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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25th July 2016 - Bonding My Fingers Together
It's been longer than usual since this page saw any attention, but that does not mean I've not been playing any games. In fact, I've been diving into quite the selection.
Up first was strange puzzler Sokobond. In this game, you have to move atoms around the level in order to try and get them to all bond together in the right sequence. Sounds simple enough, but trust me it wasn't. Now I quite enjoy puzzle games, as they give what's left of my tiny little brain a bit of exercise, but this one wore me down. I didn't play it in massive bouts either, but rather played it for fifteen minutes or so here and there over the course of a few weeks. Though I swept through at least half of the game fairly quickly, it soon reached the point where it was a grind to get passed each level, and whether I would even complete a level in a session became unlikely. Eventually, I reached a selection of levels, all over on the right side of the table for some reason, that I just couldn't be bothered to spend any more time on, and hunted for the solutions online. I know, I cheated, but I would never have gotten through it otherwise, as I was ready to call it quits.
What am I doing here?
You even learn things at the end of each level, not that I was paying attention
As far as I could get unaided
Though I've been working on finishing a couple of other games these last few weeks, the vast majority of my time has been spent playing games that don't really have an end. Up first, I dived into Marvel Heroes for the first time along with Scoob, as we're both fans of Marvel and it seemed wrong that we hadn't tried it before.
You're allowed to pick your first hero without paying, so I unlocked Psylocke as she's one of my favourite X-Men. Still pissed off they made her a villain in the last movie, but oh well. Alongside Scoob's Wolverine I got chopping and slashing villains left and right, and we went through the first chapter and started the second.
Still a little bit unsure of my thoughts on this game. It's a pretty standard isometric button masher like Torchlight or Diablo, but I think I'd rather play this than those other games because of the theme and characters. I also like how you can try all the heroes up to level 10 before deciding which ones to buy. However, as its only servers are in the U.S. the performance is a little laggy, and the fact that loads of other players are running around make it a bit chaotic at times, adding to the button mashy mayhem. It's a shame they don't make European servers, or even better have developed it as a standalone type game with online and LAN options.
I don't think Scoob is really bothered about carrying on. But I might come back to it at another time. Maybe.
Getting ready to chop
Kicking some villain butt
Arrgh, bright light!
Scrappin with some Venom symbiotes
In a surprising turn of events, I've also spent a lot of time exploring new, and re-exploring old, MMORPGs these last few weeks.
Up first was The Old Republic. I didn't play this that much a year ago because I only really wanted to play the class quests, but was being made to play a lot of grind quests in order to stay levelled. Recently I read on a forum somewhere that it might now be possible to level up doing only those quests, while adding in one or two other quests here and there to keep the levels up. So I thought I'd give it a try.
I quickly found out that what I'd read was not true. On my Jedi Kreethen's third planet, Taris, I needed to go up 5 levels to match the level of the next quest but I only went up 3. From then on it became about how far I could go until the enemies were too strong for me to take out. Honestly, I got a lot further than I thought I would, getting through Taris, Nar Shaddaa and Tatooine, before finally reaching a quest on Alderaan that was too high level. As all the enemies were 6-7 levels higher, and kept resisting or dodging my attacks, there was no way I could win. Oh well.
Still, I haven't minded playing it this time, even though every planet's class quest was essentially the same: find an ill Jedi, beat them into submission, then cure them, so maybe I'm a bit more open to the MMO style of gameplay at the minute.
Yet, there were some things that annoyed the hell out of me. For instance, quite early on the game gives you a massive ship which you can fly around the galaxy in, but you need to be level 20 to learn how to ride a tiny speeder. How does that make sense? Also, if I used my mouse to turn and move the camera, rather than turn using the keyboard, the camera would very often leap around all over the place in a very hyperactive way, especially when in combat. Pain in the ass. There was also a hell of a lot of running around involved, especially before I had my speeder. I know I was skipping a lot of grind quests, but this felt worse than the old Star Trek Online exploration missions at times.
Probably the biggest bug I had wasn't to do with the game at all, but the launcher. A few times when logging in, the launcher would take ages re-organizing the game data and verifying, a known bug with the BitRaider distribution platform which the game uses. It's somehow tied to multi-core processors, but guess what: every computer these days has a multicore processor. How that has not been fixed yet is beyond me. Apparently there is a way to remove BitRaider and download the game another way, but it doesn't seem worth it unless I feel motivated to go back to it later.
Need a lift soldier?
The invisible speeder
Is my Jedi gonna get to visit a strip club?
They're not gonna make my task any easier are they?
Naughty Qyzen! Get off the furniture!
I'll have it blue
Twonking some elite droid
Why does every Star Wars game end up on Tatooine at some point?
This thing was supposed to be an almost-invisible shadow. Hmmmm.
Can't visit Tatooine without killing some Tusken Raiders
Meeting my match on Alderaan
After giving Star Wars another go it was only fair to give Star Trek the same treatment, and I reinstalled STO. Initially, I had no intention of playing this again at all, as I was only interested in seeing what they had changed when they redesigned the galaxy map. As it turns out, I was very disappointed with the map, as it's still not all in one piece, though it is vastly improved over the original sector blocks.
What got me sticking around for a while was finding out that they had added a bunch of new missions for players who were 50+. A huge problem with this game when I played it last was the lack of content when they raised the level cap from 50 to 60, but with the new missions I was hoping things had changed.
It always takes me a while when I come back to this game to get my head around things, as it is quite different to other MMORPGs. It didn't help that in these intervening months they had completely changed the skill trees and I had to learn what was going on with that to get Macan and his crew back into action. In addition, something strange had also happened to several of my ships, and their appearances had been reset. Gone were their cool dark blue patterns to be replaced by the dull, plain Federation standard. Bums.
Once I was up to speed I was off to the Delta Quadrant and plugging away at the missions. This time, I was able to go through all of the Delta missions, and the Iconian missions, and was able to hit level 60. I think a good chunk of that also came from doing daily quests, red alerts, and other rep quests as I was trying to get some better gear and extra traits. Without those extra missions, I think I would have probably stalled around level 57 or 58.
The game is mostly still the same, that being a huge buggy mess. And it's such a shame, because if this was completely fixed it would be a decent game. In just a couple of weeks play I had my away team officers getting stuck on terrain, lots of server timeouts, graphics bugs, and quests failing to continue or complete. The ground combat is still shockingly bad, and a complete janky pile of crap. But space combat is really interesting, even if I still don't know what's fully happening.
At times when playing it, I was wondering whether to subscribe for a month and then work towards getting a better ship, but overall I don't really think it's worth much more of my time. Also, a lot of the new ships look pretty crap, and not very Trek-like at all. Some seem to be from the future, some from different timelines altogether, and some are from other species that just seem weird mixed in with the classic Federation, Klingon or Romulan ships I'm used to. And I really wouldn't want to spend good money on any of those.
Seriously? They haven't fixed this shit yet?
Evil Changeling doing some Dhalsim shit
Another evil Changeling trying to grope Karynna's boobs
The Kaloris gets hit with some proton beam thing
Macan and Vaadwaur villain strut their funky stuff
There's some serious Alien stuff going on right now
Hanging out with the Voyager crew
A huge three-way scrap breaks out
Kinda nippy in here
Can't be all that elite if Macan can punch it into submission
This guy stands on his chair to give me orders
Now, now, ladies. Settle down.
Yay, we're awesome. Kinda.
This happens way too often
Giving T'Ket a bit of a shock
Nog is still tiny it seems, though not as tiny as Jade.
This Klingon has stolen Yoda's hover chair
Anyone up for some basketball?
This is not how you carry a wounded ally
Not one to be outdone, the Scoob has also been delving back into the world of MMORPGs. He's even been playing WoW again after many years away from it. As a lot would have to change for me to play that waste of time and money again, and he had no real interest in playing Star Wars or Star Trek again, we needed a new MMO we could both have a bash at so we could play along together.
We decided to go with Tera, a Korean MMO that went free to play a couple of years back, that I had mostly heard good things about.
When I was looking at good race/class combos for this game, a lot of people recommended going for the child-like (and creepy as fuck I might add) elin characters, as most think they are slightly harder to hit in PvP. While we thought it unlikely we would ever do PvP in this game, it was nevertheless in the back of my mind when I made my character. I ended up with a human, as they have some PvP skills that the other races don't have. I also bucked my usual trend and went with a woman instead of a man, just in case being smaller did have some benefit in PvP. And let's face it - I was never going to be an elin.
And so I entered the world as mystic Gaia Light, named after one of my Amazon Blood Bowl players. Scoob created Kharnragnar, a human berserker, mainly because he wanted to swing a massive axe around.
We're quite new at this one, so haven't puzzled it all out yet. There are few things that really annoy us, especially the dual minimaps that do different things, rather than slapping them all on one like in most MMOs. This also contributes to another problem - I find the UI quite cluttered, especially during combat. Things just pop up all over the place, and it's annoying.
Other than that, it seems quite alright so far. And the free-to-play model of this game is insane. It doesn't look like you really have to pay for anything, with subscribers just getting more EXP and reputation, and having it easier to move around the world. Seems like a good deal to me.
Shortly after beginning our adventure
Scoob going for the big twonk
I swear my character runs like an aerobics instructor
Getting serious WoW flashbacks up here
Hmm, the Teletubbies seem to be in this game
Unleashing some lovely magics on our enemies
Some characters, like this, look really cool. Shame about the creepy kid-things.
Scoob does his best Garen impression
Fighting our first instance boss
This is no time to be practising your dance moves
9th February 2015 - What Did They Do To STO?
I recently found out there had been a free expansion to Star Trek Online last year that added areas from the Delta Quadrant and raised the level cap from 50 to 60. I hadn't played the game for a good 18 months, so I thought it would be good to re-install and just go through the new missions. I'm kind of wishing I hadn't bothered.
I got a bad feeling when I went to install it as it seemed the game needed a new launcher from Perfect World called Arc. Now I absolutely fucking hate that there are all these pointless launchers like Steam, Origin and Uplay, and I've never used any of them. I was very glad to find in the forums that the old standalone installer still worked. I also really didn't want to use Arc after finding out it installs spyware into your browser. How can they get away with that shit?
Upon logging in I was met with a host of changes, most of which I did not appreciate. For a start, they have completely changed the crafting system in game, and everybody's crafting skill had been set back to 0. I don't disagree with the fact that the old crafting system was shit, but to reset everbody's skill levels is a dick move, especially when I was at max skill level before.
What makes it worse is that they have also removed the old daily exploration missions, which were the missions where most of the crafting materials were gathered. So if I wanted to get my crafting up again I would have to hope to find resources while doing episodes and other dailies. I quickly decided to ignore the new crafting system.
How much ZEN?
Back when I first started to play STO I don't remember there being any reputation grinds like there are in games such as World Of Warcraft. Maybe there were high level rep grinds that I didn't see, but I don't think so. Fast forward to 18 months ago during my last stint in the game, and a few rep grinds had started to appear, and I think I was first introduced to them in the New Romulus missions. Unsurprisingly, I did my best to ignore them. But now there's a whole list of factions that you have to grind rep with. And yes, I mean it when I say you have to, as due to the changes to the skills and traits system, many skills and traits are unlocked by increasing your standing with those factions.
In an even shadier move, some traits do not unlock unless you have the new tier 6 ships, or upgrade certain tier 5 ships, both of which can only be done by spending real money. Back in the past, the game did not really feel pay-to-win, as the ships you could buy with real money had only tiny advantages over the ships you could get for free. But now, with a whole new tier of vessel and extra unlockable traits, players who pay will surely have a clear advantage over those that do not. And payment in this game is a huge problem.
Look, I get it. The game is free to play, and they need to make money somehow. But just take a look at the prices for the tier 6 ships: they all cost 3000 ZEN. Now ZEN is the game currency you have to buy with real money, and it works out at $1 for 100 ZEN. In America therefore, it would cost $30 to buy a tier 6 ship. In the UK, at current exchange rates, this should work out at around £19.70 for a tier 6 ship. This is fucking expensive on its own, but because Perfect World are a bunch of dicks, we get even more screwed. Because we're in the EU, it only lets us buy ZEN using Euros, not pounds. Also the EU store only allows you to buy ZEN in set amounts, but get this: it does not show you how much ZEN you will receive for each amount of Euros. As it is highly unlikely that 20 Euros would get 3000 ZEN, for me to buy a tier 6 ship I would have to pay 45 Euros which is over £33, which itself is over $50, nearly twice as much as it should be.
I quickly decided I would not be giving this game any money.
In my few days back playing it the very typical STO bugs that used to plague me were still very much evident. Even after all this time they have not fixed the simple things. It just shows you how little the people that work on the game actually care. I had server disconnects, lag and rubber-banding, my ship and some NPCs turned invisible a couple of times, and I even had to re-do missions when they did not give me the option to complete even though I had done all the tasks.
But even all the problems above do not stack up to the enormous problem that has been introduced with the expansion: the clear and obvious lack of content.
I didn't realise the problem was so bad when I first started to play again, as there were a few missions I never did that were new to the game 18 months ago when I last played. So to start things off I went and did all those. Then I had a few missions in another new-ish area called the Solanae Dyson Sphere which I went through as well. So when I got round to starting the Delta Quadrant missions, I had already gone up a level or two.
Warning bells went off when I was near the end of level 53 and the game would not let me pick up the next mission as it required me to be level 54. I had to go and grind dailies and other annoying tasks to get me to the next level. Then it would only let me do the next two missions before telling me I needed to be level 55 to pick up the next one. Those two missions on their own were not even enough to get me half way through level 54, and I did not fancy the grind to the next level as it would have taken me hours if not days. Looking down the list of missions it looked like the grind to get to the next level and be able to pick up the next missions would have gotten worse and worse, so I decided to just forget it and leave the game once more.
What kind of shoddy expansion is it when the new missions themselves are not enough to help you level up? No other MMO would get away with such a dire lack of content. I know World Of Warcraft is huge and has a lot more resources, but in that game each new expansion gave you enough content that you could probably reach the top level twice over. There is just no excuse for STO to be so empty.
And so, for very probably the last time, here are some pictures from my adventures as a Starfleet captain:
Beware the giant alien jizz-bombs!
Earth Spacedock gets destroyed...
Spanking some Vaadwaur ass with Seven Of Nine
Seven fits in quite well with my away team
The Kaloris heads to the battle
The Arquina in a large battle
There is supposed to be a Ferengi here according to the dialogue
I see they still haven't fixed the vanishing arm problem with the mining event
And here are all the ships I unlocked throughout my journey:
U.S.S. Yasui, Light Cruiser
U.S.S. Turzo, Danube Class Runabout
U.S.S. Terrinak, Escort
U.S.S. Distor, Heavy Escort
U.S.S. Sydor, Support Cruiser
U.S.S. Codan, Long Range Science Vessel
U.S.S. Kreethen, Star Cruiser
U.S.S. Arquina, Reconnaissance Science Vessel
U.S.S. Kaloris, Odyssey Star Cruiser
And for the sake of completion, I've just written bios for my officers that were missing them.
The other bios can be found here
Aenar, born in 2383. The quiet and caring Gaila was the clear and obvious candidate when Macan and his crew were looking to recruit a new chief medic. One of the few Aenar to join Starfleet, she was a very fast learner in the healing arts. The skills she has learned at Starfleet complement her telepathic abilities, which help her heal the psychological damage some soldiers can sustain. As a staunch pacifist, she was initially unsure whether she wished to travel on a starship because of the front line action they can see. But she found herself swayed by a personal appeal by Meiden. She has proven to be very easy to talk to and very trustworthy, fitting in well with the rest of the team.
She is the chief medical officer and ship's counselor.
Human, born in 2380. The gregarious and more than a little cocky Xenia is the latest addition to Macan's engineering team. A warp core specialist, she has quickly become the person Nine trusts the most to keep the ship moving and at maximum efficiency. She can be headstrong and stubborn sometimes, which would maybe rub people up the wrong way if she was not so friendly and polite. When not on duty, she can usually be found encouraging other crew members to join her on the holodeck for either lounging around on the beach, or partying hard in a very loud club.
She is an engineering officer.
Breen, unknown birth date. Very little is known about the very mysterious and private Jeff. Intently focused on stopping his fellow Breen from attacking and imprisoning the Deferi, the warrior asked to travel with Macan's crew as the Arquina travelled through the Orellius sector. At the end of that crisis, he accepted an offer to join the crew, and his abilities and combat prowess have been invaluable in many situations since then. Despite his help and vigilant nature, he never answers questions about his past, or his motivations, leading some among the crew to wonder what he wants or if he is really trustworthy. Most believe he truly wants to help keep the peace and is going about it the only way he is comfortable.
He is a tactical officer.
17th June 2013 - A Little Bit Of This And That
A couple of weeks ago, me, Scoob and JIK stepped up to trying a PvP game on LoL, though because we're cowards we went with the ARAM map. Luckily me and Scoob were dealt champs we'd used before in the forms of Nunu and Vayne respectively. But JIK, the least experienced member of us, was dealt Syndra, who is supposed to be quite difficult to use, for his first ever PvP game. We went in to it intending to just have a laugh, fully expecting to get destroyed, but things went quite differently. The game swung back and forth, but we played much better when our base was under pressure than their team did, helping us come away with a fairly comfortable win. And JIK played admirably with the least deaths and a stack of assists.
Overall, I really need to stop playing this game so much, or grow a pair and dive into some proper match ups.
I must have done something right for a change
Stats n stuff
A couple of times over the last few weeks I've tried in vain to get into Battle For Middle Earth. But I have unfortunately come to realise why I never played this thing that much back when I first bought it. The game lacks pretty much anything I enjoy in the RTS genre.
Number one problem is without doubt the limits on army size. In the missions I played I could never build more than about 6 or 7 units of 5 men each. That's not exactly an army is it?
Then again, if you could build a bigger army, it would become very difficult to manage, as the game lacks in this area as well. In other RTS games, if you select a bunch of units, you get a visual representation of that via the use of icons on the UI or something, so you can see exactly how many units you currently have selected. In this game, other than the heroes who all have their own icons, there is no such function.
I also hate that you are forced into building your bases in certain places, and are limited to how many buildings you can build. I felt like that game was constantly telling me this: "What's that? You wanna put a tower or barracks here as it seems like a strategically sound or useful thing to do? Well you can't. Go build it where we say you've got to build it! Idiot!"
I know it's an old game, but the graphics are shoddy, and many times I could even see the join where two really crappy textures didn't even match up.
The combat is dull, uninspiring, and sometimes a little difficult to follow. There's not a great deal of visual feedback to help you see what's going on. Exactly just who is attacking who?
The two-tone minimap is also a problem, and doesn't really give much detail about the surrounding terrain at all.
It'll be no surprise to hear that I don't really have any intention of forcing myself any further through this pile of garbage.
Gandalf frazzles some Goblins
Poorest excuse for a base ever
Where things have been moving forward a bit are on Star Trek Online, where I've joined a fleet at last: The Liberty Task Force. Things have been going well so far, but there's no doubt the game is an absolute grind fest. This is even more true in a fleet than in solo play. Hey, MMOs, right?
Vizna puts her opponent on his ass
That's one tiny woman
Mining for the Fjords
Arrrggh, where's my arm?
Glass floors. Bad news for acrophobes.
Fleet flagship the USS Liberty attempts to eat the Arquina
Dirty Macan, probably thinking about sex on the beach
All hell breaks loose as we defend our Starbase from the Orions
I've also just bought more games in the form of old classic Duke Nukem 3D, and sequel to another game I've barely touched yet Witcher 2. I'm not sure why. It's unlikely at this stage that I'll ever get around to them. Hopefully I can shake LoL's grip and get working on something else.
25th May 2013 - Boldy Going Where I've Been Before
It's been nearly a year since I last engaged my warp engines and travelled the various quadrants of the galaxy in STO, but I thought it was time to have a few more adventures in it. Learning the game again has been a bit awkward, especially as I never really knew fully how to play it before. It's helped that my bro has also joined to give it an evaluation. He's created the pretty beasty looking Damascuss, who has already been promoted from the U.S.S. Ess to the U.S.S. SlipperyNipple. Travelling around with him has helped me pick up the basics again, and also let me get some use out of my own early ships like the U.S.S. Yasui and the U.S.S. Terrinak.
Sitting down often proves problematic for Macan's officers
Arrrrrrrgggggh, bright light!
Macan's first mission back on duty is to go back in time and rescue the Enterprise C
Macan is lost as usual
Macan is so brave that even balloon starships do not scare him
JIK joins the game as engineer Damascuss
The Ess and the Yasui get stuck in
Nobody is impressed as Damascuss boogies on down
The Terrinak and the SlipperyNipple
So we meet again. Do you have my bananas yet?
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