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29th October 2017

Did some work behind the scenes of the game blog page so that the game filters now work much better.

30th June 2017

A couple of months back I found loads of old notes about all the old Epic Space Marine games we played, starting from back when I was in high school. I thought it would be a good idea to type them all up as best I could, and upload them all. While I was at it, I also converted the Epic-S and 40K battle reports from their PDF state to HTML, and they can be found on the Warhammer 40K page.

16th May 2017

Finally got my pointing pictures up and into the Vault. Don't ask me why.

Latest Blog Entry

Telling Tales

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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28th October 2017 - Telling Tales

Just got done with my first ever Telltale game, which was Tales From The Borderlands. I kinda knew what to expect in terms of the type of game it was, as I had watched streamers play both The Wolf Among Us and the Batman game. These games are basically just interactive movies, asking for user input only sporadically, which is always simple 'quick time event' input, as well as making dialogue choices.

In honesty, I wish I'd just watched someone else play this as well. Not that I didn't enjoy it, because I did, but I wanted to just sit back, eat a sandwich and watch it. It was annoying when so many times I was relaxed and just watching what was happening, then had to scramble to put down my food in order to press a button quickly to prevent a character from dying.

Better press that left button

Better press that left button

Loader Bot is awesome

Loader Bot is awesome

I couldn't scan this no matter what

I couldn't scan this no matter what

Getting the thing to run properly at first was an interesting challenge. The game defaults to having vsync on, but with it the mouse was incredibly laggy. When I turned vsync off in nvidia control panel, the game ran really hot, at hundreds of frames per second, giving me loads of screen tearing and really getting my fans going. I coudln't find an fps limiter in nvidia control panel, though it turns out there is one, just hidden from the user for some reason. I ended up using a hex editor to alter a .dll file to unlock that option, finally making the game playable.

Sasha opening up on the skags

Sasha opening up on the skags

This game has a thing about removing eyeballs

This game has a thing about removing eyeballs

Thanks, Loader Bot

Thanks, Loader Bot

There were also a few bugs I had to deal with. One of the main characters has a cybernetic eye you can scan things with, but several times the game wouldn't let me scan things. I ended up following advice of someone online, and had to spam the movement keys while trying to scan items and then it would work. Fucking weird. A couple of times, when needing to make a dialogue choice, the mouse cursor would also vanish, basically making it impossible to choose. Annoying.

Fiona's hair does not obey the laws of gravity

Fiona's hair does not obey the laws of gravity

About to shock some fools

About to shock some fools

Scooter joins the team

Scooter joins the team

I believe this game is set after the other Borderlands games, which I've never played. I kept thinking maybe I was missing references to other characters and stories that had come before, but overall the story was pretty easy to follow. You play as two characters, switching between them at different points of the game, as they and their friends end up trying to find and break into a Vault, which is said to hold great riches.

The finger gun shootout was funny

The finger gun shootout was funny

Some douchebag picks on Loader Bot

Some douchebag picks on Loader Bot

This game REALLY has a thing about removing eyeballs

This game REALLY has a thing about removing eyeballs

For the most part, I enjoyed the story. The voice acting was ace, and after a while I grew to like the characters, especially the two main robots who were real cute and funny.

Glad I played it, but like I say, I wouldn't have missed anything by just watching someone else play it instead.

Suddenly got all Power Rangers in here

Suddenly got all Power Rangers in here

Mega-Gortys in action

Mega-Gortys in action

Entering the Vault at last

Entering the Vault at last

The choices you make in this game seem to be both interesting and pointless in equal amounts. As far as I can tell, no matter what choices you make, the game always ends up going the same way and ending the same way. The choices you make only change how you get there, and can have an affect on which characters are available to you in the final fight.
At the end of each of the five episodes, the game breaks down the main choices you made for each of the two main characters, and here were mine:

Making choices

Making choices

20th October 2017 - Straight No IV

A few months back Scoob and I started to play Saints Row IV, but had some trouble with the game, as well as the original GOG build having its own problems. A few weeks back we tried to continue it, but the connection problems we were having back then came back to haunt us tenfold. In fact, we couldn't even get through a single mission without the second PC quitting out. It didn't matter which computer hosted, the one that was connecting to it just fell over all the time.

So unfortunately I had to push through the rest of it on my own, and that really was not a help. I mostly decided to just get my head down and race through the main quests, ignoring all the shit bonus quests on the map as well as most of the secondary quests. The opinions I had of the game from back then did not get any better. They actually got worse.

Here's the thing. Saints Row The Third was janky and buggy as fuck, and was totally stupid. But it was so much fun to play. This one should have also been fun, with the addition of the super powers, but these additions took away nearly everything about the previous game that I really liked. The gun play ended up being really weak, and the necessity of cars was pretty much eliminated from the game. Loads of the enemies needed you to use the new super powers to kill them, especially the tougher enemies, but the super powers took so long to reload that using them was dull. Also, the super speed and super jumping made it really hard to do simple repositioning in fights, as you'd simply run or jump well clear of where you were hoping to go. There should have been some way of doing regular sprinting and jumping, then having the super jump and sprint as different controls.

It's such a shame, but I've ended up feeling like I had a really crap time with the game. How the third game could be so much fun but this one so frustrating and boring I have no idea. The game even crashed, completely froze, a couple of times when I was playing it solo. One of these even came in the final cutscene where all the characters were dancing in celebration of the bad guy being dead. I have no idea if anything else happened in the cutscene after that, but I was not going to play through the entire last mission all over again to check (there's no saving in this game part way through missions, unbelievably).
The third game, despite its own issues, never crashed or disconnected on us once as far as I can remember. This game was just an absolute mess. I was going to play Enter The Dominatrix and Gat Out Of Hell to follow this up, but it's just put me right off.

Sex doll pilot?

Sex doll pilot?

Jazz hands

Jazz hands

I think I've been smoking something

I think I've been smoking something

Shooting a giant soda can

Shooting a giant soda can

Teaming up with Gat to unleash rage on the streets

Teaming up with Gat to unleash rage on the streets

Things get rowdy

Things get rowdy

Busker playing an invisible guitar

Busker playing an invisible guitar

Bustin' out some moves

Bustin' out some moves

Killing a horde of Genkis

Killing a horde of Genkis

Taking a trophy from Zinyak

Taking a trophy from Zinyak

28th September 2017 - Punting The Hunt

Phew. Not really sure where to start with this one. Back at the start of the month I finally got my ass in gear and began spending any little bits of free time I'd got working on getting through the Witcher 3. Yep, it finally got its sharp pointy claws in me, and wouldn't let go. Happily, I've had the last few days off work, during which I've been glued to my computer.

So, now that it's over, how in the world do I start summing it up when there's so much to say? How do I even remember everything I wanted to say?

I guess I start at the beginning. When I came back to it, I wondered whether to start again, but decided to just carry on from where I'd left it, around this time last year. I'd only done the prologue, and a couple of quests in Velen, so I thought I'd pick it back up fast enough.
I remembered that using mouse and keyboard had got me a bit confused last time I played it, as I was just coming straight from the Witcher 2, and some of the controls had changed, and I couldn't get my head around it. So what helped me when I initially came back to it was that I switched to controller. I found this great for some aspects of combat, but really did miss my mouse for looking around and going through all the menus. So after a few days play, I went back to mouse and keyboard, which was much better once I got used to it.

Dude makes out with a plague maiden

Dude makes out with a plague maiden

Geralt and a werewolf strut their funky stuff

Geralt and a werewolf strut their funky stuff

They're behind you Geralt

They're behind you Geralt

Only in the Witcher world could a baby be this ugly

Only in the Witcher world could a baby be this ugly

Poor bloke

Poor bloke

This kid has magical levitation powers

This kid has magical levitation powers

I found the basic story running through the game a bit easier to follow than the other two games in the series. You once again play as Geralt, the Witcher, who this time is trying to find his adopted daughter Ciri, who is on the run from the Wild Hunt, who are evil elves from another world who want the power in the young woman's blood.

While the main quests focus almost entirely on that story line, things still got really messy purely down to the secondary quests, and just the way the game is presented in general. In the Witcher 3, in nearly every location you visit, you are able to wander around an enormous map, where there are loads of quests and encounters for you to discover, and contracts you can take to go and hunt dangerous monsters. While all these things are nice for people that want to spend more time in the game, it just felt to me like there was this massive disconnect between the main story and all the other things you could do. Why, when Geralt is so urgent to find Ciri and defeat the Wild Hunt, would he be going and taking part in horse races, or stealing treasure from bandits? It was stupid, and I just wish the game forced you to focus more on the matter at hand. Sure, both previous games allowed you to do other things and take contracts, but to nowhere near such a scale, and Geralt was not in such a rush in those games.

Further problems occured due to some of the secondary quests and how some quests interact with each other. Now, a lot of the secondary quests were not really important at all, but others, while maybe not having much to do with saving Ciri, were still huge in terms of the politics and machinations of many of the supporting characters. Some of these quests, depending on their outcomes, even determine who wins the war which is going on in the background between the Northern Kingdoms and the invading Empire of Nilfgaard. Some even help determine the endings for some of the main characters, including both Geralt and Ciri themselves. The fact that these secondary quests can be skipped over entirely seems weird to me. Also, due to the fact that only one quest can be tracked at a time, accidentally skipping quests was really easy to do, especially ones that were time sensitive or ones that went away once other quests had been completed.

I frelling hate this poser

I frelling hate this poser

Troll gives Geralt the finger

Troll gives Geralt the finger

Twonking a wyvern

Twonking a wyvern

That thing just went pop

That thing just went pop

Cerys looks uncannily like Rhona Mitra

Cerys looks uncannily like Rhona Mitra

This guy is still keeled over, several in-game weeks after I punched him in the gut

This guy is still keeled over, several in-game weeks after I punched him in the gut

Though it sounds like I'm ragging on the game, that's not really the case. Other than its scatterbrained approach to telling the story, I actually got on really well with it. There were a few little niggles I had with the sometimes sluggish combat, and a few bugs, mostly to do with that stupid horse, but overall I really enjoyed it. The characters were as interesting and entertaining as ever, and there were funny moments as well as really dark and disturbing moments.

Some of the bugs I had:

Overall though, I had far less trouble with this than with the first two games. There was only one hard crash, which was when I was loading into another area, and the screen just remained blank.
As I mentioned in a previous entry, the game also ran a lot smoother, with no input lag. Also, while not the absolute best graphics you'll see, the game was also quite beautiful, and I couldn't help but snap a few screenshots to act as my desktop wallpaper for the next few months.

Twonking a harpy

Twonking a harpy

Triss being a badass

Triss being a badass

This is the bad guy? Seriously? Ha ha ha ha!

This is the bad guy? Seriously? Ha ha ha ha!

Ciri looks really pissed off

Ciri looks really pissed off

Geralt gets snowballed

Geralt gets snowballed

This is just creepy

This is just creepy

Making choices and decisions always seems to be an important part of the games in this series. While that was true here, it was done in a different way to the previous two games. There was no single big choice in this game, for example, where Geralt chooses which side he's on. Instead there were many small decisions that all built up to shape the way the game ended, especially for Ciri.

Here are the outcomes of my decisions:

Ciri deals with the crones

Ciri deals with the crones

Dealing with some of my favourite Youtubers in troll form

Dealing with some of my favourite Youtubers in troll form

Ciri ready for action

Ciri ready for action

Clashing with the end boss

Clashing with the end boss

Ciri forges on to face her destiny

Ciri forges on to face her destiny

So where do I go from here? When I came back to it, I kept changing my mind about whether I should be trying to 100% the game, or just go through the story. In the end, I didn't do many of the bonus quests and contracts, and just focused on getting the game finished. Just doing that took long enough as it was. I did however make a save at a critical point, before some major story events, which I can go back to if I want to clear all the maps and quests, and get better loot, without having to start the game all over again. The chances of me doing that though are very slim, as it would take hours and hours to do all that and I've still got dozens of games to get through.
More than likely, I'll only be back to the series when I get my hands on the expansions, which I'll look at doing sooner rather than later.

23rd August 2017 - Using My Little Grey Cells

Today I finished Agatha Christie - The ABC Murders, a game based on the book, and featuring Hercule Poirot as the main protagonist. I thought I'd like this, not only because it looked like a puzzle game, but because I used to like watching Poirot in the early 90s with my folks. Alas, unfortunately, this game was pretty bad.

At heart, it is a point and click adventure game where you, as Poirot, have to unravel the mystery of the ABC murders. These are a series of linked murders where the killer is choosing victims and locations in alphabetical order. I was hoping for way more puzzles than what I got, or at least, for way more thinking and putting clues together. But there was very little of either. Even the puzzles that were in the game were pretty crappy and in most cases made no sense. For example, at one point Poirot wants to play a record on an old gramophone, but you have to go through this whole mess of opening secret panels and entering codes to get the thing to work. It left me wondering if that was needed every time someone wanted to use that gramophone, and if so, why? Made no sense at all.

The character animations were pretty weak and basic, especially for Poirot who had this weird, awkward walk. I guess good animations aren't really necessary for a game like this, but they would have been nice. What is needed though is good voice acting, and this game fell way short in that regard. Whoever voiced Poirot, while getting the accent pretty much right, kept pronouncing words wrong by missing out entire letters. It was strange. I guess he might not have been a native English speaker, but wow. Where was the voice director for those cock ups? The worst actor though was whoever voiced Inspector Japp. If you've ever seen Richard Ayoade's portrayal of Moss in the IT Crowd, imagine that type of voice, but by someone who has no talent or interest in the job he's doing. It was awful.

Overall, it was a pretty clunky thing to get through, with constant fade-outs not only to transition from one scene to another, but even within the same scenes. A good job it was such a short game, and as such it didn't waste too much of my time.

Mon ami, Mr. Moustache

Mon ami, Mr. Moustache

Putting some clues together

Putting some clues together

Time heals all things, except these crazy eyes

Time heals all things, except these crazy eyes

The killer strikes again

The killer strikes again

Poirot's observation skills seem to be lacking

Poirot's observation skills seem to be lacking

I didn't realise Jenny Agutter was alive in 1935

I didn't realise Jenny Agutter was alive in 1935

There is a murderer amongst us

There is a murderer amongst us

Naughty boy

Naughty boy

The bulk of this entry is about a game Scoob and I played quite a bit of from May to the start of August. It's a fun and simple little game called Windward, which I got in the Humble Indie Bundle 18. Well, at least it seems simple on first glance, but it was quite hard to find answers to any little questions that popped up. Best I could do was find a few out of date guides and search forums for little scraps of information, but the game could really do with a big official guide or something.

In this game, players take control of ships and head to the seas to trade, quest, plunder and fight. There are four (increasing to six) playable factions, plus the pirates.
The game takes place over a series of regions, with increasing difficulty levels. Each region contains towns that can be plundered and added to your faction, as well as other structures such as lighthouses and guard towers.

At first, we started a game where we were on the same faction, and set all factions to permanent war. Our intention was to wipe out the pirates and the other three factions completely. However, when we got tired of fighting the pirates and pushed towards the home region of one of the other factions, we found the game does not let you take towns in the level 0 "start regions", to prevent exactly such wipe-outs.
We were annoyed.

I'm famous in these parts

I'm famous in these parts

A huge battle breaks out with some pirates

A huge battle breaks out with some pirates

Moving in to claim the town

Moving in to claim the town

Scoob convinces many pirates to help us take out other pirates

Scoob convinces many pirates to help us take out other pirates

We decided to read up more about the game, and found it is mostly designed for many more players than just two, and usually, the playable factions will be allies.
We changed our ideas, and decided to try and make our own world using the supplied editor (which is garbage by the way). In this new world, we decided to lead our own factions, and have the other two start factions be our allies. From our four start zones, the map would then extend away from us with ever increasing difficulty, into which we would push back against the pirates that controlled it all.
All we wanted was to be able to work towards some kind of end, and destroying all the pirates would be that end.

Our custom map

Our custom map

We named our factions after our 40K armies, with mine being the Storm Tigers, Scoob's being the Bringers Of Death, and our allies being the Imperial Fists and the Thousand Sons.

After clearing out the zones near to our starting areas, this quickly became a much tougher challenge. We'd not really had much problem in the first world, as the highest level region we'd had to go through was only level 18. In this one, the world extended all the way up to level 99 in the last region.

At about level 30, the pirates started to throw around a lot of fire-based attacks, that would wreck our ships unless we were ready for it. Then, entering the level 39 zone, all of the enemies became captains, and our AI team mates all became lieutentants. These higher rank ships had only popped up occasionally in the earlier zones, but could kick out way more damage.
The harder ships that popped up occasionally were then called Pirate Lords, and would take a massive amount of damage before they sank.

We get stuck into the action using our new ships

We get stuck into the action using our new ships

Things hot up in this battle

Things hot up in this battle

Scrapping hard in the level 39 zone

Scrapping hard in the level 39 zone

We kept plugging on for a few weeks. After clearing out the level 72 zone we decided we'd had enough of the default game, as there were just too many little things that were annoying us. Firstly, the prevalence of slowing abilities is cancerous in this game. From mortars, to poisons, to special ship skills, these slows come from everywhere, and basically make it impossible to move or turn. This really wrecked my enjoyment of the game, a lot more than Scoob.
Also, we really didn't like how using some abilities would put other abilities on cooldown. As a support ship, unless I wanted battle to go on for a long time, I had to use my fire attack for damage. But if I did that, I then couldn't use my heals, or put any fire out if the enemy used such an attack on me. And the fire in this game does insane damage. Even in the tankiest ship in the game, if an enemy used fire on me, and my heal was not available, half my health would be gone in just 2-3 seconds.
Also, as we progressed further, there was a massive increase in enemy siege towers, meaning taking over a zone started to take longer and longer, and more time was spent fighting the towers than the pirates. Not what we wanted.

So what we decided to do was look at making our own simple mod. Now unfortunately, to apply a mod in this game you have to start a whole new world, so that's what we did.

The progress of the second world and the creation of the third

The progress of the second world and the creation of the third

We changed a few of the rules for this world. Firstly, we set nearly all of the skills in the game to have their own cooldowns. While this made the battles way more chaotic, and harder at first, when we got used to it, it was a lot more fun.
Secondly, I doubled the speed of the boats, in an effort to even-out some of those massive slows. However, the slows still seem to have the same effect. I left this in though, even though it made it harder to land skill shots on the enemy, as it made questing and trading a lot faster. Those things were also much easier as I increased the cargo slots on all the ships to match the galleon's 5.
I was tempted to change the damage and health of all the siege towers, but left it as it was. Looking back, I probably should have done that.

When making the mod, I found some files that looked like where the game pulled names for its towns and AI ships, so I added a load of silliness to it. Alas, for some reason, I never once saw any of those entries pop up. Not sure why.

In creating the new world, we learned we didn't have to place the other factions on the map, so left them off, as they didn't do anything anyway. I did change the level of the highest zone to 110, from 99, just to see what would happen when we went above 99 levels, as the maximum talent points is capped at around 100.

Putting my new Turtle Ship to the test

Putting my new Turtle Ship to the test

Ramming a pirate to death

Ramming a pirate to death

Helping the Space Wolves in a battleground against the Thousand Sons

Helping the Space Wolves in a battleground against the Thousand Sons

During the taking of the first of three level 96 regions, I decided to call it quits. This thing had just dragged on for too long, and had frustrated me too much. The sheer amount of ways the enemies can slow you down just did it for me. We had also stopped levelling up fast enough to keep up with the regions, and after taking each zone, we would have to do instances and battlegrounds to try and keep our levels up. All that extra work for no progress on the map just really didn't help.

Though it's a simple game, we've had more than our share of issues with it. Some due to bugs, and some due to not being supplied with enough information.

For example, early in our adventures, I wondered what the flag on my inventory screen was for, so I clicked it. This turned me into a pirate, turning my allies against me, and preventing me from turning back for a whole hour while Scoob continued to level up and leave me several levels behind.
At one point, Scoob's controls messed up and he had to quit the game and restart in order to be able to move again.
One of the annoying things that happened to both of us at different times was the game preventing us from capping towns or other structures for no apparent reason. On every occasion, when the other player arrived on the scene it would let them cap it no problem. Something certainly wrong there.
For most of the game, it wouldn't let Scoob use the explosive charge skill to remove areas of land. Near the end of our play, we discovered he could use it when I was not in the same region as him, but as soon as I joined him he would lose the ability again. Strange.
Quite a few times, ships would end up on their side, or roll up hills, of jerk around all over the place somewhat like lag, but would be doing it on both computers. I know this was a one man endaevour, and in many ways it is really well done, but some of those little bugs drove us mental.

Overall, I'm glad I played it, but really wish I'd not played it so much. Wasted way too much time on it really.

This boat can sail on its side somehow

This boat can sail on its side somehow

My boat rolls up a hill and gets stuck

My boat rolls up a hill and gets stuck

 

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