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9961  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTORO Volume 2: Mines of Moria (paid, full-box expansion) on: October 06, 2008, 12:58:08 PM had a pretty cool dev tour of the new areas both above-ground (in Eregion, off the Trollshaws) and Moria itself, including about 43 images.

If you prefer a sense of discovery when you actually play it, you may want to not view it.  icon_neutral I found it useful as far as knowing how to reach the new areas, among other things.

Since I had been away from the game so long, when I stumbled into some of the content/places/quests the Book 10 update added way back when (off Evindem, and in the Trollshaws) for roughly 40-45 content, it was a really pleasant surprise - I hadn't read about any of it.
9962  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: In honor of Star Trek Online...I present on: October 05, 2008, 06:13:00 PM
Well, you can get the same feeling if you replace "Bilbo" with "Dildo" in the Nimoy video.  eek
9963  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sacred 2 Gone Gold on: October 05, 2008, 05:36:47 PM
I'm sure someone in the UK is exporting that version. I guess Gogamer isn't bothering since the North American version's due next month (I bough the UK version of Sacred and its expansion from them, quite a few months before a US version finally released).
9964  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sacred 2 Gone Gold on: October 05, 2008, 01:32:29 PM
A few more pics from the other day:

Quest List

I can't say the demo quests are all that interesting, but few are of the "hunt 15, hunt 30" MMO variety at least. And there's certainly no shortage of them.

A little less skimpy...

With friends

One quest eventually has you leading 3 NPC soldiers around for a while.

Active shield aura

This is one of the skills you slot in the lower right hand thingie. While active, it repels (or absorbs? icon_confused) attacks.

9965  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: CHUCK IS BACK! Chuck vs. The First Date Spoilers! on: October 05, 2008, 01:47:48 AM
Couple new clips from episode #2:

I don't know how Levi managed to memorize his continuous seduction speech in the first clip.  icon_lol John Laroquette's going to teach him the "art of seduction."  icon_razz I was reading in EW Laroquette's a big fan of the show.

I had missed this "Chuck: A Look at Season Two" montage put together for Comic-Con fans, including a pretty funny into by Adam Baldwin.
A lot's from the premiere, but much of it's from episodes 2 and later. I think I read about 6-7 episodes are "in the can" as they say.

There's about a zillion different interviews, promos and "fan mishmash videos" (There's almost as many about "Chuck and Sarah" as there are about "Jim and Pam" from The Office) at You Tube, if you're into that. I'm unashamedly into that, and I've got a few dozen in my favorites now. The cast comes across as genuinely charming off screen as on, and Levi really is a videogame/gadget freak.

His best story, in an interview from New Zealand where he and Yvonne Strahovski visited for some promo photography, is that he cut his right hand playing Wii Tennis -- he tried to do an overhead smash and smashed his hand right into the ceiling-mounted light fixture.  icon_eek Perhaps they'll write that into a script some day.

Strahovski's (Sarah) Australian, and always does interviews in her normal Aussie accent. It's a little jarring to hear in the interview videos. I think I've only seen one where she's asked to "speak in her American accent" and it's fun to hear her shift between the two so seamlessly.  icon_smile

Thought I'd take a break from my Nielsen ratings worrying to just be a fanboy.  icon_cool

9966  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO Free Welcome Back Weekend Oct 2-6 on: October 04, 2008, 03:46:40 AM
Holy crap, I'm in a 5 minute wait on Elendilmir sever myself.  crybaby

I might have to stick with the Sacred 2 demo tonight.  icon_razz
9967  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: CHUCK IS BACK! Chuck vs. The First Date Spoilers! on: October 03, 2008, 10:09:32 PM
Although it's more of a Zachary Levi Lovefest site than a Chuck site per se, I've found is a good "aggregator" site of all things (including gobs of videos) Chuck that ever mention or pertain to Levi.  icon_cool The guy is just remarkably nice and "normal" whether in interviews, signing autographs or goofing off at Comic-Con.

What should be comforting for Chuck fans ratings wise is that Fox's heavily hyped Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles, which airs opposite it, is floundering far worse in the ratings and many TV columnists expect it not to survive through this season. And I noticed the far more hyped Pushing Daisies on ABC (it airs on a different day) premiered to far, far worse ratings than Chuck did. So there's that.

A lot of year-to-year comparisons right now are a little screwy because they're comparing to last season's "Pre writers strike" premieres. And more and more people right now are watching things via iTunes, Hulu, Web sites or DVRs, none of which Nielsen ratings have found a way to include yet. I dread the ratings getting too much fixation from network execs -- because then we'll get nothing but knockoffs of American Idol, CSI, Law & Order and diva soaps.  disgust

I think from what I've read, while the Intersect will be a common "background arc" through the season, it won't likely be dominating each episode the way it did in the premiere. Bryce is supposed to return at some point, too.
9968  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Ultra-portable discussion thread on: October 03, 2008, 06:47:53 PM
If $329 and $349 netbooks have brutal margins for retailers, how about a $69.29 one?  icon_razz

Microsoft installs XP, Office on cheap Portuguese laptops
Portugal started rolling out the "Magellan" computer at schools last month. It aims to hand out a total 500,000 of the laptops, which cost just 50 euros ($69.29) for school children, at home and export it to countries in Latin America and Africa.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled the software package called "Magellan Learning Suite" to go with the laptops, which will include Windows XP and Office in addition to development applications, free email and instant messaging.
I'm not sure of the size, but judging by the photos of people trying Magellan, it seems to be in this category.

If you click through the photos, I don't think the Chavez one is going to make Microsoft's marketing department very happy.  icon_eek But his country's presumably one of the ones Portugal wants to export this to.
9969  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: In honor of Star Trek Online...I present on: October 03, 2008, 03:51:36 PM
That was hysterical btw. It took me a good 20 minutes to get that tune out of my head.  icon_razz
9970  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sacred 2 Gone Gold on: October 03, 2008, 03:05:28 PM
It's a European game, yes.  nod Yes, Seraphim (demo) and Dryad (seems to wear a ragged bikini) are not exactly clad for battle. The High Elf female warrior seemed (at least from the little portrait pic) to wear a bit more. There are specific armor pieces available for each class, and you can probably be as scantily or un-scantily clad as you want later on.  icon_razz
9971  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sacred 2 Gone Gold on: October 03, 2008, 01:27:27 PM
Couple tips:
-The default inventory key is a baffling "F" so I changed that to the more traditional "I". I guess they had "I" set for a potion key.
-I couldn't seem to find a way to reconfigure keys without save/exiting to the opening menu. Maybe there's a way, I just haven't found it.  icon_confused
-If I'm remembering the original game correctly, as you level, you eventually get additional "circles" slots in the lower middle, so that you can quickly change between weapon sets and combat arts sets. Early on, it's frustrating cause you only have one slot of each.
9972  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: In honor of Star Trek Online...I present on: October 03, 2008, 01:23:50 PM
So you're saying...
Spoiler for Hiden:
Turbine was a more logical choice for Star Trek Online?  icon_lol
9973  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sacred 2 - Hmmm? Did it actually come out? on: October 03, 2008, 01:17:46 PM
Aye, I belatedly realized CDV when I loaded the demo up (splash screen). I'm tossing some screenies from the demo into the "gone gold" thread, fwiw.
9974  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sacred 2 Gone Gold on: October 03, 2008, 12:21:37 PM
Finally put some time in on the US demo. Looks sharp, runs pretty smoothly. While some menus will seem familiar to Sacred players, they seem to have done a better job of organizing things, and every screen has a '?' help button you can click. Although it's Diablo-style, I was able to play pretty well using more typical MMO movement keys (w,a,s,d) too, and I might have to, to avoid any recurring wrist tendinitis troubles. smile

Here's a few screenshots (these are at Medium, which it installed as by default):


The combat feels crisper to me than in the first game. It won't remove any Diablo II memories, but it just feels less "loose" to me than Sacred did.

Character Selection

While the demo limits you to Seraphim, you can at least rollover the other types. I think the "Dryad" might appeal to me.

The "God" power, you get more as you go, seems something of a long cooldown, "use it when you think you're screwed" kind of power.  icon_cool


You can stick a pin in the map, but only one at a time. Quest areas tend to be marked clearly on the map, so if you prefer LOTRO's purposefully vague quest directions, you're out of luck.  icon_razz

Arts/Skills Selection/Distribution:

I got this when hitting level 2 and distributing for a new skill. Gives an idea of the variety.
9975  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sacred 2 - Hmmm? Did it actually come out? on: October 03, 2008, 01:50:49 AM
fwiw, GoGamer lists Nov. 12 as their U.S. release date:

afik it has released everywhere *but* North America, which may be good, as a patch has already come out for it.  Roll Eyes

I'm not even sure if they have a U.S. publisher for it. EB, Best Buy, Circuit City don't list Sacred 2 at all (maybe they want to wait for the console version to release). But GoGamer's listing doesn't specify it as a UK import. So I just don't know.  icon_confused

I am finally downloading the U.S. demo now though. And I'd figure if they're bothering with a "U.S." demo, they must have some sort of U.S. distribution plans.

I ordered the original Sacred and its expansion in UK import form from GoGamer way back when. Although Ascaron did finally arrange U.S. publishing of the game it was several months after Sacred launched in Europe (I didn't have the patience).
9976  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Acer Aspire One? (yet another mini-notebook) on: October 03, 2008, 01:38:37 AM
SlashGear has an interesting look at a user-modded touchscreen Acer Aspire One:
9977  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO Free Welcome Back Weekend Oct 2-6 on: October 02, 2008, 09:27:37 PM
From what I read, I don't think this particular "return to LOTRO weekend" is bringing back the $9.99 option. Back in May when they celebrated their one year anniversary they sort of brought that back but the catch was it required a 90-day or longer payment option.

Back then they also brought back the $199 lifetime option (which I wish I had gotten back in the beginning but I still haven't subscribed long enough that it would've saved me money, to this point), which is now a heftier $299.

While it wouldn't surprise me if they brought those options back ($9.99, $199 lifetime) for people who buy the Moria expansion, I just haven't so far been able to find anything along those lines yet for the North American retail version.
9978  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Acer Aspire One? (yet another mini-notebook) on: October 02, 2008, 06:17:06 PM
Some retailers got the XP version price drop memo early (Micro Center dropped the XP model price just about the day after Acer's announcement), some got it late, and I think some still aren't reflecting the drop at all. That's my only guess.  icon_neutral I dunno, it is in the end a "Manufacturers' Suggested Retail Price" as they say, so I guess it's up to the retailer to learn about it, and then to decide if they want to sell it at the price or higher. Margins are supposedly razor thin in that price range.
9979  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO Free Welcome Back Weekend Oct 2-6 on: October 02, 2008, 06:11:32 PM
They clarified that the 25% exp boost *only* applies to mob kills, *not* to exp earned when you turn a quest in. Also, that the 25% boost stacks on top of the "rested character bonus" you get when you haven't played in a while and log back in. So, I guess this would be a good weekend to work on hunt quests, or to just mindlessly grind away at everything in sight (or on Deeds/Traits).  icon_neutral
9980  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: City of Heroes Issue 13: Architect (mission creator; day jobs) on: October 02, 2008, 06:07:54 PM
They announced much of the PvE balance changes - most seem aimed at making underperforming and/or unpopular sets more palable/useful.

One pretty big change affects (positively) every non-offensive player toggle in the game:
Toggle Powers
One important additional piece of development to mention, that is especially relevant to Kheldians and their toggle powers is: in Issue 13, Toggles are no longer shut off due to Hold, Sleep or Disorient effects. This is a major gameplay change, and it is not restricted to Kheldians, but instead applies to all non-offensive player toggles. As part of changes in Issue 13, when a player is affected by a hold, sleep or stun, any toggle power they are running will continue and will still draw endurance from the character. However, some or all of its effects may be suppressed until such time as the hold, sleep or stun is removed.
9981  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Dead Space confirmed for PC(IGN hands on 9/8) on: October 02, 2008, 01:09:19 PM
This Gameplanet (New Zealand) interview with the game's Producer in Charge of Scripted Events and Other Story Elements for Dead Space has some brief mention of the PC version (I guess that version hasn't gone gold yet?):
GP: Is the PC version optimized well for the mouse and keyboard users amongst us, or is Dead Space really something that only suits the controller crowd?

Rich Briggs: We spent a lot of time making sure the PC version had the best control scheme possible. We tested various configurations and implemented what we felt worked best for the mouse and keyboard. In addition, the keyboard controls are able to be remapped by the player.
EB seems to indicate the PC version pre-orders ship a bit later (10/20 rather than 10/14) and costs $10 less ($49.99) fwiw.
9982  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Back to the Future... 2, or 3? on: October 01, 2008, 08:22:25 PM
imho, the second movie is nasty, needlessly violent, lacks Crispin Glover's bizarre presence (having some generic actor play his shrunken role seemed a big mistake, though I understand Glover apparently asked for some astronomical amount of money to reprise his role) and leaves you hanging at the end. You could sorta of say that about the original film but that one tied up its loose ends, and then ended with a teaser.

I also found it a mistake to give Biff (a little bit of a nasty, repellent character like that goes a long way) so much screen time. It had great set pieces, and a lot of gee-whiz technical gimmickry. Zemeckis seems to feel about Part II the way Spielberg does now about The Temple of Doom -- that they just got a little too carried away trying to make a second movie "darker."

I remember seeing it in theaters (it was much anticipated in 1988), but it's kinda clear it didn't have the same charm as the first movie. My recollection is it made a mint its first week but box office dropped steeply after that once people realized it was a darker, less enjoyable film.

I remember a lot of reviews at the time remarked that it's a lot more fun to go back into a past the viewing audience knows, and stage a "fish out of water" storyline there, than it is to go into a future that nobody knows or can really truly anticipate (in 1988 I sure as heck had no thoughts about the Internet, Web pages, or spending so much of my life on message boards online). That's presumably why III went back to the Wild, Wild West.

For me, BthF3 had a little more of the first movie's charm, but it just seemed like a relatively pointless exercise. Although I did buy the trilogy on DVD a few years ago, I think in retrospect the first movie is where they should have just ended it. Like ET, it was a fairly magical experience if you got into it (I know plenty of people who don't like ET or Back to the Future) but it told a nice little self-contained story and it's maybe a shame they felt the need to milk it to death. I think Back to the Future's "DeLorean into the future" ending promised more than the sequel could ever deliver.

Postscript, some months ago here in Virginia, I saw a Delorean (!), still driven, in a shopping center parking lot. I wish I had had my camera with me.  icon_cool
9983  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Ultra-portable discussion thread on: October 01, 2008, 06:38:38 PM
Saw a Taiwan news item that HP thinks the netbook rage is mostly a "back to school" blip, and that they plan to focus on more traditional notebooks (HP Mini Note notwithstanding):

Hewlett-Packard narrows focus to notebook market
“The competition in the netbook sphere is extremely intense. There’s very little margin in that category, and we at HP believe the recent netbook frenzy is due to the back-to-school season, when kids are buying laptops for school,” Clair Chang (張淑雯), manager of HP Taiwan’s product marketing department, said at a media briefing.

“As the market normalizes, we see more and more consumers going back to quality traditional notebooks. And traditional notebooks will be our company focus going forward,” Chang said yesterday as the company introduced a suite of Elitebook-brand models targeted at business users.
Though I have to say, at that busy Acer Aspire One fan forum I frequent, I get the impression few of the people crowding in there are college students. To be fair, he may well just be talking about the Taiwan market though.

It also briefly mentioned new Mini-Note models due down the road:
HP plans to release its second generation of Mini-Note models before the end of the year. The company declined to say how many models it expects to ship or what the specifications of the new generation would be.
9984  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO Free Welcome Back Weekend Oct 2-6 on: October 01, 2008, 06:31:04 PM
All my characters are on Elendilmir (did I finally spell it right? icon_razz), at levels 5 (burglar), 7 (lore master), 22 (guardian), 38 (hunter) and 48 (captain). So holler if you're returning and want some help or company.  icon_smile
9985  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: CHUCK IS BACK! Chuck vs. The First Date Spoilers! on: October 01, 2008, 12:35:39 PM
I guess I won't hyperventilate about the ratings (I loved the premiere, but TV columnists indicate it's the lowest rated/least watched episode of the show so far, even given the post writers'-strike recovery blues). I dug up some stuff about execs ordering a full second season back during the summer. As long as someone in upper management believes in the show, it should survive.  icon_smile

Getting back to this episode - as a gamer, you have to love a show where the hero recites his buddy's Call of Duty 4 strategy to get out of a dangerous pickle.  icon_cool
9986  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Acer Aspire One? (yet another mini-notebook) on: October 01, 2008, 03:52:32 AM
This Aussie item seems to support the idea that there's still a 6-cell battery manufacturing shortage, and Acer doesn't expect to be able to offer 6-cell AA1s until early 2009 at the earliest.  crybaby

Longer battery life and 3G to replace cashback for Aspire One netbook
The six-cell battery is already offered as a cost-extra option for $110. However Henry Lee, Senior Product Manager for Acer Computer Australia, says that the company’s initial intentions to roll out this upgrade “as of October or even earlier” have been scotched due to short supply of the six cell batteries. Lee now predicts the battery boost to “in early 2009”, although the netbook’s price will remain the same despite the larger battery.
9987  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: CHUCK IS BACK! Chuck vs. The First Date Spoilers! on: September 30, 2008, 11:42:10 PM
I liked the show last year, and then sort of trailered off (Reaper was my other favorite new show last year, and has similar ratings challenges). *but* I bought the DVD set the other day, and I watched the entire 13 episodes over the weekend and fell in love with it.  icon_cool

Apparently ratings weren't so hot for any of NBC's MOnday shows yesterday but I am pulling for Chuck with all I can muster.  icon_smile

I actually stayed up way too late watching the premiere a second time at NBC's site, and then a lengthy Comic-Con panel discussion with the show's cast and crew (and they all seem about as fun and funny as you would guess).
9988  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC server merge coming on: September 30, 2008, 11:23:56 PM
AoC is staggering no doubt, but I would keep in mind that they added a bunch of servers *after* the game launched due to probably the usual underestimating of the capacity they needed. When I first started playing, I recalled seeing "new server available" messages when I logged in, almost every day. So they may well just end up getting back to the number of servers they had at launch.

I think what it does reflect is their obvious "churn rate" since launch and that they're officially no longer in "growth" mode - I know that's "duh"  retard but this helps make that concrete. It's obviously not a hot new game people grab off the shelf anymore (it's Warhammer's 15 minutes of fame now, and soon the LOTRO and WoW expansions), so their mission is probably more of retention and survival than anything else.

Usually DOOMMM!!! is called for, imho, if there is an Auto Assault style "mass server consolidation." Netdevil/NCSoft merged about 8 or 12 servers (I forget the number, but it was about the same as City of Heroes has) into one giant server called "Nexus," if I remember it right, and you knew that was pretty much a portent of doom, and it was.
9989  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan Impressions on: September 30, 2008, 02:38:59 AM
Although the new game director has progress on many fronts to report in his latest letter at the forums, the truth is, all anyone is going to read about and pay attention to is... THEY'RE MERGING SERVERS! DOOOMMMMMM!!!!!!!!! Which conveniently is in the 2nd part of his letter...
Another aspect which has popped up in the forums recently is whether we are going to do a server merge or not, and I can today confirm that we are actively working on an approach to merge servers, both in Europe and North America. It’s important for us to ensure the best gameplay experience for you all, and more healthy populations on each and every server will make sure we maintain healthy communities for the game in the future. Still, there are many complexities involved in this, and we want to ensure that everything happens as fair and streamlined as possible. That work has now started, and we are naturally making sure that guilds and players can get to new servers in the best possible way. We will come back with more info on this, but I hope that this will serve as a positive injection to the social scene in the game.
That aside, there are some promising things, but the new Ymir's Pass (55-60ish) zone still seems weeks if not months away.
9990  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO - Welcome Back to LOTRO Weekend on: September 30, 2008, 02:27:08 AM
Welcome Back to LOTRO Weekend with Bonus XP!
Make sure you're ready to take advantage of everything that Mines of Moria™ has to offer by participating in a Welcome Back Weekend which includes bonus experience for all!

From October 2-6, 2008, we're offering free LOTRO access to our former players, and +25% bonus experience gain for everyone who logs in and plays. Returning players are invited to patch up, jump in, and start playing on their old characters to get them ready for Moria!

Prepare your characters for the wonder and dread of Moria by taking advantage of these bonus XP days! Tell your friends to log in and play, level your mains and alts, and get ready to Conquer the World Beneath™!
There, I've told my friends. You guys are my friends, right? Oh don't answer that question.  drool retard

Note: The 25% bonus experience is for everybody, as they say, and not just returning players.  icon_cool
9991  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Acer Aspire One? (yet another mini-notebook) on: September 29, 2008, 07:58:51 PM
Saw an interesting Linux-focused "30 ways to mod your Acer Aspire One" blog item:

If I'm not mistaken, one of the beauties of the Scott Evest things (for those into them) is that instead of yanking various things out for airport security, you just take your coat off and stick it on the conveyor (probably you'd need to still yank the AA1 out separately though). One of their marketing gimmicks is showing actual X-ray type images of the coat showing everything in their proper place. I imagine with that much stuff though, the TSA person would probably look at it for a while.  icon_smile

They have regular open "vest" versions for warm weather climates. Although I think they're cool, I just can't justify that cost myself -- even the skimpier vests are pricey. I mean, what's the point of getting a $350 netbook and then buying a $250 coat?  icon_razz

A fully gimmick loaded coat/vest doesn't get TSA nearly as riled up as accidently putting your travel size shaving cream in a carryon bag and *not* inside a plastic zip bag. Gawd, it happened to me once, and I thought I would get sent to Guatanamo Bay. paranoid
9992  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sacred 2 Gone Gold on: September 29, 2008, 06:34:02 PM
English-language demo came out today, this Blue's News item is gradually adding various download links:

I'm assuming this "scaling paranoia" is something related to Oblivion's handling of the concept.

I saw a preview of Sacred 2 in June that tries to explain how it works here:
The monster AI adjusts its aggression levels based upon character and party size, but not by scaling the difficulty of the monster. It uniquely adjusts the group size of the attacking mob until the fight becomes even. If you are of no consequence, you will be left alone; if you are too powerful, the mob will wait until it can gather additional creatures before attacking.
I don't know if that sounds better or worse than people might expect when "scaling" comes into the mix, just thought I'd mention it.

Personally, I'd vote for making scaling an "option" for single player players. Maybe it's not that simple (i.e., dev would have to balance the scaled and non-scaled versions separately), but I'm always in favor of giving players choices instead of forcing things on them that might keep them from buying the game.

The latest items I've dug up on the North American (CDV published) version from mid September was that they still weren't ready to announce if it would use DRM or not here (it was in Europe, just about everywhere, but it is a different publisher there). I would assume CDV will follow suit, but it was sort of interesting that as late as Sept. 10 or so, they wouldn't confirm that. fwiw, the way it's been implemented in the European version, you don't need the CD/DVD in the drive to play (but you do need Internet access for activation).
9993  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Acer Aspire One? (yet another mini-notebook) on: September 29, 2008, 05:45:02 PM
I recall there was a massive fire at the main laptop battery manufacturer in early summer. From what I read, there is still something of a shortage for 6-cells given the massive demands worldwide. So it may be a while before the prices for buying 6-cell batteries separately comes down (the AA1, if you can even find it online, apparently retails $100-$110 or so). A lot of the new netbooks I read about are still coming with wimpy 3-cell batteries standard, probably for cost reasons as much as anything.

Saw a product review of the latest Scottevest coat, and it includes a backpocket large enough for an AA1 (the reviewer has one so he knows).


Photo of all the electronic goodies he carried in his coat, including his AA1:
9994  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Command & Conquer Renegade did not deserve the bad rep it got. on: September 28, 2008, 02:41:37 PM
I bought it in its day and mostly found it disappointing. I mean, if you're coming at it *now* from the idea that everyone told you it was the worst game ever made, that's maybe the usual contrasting "impressions related to what everyone said" syndrome that happens with everything, including movies that can't possibly live up to good buzz completely (see The Dark Knight, for lots of people), and games that don't live up to promises. I can find people calling Halo, Oblivion and World of Warcraft "overrated" all over the Internet, for example.  icon_surprised

My own weakness is for various European games often trampled here.

In my case, I bought C&C: Renegade when it was released (early 2002), had gobbled up everything C&C released to that point, the game had tons of preview buzz, and I found it a letdown compared to other shooters I was playing at the time. I don't really think RTS devs should foray into FPS games without some guidance (even Blizzard wasn't developing the now pretty much dead Starcraft: Ghost on their own - they wanted a dev with some experience in it). Earlier Westwood did the underselling Diablo clone Nox. To some extent they seemed to be chasing non-RTS trends to broaden their games base, but it didn't seem to work out financially.

The odd thing is, if you dig up reviews (I checked IGN and Gamespot for example), they really were not all that bad (7.5/10, 7.8/10 etc.). C&C just had such a big name then, and I think most people (me included) expected perhaps more from it than it was going to deliver.

I did think the multiplayer game had interesting concepts, especially for its day. I was still dialup at that point, and it may have hamstrung my online experiences to some extent.
9995  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anyone got a Color Laser Printer? on: September 27, 2008, 11:05:08 PM
After all that, a Micro Center sales guy talked me out of the Samsung and down to a cheaper $109 Cannon Pixma MX310 all-in-one inkjet. His reasoning was that a laser was excessive unless I was really printing a volume of pages (though to be honest, he didn't seem to know anything about the Samsung laser anyway).

This Cannon model also has a neat little "mini scanner bed" for negatives and slides, and I hope to be able to dig up some old photos to share that way. And it is pretty much quiet as a mouse (My Okidata, even when it wasn't printing, sounded like a steam engine).

I just got it set up (for a change, it seems to have been designed to work with Vista 64-bit specifically as well as Vista in general, so it's reassuring to me) and... well that's off topic I guess, so I have no more to say here.  icon_smile
9996  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Acer Aspire One? (yet another mini-notebook) on: September 27, 2008, 07:10:47 PM
Saw a new video review of the Linux AA1 at a UK site called Trusted Reviews:

They have just introduced video reviews so don't expect terribly photogenic folks.  icon_wink I've seen few reviews of the XP version in the UK, not sure that model has launched there yet (or, maybe Linux is more popular in UK).
9997  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sacred 2 Gone Gold on: September 26, 2008, 09:41:33 PM
I noticed Gogamer has a $10 off sale on this (which at least effectively cuts out the shipping cost).

I think I bought the UK version of Sacred from them way back when, and they I had to remember to download the UK updates, and eventually bought the UK expansion).

Yeah, I don't think I really need respawning in my Diablo clones either.  disgust

When I was a Darkstone nut in 1999 running a fan site and forum for that one, Delphine had the bright idea to add a patch that added respawning to all the dungeons. It mostly just drove me nuts. For example, I liked having some option to return to loot I had to left behind, without having to fight a war to get back there. It also sort of confused me at times -- I couldn't remember if I had already been certain places because now the whole thing had repopulated.

9998  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: City of Heroes Issue 13: Architect (mission creator; day jobs) on: September 26, 2008, 05:31:25 PM
Positron announced that due to ravenous demand for the ability to create custom NPCs for player-created missions (which isn't something they had planned on offering), they're breaking Issue 13 into two different updates (13 and 14), with the Architect now planned for early 2009 as an issue 14 that *will* feature the ability to create your own custom NPCs for your missions.  icon_cool

updated: Here's the link:
When we announced Issue 13: Architect a couple weeks back, we were overwhelmed by the positive response. Much of the feedback was centered around the Mission Architect system which allows players to create their own missions and story arcs. We have been actively following forum threads and private messages about the feature, and have even discussed it with players in person at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle.

It became apparent that you guys really want this feature, but in order to fully realize your dreams of writing your own missions you need creative control in one more key area: The ability to create "customized" characters to fight with or against in your missions. Adding custom characters has always been on our Mission Architect feature list, but we had considered it a "stretch goal." That is, we could launch the system without this feature because our confidence was high that the rest of the system was incredibly robust.

But after listening to you guys, we realize that this feature simply must be in at launch. You have convinced us that it is an integral part of the Mission Architect, and we have reworked schedules and timelines to accomplish this. Rather than push the launch of Issue 13 out completely for one (albeit really cool and very complex) feature, the Mission Architect is going to see a slight delay. What is not going to be delayed is the rest of Issue 13. To that end, the previously announced feature set for Issue 13, together with new features that we are announcing today, will become Issue 13 and Issue 14.

Issue 14 will take on the name "Architect" and contain the Mission Architect feature along with other features we'll announce at a later date. We are planning Issue 14: Architect to be released in the first quarter of 2009. Issue 13 is now called "Issue 13: Power and Responsibility" and be launched in the Fall of 2008.

Issue 13: Power and Responsibility
Issue 13: Power and Responsibility will contain the bulk of features we've announced previously, including:

    * Shield and Pain Domination powersets
    * Merit Reward system
    * Day Jobs (that include a suite of new costume pieces)
    * Additional Cimerora and Midnight Squad mission arcs

In addition, we have some other new exciting features to reveal that will be included in Issue 13: Power and Responsibility. These include:

    * Leveling Pact
    * Multi-Builds
    * PvE & PvP Powers rebalancing
    * Villain Patron Power Respec
    * Supergroup Base Repricing

Over the coming weeks we'll be providing more details about the above points, but let me give you an overview of some of them now.

The Leveling Pact: A new innovation to MMOs, this groundbreaking system allows you and a buddy to create new characters and have your XP be permanently in sync, whether both characters are online or not. You will always be the same level, even if your buddy plays ten times more often than you do! It's sort of like "Extreme Sidekicking."

Multi-Builds: Another innovation to City of Heroes, we are delivering the ability to have two different build-outs of each character, including which powers are selected and which Enhancements are slotted. This will now be possible for characters who want to take advantage of it. By visiting any Trainer you can switch the entire build of your character to an alternate one. You can use this separate build for whatever you like. If you wish to use different power selections for soloing and groups, you can do that. This even makes it possible to have different IO sets slotted for PVP and PVE. It's up to you.

PvE and PvP Powers Rebalancing: Floyd "Castle" Grubb and the powers designers have been hard at work in finding ways to strike a better balance between the many powers in the game. The scope of what they are doing is too broad to go into details here, but we're very excited and we'll share more information soon. Suffice it to say that we know that you don't want your PvE powers adjusted because of how they play in PvP, so we're taking a new tact in power balancing with Issue 13.

Issue 13 was so big we had to turn it into two releases, Issue 13: Power and Responsibility and Issue 14: Architect. Issue 13 will be going into beta soon and launching this Fall. It will include most of the previously announced features of Issue 13, and then some. Issue 14: Architect will include the full-featured Mission Architect and is scheduled to launch to the live servers in Q1, 2009. I am really looking forward to getting Issue 13 into your hands as soon as possible, and starting off a kick-ass 2009 with the release of Mission Architect.
The "Leveling Pact" feature of course brings up tons of questions. There's a thread on it with some dev answers:
Here is the gist of how this works, when players enter the leveling pact (level 5 and below) their experience is all flattened to whoever was the lowest. Any incoming experience to any member is effectively split by the member count of the pact (which we are limiting to 2 initially). From that point foward, all members will have the exact same experience and always be the exact same level. If player A logs out and lets player B do all the work, it will take player B twice as long.

The reason I wanted this is because I've started other games with a group of friends, only to have our tight-knit party fall apart because of differing levels of commitment. I imagine I'm not the only person to create an alt for every combination of friends. Hopefully the 2 person pact won't have any serious problems and we will be able to expand it to full team size.
9999  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Warhammer Online hits 500,000 subscribers on: September 26, 2008, 03:56:41 PM
That's awesome, but yeah, let's see where it is in a month, or 3 months. Everything sounds pretty impressive so far (I'm only lurking for now), and it doesn't sound like it will have anything like AoC's teething pains (to put it kindly icon_wink). I wish it well (truly) and hope it keeps the momentum going. icon_smile
10000  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO - State of the game on: September 26, 2008, 03:54:36 PM
Yeah I don't usually display my cloak either. I think really what's lacking is some ability to customize. I wouldn't expect them to go to the lengths they do in City of Heroes (where cape customization is so detailed, it's practically a fun little game in itself), some ability to change the cape style, trim, put some sort of logo on it etc. would be nice and give us a little more ability to feel unique.

I know though they have to focus on Moria and updates, and such. I wouldn't expect them to prioritize "helms being unappealing" and "cloaks being uncustomizable" high on the "to do" list. It still feels better to get it off my chest, so to speak. icon_smile

It's a small beef, it's just they obviously have talented artists (lots of environs in the game still take my breath away). You'd like to see a few helms that people actually want to make visible, and the artists can have their work enjoyed instead of hidden.
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