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9th June: Surviving A Blizzard

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6th May 2019

It's been a long while since the story section last had any attention. A while back, I gave up on the idea of ever finishing my Star Wars stories, so instead have typed out a rough outline as to what may have happened during the rest of the saga. I've also expanded the names & characters section with images where possible.

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30th June 2017

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Computer Games Blog

This is where you can read any of my irregular wafflings about computer gaming. The whole point of this blog is to help motivate me to properly finish games, whether they be recent ones or older ones I played when I was younger that I never managed to beat.

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9th June 2019 - Surviving A Blizzard

I don't think I booted a single computer game during March and April, with all my spare hobby time going into finishing my Warhammer 40K Tyranids. But in late May, I got hit by the same nostalgia wave that hit me around the same time last year.

Not only was it the anniversary of TB's passing, but the beta test for Classic WoW also started, and nearly every streamer I watch on Twitch dove into it. I don't know what came over me, as I never thought I'd play the game again, but I decided to re-install it. I couldn't help it. I just had to scratch that itch.

While all the streamers were going back and doing the same things they had done nearly 15 years ago, I went back into the game with a different objective: to do some things I'd never done.
See, while I've surprised myself by playing the game again, I still point blank refuse to pay any sub fees, as I just don't think the game is worth it. As the free account level caps your characters to 20, this left me with just one thing I could do, and that was to play through all the start zones that I had never played back in the day.

Up first was the Worgen start zone. Now I did make a Worgen at one point, named Kreethen, but I never finished the intro story and I think that character remains at level 7 on my original account. I made a new one named Kreethy, maybe a distant relative, and got cracking.
The story was alright I guess, though with some crowbar moments. The biggest problem I had with it was all the lag. At first I assumed the Classic beta had stirred up some new interest in the game, and a lot of people were jumping back in, like me. However, when I moved on to my next character all the lag was gone entirely, which was odd.
Kreethy ended his journey at level 15.

Kreethy singes some eyebrows off

Kreethy singes some eyebrows off

Catapulting myself onto a ship

Catapulting myself onto a ship

Secondly, I started a Gnome called Huejackman, named after my original character Huejun. Back in the day, the Gnomes shared a start zone with the Dwarves, and I had played those quests several times on my alts. But in Cata, the Gnomes were given their own little intro area that I had never done. While I liked using the little dude, I ended up getting spat back out into Dun Morogh at level 5. Frankly, I was expecting more. Oh well.

Huejackman gets smacked around

Huejackman gets smacked around

Up next was the turn of the Draenei, as I had never done their start zones either. My only Draenei before this was a Death Knight, as I had really liked using my main DK Undeadbarry, and I created the Draenei just to do their start quests again.
I chose to make this character a female named Kallisto, but only as it wouldn't let me use Xenia or Karynna which were my first picks. I did end up regretting this decision, as the female Draenei has very annoying battle yells, and I couldn't find a way to turn them off. What was worse, was that these start zones were the longest and most boring of this little return to the game. There was just so much running backwards and forwards through large areas, constantly being sent back to areas I'd already been to. Thankfully, this character reached level 20, though only 2 quests before the end. But that meant I could mount up for those 2 quests and boy did it feel good.
It was definitely obvious that these areas and quests were designed earlier in WoW's development. They certainly gave me more of a classic WoW experience than I had expected. There were so many kill quests and fetch quests with poor to moderate drop rates. It felt like 2005 all over again.
The only real interesting thing was that this character was a pally, and holy shit they play so different now from when I played as Jackgooty back in vanilla.

Blood Elf dies very dramatically

Blood Elf dies very dramatically

This guy's missing his log

This guy's missing his log

Can't come back to WoW without spanking some Murlocs

Can't come back to WoW without spanking some Murlocs

Crimson are the rivers, bleed our grief into the sea

Crimson are the rivers, bleed our grief into the sea

Not an area for arachnophobes

Not an area for arachnophobes

I have the power!

I have the power!

Up next was my first ever Pandaren, who I called Vizna. This was a breath of fresh air after the slog that was the Draenei zones. Though there were still a lot of the usual WoW kill and fetch quests, they all just flowed so much faster, and were situated much closer together. Like the Worgen quest line, there was a much better story that ran through the whole area.
My main issue was the fact that I'd chosen a hunter. I'd read that the hunters now get their pets from level 1, which I liked, but I didn't realise that you couldn't control it until level 10, which irritated me. But oh well.
Vizna ended her journey at level 14, after joining the Horde and travelling to Orgrimmar.

Training for the Karate Kid reboot

Training for the Karate Kid reboot

Vizna hitches a ride while her companions walk

Vizna hitches a ride while her companions walk

Well at least the virmen eats healthily

Well at least the virmen eats healthily

Runnin' and gunnin'

Runnin' and gunnin'

You gotta be kidding me

You gotta be kidding me

That's one big ass turtle

That's one big ass turtle

Last on the list was the Trolls, who like the Gnomes were given their own little start area back in Cataclysm. As I'd never played a monk class, I went ahead and created one called Kraputkin, who in my head canon is actually Kropotkin's drunk and bad tempered uncle.
Just like for the Gnomes, this little area only got me to level 5 before it spat me back out into the rest of Durotar, so that's where I called it. I didn't really get enough time with the monk to differentiate it much from other classes that use energy, but the start area was definitely fairly quick and snappy, unlike the Draenei zones.

Though many things are different with the game now compared to when I used to play it, it was still a huge nostalgia trip to spend these hours playing it again. And to be honest there was certainly a pull to subscribe just for one month so I could play my proper characters again. But when I take a step back and not let the nostalgia cloud my vision, it's just so obvious that the game is just too dull to be worthy of me putting any more money into it.

So while it's been pretty cool and relaxing to chill out in the game, the way I feel right now is that I'll never visit Azeroth ever again. However, it must be noted that two weeks ago I would have said the same thing. I've also recently bought the first two Warcraft games from GoG, which may trigger another urge to come and play this in the future.
So while it will take something special for me to play, especially subscribe, again, I guess I can never say never.

High kick somehow works on a crab

High kick somehow works on a crab

What's going on with Vol'jin's arm?

What's going on with Vol'jin's arm?

Kraputkin waves goodbye to WoW

Kraputkin waves goodbye to WoW

It was also a Blizzard game that last had my attention back in March before my little hiatus from gaming, being the first ever Starcraft, which has been available for free on Battle.net for some time. It's a bit strange that I'd never played it before, but for some reason the classic Blizzard games always passed me by. Before playing this, the only games I'd ever played from that company were Diablo 2 and World Of Warcraft.

If I remember right, I got near the end of the Terran campaign, but I was really struggling to stay with it. I don't know what it is, but for the last couple of years I've really had a hard time staying interested in RTS games. Rewind the clock and at one point I'd have been all over this game. Maybe it's because I'm getting quite old and being able to concentrate is no longer a thing that comes easy to me. I don't know.

Anyway, this is a very typical classic RTS affair, which makes sense considering when it was made. It would be quite easy to never play it again, but I want to continue just to experience the story. I mean I've already got the basic idea of what goes on, and I know how Starcraft 2 ends as I watched some streamers play that final expansion when it came out. But it will still be cool to do it myself.

I'm sure I'll get back into it once all my painting is done and my love of computer games kicks back in.

Defending the area from the Zerg

Defending the area from the Zerg

My aircraft paint the town red

My aircraft paint the town red

Back in March, I gave the League of Legends match history web site a little check, and I found that the filters seem to work again. Well, at least a little bit. This allowed me to get some scores for my champs when I played the last few ARAMs. So here's some sad pointless stats from when I last played.

10th March 2019 - Heading On Down To Tinker Town

Much like this time last year, I've been finding it really difficult to get into any computer games. However, unlike last year, I've actually been trying really hard to find something to get my teeth into. As most of these games are quite old, I've been plunging in to the deep depths of emulation in order to play them, and having some interesting adventures along the way.

Now, I've never really been tempted at all to play over-the-shoulder style Resident Evil games, but all the hype surrounding the remade Resident Evil 2 got me wondering. I grabbed a very cheap copy of Resident Evil 4 from ebay, as it is widely considered to be the best of that type.
As it is an XP game, I first installed it on my old XP laptop, but couldn't get any more than 15 frames per second. Thinking it may be something to do with mobile graphics, I dusted off my old XP tower that has been in storage since the mid 2000s, and tried to play it on that instead. First I had to sort out a very noisy graphics card fan, which needed some much needed oil, before I could even stand to give power to the old monstrosity.
Unfortunately, after installing, I was again faced with a very clunky and slow game that just sat at 15 FPS. I ended up having to install it on my current computer, and luckily it seems to work ok. However, I'm unhappy that it doesn't have mouse controls, and the mouse control patch I downloaded doesn't seem to work, so I'll have to use a joypad. Sigh.
I've only run around a bit at the start of the game, and I'm not sure if I'll get around to this any time soon, but at least I know it will be playable.

Still works after more than a decade in the loft...

Still works after more than a decade in the loft...

...though it needed a good clean.

...though it needed a good clean.

Well, this place looks inviting

Well, this place looks inviting

Run free, little doge

Run free, little doge

I only have three PS1 games that I never finished, and about 6 months ago I had a look at trying to do just that with one of them, which was the very first Grand Theft Auto. When I first picked it up in the late 90s, I had a few weeks when I played it quite a lot, but I never tried to finish it. I just spent time driving round, being an idiot and getting into trouble. I think I only remember getting on to the second map once, and didn't like it as I was so used to the first one, so never bothered getting any further.

Fast forward to last year, and I booted it up on my PS3 to give it a long due proper attempt, but I just couldn't play it. The frame rate was so low, and its weird constant zooming in and out style just made me feel so sick.
A few weeks back I had the plan of trying the PC version, so again got a cheap copy from ebay, and installed it using DOSBox. While it's a little better, it still has all the same issues sadly. I think most of the slow down and jankinees is because of the zooming in and out, and while I found a cheat that let me zoom in and out manually, it only seemed to work while I was stationary, and when I started to move, the game resumed the auto zooming.
Also, for some weird reason, the game (or DOSBox) pays no attention when I try to limit the frame rate, which I tried to do just to try and smooth it out a bit.

Oh well. Whatever. It's not like I haven't got dozens of other games to try and finish instead.

Drivin' around town

Drivin' around town

Getting decked by some random dude on the street

Getting decked by some random dude on the street

I had a look through my PS2 game collection, and found I only have one that I have not finished. This game, which I don't remember even playing (it was a gift) is True Crime: Streets Of LA. It was about this time I started thinking about emulation, as I've always got on quite well with WinUAE for my old Amiga games. I also like the idea of getting some screenshots, which I can't do on the PS2. I quickly discovered that PCSX2 is the main one that people use for PS2 games.

After reading how to set it up and going through all the steps, and using ImgBurn for the first time rip my discs, I was pissed to find that True Crime is one of the few games that the emulator does not like.
Again, oh well.

However, I had mentioned to Scoob a while back that I really fancied playing a bit of an old PS2 wrestling game we used to play a lot called Smackdown: Here Comes The Pain. This one loaded up no problem, but the game was really blurry, and on screenshots there was this really weird "ghosting" effect, that I think was from the interlacing from games back then.

A bit more reading was required, but I eventually learned how to not just turn off that weird doubling effect, but also turn the rendering resolution up so the graphics look better than they are supposed to. In this regard, the emulator seems to be pretty cool, and I'll have to create my own character again so me and Scoob can do some stomping.

Thinking about it, it's a shame I didn't look into emulation back when I played Resident Evil: Code Veronica. Probably would have been a lot better on my PC than on the PS2 itself.

Blurry ghosts

Blurry ghosts

No blurry ghosts, and higher graphics

No blurry ghosts, and higher graphics

Continuing with this trend of emulators, I thought about a PS1 emulator, so maybe I could get that version of GTA running better as well. I discovered RetroArch, which not only emulates the PS1, but can also do so for loads of old consoles. However, it was the PS1 I was interested in.

This one was a bit more awkward to set up than the very simple PCSX2, but I got GTA working on it eventually. Unfortunately, the game was no better on this either, so I just gave up on it entirely.

While I had got the emulator downloaded and running, I decided to try another one of my old PS games that I never finished, being Gran Turismo. In fact, I barely touched this back in the day, which is kinda weird as I used to be really into racing games.
I got this one booted up and had a few simple races, before starting to tweak it a bit. Like PCSX2, it's possible to turn up the graphics, but it only seems to be able to go a little way before the sound craps out and the game starts to lag. Still, it's better than its default appearance, and it might be something I try to complete at some point in the next few weeks or months.

Default graphics

Default graphics

Slightly better graphics

Slightly better graphics

Over the last couple of years I've picked up a few fighting games from places like Humble and GOG, but I've never gotten around to giving them a go yet. The only time of my life I ever really bothered with fighting games was back in my early-mid teen years, and I didn't really play a whole lot even then. The most popular game of the genre for me was Tekken 2, by a long way, but it's not the only PS1 fighting game I own.

As it is my intention to at least try and get back into the genre, even if just a little bit, I decided on trying Dead Or Alive on the emulator as well. This game never got much traction with me back then, so I thought it deserved another chance. Also, who knew, a bit of a punching-and-jiggling combo may have really got me back in the mood for it.

Like Smackdown on the PS2 emulator, this thing threw out some serious ghosting, but added in a whole lot of interlaced lines into the mix as well. Unfortunately, there's no way of turning off deinterlacing in this emulator like there is in PCSX2, so I couldn't get rid of the effect. There are some de-interlacing shaders that are available, but they only seemed to slightly reduce the lines, and did nothing for the weird motion blur going on.
In addition, this game did not allow me to crank up the graphics even a little bit, as when I tried, it just pasted a thick black band of more obvious lines across the middle of the screen.

Nah, I don't think this game will ever get much more time out of me, but it was worth trying it again, just in case. I guess.

Blurry line punch attack!

Blurry line punch attack!

What the?

What the?

After all the tinkering I've been doing recently, I decided a game needed to be finished. To that end, I ran through a very short game that released about a year ago. This thing, which is called Chuchel, was an absolutely bizarre experience. It's supposed to be a point and click puzzle game, but it didn't really feel like that to me, as there was very little to work out. You just have to click on a few different things on each screen, and the weird little characters would do their thing and let you advance to the next level.

The basic plot is that a strange little creature really wants to eat a cherry, but things keep transpiring to prevent him from getting to it. Very reminiscent of Scrat after the acorn in the Ice Age films.
The art style was very fun, and strange, almost in a Monty Python kind-of way, and it was a refreshing change to go through.

Don't you dare take my cherry!

Don't you dare take my cherry!

Yep, this happened

Yep, this happened

Just give me back my cherry!

Just give me back my cherry!

Evil snow man does not like it when I piss up him

Evil snow man does not like it when I piss up him

Little Chuchel turns to the dark side

Little Chuchel turns to the dark side

Spooky ghost!

Spooky ghost!

2nd January 2019 - I'm Too Sexy For My Mask

Just got done with another short puzzle game from a couple of years ago, that goes by a very strange name.

The weird name is because it's named after the game's setting, a huge hotel/casino called The Sexy Brutale. In this casino, the same twelve hours play out over and over in a Groundhog Day-style event, during which all of the guests are murdered by the staff. You play as Lafcadio Boone, someone who up to now had been just like any of the other guests, murdered over and over, but who has now broken free of this cycle of death with help from a strange ghostly woman who is covered in blood and looks like she is missing her skin. Lovely.
As Boone, it's now up to you to travel around the location as the day repeats and do whatever you can to prevent the murders. If that wasn't tricky enough, you have to do all this without being seen by any staff or any of the other guests, instead changing the surroundings and manipulating events to achieve the goal.

I've got to say, for the most part, I really liked this game. It was a very interesting idea to have to follow the NPCs around for a day or two, learning their patterns and who they interact with, and trying to figure out how to save them when the day inevitably resets. I don't think I've ever played a game even remotely like it before.

There were one or two frustrating things in terms of the puzzles, mostly because I didn't have my thinking cap on at the time, and they all seemed so simple when I realised the solution. If there were any real problems with the game it was just with the narrative in general, as when it's all explained at the end, I thought the story was pretty crappy.
There were also some things that didn't make mechanical sense. For example, most of the items you could pick up during the day would be lost when the day reset, and could be found back in their original positions. But some remained with you through the reset, and I didn't understand why.

I also didn't understand the significance of all the masks. See, every character in the game is wearing a mask, and when you save them, they take their mask off and leave it for you to find. Each mask gives you a special ability that was possessed by its owner, such as lockpicking for example, which will then help you progress and save other people. I just didn't get how putting a mask on could give you powers. It was a bit weird.
But then again, the whole game was weird, especially when you find out what the whole thing is all about at the end.

Overall, certainly worth a play through, and hopefully I'll play it again in a few years when I've forgotten it all.

Apparently it's normal around here to dissolve into a pool of blood

Apparently it's normal around here to dissolve into a pool of blood

Spying on two of the other guests/victims

Spying on two of the other guests/victims

Someone getting mojo'd by a voodoo fish

Someone getting mojo'd by a voodoo fish

Flamin' eck!

Flamin' eck!

Strange character hangs in a pool of his own tears

Strange character hangs in a pool of his own tears

27th December 2018 - Follow Me, Light Bulb

Today we got done with the Dying Light expansion, which is called The Following. We didn't really like this as much as the base game, and so after a while just focused the main story and completely ignored the side missions.

We both felt like it was mostly ruined by the massive map and wide open spaces, all just too different from the city setting of the base game, and we hated having no buildings to jump around on. The map was so large that it required the use of buggies to get around.

Now, we enjoyed some of our time in the buggies, especially when we found a horde of zombies in a field and just plowed them all down.
But relocating from one part of the map to another in the buggy was a pain in the ass, as the game insists on spawning exploding zombies right in front of you, the noise of which then instantly lures hordes of aggressive viral zombies to your position. Just made no sense how they could get to you so fast when you're driving high speed down a road.
And the game constantly forced you to go all over the place to do its missions. It was a ball ache.

Like the base game, the story and characters were kind-of pointless. It has you tracking down a potential cure for the zombie virus, only to throw some weird shit at you like a cult, prophecies and weird revelations at the end that leave you with a choice to make. Like the base game, it does not allow you to play the final mission co-op, so Scoob and I were able to take opposite paths and see how the two different choices play out.
I gotta say, they were both pretty shit, and the story ends (with either choice) making you feel like playing the whole thing was a waste of time. It's just a good thing that the story for this game is really not its selling point.

The fight against Holler was the longest in the game

The fight against Holler was the longest in the game

I run over a zombie

I run over a zombie

Scoob runs over a zombie

Scoob runs over a zombie

A rumble against four volatiles

A rumble against four volatiles

Scoob hanging around

Scoob hanging around

Headshot!

Headshot!

 

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