldn’t switch from his 2-hander to using a sword and shield, because no quests rewarded a shield until the very last one in the zone, and there were literally no weapon/armor vendors that he could talk to to simply buy one. The only NPC vendors we found only sold general goods and trade supplies. And most of the time, we couldn’t even find that much — just class trainers and the endless hordes of refugees.

A Tale in the Desert

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

So with a recommendation from Tobold, and the fact that I’ve been hearing a LOT about this game recently, I decided to try out A Tale in the Desert.

The basic idea is that it’s an MMO with no combat whatsoever, set in ancient Egypt, entirely focused on gathering and crafting. Much of the game can be played solo, but many of the projects are so large that it’s in your best interest to cooperate with other players to build things that everyone can use.

At first, I found the camera controls to be very frustrating. I could not rotate the camera however I wanted to, I could only rotate left and right and zoom in and out. The tilt of the camera is determined entirely by how zoomed in you are (mostly 3/4 view but it tilts to look up when you zoom in closer to allow you to see the horizon and the sky), though there are several special modes for different purposes, like a camera that’s positioned directly overhead looking down in a birds-eye view. The camera only rotates when you move the mouse to the edges of the screen, but you can use the mouse wheel to zoom in and out. I still find myself wishing that I could right-click drag the camera around.

The movement is also largely limited to mouse control, clicking where you want your character to go, clicking on things to interact with them, clicking on your character to open a menu with various actions.

When I started to think of the camera controls less as “MMO” and more as “The Sims” I had much less trouble. I wouldn’t be complaining about the lack of WASD controls in The Sims.

In fact, the more I play this game, the more I think, it’s just like The Sims, except that it’s online! Wait, there was such a thing as Sims Online. It sucked. Why is this game so addicting when Sims Online was so awful?

I think it boils down to crafting. In Sims Online, you did not painstakingly craft your house brick by brick, board by board. You merely purchased house expansions, purchased furniture to put it in, went off to earn more money with which to purchase more items.

In ATitD, there is no money. If I want a bathtub in my house, I’m going to be crafting it out of bricks made from mud and sand I collect from the pond outside my house, mixed with straw I created by picking grass and then leaving it out to dry. If I want to make a piece of linen cloth, I have to go through a lengthy process involving growing the flax from seeds, soaking it in water, separating out the fibers in one machine, using another machine to spin it into thread, then using a third machine to weave it into cloth.

After finishing the tutorial, which taught me the basics of how to make bricks, boards, and twine, I decided I was tired of seeing all of the area nearby cluttered with random buildings and machines that people had built and then abandoned, and set off to find a nice spot I could call home. I wandered north up the Sinai area, looking for a nice spot near water that had clay deposits nearby along with plenty of trees and other plants. After walking up half the zone along the river, I started to lose hope, as all of the places I found already had compounds build in them. I started following the road inland, and spotted a dot of blue (water) with a bit of brown (clay) nearby, in the middle of a mountainous area. I climbed up the mountain and discovered a sheltered little valley with plenty of everything I need, with trees, water, sand, dirt, mud, silt, clay, and a variety of other plants nearby. And best of all, I had it all to myself, as there was no sign of any other buildings nearby. There was another compound near the road on the other side of the mountain, but I only discovered that later when I went looking for thorns for my flax comb. In my perfect little valley, none of the plants have thorns.

And so I am building everything I am capable of building in this little valley, though I shall soon need to venture out in order to see what new things I can learn how to build now that I have qualified for Level 2 by building my house. I’ll have to stop by all of the schools and make a list of all the items I need to bring them. First on my list, 200 Firebricks. I just finished building my True Kiln last night out of firebricks made in a flimsier kiln made out of normal bricks. I have been making firebricks while I wait for my thread to finish spinning so I can make some cloth in my new loom.

This game fills me with the feeling of “just one more quest!” just like a normal MMO, while also somehow capturing the feeling of “just one more day” in The Sims. Except without all those pesky hunger and social etc bars that constantly need refilling.