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3321  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Nintendo DSi US launch slated for April 5th, $169.99 on: April 06, 2009, 11:19:20 PM
Very limited first impressions:

- The unit is just a tad longer and (I think) a tad heavier than the Lite
- Screen size was not noticeably larger  icon_frown
- Cameras in low light were pretty poor quality
- Separate SD memory card slot is intriguing...
- Slightly inconvenient but I finally got into my password protected wifi network and was able to access the store and internet
- Downloaded an update and then a free web browser (opera based) which felt slow.  1000 free points to download some other stuff.

All in all, not much of a thrill but I think it will be good in the long run.  This was mainly a purchase for the future for me, particularly since I had $90 of Best Buy rewards to burn.
3322  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Housing: Buy or Rent? on: April 06, 2009, 11:11:06 PM
(cross-posted from Wanderers site)

I know there's a lot of different opinions on this, and that everyones' situations are unique, but I thought it would be interesting to hear what people are recommending now in the midst of this current economy.

Within the past couple of months, I've had quite a few friends either purchase or looking to purchase their first home. It seems like the tide is changing, with prices lower/correcting and interest rates low, not to mention the tax credit for first time buyers. Conventional wisdom seems to say buying real estate is always a good investment in the longterm, but clearly some people have also been burned of late. And it still seems rather risky to pick up a huge debt/mortgage. What if you lose your job?

My present situation is, of course, unique and complicated in its own way. The numbers are there but to move to some of the places I like would essentially double my monthly housing payment, which was substantial to begin with.  Now I've been assured that after tax benefits this would be very different, but the fact remains at the outset I (and my partner) would have to come up with, effectively, double the rent, on top of the downpayment and fees and all that business. It's daunting. The area we want to live in has not really dropped in prices, which I guess is good value-wise but bad in terms of trying to get our foot in the door. Of course we could choose a cheaper area or a lesser/smaller place, but at this point in my life, neither of us wants to move down just for the sake of owning something.

Pros to buying a house

- Can finally "own" a place (kind of) and "make it our own"
- Tax benefits(?)
- Longterm investment, build equity for retirement


- Double the monthly at least, ouch!  No more frivolous electronic purchases!
- Lots of fees and expenses, first year could be verrrry tough
- Stuck in a location, could be bad if someone loses their job

So I'm kind of back and forth. I was pretty gung ho on buying a week ago. Then today I was thinking if we stayed renting and put away even $1000 a month instead, in 20 years we'd have close to $300k (assuming 2% interest). That should theoretically be enough to buy a decent retirement home (assuming that's one of the concerns), and in those 20 years we could spend pretty freely, and wouldn't be tied down to a mortgage.
3323  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Elven Legacy - Now with Impressions on: April 06, 2009, 09:40:37 PM
I'm a little surprised to not see anything about this one, I believe it is releasing tomorrow on Steam and a bunch of other places.  I believe it's the (indirect?) sequel to Fantasy Wars which a lot of people liked (or at least I thought they did).  I'll be trying it out for sure.

3324  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Lost returns next week! [Spoilers!] on: April 06, 2009, 05:02:52 AM

Quote from: metallicorphan on April 03, 2009, 03:53:35 AM

i wanna know about that statue

you saw it in season 1 when Sayid and co,tried to sail round the island....the statue in question was very big,and only had 4 toes(on each foot) this season(5)you saw the back of it when they were in the jungle(i think Jin and a young Danielle running from the smoke monster),i actually thought i was going to find out about it,but seems not to be
i have been waiting since season 1 to find out

how many episodes are in this season?,as there was only 14 i think last season(3 episodes for the finale)..was that due to the writers strike or the fact that they were getting complaints about stretching the story out?

I believe they agreed to have 16 episodes each for the final 3 seasons.  Both the premiere and finale counted as 2 separate episodes.

As for the statue, there are quite a few theories on it.  The one that looks the most plausible is that it is of Anubis, perhaps welcoming people to the land of the dead.  There are some things off about it (the size of the ears and holding 2 ankhs instead of one) and the 4-toes takes a bit of a stretch.  Whatever it is, it looks likely to be related to Egyptian mythology, which also likely ties into the temple thing that Ben went into, as well as the smoke monster.  I believe they've promised some answers to these, but likely not til the last season.
3325  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Season 2 on: April 06, 2009, 04:56:15 AM
I hate it that so many sci-fi shows get cancelled almost exactly at the time they start to get really good and find their "voice."  It's really frustrating.  What is even more frustrating is that sci-fi fans just don't seem to put in solid ratings in a consistent block.  How is it that Mexican soap operas can routinely blast great shows like this and Reaper, Firefly, etc. - by two to one?!??! 

Anyway, I hope it can get picked up again, any chance for a save on the sci-fi channel.  I think the execs at Fox are a bunch of fucking idiots.  Why do they even bother with shows like this and Dollhouse only to drown and kill them?  You know it's not that difficult to figure some of these things out.  Hmmm there is a HUGE Terminator sequel coming out this summer.  Gee I wonder if there's anything that might be done to cross-promote this.  Geee ummm errrr derrr nah let's just stick our Terminator show in a death slot months before the movie comes out.  Hmmmm we have the #1 and #2 show on every week.  Gee I wonder if it might make sense to promote a new show by placing it after one of these shows, even just the premiere to get people excited.  Nah, let's just stick it in the historically worst slot of the week.  Ugh. 
3326  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Nintendo DSi US launch slated for April 5th, $169.99 on: April 02, 2009, 11:19:44 PM

Quote from: Jeff on April 02, 2009, 10:06:53 PM

Quote from: farley2k on February 20, 2009, 02:33:33 PM

Long commercial type video on Youtube

They do seem to have put a lot of fun stuff into the camera software.  Still kinda pointless sense every phone seems to have a camera these days.

I hope I don't offend anyone when I say ... those features in that video are incredibly lame for a handheld gaming system. record a 10 second audio clip and garble your voice? seriously?

But but but ... you can morph people's faces with 11 "lenses"!!!  And you can morph your OWN face too!!!  And then draw little candy hearts around the morphed face.  How much more fun could it possibly be!?!?!  icon_twisted
3327  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Nintendo DSi US launch slated for April 5th, $169.99 on: April 02, 2009, 09:47:28 PM
Anyone gonna pick one up?  I want to resist but I think I am just kidding myself.
3328  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Ultra-portable discussion thread on: April 02, 2009, 09:31:17 PM
I hate myself for spending more money on this insane drive to create/find a "gaming" netbook, but I recently ordered the Asus N10J from Amazon:

If I had known about this sucker's existence (was it covered in this thread?  I don't recall seeing it), I would definitely have not purchased the mid-laptop I did a short while back.  So now I will have an extra netbook and extra laptop to deal with selling or giving away or whatever lol.  I am so lame, my closet is like a museum of electronic gadgets.

Anyway, in case it wasn't covered before, it's mostly standard netbook hardware, but the surprise factor to this guy is that it offers a hardware switchable 9300M graphics processor.  This means "real" gaming capability; I've seen footage of L4D, Warhammer Online and a bunch of other top notch games playable.  Yowza.  Sucks that it's stuck with the same generic screen resolution but oh well. 
3329  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Question about shopping for a first mortgage on: April 02, 2009, 09:22:06 PM

Quote from: Teggy on April 02, 2009, 05:52:03 PM

My wife and I have been vigorously working off a very sizable credit card debt (long story) for the past year and a half. We would really like to get a house, but the existence of this debt had previously led me to believe we should hold off before we go down that road. I'm estimating it will be at least another 2 years before we have knocked out the CC debt, and we have grad school loans on top of that. On the other hand, we currently support a fairly high rent (which went up again this year) and I have a good credit score (wife's is probably not as good, but we haven't checked). It's looking like the deals on houses are going to be very good over the next year or so, and it would be a shame to miss out on the opportunity.

What I am wondering is how might I go about finding out what we might be able to get as a mortgage given our current situation? I know there are simple calculators on the net, but I would need something more realistic. Also, would getting a quote of this type ding your credit score?

I'm actually in a fairly similar position at the moment in terms of thinking about biting the bullet and purchasing a house, but maybe just a tad further along than you debt wise.  My partner and I have been battling CC debt for years but are nearing the late stages (if I can clear mine in a few more months I was planning on writing a little blog article about how I did it).  Our biggest problem because of this is lack of substantial savings, which in turn limits our capability to put a solid down payment down, etc etc.  However depending on what you are looking for, you may be able to get an FHA loan, which only requires about 3.5-5% down.  The downside being that the FHA loans only apply to certain types of houses (single family homes and approved association condos). 

I recently had a first consult with a loan person; the calculators you use on the net are very realistic, and will likely be same/similar to what a professional will tell you.  I was able (after a bit of work) to duplicate the numbers he was giving me to fairly good accuracy.  So just be honest with the numbers you put in, and a calculator can give you a surprisingly good starter idea. 

Mortgage affordability calculator:

Anyway, the next step would be to just talk to a loan person.  The guy I talked to was from Chase, referred to me by my landlord who is also a house broker.  If you have no other contacts you can start here:

Tell them your exact situation and they will likely be able to give you some numbers, etc. and if all sounds good they will likely try to convince you to fill out an application for pre-approval.  This will likely boil down to a lot of number crunching, which in turn all boils down to what you can realistically afford on a monthly basis and what you can bring in terms of a downpayment, etc.  There's also things to consider like tax benefits, but you may need to go to someone else to figure out those numbers.  And keep in mind there is the new $8000 tax credit this year for first time buyers who qualify.

Oh yeah, I think there's no chance you will get dinged by doing this kind of study/application.
3330  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Lost returns next week! [Spoilers!] on: April 02, 2009, 09:02:56 PM
Very nice comeback from last week's kind of predictable episode, and nice build up to next week's Ben-centric episode, which looks like it's going to be a really good one.

Spoiler for Hiden:
I've always liked the actress who plays Kate, and this week was a really good one for her.  Aside from just exploring her motivations, it gave her a lot of welcome character moments and revelations that she (the character) may not have been aware of, such as the caring for Aaron as a replacement for heartbreak from Sawyer.  Some of it was a bit forced, but all in all I really liked her performance. 

While I predicted the gist of what would happen correctly (Ben survives and is transforned into "Ben" due to the shooting), I was caught off guard by Richard's taking him to the Temple of Doom to be healed.  Cool stuff.

Similarly with Kate, it was clear her motivation to return to the island was Aaron-related, but I love how they spun it a bit and made it because she loves the kid so much she's back to find his real mother.  Well played.  I had presumed he was taken and returned to the grandmother leaving her despondent or something like that.  This played out stronger emotionally than my guess.

Jack was pretty irritating, though he gets bonus points for his bitchy "you didn't like the old me" comment to Kate and for his shower sequence.   Yum.  On a side note does no one but me care that he shaved off all his chest hair and no one seems to notice?!?!  It was kind of weird when he suddenly appeared smooth last year (on the island still) where it made no sense (unless Juliette shaved him for his surgery).  Bring back the chest hair now!!!

I don't know if I liked or disliked Hurley's question after question, seeing as it was an obvious plot device to ask EXACTLY all the questions the fans have been asking.  A little too in your face, I think, but I was happy that the questions were asked, which seems to imply they will be answered.

Can't wait for next week!!!
3331  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Heroes Season 3 (spoilers for our less fortunate European friends) on: April 02, 2009, 08:41:24 PM

Quote from: CeeKay on April 02, 2009, 03:51:17 AM

now Sylar has the most dangerous skill set as he can be anyone and doesn't need to lop peoples heads open anymore.

He never got Hiro (or Future Hiro)'s powers did he?  As long as time stoppage is in the mix, I think that trumps all, in theory.  Oh yeah and let's not forget the Haitian who is conveniently MIA.
3332  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Official 2009 American Idol Thread on: April 02, 2009, 08:35:20 PM
Wow, one of the weirdest results shows of all seasons.

Megan: my sense is she was pretty much ready/dying to go to see her baby, and I wouldn't be surprised if she worked something out with the producers.  Like Survivor, every once in a while you get some contestants that suddenly realize they just don't want to be there for whatever reason.  Jason Castro last season was another good example, but the fans just kept bringing him back.  While she seemed disrespectful toward Simon, I think it was all part of the plan to make sure she could get out of there.  Plus Simon was being a dick anyway, but he gets annoyed quickly when he thinks someone isn't taking it seriously.  And some of her shtick was (or seemed like) direct pandering to the VFTW crowd.  The bird thing was something that was a major fuss over on VFTW and there were a few other things that seemed to indicate she was more aware of what was being said on that website.  She seemed to know in advance she was going, thus the over-happy attitude and the bizarre things like telling Allison (I think) to call her later - implying she'd be gone immediately or something?  Weird all around.

Theory: I had a theory they placed the 3 groups in voting numbers:  1-4-7 then 2-5-8 and 3-6-9, which would make the placements:

1 - Adam
2 - Gokey
3 - Kris
4 - Lil
5 - Scott
6 - Matt
7 - Allison
8 - Anoop
9 - Megan

Show:  Could David Cook have been any more boring?  I kept waiting for the song to pick up but it never did.  Yikes.  Luckily Lady Gaga came and freaked everyone out.  I love that song but man was she whacked out.  I think she scared everyone with that eye zipper.  And then the Idols' impressions of each other, very oddball.  Sure it's fun to poke fun at each other and it appears they are "close" - but let's not forget this is still a competition, and making fun of Gokey's raspy take on every song is a subtle reminder of the fact that he does Gokify every song in a rather predictable manner.

I wish Megan had stayed, at least with her you could be sure to have something to look forward to talking about the next day!
3333  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Official 2009 American Idol Thread on: April 01, 2009, 11:17:08 PM
Another fun review of the show from Prof Chan:

Pretty much on the same page, except he liked Adam and disliked Kris more. 

I'd have to agree with Pete and say he really did a standout job this week and had a "moment".  The LA Times writer actually predicted he would make it to the Final 2 over Gokey, which I think might be a bit extreme, but who knows.  I didn't think he had the capability to stand out so much, so we'll have to see if this was a blip or if he's really a dark horse type that's getting better each week.
3334  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Warhammer Online patch 1.2.1 preview on: April 01, 2009, 06:07:40 PM

Quote from: morlac on March 31, 2009, 09:36:05 PM

i want a free come back weekend smile

Isn't there a 10-day free friend program thing?
3335  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Official 2009 American Idol Thread on: April 01, 2009, 05:37:16 AM
Love it when I get to do this while impressions are fresh.  "Hits" night was kind of a disappointment all around, with a couple standouts and some minor messes.

Anoop: There's a reason there are so few Asian male contestants, at some point they always find a way to make people uncomfortable.  Asian "brothas" are good for a novelty performance or two, but eventually it falls apart.  This was Anoop's week - trying to be Usher and just kind of getting through it.  I couldn't wait for it to end.  He's not creative or artistic, not a good dancer, his vocals are good but not stellar, his attitude is a bit arrogant, and let's face it, he has no chance.  The heartfelt ballads kept him a couple weeks but there's only so much of that he can do.  Honestly I wish they'd put him out of his misery and kick him this week, but somehow I doubt it.  I still say Bottom 3.

Megan: OK even my patience with her is wearing thin, this may be it for her.  What an odd and awkward choice of song.  I thought she sang OK but I kept waiting and waiting for some breakout part of the song - but there was none.  I was praying she'd pick Chasing Pavements (as I've already stated and Kara later echoed) but she seems intent on doing her own whacko thing.  Of course we don't know what songs are disallowed so that could be part of it - or she's just self indulgent and messing around.  Highly likely to go this week, unless her core base can rally.  I still called in for her.

Danny: I thought the judges were way too kind.  I found it pitchy and boring, and is it me or is he getting fatter and fatter?  Still the judges love him and the fans as well.  But every week I see him I just can't see him winning it all.  He's just feeling more and more "safe" each week.

Allison: I thought she was better than Danny relatively, but the outfit was hideous and she is too ugly to pull off ugly clothes (unlike Megan).  The singing was decent, but dressed like that, I would have preferred she just go all out and do a fun Kelly Clarkson hit.  Performance should be enough to preserve her spot.

Matt: Yikes.  Agreed with what the judges said, except I actually love You Found Me.  And in spite of what Simon said, it's a fairly popular song.  But his performance was raspy and weird and off key at times, half the time it seemed like he was trying to make it sexy in the middle of all those girls, and it is NOT a sexy song lyrically.  He would have been better served out of the audience and delivering it in a more traditional rock set.  But even with that, he would still come across as switching identities week to week.  I didn't call it, but Apologize would have been a great choice, even though it's kind of been taken over by Archuleta at this point.  Or maybe a JT ballad.  Missed opportunity for him for sure.  Likely Bottom 3.

Eye Billy: His best performance for sure, should easily buy him one more week and keep him out of the bottom 3.  Kind of "safe" and obvious for him, but he needed it to survive; very nice vocal.

Adam:  Back to his screechy insanity.  He's got talent and I appreciate his creativity and his energy/stage presence, but ugh on the annoying screeching.  Based on the audience appreciation, he may be inching himself into the top spot and is likely the one to beat at this point.

Big Mac Round: holy cow I think her ass is growing each week.  Something is going to spawn from that ass, I kid you not.  1 million bucks to see Gokey sing Baby Got Back while she dances for tomorrow's group song.  So tonight, in yet another different diva look, she became Whitney circa Bodyguard era.  Powerful vocals, boring song.  And no honey you are not Whitney.  I kept thinking she should have gone back to a popular Mary J hit, which led me to thinking she should have done Mary's recent version of U2's One; it's a popular song and Mary's version was a pop hit, but not everyone is necessarily familiar with it, so it could have been looked at as a "risk".  I am not making this up - minutes later Simon says the same thing.  I'm not sure where to place her at this juncture, but she's lucky to have some fodder like Megan and Anoop to keep her in it a few more weeks.  If she continues to make poor song choices, and by now she must be freaked out by the judges each week, she may go sooner than later.

Kris: Wow, I almost had an orgasm listening to that.  Oh my I'm in love again.  Blew me away and very surprising, he finally got away from the Mraz-lite image.  I was almost certain he was going to sing "I'm Yours" and go full on Mraz, so I was glad to see him do his own thing.  Kudos, cutie!  At this rate, with others faltering a bit, he may just vault himself into the Final 4.  Just maybe.  Should be an easy safety and more importantly, he further distances himself from Matt.

Bottom 3:  Megan, Anoop and Matt.  Tough call due to voting blocks, but I'll go out on a limb and say Matt goes.
3336  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Heroes Season 3 (spoilers for our less fortunate European friends) on: March 31, 2009, 08:12:25 PM
Can someone summarize this week's ep for me?  I fell asleep midway through and accidentally deleted it, not sure if it's worth the effort to watch it online.  It seemed kind of boring but maybe I was just tired.
3337  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Warhammer Online patch 1.2.1 preview on: March 31, 2009, 08:09:12 PM

Quote from: Razgon on March 31, 2009, 07:18:21 PM

hmm, well - okay, it was written in a bit of a hurry, but here's what I mean - Its no coincidence that MMO's are built the way that they are - and no, Gear certainly isnt the only thing that drives people in these kind of games, but everything is geared towards making YOU coming back, month after month after month, and be it full of holes or not, it works. WoW has what now, 10 million subscribers? And its been going for a LOT of years already, so what makes people stay there? Its the psychology of the game, that keeps people there, be it gear, the socializing, the pvp or whatever drives people.

Warhammer is still going strong, of course not compared to WoW but who does, even AoC is still going on, with a rather big revenue income each month.

Anyways, thats my view of course, take it as that, not as gospel, but I'm still right ;-)

That's fine and WoW has a fine traditional MMORPG model.  But I'd argue that Diablo 2 also has people coming back 10 years later, so there's something to that psychology as well.  Why is it that the basic philosophies of D2 (fast levelling, lots of alts, tons of gear and loot dropping all the time) can't be applied properly to an MMORPG? 

In terms of WAR, I see no harm if you allowed people to level to R40 in 40-50 hours (my first took 200 hours and I believe 120-150 is probably a good estimate for an average player now).  A casual player could play half an hour to an hour a day and always see progress, and know that in a month he would be able to play all the higher tier content if he so chose.  My contention is that the 75% or so players who quit in the R20s would likely have stayed on til at least they made it once to R40.  More active players could have a whole series of alts, and place them in all 4 tiers as they saw fit.  The hardest core players could have R40s of every class, and keep working on their RR levels.  So then the argument is always why not just give everyone insta-40s?  And to that I'd say you still need time to learn and develop and practice as you go along when you get a new skill or weapon, etc.  But an hour or so a level is plenty of time, I don't need 5 hours to figure out the best way to integrate new spells.

Anyway, just a pipedream, but I wish some developer would take a chance on challenging the paradigm of standard levelling curves and loot grinds in an MMORPG.  The fact is people who like that already have WoW, they don't need another one.  So why not have a game that seriously does things differently?  At first it appeared WAR was the game to do it, but somewhere in the middle of their game they seemed to wander back to the WoW-way of gaming.
3338  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Warhammer - Official Server List on: March 31, 2009, 05:45:40 PM
Just an FYI, due to population concerns, we've moved the Wanderers Order guild from Ostermark to Phoenix Throne.  As always, everyone in the guild is welcome to rejoin us there, or if you are starting fresh and want a nice small guild to run with, that's where you can find us  icon_razz
3339  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Warhammer Online patch 1.2.1 preview on: March 31, 2009, 05:44:20 PM

Quote from: skystride on March 31, 2009, 04:55:51 PM

Quote from: Razgon on March 31, 2009, 01:08:46 PM

I can guarentee you that there are people with a doctorate in both communication and in psychology attached to major game developement companies today, to ensure that you play their MMO's the most, and KEEP playing them.

Its no coincidence they are structurered the way they are.

They should fire those psychologists because they obviously don't have a clue.  They add grind to the game after 20+ but then 90% of the population quit once they reach this stage.  Good idea!  If only they realized that you can keep people playing a long time by allowing them to play various alts, the game has 22 class.. people could be playing for a really long time.  Instead they resort to the grind methodology which obviously isn't working for Warhammer.

It's funny I posted on the official forums my suggestion of "extreme levelling xp increase" (my proposal long story short was to level to 40 in about 40-50 hours under "normal" play) - and the majority of responses said it was too fast, blah blah blah.  Or that it would just make people reach boring T4 faster.  Unfortunately it felt like no one really got my point, which was to ensure you were always having the same feeling of fun and progression at T4 as you were at T1.  But anyway...
3340  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Ultra-portable discussion thread on: March 31, 2009, 12:23:28 AM
Posted in the other thread as well but I wanted to keep this one current/fresh:

Dell has what I think is the first full 720p screen.  I think a couple of people here were waiting for true 720p resolution.
3341  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Best Netbook? on: March 31, 2009, 12:21:49 AM
Looks like Dell is offering native 1366x768 resolution (for full 720p).  I believe they are the first netbook to have that available?  Plus it seems to be lighter than many of the present offerings:

Tradeoff looks like poor battery life and GMA 500 graphics and I think a worse processor (not sure on this  Z520 or Z530).  Kind of odd to have all around poorer specs but the best screen resolution.
3342  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Elemental: War of Magic on: March 30, 2009, 06:35:59 PM
I don't want to get myself too excited since it seems like such a long time til release.  MoM is/was one of my all time favorite games and this seems like it will be as good or better.  Of course I already pre-ordered hoping to get some beta action.
3343  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Battleforge on: March 30, 2009, 06:33:33 PM
Updated Friend's list (all on Overlord server), please post your name if you are playing!

AndDrag (Ayngel's friend)
3344  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Official 2009 American Idol Thread on: March 27, 2009, 08:55:06 PM
LMAO Crawley!

P.S.  Was I the only one who wanted to see a Stevie/Scotty duet?
3345  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Flagship Disintegrating? on: March 27, 2009, 08:49:21 PM
I know it's been said before, but clearly Roper and co. just outstepped their bounds.  They essentially tried to recreate the entirety of what made Blizzard so successful in one fell swoop, forgetting that it took time to build Blizzard up to what it is/was at the time they released.

That said, I still think the majority of people were unable or unwilling to look at Hellgate: London - the game - objectively without getting caught up in Flagship anti-hype or sub models or whatever.  At its core it STILL stands (even as a single player only game) as a strong game, the only full 3D follow-up to the Diablo loot and level, random map, action RPG style of game.  I loaded it up the other day in SP, and it still looks and feels great.  I don't typically like FPS but I loved D2 - somehow the way they blended it felt good to me.  Sure it had some quirks and bugs, but overall a much better game than was given credit for, particularly at the time of release if you include multiplayer mode.
3346  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Official 2009 American Idol Thread on: March 27, 2009, 06:15:23 PM
Bye bye Oil Rigger, I'll miss your awesome chunktastic "dancing"!

If the judges have their way, Final 3 = Adam, Danny and Allison (as Zinfan notes).  Allison may need some help though since she's already been in the bottom 3, and let's face it, she just isn't that pretty.  Short Round is falling out of favor quickly so 4th and 5th spots might be up for grabs.

I was surprised (kind of) to see Matt in bottom 2, even after all the judges pimping.  But seriously I just don't think he's that great a singer, nor is he nearly as cute as Kris.  Of course Simon's comments are often (purposely?) used as measures for the audience to do the opposite, and I think that helped Megan out this week, and possibly hurt Matt (his fans didn't sense he was in "danger").  Anoop seems to have a fairly set fanbase now, but I always get the sense he's on the brink of a disastrous performance.  Eye Mac is definitely an anomaly, as the sympathy factor is so hard to measure.  Still, his place in the Bottom 3 shows vulnerability.  This of course leaves Megan, who may actually be building on her core fanbase, not to mention rallying the anti-Simons and the VFTW crowd.  Notice she hasn't been in the bottom 3 the past 2 weeks.  I always have the opposite feel (from Anoop) for her, that she's just on the brink of a totally hot breakout performance.  Being the prettiest girl, and pretty much the all around best looking person remaining, shouldn't hurt either.

While I still think last season's overall quality was much higher than this season's, I think this one is shaping up to be interesting and a bit more unpredictable.  While Adam vs Danny seems like a strong bet, there's plenty of time left for that to change.  Adam has the internet/gay factor that can bring him down, and Danny's boring factor (or peak too early, whatever you want to call it) may also come into play.  That definitely opens the door for ugly Allison (with enough judge and producer pimpage), though she's already shown vulnerability, and maybe even Short Round if she can just break out and deliver a "moment".

So no predictions for next week or word on a theme, all they've revealed is Cookie and Gaga performing on April 1:
3347  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Battleforge on: March 27, 2009, 05:49:41 PM

Quote from: Chaz on March 27, 2009, 03:23:18 PM

I'm tempted, but the collectible aspect of it makes me nervous.  I know you get a certain amount of credit to buy cards in the box, but I'm less crazy about the idea of having my choices restricted unless I spend real-life buckz.  Keeping my eye on it though.

Seems like a lot of people are worried about this aspect.  All I can say is with the base number of points you get (3000), you can buy 2 full "Tomes" for 1250 each and 2 more "booster packs".  Each pack I think has 8 cards, I forget how many packs were in the Tome.  Either way you start off with a ton of cards in your collection (definitely well over 100), considering you are only going to use 20 at a time.  For 2-color decks, it's highly unlikely you won't have enough cards to pick and choose from.  I have about 30-40 hours invested already and have only touched 2 of my 4 colors, and have no idea really what cards I might be "missing" or "needing".  Of course most of my play has been PvE missions.  I haven't felt myself "needing" more cards in the pool to make my playing experience better or more effective (even upon failing missions, see below), but I do feel myself wanting more out of obsessiveness slywink

- - -

Back to the PvE.  The 5th (I think?) solo mission is/was kicking my ass hard.  I failed twice in a row really quickly on first trials.  The early part of the mission requires you keep a certain number of NPC units alive (2 of 6) and I kept losing them all.  Last night I got more serious, and still failed another 3 more times.  Each time I seemed to make a little more progress and learn a little more about the mission, and in between each set I tweaked my deck with 1 or 2 cards, and altered my strategy just a tad.  Normally such failings would drive me away from a game, but in this one it just kept me more motivated.  I love the fact that unlike other RTS games, I can not only change my strategic moves, I can alter what units I bring to the table.  Just one switch in your deck can be a game-changer.  For that matter, I could also have just started from scratch with a completely different deck and color scheme.  Very cool.  By the final time I tried it, I had tweaked and strategized just enough to soundly complete the mission (with all 6 human units surviving!), and it felt gooooooood  smile
3348  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Battleforge on: March 27, 2009, 05:36:33 PM
I don't know if they do "guilds" or not so I'm just collecting names on my friends list at the moment.  Unfortunately it appears you need to be online to add. 

As with other games, you guys are free to hook up with the Wanderers and use our Vent, etc. for playing this game.  It definitely helps in coordination.

Here's my list of peeps so far (on Overlord server):

3349  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Battleforge on: March 26, 2009, 10:24:48 PM

Quote from: Lockdown on March 26, 2009, 08:23:28 PM

Everyone already knows I'm a huge fan of the game from my beta experience, but I won't be able to dig in until Sunday at the earliest due to my work schedule.  I'm really looking forward to it though.  My 1vs1 pvp matches have been a lot of fun.  (except the time I tried a really bizarre deck configuration and got completely and totally destroyed...  icon_neutral)

Will your acct/avatar name be Lockdown?

Mine is, no surprise, Rittchard, so please add me to your friends list! 
3350  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Battleforge on: March 26, 2009, 05:43:49 PM
If you can get a buddy to partner up with, I think the game can be even more fun.  I've played 2 of the 2-player co-op missions so far with a guildmate.  It's kind of cool how they blend the mission to be both solo and interactive.  The first mission you both kind of move independently and then eventually meet up to kill the big bad.  No surprises but well done map-wise.  The second is much more interesting, there is a gate control that essentially forces you and your teammate to switch off on offense and defense for set amounts of time.  It's an interesting dynamic.  In addition, I like that as long as either of you have a ground unit nearby, both you and your teammate can cast spells to aid the other.  So my partner was able to cast some fireballs to help me offensively, and I was able to help him with some healing spells.  Very cool in an RTS.

While I haven't tried it yet, my friend also said the 2v2 mode was a lot of fun...

- - -

In the mean time, I started the next single player mission and got pwned twice in a row.  Even in Standard difficulty this game can be challenging!
3351  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Lost returns next week! [Spoilers!] on: March 26, 2009, 05:32:37 PM
Kind of a boring and surprisingly predictable episode for me this week, one of the bigger disappoints of the season thus far...

Spoiler for Hiden:
Any time any one in Lost has been shot and not checked upon to be 100% sure they are dead (or buried alive), they generally survive the experience (see Locke, Patch, the helicopter chick, etc).  Daniel's rule is you can't change what has already happened, so likely in the meta-story the shooting has to happen in order to turn Ben into "Ben". 

Though I'd love to see a Back to the Future-ish plot where they are revising history, I don't think Lost will go this route so Lil Ben should be back soon enough.  Likely he will regenerate or Jack will operate and save him, or the bullet hit some medallion he was wearing lol.
3352  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Official 2009 American Idol Thread on: March 26, 2009, 05:21:42 PM
Here's my review, stealing the Toe Format (TM):

Adam: This performance for the first time knocked me outta my socks.  I should have presumed he could get in touch with his inner gayosity to pull this out, but I was still caught off guard.  I thought the vocal and the control was excellent (though I would have had him tone it down even more), and it was the first time I thought he might actually be able to pull out a win - if only because he seems to maintain the element of surprise each week and is far more interesting than the other top contenders.  

Allison: Huge improvement over the last two weeks. I agree it was the best female performance of the night though that's not saying much with only 3 girls.  I'm still not a fan though, and it irks me how much the judges and producers are pushing for her.  Clearly they want another Kelly Clarkson to mold in case the real one goes astray again or gets too chubby.

Anoop: Like Toe, I did not care much for his performance. I agree he was way too pitchy on the chorus and it seemed like he just couldn't pull off some of the critical notes.  I thought the small part he sang for Smokey actually sounded better.  He should survive but just another performance showing he is fodder, i.e. no chance of actually winning.

Danny: Another solid performance, but that's all it was.  Interesting how he snubbed the Smokey advice.  I love his voice but he's getting boring for me, and it's too soon for that.  I still consider him the one to beat, but without an extra wow factor or a "moment" as Simon likes to call it, he may slip into the Archuleta zone and fade away by the end.  If Adam can continue his changeling intrigue without the gay stuff ruining his chances, he may just win it all.

Kris: I love Kris and unlike Toe I thought he did a great job.  I'll buy any record he releases, including his AI stuff.  I like the sound of his voice and his whole cutey boy on guitar shtick.  His problem is he is essentially done in this competition.  He already is who he is, kind of a Jason Mraz-lite, but cuter and probably less talented.  Even the way his mouth contorts into weird shapes is extremely Mraz-ish.  This is fine for me since I also love Jason Mraz, but the question is do we really need another one?  He has zero chance to win it all so it's almost pointless for him to be here other than for fans to see him a few more weeks.  If he takes some risks he will likely fall on his face.  If he doesn't he will continue to just be what he already is.

Lil Short Round: Another week of "meh" song choice along with a decent performance.  I agree with the judges that it was an excellent tribute piece - but that was all it was.  There was nothing that took it further from the original and that's too bad.  But I think this is actually just showing us what Lil is: overrated.  Her vocals are NOT that great, if they were she would have been able to change up the songs the past couple weeks and stood strong like Fantasia or Melinda.  The one knockout she had was on Mary J Blige - but let's face it, it was just because that's who she is closest to and probably relates to the best, not that she "made it her own."  Within the AI diva category, I would say she's a weaker candidate than Syesha or even Vonzelle, because she ain't that cute either.  I don't see her going too far unless the judges can pimp the crap out of her.

Matt: I thought he did a good job but I just don't like him.  He's like JT-lite but uglier.  I don't think he's anywhere as good as the judges are saying, but obviously they see some JT marketability in him.  He's kind of like Kris but with less identity.

Megan: Not sure why everyone hated her so much, I thought it was unjustified.  A lame choice of song but I thought it was interesting and fun.  At this point it's clear to me you're either a fan of hers or not.  Personally I think she's unique and has her own identity as a singer, and not in a clone-like way of anyone else.  She's the only other competitor who I know I will buy whatever she releases, just because I find her so endearing and interesting.

Michael: Poor guy, he caught the Meganflu and was unable to rise above it.  Sorry, (C)hunky, but big beefy guys aren't gonna get the sympathy that cute blond girls do.  Given he was bottom 2 last week, I don't think he'll survive tonight, unless the judges' influence kills Megan.

Eye Mac (stolen from Zinfan): Sucky song choice and performance, agreed. I also hope he would be sent home tonight, but since he was out of the bottom 3 last week, I also concur he will survive. Bottom 3 material but how long can sympathy votes keep him afloat.  Torture!

Bottom 3: Megan, Sarver and Scotty

Leaving tonight:  close call but I think Sarver goes, Simon is busy licking Paula's &()&() when Ryan asks about using the judges' save
3353  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Good and Bad TV Series finales on: March 25, 2009, 11:39:02 PM

Quote from: Scuzz on March 25, 2009, 11:31:08 PM

And How Did ST:Enterprise end?

It got cancelled (early too) so I don't think it's fair to judge the finale as a series finale.
3354  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Good and Bad TV Series finales on: March 25, 2009, 11:37:18 PM

Quote from: Teggy on March 25, 2009, 09:16:20 PM

I don't understand why people liked the ending of Angel. It left everyone's future (apart from Wesley) in question. I should probably read the comics. Buffy's ending, while a little quick to resolve, at least tied up most loose ends and didn't make you wonder what would become of the main characters.

The ending of Angel was definitely NOT the intended ending for the series.  I think they were pretty much blindsided and had to completely adjust things to make it something of a finale.

Spoiler for Hiden:
I'm reading "After the Fall" now which I believe has a lot of ideas that were intended for Season 6.  Angel becomes human but still fights the fight, Gunn becomes an evil vampire, Wesley becomes a ghost due to Wolfram and Hart, Illyria shifts back and forth between herself and Fred, Spike is a champion, and Connor and Lightning chick both return as a couple as they all battle it out in Hell on Earth.

My favorite series finale was the ST:TNG finale, which actually ended at the poker table with my all-time favorite finale scene where the Captain starts dealing and Deanna says "you were always welcome" then he starts dealing and something like "sky's the limit"...  always brings a tear to my eye even after umpteen viewings.
3355  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Chronicles of Spellborn is out! on: March 25, 2009, 11:30:13 PM
First impressions: game looks and feels good. Character creation gives you a lot of options in terms of costuming and colorization, not as much as CoX series but much more than most other MMOs these days. I was able to create a (hopefully unique) look which I really liked a lot from the getgo. The tutorial is reminiscent of EQ2 and Morrowind where they place you in an instance on a boat and you get to learn the interface at your pace. It feels like a fairly polished single player RPG opening. Combat is kind of different, though they only teach you the very rudimentary portion of it. Involves a lot of mouse action, RMB to target and LMB to attack.

But then, they dump you on the starter island/area. It looks great but the tutorial kind of ends abruptly. You pick up starter quests which are essentially the same as any RPG, fedex and kill X. Unfortunately the map is not as friendly as games we are used to (some might like this) so I found myself running around a lot aimlessly. I found it difficult to find quest goals in general; the map only helps a bit and the radar only shows a quest goal once you are very close.

The Kill X quests would be fine, but the mob populations were scarce (seems to be a bug hopefully) and combat is much more difficult than a conventional MMORPG. Even facing down 1 same level mob took me to the brink of death or got me killed. That said, the combat skill deck system itself (which unless I missed it was never actually explained in the tutorial) is very unique and cool. (This is on top of the skill-based combat Razgon talked about in terms of positioning, aiming, etc). It took a while experimenting but I finally got a sense of how to set it up - basically it involves creating combos or possible combos and mixing in button presses with clicks. Your core combo might be melee actions, so you put the skills in slot 1 of the first and second "decks". During combat, you hit LMB to activate slot 1 of deck 1, and then if you don't change anything, deck 2 appears and you can hit LMB again to hit the second part of the combo. Now something might change in mid-combat, you might want to cast a heal instead, so if you had slotted that in slot 2 of deck 2, you can hit "2" and LMB to cast that instead. Not a great description, sorry, but it definitely makes for more involved combat even at this early stage.

Anyway, game could use some polish, but I do like the combat system so it's kind of a toss up at the moment. I could see some intense duels or PvP using this combat. I just wish the game sucked you in a bit more at the outset.

From day 2:

Played about another hour or so before I went back to WAR. The game world still looks gorgeous, and I really like the combat system more and more. It definitely feels more dynamic and interactive than conventional MMORPGs and even at this early stage I found myself needing many on the fly adjustments while in combat. This is with only 2 "decks" and 3 "slots" on each deck open. It looks like at max you open up 5 (?) decks with 5 slots each, which would probably be pretty insane. In addition, each skill itself seems to have mods or something on them, I didn't bother to look into the details yet. So the game seems to have a fairly intricate character system, with 2 different types of levelling ("Fame" and "PeP") which I believe translates to questing and mob-killing. Sounds good on paper but seems to unfold excruciatingly slowly. This is made worse by the lack of mobs I already mentioned. People in chat seem to suggest skipping the mob kills and just doing regular quests; however unless I am mistaken the main quest line that allows you to leave this area forces you to kill mobs, so you're stuck unless you finish that. At that point I lost my patience and stopped.

Haven't given up completely as it's still in open beta, but things are not looking good. It's a shame because it really seems to have some different ideas and a rather unique combat system.  I will likely try again, hopefully the mob populations for particular quest mobs (young bears) will be enhanced and I can move out to outer areas.
3356  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Battleforge on: March 25, 2009, 11:10:50 PM

Quote from: MonkeyFinger on March 25, 2009, 09:19:55 PM

So... for an old curmudgeon like me who pretty much sticks to single player, is there enough here to make a worthwhile purchase? Or does it really come down to the multi?

When I played in beta, I played exclusively the single player campaign, and it wasn't until late last night that I played my first co-op mission with a friend.  I ended up doing the first mission about 5 different times on the same difficulty level with different deck builds, and each time was fun in different ways.  I've only made it to the 4th (I think) mission and have already got at least 20 hours of game time in (including deck building, upgrades, and losses).  Also for additional challenge you can play the same map on 2 more difficulty levels (advanced and expert).  As I mentioned above, I believe the main single player campaign has 18 missions (not 100% sure on this). 

I'd say there is a ton of playability for a single player presuming you do indeed like the core game - BUT with the caveat that like Guild Wars, you still have to login online to get to the main map interface (which may be a turn off for some players).  The counter point about this though is that, like Guild Wars again, your progress is all tied to your account, so you can bring it with you on different computers or on the road.

You can download the game demo and see how you like it - it's set up in a shareware format, but it gives you a pretty good idea of what to expect.
3357  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Battleforge on: March 25, 2009, 09:07:49 PM
Some of this is repeated from other posts, but I thought I'd put together a more detailed impressions post. Short version: I'm lovin' it!!

Now I should start this off by saying that although I've tried/bought a ton of RTS games over the years, I wouldn't call myself a true fan of the genre, nor would I ever consider myself good at them in general. I just find it hard to resist when a new one comes out with some new twist or a fun license like Warhammer or LoTR. Battleforge adds the Magic: The Gathering (M: TG) twist in that your units/spells are based on "cards" which you can collect and trade a la M:TG. There are four different colors to choose from, and you can create a deck from them any way you choose, from a single color to all 4. Most decks I guess will be 1 or 2 colors for maximum effectiveness.

For any given fight, regardless of how many cards you have access to, you can only bring 20 to a battle. The cards can be anything from standard soldier units to a massive flying dragon that spits fire all over the place, to buff or heal spells, to large defensive towers that themselves cast buff spells. The variation and creativity of all the different units, as well as how they are brilliantly brought to life, are a large part of the game's appeal.

The traditional "resources" in the game are kept relatively simple: one is a tower that generates power/mana and the other is a "monument" of a given color (corresponding to the colors of your card deck). Each card has a casting cost (in power) and a requirement of color orbs (from 1 to 4). So a typical mid-range card might require you "own" 1 red orb and 1 of any other color, and 50 units of power to cast. A high end focused unit might need 4 red orbs and 300 power. There's a clear tradeoff in how you build your deck, and in cases where you don't know what you are going to face tactically, it can be a tough trade between using, say, extra defensive towers vs. extra mobile offensive units vs. offensive or defensive spell casts. There is a ton to choose from even at the outset.

Campaign missions play out as fairly standard RTS fare, with decently aggressive AI even in the early missions. You are generally faced with a mix of offense/defense decisions and splitting your forces effectively. What sets the game apart is that playing the exact same mission/map with a new/different deck can feel entirely different. While you might argue this is just the same as playing with a different race in a different game, I'd say strategically it's quite different because you are the one making all the choices in what units to bring to the table. It definitely feels more personal/special in that regard. Graphics and spell effects are all top notch throughout.

The game itself is pure GAME in terms of providing options. What do I mean? There is a "Forge" area which allows you to experiment with your cards in a completely benign environment. Just drop your card in and face it off against an opponent of your choice to see how it fares. I believe you can cast spells/buffs, etc to see their effects as well. It's an awesome little tool to let you play around and bring your cards to life. From there, you have a very extensive tutorial, and then a series of campaign missions. Campaign missions are either single player, 2 or 4 player cooperative, which you unlock as you move along the world map. I believe the main single player campaign has 18 missions. There's also a 12-player mission which I've heard is really 3 4-player missions running in conjunction somehow (basically it appears the devs have pinned the game's max number of players at 4, presumably due to balancing of the number of units, etc for performance). You can jump into a stranger's open game, or "group" up with friends to tackle a mission together. Each mission can be played in 3 difficulty levels as well. On top of that there is a Sparring area where you can essentially duel with someone with no consequences good or bad. And finally a true PvP arena (1v1 or 2v2) where you can fight it out and win rewards. All of this content can be played either with decks formed from your core collection of all cards, or from "Tome Decks" which are limited to a single Tome purchase of cards, thus dramatically lowering the pool you can choose from and offering a different type of challenge where randomization and luck come into play as much as skill and strategy.

All your game results are captured in the meta-game in a simple but effective journal. This keeps track of xp and gold which you earn during PvE missions as well as points and rewards and win/loss records, etc in PvP battles. All of this is tied to your user avatar. I don't know all the details of the rewards yet. What I have played with is "upgrading" cards. Cards that you've been rewarded after a completed scenario are placed in a separate pool. If you already own the same card, you can choose to upgrade it for a cost of in-game gold. In addition, if you happen to own multiples of the same card, you can simultaneously enhance the card's "volume" (# of usages). So I was able to upgrade my Skeleton Warriors to have higher damage AND 10 uses instead of 5 for the cost of 50gold. Apparently you can use PvP rewards as well to make these types of upgrades.

All in all, I'd say this game's replayability is off the charts. Just fiddling with cards and combos in the forge could suck up inordinate amounts of time. Not to mention all the different modes of play. The online setup is streamlined in a very clean interface which allows the player to easily pick and choose the type of gameplay, be it a single player mission or a 2 on 2 PvP match. The degree of professionalism in the release is very reminiscent to me of Guild Wars, and it seems like this really has the feel of being the GW of RTS games.

That said, I'm still scratching the surface of the game, so feel free to ask questions or comment. Based on what I've seen so far, this game is very likely to go into my top all-time games, and is certainly already one of my favorite RTS games.
3358  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Battleforge on: March 24, 2009, 10:57:45 PM
WTF?!!?  It was only $40 at Target?  Paid $50 for the stupid download version!  Boooooo!
3359  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: CHUCK IS BACK! Chuck vs. The First Date Spoilers! on: March 24, 2009, 09:02:54 PM

Quote from: Gratch on March 24, 2009, 06:51:26 PM

Don't feel too bad, HIMYM does nothing for me either.

I love the cast on that show, pretty much everyone on it - but every episode I've seen has left me a bit hollow and wishing I was watching a repeat of Friends instead.  That said, the geek show that airs next to it (Big Bang Theory I think it is) I've found hilarious.  Interesting to see the 3 "nerd" shows (Chuck, Reaper and Big Bang) from last season all hanging in there.
3360  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Heroes Season 3 (spoilers for our less fortunate European friends) on: March 24, 2009, 08:59:58 PM
Wow, no comments on Heroes?!?!  Even though I slept through about half the episode (will rewatch), I'd have to say this was easily the best episode of the season, and one of the top eps of the series.  Is it a "blip" in the writing as my friend claims, or a sign of good/better things to come?

Spoiler for Hiden:
The Hiro+baby stuff was OK, I thought the baby was very cute, but Hiro not so much.  Still it's nice to see him get his power back, as well as see Ando in action again. 

Daphne's death sequence was excellently done, great acting from both actors.  I was genuinely touched; I hope they don't marginalize this by having "baby touch and go" rez her.

Speaking of which, I wonder if the baby can restore some of Peter's powers as well...

Ali Larter - awesome effects in her cold-snap "death" sequence.  Was that a wink at the end and what did it mean?  Either way look for her to come back, either as Tracy or the third sister we've already heard about - or even better BOTH!

Return of Micah as (no surprise) Rebel - just OK with this, but he's definitely better/edgier than before.  Hope they have some decent plans for him
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