Archive for ‘Games’

03/08/2013

My fears for The Elder Scrolls Online.

Tamriels darkest age is drawing ever closer, daring, dedicated heroes are needed more than ever. But a feeling of disquiet has stolen over this loyal daughter of Skyrim. What if Bethesda’s upcoming MMORPG episode of their wondrous Elder Scrolls Saga turns out to be just another MMO? What if…

* They have decided to make “their” World of Warcraft? Don’t get me wrong here. I love WoW, it’s immense, consuming, and fun. But no Elder Scrolls game has ever been similar to any Warcraft game. They play differently, they look different, they feel utterly different. But every single MMO since WoW has tried to make “their” WoW and failed. Often horrifically. My hope is that this MMO Elder Scrolls will feel more like Skyrim, with extra player characters wandering around.

* I. Stand. Alone! One of my favourite aspects of the Elder Scrolls games is that, of late at least, you can have companions, but you don’t have to. If you want to you can stand completely alone. You, your skills, and the enemy. I love this aspect. Yes, sure once in a while I wish for the ability to share my adventures with my friends; but over all I want, no I need to stand alone.  I hope that Bethesda have kept this aspect of their series in mind while they designed their new game. I may choose to team up with others sometimes; but I want to be able to solo everything as well. (Insert shameful, but much loved earwig)

* That Glorious Music. So, dearest reader, would you like to know how I play most video games? Well what would you think if I told you, in total silence. I generally do not have sound in my games. I find most game soundtrack distracting, and most game sound effects infuriating beyond belief. There are very few exceptions to this, Borderlands 1 & 2, Dragon Age: Origins, and The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and Skyrim. The sound, and music in the last two Elder Scrolls episodes have been nothing short of glorious. I just hope that in the inevitable rush to get Elder Scrolls Online out to the public that Bethesda  don’t let their perfect track record tumble down.

(Homework: Listen to the entire of the clip below. This is all three opening themes from the last three games. Bethesda if someone is reading this, you listen extra hard sonny-jim.)

* Criminality. It’s so easy to  become a criminal in Oblivion or Skyrim. All you have to do is have a finger slip, and whoops the entire town are out for your criminal blood. That said, it’s even more fun to do it on purpose. To rob every last character in the game blind. To become the death that creeps in the night. Or just the best/worst horse thief to ever walk the land of Tamriel. Elder Scrolls Online will lose something special about it’s predecessors if this is not included in this latest part.

* Dragons, Shouts, Vampirism, Lycanthropy and Dungeons everywhere.  Dragons are just awesome, and awe inspiring when you see them. They’re huge, dangerous, kind of random and deadly; and Bethesda got them exactly right. You can and do run in to dragons randomly, fire/frost breathing mountains of reptile flesh that bears down on you out of frikking nowhere. I hope that they’re much the same in the new Online format.

Shouts made for an interesting addition to the magical segment of Skyrim. And again represent something which would be a true loss if they were removed from the online game. Obviously they should only be available to Nords. And only after that Nord works her ass off finding, and developing the skills needed.

The curses of Vampirism, and Lycanthropy really need to always be a part of any Elder Scrolls game. I know people who immediately start looking for a vampire when they play, just so they can spend the game as one; complete with all the advantages and disadvantages this entails. And with Skyrim, ditto werewolves. They add an immensely entertaining, and enjoyable extra layer of game play to this series. So it would be a shame to see them left out of the Online experience.

And finally dungeons need to be frikking everywhere; and I do mean everywhere. Part of the joy of the last two games in particular has been the fact that you stumble on dungeons left, right and center. Not just a generic dungeon type either; but dungeons of every type imaginable.

Don’t feel like wandering the world? Find a hole in the ground and explore it.

Don’t feel like a hole in the ground experience? Raid a crypt filled with the undead.

Don’t feel like that? How about a day of hunting mammoths/wolves/bears/your fellow humanoids.

The greatest joy of the Elder Scrolls Saga, lately especially, is that you can do anything in this world. You can cook, you can make a home, get married, hunt, make new and better equipment, you can explore for hours, delve in to dungeons that take anything from 5 minutes, to hours to complete. It’s joy is the sheer flexibility of the games, and how that flexibility translates in to fun.

And that leads to my greatest fear.

* This kills off the Elder Scrolls. No matter what, the Online experience will not be precisely what we expect from an Elder Scrolls game. It may be close, or it may be so far away from what we’ve come to expect that it leaves us totally disheartened. I honestly see Elder Scrolls Online as a bold, and potentially dangerous experiment by Bethesda. If it’s successful, if it’s well received, and well loved by long established Scrolls fans, like myself, it will be a blinding success. But if it drifts too far from what we expect from the Elder Scrolls…it could end in absolute disaster.

But regardless of how it ends up, right now, I am holding all judgement until I’ve played it, and I can’t wait to get my greedy hands on the latest installment of my favourite fantasy role playing game series of all time.

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13/07/2013

Okay, really, my last Skyrim post for the time being. Smithing revisited.

Last week I wrote a piece on easily leveling up smithing, enchanting, a weapon skill, and your speech skill in Skryim. Uh sorry, but I found a better way. I’m certain I am not the first person to have figured this out, but it may be a help to someone out there. So, very quickly (because it’s frikkin roasting here and it’s more effort than I can handle to even type right now) here it is.

1: Find or buy the Alteration spell Transmute Mineral Ore, and read it.

2: Find, mine, beg, borrow, or steal iron ore. If you find iron ingots you can still use them for the iron dagger approach, but when you have ore, leave it as ore.

3: Using the Transmute Metal Ore spell to convert all your iron ore into first silver, and finally gold ore.

4: Now smelt the gold ore to ingots.

5: Forge 2 Golden Rings worth 75 gold from each ingot.

6: Enchant and sell as before.

This will make you more money at sale, raise your smithing skill faster, and add the Alteration school of magic to the skills you’re raising.

And now I’m going to find a dark corner and die. Man I hate this heat. See you Tuesday, if I’m still alive I promise it won’t be Skyrim post.

09/07/2013

I love a challenge. The Skyrim Edition Part 2 – Bored of the Ring.

Yeah I know, I’m posting a lot about Skyrim at the moment. But right now while my body and mind are doing their very best to shred what’s left of my sanity, I’ve found SKyrim to be a surprisingly healing experience. So much to see, so much to do, so many creatures to hunt down and kill. It’s just so relaxing. And as I play it suddenly hit me that you can play a version of basically every major character from the Lord of the Rings if you really want to.

So if you really want to, here is how you can play what I think of as The Fellowship of The “By Talos! Is that a dragon?!” (For the record, because all of the Fellowship let loose a decent war-cry at one stage or another over the course of the three movies, they can all use shouts.)

1: “They’re taking the Hobbits to Isengard!”

Yes, you too can play a character named Legolas. He won’t be as pretty. But he can be just as bad-ass. For this character you are limited to two bows over the course of the game, an a pair of elven daggers. You can only wear cloth (or if you’re some sort of wimpy girlie-elf leather) armor. Oh and no magic that affects other creatures, self buffing only thank you!

2: “I don’t want to be king…but sure why not.”

Who doesn’t want to Aragorn? So bad-ass he can kill orcs with just his scruffy boy beard. Aragorn gets a long-bow, any one or two handed sword (since in the movies he’s seen using both swords with whatever number of hands he feels like), an elven dagger, and leather armor. Oh, and a horse too. Has to marry an elf-maiden. But can not own a house. The last one is a huge handicap in playing Skyrim. Can use no magic of any kind, smithing, or enchanting, but feel free to use all the sneaking, and alchemy you can get your hands on.

3: “Do you think my beard is flowing enough?”

Everyone who doesn’t want to be Aragorn, wants to be Gandalf. And who can blame you when as Gandalf you get any staff, any one handed or two handed sword (for the same reason as Aragorn.) But Gandalf can only wear cloth armor…so you know, clothes. Nor can he own a house. That said he can use any magic, alchemy, and enchanting. And he gets an awesome black horse to emote at.

4: “Never mind me, I die at the end of the first movie, and you’ve never read the book…” *gasp, thud*

Would anyone really want to play Boromir? Well actually, yes. Of all the Fellowship characters he is one of only two who actually fits the Nord of Skyrim template. Give him a one handed sword, a good one. Give him a shield, and the best frikkin armor you can find; any heavy armor for pre-Fellowship days, any light armor for Rivendale up to riddled with arrows. No bows though, and definitely no magic. But perhaps, seeing as he was the student of Gandalf in brighter days, a good grounding in alchemy. But not too much sneaking about, it is after all an act beneath the contempt of this Son of Go…Whiterun. But he can have a horse, and even have as many houses as he likes.

5: “No-one tosses a Dwarf, the armor weighs way to fuckin’ much laddie.”

Gimli would be the other character who fits in to the inhabitant of Skyrim template particularly well. He can obviously wear any heavy armor, and wield any axe. Hell he can even ride a horse, badly; no charging at all for you mister Dwarf. He can also smith absolutely anything, while proudly owning a house. But that’s pretty much it. No bows, no magic, not even any alchemy. Better brush up on those cooking skills.

6-9: “They’re taking us all to Isengard…well two of us anyway.”

Make your character look short. No swords, daggers only. No magic at all. No missile weapons, no horses, no shoes. But, let’s face it, since you’re probably going to play Pretty-Boy…I mean Frodo anyway, your Hobbit can wear enchanted armor. Just no shoes. Oh and he can definitely own a house. One house. But to make up for all the suckage why not max out that sneaky, lock-picking, and pickpocketing type stuff? And you better carry lots of food, seeing as they’re too naive to bother to learn alchemy that doesn’t involve getting high.

And that is probably it for my Skyrim posts for a while. You know, unless I want to write another. But in the mean time I will leave you with possibly the cruelest earwig of the present age. After all they really are…

06/07/2013

Things I’ve learned while wandering Skyrim.

As a quick follow up to my recent Skyrim article, I’ve decided to share a couple of the things I’ve learn about playing Skyrim. Little tips to make life easier, and sometimes more entertaining.

1: Neigh, neigh, snuffle, snuffle, neigh! (Man you’ve put on weight!)

In Skyrim your horse is your (temperamental see below.) best friend. She carries you in to danger, bearing up under the insane weight of you, your armor and all of your loot. And all this without complaining. Even if say you’ve just cleared out the Forsaken Cave and Crypt, meaning that you’re inventory now weighs in at a respectable 900 pounds. And better yet, you can still fast travel while you’re riding your horse, even if you now weight about the same as Jabba the Hutt. A great time saver when you consider all the tooing and froing you’d have to do otherwise to get all your stuff to any vender.

2: You like it? I made it.

There is very little more satisfying in Skyrim than to cut down a dragon with a weapon you forged yourself. Or survive a hail of arrows due to armor you made for yourself. But training the Smithing skill can be kinda time consuming, right? Not so young Dragonborn. First of all don’t make any steel, it’s a waste of iron ore. Instead make, loot, mine and buy as many iron ingots as you can. Iron ores and ingots can be bought from blacksmith NPC’s and sometimes in smaller amounts from general stores. While you’re at it buy, or loot every last petty soul gem you can find. Again general stores and mage vendors. Now move on to the next step.

3: Charge the bastards down!

Filling soul gems is a pain in the arse at lower levels. Cast the spell, kill the bugger in under the timespan of the spell, all the while hoping nothing blindsides you. Well I’m here to tell you that it need not be that way. Find yourself a sword, axe, or mace (one or two handed based on what you want to train up) that comes pre-enchanted with the “of binding” suffix. Fill your inventory with all the petty soul gems. Climb up on your horse, and start practicing those cavalry charges on Mudcrabs. I’m not joking, not even a little. Hold down the trigger, and powerstrike as you charge past. Boom “Soul Gem Filled”. This works great on deer of different types, wolves, foxes, even rabbits. It’s also faster for gathering leather than hunting them down with a bow…but if you just have to use a bow get your Mongol on and do it from horseback. So you’re not only filling soul gems, gathering Alchemy, Enchantment, Cooking, and Smithing materials. But you’re also leveling up your weapon, or even magic skills.

4: Bang, bang, bang went the hammer.

Head home, and forge a lot of iron daggers. Hundreds of them. They each cost one Iron Ingot, and one Leather Strip. Making them a cheap way to level up your Smithing. Then head to the nearest enchantment table, disenchant any weapon (not your soul binding one) and just enchant dagger after dagger. This will let you sell them for a profit, thus making you filthy rich, but it will also quickly level your Enchantment skills. I would advise however against using any perks you gain until you decide what type of Enchantment and Armor you want to wear end game. Also keep the higher level Soul Gems for when you have a piece that is really worth enchanting in a serious way, because leveling these skills is based on the number of uses of the skill, not on the effectiveness of the product.

And finally.

5: Lydia, you may look all delicious in your armor, but please stay away from me in combat. (That goes for you too horse!)

Companions in Skyrim can be useful. But if you’re like me and tend to sneak constantly, taking pot-shots with your bow to wear down targets before charging in with your sword, they can be a liability too. Lydia, the first companion you gain, is a perfect example. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve ended up with my brains clubbed out because she refused to stay hidden. I’ve also lost track of how many times she’s gotten me killed by charging in and engaging ever enemy in a room, instead of taking them out, one by one. Personally I think she’s just trying to get me killed so she can go back to serving in Dragonsreach.

My horse is even worse. I think she’s waiting safely for me behind a boulder, and the next thing I know she’s attacking someone who wandered too close to me, and oh, oh, oh…yes she’s now dead. I’m overburdened, and now I have to walk the whole way home with my bow fully drawn so I can move at a speed slightly faster than a crawl. Or even worse than that, she’s decided “No fuck you human, I’m gonna walk back to the stables…on the other side of that mountain range.”

The companions can be so random in what they decide to do, that generally I just adventure alone. Using my horse only when I’m hunting, or I know I’ll be going underground, or into a building immediately. It’s just less hassle. Besides, Lydia looks so much better lying on my bed back in Breezehome.

02/07/2013

The Hellgate has returned to London. Templars assemble!

The sky is eternally bruised, ash floats on every breeze. The streets no longer ring to the sounds of human voices, or the laughter of children. The scents of smoke, and sulphur fill the air. In the distance you hear shuffling feet, low moans, skittering noises come at you from around every corner. Your sword feels heavy in your hand. Sweat runs down your face inside your helmet. And far ahead you see a flicker of movement as cadavers in various states of decay shuffle aimlessly.

This is the London of the future. Stripped of virtually all life by the demons which poured out of a Hellgate years before. And you are one of the last defenders of the human race, a Templar. And now it’s time to shred zombie flesh to get to the heart of the infestation. Well that or die trying.

Hellgate:London was originally released in 2007. I was lucky enough to receive the gift of a copy a year later. And it quickly became one of my favourite games of all time. It was exciting, sometimes scary, always action packed. In structure it was a little odd.

You had the 3rd party/1st person display modes available in World of Warcraft, and other similar role playing games.

The item gathering, and inventory management of the Diablo series.

The ability to be melee, ranged or a reasonably balanced mixture of the two.

So far, so normal, so how was it odd?

Well first of all, it also felt rather like a 3D environment take on an old school Hack’n’Slash game. Think Golden Axe, with zombies, demons, and demonic beasts all set in a post apocalyptic London. A rather different take on the role playing game, for that the time at least.

And secondly, the maps were largely very, very, linear. You’d have a series of tunnels, or a street level map. It would have an entrance, and sometimes an exit. Fight to the exit/target. Hand in quest.

In truth it’s very hard to describe Hellgate: London in any way that makes sense. But I can describe it in three words, for myself.

Fun.

Addictive.

Infuriating.

Fun because, well you’re wandering London’s streets, underground, and sewers hunting demons with swords, guns, and magic. And parts of the game are very recognisable places. Even some of the tube stations are recognisable, even if the scale is really, really off. It meant for me that the first time I ever went to London, I was fascinated to see the real world places I’d hunted down imps in on my PC. The fun followed me in to reality. And experience I have yet to have repeat itself with any other game.

Addictive, there’s so much to see. Yes, many maps are randomly generated, but some are always the same. The mix means you’re never totally sure what you’re going to see next. The sheer volume of items is mind boggling. You can spend hours just hunting, looking for that perfect sword, or gun, or focus to drop, to round out your equipment.

Infuriating, you can spend hours looking for that one piece of equipment, and never see it.

Well Hellgate: London has been re-released as a Free to Play, micro-transaction based online game. And after playing five hours of it so far I can share with you the follow feeling. It’s Hellgate: London. It plays, and feels almost identical to the original. The missions/quests all seem to be the same, though some are now repeatable so you can raise faction friendliness. The items are the same. It’s the same.

But it’s also a little different. As I said there are now micro-transactions in place with in the game. These vary from inventory size boosts, to the ability to unlock, locked mod slots on your equipment. New, but so far as I can see, not in any way intrusive. It certainly does not feel like you HAVE to spend money to get further.

In addition, it is now online only. That’s not to say it’s mandatory multi-player, though you do have the option to play with others if you wish to. More that the single-player campaign has to be played while logged in. Which can be a slight drag now and then if you end up on a laggy channel, or if your connection has gone down.

Also there are now daily quests, for various items. A nice, and unobtrusive addition to the game. And finally the, sometimes, terminal graphics overload when too many creatures, and special effects were going off on screen seem to have been ironed out.

Apparently this new release also includes the two expansions from the original as later stage content. As well as the Hellgate: Tokyo areas. I can’t confirm the latter as I am still crawling through Covent Garden at the moment.

It’s a pretty enough game. With reasonably good character creation options, certainly on a par with World of Warcraft prior to the Cataclysm expansion. Though the colouring of the game is rather more muted than most gamers might like. That said, I do think that the graphics may have had something of an overhaul, as I don’t remember there being quite this level of model detail on the creatures and NPC’s. Though that may just be my failing memory.

(Image via www.Islabit.com)

The sound quality is pretty average. The music is, nice. There’s not much more to say about it. But the voice acting is fairly okay, if a little annoying at times. Seriously, I wonder did the original developers actually bother listening to real Londoners, or just watch Mary Poppins a few times.

So about now you’re asking yourself is this worth my playing it?

And I have to answer, maybe.

If you were a fan of the original then I would have to say, absolutely yes. This is, again from my perspective, the Hellgate: London we all remember, with a few tweaks that actually make it better. And if you liked it back then, but if like me you missed the expansions then definitely go for it. After all, it’s free to play. And as it comes in a relatively small, 5 Gigabyte download it won’t have you waiting days to play it either.

Otherwise, well I don’t think you have anything to lose by trying it out. The storyline is good fun, and has an interesting ending for the “single-player” campaign unless it’s been changed. And as I said it is free. But this is not WoW. There’s not a lot of carefully thought out attack rotations. Though it does have 3 characters classes with 2 sub-classes each, and each class has a wildly different play style, so that combined with the many randomly generated maps does make for some replay value.

All said I truly believe this game matches up reasonably well against Star Wars: The Old Republic, Aion, and most definitely Rappelz or the other Korean grindfest games. So maybe give it a try, and let me know what you think of it yourself.

Graphics: 8/10

Sound: 7/10

Gameplay: 8/10

Overall: 8/10

It may only compare as okay to more modern titles, but I feel it wipes the floor with most other free to play games, with the possible exception of Star Trek Online.

(But personally 10/10 because I am a Hellgate addict. I even read the comic, and the novels after all.)

18/06/2013

I love a challenge. The Skyrim Edition.

You’ve heard of Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, the insanely huge open world role playing game? A game where you save all of Tamriel from the onslaught of the reawakened dragons? How about the game that has allowed potential psychopaths, sociopaths, and kleptomaniacs to express those repressed feelings in a way that won’t lead to deaths in the real world, but still manage to creep us, semi-normal gamers, the frik out?

But leaving the dark underbelly of Skyrim players alone, for now at least, yesterday I sat in my recliner, hot chocolate in one hand, controller in the other, stalking a deer when I started to wonder just how challenging Skyrim can be made. Hence the list below. Enjoy.

1: What you win, you keep.

There are shops in Skyrim. There are also furnaces, blacksmiths, and alchemical laboratories. You can build and buy your way through this game. But what if your character is an idiot? No-one would ever trust her not to laminate an anvil with her thumbs. What if every time she tries to make a healing potion she instead blew up his house, the neighbour’s house, and most of the town surrounding them? And what if she mostly uses her hard-won coins as weights on fishing lines? Oh and needless to say she’s too ham-fisted to actually pick a lock, or a pocket.

Why then you’re stuck with only using what she finds on the many, many, MANY corpses she creates.

So challenge 1 is no crafting, purchasing or theft of any kind…aside from corpse looting.

2: The undisputed light/middle/heavy weight champion of the world!

Put on the Rocky theme. A sweatband on your forehead. A squeeze bottle of Jack Daniels. Because dear reader for this challenge you are to get as far in the game as you can with no weapons. None. You see your character seems to have forgotten that unlike in Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, there is no bare hand combat skill (Or at least none I can find). But she still wants to wander the fields, hills, valleys, and goblin filled dungeons of Tamriel with nothing to aid her but the armor on her back. She’s just that gods damned badass.

In fact she’s so badass that when the previous character blows up half of Whiterun in a badly advised experiment, she doesn’t turn around as she walks away.

(As I am a benevolent girlie I will allow Khajiit characters with their +15 claw damage. But apart from that…nadda.)

3: But I love Mister Pointy.

In most fantasy stories the hero has a weapon he, or she, that is a part of their signature. Druss has his axe, Legolas his bow, Gimli his ax…I may not have though out that sequence properly. Still your characters legend, dear reader, is inextricably bound with only one weapon. Their first weapon. Wander Tamriel bare handed until you stumble upon your legendary weapon. And ONLY use that weapon as you write rest of your story in the blood of your enemies.

For added bonus gaming badass points limit yourself to non-magical weapons only.

4: Unlimited Powah!

Something went wrong when you were born. You were supposed to be born on Naboo, become a senator, and eventually hand Yoda his ass in the Senate building. But instead you were born to peasants, tried to sneak into Skyrim from a bordering region, and nearly wound up being executed. But even so you’re still all Sith.

Only cloth armor. Only one single handed blade (though you can change blades, and enhance and enchant them to your hearts content as long as the enchantment makes it glow red, or not at all.). And only one spell…Spark. Oh and every time you dual wield Spark you have to scream at the enemy on the screen “Unlimited Powah!” It’s a rule.

5: Do your boys/girls hang low?

Skyrim has a deliciously cold, bracing climate. And as is traditional in such climates some people just insist on doing everything naked. You are one such person. Though to protect the children you do at least wear your filthy, ragged undies.

Wander Tamriel in naught but your skivvies. But armed to the teeth. You might allow yourself boots, helmets and gloves, if you’re some sort of wuss, along with any weapon, or spell you like. Because Sonny-Jim if it was good enough for the blue painted warriors of some backwoods dimension, well then wearing nothin’ is good enough for you.

And that good friends is it for now. If you have other challenge modes for Skyrim share them below. Feel free to like, repost, share this. Oh and if you have five minutes to spare, and feel that my blog deserves it please follow the link below and give me a nomination in the “Best Personal Blog” category. Thank you.

Blog Awards Ireland

30/04/2013

I love Borderlands, just not for the boss fights.

Borderlands is possibly my favourite first person shooter of all time. It seamlessly blends the looting fun of Diablo style games with the fun of scoring head-shots against non-player characters from truly ridiculous distances. It is in a word, awesome, and on Saturday morning I finished my first play through of it. It took me about 20 hours of play time to run through the game, I insisted on doing every single side-quest, and I can say I enjoyed 99% of the game.

But am I alone in feeling that after the first level boss fight that they quickly became…unsatisfying?

In the first area your weapons are kind of weak-sauce, they generally do very low damage, rather anemic elemental effects and the fact that you have built up precisely no level of proficiency in them means you’ll pound away forever at both the mini bosses, and the end of level one. You shields are laughable, and your health-points vanish so fast that you almost want to scream out “I’m melting, I melting! What a world, what a world!”

By the time I found myself taking out an insane boss and his equally insane rocket firing car at the end of the second main area there was no struggle. One death on my side, and he fell. The third boss I didn’t even die, I just scored a few very long-range head-shots against him with a rocket-launcher and boom, the loot be mine.

And you know what? I was alright with that. They were just level bosses. Important story-wise, but not much more than that. They were after all simply overpowered versions of the standard bad-guys. I knew, just knew that the end-game boss would be EPIC!

And I was both right, and wrong. I won’t spoil much, just in case like me there’s someone who is a latecomer to both the worlds of Xbox, and Borderlands out there reading this. But I will say that the last boss is frikkin’ HUGE. It’s e-fucking-normous! It has multiple attack forms. Multiple damage types. And a pool of health-points that Cthulhu would be proud to possess.

Some reviewers feel that this is an example of lameness, are they mad? Borderlands was better for the inclusion of eldritch horrors such as this. And yes, there are more including a giant living nest, with a vagina for a face. I fuck you not, a vagina for a face! (image via www.gaminglives.com )

It also unfortunately, for me at least, has a fatal weakness that is incredibly easy to exploit. I died twice attempting to kill this monstrosity. Twice. The third attempt I never once worried about my character dying.

And so I walked away from my favorite FPS, to date, feeling unsatisfied. The ending movie was…sweet I guess. I mean I still know nothing about the hot chick with the blue eyes, though I am reliably informed that I will by the end of game 2. And yup I still have four whole DLC levels to play through, as soon as I get them. But Borderlands itself let me down with its bosses, though strangely not the mini-bosses most of whom were utterly bad-ass.

Area one = Sheer Terror, multiple deaths, and loot I cheered for having.

All other bosses = Load up, cross-hair on target, squeeze trigger, don’t let go til you hear a click. Repeat if, and I do mean if, needed.

All that said, if you have an Xbox, or other machine that Borderlands is available for you should buy it. And you should, while saying goodbye to a full day of your life, play the ever living crap out of it. It is insanely fun, stylish, beautiful, and just incredibly playable. But the joy of it is definitely in the areas themselves, and not in beating the bosses.

09/04/2013

Easy to use character modelling for the budding comic artist?

Had a moment of, what passes with me for genius, the other day. Of course it’s something that I’m totally, absolutely, completely certain every artsy-sketchy geek type person has had before, but just in case it’s a trick that has passed some of you by, here it is.

If you’re kind of an inexperienced artist like I am, creating the look of a character, faces, body-type and all the rest  from imagination is kind of tough challenge. I mean sure, once you know what they actually look like you can, with considerable effort, do it. But it’s creating that first, something lifelike from nothing, that kills brain cells.

Well anyway, there I was playing Skyrim. I’d decided to make a new character and had just made it through the opening. I was standing in front of the executioners block, and the game had just asked me to create my character. So I started building how she looked, dark hair, white eyes, pale-dirty skin, kissable  lips, ox-blood war-paint and of course a nice sexy scar running down her right cheek, when it suddenly hit me. The games character generation, and even more so the preceding game Oblivion, gives you the ability to create life-like faces that you can screen-capture and use as baseline references for drawing character faces, and even bodies.

You can then modify them as you wish to make them unique, but the crucial part, creating the basic face has been made much easier. Best of all even creating the models themselves will give invaluable experience in understanding what makes a face look more or less real.

And while I am sure there are plenty who will moan and say that this is cheating. But is it really? Yes, you are using an existing system in a way it was never intended, but you are creating the look of the model even if you don’t necessarily understand how the system itself works. And don’t most artists use references? What makes a photograph purer? Surely it’s better to use an image of someone who never existed. To learn by manipulating a malleable, resettable model when a character starts, and stops looking real?

Anyway thought I’d share that. Maybe it’ll help someone else out.

Oh and an afterthought. So many games have this sort of character creation now, but there’s actually one particular free-to-play PC based MMORPG named Perfect World International. It’s okay to play, a pretty standard Korean grind-fest. But it has the most near-infinitely adjustable character creation system I have ever seen. You can with effort make character models which are anything from divinely beautiful to hideously ugly with it. And as I said free to download, free to sign up, and free to play (if the grinding madness happens to strike.).

09/02/2013

HMV, if only I’d known how much I’d miss you.

I spent last weekend in Cork visiting the mammy, and one of my adopted lil sisters. *waves* Hey Neads, so Bif Naked huh? I actually managed to have a pretty funky good time. A Friday afternoon was spent wandering my home city, checking out the shops, and more so the many, many gorgeous female Corkonians. Seriously, why did all the insanely beautiful Cork women decide to come out of hiding after I moved to Dublin? Is my raw sexuality, and sensuality that scary. (Yeah, I don’t believe that last part either, have ya seen me? Raw mincemeat is more like it.)

Very cheap things were bought, a laptop slip cover for my new baby. 10 Euro down from 75!

A pair of John Rocha leather gloves that were supposed to be for my Partner in Crime but which barely fit my moms barely adult sized hands…woops. 18 Euro from 40.

Three Xbox games, Gears of War 1, Golden Axe: Beastrider (cos of the very hot redheaded amazon on the front cover), and Lost something or other (you kill things and then huddle up to them to keep warm before killing more things. Basically a cross between The Lord of the Flies and the first half of Empire Strikes Back.) Should’ve been 25ish Euro, I got them for 15. *fist pump*

Noticeably absent from that list however, for anyone who knows me well, are DVD’s.  I collect movies. My house has somewhere in the region (now) of 300 movies, and probably a dozen box-sets. But the important point to be made at this stage is that I’ve never paid full price for any of those movies. None of them. I will not pay over a tenner for a movie on DVD, and I won’t pay over twenty for a box-set. Let’s put it this way, I’m still waiting to find a copy of Ironman 2 at an acceptable price to round out my Marvel collection.

So, back to Cork last Friday. I’d found gloves, games and laptop accessories. So I decided to use the last of my unassigned money for the weekend to find something cool to watch with my Mom on Saturday evening. I toddled off to the place where HMV has stood on Patricks Street for my entire life. But of course it’s closed down.

Hmm, Virgin, or whatever company own the site of the shop formerly known as Virgin. What The Hell?! Why is there a Dealz there?

Golden Disc’s? I’ll be honest here. I couldn’t remember where Golden Disc’s had shops in Cork so I gave up at that point.

Now G.D. I can take or leave. I always could, it’s never been that great a shop. Virgin, or whatever the last shop on that site was last called…meh. They never had deals that were that good. But HMV. Oh HMV come back to us! My great joys in life the past 9 years or so have been in descending order.

My Partner in Crime. (And my other girlfriend/Slavegirl at the time.) Hubba Hubba!

My friends. They kind of rock collectively, as well as rolling individually.

Video gaming, and watching movies.

The bargain sections of HMV.

My kinky toy-box.

Thrift shops.

Kari Byron.

My electric blanket.

See how high HMV is in that list? Going to Liffey Valley Shopping Center really meant “PiC you wander the clothes shops, I’m going to wander HMV and spend hardly any money on a shit load of movies, or secondhand games.” And now, Liffey Valley just means…New Look. Which is great, don’t get me wrong. Cute staff, and sort of affordable clothing, even if they own nothing what-so-ever that fit on my feet.

HMV has been the unknowing savior of this girls sanity so many times. Those days when I’m in too much pain to sit on the frikkin’ toilet, watch a movie I love, that I bought in HMV. Just finished all my creative work for the day? Reward myself by playing a game I bought in HMV. Feel down over being the only girl in sight with a hair color more commonly seen in Anime or Hentai? Wander through HMV, at least one member of staff would have nutty hair, and cute tats.  Need a birthday present in a hurry? Everyone likes music, or movies, or games, hmm gift voucher, ah HMV.

I’d known they were gone for a while now. I’d even walked past the Liffey Valley branch several times, staring wistfully at the closed shutters, wishing I could wander through it one more time. But last Friday struck home to me just how badly I’m going to miss HMV now that it’s gone. And yes, some other company will buy it, and reopen some, if not most, of those stores. But, it just won’t be the same.

So HMV this one’s for you. And me and Neads. Bif Naked, take it away.

25/12/2012

Happy Turkey Day! And why Microsoft should grow the fuck up a little.

Well it’s Christmas Day, and since I already went in to precisely what that means me last year, I thought I would wax both lyrical and pissy about my present from my Partner-In-Crime. You see, as basically everyone with ears or a Facebook account connected to mine already knows, she got me an Xbox. And I am to say the very least chuffed. It’s a nice 250GB one, that came with a wireless controller, headset, some racing game I’ll probably never even open, and of course Skyrim.

So all goodness right?

Mostly, but Microsoft, Microsoft, Microsoft. You’ve been a very greedy little monkey (and not in a good way either), so Satan Claws will have to be informed. There’ll be no pretty kinky little flesh-stocking stuffer for you next year.

Why?

Well the wireless controller, you dear reader have undoubtedly assumed it would come with either a rechargeable power pack, or at least a set of rechargeable batteries. I mean, you would think that such a thing would be considered a standard part of such a bundle, right?

Well apparently Microsoft think that a pair of Duracell AA alkaline batteries covers things…Okay so let me get this straight, the multi-billion Dollar company, with an annual income which compares favourably with the gross national product of some countries, feels that it can’t stump up a rechargeable battery pack.

But that’s not all. The driving game, comes on a disk. Meh. But Skyrim is download only. Why in the fuck couldn’t they have included a hard copy? I mean would it have killed them? You know what? If it was an economy thing they could have left out the driving game entirely, given us Skyrim on disk, and I imagine that 99.999999999% of all customers would have been delighted with the result.

I mean I know why they did it this way. You HAVE to sign up for Xbox Live to get Skyrim. Which means Microsoft get their grubbing little fingers a little deeper in to your head. But this was just, just…sneaky.

And I’m totally going to tell Satan Claws on you. 😛

(In all seriousness though, I love my Xbox. Best Xmas gift EVER!”

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