Friday, November 27, 2009

Modern Warfare 2 Thoughts

They were right about Modern Warfare being 5 hours, it took me five hours and eleven minutes to beat the campaign. Like Yahtzee said, most of that time was hiding in a corner waiting for the blood to fall out of my eyes.

TVTropes likes to talk about the separation between cutscene powers and powers in game. MW2 gives a great example. In a session, you can be shot by any gun several times and just shrug it off. When the custscene starts, you're shot by a single pistol once, and you die.

Apparently the player just isn't a good jumper in this game, you're always needing to be caught by your allies in a dramatic moment.

Remarkably, this game goes back to the idea of explosive barrels. Haven't we evolved beyond that? It adds nothing to the game.

Have you seen The Rock? Apparently the designers of the game have too.

You may know that this is a hyper-jingoistic paranoid fantasy of American patriotism. Many of the cutscenes -disguised as gameplay by letting you turn your head- can be performed one handed, if you're feeling particularly patriotic.

This is just a minor quibble, but there's no reason for the team in Russia to have a live communication feed with the team in Afghanistan. That is, there's no reason until the Dan Brown-esque betrayal by the authority figure you trusted.

Speaking of the betrayal, it's hard for me to feel less betrayed. I've played Modern Warfare 1 and 2, and I couldn't tell you a single detail about a single character in either game other than their accents. If you want us to care about your characters, maybe you should give them some character.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

L4D2 Thoughts

I've been enjoying L4D2; I still maintain that we were deceived and betrayed, but that doesn't make it a bad game.

Apparently there's an system of selection for the production of zombies:

"Regular folk" -the average humans of normal weight and height in boring clothing- become regular zombies.

Fat people that wear sweatpants become Boomers.

Skanky ladies become Spitters; I don't know what their skankiness has to do with having Acid Reflux, though. (Insert joke here)

Douchebags that wear hoodies become Hunters. (It seems like Hunters do more damage once they have you pinned. I think it's probably a buff to keep up with the other zombie classes.)

Really tiny people become jockeys (It doesn't seem possible that they're children, there aren't nearly enough. Presumably, Valve decided to remove children from the games to avoid frightening/concerning people with having to mow down waves of toddlers. This results in even worse thoughts afterward: if they're not around now, they must have been eaten. There's no way they could have escorted every single human child out of the infected area.)

Smokers become Smokers. (It's a good thing I'm here to explain these things to you people)

El_Dawg, from the El_Blawg, proposed the idea that people who abuse steroids/Human Growth Hormone become Tanks. Stay away from Baseball stadiums when the zombie apocalypse comes.

Emo girls become Witches. I wonder why so many emo people were hanging around a sugar mill for the Hard Rain campaign of L4D2? (By the way, Hard Rain is the best level Valve has ever produced, in any game. Some of the best atmosphere I've seen in any media.)

Tom Robinson becomes the Charger. I'm not sure where the rest of them come from.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Space Logic

L4D is out, theoretically, so I've been thinking about Star Trek while waiting for the game to let me play. There are some silly clich├Ęs in the show, especially the 2-D nature of space. Only in Wrath Of Khan does someone note that all the ships are essentially on the same plane, and maybe they should take advantage of that fact?

Anyway, everyone knows that our galaxy is a disc, and that you get more matter the closer you get to the center of the disc. Naturally, there is also more matter on the center plane of the disc as well. If spaceships used free floating particles in space for fuel, (which canon says is not the case), it would be most advantageous to stay as close as possible to that center level. Of course, it's not significant enough to put people as close as they are in the show, but it's an interesting idea, at least.

This pulling fuel from space would also mean that ships couldn't battle in one area without exhausting it of particles; battles around fixed locations would favour those with better resource management. Moving battles would favour those being pursued, since they would get first access to the particles.

In case you think using space as fuel is silly, it has been proposed by those cleverer than me. Current scientific thought says that there isn't enough matter in space to make it worthwhile, but we are always discovering new things. In Science Fiction, particularly Star Trek, increasing the amount of Hydrogen floating in Deep Space would probably be the least far-fetched thing in the show.

All this is never going to be used, so I'll settle for asking for a new Star Trek TV show that keeps somewhat loyal to its roots. The last thing we need is 24 in space, however appealing that may be to middle management.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A New Challenger!

When TF2 was on sale for real cheap, I got it. After all, 2.50 is basically nothing. Naturally, this gives me a chance to earn achievements again. My policy for this new account is to only earn achievements in regular gameplay. I may go out of my way to get a taunt kill, but I won't talk to a friend on the other team to get him to stand still and wait to be killed. In my first day, I got 59 achievements.

If I had been getting cooperation from friends, I'm sure I could have gotten more. I wonder how many achievements you could get in one day, assuming that you're using no mods?

Anyway, here's the list:

Scared Stiff, Ghastly Gibus Grab, Attack o' Lantern, Costume Contest, Hard to Kill, House Call, Bedside Manner, Camp Fire, Iron Kurtain, Communist Mani-Fisto, Rationing, Be Polite, The Last Wave, Socket to Him, Quadruple Bypass, I Fry, Next of Kindling, Second Degree Burn, Weenie Roast, Spontaneous Combustion, Flamethrower, Nemesis, Red Oktoberfest, Rasputin, Marxman, Dodgers 1, Giants 0, Dead Heat, Team Doctor, Double Blind Trial, Slash and Burn, Pyrotechnics, BarbeQueQ, Freezer Burn, Pyro Milestone 1, Candy Coroner, Gun Down, Batter Up, Pop Fly, Side Retired, Set the Table, Show Trial, Counter Espionage, High Value Target, Dynasty, Constructus Interruptus, You Only Shiv Thrice, Spy Milestone 1, No-Hitter, Identity Theft, Spies Like Us, Burn Notice, Midwife Crisis, Surgical Prep, Trauma Queen, Combined Fire, Fire and Forget.

I think it's pretty funny that I got dozens of achievements before I get things like World Traveller.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

TF2 Roundup

It's been a while since I posted about TF2, so here's a few things I've been thinking:

Demoman is still overpowered. NerfNow!

Doing a control scheme for Spy is tricky, he needs access to 6 different abilities at any given time.

Getting rid of viewmodels has really helped me aim guns. (Viewmodels are the visual representation of the gun you're holding)

I got another copy of TF2 when it was only 2.50, I should have waited until the next day, when it was only 2.49!

It's been some work to get all the achievements for this new account. In particular, the Medic achievements are just unreasonably hard. I'm hoping to get a randomly dropping Ubersaw.

Have you seen the TF2 Backpack examiner? It's quite awesome. It now has a trading option, although it doesn't actually let you trade, it just establishes connections between people who'd like to trade.

The Trading section has a new page to see trading statistics: how much a given item is desired, and how often people want to give it away. According to the page, the Gibus is the least popular hat, with the paper bag right behind. Bill's Hat is the rarest hat given.

The previous statistic is skewed by the fact that the gibus and paper bag are much easier to get, and therefore more common. Much more telling is the "most desired" statistic regarding the hats. The Tyrant's Helm, one of my personal favorites, is the most desired, with the Officer's Ushanka, (which I have!) right behind. (Since I have the stainless pot too, I actually have two of the top three hats)

If you discount special event hats, it's clear that nobody wants the "hatless" version of the characters. The only hat as disliked is the Trophy Belt, which makes sense, since it's almost impossible to recognize as a special hat.

One Last thing:

Monday, November 02, 2009


I plowed through Diablo 2.5, also known as Torchlight. If you've heard anything about the game, you probably know how absurdly similar it is to Diablo games, from little details of the item management to general theme and gameplay.

I found some of the control scheme changes to be nice; I don't like to use my left hand to activate abilities, and they let you bind several attacks to your mouse. I would have preferred the ability to bind whatever I liked to whichever key I liked, like I do with TF2. In fact, Torchlight has no customization of controls whatsoever, unless you count putting spells into spell slots.

There is a period of the game where Ron Paul apparently joined in the fight against the demons, since someone must have left behind all those Gold Standards.

There are only three classes, but they're extremely versatile to build into different directions. I made a guy with guns, since guns are totally cool. I don't remember DII too well, but I think guns are something new to Torchlight. My M.O. was to summon some zombies to act as front-line troops, then spam gunfire, shooting a Ricochet if there were many enemies lined up.

I spent a lot of time crafting gems, but never finding a weapon worthy of improvement. I had an extremely good Bow about halfway through the game, but by the time I had re-enchanted it to the point of it having an amazing suite of abilities, it was behind the curve of DPS compared to random weapons I was finding on the ground. This left me choosing a weapon with essentially no special abilities that did twice as much damage. For the rest of the game, I was waiting for another Yellow (Unique) weapon to crop up so I could start with a fresh gun and turn it into something truly epic, but I beat the game before I found another interesting weapon.

I really don't see the point in having a bunch of dropped items that do essentially nothing; if I have a magic pair of sandals with a base defense of 25, I really, really, really don't need a pair of shoes with no magic and defense 10. Why not just give me some gold?

El_Dawg, of the El Blawg, tells me that gold was essentially worthless in the Diablo games, since it couldn't be converted into anything useful. I'm pleased to report that gold is very good in Torchlight, since it lets you re-enchant your weapons with additional effects, or add additional gem slots. Also, gold is retrieved automatically as you walk by it. It makes me wish for some sort of automatic system of picking up all items. (That reminds me: if you have nothing equipped in an item slot, then pick up an appropriate item, you'll automatically equip it, a nice little feature. I've died in more than one game for lack of equipping starting armour.)

Anyway, if you like Diablo style action, Torchlight does it very proficiently, and only costs 20$.