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3241  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: The GT/OO reality show on: November 18, 2009, 11:13:38 PM

Quote from: dbt1949 on November 18, 2009, 07:08:27 PM

Quote
I'm thinking that rittchard and DBT should be bunk-mates.


I get the top!

Wow, this statement turned me on way more than it probably should have.   icon_wink
3242  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Sleep Apnea, anyone? on: November 18, 2009, 06:55:58 PM

Quote from: coopasonic on November 18, 2009, 06:40:47 PM

Quote from: Knightshade Dragon on November 18, 2009, 04:14:39 PM

For me, my apnea went away as my extra weight went away. 

I'm 5'8" 147 pounds. I don't think that strategy is going to work for me.

Apparently part of my problem is huge tonsils and adenoids, my three year old had his out this summer and breathes way better, maybe it's my turn. Another part is year round allergies that I don't medicate so I'm generally stuffy. Yet another part is a nose that has been broken multiple times and a deviated septum. Hmmm, maybe if I were to treat the contributing factors life would improve. Nah!

What's an Adenoid?   My doctor told me I have big tonsils and tongue and something else, maybe that was it.  My nose is stuffy/congested a lot too.  But I'm also overweight, so I probably have all those factors working against me.  However, I don't experience the main symptom of being tired during the day, I generally feel fine, though I tend to doze off while watching TV at times.

- - -

The sleep study unfortunately was a bust, EPIC FAIL!!!!  A lot of different factors contributed to it, but basically after 3 hours, I was starting to freak out and I realized there was no way I was going to sleep there, so I left.  I had the equivalent of a panic attack I guess, I kept feeling like I couldn't breathe and couldn't move, kind of similar to claustrophobia.  I think what triggered it was each time I was about to fall asleep, I'd feel like I was choking and couldn't get any air, not sure if it was from saliva or the probe thing.  Once those waves of sleepiness faded, there were just too many things going on in the room, and too many things all over me (5 or 6 on my head, 5 or 6 on my face, 2 on my legs, a few more on the body, the thing on my finger, and the worst the 3 prong thing in my nostrils and mouth), plus the lights flashing from the video camera, some weird red LED panel array shining, the room was stuffy, it was just all around a horrible experience.  Even now it's hard to shake it off. 

I guess they are going to see if I can do a home based simplified version of it.  If not, I think I'm content to do some simple things on my own, try a new pillow from Brookstone, maybe ask my dentist about a mouthpiece, and try to work on losing some weight (of course I say that every year).
3243  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Lost is..eh, Lost? on: November 18, 2009, 06:44:25 PM

Quote from: Razgon on November 18, 2009, 02:54:35 PM

I could have *sworn* I made a topic in here called "[Lost] does it get better", but search function doesnt give me anything like that...kinda strange - I guess its true to its title

Anyways - I 'm getting season 5 today, and just wanted to hear what people says about season 6 now? I'm a bit hyped for season 5, since I have been told in the LOST(lost) thread that its the season where all is explained, so - should be good!

Season 6 was really excellent, particularly for sci-fi fans.  They pretty much go full bore into the sci-fi-ish realm with no apologies or skirting around.  I've heard that this will change in Season 7, which is supposed to be more character driven and similar to Season 1.  Not sure how/why that will be, but given the climax of Season 6, I suppose it's completely up in the air what direction they could go. 

I don't think it's a spoiler to say that there have been quite a few announced guest appearances by formally "dead" characters, so it should be a pretty fun and nostalgic season one way or another.  Also the Season 6 poster (which is conveniently my work desktop wallpaper) shows pretty much every main character that's been on the show, except for Walt.  Everyone is facing forward, except for Locke, who is facing backward with his head turned forward.  Does that mean anything?  Who knows!
3244  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: The GT/OO reality show on: November 18, 2009, 06:38:27 PM

Quote from: YellowKing on November 18, 2009, 06:22:23 PM

Quote
I'll play the token gay character, unless you can find someone else.  I can also double as the token Asian, and in a pinch, I can fake a mean Chinese accent for cheap laughs.

I say do both, with heavy emphasis on both the gay and the Asian. I'm envisioning you wearing a pink scarf while eating rice with chopsticks, or solving math puzzles while humming showtunes.

We'd kill two items in our diversity quota with one stone, leaving room for an extra cast member.


Now that's what I call efficient!!!  Interestingly I think I can pull the whole thing off as long as I can find myself a nice pink scarf, preferably silk Fabulous
3245  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Sleep Apnea, anyone? on: November 17, 2009, 11:48:24 PM

Quote from: coopasonic on November 17, 2009, 10:55:23 PM

I'm curious how you were referred for the sleep study? I think I probably need one but rarely visit my doctor, I'm guessing I'd need to see him and ask about it?

Seriously, I've been to the doctor twice in the past 12 years. I don't really know how these things work.

I had kind of an odd/interesting experience.  For years now my partner has complained about how loud I snore and how my breathing would stop at times, but I'd avoided doing anything for the most part.  About a month ago one of my (tooth) crowns popped off and I had to see the dentist.  I filled out the general forms and there were a couple questions regarding tooth grinding and snoring.  The dentist had some interest in this (his sister and a friend both had sleep apnea) and had me fill out a small worksheet which asks some sleep related questions.  Apparently I scored high enough so he made a referral immediately.  My blood pressure was running high at the dentist so he wanted me to go talk to my doctor before I had the tooth extracted.  After talking to my doctor a few minutes, prior to any examination (with no mention of this), he suddenly stops and asks me if I have sleep apnea.  I told him, hey what a coincidence, I was just going to ask you about this sleep disorder place that was recommended to me.  When I asked why he had asked, he told me he could hear it in my breathing just talking to me.  He eventually told me my tongue and tonsils were too large for my mouth (too much obstruction, etc) - in any case I figured it was a sign that it was time to check things out.

Hark - I think you can just ask your main doctor and they will probably have you answer a few more questions.  Like whether you tend to drift off to sleep while sitting or watching TV.  Whether you've ever woken up choking/out of breath, or if someone has told you they've heard you stop breathing while you were asleep.  And if you're tired a lot during the day, or don't feel rested even after sleeping a number of hours.

Now depending on your insurance, you may be able to just go directly to make a consultation for a full sleep study, I don't know.  I guess generally they probably prefer a referral, but I think if you have PPO and suspect you need it, you can make the call directly yourself.
3246  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Wanderers - "Group-centric" MMORPG experiment (EQ2 Rebirth!) BEGINS! on: November 17, 2009, 10:16:05 PM
It started out when I was thinking about what it would take to get a disparate group of folk to level/progress in any one of these MMORPGs at an even pace.  The last few MMOs I've played, generally within 2 weeks everyone was spread apart in levels and not grouping.  I idly wondered whether or not people would join a guild where you could define a guild ruleset that would automatically force all guild members to get reset to an average level every day.  

I decided to simplify things a bit and see if any of my guildmates were interested in experimenting with a self imposed regular level limit (we've done similar in the past but only as part of an "alt night") that would define the way we play from day one.  About 10+ people expressed interest, which should make for a good core, and we'd certainly welcome more.  We ended up deciding on EQ2 as the game to try (for a variety of reasons).  Here are the details:

http://the-wanderers-guild.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=21947&sid=fd9c487fbdc7d400a45c76b10926a3cd

If you can't access this forum for some reason, and are interested, please post here or send me a PM and we'll get you set up.
3247  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Sleep Apnea, anyone? on: November 17, 2009, 09:28:52 PM
So tonight I go in for an overnight sleep study, where apparently they will hook up about 20 probes all over me (and not in a sexy way) while I try to fall asleep so they can monitor my condition (or just make fun of me all night).  I guess after seeing the results they will recommend either some form of surgery or a CPAP device, which looks kind of like a face hugger alien.  I am not overly enthused but I know I should get it done since I do tend to snore incredibly loud, and I believe I've lost my breath on more than one occasion.

Anyone done this before?  How was it?
3248  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: The GT/OO reality show on: November 17, 2009, 09:23:56 PM
I'll play the token gay character, unless you can find someone else.  I can also double as the token Asian, and in a pinch, I can fake a mean Chinese accent for cheap laughs.
3249  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: What's new in the world of netbooks? on: November 16, 2009, 07:44:00 PM

Quote from: Destructor on November 16, 2009, 06:37:04 PM

So...basically you spend $920ish (before taxes) over 2 years for a netbook. As a bonus, you get a whopping 5GB a month download cap over your Verizon card before they rip you a new one over overage charges.

Unless I'm missing something obvious here, why is this a good idea at all?

I presume you are counting the $60/month fee over 2 years - which would actually make it $1640.  I'm not saying this is a good idea but I don't think it's fair to count the monthly access fee completely into the cost of the netbook.  That's like counting your monthly phone plan fee into the cost of your "free" phone, in which case any crappy phone you buy is at least around $720 (assuming $30/month). 

You're paying for the anywhere access to the internet on top of a really nice netbook; whether or not it's worth it or not is up to you.
3250  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Non-phone Android Device? on: November 16, 2009, 07:35:32 PM
Does this count?

http://www.archos.com/products/imt/archos_5it/index.html?country=us&lang=en
3251  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Stargate Universe on: November 16, 2009, 07:23:50 PM
Is anyone else watching?

I loved this last week's episode ("Time").  A nice, contained little twist on the time travel/alternate reality story with some Aliens thrown in the mix, told almost completely through the Kino/handycam viewpoint.  Some great acting from David Blue (Eli) again, he's quickly taking the show over which I'm sure was intended, but also some luck in that the guy can actually act. 
3252  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: 2012 on: November 16, 2009, 07:19:17 PM

Quote from: LoneStarSpur on November 13, 2009, 07:15:45 PM

I have no idea if the movie is going to be any good or not, but reading its reviews at Rotten Tomatoes is highly entertaining.  icon_biggrin

Seems to be a big crowd pleaser, the audience I was in was full (on a Sat afternoon) and most clapped at the end.  The effects were pretty awesome and look great on a big screen, the story I thought was OK and at least plausible.  Some of the character moments and plotlines were pretty horrible, and a lot of stuff was predictable/fluff/gratuitous and could easily have been cut out, but whatever.  All in all I had fun, and you don't get much more epic with disasters than this movie.  Titanic, Armageddon, etc. are all just appetizers.
3253  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Legend of the Seeker, Season 2 on: November 16, 2009, 07:14:01 PM

Quote from: CeeKay on November 16, 2009, 01:11:37 AM

Quote from: disarm on November 15, 2009, 06:52:58 AM

tonight's episode was pretty cool...very dark premise that introduced another 'character type' from the books into the show and set up a little little more of the conflict.  the addtion of Cara to the group brings a new dynamic to the core cast, and they seem to be bringing a considerably darker tone to this season that's really working well so far.  the acting and effects may still be pretty mediocre at times, but the show is still entertaining enough to keep me tuning in every week.

I can't wait to see a Cara/Kahlan cat fight.

preferably in a large pit filled with oil.

 icon_biggrin

I'm pretty sure that's in next week's episode!

So far I'm loving this season, though Richard hasn't taken his shirt completely off yet.  It's just a matter of time though, I have faith!
3254  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Modern Warfare 2 Impressions [And official GT Review] on: November 16, 2009, 07:09:49 PM
I am going to get slammed for this opinion, but I don't care.  

Thus far I've found this game completely inaccessible, and for that reason, I can't see how it can be mentioned in a GOTY conversation.  You can laugh and say I suck at FPS or whatever, but I believe my viewpoint is still valid as a "casual" FPSer and longtime gamer.  I've played enough FPS games and have always been able to progress reasonably in the easiest mode.  This one?  I could barely make it through the tutorial, and then the first mission I just got lost.  WTF is the bridge layer and WTF was I supposed to do lol?  I tried a bunch of stuff 3 or 4 different times and couldn't figure it out.  Did I want my hand held?  I was playing on Recruit difficulty in the first mission, so YES, hold my hand and tell me what to do!  Other games like Halo, etc have no problem talking you through the beginning.  

So then I jump to MP, big mistake.  I couldn't figure out what to do for the most part, and finally ended up in a Team Deathmatch in the airport map.  I can see why people like this style of game, so that's no issue.  But there has to be a better way to ease a novice into the game.  Essentially all I did for 5 minutes was take a few steps and get one-shot killed.  I think I died about 10 times and never once even saw who might have killed me (except in the kill cam, which I admit is a cool concept).  This was not gaming for me, it was like stepping on ants, only I was the ant.

This may very well be the greatest FPS game ever from a hardcore perpective, but from a casual FPS gamer perspective, I've found it to be one of the least accessible games I've ever played.  I'll go back and reread the manual and check online for tips and give it another opportunity to impress me, but GOTY?  Not a chance.
3255  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Dragon Age is looking good! on: November 16, 2009, 06:58:01 PM

Quote from: Kevin Grey on November 16, 2009, 03:24:14 PM

Quote from: CeeKay on November 16, 2009, 03:18:01 PM

one thing I noticed last night that kinda bugs me:  when you go into conversation with a party member they keep their current armor on plus any blood splatter, but their helmet disappears for the whole conversation.  minor, I know, but now it's going to bug me everytime I talk to one of my party members.

That's a good thing.  A lot of the helmets are pretty hideous and even those that are cool looking would still take a fair amount from the scene because it restricts the facial animation you can see.  I had a bug in the game where the headgear stayed on my character in cutscenes (fixed with a reload) and I couldn't get it off fast enough.  If they didn't automatically remove headgear for cutscenes then I just wouldn't have any characters where the stuff. 

Amen to that!  My main guy (mage) has this hideous hat on which looks like something Genie on I Dream of Genie would wear.  The only more hideously gay hats (and not in a good way) I've seen in a game were in Aion lol.  And my Alistair has some plate metal helm on which makes him look like a robot, so I would not want to have to see him animated with that thing on all the time.
3256  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Dragon Age is looking good! on: November 13, 2009, 09:20:04 PM

Quote from: Turtle on November 13, 2009, 06:04:42 PM

Overall I didn't have that many tough choices since I put points into persuade early, but the big ones, of course, came towards the end.

I'm kind of curious what you mean by this.  Unless you've played the game multiple times (or perhaps have the guide book), how do you know for certain that some decisions you made early on weren't a bigger deal than not?  I suppose some choices may just not have seemed tough at the time, or maybe it's the not knowing what the ramifications could have been that makes it seem like they weren't tough?
3257  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: [COD:MW2 11/13/09] Fri the 13th: The Return of Jason...I mean GEEZERS GONE WILD! on: November 13, 2009, 09:14:59 PM
If I get the courage to try this tonight, who should I look for? 
3258  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Dollhouse Season 2 on: November 11, 2009, 10:37:11 PM

Quote from: CeeKay on November 11, 2009, 09:19:11 PM

Dear Joss, tell FOX to go fuck themselves next time they want a show from you.  the Sci Fi Channel may be a better candidate for your shows.

I hope everyone at Fox involved in this decision DIES a horrible death.  Seriously they should all be bitchslapped for being a bunch of idiotic bastards.

Seriously, WTF are these people thinking?  Why do they even bother developing a show if they never really wanted to give it a chance?  Why do they hate Joss Whedon yet continue to want to hire him for their own amusement? 

Dollhouse was DOA if you ask me.  They gave it the absolute worst death timeslot, screwed with the premiere and early content, and topped it off with weak to non-existent promotion.  The only time I've seen weaker promotion from them was for Firefly.

Sure the show had a bit of a rocky start, but that's what happens when the producers tamper with it from day one.  The originally filmed premiere, while not the best, was a far better intro to the show than what they aired.  If you hire Joss Whedon (or for that matter take on any sci-fi-ish show), you should understand he has a clear vision, but it takes a few episodes to get guided there.

In terms of time slot and promotion, the thing about Fox programming is it has a multitude of venues to promote a show if they so choose.  From the Superbowl to World Series to American Idol 3 times a week to House and other hits, it's almost a no-brainer to find a slot to coddle and develop a new show.  Hell even putting it after Bones would have been a nice 1-2 punch for Joss fans. 
3259  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Dragon Age Game Issues Thread on: November 11, 2009, 10:21:05 PM

Quote from: Turtle on November 06, 2009, 09:00:23 PM

To be honest though, the community is faster at things than any official support.  There's a lot of people (like myself) who enjoy troubleshooting problems even if we don't enjoy the problem itself.

Minor derail from this thread, but this just reminded me of my recent experience with HP support.  I ordered my netbook with a Wireless N upgrade, which wouldn't work after I installed Windows 7.  So I send in a request saying I can't find a driver for Win 7.  Here's the highlights from their response:

"The cause of the issue is the absence of Windows 7 compatible wireless-N network card driver." (which of course I already mentioned in my original request)

"Windows 7 is too resource heavy to run on the netbook and so HP recommends using only the default operating system"

I reply and tell them resources are not an issue, I've already upgraded the RAM.  I ask if they can tell me the make of the Wireless N card so I can find the driver myself.  They ignore this and tell me:

"Anthony, as per your response I would like to inform you that we have no expertise for window 7"  (btw Anthony was the name of the original customer rep lol - I love that they say they have "no expertise" in an OS that was at the time releasing in a week).

I ask again for the make of the card, and I get:

"I would like to inform you that as it is a customised product we are unable to retieve the information at this moment."  (so they don't even know what is being installed as 1 of 2 options in their netbook products?)

That same day a guy in a forum posts both the name of the card and the location of the driver - which is on their own FTP site, no less!!!  retard  After I bitch them out in email for fun, they tell me:

"Richard, please try to understand that we do have some limitation in which we need to work. I hope you can understand our limitations."

I wanted to tell them their "limitations" were likely from being a bunch of worthless idiots, but I thought that might be a bit uncool.
3260  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Dragon Age is looking good! on: November 10, 2009, 09:59:53 PM

Quote from: Kevin Grey on November 10, 2009, 12:24:40 AM

Quote from: rittchard on November 09, 2009, 11:36:06 PM

Spoiler for Hiden:
One example: I took on the Redcliffe Village/Castle storyline right after the intro.  I believe sequentially the game would prefer you take on the Magi portion prior to this, but I didn't know that at the time.  I was just following the story as it seemed to be unfolding to me.  During one portion of an enemy attack, I barely survived and was unable to save one of the NPCs.  Apparently it's more doable if you complete some side quests, which I only found out later.  Later on in the storyline, I ended up at a tough sequence where I was constantly getting killed even in Easy mode - ideally I would either be higher level or I should open a gate to bring in help from the outside.  I opened the gate and no one came to help, because it turned out it was supposed to come from the NPC who earlier hadn't survived.  While from one standpoint I love the consequences, from another I found it annoying that it seemed like the game (not the story) wanted me to go and level up elsewhere.  Now you can argue it's an RPG and this is commonplace, but at this point I felt I was so engrossed in the storyline where I was, and there was such a sense of urgency, that it didn't make sense to me that I would leave the area at that time to go "level up."

This is extremely difficult to balance out properly, and I think for the most part they've done an incredible job.  So really this is less of a nit than just a comment on how difficult it is to achieve a "perfect" game design when you start to build in significant consequences to a player's direct actions.

Spoiler for Hiden:
  According to Bioware's "challenge map" it seems like either Redcliffe or the Magi were designed as "first stops" so I don't think it matters which one you do.  Seems like Redcliffe is the most popular first stop.  That's where I went first but I did a lot of sidequests before getting there so my party was at least Level 10 when I first went.

Spoiler for Hiden:
It actually does matter which one you do first, sort of.  Completing the Magic Circle prior to some of the events in Redcliffe should give you an added option to resolve the storyline with the least amount of sacrifice that you wouldn't have otherwise had.  It probably depends too on how you completed that questline, i.e. who did or didn't survive.  In my case I ended up going back to do Magi midway through the Redcliffe, completely for the storyline option.  It all worked out so I was very happy, but I was still sad that I hadn't been stronger early on to save Ser Perth in Redcliffe.
3261  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: What canceled MMO would you like to see be brought back to life? on: November 10, 2009, 12:53:29 AM
If by "brought back to life" you mean the game would come back with better graphics, no bugs, etc and more or less "fixed", I'd have to say Shadowbane.  I didn't play Darkfall much, but enough to know I preferred SB's core gameplay.  Update it to today's standards and I'm in!

The other game I'd love to see resurrected is Horizons.  I think they had a lot of good concepts but were just stymied by lack of execution. 

In fact what I'd really want to see is the merging of the PvE elements from Horizons into the core of Shadowbane to make a superior PvE/PvP combination.  I think a really mainstream "sandbox MMORPG" is still up for grabs if someone can do it right.
3262  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Dragon Age is looking good! on: November 10, 2009, 12:01:10 AM

Quote from: Greg Wak on November 09, 2009, 11:29:09 PM

I respectfully disagree with the main points of that Eurogamer review. I think DA has a great deal of soul and heart and the game sucked me in pretty fast. Can't say if normal is too hard yet. I have had to repeat some fights, not many but it's early yet. I haven't tried easy. I will say the game is not for people who love exploring in these games as their favorite thing. It's laid out not completely but mostly pretty linear. But I can't see how you can say this game has no soul.

I haven't read the Eurogamer review yet, but sounds like I wouldn't agree either.  I feel the game is oozing with soul, and I feel firmly entrenched in it in a way I haven't with any other RPG. 

Anyway, you bring up an interesting point about the "linearity" and difficulty.  I believe the game/story is intended to take you through the story in a fairly linear fashion, and my guess is if you follow it along that path it will likely not be as difficult.  My guess is the intention was that the majority of players would follow more or less this path and have a good flow to their overall experience in the game.  So the problem comes when the game part of the design opens up and allows non-linearity, and various players start deviating from what is expected.  If you stray too far from the intended path, you may end up in a difficult bind, and be forced to go back and "level up" - which as I mention in my previous post really shoves you back into the "game" portion and definitely takes away some immersion.  So I can see that as an issue.

The challenge to designers is how to include side quests and non-linear content without killing the urgency of the main/linear storyline.  This has always been a tough nut to crack, and many games seem to have chosen the route of just pouring on dozens of side quests to lengthen the game's playtime, but allowing one to pursue the main quest only if they so desire.  I remember some recent RPGs where the story was flowing and then abruptly you are left in a town with 20 quests in your logbook and you just immediately lose sight of what you were trying to accomplish.  Frankly I would prefer a much tighter, linear storyline (assuming it's a good one, and has enough branches/consequences for replay as in DA) over the more open, side quest-filled worlds we've been getting more often than not.  I find myself getting distracted by the need to complete one side quest after another, and so in this game, I've been trying to avoid them unless they make sense to me from a story point of view.  Thus far I've had mixed results but for the most part I feel like I've been able to play in a manner that remains true to the story and true to the urgency of the events that are unfolding.
3263  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Dragon Age is looking good! on: November 09, 2009, 11:36:06 PM
More cross-posted commentary:

I absolutely love this game, I can't stop thinking about it.  I'm pretty sure it's already in my top RPGs of all time, and at this rate, it will most likely be (if it is not already) my favorite RPG of all time, and I don't say that lightly.  I think the technology improvements, the shedding of D&D ruleset restrictions, and the embracing of more "adult" themes and content have all combined to allow a much more open environment and canvas for the creative folk at Bioware to let loose on.  It feels like everything that might have held them back in the past has been let go, almost entirely for the better of the game.

Now sure some of the themes and twists can be a bit cliche when taken in the entire context of fantasy material, but overall it all feels original and unique to the new universe they are creating.

In terms of the gameplay, I do have a couple of minor nits to pick, nothing even remotely strong enough to keep me from recommending the game, but just some things that could use a second look perhaps.

First off the specialization system.  While I like what they've done (or tried to do) conceptually, I think in practice it ends up feeling a bit arbitrary, which ends up making the character/class development a bit weaker than I might have liked.  What do I mean?  When you level, you are clearly shown the class specializations, so you know basically what options exist.  What isn't clear is how you can access these, so planning your character build can be a bit stymied.  The reason being that "unlocking" specializations can be as simple as buying an item in a store, to as complicated as choosing the exact right specific choices in a particular questline.  I like the idea of having these specializations unfold organically as part of the story, but I don't like the idea that if I didn't resolve a questline "properly" I have no chance at specializing a certain way (at least this is what the guide book tells me).

That gets me to the second nit.  A big part of this game is about making choices, and those choices having consequences.  It makes me think twice before I charge in and do something stupid, or before I pick some dialog choice haphazardly just to be a jerk.  I absolutely love that concept in a game like this.  Unfortunately it can also create some issues in game and story balance.  See spoiler below in which I will try to not be too spoilerific.

Spoiler for Hiden:
One example: I took on the Redcliffe Village/Castle storyline right after the intro.  I believe sequentially the game would prefer you take on the Magi portion prior to this, but I didn't know that at the time.  I was just following the story as it seemed to be unfolding to me.  During one portion of an enemy attack, I barely survived and was unable to save one of the NPCs.  Apparently it's more doable if you complete some side quests, which I only found out later.  Later on in the storyline, I ended up at a tough sequence where I was constantly getting killed even in Easy mode - ideally I would either be higher level or I should open a gate to bring in help from the outside.  I opened the gate and no one came to help, because it turned out it was supposed to come from the NPC who earlier hadn't survived.  While from one standpoint I love the consequences, from another I found it annoying that it seemed like the game (not the story) wanted me to go and level up elsewhere.  Now you can argue it's an RPG and this is commonplace, but at this point I felt I was so engrossed in the storyline where I was, and there was such a sense of urgency, that it didn't make sense to me that I would leave the area at that time to go "level up."

This is extremely difficult to balance out properly, and I think for the most part they've done an incredible job.  So really this is less of a nit than just a comment on how difficult it is to achieve a "perfect" game design when you start to build in significant consequences to a player's direct actions.

Anyway, just lovin the hell out of this game.


P.S.  Any game that lets my male elf hire a male dwarf hooker gets an A+ in my book  :twisted:
3264  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Dragon Age Pretty Screenshot Thread [56k warning] on: November 09, 2009, 05:55:33 AM
So you want "pretty" screenshots, huh?

Here's an early one:



And another:



And one more from near the beginning where I tried to get creative with the camera:



Then a pretty lakeside shot:



and then just for Ceekay, I found out a male elf can indeed hire a male hooker:



And one more just for Ceekay!


3265  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Dragon Age is looking good! on: November 05, 2009, 11:09:12 PM
(Re-vamped from Cross Posting at Wanderers):

Very First Impressions (after first hour): Wow, it's everything they said it would be so far. I hit a small snag very early on in the tutorial where I couldn't figure out what to do (thus killing the momentum), but soon after that everything has flowed very well. Story and character depth galore, so much spoken dialog and animated sequences to drive the plot along, it just kind of sucks you in. Voice acting is exceptional, and even with small/limited roles, the characters have come to life. I'm excited to "meet" more of the "star"/key NPCs.

Graphics have been hit and miss, some of the early stuff looked kind of weak (mage backstory) but the first main area looks outstanding. The engine/camera also has some hit and miss moments, it's a bit like GW (really good, but still pseudo-3D) and NWN (of course). I'm trying to figure out the social website to see if I can easily show some screenshots. (As an aside, there is an in-game screenshot taker that catches moments in the story and does a screenie for you, very nice feature.)  I imagine some people will not like the lack of true 3D, i.e. you can't jump around like you do in MMORPGs.

Levelling system is decent, kind of a mix between traditional D&D and Diablo - you get to boost a side skill, your attributes and for mages, gain a new spell each level. The mage spell system is grouped into categories, and each category has sets of 4 spells. Within each 4, the predecessor is required to unlock the next (as well as a stat requirement), so obviously you can't get access to a lot of spells, and you need to look at which higher end spells you want the most. I think there is further specialization later. So far I like it.

Easily the best RPG this year, the question is will it sustain to be one of the best of all time.

More impressions (after about 4 hours):

Basically I feel like I could rave about this game non-stop, I hate being stuck at work when I'd rather be playing; it's definitely one of the best RPGs I've ever played. The move to a more "adult" feel has definitely allowed Bioware enough freedom to borrow fairly loosely from Martin, Jordan and LOTR in terms of plot and story feel.  I like that the story feels "tight" in the first hours, really sucking you deep into the main storyline before (I presume) letting you loose to pursue side quests, etc.  I think many RPGs have been so focused on providing raw content (in the form of quests and huge areas to explore) and so worried about being labelled "linear", they forget to simply just draw you in to the story, and let that naturally bring you into the world.

The cutscenes, while not the best graphically, make the story come to life and more importantly make you feel like it is YOUR story unfolding. You aren't just some side character doing something while Frodo takes the Ring, YOU are the protagonist in the middle of an epic tale on the same scale as LOTR.

The characters are more "real" and "alive" than I've encountered in other games. I find myself physically attracted to one of the NPCs, and I keep hoping for dialog text that allows me to flirt with him lol. I also keep tilting my head subconscioulsy to check out one of the chicks' outfits to see if her boobs will pop out, the same way I do when I watch movies/TV. This is something that's never happened to me in a game before. There's a level of realism that somehow seems to have overcome the technological barrier, I guess from a combo of the voice acting and facial graphics. I'd still like even better quality, but thus far I think the engine has done a good job of creating characters that are realistic without looking CG creepy. The one thing I don't like is that everyones' hands look freakishly large.

Gameplay-wise I've decided to play in Easy Mode (yeah yeah yeah) - the great thing about this is I can really focus on the story and moving the plot along, as well as play it almost Diablo style real time. I can allow the party to just do its thing and not worry so much about micromanagement. What's also happened is that in big fights, I actually get to play my character the way I like to in MMORPGs - as a hybrid healer/caster. I can stand back and watch the situation, apply CC as needed, heal when needed, and nuke otherwise. I didn't really think this game was going to play out in this style from a combat point of view, but so far I'm loving that it does.  Looking at the other classes and abilities, it appears there is a great deal of variety and fun to be had by trying completely different character builds.

So far after the first few hours I'd have to say, unless they completely screw things up somehow, it's really looking like this could be a masterpiece, and the gold standard for single player RPGs for years to come.
3266  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Dragon Age: what do you wear while playing? on: November 05, 2009, 10:59:43 PM
I usually end up wearing not much so I can pleasure myself while looking at all the hot animated men.   drool
3267  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: What's new in the world of netbooks? on: November 05, 2009, 12:13:40 AM

Quote from: Destructor on October 19, 2009, 11:28:31 PM

Dragon Age on a netbook...that would be amazing.

Just thought I'd follow up on this comment.  I installed DA last night on the Mini 311 completely without incident.  It was a download from Impulse so the longest part was the decompression of files.  But it started up (and as far as I can tell) ran fine.  The initial cutscenes looked amazing on the (relatively) small screen.  I had it running at max rez 1366x768, low details and medium textures (I think).  I only played a few minutes but it seemed absolutely solid/playable.
3268  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: V Returns on: November 04, 2009, 10:10:17 PM
I was a huge fan of the original; I found it a ton of fun in an 80s campy over-dramatic sort of way.

This reboot seems pretty cool, I love the cast (all but the teenage boy) and I think they've done a decent job taking it a bit more seriously without completely losing the camp factor.

The changes in production and re-shoots definitely seem like a cause for concern, though they had a decent premiere.  Word of mouth is going to be critical to see if they can sustain.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/showtracker/2009/11/v-premiere-ratings-139-million-viewers-strong.html
3269  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: What's new in the world of netbooks? on: November 03, 2009, 10:21:01 PM
Here's my newest toy (on preorder):

http://www.archos.com/products/nb/archos_9/index.html?country=us&lang=en

I have a strong suspicion I may regret this purchase (mainly because what I really want is whatever Apple has cooking) but I couldn't resist.  It's kind of like a netbook/tablet hybrid and it's running Windows 7, weighing about 1 3/4 pounds.  The processor and lack of RAM worry me a bit, and I don't think it will handle much in the way of gaming - but it looks like it's built to tackle video well, and Archos has always seemed to do a good job of that. 

I'm really curious to see what this first "mainstream" type of Touch-Tablet is going to be like and how it will (eventually) compare to Apple's offering.
3270  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Torchlight, a follow-up to Fate and Mythos on: November 03, 2009, 07:56:16 PM
Glad to see people taking to this game as much as I have.  I was seriously trying to think of one other game I've enjoyed this much this entire year, PC or console, and couldn't come up with anything.  Of course it's not fair since this is my favorite genre, but still.  We'll see how Dragon Age fares, but quite unexpectedly Torchlight could end up my personal GOTY.

Gameplay-wise, I went 180 degrees from day one (easy mode) and have been playing exclusively Hardcore - Very Hard.  It's been pretty exciting and a very different experience overall, almost like a different game.  My first attempt lasted 7 minutes lol.  Second attempt over 2 hours.  I've gone through about 5 deaths now, and it's always when I get overconfident in my build that I tend to lose it.  I have to play much more strategically, not much room for saving points or money or experimenting with this or that.  Every decision has to be made with care to improve the build and survival capability.  Lovin it!
3271  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Legend of the Seeker, Season 2 on: November 03, 2009, 07:50:45 PM
Saw a poster for this at the mall, excited to see it's coming back.  FWIW there was a huge picture of some (new?) hot chick clad in a full leather outfit bending over to show her cleavage.  Not sure if it's a new character they are introducing this year or what.

I really enjoyed the first season, there were some hits and misses but given that it's a syndicated show I felt the quality and fun factor (as well as eye candy for everyone) were more than acceptable. 
3272  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Do you play on easy? on: October 30, 2009, 11:06:57 PM
As I've gotten older, I find that I tend to play on Easy a lot more than I ever did before.  I do this because I want to reduce the amount of frustration I encounter when playing a game, in the hopes that that will improve the percent chance I will play and finish it and I can get some semblance of my "money's worth".  My gaming time is precious, and I know myself well enough to know that even a minor frustration (on top of about a million other distractions) might cause me to stop playing and move on to something else. 

That said, after being told that Torchlight on Easy is for "retarded monkeys" by my guildmate, I re-started it on Hard  icon_wink
3273  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Torchlight, a follow-up to Fate and Mythos on: October 29, 2009, 05:45:38 PM

Quote from: Toe on October 29, 2009, 05:07:31 PM

Quote from: Butterknife on October 29, 2009, 04:35:05 PM

Quote from: Toe on October 29, 2009, 03:44:03 PM

I am up to level 20 now and one of the things I think is a bit overly frustrating is inventory management. Even with the dog inventory and the ability to send him to town, I am just getting too much shit dropping to keep things moving along at a good pace. I swear I fill up both my and my dogs inventory after two big battles sometimes. Then I got to ID all the magic items, then send him off. It does not help that a 3rd of my inventory is taken up by potions and scrolls. Can't carry any consumables and if I started getting a few gems, ugh, I end up with little room at all on myself. Since I am still burning through gold I can't afford to just leave stuff behind. I wish they would have merged the spell inventory with regular inventory, that would help out alot since we never get that many spells scrolls anyway.

I agree with you.  The inventory feels limited.  One of these days the action-RPG developers are going to realize that inventory management really isn't very fun, and they will have a better solution.  Sacred 2 had a nice feature where you could drag loot over an icon in your inventory to sell it immediately.  All of these games give you a steady stream of loot, but some of them make it more difficult to sell than others.  One thing I recommend is actually just using a town portal scroll and teleporting back to town when your inventory gets full, instead of using the pet.  There really is no point in using the pet to do the dirty work unless you are in one of the dungeons that doesn't let you teleport, because when you do you are significantly weaker and it can take quite some time for the pet to get back.

I dont feel that much weaker without my pet to be honest (I am playing on normal mode however). So that really does not factor in. If things work out right, I can send him with full pack and keep moving and by the time he gets back I am just getting full again. Problems arise when i get gems and/or,  preimium items I want to send to other characters, and replaced items that had gems in them (I go to the goblin guy in town and have him reclaim the gems). But I will heed the advice (I have the spell so dont even need scrolls to get back to town anymore).


I don't know if I fully agree with the inventory complaint.  While I do feel the crunch at times, I also think that inventory management and decisions are really a big (and in many ways fun) part of the gameplay itself.  This game offers you so many options already, a pet that can store and sell stuff, a nice stash for yourself AND a large shared stash.  You don't *have* to pick up every single item, or maintain a third of your inventory with potions and scrolls - that's all your prerogative.  You could choose to simply maintain 4 slots (20 of each for health, mana, TP and ID) and leave the rest.

Going through loot and picking and choosing what to keep is a huge part of the loot portion of the "loot and level" experience IMHO.  I think the real complaint might be that the game is dropping too profusely (and you can't help but pick up everything in sight) - but that's a big part of what makes it fun for some of us.  While it does bug me at times to leave stuff unpicked up, I also feel confident this game is going to provide me with something just as good if not better around the corner, so I'm learning to just ignore many drops.  It might be nice to have an option to only see rare and above, I remember some game did that.
3274  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Torchlight, a follow-up to Fate and Mythos on: October 28, 2009, 10:43:47 PM

Quote from: Zarkon on October 28, 2009, 08:00:57 PM

Its also supposed to save when you open/ close menus, according to Relic.

Whoa!  Can anyone confirm this?  It didn't seem like it to me, because I kept losing quite a bit of progress, but I'm not 100% sure if I open/closed a menu or not.  Or maybe you mean the ESC menu in particular?

Also someone mentioned a shared stash?  I didn't see it, can anyone confirm?

And there's really a button to keep item names on permanently?  Does it also turn on "Barrel" etc so you know what to go whack?  Otherwise I'm also constantly hitting Alt/Shift as well.
3275  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Torchlight, a follow-up to Fate and Mythos on: October 28, 2009, 05:42:49 PM
OK, here's my impressions in GBU format (cross posted from Wanderers forum):

GOOD: Just about everything is well done and polished nicely. The game is definitely most reminiscent of Fate, but without the cutesy factor of the main character, and with 3 classes to choose from, which have clearly borrowed skills profusely from Mythos. They have also borrowed completely freely from Diablo 2 in terms of sound effects and music, and the 3 skill tree per class system. One cool novel feature is the addition of spell scrolls which you can have 4 active - so even your tank dude can possibly cast an ice bolt if he gets one of these. You can really have a field day designing hybrid classes or focusing on a particular style.

The gear/loot, as promised by the devs, is possibly one of the strongest ever for a game of this type. Within the first hour of the game you should start seeing a nice mix of magical and rare drops, plus you can buy actually useful rare gear at the vendors, not to mention items have slots for more variability. The nice thing about going single player is without need to worry about balance and other players whining about this or that, they clearly felt free to drop gear with impunity. My first character is only lvl 10 and is loaded with rare items already, plus a unique and set item or 2. So much fun! Someone needs to translate this kind of system into the MMO-verse, it seems to me like it's just a matter of creating the illusion of coolness without unbalancing things. So far the variety of skills, the levelling pace, the graphics and atmosphere, everything is just top notch considering it's a $20 title. They've really refined this style to an art form.

Performance wise, things have been pretty smooth on my main computer. The game even features a "Netbook mode" so Netbookers should be happy. It runs great on my Mini 311 (load times a bit slow), though that's not really a true netbook.

BAD: Not a whole lot, aside from lack of multiplayer. The only thing that caused concern for me was the save system. It seems like the game only saves when you portal or quit. Normally that would be fine (assuming a stable game), but last night the power kept going out on me and I didn't have a backup battery system (mine broke), so I kept losing progress (and more importantly awesome gear). So I eventually I just played more cautiously and returned to town more often than I normally might. The other problem I had was trying to run full screen at 1920x1200, it didn't seem to want to let me do it. Could be something on my end though.

UGLY: Did I mention no multiplayer? Yes we all know they are working on a F2P MMO, but after playing the last incarnation of Mythos (for those that only played earlier betas they had completely re-vamped it to give a much different MMORPG feel to the game; in fact in many ways they had achieved what HGL was probably hoping to in terms of creating a MMORPG-like environment) it's a bit of a letdown to only have single player. If there were even a way to trade items it would be nice.

- - -

Side note: I am very excited to see the level editor too. I have a really fun idea for a short adventure, but I'll have to see which tools are easier for me to use (this or Dragon Age).
3276  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: So... Borderlands uses GAMESPY to join friends games. Add your GAMESPY handl on: October 27, 2009, 03:13:39 AM
rittchard
3277  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Awesomely Bad Movies on: October 23, 2009, 09:00:55 PM
By far, THE CRAPPENING was the most awesomely bad movie I've ever seen.  Horrible scripting, acting and terrible direction all fill out a just absolutely awful movie.  Normally good actors are rendered into terrible ones.  Gratuitous violence and child killing is used to garner an R rating.  The cut I watched I clearly saw the microphone/boom come into the shot twice.  And finally, Betty Buckley's insane performance takes it just over the top.  I almost want to rewatch it now lol.
3278  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Apple unveils the new iMacs on: October 23, 2009, 08:58:08 PM

Quote from: Brendan on October 22, 2009, 11:44:39 PM

Quote from: rittchard on October 22, 2009, 11:18:33 PM

 Another product which has been IMHO unfairly maligned has been the Macbook Air - yes it is pricey, but again when there hasn't been a true PC equivalent, and the closest equivalent cost the same amount or more.  PCs are catching up, but Apple it's taken them over a year to get closer.

At this point, there are plenty of equivalents to the Macbook Air, and almost all cheaper.  The new Adamo is the hotness, though I foresee the guy in the row in front of me crashing his seatback into it.  On the lower end, the Acer Timelines and Asus UL30A are fine machines.  I have Win 7 running on the latter quite happily.

Don't want to belabor the point, but since you brought it up:

http://www.engadget.com/2009/10/23/dell-adamo-xps-specs-leak-out-ulv-processors-integrated-graphi/

The price is not released yet but the X4500 graphics are still a generation behind the MBA's 9400M.  They are calling it a $2000 machine; the MBA has $1499 and $1799 models with arguably better processors.  So again, my point is when you delve deep, the perception that Apple is flat out more expensive (spec to spec) can often be wrong.  That's something they clearly have to fight against, as clearly it's a notion that's sunken in deep for the majority of consumers.
3279  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: First all-new gaming rig in six years...opinions? on: October 22, 2009, 11:47:13 PM
Verrrrrry nice system!  I don't think you'll regret at all going with the 120GB SSD - that's the exact one I'm using on my desktop and I love it.

I hadn't heard about this new Lynnfield i7, this must be the one they are using in the new iMacs that runs at 2.8GHz as you mentioned it has less heat and power draw.
3280  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Apple unveils the new iMacs on: October 22, 2009, 11:32:47 PM
Found my Apple Analysis, this is from April 2009 so it doesn't include all the recent upgrades to both the iPod and computer lines, but the gist is the same.  I should probably update it.

Quote
Here's the thing with Apple. They make quality products, they are on the leading edge of electronics tech. Yes, in many cases their prices are high or "overpriced" but in others they are reasonable, and in some cases they have no true competition so they set the bar and the pricing. What bugs me is when people blanket bash the entire company (and their entire lineup) as being overpriced, the implication being they are deliberately price gouging or whatever. Here's an assessment of most of their lineup:

iPod Shuffle ($79) - it's frickin tiny and effectively weightless, that's got to count for something. But with no screen or other extra features, I think it's at least $30 overpriced. With the competition increasing, it will come down sooner or later.

iPod Nano ($149 or $199) - already covered this. Looks slick to me but aside from possibly a better screen and construction than competitors, pricing is looking like a dinosaur. Needs to come down about $50 to be competitive.

iPod Touch ($229-399) - Expensive product, but I think the price for entry is fair enough for a piece of high tech gadgetry like this. There's certainly touch-based competition out there, but nothing that can presently compete with the App store. It's essentially a palm-held computer/PDA with all the music, movies, TV and video capability you could ask for from a portable device with an incredible touch interface and accelerometer built in for added functionality. But add on top of that wireless capability and an awesome browser plus an infinite amount of apps from the App store and you've got a hardware/software combo with no true competitor.

iPhone ($199 or $299 with AT&T contract) - add a Phone and GPS to the Touch and you get the "Jesus Phone" lol. Everyone has a clone to compete with the iPhone, and some have made some hardware advances. But without the App Store and an incredible software base to back it up, these guys are still a couple years behind the game. Not to mention the price with contract is pretty standard compared to all the competitors. For the base model I'd say it's well worth the price. The AT&T monthly cost ($70 min), not so much.

(Sidebar: how cool/nerdy is this? http://www.wired.com/entertainment/musi ... iphoneorch )

Macbook ($999 - $2400 fully loaded) - in spite of the complaints and naysayers, I believe (as already mentioned) the baseline Macbook price at $999 for it's featureset, quality + size/weight ratio is a very fair price. The 9400M sets it apart from other competitors in its same size/weight range. As mentioned earlier though, Apple tends to overcharge for adding RAM and hard drive space, particularly with SSD drives (thus the large max price).

Macbook Air ($1799 - $2499) - yes it's pricey but this thing is an engineering work of art. As I already mentioned, there is no true competitor (again thanks to the 9400M chipset). I won't re-review it, but I've been watching for possible PC contenders for the past year and everyone keeps coming up short one way or another. Even Dell's Adamo (just released at same price range) can't compare. Expensive but sets the bar, so I will call the pricing unattractive but fair.

Macbook Pro ($1999 - $4899 super loaded) - I've never owned a Pro but the ones I've seen (older models) were just amazing in terms of performance, power and portability with gorgeous screens and excellent keyboard, etc. Still they are starting to lag in graphics capability (9600M is their best option) so I'm going to call these guys overpriced.

Mini ($599 - $1049) - these things are adorable. Haven't owned one but I know people who do, and everyone tends to love these guys. People use them as servers or for entertainment systems, and some for their main computer. I haven't looked, but I don't think there is a strong direct competitor in this kind of form factor, and again now with 9400M graphics also a halfway decent gaming machine. Fair.

iMac ($1199 - $3249) - I presently have 1 of the newer models and have used the previous generation for 2 years. I love this thing. The monitor is gorgeous and the All-in-one assures no clutter and no excess hardware. I still remember a couple years ago when I showed my PC loving buddy one of these, even he was amazed at how slick it was. At first he didn't even believe me, he was asking where the DVD drive was. When I showed him he was impressed. Flash forward, the competition is catching up and adding features like Blu-Ray and TV tuners in the same relative price range. This one is a close call, I'd have to do more research.

Mac Pro ($2499 to ... $14k totally souped up) - this thing is crazy expensive and likely crazy powerful all built up. I was ready to call this severely overpriced but then I saw some comparisons showing it really wasn't. I'm actually not sure where I'd go to get 8-core performance and 32GB of RAM in the regular PC market. Anyway, I will leave this as a question mark.

Time Capsule ($299 or $499) - pretty slick unit, I own the first gen. Enterprise grade hard drive combined with a Wireless N router. Nothing too fancy but a very nice, solid product. Pricing is OK for the 500GB version but too much of a jump to get to 1TB.

Apple TV ($229 or $329) - this is kind of unique in its complete integration with iTunes, both the store and your library. The addition of rentals to the store has made it much more valuable, and the interface is slick and gorgeous in HD. I know there are quite a few competitors, but linkage and access to the iTunes Store I think is the trump card here. If they could add games/apps to this thing it could be really killer. I will give their pricing a pass on this one since it's fairly unique, though I think they'd do better at $199 for an 80GB version and $249 for the 160GB. Then again, you don't really need to make this the place you store everything so the whole drive space is debatable.

So there you have it, a full on analysis which I think I've been pretty fair at evaluating.
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