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10241  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Age of Conan Aug. 19 patch notes on: August 20, 2008, 01:13:46 PM
Pretty huge patch went up yesterday (warning: several screens length here icon_razz)

    * The Catacombs in Tarantia Nobel district offers a host of new quests and encounters to challenge you in this group instance.



    * Dark Meditation will now properly expire.
    * Dark Meditation should now be removed from the spell list after untraining feats.
    * The description for the general feat Purge no longer refers to multiple targets.
    * The feat "Purge" has been renamed to "Spell - Purge".
    * Mirrored Iron's proc, Set's Shield, now hits using the correct damage type based on the Magic Rating buff running.
    * Mirrored Iron's proc, Set's Shield, has had its damage readjusted to the proper amount.

ROGUE (General)

    * Ambush ability will no longer increase the damage of the next strike.
    * Mountaineer feat's decrease to the duration of the Bruised Body debuff has been changed from 50%/100% to 45%/90% per respective rank.
    * Mountaineer feat's decrease to the duration of the Broken Bones debuff has been changed from 25%/50% to 30%/60% per respective rank.
    * Quick Dismount will not go on cooldown unless you are mounted.
    * Cheat the Reaper will now work 25%/50% of the time per respective feat point spent.
    * Cheat the Reaper can now only activate once every 5 minutes.


    * Brutal Enraging Wound and Enraging Wound will now always tick 3 times.
    * Brutal Enraging Wound now displays the proper damage over time value in the combo tool tip.
    * Spell damage will now properly trigger Cunning Deflection.


    * Grim Corruption I's debuff will now stack with the other Grim Corruption debuffs.
    * Grim Corruption will now debuff Unholy and Poison Invulnerabilities by 5% at each rank.


    * All the Savage Rage combos now use the same animation as Savage Rage IV.
    * Impale's cooldown has been increased to 40 seconds.
    * Impale's bonus damage will now scale consistently with feat points invested.

Bear Shaman

    * Aspects - Blood Fever, Skulk, and Untamed Regeneration will no longer be removed after zoning.
    * Claws of Life will no longer be removed after zoning.
    * Spirits of the Debased proc buff now uses the proper icon in the buff GUI.
    * Spirit Totem: Profane will now always give Unholy Invulnerabilities with each rank of Spirits of the Debased trained.


    * Conquest's bonus to One-Handed weapon damage has been increased across all ranks.
    * Deep Wounds will now stack properly.
    * Deep Wounds' proc rate has been slightly increased.
    * Deep Wounds now displays a stack count in the target's debuff GUI.
    * Deep Wounds' DPS has been increased slightly.
    * Feint Attack I will no longer scale past Feint Attack II at any level.
    * Frostbite will now debuff magical damage in addition to melee damage.
    * Frostbite will now have an additional larger debuff component versus PvP targets on top of the normal debuff.
    * Frostbite's chance to apply off of a Hoarfrost proc has been doubled.
    * Hail of Furious Strikes II will no longer scale past Hail of Furious Strikes III at any level.
    * Lacerate will now proc off all non-unarmed melee attacks.
    * Lacerate's proc rate has been slightly increased.
    * Lacerate now displays a stack count in the target's debuff GUI.
    * Lacerate's DPS has been increased slightly.
    * Lingering Wrath's damage has been slightly reduced.
    * Lingering Wrath will now always tick 5 times.
    * Offhand Precision's bonus has been doubled at all ranks. It will now increase Offhand Chance by 2%/4%/6%/8%/10% per respective rank.
    * Rend Flesh's duration has been increased to 15 seconds. The cooldown has also been increased to 1 minute.
    * Rend Flesh's damage over time effect will now last 5 seconds.
    * Rend Flesh now displays a stack count in the target's debudff GUI.
    * Rend Flesh's damage over time effect will now scale better with more feat points invested.
    * Improved Rend's direct damage hit will now scale better with more feat points invested.
    * Two-Handed Master's bonus to Two-Handed weapon damage will now scale more consistently.
    * Renamed Auras & Battle Crys, and included level up info in descriptions.

Dark Templar

    * The name of the feat "Spell - Dooming Presence" has been changed to "Combo - Dooming Presence", since it actually does grant a combo and not a spell.
    * Pact of Malacodor should now be removed from the spellbook after untraining feats.
    * Reaper of Malacodor should now be removed from the spellbook after untraining feats.
    * Covenant of Arms will no longer be removed after zoning if you have the appropriate feat.


    * Chaotic Blast's damage component can now perform critical hits.
    * Demonic War will no longer be removed when zoning.


    * Guard I will no longer scale past Guard II at any level.
    * Lowered the damage of Stagger I slightly.
    * Increased the damage of Stagger II slightly.

Herald of Xotli

    * Undying Glory of Xotli should no longer be removed when zoning.
    * Fixed a tool tip issue causing the wrong information to be displayed in the Burning Words feat.


    * Despoil the Soul will now show the proper duration when viewing the tool tip of the spell.
    * Despoil the Soul duration has been increased to 1 hour.
    * Spellweaving buff 'Death God' duration has been reduced to 20 seconds.
    * The cabal debuff will now use the proper icon in the target's debuff window.

Priest of Mitra

    * Armor of Faith will no longer be removed by Hand of Mitra.


    * Incapacitating Stabs I will never scale past Incapacitating Stabs II at all levels.
    * Marked Target will now stack properly when 2 points are invested in the feat.
    * Piercing Stance, Shattering Stance, Sniper Stance, and Fire Stance will no longer be removed when zoning if the appropriate feat is trained.
    * Shattering Shots will now properly remove the directional shielding in the target GUI.
    * Immolation should work more consistently.

Tempest of Set

    * Lightning Cast will now properly put Lightning Strike on a 5 second cooldown.
    * A book in your offhand will no longer spin during attack animations.


    * The attack at the end of a charge can no longer be aborted.
    * Transitions between 2H-attacks for male & female characters should feel smoother.
    * The male UP-attack animation for staves should now work correctly.
    * Charge, Ursine Rush, Impale (Guardian), Stunning Charge, and Hellstep can no longer be used while Hidden.
    * Melee pets will now do splash damage.
    * Knockback should have a proper animation again.
    * Using an ability while charging (such as Cunning Deflection) should no longer lock up your movement.
    * You should no longer be able to damage or heal dead targets with spells or combos.
    * Fixed a cause of sliding during combat.
    * Initiating chat with an NPC while performing attacks will now stop your attack animation as intended.
    * You can no longer de-apprentice while in combat.


    * If the attacking guild takes over a battlekeep, any city guards that are left will now despawn.
    * Players can now only spawn a ballista while the city is vulnerable to attack.
    * Catapult progress bar no longer shows Trebuchet Blast.
    * Once the siege battle is finished, the siege weapons and siege camps will now be properly disposed of.
    * Ballista siege weapons will no longer cycle between all targets they have. They will use the last target instead, making them more useful in combat.
    * If you get teleported out of a battle you will now end up in the nearest NPC village of the connecting resource and building playfield, instead of ending up in the nearest city.
    * The siege camp in Burnheim which previously spawned at the wrong location will now spawn at the proper location.
    * It's now possible to get a replaced siege targeting module if you lost one. Simply target the weapon and press the use button to get a replacement.
    * Only the defending guild can talk to the ballista builder NPCs.
    * The siege camps will now give a message when they are used when the city isn't vulnerable.
    * Player city guards are now friendly to the guild that owns the city.
    * Siege Weapons should no longer fail to initialize properly.
    * Ballista NPCs should always spawn when the city becomes vulnerable.
    * Vendors should no longer spawn if the vulnerability window opens when the building has just finished being built.
    * Members of the attacking guild should no longer get teleported out of the instance when zoning into a siege that is already in progress.
    * Siege Weapons should no longer report that the target is out of range when it's not out of range. A different error message will appear if the siege weapon was unable to fire at the target for some reason.
    * Massive PvP city NPCs should only be usable by the owners of the city.
    * Defending players in a siege will no longer get points for character kills.
    * Time left in the siege battle before it ends will now display correctly in Score window.
    * If no guild applies for a battle queue before the 24h prior to the siege are over, that battle queue will be locked and no guild will be assigned the Attacker role.
    * Mammoth Sweep and Rhino Sweep damage increased and changed to Siege damage to properly damage buildings.


    * The Barracks in Player Cities will now spawn the correct amount of guards after being upgraded.
    * Only the guild that owns the city will be able to use the NPCs inside their city.
    * Renamed some player city feats to be in line with the names of the buildings.
    * Barracks should now always show up in the guild feats window after being built.


    * Sunsteel Half-plate Vambraces now have the proper full-plate requirement to wear, and can no longer be worn by everybody.
    * Basic and Advanced Riding Training items will properly be comsumed on use.
    * Pyramid of the Ancients: The essence trap can now only be used within the pyramid.


    * Rhino Charge should no longer go on cooldown unless successfully activated.


    * Due to popular demand, we've forced some of our female Derketo followers to burn their bras.
    * Tavern patrons in the Armsmans Tavern should no longer play strange animations.
    * Deli in the Pyramid of the Ancients now looks poor, and possibly insane.
    * Spiders will no longer jump back several feet when getting hit.
    * Travel NPCs should offer correct dialog options for travel.
    * New and updated loot has been placed in the Catacombs!
    * Acheronian Ruins - The Pict Bat Shrieker will now patrol with pets. If attacked, he will keep spawning pets so that he always has 3 pets with him. If he leaves combat, he and his pets will resume patrolling.
    * Acheronian Ruins - - All picts now have a specified class, and fitting weapon to this class. Added more mobs.
    * Conarch Village - Removed a loop from Rhiderch, and Ryarm's dialog.
    * Commander Zoria's costume and weapons have been revamped.
    * Kalanthes will no longer stand on chairs in his house.
    * Kyllikki's Crypt - The White Hand Priests will now use their healing and damage abilities.
    * Lacheish Plains - Screamer Wolf, Wailer Wolf, Baying Wolf, and Whimpering Wolf NPCs now have the proper death and attack animations.
    * Oasis of Zaara - Lions are no longer easy to defeat.
    * Pyramid of the Ancients - The Master Torturer will no longer spawn multiple times in a row.
    * Tarantia Noble District - Lady Verde's Bodyguard now looks the same both when seen on the outside and the inside of the villa.
    * Tarantia Sewers/Catacombs - Putharjath should now have more interresting abilities.
    * Treasury of the Ancients - Corrected a typo in Thuthmekri's dialog.
    * White Sands Isle - Asapon will now correctly spawn at all times outside the Atlantean Cave.
    * Khopshef Province: Hamadi should now patrol correctly at all times.
    * Khopshef Province: Hidden Bandits will now dual wield.
    * Khopshef Province: "Fine Potions" Merchant Nekhbet is now easier to interact with.
    * Some bosses were using combos they weren't supposed to. This has been fixed.
    * Traders in Conarch Village and elsewhere should always be available for use.


    * Additional Voiceacting for the following quests:
          o Conarch Village:
                + Every Strong Arm
                + Clans at War
          o Conall's Valley:
                + An Impending Attack
                + Chaos in the Fortress
                + Mayhem in the Fortress
                + Decimate the Warhost
          o Old Tarantia:
                + The Wrong Kind of Message
                + The Woman Who Never Died
          o Wild Lands of Zelata:
                + Tearing the Veil
                + Immortal Acheron
          o Khemi:
                + The Raided Tomb
                + The Satiated Serpent
          o Khopshef Province:
                + A Plea for Prophecy
                + Sneaking Suspicions
                + Lord Atum-Kheket
                + Emerald Eyes
          o Eiglophian Mountains:
                + A Broken Bloodline
                + The Blood-Furred Best
                + Elina's Father
                + A Daughter's Revenge
                + White Hand Officers
          o Field of the Dead:
                + Death to the Vanir
                + The Ymirish Bearlock
                + Lieutenant Rhor
                + Lieutenant Haken, Karras & Vorr
                + Tabbot and the Scounts
                + The Wolf Dream
                + The Curse of the Werewolves
                + Den of Wolves
                + A Curious Encounter
          o Atzel's Approach:
                + The Giant Killings
                + Against the Giant Chief
                + Hard Evidence
                + Trail to the Dragon's Lair
                + The Stygian Diary
          o Kheshatta:
                + Lift the Curse of Constantius
                + Master of the Silver Peacock
                + Ibis, Master of Hidden Secrets
                + Master of Gargoyles
          o Thunder River:
                + A Steep Cliff
                + Heads of the Fallen
                + Turning Point
                + Absolute War


    * Atzel's Fortress: Kidnapping & Torture - Any leftover Flasks of Oily Pitch will be removed when you complete this quest.
    * Atzel's Approach: Revenge of the Ape God - This is now a group quest.
    * Atzel's Approach: Power Behind the Throne - Item "Orders with the Mark of Set" no longer tells the player to right click on it to get a quest.
    * Conarch Village: The Downtrodden - Croiss will no longer confuse a sword with an axe.
    * Khemi: The Guardian statue will no longer send you into a dialog loop.
    * Kheshatta: The Grim Grey God - You will now reset to the location where you zoned in if you log out in the instance.
    * Kheshatta: The Grim Grey God - Sarcophagi and pedestals will have a progress bar when they’re being used.
    * Kheshatta: Heady Kaphil Liquor - The flowers to be collected now have visual effects to help identify them.
    * Kheshatta: Hunting the Waste - Weapons for this quest will now have a visual effect.
    * Old Tarantia: The Aquilonian ******* - Fixed the dialogue so that the quest resolves if and only if the player has actually told Varinia about her husband's infidelity.
    * Pyramid of the Ancients - The teleport altar behind Lord Atum-Keket will now be visible at all times.
    * Pyramid of the Ancients - Solving the quest "Emerald Eyes" will actually give emerald eyes to the Guardian Statue.
    * Tarantia Sewers: The Orphans in the Hovel - Quest now updates for the entire party after talking to Galeria.
    * Thunder River: The Kitten - The cat now correctly patrols and eventually despawns.
    * Wild Lands: Old Secrets - The password has been corrected in the quest journal.
    * Kheshatta: Wanted , The Blasphemer - Ashka should now spawn correctly.
    * Khopshef Province: The Slave Rebellion - The cage key will now drop correctly.
    * Khopshef Province: Blessed Caves - Anata's Key should no longer remain in the player's quest inventory.
    * Khopshef Province: Trapped by Lions - We have added a few new, interesting encounters. In addition, Lisimba now moves a bit quicker. The quest is now level 21 to reflect the surrounding mobs.
    * Tortage Underhalls: Players will now be able to re-enter Raboz's Cell after finishing the quest Gone with the Wine, but before starting on the quest Ruins and Demise.


    * If you go linkdead while in the middle of a random encounter at a resource node, you will now be able to log back in with time to prepare before your next random encounter.
    * Fixed a small typo that occured in an onscreen message when harvesting is interrupted.
    * Vendor bought resources have been reduced in price.
    * Added and adjusted drop rates of leather resources to animals residing in the Resource & Building playfields.
    * Droprate for all Wild Lands of Zelata animals have increased.
    * Droprate of Wild Dagga has been slightly increased in the world.


    * Several collision fixes in Massive PvP Battlekeep playfields.
    * Corrected a few areas where players could previously get stuck in the Tarantia Noble District.
    * Conalls Valley night time environment has been altered to brighten the playfield slightly.


    * Descriptions for Bandaging, Fast Healing, Mana Attractor, and Fast Recovery have been tweaked to be more consistent with actual function.
    * Added descriptions to a few of the more obscure potions in Hyboria.
    * The Combo Sequence Indicator should no longer get stuck when failing to complete a combo.
    * Hide my helmet/cloak options should work again.
    * Improved GUI Modifications to support the new PvP Consequence System.
    * Corrected the names of some chat channels to be more accurate. Added a few new chat channels.
    * The PVP XP bar can be toggled on and off. (Interface -> HUD)
    * Floating healing numbers over the character's head are back.
    * Fixed weird messages when teleporting in the massive PvP playfields.
    * The optional GUI component Combat Rose will now react to every keypress in a fight instead of just the first one.
    * Players can now use /<channelname> to talk to different channels.
    * Items will no longer show +0.0 to any stats.
    * A cause of flickering icons has been corrected.
    * Fixed an issue with building model requirements failing when the models were stacked in your inventory.
    * Crafted items will now display the "created by" name. (NOTE : This is a work in progress)


    * Removed the Miss Chance from Shield of the Risen.
    * You will no longer be zoned after speaking to a Feat Fixer.
    * Several combat related animation issues - such as sheathing and unsheathing spears, holding swords - have been tweaked.
    * Added a male animation for the dance_sexy_f emote, and renamed it to dance_sexy.
    * Many typos corrected in quests and dialog.
    * Fixed a case when the game stopped running after restoring from minimized state.
    * Some assertion failure, memory leak, and crash causes were addressed.
    * Black Castle: Player zoning rotation from Khopshef Province has been fixed.
    * Voiceovers should no longer continue to play when you zone into another playfield.
    * Shield of the Risen no longer displays its particle effects on hidden players (unless they're on your team)
    * Typing /channelname followed by a space and no other text in chat will no longer crash the client.
    * You will not be charged for resetting your skills unless the skill value is >= 150
    * Zoning from Black Castle to Khopshef Province will now show the Epic Mode selection box.
    * Fixed an issue where single player playfields would not reset.
    * The'Out Of Disk Space' error should be fixed.
    * Falling very large distances will no longer make you end up standing in mid-air.
    * Tortage: Fixed lighting in the Thirsty Dog Inn.
10242  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: What would I miss minus Vista? on: August 20, 2008, 12:45:16 AM
I apologize for hating on Vista and spreading all that vile misinformation. Bill Gates is God, and he can do no wrong. Yes, yes, yes, no matter how happy you are with XP today, you must go out and buy Vista and install it right now! Do it tonight, before it's too late!  drool VISTA VISTA VISTA! Case closed!
10243  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: What would I miss minus Vista? on: August 19, 2008, 06:10:28 PM
I run Vista Ultima 64-bit (it came with my HP PC), and while it's been generally OK, it has given me a few 64-bit compatibility problems (Palm OS software, my old MP3 player's Rhapsody software, a couple of games).

I can't say that any game has run "better" in it, or that it's anymore stable than XP was. I mean, you can pick on people for being squeamish about moving up to the latest OS but the fact of the matter is Vista doesn't really *do* anything "better" than XP that matters. If it was more stable, handled memory better, was less bloated, used memory less efficiently (the fact so many new PCs come with 4GB of RAM should tell you how inefficient Vista is with memory) etc. I'd have an easier time recommending it. So far I've only encountered one game where the DX10 mode didn't knock my performance so much that I was OK with playing in DX10 mode (LOTORO).

At this point, I'd say, if you're worried your new PC comes with Vista to begin with, don't. It's OK in most ways. If you're considering 64-bit, read up on your various non-game programs (iTunes is fine, and has been specifically updated to be 64-bit compatible) and utilities to see what you'll need to upgrade, replace, or stop using if you make the 64-bit switch.

But I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to put Vista on an existing system if you've been happy with XP -- at least not until the date where MS will no longer do security updates for XP. 'tis just my 2 cents.
10244  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Flagship Disintegrating? on: August 19, 2008, 12:57:19 PM
1Up/Games for Windows tracked down Bill Roper for an exhaustive (8 pages) interview:

Flagship founder breaks silence to talk about his company's demise
GFW: So is it really a matter of how to end it gracefully? Is that fair to say?

BR: Yeah. It really is. We're working hard on how to end gracefully. Obviously, we've got people we owe money to, so we're doing absolutely everything in our power to get those people the money we owe them, whether that's on an institutional side, lenders, or, equally as important, with our employees who aren't there anymore.
It sounds like the founders are burning through their own savings and retirement plans to pay the last debts off. Definitely a cautionary tale to the "hey let's leave the company nest and become rock star devs!" ventures that sometimes come up.

Namco and EA apparently stepped in a bit to keep Hellgate running (you can still play online, the subscriptions have been disabled completely).
10245  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Acer Aspire One? (yet another mini-notebook) on: August 18, 2008, 05:33:14 PM
There was a (UK site) review a while back (of the Linux/SSD version), also pretty enthusiastic:
The keyboard is where most subnotebooks get it wrong. They shrink it down too much or not enough. They make the keys a little bit smooshy, or they over compensate like the HP Mininote, creating a satisfying and solid feel that unfortunately drives the price up. The Acer though is different.

The keyboard is decently sized, firm and easy to use. Our standard keyboard test involves writing articles, playing some games and writing the Jabberwocky poem over and over again – and we had absolutely no problems with any of them when it came to the Acer Aspire One.
Complaints include the trackpad, of course, and apparently very tinny speakers.
10246  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Ultra-portable discussion thread on: August 18, 2008, 03:52:18 PM
Brighthand mentioned this Gartner item about the "mini-notebook" market:

Gartner Says Worldwide Mini-Notebook Shipments to Surpass 5 Million Units in 2008
They also lay out their standards for what the term means:
Mini-notebooks are mobile computing devices with a screen size of 5 inches to 10 inches that run a full version of client operating system (OS), such as Windows XP or Linux. Mini-notebooks do not include microinformation devices (MIDs), which according to Gartner definitions are a separate product category and include mobile computing devices with a screen size of 3 inches to 5 inches.
They speculate on how retailers may need to adjust their marketing for them, which might help explain why I've had such a hard time actually finding them in stores to try on for size:
“For consumer mini-notebooks to succeed, they need to be positioned differently than standard notebooks, and PC vendors will need to decide if the existing channels to market are appropriate and possibly look for new channels, such as telecom, gadget shops and so on,” Ms. Jump said. “PC vendors will have to convince retailers to take on those products, as they are still emerging products and potentially present some risk from an inventory point of view.”

10247  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Acer Aspire One? (yet another mini-notebook) on: August 18, 2008, 03:04:52 PM
I guess the question is, if you get used to it, will you start-mistyping on a regular full size keyboard at home and at work?  Because it'll suddenly feel "too big." icon_lol

I think they had both models on demo at the Micro Center store, though I didn't check to see if they were in stock.

UPDATE: Oh, doh, I checked via their Web site (you can check in-store stocks on things by choosing In Store Pickup option there), and they have 57 (!) of the XP-hard drive model in stock at my local store (and 23 of the Linux/SSD model). I guess they're not flying off the shelves there.  icon_smile Though I think that's more an unfamiliarity with ultra-portables in general.
10248  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Acer Aspire One? (yet another mini-notebook) on: August 18, 2008, 01:18:32 PM
Hey I finally got to put in some "hands on" time on a couple of Eee PC models (including the $699 model 1000, the full keyboard model that has a solid state drive) and an Acer Aspire One at Micro Center, of all places. I can't find any of these things at Circuit City or Best Buy, but Microcenter had a bunch laid out to try.

While the Eee PC 1000 keyboard understandably felt the best, it's tough to swallow that price when "regular" notebooks are about the same price and some feel about the same size even.

I was actually able to touch type a little bit on the Acer Aspire One though I'm not sure I'd want to write anything lengthy on it. The other mini's I tried (other than the notably more bulky Eee PC 1000), I just couldn't type anything to save my life. So, if I decide to go for something small, the Acer One is now moving up my list, if only because it felt "right" during my hands-on time with it. I'll probably try to go back and fiddle with it some more at a later date.  icon_cool

Here's an updated PC World review (the keyboard, while not full-size, seems often lauded in reviews fwiw):
Quote from: PC World review
Now another surprise is how much I like the keyboard. It's a great size and doesn't feel crunched up in order to hit a form factor. In fact, because it provides solid key response and a wide gap between buttons, I proclaim this one of the few netbooks to be fully adult-hand friendly.
Unfortunately, the touchpad has the same goofy design as the HP Mini Note (mouse buttons to the left and right of the pad, instead of below it). I didn't have problems with the left button, but I imagine using the right button could require some practice (I think I'd probably just get in the habit of dragging a tiny mouse around with me).

Microcenter has 2 of the 3 U.S. models (120GB regular hard drive with Windows XP; 8GB solid state (expandable via SD cards) w/ Linpus Linux Lit).

The one they don't carry (the 1722) is identical to the $379 Linux model but has the larger 6-cell battery and a $449 price).

10249  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO - State of the game on: August 17, 2008, 04:58:04 PM
I quit quite a while ago, so it's nice with the newer PC to finally be able to run the high rez textures in DX10 mode.

On my old PC, this scene and the waving flowers brought it to a virtual standstill.  icon_razz

I seem to mistakenly remember having two characters in the 40s but my hunter ran out of gas, and a Captain was my peak.

AoC's quest tracker is, by comparison, a neanderthal club.  disgust
10250  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO - State of the game on: August 17, 2008, 03:49:55 PM
fwiw, I decided to return to LOTORO, at least for a bit (hopefully longer than I returned to Tabula Rasa icon_razz).

Although I like AoC's combat, lots of the things that I struggle with in that remind me of things I preferred in LOTORO (right down to things like a better search/advertise for teammates system, and to the quest tracker letting you keep multiple quests up on your HUD rather than just one).

It took several hours to get the game fully updated yesterday, but it was painless other than taking that much time.

Alas, gah, the account page won't let me reactivate today. Hopefully a temporary glitch.

And I guess given all the laptops with precious info being lost and stolen these days, it's a little perturbing that Turbine retains your credit card information after you cancel (NCSoft by comparison deletes the info when you cancel).
10251  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Champions Online (Cryptic's new MMO) on: August 17, 2008, 03:26:36 PM
A few shaky-cam gameplay videos from Gencon hath surfaced:

It looks fine, though the combat looks more like Marvel Ultimate Alliance imho (given the console focus) than CoX. Not necessarily a bad thing, just an observation.  icon_neutral
10252  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Ultra-portable discussion thread on: August 17, 2008, 06:06:55 AM
CNN had a little update on these checkpoint-friendly computer bags that are due out soon (which should be handy both for standard laptops and the ultra-portable types):

Checkpoint-friendly computer bags set for debut
The article includes a video demonstrating use of the new bags in the screening process.
10253  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Decisions... Decisions... on: August 16, 2008, 01:08:07 PM
I'm the opposite -- I'm on MMO sabbatical (I'm uninstalling Tabula Rasa after a brief attempt to return to it). I'm tired of gaming in general (I haven't played anything in about 3 weeks now), but it's given me time to catch up on DVDs and reading and such.

I think what I find most tiring is the negativity and anger on the official boards for every MMO out there (WoW included). Eventually one starts to wonder why so many people play games that by most accounts do nothing but make them angry and frustrated (even the games supposedly everyone loves). What's the point? Life's short and precious. Do something fun. Misery isn't. I've played MMOs to have fun and socialize a bit, but my recent experiences with various games haven't been as positive as with COH in its heyday (roughly 2004-2006).

Sorry to go off on a tangent.  icon_cool

To get back on topic, I played COH for about 3 1/2 years, and LOTORO for 6-8 months. (I only played Wow maybe 3 weeks and can't really speak to it).

Here's my take:
COH/COV (fwiw, both games are automatically included in a subscription now)
What I loved:
-Costume creator means very unique characters (unlike most MMOs where you end up with way too many people in a given class looking the same until you reach higher levels)
-Awesome combat, animations and special effects
-Travel powers make it rewarding for players impatient with travel in other games
-Very polished UI and chat system (its chat system is to Age of Conan's what a BMW is to an AMC Gremlin...)
-A dev team that communicates regularly and extensively with players at their well moderated forums
-Very fun to play as a group/team
-Regular annual events, including some where devs and moderators play in-game characters (sometimes just to socialize with fans)

What I didn't:
-Environments are OK, but it's not the kind of game where you admire the sunsets or environments. You won't generally look to enjoy the "journey" you just zip back and forth to get somewhere
-Interior mission instance environments are extremely repetitive and can get tiresome (well, as a 3-year player, I got tired of it even when they occasionally spiced them up with re-done wall textures and layouts)
-I found it much harder a few months ago to get teams going, than during its heyday.
-I still find Herding and various power leveling exploits very tiresome, and I found that my upper level characters generally were only invited to help out with those things. I found it far more sluggish to level in CoX vs. say AoC or Tabula Rasa, unless you're willing to resort to at least some of the above.
-A lot of new players simply give up on the game before they get Stamina, and their more interesting powers. I've given buddies trial keys only to watch them complain of boredom by L20. I think probably L20-L38 is the sweetspot in the game for me, so twas a shame.

What I loved
-The general world and storylines
-The various opportunities for content that's unique to your character class
-If you like to group a LOT, LOTORO has tons of group-focused content and a fine interface, ad and search system for finding groups or forming them
-Pretty fine and configurable chat system (along with COX, it's a favorite for me)
-Combat's fine but not much different than other medeivally-fantasy type MMOs
-Beautiful environments. You'll enjoy the journey.  icon_smile
-The minstrel music skills are a lot of fun, and I know this is the only MMO I've played where I've stopped in place just to listen to another player strumming.  icon_cool

What I didn't
-Some of the Epic Storyline missions, the AI characters are simply idiots and it's really not fair that your team can't control them at a least a little bit (Legolas in particular disgust)
-Some of the group things, my team would spend 2, 3, 4 hours on something and ultimately realize we had no way to complete it at the end. That sort of frustrationg wore on me, and helped lead me out of the game eventually.
-Very much in the classic MMO mold in that groups tend to have to play very specifically, anal-retentively even. If you like to "play it by ear" or improvise, you won't last long.
-Once past your character's starter area, you generally end up going through the same areas and doing all the same quests with your next character type (aside from storyline stuff). After I had two characters into the 40s, I started working up a hobbit. And abruptly I just thought, "Do I really want to go through pretty much all the same quests all over again?" It never bothered me in COH, but for some reason it bothered me here and that's when I quit last year.

My gut feeling is if WoW and the upcoming Warhammer are what you want, then go for LOTORO. CoX is mainly for people very in love with combat, combat and more combat. It does that wonderfully but I don't really find that a lot of WoW fanatics go for CoX, at least not for very long. Although they've added gadgets and stuff to CoX to try to diversify it a bit, LOTORO has more to offer in terms of crafting, farming and enjoying various things not related to combat, and enjoying the scenery (the journey if you will). I'm actually giving some thought to floating back to LOTORO -- I guess I should've gone for a Lifetime Subscription afterall.  icon_smile
10254  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Mythos on: August 15, 2008, 09:10:39 PM
Something called Gamecyte had a pretty extensive interview with Schaefer and Baldtree yesterday:

Captaining The Lifeboat: Runic Games’ Max Schaefer and Travis Baldree
GameCyte: That’s such a shame. I know you’ve been intentionally coy about this subject so far, but as far as the Mythos intellectual property is concerned, it sounds like that’s not going to happen for you…

TB: We’re proceeding under the assumption that we’re not going to be able to get that or proceed on it. I think that door is just about closed. Because of the nature of how the IP is being held, and the technology being held separately, it seems safer and better for us to proceed as if we’re really not going to have any avenue to work with it, and it’ll be the best thing for our team to get moving on something we know we can do, and that doesn’t have those sorts of entanglements and history.
It's pretty clear again they'll have to just start from scratch. Which sucks really, because (imho) if Flagship hadn't had to take forever developing Hellgate's tech from scratch maybe they would've had time to work on the game itself. But, hopefully, they learned something from the HG/Mythos combo mess.  icon_neutral

I hope for their sake they just think small and modest, and find a publishing situation where they can take their time, polish and not become Flagship 2.0.  disgust icon_razz
10255  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Ultra-portable discussion thread on: August 15, 2008, 01:10:36 PM
I'm seeking something more for work (the joypad gives it away  icon_razz), though that's really a fascinating keyboard concept. I'm always griping about tiny keyboards and that's a neat way to try to get something sort-of full size in a small device. icon_smile
10256  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Ultra-portable discussion thread on: August 14, 2008, 10:19:01 PM
Laptopmag mentioned a useful page compiling information on "liliputers":

You can sort the list by clicking at the top of a column.

Note that it includes some machines not expected to come to the U.S. market, such as the smaller 8.9" MSI Wind model. Some columns, like the hard drive one, don't sort terribly usefully since the numbers and types (regular HDs, and solid state drives etc.) vary so widely in that category
10257  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Movies you love that everyone else hates... on: August 14, 2008, 05:24:19 PM
How about...

Roadhouse (1989)

-From Patrick Swayze's short-lived attempt to be an Action Star (I guess he was worried Dirty Dancing and Ghost had turned his image into a wuss)
-The late guitarist Jeff Healey's only screen credit. He's pretty awful as an actor, but the soundtrack has some fine performances by his band.
-Repellent, sleazy, mysognonistic drool, hyper-violent, poorly reviewed and... I love it.  icon_lol

Rest Stop

-A terrible, direct-to-video gorefest that shows up on cable (FX I think) from time to time, in heavily edited form
-Joey Lawrence shows up as an unfortunate deputy
-I think they wanted the female heroine to come off as smart and resourceful but most reviewers (critics or would-be fans) seem to agree she just comes off as Dumb.
-I don't really understand the ending at all
-It probably makes stuff like Hostel and Saw seem like Citizen Kane by comparison, and yet, I love it!   Bring your own! However, the video box art is so tasteless (even for its genre), that I can't bring myself to buy it.  icon_razz

I do wonder if someone competent took the same basic storyline (trapped at a deserted rest stop, and plant the movie in that location almost the whole way), what they might be able to do with it.
10258  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Star Trek in High Def on: August 14, 2008, 05:09:58 PM
That would be cool if you're into that, esp. as a bonus feature. Though I think the key to enjoying the remastered stuff is to just watch the whole thing (without bouncing out to see the original version effects) - then I get comfortable with the effects, and eventually it's not a distraction. Then maybe once I've done that, I'd enjoy seeing side-by-sides and such, just for fun.

To some extent I think it's a shame digital effects have all but replaced miniatures work. TNG's miniatures effects work with its ships still holds up nicely imho (I assume with the benefit of computer controlled cameras then vs. what shows in the '60s could work with), at least on a Standard TV, and presumably cost less than CGI does today. And it just seemed more like Art, than a bunch of Programmers going beserk. But I guess, as mentioned here, even the TNG/DS9 era effects would need (supposedly) to be upgraded to display properly in high-def.
10259  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Star Trek in High Def on: August 14, 2008, 01:15:57 PM
I bought the Season 2 Original Star Trek "remastered" (but not Blue-Ray/HD) set yet. They released Season one as a combo HD/regular DVD, which really just resulted in an overpriced set for a now dead (HD) format.

I assume they'll do a Blue-Ray version eventually.

I watched a couple episodes yesterday (Wolf in the Fold, which has no new effects to speak of; and The Doomsday Machine, which apparently has the most extensive re-done effects shots in the whole season 2 set).

If I have any problem with the new CGI stuff (obviously they were done with great care and attention to detail), it's just that sometimes things seem "too clean" compared to the original miniatures work. The new work done for planets as the Enterprise swings past are really nice and not distracting (today they can use actual satellite imagery for earth, for example; or to show something more than a generic planet).

The revamped Doomsday Machine is impressive, and done properly to scale (in the original, the shuttle that Decker rams into the Machine is almost as big as it) but it seems almost too well polished (maybe by design though, it's a machine right?).

And the remastered footage is quite clean. You can tell how much cleaner it is just by watching some of the preview trailers included on the discs (they're old, grainy, with particles and lines all over).

I'm not really a fan of the Season 2 packaging. It's compact and looks nice on a shelf, but the hard plastic case is tough to open and close. And unlike the TNG sets (where each disc is clearly labeled with the Episode names it contains), these discs have no labeling whatsoever. You have to fumble through 4 large glossy "trading cards" to figure out what is on each disc.

Anyway, I saw about 50 ST threads here and I didn't really know where to post my thoughts on this. My brother and I grew up on this stuff, and I still quite enjoy it all even if I know so much of the dialogue by heart. A lot of stuff from my childhood (say, Ultra-Man, Captain Scarlet, UFO, Space: 1999, Johnny Socko and his Flying Robot), when I've tried to re-visit it on DVD as an old fart, I just can't get into it anymore, but old ST has generally held up for me.  icon_cool
10260  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Dungeon Runners (NCSoft's free MMO/$4.99 premium option) on: August 14, 2008, 12:39:51 PM
fwiw, NCSoft confirmed they laid off 13 of the 18 folks working on Dungeon Runners, supposedly after deciding not to port it onto other platforms (DR on PC will continue albeit with a relative skeleton crew, it seems, for the time being):
Quote from: Stephen Nichols
The five remaining folks are:

Stephen Nichols- Producer / Lead Programmer
Scott Stevens - Senior Programmer
Mark Tucker - Lead Designer
Brandon Cotton - Senior Designer
James Cleaveland - Technical Artist

As you might imagine, we're reeling from this right now. It's gonna take us a while to get our stuff together and regroup for future efforts.
While it's a fairly fun little game, I still think the idea it was somehow going to pull people into the NCSoft Umbrella or get non MMO'ers into the pool, and then serve as some transition point to CoX, Lineage or something else they make was pretty much a naive thought.

It's kind of a dead-end game with endless hunt quests, and doesn't really give non MMOers an idea of how "full" MMOs work. I don't think I ever saw more then 30-40 people on a server in its heyday. I guess if it tried to be more ambitious, than it wouldn't have fit within what Nichols wanted to do.
10261  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: LucasArts Embargoes "Clone Wars" Reviews on: August 13, 2008, 09:13:37 PM
Isn't this where someone makes a YouTube video of themselves in an Ewok costume crying, and yelling, "STOP HATING GEORGIE HE'S SO WONDERFUL!!!!!!!!!!!"  crybaby

The Wash. Post had a basically anti-George Lucas diatribe essay Sunday by one of its film critics:

I remember reading some interviews with Gary Kurtz and Howard Kazanjian who served as producers or executive producers on much of Lucas's most beloved work (i.e. up through about Return of the Jedi). I get the impression some of the reason those earlier movies are so much better (their opinion anyway) than his later stuff is because he had producers who weren't "yes-men." They'd talk and fight and disagree over what would make the movie better, and Lucas wasn't yet in a position to steamroller the opinions of everyone around him. That seems to be true even with Indy 4 -- we'll never know if the Indy 4 that Spielberg and Frank Darabont wanted to do was something a little smarter than what George L. insisted on, because He Always Gets His Way.

I'm sure he's much happier now, and would never want to go back to working with people who might disagree with his take on things.

To me the saddest thing about the 64 year old Georgie is that in interviews he drips arrogance and general disdain for both critics, and for fans. I mean, if he has so little use for critics, why does he even care that they're posting nasty reviews early?  icon_confused
10262  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa beta on: August 13, 2008, 07:55:41 PM
See, that's my problem -- I *did* start off with a new character and got frustrated trying to remember mechanics and basic hotkeys, locations of things etc. I can't really fault the game for it, I think I just found it harder to remember than City of Heroes for example. Though I think playing something for 3 years far more ingrains it into one's psyche, than say, 3 months.  icon_neutral

I just felt no more comfortable with my noob characters than with my L30 ones. I was also befuddled by a couple of hotkeys that aren't listed in the bindings (I think because they're not configurable), and I guess I've misplaced the TR hotkey card that came with my CE edition too.

There is much scuttlebutt of late that TR's time may be numbered (not immediately but maybe next year), along with Dungeon Runners:

10263  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Is the last season of Enterprise worth watching? on: August 12, 2008, 10:55:18 PM
I'm not quite a die hard Trekkie (the only full DVD season set I have is Season 3 of ST: TNG), but I've been watching quite a few of these various Fan Collectives (where fans vote for their favorite episodes under a various theme, and the compilations usually include maybe 1 to 4 episodes from each show - so it's a fairly nice sampler) of late.

Although I liked maybe one or two early seasons of Enterprise, I was surprised by how much I really didn't like the Enterprise pilot at all, Broken Bow, which is included on the Klingon Fan Collective set. All the "I oughta kick your ass!" and the occasional use of "Damn" and "Hell" seemed to be bizarre attempts to try to make the new series "edgy," (but frankly, Scott Bakula is too likeable and decent a person to be acting like that - I just don't buy him when he's talking that way) and I'm glad they ditched all that later on. And most of the characters came across as repellent in the pilot (though I grew fonder of the characters as the show went on).

I was surprised how much I liked the couple Voyager episodes on the Fan Collective sets. Maybe absence does make the heart grow fonder.  icon_cool

It seemed like nearly every ST: TNG and Voyager episode on the Fan Collective sets was written or co-written by Ron Moore, and I've been doing Google searches and reading up on him.

It's just so cool that someone who was simply a Trekkie fan (Moore) managed to finagle a chance to get a script reviewed, became a staff writer and eventually executive producer on DS9. It's interesting to read interviews with him about what his struggles to tell ambitious stories within Trek's limits and continuity. Apparently his brief foray with Enterprise (I guess he only wrote one teleplay and didn't find the writing environment as open as the previous series, at least from what I've read) was really unpleasant, and resulted in a temporary rift with Braga.

He also talked about getting to visit the set of Abram's Trek movie in one interview, and just be nostalgic about it though he clearly has no plans to return to the ST franchise. To this day I've never been able to get into his Battlestar Galactica stuff, but now having read a lot of interviews about what he was trying to do with it and why he felt he would never get to tell those stories within ST's limitations -- maybe I'll revisit the early BG seasons and see if this time I "get it."  icon_neutral
10264  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa beta on: August 12, 2008, 03:19:32 AM
I already canceled again though it doesn't take effect until Aug. 27. Shortest reactivation evah!  icon_razz I never really could remember how to play effectively. It was by far my strangest return to a game. My other re-visitation candidate is LOTORO, and I'll be curious if I can remember the gameplay mechanics there any better.  icon_confused
10265  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Star Trek Online (Cryptic's "other" new MMO) on: August 11, 2008, 05:35:18 PM
It's really not clear how much of Perpetual's work was carried over. Since Emmert indicates they're using the Champions engine (which Perpetual clearly wasn't using) and technology for the ST game, I would guess that while some design docs might've carried over, not much actual assets would since Perpetual had its own technology (presumably).

I don't know if the actual avatar stuff will wow people all that much since they apparently want a game that works well across a wide range of systems (a la WoW).

I still find a little bit disingenous when Emmert brags about Cryptic's CoX work and neglects to mention that most of that dev team remained with NCSoft to form a new studio and keep working on CoX. I'm sure they have fine people aboard now, but it doesn't seem from what I've read there's much left of the actual CoX teams.

I've seen that with a lot of FPS dev teams where they brag "From the Creators of so-and-so," except said Creators left to form their own studios after so-and-so became a monster splash. But, I dunno, I've seen a lot of games from dev teams that didn't live up to their preceding game so maybe in the end, it's all just semanatics.  icon_neutral
10266  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Star Trek Online (Cryptic's "other" new MMO) on: August 10, 2008, 04:41:18 PM
OK I got all the times confused. I guess it's today at 1:30 p.m. Pacific so it's not until 4:30 Eastern and I'll probably be out.

Jack Emmert and Leonard Nimoy Reveal Star Trek Online Today
10267  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Mythos on: August 10, 2008, 04:35:16 PM
Da, da, daaaaaaa.... (probably mentioned in the various Flagship threads already, just thought it worth a Bump here)

(just a placeholder)
Seattle, Washington - August 8th, 2008 - The former Flagship Studios Seattle team is proud to announce their reformation as Runic Games ( As the team responsible for the highly-anticipated Mythos at Flagship Studios, Runic Games intends to continue to use their expertise in the Action-RPG MMO genre to create the best games in this market.

The studio is headed by Travis Baldree and Max Schaefer. Travis served as Project Director for Mythos at Flagship Seattle, and previously created the bestselling Action-RPG FATE. Max was the Executive Producer for Mythos, and one of the original founders of Blizzard North, the creators of the bestselling Diablo franchise. He was also one of the founding members of Flagship Studios.

Announcements about Runic Games' forthcoming projects will be made in the coming days.
10268  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Star Trek Online (Cryptic's "other" new MMO) on: August 08, 2008, 07:46:28 PM
CNN has an update. Emmert promises gameplay footage Aug. 10 and claims the game is a lot closer to release than "hardened" fans might expect. But what about us Softened fans?  icon_razz
Emmert said players will begin "Star Trek Online" as the captain of a small Starfleet or Klingon Empire ship.

They can customize their characters from pre-existing "Trek" species -- from Klingons to Gorn -- and can create entirely new alien races. As they progress through the game, players can increase in rank and gain larger vessels and more crew.

"You'll venture through space exploring new civilizations and life-forms," said Emmert. "You'll also beam down to planets and have adventures inside your ship. It's a galactic-wide game. There's going to be tons of space to investigate. We have a great system for exploration, which will allow for almost infinite possibilities."

Players will also be able to battle against other vessels in laser-blasting, missile-firing deep space scuffles reminiscent of "The Wrath of Khan" and the Dominion War in "Deep Space Nine." Because the game will be set a few generations following the last "Trek" film, players shouldn't expect to run into James T. Kirk or Jean-Luc Picard.

"There might be a ship called Enterprise flying around, but it's probably not the same ship anymore," said Emmert. "Most of the characters will have either retired or passed on, but you'll definitely be going to all the places you know and love from 'Star Trek.' Expect to see oldies like Vulcan and Bajor but also fan favorites like Andoria and Qo'noS."

"You're going to see the actual game working and functioning," said Emmert. "This isn't renders. This isn't concept art. Everything that people will see on Sunday is going to be taken right from 'Star Trek Online' as it stands today, so hardened people should know that a release date might be closer than they think."
10269  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Assassin's Creed PC lawsuit by Ubisoft (over "leak") on: August 07, 2008, 05:30:34 PM
(let me know if this was already posted somewhere, I did several searches-bj; it's specific to the PC version)

Ubisoft Sues over Assassin's Creed Leak
GameSpot reports that Ubisoft is suing Optical Experts Manufacturing, alleging one of the employees of the Charlotte, North Carolina-based disc replication company pilfered a copy of Assassin's Creed and leaked it to the internet. The GameSpot story indicates the game sold only 40,000 copies in the US through June, but that over 700,000 pirated copies of the game were downloaded.

They also relate an odd-sounding claim that Ubisoft intentionally included a bug in the code that would crash the game as a security measure (given how many sites now review "pre-release" versions, doesn't sound so smart Roll Eyes), and that negative reviews of the buggy leaked version harmed their reputation. The suit is said to be for copyright infringement, breach of contract, and negligence, and Ubisoft is asking for over $20 million in damages and legal fees.
Whew knew A) That there were any US-based disc duplication service companies -- I thought they did all that overseas now; and B) That Ubisoft had any sort of "Reputation" amongst PC gamers.  smirk
10270  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: My New Resolution: NO MORE GAMES on: August 07, 2008, 12:46:47 PM
I've taken about the last week off from gaming to catch up on some DVDs (the Star Trek: Captain's Log compilation for one) and some TV shows I had been missing in my MMO stupor. And I haven't bought anything since Mass Effect several weeks ago.

I used to really dig burning myself out on games, but I've found in recent years the occasional brief sabbatical does me some good, and then when I return to various games, they feel fresh again. Only with MMOs (as I mentioned in the Tabula Rasa thread) if you take too much time off, then you forget all the hotkeys, the navigational shortcuts you used to take, and generally how to play.  It's not as easy as remembering how to ride a bike. icon_razz
10271  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an MSI Wind? on: August 07, 2008, 12:36:17 PM
Oh, speak of the devil, TSA had an announcement that my alleviate my airport security line concerns a bit (these upcoming bag models will let you put it on the conveyor belt without having to remove it from the bag):

TSA to Allow Laptops in Approved Bags,8599,1829687,00.html?cnn=yes
To qualify as "checkpoint friendly," a bag must have a designated laptop-only section that unfolds to lie flat on the X-ray machine belt and contains no metal snaps, zippers or buckles and no pockets.

Among the manufacturers selling TSA-approved laptop bags are Mobile Edge, Skooba Design and Targus Inc.
These are due out later this month, it says.
10272  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an MSI Wind? on: August 06, 2008, 07:47:30 PM
I dunno. Honestly, I don't need one. In fact, of late I've stopped spending all my evenings playing MMOs and Web surfing in favor of my old passion of couch potato DVD/TVing.

The next work situation where it could maybe be of any help would be a conference in late October in Houston. So I guess if I pre-ordered now, perhaps I'd have it in time for the trip. Then I could see whether it's worth the security line and baggage hassles to drag one along.

So definitely maybe!  icon_confused
10273  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an MSI Wind? on: August 06, 2008, 02:03:39 AM
Just got an e-mail notification from Amazon that they've started taking preorders on the 6-cell battery version ($549, free shipping):

MSI Wind 10" Mini Laptop (1.6 GHz Intel Atom Processor, 1 GB RAM, 80 GB Hard Drive, XP Home, 6 Cell Battery) Black

They only list the black model in stock, though given that it's not really "in stock" (they're just taking pre-orders), I don't know what that means really. I guess they don't expect to carry 6-cell black Winds.
10274  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Champions Online (Cryptic's new MMO) on: August 05, 2008, 05:41:05 PM
I stopped "news hounding" this a while ago. has some hands-on impressions from Cryptic's recent media day (albeit Star Trek Online's announcement has sort of pushed Champions into the background). While played on PCs, they apparently used XBox 360 controlllers, which should give an idea of it's multiplatform intentions. The controls seem fairly simple (buttons control jumping, basic attack, ranged attack, and blocking), and it doesn't appear it's a "remember 27 different hotkeys" scheme like more typical MMOs.

Champions Online: Hands-on gameplay impressions
An interesting feature that immediately became apparent is that all characters could make use of a ranged attack, regardless of type. For instance, a power projector would be able to fire energy bolts as expected, but a brawler would rip up chunks of concrete to throw at enemies as his ranged attack.

About attacks: the basic attack was typically a single punch, with repeated button presses becoming a chain of punches for more devastating damage. Holding down the attack button charged up a more powerful strike, the effectiveness of the blow more than making up for having to absorb hits from enemies. This strike varied from character to character, depending on power.

Finally, there was a jumping attack -- a jump, combined with a basic attack, resulted in a shockwave effect upon landing, stunning nearby enemies for a few moments. This might have been character specific, as the first character this blogger used was a hulking, tank-like hero. Blocking was an effective strategy against multiple opponents, and quickly became necessary versus swarming mobs.

In all, Champions Online plays extremely well and looks fantastic. The actual mechanics are simple enough to be immediately accessible, leaving the complexity to other areas, which is as it should be. Within a few minutes with the Xbox 360 controller, maneuvering the character became second nature. We would have liked to have been able to play with a keyboard to assess how it performed, but the controller better suited the active nature of combat.

We don't know how much of the gameplay we experienced will survive for the launch, but it was engaging enough as-is, and there's still roughly a year to go. We'll go ahead and say it: this title will become the definitive superhero experience for both fans of the genre and new players alike.
10275  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Dark Knight Spoilers Discussion Thread! on: August 05, 2008, 05:05:20 PM
Batman on Film has a fun (and final) the Dark Knight prize drawing. Top prizes are limited run ceramic sculptures of Batman and the Joker, each valued at $150.

Since you do have to give DC Direct your name/contact info, you'll probably want to use, well, whatever e-mail addy you're comfortable giving in possible junk mail situations.  icon_razz
(Sculpted by Kolby Jukes) "The Dark Knight" is in mid-flight in this dramatic action pose! This uniquely crafted piece features Batman's sweeping cape as the statue's base. This limited edition, hand-painted cold-cast porcelain statue measures approximately 10" high x 8" wide x 8" deep, includes a 4-color certificate of authenticity and is packaged in a 4-color box. Limited editionof only 6,000 pieces! A $150.00 US value!

(Sculpted by Kolby Jukes) Standing on a pile of oversized playing cards, this statue features The Joker sporting his trademark grin! This limited edition, hand-painted cold-cast porcelain statue measures approximately 10" high x 10" wide x 6" deep, includes a 4-color certificate of authenticity and is packaged in a 4-color box. Limited edition of only 6,000 pieces! A $150.00 US value!
Second prize for 10 folks are the Batman Begins LImited Edition Gift set on Blue-Ray or Batman Gotham Knight (the recent animated anthology) on Blue-Ray.

I couldn't find the statues at the DC Direct site, but there's a pretty nice vinyl one ($125):

The Dark Knight - Batman vinyl statue by Kotobukiya

I'm putting this here in lieu of a one-post thread on TDK statues.  icon_razz
10276  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: lets talk digital cameras.. on: August 04, 2008, 07:39:51 PM
I was happy with my older Powershot, but I tried many different Cannon models in numerous stores in recent weeks, and none felt comfortable to me, and the menu screens/tabs etc. generally confounded me.

I don't begrudge anyone sticking their head in the sand and refusing to try other brands (I might never buy another non-Toyota because my 1996 Corrolla has been so durable, for example), but I don't really shop by brands with electronics these days.

That's why I've used (and been quite happy with) Sansa and Creative MP3/multimedia players instead of Apple, chose a Kodak camera for my sister-in-law (she's had it a year and loves it) and the Sony camera in my case. I will of course let ya'll know if I ever come to regret the decision.  icon_smile

fwiw, the Sony's LCD screen has passed the "Obscenely bright sunlight test" today.  icon_cool I talked myself out of a Kodak touchscreen model after reading that its screen generally washed out in those conditions.
10277  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: First review of 'The Dark Knight' on: August 04, 2008, 07:21:33 PM
For more jaded takes on blockbusters, Pauline Kael was always a good bet. I always said she hated everything that didn't have subtitles.  icon_lol Though in retrospect, she did respond to summer movies on occasion, esp. E.T. I've tweaked her words a bit for quiz's sake.

... the picture is an amalgam of [his] follies--plot for its own sake, dissociated from character or drama; the affectless heroine ... AND effects that Spielberg the youthful magician has already dazzled us with. Kinesthetically, the film gets to you, but there's no exhilaration, and no surge of feeling at the end. It seems to be edited for the maximum number of showings per day.
What was it?
Spoiler for Hiden:
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

But at 2 hours and 17 minutes this is just a very big "Boo!" movie, with bum dialogue.
What was it?
Spoiler for Hiden:
Aliens (1986)

It's an epic without a dream. Maybe the only real inspiration involved was to set [it] in the pop-culture past, and to turn old-movie ineptness into conscious Pop Art. And maybe there's a touch of genius in keeping the film so consistently what it is, even if this is the genius of the plodding.
What was it?
Spoiler for Hiden:
Star Wars (1977)

Retro-40s virtue piled on the cartoon underpinnings of TV comedy shows.
What was it?
Spoiler for Hiden:
Terms of Endearment (1983)

The movie is underwritten, but it has so many unpredictable spins that what's missing doesn't seem to matter much. It's mean and anarchic and blissful.
What was it?
Spoiler for Hiden:
Batman (1989) [I'll be damned, she loved it! saywhat]
This is kinda fun. Maybe I should start a separate thread on this.  icon_smile But everyone will just Google "Pauline Kael".  disgust icon_razz

I guess my only point is no movie draws accolades from everyone even if it makes a half billion dollars or sweeps the oscars.
10278  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: First review of 'The Dark Knight' on: August 04, 2008, 06:06:45 PM
Murphy's law is the more money, enthusiastic reviews and awards a movie makes, the more backlash and more "I didn't think it was so great" opinions you'll get.

I remember that with stuff like The Fugitive in 1993 or even Die Hard in 1988 (no, not everybody loved it, even if 100 Hollywood screenwriters have copied it). Heck, my mom expressed that opinion in summer 1984 when I belatedly took her to see Terms of Endearment (1983 Best Picture) at a military base in Korea. "This was Best Picture? Blah." Me, I saw it when it first came out and loved it. I think if you guys had seen it (TDK, not Terms of Endearment  icon_wink) opening day, you'd have different opinions. Titanic drew a lot of that opinion late in its run. I think Titanic's great, but Billy Zane's performance was perhaps one of the worst, one-note performances I've ever seen. fwiw. just imho.  icon_razz

I did have more fun with Iron Man, and there are lots of TDK fans who think Iron Man was a forgettable waste of time - and shame on them.  icon_razz

Oh well. Different perspectives make us human. I mentioned I enjoyed the Indy movie (in spite of the lame-o Lucas plot), but a friend of mine hated it so much he all but gets beet redfaced with anger just talking about it. Go figure.  icon_neutral

Aaaand, Freeman is in a Memphis, Tenn. hospital it turns out.
10279  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: First review of 'The Dark Knight' on: August 04, 2008, 05:48:19 PM
Morgan Freeman was in a nasty car accident (his Toyota overturned several times) and is in serious condition in a Mississippi hospital:
Fingers crossed for Lucius Fox.  tear

No doubt this'll bring out the conspiracy theorists that TDK is "cursed." Lord knows the cast and crew could use a break from tragedies. It sounds like he'll be OK, though something like this at age 71 has got to be tough.

He apparently over-corrected when his tires went off the road shoulder a bit. We've had some nasty accidents from that sort of thing in the D.C. metro region here, esp. with teen drivers. It's one thing that makes me nervous at 2-lane roads.

I just see the "Batman voice" as another means of disguising one's identity. How *should* he sound? Michael Keaton's Batman had a slightly deeper voice "in the suit," but it was clearly still his voice. I disguise my voice sometimes when calling friends, but they always recognize my voice unless I really exaggerate my voice or impersonation. I have to go "over the top" to become unrecognizable.

I sometimes find it silly in Spider-Man that nobody seems to notice that he sounds exactly like Tobey McGuire/Peter Parker with panty hose over his mouth (in the '60s animated version, Spider-Man has a more "grown up" voice, and I think they actually used different voice actors); or in the cheesy Adam West Batman, there's no difference between the Bruce Wayne and masked voice at all.

TDK edged out the lame Mummy Sequel for #1 again. It's to about $394 million through Sunday. Some pundits point out that Titanic's number of tickets sold (at a far lower price, so less profit per ticket) was astronomically higher. I buy that, but there are also a lot more things and technologies competing for your entertainment dollar today, and $4 gasoline vs. about $1.18 gasoline in December 1997, not to mention higher food costs today that might make you hesitate to drop $11 on a summer movie. It's hard really to make perfectly consistent comparisons between movies, even ones only 11 years apart.
10280  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: lets talk digital cameras.. on: August 03, 2008, 03:37:39 PM
After sort of surprisingly "falling in love with it" at a Circuit City counter on Friday, I got a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W150 (Black model, 8.1 megapixel, 28-140mm lense) there yesterday. Prices are always better at, etc. but I just preferred to get at a store and it was a $20 off, plus it's "Virginia Tax Free days" Fri.-Sun. here.

Sony page

one review

There are better rated cameras out there, but it just came down to me enjoying the controls, menu system and using it in the store (even if most reviews complain about the same things I like about it). There's a fun "slideshow" feature, and it has a tiny built-in speaker so you can hear your videos in the camera. Everyone tends to recommend the Big Brands (Canon, Minolta, Olympus, etc.; and Panasonic seems to be building a good rep), but I helped pick out a Kodak for my sister-in-law's birthday last year, and for me the Sony was the one I most enjoyed actually using. A friend of mine has a well rated Canon that I tinkered with, but I really found its whole menu system baffling. I'm sure I could learn it but I like ones that use understandable text explanations on the menu and don't require referencing the manual too much.

While I still think it's always cheaper buying these online, no matter how detailed a Web page listing is, it's never as useful as going into a store and actually using it, even just for a few minutes.

What I got is definitely not for those who want to fiddle with the actual camera settings (which I've never really been comfortable doing so it didn't bother me). I liked the wide angle (28mm), fairly strong zoom (5X optical) and increasingly rare optical viewfinder (albeit it's tiny and doesn't really give you the full lense view) and various other features. Megapixels are just ridiculous these days (there's a 13.6 MP variant of this), but for sharing online and via message boards etc. it's all quite a moot point. My old camera is only 2 MP though, and I was finding it not very useful for these occasional magazine articles I work on (they need at least 4-5 to be able to use them at any appreciable size in print).

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