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 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
Geralt and a werewolf strut their funky stuff
They're behind you Geralt
Only in the Witcher world could a baby be this ugly
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
Troll gives Geralt the finger
Twonking a wyvern
That thing just went pop
Cerys looks uncannily like Rhona Mitra
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:
- After I switched back to mouse and keyboard, sometimes the mouse cursor would appear in the main game screen, rather than just in the menus where it was supposed to be.
- After coming out of one cutscene, the camera kept zooming in and out slightly, like a pulsing effect. I had to restart.
- In one of the story quests where you have to do a horse race, the game wouldn't let me gallop. The option just wasn't there. I had to load a previous save.
- Some weird graphics things, like rain and snow indoors, as well as hair being blown around like crazy in places that there shouldn't be any wind.
- The usual shenanigans with Roach, the horse.
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
Triss being a badass
This is the bad guy? Seriously? Ha ha ha ha!
Ciri looks really pissed off
Geralt gets snowballed
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:
- Keira ended up at Kaer Morhen.
- The Whispering Hillock's spirit was freed and Downwarren destroyed.
- I did not let Menge torture Triss so a fight broke out.
- I helped the mages escape Novigrad and ended up romancing Triss.
- Cerys became the queen of Skellige.
- Nilfgaard won the war.
- Ciri survived the end battle and became a Witcher.
Ciri deals with the crones
Dealing with some of my favourite Youtubers in troll form
Ciri ready for action
Clashing with the end boss
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
Putting some clues together
Time heals all things, except these crazy eyes
The killer strikes again
Poirot's observation skills seem to be lacking
I didn't realise Jenny Agutter was alive in 1935
There is a murderer amongst us
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
A huge battle breaks out with some pirates
Moving in to claim the town
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
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
Things hot up in this battle
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
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
Ramming a pirate to death
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
My boat rolls up a hill and gets stuck
25th June 2017 - You Can Not Be Serious
There was a time, back in the late 90s and early 2000s, where I played quite a lot of FPS games. Somehow, a franchise that has always passed me by is Serious Sam.
Until now, that is.
Just got done going through the First Encounter with Scoob, and what a chaotic mess of bullets and rockets it was. Graphically, it was very similar to other games of that era like the original Unreal. The gameplay was also kind of similar, except that there was no alternate fire for the weapons, and the enemies attacked in massive waves.
Other than that, I'm not sure what to say about it. It was fun enough, but we were really starting to get fatigue near the end. Those monsters seemed damn near never ending.
Scoob gets stuck in
Scoob looks for a soft spot to shoot
Gaming's biggest miniguns
The Melty Man Cometh
These headless suicidal maniacs try using each other for heads
Shooting the end boss right in his nadz
Out of the blue back in April, I had a hankering for some more Saints Row action. Scoob was happy to jump back into Saints Row The Third with me to start a second play through.
Woah! Trippy, man.
I seem to be missing my gun
Woops. Ran Scoob over again.
Cop busts out some fancy moves
My awesome pink police car has seen better days
Just taking a nap on top of this tank
Then as luck would have it, while we were playing through Saints Row The Third, GOG released Saints Row IV on us. I quickly bought and downloaded it so we could get cracking.
Unfortunately, we don't like this game anywhere near as much as the previous installment. It didn't help that the original GOG build had problems preventing the autosaves working, and would not remember any changes we made in the options menus. Though they have now fixed those issues, we haven't yet gone back to it. If we do go back, I think it will be just to go through the story missions, rather than go through all the extra stuff, which in this game seems boring and far too numerous.
The problems we have with it when compared to the previous game are mostly to do with the gun action. I know super powers are in this one, but they've really nerfed the guns, and we love shooting the bad guys. They just do less damage, take longer to reload, and take longer to level up to get some of that power back.
I also don't like how cars are pointless, as I enjoyed collecting and modding the cars in the last game. Worst thing of all: THERE'S NO HOT PIZZA SONG!!!
The two computers also sometimes disconnect from each other, which is something that has never happened when playing The Third. It was even more of a bitch at the time because autosave wasn't working. Hopefully they've fixed the network stability in the updated version, but I doubt it.
For the first time in my life I truly go toilet popping
Looks like I'm about to ram my head up an alien's arse. No wonder I'm wearing a hoody.
Scoob powers up
What his right name is I've never heard, but around here he's known as Glider.
Scoob lets rip
What... the... shit...
24th May 2017 - Goblin Up Some Games
Recently had a bash at two games that were all about the Goblins. Up first was Trine 2 with Scoob, where the main enemies throughout the game were Goblin runts. Then, when we got to the end, I did not realise my version of the game also came with the add on, The Goblin Menace. So we ended up going through several more levels, culminating in a big fight with the Goblin boss riding some big mechanical thingy.
So how was this one? To be honest, pretty much have the same feelings about it as the first one. I mean, it's essentially the same game with a few different skills. One thing we didn't like was how all the skills were reset. It might make sense from a gaming stand point, but did the characters just forget all the things they could do before?
Once again, a lot of the platforming elements were weird. Sometimes you could jump up to a ledge, and then a few moments later you could do the same jump again and you wouldn't make it. Stuff like that just kept pissing us off. A lot of the puzzles were also awkward, especially if you try to get all the little skill pickups. Quite a few of them we only managed because there were two of us, and it left us wondering how the hell you got them when playing solo. I guess maybe you can go back after finishing it when you've got more skills, but I don't know why anyone would want to.
An advantage over the first one was probably the addition of more combat. Both the main game and expansion have boss battles, whereas the original end fight was in a cutscene.
But we weren't all that fond of what they did to chests and the inventory in this game. If I remember right, in the first one, chests contained extra skills or items that boosted your characters. But in this, there were no items at all, and chests only contain little collectibles like pictures or poems. Pfft.
Overall, it's a playable game that's fun in parts, and annoying in others.
Let me touch your face
Too many balls!
Scoob deals with a big bugger
Hey. Bloody pilot fish. You evil pilot fish. I know your dad.
Pontius is not fazed by the giant swinging axe of death
What are you looking at?
WTF is going on here?
Things hot up in this boss battle
Time heals all things, except these crazy eyes.
Beating on the end boss
The second game I had a go at recently, which I completely failed to finish, was Gobliins 2. I'd wanted to try and get through this for ages, ever since playing the first part of the game on my Amiga years ago. I think it was a demo on a cover disk, or maybe someone had got a dodgy copy which would only allow you to play the first area. Whichever it was, I have vague memories of quite enjoying it back in my teens. I even named my Goblin on WoW Fingus after one of the characters from this.
Fast forward to now, and holy shit what a drag. Stupid, awkward controls, especially the inventory, and the ridiculous moon logic, made this totally unplayable. Add in to the mix the fact that the sound kept throwing up stupid beeps and fart noises. These were obviously errors in the ScummVM emulator and made me mute the game, taking away the silly noises of the characters which was one of the best things about it.
It was also janky as hell. Often, if I told both Goblins to do things, whoever I ordered first would forget what he was supposed to be doing after I ordered the second one. And it crashed. A lot. I've literally just given up on it, I think after getting around half way through, after it crashed once more, pissing me off too much to bother continuing.
Didn't help that, as soon as I got through the first area, I no longer felt any nostalgia for it whatsoever.
Fingus cops a feel
Winkle chokes his chicken
You can't say that!!
I didn't know Donald Trump was in this game
Did this monkey just give me the finger?
Looks like a very happy person, considering they live in a bin
Here's some info about some decisions and stuff:
In the course of creating entries for this blog, I've forced myself to play games that I've not really been into. Some of them, such as Gobliins 2, are old games I don't necessarily want to play. I just feel this sense of needing to finish them because I played them when I was younger. I've pushed through games like this such as Heroquest and even Rome Total War, but I'm probably not going to bother from now on, as games I don't enjoy just become a chore.
Add in that most of the good-looking games I've got are all single player, which I don't find as much time to play. I spend most of my gaming time with Scoob on multiplayer games, but we're really struggling to find good ones that we both want to try. This is even more true for games with coop compaigns, which are very few and far between.
So to be honest, updates to this page are probably going to become quite rare from here on, as I still only want to do updates when I complete games.
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