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10801  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sins of a Solar Empire - Beta Musings on: February 08, 2008, 10:39:34 PM
Me being of the pea sized brain, I'm doing one tutorial a night. I'm fine with the space combat stuff, the economy stuff I think might overwhelm my micro-managing abilities, but I'm hoping my once-a day gradual introduction will let me gradually wade in.

I speak as representative of the "never played a 4X game in my life" crowd, not the "Stardock veterans" crowd, btw. smile
10802  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: 2/8/08 Stargate Worlds screenshots on: February 08, 2008, 06:13:44 PM
I have to roll my eyes at the comments threads at that link. It doesn't seem like anything in the MMO space can be judged on its own merits anymore. It's either "just like WoW" (dismissed like a clone) or "not enough like WoW" (therefore it won't have 8 million subscribers and can't succeed). C'mon people, take the blinders off and try to look at stuff individually. I can remember when WoW was blown off as an "Everquest wannabe."  Tongue Or at least be more imaginative and accuse things of being Everquest clones and Dark Age of Camelot wannabes.

Hey, I forgot to really roll my eyes.  Roll Eyes That's better...
10803  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Vanguard on: February 08, 2008, 03:52:30 PM
If it seems like we all rush from one game to another (like birds moving on to the next piece of bread in a park smile), it's probably because most off the world is in console land these days.

So if any PC game draws some interest from the few hardcore PC gamer types, I tend to follow like a lemming (Hellgate, Tabula Rasa, Pirates of the Burning Sea and the non-MMO but fun-in-co-op Sins of a Solar Empire are all things I decided to try after reading a lot of posts from the PC gamer types here). Maybe there'll be only 5-10 people posting about it but if I sense they all have genuine enthusiasm for something, it tends to help me feel comfortable about trying something. This is my off-kilter compliment to this place. smile

I give SOE some credit for keeping things like Vanguard, The Matrix Online and Planetside with modest subscriber bases when it would be all too easy to send them to Auto Assault land. Even if Vanguard hadn't been an unfinished mess at launch, the fundamental marketing problem seemed to be that if you're saying you want your game to only appeal to hardcore gamers (which they did), then the chances of said game being a "mass" market success seem pretty thin. And if said game costs a fortune to develop, and is too niche a game to appeal to a mass market in the first place, how does the dev/publisher expect to recoupe the costs?  icon_confused I'm not suggesting the game should be dumbed down, only that if I handled marketing for that game, I would've been lost as to what to do.  paranoid
10804  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa beta on: February 08, 2008, 12:15:33 PM
Ten Ton Hammer had a brief community Q&A with "Critters," who seems to have taken over "community management" chores from April Burba (CuppaJo at COH forums way back):

Quote from: NCSoft's Critters
Visual armor customizations
I think most players will agree, as you level through the game, itís really nice when you get options to look more and more impressive. Everyone knows the feeling when you start out as a newb, and you see your first level 50 - you can just tell that they put a lot of work into their character by the style of armor that they wear and the abilities that they use.

We plan to add more options for character customization in the future. At the moment, the armor sets are getting optimized (this should be in 1.5) to allow additional pieces to be added in the future.

Personal Amor Units will help in this area too. The PAU concept art hasnít been released yet, but I can tell you they are very grandiose in nature and will hopefully scare the hell out of the newbies when they see you.
A few other bits. They're looking into ways to dye the "secondary" portion of armor (generally, that seems to be "fixed" in color now, depending on what you got, and it's only the "main" color you can alter).
10805  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Is Vista 32 bit or 64 bit better for gaming? on: February 07, 2008, 05:02:18 PM
Blue's pointed out an amusing "Microsoft responds to 'Save Windows XP' petition":;1294412345;pp;1;fp;16;fpid;1
The spokesperson said Windows will not disappear completely from the worldwide market place after the June cutoff, stating the software giant understood that some market segments such as small businesses and emerging market customers require "a little more time" before they upgrade to Vista.
Upgrade? See? There's the rub. My next PC will pretty much have Vista whether I like it or not, so I'll eat my words soon enough.

It's just...
-Does Vista make games run faster? No.
-Does it make more efficient use of system RAM? No. There's a reason most Vista PCs come with 3-4GB of RAM.
-Is it a more stable OS than XP? No. Many games have problems with Vista.

-Does it fix all the security holes and ActiveX problems in the OS and IE? No, I don't think integrating a sloppy firewall (that most people are going to shut off, as far as the "do you want to let this application run" feature?)and spyware program that aren't up to the standards of third party programs is a great improvement in security.

-Do games look better? Arguably maybe, but I don't see gamers bashing doors down for the barely discernible graphical improvements.

-Does it do anything at all to justify the expense and the performance hit your PC takes trying to run it? No.

-Is there any reason for the OS beyond the fact a new OS gives Microsoft a chance to make more money than continuing support of an old OS? No. I have no doubt they're selling a zillion copies, but at least part of that is them forcing OEM makers to offer only Vista.

What's lost in all the hullabaloo is that XP is probably the best liked of the Windows incarnations (I guess some have a soft spot for Windows 98 SE, but I often had to reinstall that to fix issues). It's the most stable Windows OS I ever ran. There's nothing offered by Vista that upgrades my gaming experience, aside from DX10 graphical enhancements that probably aren't worth the performance hit. Sometimes I'm curious if the Vista team is the same as the XP team or if completely different folks worked on each.  icon_confused

A bud in my TR clan said he built a PC with Vista. He's convinced Vista with the Service Pack 1 is now "almost just like XP." (ironic, no?) Except his computer constantly crashes, and locks up. He's convinced the problems can't have anything to do with Vista.  Roll Eyes Tongue

I realize all this Vista-bashing has been done to death. deadhorse Just wanted to have my one say. smile

fwiw, I'd probably suggest staying 32-bit for now. Some disk utilities I've looked into that are Vista-compatible specifically state they don't support the 64-bit incarnation. One example is System Commander (which eases the process of running multiple OS's on one machine), which I thought I might look into as far as running XP and Vista on the same machine.
10806  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Sins of a Solar Empire? on: February 07, 2008, 01:48:59 PM
>> I have to say my initial impressions are that it feels a little soulless but that's not really what I came to this game for anyway.

A lot of people accused Homeworld of that. So maybe that's a compliment. smile Space tends to feel that way (maybe more 2001: A Space Odyssey than Star Wars) unless they inject a soap opera aspect into it.

I'd love to get in the co-op, though I think it'll take me a while to reach the point of being mediocre, much less competent. I was able to get "Blackjack" as my Iron Clad Online name.  icon_cool
10807  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sins of a Solar Empire - Beta Musings on: February 07, 2008, 05:34:17 AM
Penny Arcade's Tycho seemed to like this (from their news bits):
Quote from: Tycho at Penny Arcade
Installed Sins of a Solar Empire on the Night Engine [that's his pet term for his uber expensive gaming PC, I think:)] yesterday, to see if it would be something we'd consider advertising. Uh... yes. Yes. Yes a thousand times over. This is why it's nice to work with a smaller company, because if they want to advertise something on your site, they're not pulling from some budget a year in advance of the game's release. Stardock sent a full, boxed retail copy of the title and asked if we'd be willing to promote that, as opposed to some theoretical game they might be making in the future. I'll talk more about it on Friday, but I am kind of bowled over by this thing. That someone would pay me to recommend a game as entertaining as Sins of a Solar Empire is really the most ridiculous kind of crap.
Can't get a higher recommendation from him than that. smile They get a ton of traffic there, and generally when they say good things about a game it really does have a beneficial impact.

Just as when they tell their readers someone is evil, bad things happen to that person or game.  icon_twisted
10808  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sins of a Solar Empire - Beta Musings on: February 07, 2008, 04:26:17 AM
I at least did the first tutorial. It looks fine, but it's not the kind of game you play to justify a $600 SLI set up or a $3,000 gaming PC. It runs great on my hoary old AMD64 3200 while still looking solid. smile

fwiw, the recent Joystiq interview with the producer/lead designer touched on why there's no traditional RTS campaign:
Quote from: Ironclad's Blair Fraser
A 'campaign' in a 4X sense is not a linked set of missions that tells a story like it would be in a standard RTS. The campaign in 4X games is typically a sandbox galaxy where you usually begin with one planet and expand to conquer the rest of the galaxy; and it isn't really any different in Sins than it would be in Galactic Civilizations or Masters of Orion. In the standard Sins game you will start with a single world with some basic upgrades, a frigate factory, 2 construction ships and some nominal amount of resources.

Of course there are plenty of starting parameters to play with: you can generate your own random map, you can design your own map with Galaxy Forge, and you can choose from over 25 initial handcrafted maps some of which vary the starting setup (I suppose these could be called scenarios). We'll be adding more custom setups to some of the maps in our free bonus packs and modders are already busy creating their own that will be available for download. Ultimately, the setup is really dependent on how you've chosen to play.
It seems like the idea [Since I am a 4X newbie cretin, I may be restating the obvious  smirk] is that each map is in itself a huge, sprawling sandbox campaign where you can do what you want -- rather than a fixed RTS campaign where you encounter the same scripted forces here and there, in an effort to accomplish fixed goals etc.

I'm not knocking that (Starcraft has some of my favorite campaigns ever, even when replayed), but I understand better after reading the interview why this doesn't do that. And for me, just about every RTS campaign is one I couldn't finish. Trying to get through standard RTS campaigns is like running a marathon after eating a box of Krispy Kremes for me, even in ones I loved like Company of Heroes, Starcraft, maybe even C&C: Generals.

And if you recall how long fans begged Relic for any sort of Homeworld editor tools, the fact this has powerful user tools at launch is pretty impressive. smile

If I suck at this game, I'll take all this positive stuff back later though.  Tongue
10809  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sins of a Solar Empire - Beta Musings on: February 06, 2008, 05:58:54 PM
Even though 999 voices in my head screamed, "NOOOOO! It's too complicated! Your pea-sized brain won't have a chance playing it!" I instead listened to the one voice that is sick of FPSs, full on MMOs, not interested in consoles (no, not even Mass Effect -- a lot of my hardcore PC gamer buds have bought an XBox360 to play only that one game) and just wanted to try tackling something a little different on PC.

We'll see how that turns out because generally I listen to the mass of voices, not the one.  In this case, the power of one ruled. The Weghted Companion Cube will never threaten to stab you.
10810  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Pirates of the Burning Sea open stress test on: February 06, 2008, 05:08:05 AM
Was reading a Gamesplut interview:;title;2
Some interesting thoughts on solo vs. grouping (apparently about 80% of the missions are soloable):
There's a temptation to try to ensure your players are always having peak experiences, involved in groups, and attacking difficult challenges. The temptation leads to things like FFXI's mandatory grouping. On the other hand, if you can always solo everything, while you avoid that problem, you never have those peak experiences.

What we're trying to do with our new content--Red Tide, a challenging low-level mission, and the upcoming Bey's Retreat, a very difficult midlevel encounter--is strike a balance between the two. You can level up solo, but at the same time there are these handcrafted, involved, complex pieces of content waiting for you to get a group together and attack them.
So if I'm using a merchant ship and I team up on one of these instances, do I contribute by catapulting crates of spices? Maybe Rum?  drillsergeant
10811  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Looking for POTBS Buddy Key on: February 06, 2008, 01:12:05 AM
I got the game but I'm not going to set sail for a while. You're welcome to my buddy key (I'll PM you the info if you like). I assume you can still use it even if I haven't installed my game yet? Just wasn't sure.  icon_confused
10812  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa beta on: February 05, 2008, 04:17:24 PM
Edged up to 31 last night. I tried a point in Corpse Explosion, and in Hormonicus (probably misspelling this  icon_confused), both Exobiologist skills.

*Corpse explosion basically sets a corpse on fire for a few seconds (I wish it didn't take so long to go off) and then provides Extreme splash explosion damage. It isn't gruesome at all though (there are no internal organs flying Tongue). I think it could be useful in base defense/assault situations when you have Bane crowds and corpses everywhere.

*Hormonicus (or is it Horticulturis?) actually grows a big green plant out of a corpse (you can't use this power unless you have a corpse to grow it from). It provides a health/power buff to nearby AFS, and a squadmate can actually "use" the plant to get a health boost. I don't think it's going to be all that useful though (we're always on the move in the game afterall). I would think base defense, maybe inside the fortress, might be its one use (it takes damage, so I don't think you can drop it in the middle of a base defense battlefield and expect it to be useful).
10813  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: nVidia buys AGEIA on: February 05, 2008, 02:00:48 PM
I briefly looked into the AIEGA PhysX card a while back, and the fundamental stumbling block to me is the card does not improve graphics performance/speed in any wayicon_confused I was like, "huh?"

To me the only selling point was the idea (wrong on my part) that it might take some stress either off your CPU or regular graphics card to display PhysX effects, but everything I read said it doesn't improve performance at all (vs. the "non PhysX version" of a game). Only a handful of games (City of Heroes/Villains is one, and I think the late Auto Assault was another, but I've heard little good feedback about the optional effects) support it, and it really seems like an odd acquisition. It makes sense for AIEGA though -- nobody much is buying their cards, and devs aren't clamoring to offer the PhysX support. Unless NVIDIA or ATI/AMD bought into it, it didn't seem like it would ever find widespread support.

Speaking of Auto Assault, dev Netdevil is no doubt praying this means a wider user base for PhysX, because their current free game project Warmonger is focused on it (, though it appears they pulled back on the plan to require PhysX (there's a demo, and PhysX is supported but optional). They've said in interviews though that Warmonger "is not playable" without a PhysX card. Oops.  saywhat
10814  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sins of a Solar Empire - Beta Musings on: February 04, 2008, 08:47:41 PM

Quote from: Tals on February 04, 2008, 01:53:41 PM

You want to try World in Conflict - that plays on a much lesser scale in terms of units being controlled.Tals
Unfortunately, it's a system backbreaker (I should've realized that when the hardware sites started using World in Conflict as a "video card stress test"   saywhat) Plus, I think it's maybe only the second RTS I ever played that gave me motion sickness problems. Moving the camera around made me feel like I was sitting through "Blair Witch Project" again (or the current "Cloverfield" for you youngsters out there).
10815  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Hellgate: London jumps from 0.70 to 1.0 on: February 04, 2008, 08:38:45 PM

Quote from: unbreakable on January 31, 2008, 08:35:24 PM

My biggest hatred of Hellgate lies in playing inventory Tetris.  I just won't do it anymore.
I would think at least one person at Flagship would've tried Titan Quest: Immortal Throne, which just let you auto-rearrange your inventory a couple of different ways (either everything crunched against the top or bottom, or everything crunched to the left or right side) with one button click (saving an endless amount of Tetris-ing frustration). C'mon guys, steal a smart idea now and then!  disgust

I'd love a hack 'n slash where the inventory had 3 different sections (armor, weaponry and potion/scroll etc.) and everything just tumbled into its own section automatically. I think that'd save so many headaches just right there.

Why don't they just hire us all as UI consultants? We could save them a lot of heartache.  Cool

At some point I'll try to get the last part of the new patch (the MP client patch I think) to install again but my first couple tries failed and I got fed up.
10816  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa beta on: February 04, 2008, 02:12:24 PM
I finally did the new Hybrid quest stuff in the Mires, which unlocks the new races. Basically these are just options for ugly alien heads on your character models and a few slightly different attributes starting points (honestly, I think what players wanted was something truly visually different, and maybe at least a few unique quests for a new race to do).

It seems like the contact "unlocks" at level 30, and is a contact near the waypoint in Bann LZ in the southern, middle portion of the Mires maps. It's a series of quests, nothing too fancy. There's one where you have to purposely get killed by a Bane Caretaker, and the key seems to be to just take most of your armor off and then let a caretaker have their way with you.  Tongue

I'm still convinced that as much as devs think people "don't want the grind" in MMOs, they do. If you can just race through the level cap in one of these in 2-4 weeks, then chances are you'll be saying sayonara shortly after that (even if you work some clones up through the other classes). In a more typical MMO you might be lucky to get 5 levels in that amount of time. Heck in COH I couldn't get one level in that amount of play time in the Level 40s unless I resorted to various common exploits impatient players resorted to. I enjoy the game's combat enough to stick around even if I end up re-doing the content over and over (somewhat like Diablo stuff in that regard), but I don't really know if the game's "lack of grind" is good or bad for it in the long run.
10817  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sins of a Solar Empire - Beta Musings on: February 04, 2008, 01:51:47 PM
fwiw, saw this in the Best Buy flyer ($39.99 I think), ballyhooed as "Available Tuesday by 2 p.m." I empathize with Thin_J, though in my case about RTSs in general. Even the ones I really liked in recent years (Company of Heroes, and Act of War: Direct Action come to mind), it's the early, smaller unit action I enjoyed. Once it becomes a giant, "controlling zillion units" kind of game (pretty much every RTS boils down to that eventually), I get overwhelmed and lose interest (even when I can pause and give orders, which Direct Action unfortunately didn't include).

I don't think I ever played a "4X" game (I assume X-COM counts). I did buy all the Homeworld games, and the visual similarity here has drawn my interest even if it appears to be a different kind of game.
10818  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Batman Begins...ya Im late on: February 04, 2008, 05:11:38 AM
Back in 2005, my newspaper job allowed me some schedule flexibility. So I caught a Tuesday midnight show (technically, 12:20 a.m. Wednesday, after endless trailers) of Batman Begins at a nice theater. I actually saw "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" first because I got to the theater about 9 p.m. and couldn't think what to do to waste 3 hours (was too far from home to go there first).

I got out of the theater about 3:30 a.m. I remember we all gave it a big round of applause at the end and there was a lot of "Wow that was a great movie!" chatter as I walked out into the Gotham City-like darkness to my car.  The Weghted Companion Cube will never threaten to stab you.

I'm sick about Heath Ledger, but hopefully his by all accounts unique Joker portrayal will be a fitting (if tragic, I'd rather have him seen keep growing as an actor) epitaph for him. There are a lot of marketing concerns, but July's a long way off and I think it would be a tougher (e.g., more uncomfortable) marketing situation if it was due out shortly.

One thing to watch in The Dark Knight -- the costume designer said in an interview they were finally able to make the costume's neck in such a way that Bale or his stuntmen can twist their neck around. They seemed to indicate it was "fixed" hard rubber in BB, so he would have to sort of shift his body to look in another direction. Just a little thing, but it should let whomever's playing Batman look a little more natural in terms of physical movement.

I liked the '89 Batman, but I never sensed that Tim Burton had any affinity for Batman. His interest was strictly in villains and their warped henchmen. I wanted to like Batman Returns, but something about watching Danny Devito vomiting black blood as the Penguin seemed completely too far from the comic book Penguin.

I knew once I read about Chris Nolan and writer David Goyer digging through DC Comics' Batman archives for research before writing Batman Begins, that it'd be something special and not another Big Studio Hack Job comic book film. smile Goyer, who a while back was canned as director of "The Flash", I think has some storyline credit still on TDK. Nolan's brother wrote the TDK script so hopefully it'll be as interesting.
10819  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Pirates of the Burning Sea open stress test on: February 03, 2008, 03:51:30 PM
Gamespy had a pretty enthusiastic review:
They retain some concerns they had early on about the lack of better tutorials to introduce new players (it seems to throw you into the deep end of the pool quickly, I gather), and the avatar stuff doesn't seem to match the ship stuff in quality (even people I know who lack the game say it needs some work). Other than that, they're pretty crazy about the ship stuff, the "meta game" (where PVE, PVP and combatants and merchants all contribute to something bigger), the quality of the single player quests, and just about everything else. smile
Even better, regardless of level or preferred play style everyone in the game can make a meaningful contribution to their nation. Freetraders who like playing the economic game are needed to produce and deliver the goods that generate unrest. Generating unrest opens up PvP zones outside the port that attracts Pirate-players looking for valuable booty. This in turn pulls in Navy players to protect player-merchants and Privateers hunting Pirate scalps. One of the most extraordinary experiences in the few weeks since the game launched has been watching the discussion in the chat channels move from people just out for themselves to a genuine "patriotism" for their in-game national identities.
I spent some time at least reading the manual, and the ship guide in the game box last night. The manual is OK but sort of screams "buy the official strategy guide if you really need guidance."  icon_neutral It's cool that fans designed the ship models displayed in the ship guide (I think they did so using the ship editor long before the game even hit beta, if I recall).

And from some interviews I've read they do plan to work on avatar animations, and some new camera views for ships so that you can focus in on your ship captain/avatar more readily.

I haven't set sail yet, but the game box is opened, so I'm committed.  icon_smile I'm big on protecting people, so I thinK Navy might be my style.   The Weghted Companion Cube will never threaten to stab you. Er, assuming I get competent at the ship combat that is. Otherwise, you might see me steering a yacht.  icon_mrgreen
10820  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa Screenshots (dial-ups beware) on: February 03, 2008, 02:56:39 PM
I just wish there was a "disperse your army" button. I don't think there is, and when you have a horde of zombies with you, combat can get a little confusing.  icon_confused

Here's current Injector Blackjach pics (login, and in game). Dark blue w/ gold/yellow gloves is that clan's official color. I usually get bright stuff, but the darker "home brew" paints are actually kinda cool looking I thinks.

I usually disable the helmet view in-game, but it's always on in login.
10821  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa Screenshots (dial-ups beware) on: February 03, 2008, 06:54:37 AM
Last reanimation for the day:

Went back to an earlier instance full of Atta spiders. So I reanimated a few dead hordes for fun. It's a visual hoot, and when they all throw their boulders in unison at an enemy, it's fun to watch. smile
10822  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa Screenshots (dial-ups beware) on: February 03, 2008, 03:55:30 AM
I'm not sure what This Is.  saywhat I assume maybe this was some beta tester perk or something? (Unicorn's Head). It's certainly not Polymorph (which lets you adopt a Bane disguise), afik. NOTE: I'm told this was just a fun "3-month reward" for veteran players. smile

I had fun reanimating almost everything in sight. You can even reanimate bosses, though early levels give you a pet several levels below what the corpse was.

And why reanimate one Miasma when you can use the signature skill Reanimation Wave, and reanimate an army of them? (though it's not as effective as you might wish  icon_biggrin).

This actually did help my teammate and me a bit but that particular area in Plateau is now (due to the respawn rates and how rabid the various miasma are in the graveyard) probably one of the nastiest hunting grounds in the game.
10823  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa Screenshots (dial-ups beware) on: February 02, 2008, 10:01:37 PM
Yeah supposedly crouching improves acc and damage a little, and firing from behind cover improves your defense, but honestly, it's so fast paced, most of the time people just mow through things and don't worry about it. I obsess about that stuff, but the general populace ignores it and you can probably be happy either way. smile

As much as I like the game, I am not really a fan of the knockback that Atta spiders and some other enemies pull on you. Mainly it's cause the animation engine is extremely sluggish at handling things like that (this isn't an FPS engine, there's no ragdoll physics as in City of Heroes etc.), so you'll find yourself struggling mightily to recover from knockbacks and stuns (and the animation of it looks a little cheesy because it's so sluggishly portrayed). Not so much because the enemies are nasty, but the game engine just doesn't seem able to visually animate that sort of thing quickly.

I'd have a hard time illustrating this unless I could find a way to show some footage from COH of a hero getting knocked back (smoothly), side by side with this (where it's almost stuttering).
10824  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa Screenshots (dial-ups beware) on: February 02, 2008, 05:09:14 PM
Got Injector to Exobiologist today:

Clone's fun. You just need to buy some medical micro mech (quite affordable, easy to stock up on) to use stuff like clone, reanimation and reanimation wave.

It uses some occasional animated rippling of the clone to remind you it's your clone. The clone doesn't have the "helmet not visible" option so in my case that helps differentiate. It's a "dumb pet" so it's prone to blast everything in sight, and uses the same weapon that you have equipped.
10825  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa Name and Server List on: February 02, 2008, 05:45:12 AM
I got onto a pretty friendly and large clan called Misfit Mercenaries:

They're supposedly a group of older players and they've been having various guilds in various games for about 10 years. I've only met a few of them online and it's not crazy active, but they have quite a few members. The guy who invited me (Motovar, or something like that) is a lotta fun and gabby. So even if there aren't many people on, you can count on him keeping the clan chat channel busy. smile

If anyone's interested in it, message me in game and I'll see if I can get  you in. There's no initiation. smile But I don't think my character's got clan invites yet.

10826  Non-Gaming / Trading Forum / Re: LF AGP video card on: February 01, 2008, 11:21:21 PM
fwiw I'm using an ATI 1650 Pro card these days (overpriced for its so-so performance but my fairly nice X800 Pro card's slot connector went sour, and I had to do something as an AGP stopgap).

I tried an ATI 2400HD and it was horrific (crashes, freezes, constant instability regardless of what revision drivers I used), although it actually had noticeably better frame rates than what I use now. But what's the point, if your PC locks up or shuts down randomly every other minute?  disgust

I've been blindly loyal to ATI for years for no particular reason but my new system most decidedly won't use one. I've had way too many driver issues with far too many games, and I'm just tired of it. mad

I think I have a 9800 Pro 256MB lying around as well fwiw ( is the one).

I'd be careful though if you play newer games. Many have extremely picky system requirements that specify a video card must be a certain model or higher; when I dug out my old 9800 Pro as an emergency card I found several new games and demos wouldn't run at all (including the Bioshock and Lost Planet demos, and Gears of War PC).
10827  Non-Gaming / Steals and Deals / Re: Chipotle: free burrito on Feb 13/14 on: February 01, 2008, 09:19:46 PM
The first Chipotle opened in Denver, if I recall. For a while, a lot of people were in a panic that McDonald's bought stock in the company -- that's apparently what helped the chain grow so fast for a while, but my understanding is McDonald's divested itself from the company in 2006. Which is good -- I don't think their meat quality (Chipotle is excellent, McD's not so much) was in line with McDonald's thinking.  icon_lol

I remember once having to wait in a second line because they were a little backed up on keeping up with demand for chicken. I liked that I actually heard and saw the manager reminding the cook to grill the chicken meat all the way through and not rush it just cause the line was backed up a little (I don't think the cook was going to rush it, but when I was a kid I got really ill one night after an undercooked cheeseburger at a fast food joint - so it was just comforting to me, and we all waited patiently, nobody made a fuss).

The first few times I ate at Chipotle I usually got the crispy tacos. The mistake I kept making is I'd ask for the mild *and* the medium salsa -- I guess I thought the chopped tomatoes were just tomatoes. And then my mouth would always be burning off (I'm not big on the mega spicy stuff - for me it tends to blot out the flavor).

I've started having barbacoa now and then because of recommendations here. smile I like it, but they seem to be a little less generous in portions with it than with the other meats -- maybe it's more precious...

We have a growing chain here in N. Va. (it's in a few other eastern states too) called California Tortilla ( It's good, and has some very interesting concoctions, but I haven't so far found one with an easy drive of me.
10828  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Good photo management software? on: February 01, 2008, 06:16:17 PM
I actually liked Picasa more before Google gots its grubby meat hooks on it.  Tongue

I use Irfanview for viewing/cropping (any screenshots I've shared here, I used Irfanview for) though it isn't really photo management per se.

I would give some thought to whether you want to arrange photos chronologically, by subject matter, by event (trip, vacation, etc.). Some of the photo management software is better at arranging that stuff than others. Some of them save an original copy when you crop, so that your original photos remain intact.

These days I've given up on the whole managing idea. I just lump em under certain date folders in the MyDocuments/MyPictures folder, and backup them up to an external hard drive from time to time. Managing my photos just started to feel too much like a second job.  puke
10829  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa beta on: January 31, 2008, 08:24:17 PM
I would say TR delivers on points 1 (though many instances require or benefit from teammates, the vast majority of content is quite soloable, or you can sort of fight alongside the many AI AFS) and 3 (just imho).

Then again, we've had some philosphical discussions here (deep, man! smile) about whether attempting to be purposely "not addictive" (in theory meaning you can hop onto TR or say, Flagship's Mythos, for half an hour and feel you progressed and had fun) means that a game is more friendly to casual gamers, or is the fact that you don't feel the need to play until 3 a.m. every night mean that the game itself just isn't fun (i.e., additivve) enough? I'm OK with it, but if one is scraping the couch cushions for change every night, can one justify $15 a month for something that's not as maddeningly addictive as some other MMOs? confused

If by community (point 2) you mean fan sites, and message boards, then yes. If you mean some sense of community within the game itself, I don't really know. I am trying to get onto a larger guild (have to wait 7 days after leaving one). Most folks use the surplus store (auction house) so the Trading Channel is largely deserted. The NewPlayer channel is largely helpful and is maybe the lone chat channel where I feel an in-game sense of community. If/when crafting gets revamped into something more useful (making buffs that have a 40% or whatever chance of destroying the item I'm trying to modify isn't really my idea of fun crafting  disgust) I think that'll boost the in-game feeling of community if there's more useful stuff to share.

Hope that helps. I like the game, but if they're going to make it one where you can level so fast, they really have got to keep delivering L30-L50 content or impatient gamers will get tired of upper level grinding-groups (I find it ironic a game that's supposed to eliminate the need for grinding has so many people forming said grinding groups) and move on to other stuff.
10830  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa beta on: January 31, 2008, 06:19:54 PM
Injector's approaching 30. Now that the Mires lag is fixed (basically they seem to have reduced the number of lag-inducting protector robot drones, and masses of Bane in general there), I've discovered a whole, whole lot of missions there that my Grenadier missed out on.

I'm probably going to go with Biotechnician [think Diablo II's Necromancer in some ways] at 30 (which includes clone [a clone of yourself fighting alongside], corpse reanimation, corpse explosion, reanimation wave etc.

One of the stranger ones involved tagging along with a trained  (usually enemy but friendly) hound creature to "sniff out" a traitor.

In chat, people seemed to suggest that Biotech armor was now way more better than Hazmat (because of its armor regen rate adjustments and it always gave a modest squad health regen boost), though I still tend to wear a mix of things (Motor Assist, Hazmat and Biotech).

There was some grumbling that Mind (attribute) isn't worth much because it doesn't boost Logos attack powers unless they do direct-damage. If they're more of a debuff type damage (disease/contagion etc.), then the theory goes that Mind doesn't boost it. Something like lightning (which I do use quite a bit -- the upper pump version adds sonic damage, and arcs to multiple targets) would get a boost though. That was chat though, I don't have "empirical" data.  Tongue
10831  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: WoW makes 1 billion dollars last year on: January 31, 2008, 06:12:44 PM
I'd be curious what the operating costs are (servers, 24/7 employees etc.) to run WoW in all the various locations it's in now. I'm sure the actual operating profit is still quite substantial.  icon_biggrin

While the monthly fees vary according to regions, if you (just for sake of a vaguely ballpark number) multiply 10 million subscribers by $15 a month, that's about $150 million a month, so that's about $1.8 billion a year. So maybe the rest of Vivendi Games is losing $800 million a year.  icon_lol  Again, it's not really that simple because of the varying fees and the not exactly strong U.S. dollar right now. The dollar fluctuates wildly these days, so I doubt that Blizzard constantly adjusts overseas WoW-fee rates to always be a $15 equivalent.

What's interesting in MMO land these days is it seems like half the industry is at least marketing itself as widely different from WoW in an attempt to be fresher, and probably the other half is desperately trying to emulate it in hopes of achieving even 10% (any MMO publisher would sell its soul for just 1 million subscribers, much less 10M) of its success. I never warmed up to WoW (I did buy it just after launch), but I still find it odd to market a game with a "Hey, that game that 10 million people are playing is unimaginative and old school! Come play us instead!" mentality.  icon_confused

I can't help thinking that Funcom (Age of Conan) and EA-Mythic (Warhammer Online) are so intimidated by WoW (though they'll never say it) that they'll just keep delaying all the way to 2010 or later in hopes the WoW juggernaut will slow down enough for something else to get a large share of the market. But there'll be another WoW expansion by then, so it's probably a moot point.

That's the end of my deep thoughts with Jack Handey for the day... stirthepot
10832  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Hellgate: London jumps from 0.70 to 1.0 on: January 31, 2008, 01:53:08 PM
Gamespy took a look at Stonehenge and the update in general:

They still don't have a shared stash for subscribers yet, and why they can't at least implement a simple "auto arrange inventory hotkey" solution as Iron Lore did with Immortal Throne for Titan Quest is beyond me. If they're going to flood you with loot (most of it junk), they could at least make it easier to work with.  disgust

I'm still keeping away for now. Wasn't able to get the update to complete installing properly and just didn't want to deal with the headache.
10833  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Any remedies for a cat who can't keep food down? on: January 30, 2008, 09:53:54 PM
I had this same problem. A couple weeks back I had tried some "all natural" cat treats, and my cat Molly reacted by turning into Linda Blair from the exercise that night (almost literally, her head spun around and vomit flew everywhere). I mean, she did that in probably 7 or 8 different places, and I was running around screaming, and running out of cat-puke cleaner. Lord knows what my neighbors thought. I guess I should've just put her in the bathtub (a friend of mine recommends that in emergency throw-up situations).

I threw out said treats, she stopped with the throwing up right away. Alas, last Thursday night (or possibly Friday morning) she was sick again in 3 or 4 spots. I took her into the vet on Friday.

They did a physical exam, took her temperature, didn't find anything. Did a blood test, I'm finding results of on Thursday. They had suggested not feeding her regular cat food for 24 hours after a throwing-up-fest, so I actually fed her Gerbers brand chicken baby food (you have to be careful, cause some baby foods contain peas, beans, pear juice etc. - Gerbers is just ground chicken, water and some corn starch) a few times for a day, while her stomach hopefully settled. She liked it, and there were no nasty side effects (I guess you could say she used her litter box a bit more often but nothing nasty).

The doctor did give her a hydration-shot (she was apparently quite dehyrdated, though whether that's from her being sick or whether that caused her to be sick, I don't know  icon_confused) and a temporary "anti-vomiting" shot, I have no idea what that is.  icon_confused

Molly's got an overactive thyroid, and I have to give her two pills a day (morning and evening) of a prescription medication called (I think) Tapizol. It hasn't had any adverse effects to this point, and we're hoping it's not causing her throw-up problems.

Anyway, a recent photo:

Dunno if it's worthy anything, but the vet was saying cats with sensitive stomachs sometimes have problems digesting seafood. Doesn't really help me (the Purina food I give her is supposedly mostly lamb and chicken), though I know Molly had some troubles with salmon flavor treats and wet food I gave her in the past.
10834  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa Screenshots (dial-ups beware) on: January 30, 2008, 07:01:04 PM
I can only preach patience. People start to differentiate quite a bit in 20s and 30s.  You'll notice more variety within the armor types at that point, plus the patch supposedly changed rewards for 800 some odd missions, which presumably means a lot of different armor.

This isn't really the kind of game where you use the same armor for 5-10 levels, I'm constantly changing. It can be frustrating when you get a look/set you like, and then suddenly you look like a backup catcher for a baseball team or something.  disgust Tongue

If costume uniqueness is your thing, you should try City of Heroes/Villains as it still  has the best character/costume creator in the biz (imho). Since it isn't a loot/equipment-focused game you can find a unique costume that suits you and not worry about changing it every other level to use new equipment/loot, but just changing it at the costume shop if you want a new look. And virtually no character ever looks exactly the same as someone else's in that.
10835  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa Screenshots (dial-ups beware) on: January 30, 2008, 05:56:02 AM
I think the verdict's in that people appreciate the "helmet viewable" option, and nobody wants to have their helmets visible.  icon_biggrin
I don't know if the folks that designed the helmet artwork are too happy right now though.  tear I spent a few moments hovering around other players trying to get closeups...

It's nice though. Not much point in the character creator if you have to run around the game with a bucket on your head all the time.
10836  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa beta on: January 30, 2008, 04:36:09 AM
You whiz through the lower levels so quickly, there's not much reason to team up other than the instances. I tend to describe it as the flipside of LOTORO, which is so team-focused that people who prefer to solo generally get turned off after a while. I'm still looking for a game that's somewhere between those types of extremes.

One teeny tiny change in 1.4 lets you disable helmet visuals so you can show off your character's face. It sounds like nothing, but it makes all the difference in terms of visual differences between player characters, like so...

While I like some of the helmets, many look like silly baseball caps, and I'd agree that too many people are wearing too many of the same helms (probably because all the quests give the same ones).

The new hybrid classes everyone seems to agree have truly hideous faces, so you may want to keep the helmet on if you decided to start one of those (there are now quests that unlock hybrid classes, though they've done little to inform players of that).

My main tips post-patch:
* Make sure to re-distribute *both* your skills *and* attribute points. You might want to sort of gradually redistribute stuff as you test the skills (many of which are revamped/redone) to see how effective they are.

* Again, don't forget to redistribute attribute points. I had 75 (!) undistributed, and played that way without realizing it, complaining about how the patch messed everything up so much. I think a lot of people were doing that because they didn't have the sen to prompt the players in-game that "HEY! Redistribute your points." There's no warning or tutorial in game prompting you about it, and if you didn't read the patch notes, you'd have no idea that had happened.

* Armor does seem to peel away faster now, and health holds up longer. I'm still inclined to panic when my armor drops, but there's a bit more reason to heal and use healing skills now.
10837  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO - State of the game on: January 29, 2008, 10:17:39 PM

Quote from: Scraper on January 26, 2008, 06:14:26 PM

I saw the collector's addition of this game for $20 yesterday and I almost bought it. I tend to play MMORPGs for about 3 months before I get bored with them. The one thing that will keep me playing longer is solo-ability. So is this game solo friendly or after say lvl 15 do I need to constantly be grouped to have fun?
Although I canceled a while back (I had the pre-order Founder's Fee $9.99 monthly price but after not playing for 3 months, there didn't seem much point), I quite enjoyed a couple run throughs into the level 40s.

I guess I'm inclined to say that while there is a good bit of solo content in the game, many of the instances (varies depending on what type character you play) require groups (sometimes carefully configured, competent groups -- this is not a "rush-in and zap everything in sight" kind of game) and much of the game requires some sort of teamwork to survive. I don't really recommend it to anyone who wants to solo most or all of the time. But I dunno -- you should still try it. If you get wrapped up in the stories and environment, you might find yourself enjoying teaming up in spite of your own preferences. smile

Socially I enjoyed the heck out of the game, and I found the chat system and LFG system well designed. And I loved the "group maneuvers" (I forgot what they're called already). I did find that most groups were "one night stand" things. People teamed, the moment it was done, poof. Over in CoX I generally found people more interested in teaming up again later if the group went well. In LOTORO it was more "slam bam thank you maa'm" though perhaps that's because so much of the content is team-focused (i.e., they just wanted help cracking the walnut, and then it was off to the races).

While I'm currently more happy with the "whack a mole" nature of Tabula Rasa, there are times I miss the more strategic, deliberately paced combat in LOTORO.
10838  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Tiberium on: January 29, 2008, 08:10:14 PM
Gamespy got a peek (but no hands-on time) with the XBox360 version. They said it has frame rate problems in its current state. The fact they won't let anyone play it yet suggests that it ... SUCKS!  icon_surprised Nah, I mean they are presumably still a looooong ways from a solid, playable form.

I'll be skeptical about the PC version unless they do like Infinity Ward did with COD4 in terms of having separate development teams on each version. Otherwise my "console game poorly ported to PC" Spider Sense will start beeping... disgust

I'll see if I can dig up the issue (Game Informer) when I get home and I'll share some bits from that. I like the concept.
10839  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Question about my system's bottleneck on: January 29, 2008, 08:05:32 PM
Based on my own miserable experience (you can still see my tears on the walls of the Gears of War PC thread here) I would stay far away from Gears of War PC with that card/system. It's the worst kind of system hawg. Perhaps something like an 8500 or 8600 could run it.

You at least won't have my problem of requiring some strange AMD "CPU driver" to run the game. I believe it also requires a video driver so updated that it's actually from the future (2009 I think). I'm kidding on that last part. I think...  saywhat
10840  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa beta on: January 29, 2008, 06:21:39 PM
Although it's not a huge content update, it mentions several new missions, including 16 in the Marshes (I haven't played there yet, I think it's for mid to upper 30s?):
855 missions have had their rewards re-evaluated and replaced with new items. Items previously obtained through these missions will not be changed, but will no longer be available to future players.

38 Instances now have a Portable Waypoint at the beginning of them, making it easier for players with Portable Waypoints to go back to the beginning of the instance.

Added 16 new missions to Marshes.

New mission: The Infesus Garrison Directive

New mission: Infiltrate Infesus Garrison

New mission: Rock and Rumble

New mission: Supply Pass

New mission: Tough Translating

New mission: Scientific Salvage

New mission: Taking the Pills

New mission: Arming the Brann

New mission: Incursion Investigation

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