Monday, 23 May 2022

TYOV: Gabriel Sol

[Excerpts from Thousand Year Old Vampire]

We were hunting for the creature that destroyed the village, but it found my squad first. I managed to only wound it before it used its incredible speed to crush my chest with a simple punch. As I crumbled before it, I remember looking up at its terrible visage as blood from its wound dripped onto my face.

After learning about the incident from Cortes, Catalina sailed across the sea to try save my soul. She didn’t accept what I had become, kept wishing for her old husband back, kept calling me a monster. It was too much, so just for her I became the monster she saw me as.


No way I'm getting anything historically accurate. :P

Now I set forth alone to track down the beast again, abandoning Cortes and the rest of the conquistadors in hopes that succeeding in this quest would absolve me of my trespasses in the eyes of God. The duel was more  more even this time until the beast broke my blade and fled the battle, leaving me equally broken. The only thing I gained in this fight is that I now can more easily blend into the shadows. A new gift from my sire.

I use it to defeat Ohtli, an Aztec warrior who was as equally cursed as I - taking his axe and eating his heart in victory. As my humanity continues to fade the church sends Cantor Infierni of the Iscariot Division to investigate. It is too dangerous to stay so I slip away far to the North and join a New French colony called Canada (now known as Quebec).

Sunday, 22 May 2022

Thousand Year Old Vampire

Prepare to forget.

Now here is a very different take of a single player game (though there are options to multiplayer it) where your main activity will be... writing! The book (or handy PDF file currently free on itch.io) also recommends writing on a word processor / laptop / computer over a diary for good reason. There will be a lot of strike-throughs and erasing. Ideally you also need a D6 and a D10 but you can just google "roll a D6 and D10" if you don't have the physical dice.

As the title suggests, you create a vampire and then simply follow prompts through the book to write about what happens to you. These are stored in almost single line sentences called "experiences" and you can put three similar experiences together to form a memory. Which you can only have FIVE of. Once you need more, its time to begin forgetting... which is great. And crazy. I love that the entire tone is set by the player. It can be as hilarious or dark as you want.  

Another excellent quirk is that prompts tell you to gain or lose skills, resources, and characters which you define yourself. Gain a skill and a resource might mean the vampire is now "incredibly handsome after falling on his face (skill) and has an umbrella (resource)". Create a character means just that. You then can write these things into your experiences - but beware, almost everything and everyone is lost in the passage of time.

Prompts can and will just as easily say lose a skill. Lose a resource. Kill a character. If you run out of skills or resources, you basically die / game over too. Definitely a strange one, but if you like creative writing you should definitely give this a try.

I'm putting up some excerpts from my vampires to give you an idea of what it might look like (though I think I'm actually too wordy):

Excerpt 1 - Gabriel Sol

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Neverwinter Online: Draconic Rage (and Siege lock)

Using the least amount of effort to keep players in game.

If Draconic Rage isn't the least inspired content Neverwinter Online has offered so far, it certainly is the laziest (or thriftiest) development wise. "A World First" is an odd title to this first chapter which has zero story. While similar in format to Echoes of Prophecy where you are trying to fill a progress bar to unlock loot before time runs out, Cryptic has taken the approach of not adding any extra filler in this time. No extra quest boards or NPCs in town to visit. All you have to do is run skirmishes and dungeons.

This is great it you already do that anyway to get your daily astral diamonds as it means your usual grind already counts as participation! For those of us who don't do those however, bleh! The time investment to run those dungeons is annoying, and I'm not sure the prizes are worth dragging myself into skirmishes to clear it. I'm wondering if Cryptic is regretting their decision to kill some of their content because even me - who doesn't play these much at all - finds the handful of skirmishes quite repetitive. I wish they had a bigger pool of variety to choose from, then I remember that they DID.

Just to hammer home the point that they want you to login and stay in for metrics, the latest Dragon Siege event has a notable difference: the "daily" defeat 2 dragons and beat 3 heroic encounters now fails if you log off mid way and forces you to start again where as before I could happily jump between my two characters to finish those gradually as I saw fit. I don't know who keeps making the decisions there, but they are doing a great job in making their MMO steadily inferior to everything else.

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Thea 2: Settling

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Having regrouped with the researcher and elder dwarf the squad use the magic heart to unlock the passage and finally face whatever is causing the world to shatter... it is a massive light infused dragon, better known as a zmey (seems these things always try end the world). Despite their allies, spells and equipment the zmey is a ferocious and tough enemy, using tooth, fang, tail swipe and energy breath to decimate the group before it finally goes down.


Giant dragons are usually game ending bosses.

When the smoke clears, the only ones left standing are zerca Barbara, Captain Bear, Karel, Little Pirate, and Suri the spider queen. Karel manages to use a rare world seed to save his mother Nyrissa after she was cut in two, but everyone else is dead (22+ characters). To honor their memory (and because they are too overloaded to move now) they decide to build a town on that site and are soon joined by house imp Bogdan and Macko, newborn son of Karel and Barbara.

When he is old enough, he might ask about the stone statue in the center of the village lists the names of the fallen but hopefully he will live a more normal life now that the world is saved. While the game lets you continue indefinitely I thought that would be a good stopping point for this tale.

Monday, 16 May 2022

Thea 2: Dark Hearts

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Before leaving Iceland, the team befriend the Shadow Folk who live on the edge of the island (no shortcuts here, just lots of talking over a long time) who then send one of their number, Sylvanas, to help them on their quest. As they sail back to the Slavyan isle they save the syrin Seayanna from a kraken and she too joins their crew and helps them defeat the trolls imprisoning the elder dwarf they found long ago.


Why wear clothes when you can wear shadows?

This dwarf is then taken to the patient researcher who is then able to decypher the tablet in the Red Ridge mine which gives the location of the quake causing threat, but also says to fix it they would need a magical heart assembled by a druid. With no leads on any druids, the team sails to the next island - the isle of darkness, home to striga, undead, vampires and... more followers of the light!?

Sylvanas is handy in convincing the darker beasties to simply let everyone pass while Seayanna uses her charm to convince female bandit captain Yanka to join the team, who then reveals that the Spirit Talker goblin tribe also resides here. Thanks to the goblin children in the party and a little assistance helping them build a catapult, they introduce the group to their leader: an orc necromancer who can construct the magical heart they need to save the world. Not only that, the necromancer and the entire tribe are coming to help too. Things are looking up!

Saturday, 14 May 2022

Thea 2: Strength

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Iceland is also home to followers of the light: people, creatures, and tentacles(wtf?) infused by a viral spirit and this faction constantly harasses the team with their "convert or die" methodology to the point that Siegfried tracks down their local base and leads an attack that wipes it out, at the cost of Jaethal who was light tentacled to death. Her daughter, Karina the crazy, also dies giving birth to a son Krisztian - whose father is her half brother Vshesul. The boy really has a thing for incest. Ratslava also gives birth to a daughter Mishka, having slept with King Szuvarek of the Water Demon clan after his rescue.

Anyway, after killing little red riding hood (who in this version is a werewolf), the team find the Ice Demon village and Nyrissa befriends them via an exchange student program: giving them Krisztian to raise as their own while they gain Ice Demon daughter Sniezynki and her pet elemental Icicles.


The Little Red Lie on steam is free to play if you like Little Red Riding Hood.

The team then run into the slaver band that held Romek captive and this time the slavers are killed - with the team gaining a young girl named Anzeka and three young goblins: Jere, Tino and Zosh. As they are overburdened with supplies at this stage, the team trade with the Ice Demons to buy powerful magical weapons and God's Armour? Siegfried decides to test these out at a local arena where the group must face five battles of increasing difficulty in a row and they are victorious! This band of champions are now ready to take on the world.

Thea 2: Iceland

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Since the only elder dwarf on the Slavyan isle is guarded by powerful trolls, the group decides to make a ship and sail to the next island over to continue the search. Ice island, dubbed by Siegfried as "Iceland", is quite inhospitable with the lack of food resources and the constant requirement for faith replenishing rituals. They also save the cursed child Zloslawa from her murderous parents and she too begins learning the way of the witch.


This place is full of witches.

Iceland is also home to the Water Demon clan (russalkas) who are at war with the Water Pirates (orcs). Nyrissa quickly befriend the Water Demons by saving their leader, King Szuvarek, from a Water Pirate base on the lake. Only two of the Water Pirate youths are spared to join the group: Little Pirate and his younger sister Deathlover who is again, witch potential. Valerie quickly gains their trust by having a daughter with Little Pirate they call Zenzimira. Nyrissa then promptly baptizes the girl at the Water Demon lake to turn the child into a Water Demon, deepening the friendship with that group so much that a russalka named Natalia also joins their ranks.

Meanwhile Siegfried encountered the cursed King Kral'Skra, doomed to be forever trapped in his crumbling kingdom by the gods who also stole his face and put it on a lowly demon. Siegfried agrees to find and slay this fiend only to discover it is Kral'Skra's son Romek whose back was infused with his fathers face and is now being towed around by some slavers. After purchasing the child Siegfried makes him face his father and Kral'Skra opts that he instead be killed instead of his son. Siegfried obliges, and Romek joins the group as a zerca.

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Thea 2: Red Ridge

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The Red Ridge bandits are an imposing lot, but they agree to let Siegfried's team and the researcher into their territory if the adventurers can first remove from their lands a cave full of demons and a camp full of squatters, who are possibly one and the same. Both are equally easy to massacre, and the child Barbara is taken into the group from the squatter camp as she has the traits of a zerca (a spiritual leader).

Finally granted access, the researcher finds an old tablet in the Red Ridge mines but is unable to read them - now requiring an elder dwarf or elf for the task. Siegfried promises to help and Red Ridge bandit Captain Bear joins them. Also Miloslava has another daughter, Sveibora, this time with her son Vshesul (that motherf*cker) while Valerie helps wandering King "Arathor" to pull a sword from a stone. The thankful King sends Valerie across a bridge (which holds a battle of wisdom) to a nearby lake where the local lady of the lake hands her a less powerful but still magical weapon.


Only movie knowledge can save your characters from certain death...

Meanwhile Nyrissa aids Suri, a little girl found on the road, to get revenge on the rich silk trading merchants that killed her family. Suri turns out to be a spider queen in disguise but Nyrissa keeps her word and slays the merchants which is enough to convince Suri to join the team (and wow, spider queens are strong). Suri then promptly begins teaching Sveibora the ways of witch craft, because spider queens know everything apparently.

Thea 2: Retinue

[Part of the Cursed story line]

After a long and prolific reign, Siegfried Baranor gave up his crown to travel to new rumbling lands with his nymph queen Nyrissa, lover Jaethal, muse Valerie, obese fan girls Miloslava and Ratslava (sisters), and Siegfried's children Karel the fighter (with Nyrissa), Karina the crazy (with Jaethal) and Vshesul the warrior (with Miloslava) after a friendly imp suggested their old enemy, the Lantern King, was hatching a new plot here.

Quarreling with the local scavenger Slavyans wasn't helping matters any so the group instead opted for friendship - clearing some vermin, convincing goblins to move away, and doing odd jobs to gain their friendship while living off the land, harvesting resources as they went, and dodging the multitudes of unliving that clustered around old ruins. 


Including striga.

Miloslava also saves a vodnik prince turned into a frog by kissing him... a lot apparently, as she soon has a daughter Lethiamira. Nyrissa also befriends the local spider folk (who are simply intelligent giant spiders) while Valerie retrieves two half russalka daughters for their dwarf father. Doing all this leads them to a researcher investigating the rumbling (Eren is that you?) but his work has stopped since the location he needs to study is occupied by the territorial Red Ridge bandits.

Sunday, 8 May 2022

XCOM 2: Avatar

[Part of the XCOM 2 story]

It's not long before the UFO finds us and forces us to land with an EMP spike. They then send loads of units to try capture the ship while our forces must push forward and destroy said (literal) spike AND return to the ship before lift off (an excellent mission which I aced)! Pretty we constructed those defensive turrets.

Once we've escaped, our scientists reveal what they learned from all the material we gathered so far. The alien leaders are dying and have found the correct host to be the titular Avatars. Millions of people are being secretly processed for the human component and the coordinates for their main base which sits underwater is located. The only catch is it needs an Avatar to open the gate.

Luckily we have one of those, so I volunteer to neural link up to pilot it and lead a squad into the alien infested base but find the psionic powers of the avatar to be super strong. Null Lance which pierces through everything and void rift which is huge AoE are amazing and let the team slaughter our way through easily. 


Is that a Saiyan under that mask?

That is until we find the three enemy avatars we must defeat (one at a time) who continually summon servants each round. Their worst ability is mind control, and Jane Kelly manages to become the bitch of all three - killing her teammates Rev with a point blank shotgun blast to the face and cutting William down with her plasma blade before I take her out of the equation with a Null Lance. Goose also gets ripped apart by a void rift (bad guys can do it too) before the final enemy avatar is slain and their base destroyed.

With the ADVENT plot exposed, their remaining and now leaderless forces worldwide are overrun by the growing resistance... a total victory for XCOM!

Tactics Tip:
For that last fight I advanced really slowly and held on the right side before the bridge, then sent Jane alone to trigger the enemy avatar sequence.

Saturday, 7 May 2022

XCOM 2: Facilities

[Part of the XCOM 2 story]

Since hitting facilities really damages the Avatar project that's what the soldiers are sent to do, and a few more give their lives to the cause, the most horrifying being IzzBee being impregnated by a chryssalid (who are exactly the same from last time) - eventually dying on the field from its fluids and was turned into a fleshy birth sack that her team mates destroyed before full gestation occurred (which is +3 chryssalids on the field).

Also lost Katz who was obliterated by a pair of sectopods (huge, two legged war machines), Aaron who was beheaded by an archon, Squidman Dan who took cover behind a flaming truck (carrying explosives), Mickey and Rocio exploded by MEC missiles, and Cash who was melted by Andromedon acid.


These things are basically tanks.

During this time Jane Kelly managed to skulljack a codex which spawned what the science team refers to as an avatar, which her squad promptly dealt with as well as a psionic gate guarded by a large floating ball (which hides a psionic tentacle alien) which were all transported back to the Avenger for further study. All this has almost put the Avatar project back at square one, and the aliens are so pissed they finally send a UFO to hunt us down.

Fun Tip: If there is a "fixed" extraction point in a mission and it is not on ground level and somewhere inconvenient / dangerous, blow it up to force it to move.

Friday, 6 May 2022

XCOM 2: Arms Race

[Part of the XCOM 2 story]

As ADVENT begins deploying more advanced units like the annoying shield bearers who can protect all allies around them, so we also start fielding more advanced tech: stronger magnetic weapons and the more durable Predator armor, but even these aren't enough as Lory is burned alive by the splash of a grenade, and Ex-Red Talon soldiers Beebo Bee and Chavez are ripped apart by an enraged (muton?) "berserker" when they misjudged how far the hulking monster could sprint.

Since more supplies are required for further upgrades, squads are sent on raiding missions which resulted in the loss of more soldiers: Old Mary was out sniped by a Codex, Helena and Beth were exploded by a grenade, Douglas was impaled by the spear of an archon (flying robot that looks like just the upper torso of a man), and Downey had the misfortune of discovering an Andromedon. These aliens only exist in a hazmat battle suit and despite managing to kill the alien with her shotgun, the suit powered up all on its own and proceeded to pummel her to death. Thanks to their sacrifices, the rest of their team mates now wield even more powerful plasma weapons and Warden powered armor.


I really dislike these things.

The arms race is enough of a distraction to almost let the aliens complete their Avatar project (the countdown timer that replaces the doom track is a nice touch) but luckily this can still be set back by destroying one of their research facilities. Rashida gains an extra medal of heroism for managing to extract with an unconscious Squidman Dan after her was KOed by a ninja.

Thursday, 5 May 2022

XCOM 2: Skulljack

[Part of the XCOM 2 story]

We took another loss today from a team deployed to rescue our rebel allies against an ADVENT raid. While focusing on saving civilians from an imposing Muton (brute type alien), soldier Peyton found himself standing next to a new type of alien coined the faceless. These things look like civilians until you get close, which is when they transform into a towering clay humanoid with giant claws. Even with his shotgun Peyton didn't stand a chance.


Super tall things. I wonder how they hide all their mass?

On a more positive note, the development of the skulljack (think Wolverine's claws, but with USB tips?) is complete and Jane Kelly managed to shove it right into an ADVENT officer's noggin. For some reason this then spawned a digital ghost that needed to be defeated but her squaddies Rev, Squidman Dan and Ursula were more than a match for it.

Thanks to the intel gained from the skulljack and the vial Katz retrieved previously, we now know ADVENT is working on something called the Avatar program, and it comes complete with a visual doom clock and everything. Only bad things will happen if that time marker runs out so we need to step up our game, especially as ADVENT forces are now conducting midnight raids to reduce the potential number of volunteers available to us (bad event that doubles the cost of hiring people for the next month).

XCOM 2: Blacksite

[Part of the XCOM 2 story]

It seems most of the soldiers on board the Avenger are survivors from a zombie apocalypse. Zombies made by aliens. It makes sense too, as during skirmishes with ADVENT forces there are occasionally sectoids who are no longer the little creeps from before. These enhanced scum are now human height, psionically gifted and can use their powers to blast, mind control or raise the dead! Luckily killing a sectoid also nullifies whatever control is had from people. And corpses.

The sectoids aren't the only true form aliens in ADVENT's pocket. A team sent to an ADVENT blacksite to investigate what was happening to their prisoners not only found a horrible scene of mass liquification, but also had to face MEC units (robots) and Thinsnakes, who I'm told are the true form of the old Thin men.

During their infiltration (stealth is new in this game) the squad of Ex-cop Katz, hardnose Mia, old Dorothy and Adriana did a good job getting to the front door quietly - but upon being spotted by a turret were then pinned down from three directions. An officer managed to flank and kill Dorothy before the canister he was standing beside exploded, and when the remaining three pushed into the building Adriana was stabbed by an ADVENT ninja while Mia got tongued by a Thinsnake - which pulled her our of the building, constricted her, and ate her.


Makes me miss the original thin men.

Katz managed to retrieve a vial of the liquification liquid and barely escape, completing the mission, but she is now shaken from what she saw (reduced will, making her a prime target for psionics of things like the sectoids).

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

XCOM 2: Avenger

[Part of the XCOM 2 story]

Despite Earth's best efforts, the aliens won - and after twenty years of "unification" most humans are ok with that. It's almost unbelievable, yet here I am having been freshly rescued by a new XCOM team led by Jane Kelly from an ADVENT prison to help the resistance. Apparently they lost two soldiers in the attempt (because the tutorial forces them to die). I sure hope I'm worth it.

Now I'm onboard the Avenger, a massive alien space ship refit to be a mobile base as we covertly play whackamole with ADVENT forces deep in South Africa. To be more acceptable to the public these ADVENT enforcers are almost people now, humans spliced with alien DNA and injected with some sort of chip in their head. A similar type to the chip chief science officer pulled from my head.


The mobile base is a good idea.

Unfortunately studying chips from corpses aren't getting anywhere, so he's requested tech be developed to jack into a living ADVENT officer. Might be some time before that happens since we still need to clear the lower bowels of the ship to make chambers that can design that, and more chambers to power it. At least the resistance is world wide and provides regular supply drops. Our job is to network them up and take the fight back to the aliens. Time to get to work.

XCOM 2: Defending the Earth, Again

Because the aliens didn't give up, they made XCOM2 which is quite similar to the original with only a few changes. Firstly the strategy game is a bit easier since you don't need to worry about countries panic level, and the inclusion of concealment during the tactical part mitigates some of the "the aliens always get first turn once discovered", but they sure added a lot more unfair units to deal with.

Basically if you liked the original you probably should try this. Here is how I went, and as usual - spoilers ahead:

Chapters:
1 - Avenger
2 - Blacksite 
3 - Skulljack
4 - Arms Race
5 - Facilities
6 - Avatar

That's the end of my run through of this game. I hope you enjoyed it! 

Sunday, 1 May 2022

GTFO: R6CX - Flux (Main)

Good news! This next level isn't so difficult either, especially if you take the boring route (which will make this write up pretty long). The main objective is to stabilize the light system via typing commands into two terminals. Our load outs were:

Me: Pistol/Shotgun/C-foam/Spear
Archer: Carbine/Scatter Gun/Mines/Hammer
DL: DMR/Sniper/Mines/Hammer
Jim: HEL Revolver/Shotgun/C-foam/Hammer

It's an easy clear and loot until you get to the Class V cluster alarm. Enemies will exclusively be coming from the small door you entered in which makes it easy to prep (make sure all doors are closed anyway). Note the first scan is a team scan downstairs though, so icers have to run quick to catch the door before it breaks. We used all the ice here to complete the scans and the bad guys then all died to a single mine.

Afterwards is more stealth bopping until you reach a regular non-alarm team scan. A few seconds after the door opens the lights will fail, so I suggest flash lights on going in, stacking on the right corner turn 180 to watch the security you just came from and getting ready for invisible enemies! That's on top of anything that was sleeping inside the room, which will come from your right if you are facing the door.

Invisible enemies can either be regular or giant strikers who basically have no graphic. Not even a "predator" shimmer. While a bio tracker will find them turrets won't spot them. They DO shriek and cast a shadow though, so have your lights on and prepare to spray and pray continue head shotting like a pro. Also, they are slower than regular enemies in all aspects so if you need to tango with them in melee, circle strafing is amazing (less so against a giant shadow though).

Luckily there are only the small type here so deal with them and hold for a wave or two and the lights will come back on. Proceed to the non alarm team scan Apex door and enter the well stocked "central" chamber that contains both terminals you need - one easily found on the central bridge and one hiding away in a hidey-hole corner only accessible from a ladder upstairs. I recommend finding that one before continuing just so your team knows where to go later. Alas both terminals are password locked.

If you want to be safe and boring skip down to "BRUTE FORCING". Otherwise, to proceed as the game intends, you need to open the flanking doors to get those passwords. One door has a class IV cluster alarm which will take you all over the terminal room followed by a room of double scouts. In that chamber is a terminal to open the locked security door within, but it also kills the lights and summons endless waves of shadows (in addition to the shadows sleeping in that zone) so guard your "hacker" as he runs between terminals whose LOG files give only one letter of the password, and the position of said letter each. Eg. "--r-".

I recommend once you have two of the letters that you head back to the terminal on the bridge and start guessing. There are only so many English words with four letters. Once unlocked, turn the lights back on, clear leftovers and go back in to loot. Then go over to the other door, a regular team scan which also turns lights off and summons shadows. The terminals in this zone are behind the three blood doors (which all have shadows) with two being behind the blood door to the left. Get the pass code (or enough of it to guess) then go to the hidey-hole terminal, unlock it and turn the lights back on. Clear stragglers, loot the zone.

START BRUTE FORCING

Because there are only so many English words with four letters, you don't actually have to open the side doors from the central chamber. I reran and won this mission with bots (tools were mines and three sentries) just to verify that if you are patient you can just "brute force" (aka continually guess) I'll put a list below to help you out. The only penalty for doing it this way is that it takes longer and is freaking boring.

END BRUTE FORCING

Once done you can finally use that last door in the central chamber which is a slow Class S I scan where in the whole team must hold the central bridge as enemies come from three (or one if you Brute Forced) doors. Ice and mine both sides and fight well against the hordes. If you survive, you get to use the checkpoint scan and find the next zone full of supplies, a bulkhead key and bulkhead control, and the choice to do MAIN or SECONDARY. Since we're only doing MAIN, you are basically done. Just open the final non-alarm door and GTFO. :)

--POSSIBLE PASSWORDS--

able  acid   aged  airy  ally  anti  area  army  atom  auto  axis  

baby  back  bait   bake  bald   ball  band  bank  bark  barn  bath  bead  beak  beam  beef  beer  bell  belt  bend  bent  best  beta  bias  biff   bike  bill  bird  bite  blow  blue  blur  boat  body  bold  bolt  bomb  bone  book   boot  born  boss  both  bowl  brag  brow  buck  bull  bump  burn  busy
 
cage cake  call  camp card  care  case  cash  cast  cave  cell  chef  chew  chip  city  clan  clap  claw  clay  clip  club  clue  coal  coat  code  coin  cold  coma  comb  cone  cook  cool  copy  core  corn  cost  cozy  crab  crew  crop  crow  cube  cuff  cure  cute

damp  dare  dark  dart  dash  data  date  dawn  dead  deal  deck  deed  deep  dent  deny  desk  dial  diet  dime  dine  dire  dirt  dish  diva  dive  does   doll  done  doom  door  dose  down  drag  draw  drip  drop  drug  drum  dual  duck  duel  duet  dull   dump  dune  dunk  dust  duty
 
earn  ease  east  easy  echo  edge  edit  eery   else  envy  epic  etch  ever  evil  exam   exit  expo

face  fact  fade  fail  fake  fall  fame  fang  farm  fast  fate  fear  feed  feel  feet  fill  film  find  fine  fire  firm  fish  fist  fits  five  flag  flak  flap  flat  flaw  flew  flex  flip  flop  flow  flux  foam  foil  folk  food  fool foot  fork  form  fort  foul  foxy  frat  free  frog  fuel  full  fund  funk  fury  fuzz  

gain  game  gang  gasp  gate  gaze  gear  germ  girl  give  glow  goal  goat  gold  golf  gone  good  grab  grid  grin  grip  grow  gulf  guru  

hack  half  hall  halo  hard  hawk  head  hear   heat  hell  help  hemp  herd  here  hero  hide  hill  hint  hire   hiss  hive   hoax  hold  hole  holy  home  hood  hook  hope  horn  host  hour  huge  hulk  hunt  hurl  hurt husk  hymn  hype  

idea  idle  idly  idol  iffy  inch  iris  iron  itch  item
 
jack  jail  jaws  jazz   jeep  jive  jobs  join  joke  jolt  jump  junk   jury  just
 
keep  kick  kill  kilo  kind  king  kiss  kite  kiwi  knee  knob  know  

lack  lady  lair  lake  lama  lamb  lame lamp   land  lane  lard  lash  last  lawn  lazy  lead  leaf  lean leap  left  lend  lens  less  levy  liar life  lift  like  lily  limb  lime  line  link  lint  lips  list  live  load  loaf  loan  lock  logo   long  look  loop  loot  lord  lore  lose  loss  lost  love  luck  lump  lush  lynx  

made  mail  main  make  mark  mask  mass  mate  math  maze  meal  mean  menu  mesh  mess  mild   mile  milk  mini  mint  miss  mist  mojo  monk  mono  mood  moon   more  most  moth  move  much  mule   muse  must  mute
nail  name  navy   near  neat  neck  need  neon  nest  news  next  nice  nine  none  noon  nose  nosy   note   noun  nuke  numb

oboe  odds  oily  omen  omit  once  only  open  oval  oven  over  

pack page  paid  park  pass  past  path   pawn peak  peel  pelt  perk  pest  pick  pipe  plan  play  plot  plug  plum  poem  poke  pole  pony  pool   pope  pork  port  pose  post  prop  puck  pull  pulp  puma  pump  punk  pure  push

quit  quiz

race  raft  rage  raid  rail  rain  ramp  rank  rant  rare  rash  rate  rear  redo  rely  rent  rest  rice  rich  ride  riff   rift  ring  riot  ripe  rise  risk  road  roar  robe  rock  roof  room  rope  rose  rosy  rude  ruin  rule  runt   ruse   rush  rust

safe   salt  same   sand  sane  save  scan  scar  seal  seed  seen  sell  semi  send  shoe  shop  shot  show  sick   side  sift  sign  silk  sing  sink  site  size  skin  skip  skit  slam  slap  slay  slim  slip  slot  slow  slug  slur   snag  snap  snip  snow  snug  soak  soap  sock  soda  sofa  soft  sold  some  song  soon  sort  soul  soup   sour  spam  span  spin  spit  spot  spur  stab   star   stay  stem  step  stew  stir  stun  such  suit  sure  swan swim

taco  take  tale  talk  tall  tame  tank   task  taxi  tear  teen  tell  tend  tent  term  test  text  that  them   then  they  thin  this  tick  tide  tidy  tier  ties  tile  tilt  time  tire  toad  told  toll  tone  took  tool  torn   town   trap  tree  trim  trio  trip  true  tsar  tuba  tube  tuna  tune  turk  turn  twig  twin  type  tzar  

ugly   undo  unit  urge  used  user

vase  vast  verb  very  vest  vibe  vice  view  vine  visa  void  volt  vote  
wage  wait  wake  walk  wall  want  warm  warp  wart  wash  wasp  wave  weak  weed  week  were  west   when  whip   wife  wild  will  wind  wine  wing  wire  wise  wolf  wood  wool  word  work  worm  yank  
yard   yarn  yawn  year  yell  yeti  yoga  your

zone  zoom

Saturday, 30 April 2022

April 2022: Day 65 of the war

Or in Russian, it would be Day 65 of the special operation. There are now laws in which saying what the government doesn't want to hear or agree with a crime worth 15 years in prison. For similar reasons they've sent a wikipedia a hefty fine for spreading misinformation.

After losing a war ship, a few more tanks, being chased by drones, and being poisoned by locals, Russian forces were redeployed from attacking Kyiv to partake in a major offensive at Donbas to the East which includes the long besieged city of Mariupol. They have also started deploying dolphins, because that's apparently a thing that the USA does as well?


That's an artsy destroyed tank turret.

With the supposed default of the Ruble coming soon (speculated May 4th), Vladimir Putin has announced that the Russian lunar program will continue. Perhaps that's an additional reason why Russia is cutting the gas supply to both Poland and Bulgaria. To quote reddit: "Russia can't get enough fuel to drive a few hours to Kiev. Moon is a bit further".

Less people using Russian gas is exactly what the outnumbered Ukraine wants though, who are going hard on their propaganda with an excellent writing team - though sometimes a single picture can be pretty moving too. Support continues to flow for them from overseas, with Britain's Boris Johnson visiting Zelensky in Kyiv, USA's Joe Biden labeling Russia's action as genocide, France's Emmanuel Macron boosting weapons supplies for Ukraine after winning a second term of presidency over a pro-Russian opponent, hackers continuing to do their thing against Russia, and chef Jose Andres providing food to those he can reach.

It's also funny that Germany's Green party is saying the German government isn't being aggressive enough arming Ukraine. Again quoted from reddit: "Green party: Fuck it you know what would reduce emissions? BURNING MOSCOW *heavy metal riff*"

While I've been impressed at the use of drones in the theater of war, China is using them a different way - using mounted speakers to instruct the people locked down in Shanghai due to COVID to comply with the restrictions and "control the soul's desire for freedom". Sounds like another step towards a dark cyberpunk future! Actually, how is Hong Kong doing? Oh. Not great.

Most Viewed Posts:
Legends of Andor 2 - Legend 8 - The Storm Begins
In Sound Mind
Cris Tales

Thursday, 28 April 2022

Jumanji: The Next Level and Spiderman: No Way Home

A poor sequel and a great sequel.

Jumanji: The Next Level

Having not learned the lesson from last time, people find themselves in Jumanji once more in this action comedy which is somehow even lighter / more nonsensical plot wise. While the acting is ok, what kills this is the script and comedy aspect with repeating jokes and honestly a few mind numbing fools that deserved to be offed. It also over stays its welcome and is a threat of being a snooze fest as some points. Not recommended.

Spiderman: No Way Home

When Peter Parker (Tom Holland) and those closest too him start feeling the problems of fame, he decides to visit master magician Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) for a spell to make people forget who he is. A spell he promptly keeps interrupting until it misfires, opening tears to dimensions which just lead to more problems for spidey and his gang.

While the start is a tad slow, this is an excellent superhero action flick and one that rewards long time fans by putting in many familiar faces on the screen. While non-spidey/non-superhero viewers might not like this, I found it to be really great once it started to pick up. Good pace, good story and basically a lot of fun. Highly recommended!

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Jaws (the board game)

Dun dun...

In this neat game three players (or one/two players controlling three characters) are cooperatively trying to protect Amity island from a very hungry great white (played my the fourth player) which takes place in two phases, which is almost two different games! The better the humans do in phase one, the stronger they are in phase two and the same goes for the shark.

Phase one is a hidden movement game where the shark player keeps track of their moves on a little hidden notebook simply wants to eat as many swimmers as he can while the humans try track it down using various abilities and obviously try to save as many people as possible. Phase two is the showdown where the heroes then try to kill the shark and the shark either tries to kill them or destroy their boat fully. Each round the shark gets a choice of three locations to attack, locks one in and then the humans get to prepare and strike first if they chose correctly!

Having played both sides I can say that it is quite fun and tense regardless of who you are but it is most tense playing as the great white in phase one. Instead of being a terrible monster you will really feel like the prey! Also it is harder to win as the shark. I came close as a full powered monster once (1 driftwood piece of boat left) but there's a bit of dicing in phase two and the humans simply get more dice. 


Gah, so close!

Very cool and quite fun. Recommended! Rare for me since it's not pure co-op but the way I get around it is the shark player isn't really "against you". He is the dungeon master trying to make the game fun for everyone, but instead of having a whole slew of fantasy creatures to send at the party, he just has one big fish. :P

Monday, 25 April 2022

BraveRats (card game system)

Why rats though?

BraveRats is a two player competitive card game where each side has eight cards representing their clan trying to compete for territory, or you know, just trying to kill each other. Play is simple: both players play one card face down and reveal at the same time, then usually the one with the higher strength value wins and the first one to score four victories wins the war. 

All cards have unique special abilities that can alter the battle though, like if you play the princess (strength 1) and the enemy plays their prince (strength 7) you not only win this round but the entire war immediately because the prince falls in love with the princess.

It's a super simple concept which means once you have the rules you can play with regular playing cards or in my case, we used the ones from Game of Thrones: Westeros Intrigue to make it Starks vs Lannisters. Not a bad little game to try outwit your opponent, but ultimately Love Letter uses a similar mechanic, is simpler, and can host more players.

Friday, 22 April 2022

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Not sure how her arms are still attached.

After her previous experience made her face the supernatural, this game sees Lara Croft set out high in the mountains to finish her father's work of finding a magical thingymabob that conveniently, an evil cult is also trying to find at the same time. Much better controls this time around, and top notch area design too of a few HUBs connected by little zones used for story. 


This time you can deck her out in plate armor.

Because the last game did it, you also lose lots of your gear right at the start here to force that hunting/gathering/crafting side of things and by denying you tools to reach certain areas till later means you will probably come back for completion at some point. Seriously though once you can make the deadly poison arrows you almost don't need firearms anymore until the end because you can only carry 5 of the said arrows at a time. That said you can craft on the move which is pretty cool but its probably easier to just pull out a shotgun at that point.

The puzzles aren't too hard, provided you look around properly, and once again the optional bonus tombs are my favorite part of the game. Definitely an improvement from the last one, pity the story is quite run of the mill.  Still recommended though!

Thursday, 21 April 2022

Mary Magdalene Risen

Two movies for Easter.

Mary Magdalene

When home life becomes far too aggressive, Mary (Rooney Mara) makes the decision to follow a wise healer (Jesus, played by Joaquin Phoenix) to travel and teach across Judea until the end of his mortal days. Pretty good cinematography in this one and I do like their take on Judas too. If anything I'd complain they whisper too much. Obviously a movie for religious people though, and if you aren't one of those there's not much in it here for you. I suppose it's pretty challenging to make a movie about a tale people already know about (or on the flip side, don't care about). This was an OK attempt.

Risen

With the impending visit of the Emperor, Roman Tribune Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) is tasked with keeping the peace which includes finding the missing body of a recently crucified man claimed to be the Messiah  "Yeshua" which could act as the spark for rebellion. Props on making a different story to tell for the Easter season and while it still falls well into the religious film category they managed to get some fight scenes in there too. However, there are way too many quiet scenes which quite literally were putting us to sleep. For that problem alone Mary Magdalene is a better movie.

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

The Insurmountable Vanishing of Ethan Carter

Two games that left me scratching my head.

Insurmountable

This game is meant to be about climbing a mountain... by clicking tiles? But the truly Insurmountable bit is the camera which is always forward facing. Guess what happens when you go into one of the many dead ends? You quit that's what. Surely you can pivot the camera right? Yep, but you can't click on any tiles while doing so and when you let go it puts you back to the forward facing view. Stupid design and honestly, it's not giving me a lot of inspiration to try fix it anyway.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
 
"This game will not hold your hand," is touted right at the start of this walking simulator that happens to have puzzles scattered around the place... and I use the word "puzzles" lightly. For example, apparently walking into all the traps you can find counts as a puzzle. Eh? The gorgeous area is pretty vast which is great if you just want to stroll, but this makes finding said puzzles and story beats a chore - worse when you try to complete puzzles and have to "find the spot" which might be a tiny rock. Might be working as designed, but to me it just feels like a waste of time.

Monday, 18 April 2022

GTFO: R6BX - Dust (Main)

Rundown 6 was extended last week and the first mission is pretty easy compared to what we were just doing. All you need to do is get to a terminal and type in a command, but you'll need to visit the entire map to gain access to it. Our loadouts were as follows:

Jim: DMR/Shotgun/C-foam/Hammer
DL: DMR/Sniper/Mines/Hammer
Me: Pistol/Shotgun/C-foam/Spear
Archer: Carbine/Scatter Gun/Mines/Hammer

Yep, double mines and double c-foam because there are a number of scans and a number of doors. Most of the map is divided into two "types" of rooms. The ones with regular sleepers which you should absolutely assassinate, and the ones with giants which you should probably stealth, but it's probably better to kill the ones near scan rooms.

Remember lone striker giants are easily killed quietly by four people going for limb break (call which limb to prevent doubling up and also strike from the back for x2 damage). If you need to be noisy the sniper rifle and space can handly giants easy, and if they are bunched together the scatter gun will destroy them just as easy. Shooter giants just strafe while full striking and they die easy, but you'll probably need to shoot their friend.

Clear your drop zone for loot and find the door you need to get through to the North is under lockdown, so head East for a Class IV checkpoint scan. Enemies will attack both North and South doors so mine and ice as needed. We didn't bother doing ice duty and we were fine. After an area with giants you'll find another Class IV alarm with two doors leading to it. Enemies will attack both so ice and mine. You won't be done with the scan when they bust through so fight well.

On the bridge in the room beyond is the terminal to lift the lock down to the objective path, but it is password protected. Enjoy the easy busy work as you first must open the zone to the East to get a key card then open the zone to the South (checkpoint) to get the password to the bridge terminal. Gear up and prep both ends of the bridge as typing the command initiates a pretty long hold. Foam is actually useful here as it slows the waves. Also, the scan area is huge so you can move about a little if you want. We didn't need to, and just held by the terminal to the bitter end.

Once done rejoice! Then sneak past all the giants again and head to that Northern door which is open now and into a zone that features SCOUTS. For us it was one in each room here because we couldn't find the path through. For you, just try go NORTH as much as possible and if you can't go North, look for a door to your West, go through that, and try go North as much as you can again. Breath a sigh of relief as you come across checkpoint door #2 and soon beyond that is the terminal you need to type something into.

As you do so... surprise! You are in the open desert again and there are no enemies for now. Loot the entire area and take note of the little passages you can't go through. You'll want to mine these as sleepers will be coming through momentarily. There will be fliers too coming from the look out, as well as the new rock flyer who is invulnerable except for when he's just about to fire: he opens his eye - a nice target for snipers.

All those monsters spawn once you put the terminal command in, and again you must hold but the scan area is huge so you can maneuver a bit. We didn't, and pretty much held at the terminal again. Survive the scan and you are put right back where you were in the facility. Find the nearby security door which is now open and go for an easy extraction to GTFO. :)

Shang Chi and the Eternals

Two separate Marvel movies.

Eternals

In 5000 BC, a band of human-looking aliens who never age, the titular "Eternals", arrive on Earth to defend the planet against a band of alien-looking aliens, who possibly also never age? The Eternals, who for some reason each have a different power, are so good at their job they focus on it exclusively while ignoring other Marvel Universe threats like Thanos. I quite like the fact that it is them being too good at their mission that is the problem plot wise, and indeed when the main villain explains what's going on I was thinking "damn, that is excellent".

Alas, that excellent plot line is burdened by rather shitty and stupid side plots that just highlight the excess and poor judgement of the writers or producers. As usual, the movie would have been much better with a greater named character death count but no. Even the excellent CGI can't save the film from this which ruins it from being a good movie to just an ok movie. If you have nothing else to watch, sure - give this a try. It doesn't even inspire me to watch a sequel if one is ever made.


Whoever designs the outfits does a good job.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings


Born from two powerful parents, Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) tries to run and hide from who he is but is soon made to face it. The story is good and the action scenes are great - at least the ones that involve martial arts. Towards the end it becomes the usual MCU CGI fare which is ok but not really unique at this point. This is heavily set with an Oriental theme too (the name should have been a hint) so unless you understand Mandarin expect to be reading subtitles for 40% of the movie.

I also found it to be quite funny, but humor is subjective so your mileage may vary. Ultimately, even though the main plot wasn't as "epic" as the Eternals main one, this fit together much better and thus was more enjoyable. Recommended for superhero or action fans. It's a better watch than the Eternals.

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

From (Season 1)

Better nail those windows shut.

This supernatural horror drama focuses on a little town which doubles as a prison for all the residents and come sun down they must either be indoors or well hidden to survive against the things that eat them. Apart from being a good show that keeps the tension up all throughout, it is also an excellent example of world building.


He rings the bell of doom.

How do people end up in this town? Why can't they leave? How do they survive? What are the monsters? While there are as of yet no full answers given, there are plenty of clues and tidbits of information provided to satiate the viewers ravenous appetite - but it's never quite enough and leaves you always wanting more. Also, big thumbs up for not hiding "the monsters". When they do come out, they aren't hiding in some dark shadows and when they kill you... well. Let's just say there's a fair bit of gore in this series.

Hoping there's a season 2. Highly recommended especially if you like this genre. If you don't, try the first episode anyway.

Tuesday, 12 April 2022

Peaky Blinders

"Intelligence is a very valuable thing, innit, my friend? And usually it comes far too fucking late."

This six season gangster series is set in England and begins soon after the First World War and follows mastermind Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy) and the rest of his family in their unending quest for power and riches through almost whatever means necessary. Gorgeous cinematography and a good story help it along, and it is rare that an episode ends without you wanting to start the next one.


There always seem to be horses around.

My main gripes with it are minor. At the start I had a hard time understanding the accent, and this might be the only English language show that I needed to turn subtitles on, but after a few episodes I was alright. The second gripe is that, especially in later seasons, there are lots of walking, or standing while the camera pans around shots which seem do be designed purely to let you hear a song / no dialogue or plot advancement. I don't mind if there's some heavy acting taking place while these shots happen, but simply walking or "look menacing for thirty seconds"... eh? All up though it's still a good series and one I recommend.

Monday, 11 April 2022

Windows 10 Emoji Trick

 If you are on Windows 10, you can press Windows + period to bring up an emoji menu.

Sunday, 10 April 2022

GTFO: R6C3 - Pressure Point (Overload)

Moved up from doing a Secondary to an Overload for today, just in time before Rundown 6 gets extended too.  Our load outs were as follows (full hammer squad for jousting):

Archer: Carbine/Scatter Gun/Burst Sentry/Hammer
Me: Pistol/Shotgun/Mines/Hammer
DL: DMR/Sniper/Mines/Hammer
Jim: DMR/Shotgun/Burst Sentry/Hammer

As this is also a "bonus" objective, you need to win the main mission as per before. The general overall tips are GO FAST and lock melters are amazing.You don't want to still be dealing with the lower levels as the infectious fog rises. The change to the path is a minor one: right after plugging in the bulkhead key select OVERLOAD instead of main (that's around the 5th paragraph in my previous guide).


The white path is what I did (key grabber) for the overload section.

Then make haste back to the North while following the HUD display. The overload bulkhead is down some stairs and doesn't need a scan or anything, first one to get there just pull the door open. Once inside rush up the stairs directly to the big door across, get inside mine, cfoam and turret that thing. Right beside the door is a terminal where you must type a command SCP_ZONE_PURGE and sit in a really long team scan.

Survive the waves that come and once that's done go back out the door and open the security door across from you, the one beside the stairs you came up. One person needs to run in there, turn right, go through two doors and find the next bulkhead key BUT BEWARE! Inside that zone is a sleeping father/tank. If you are lucky, you can stealth past. If he's at the door like he was for us, setup reverse waterfall of mines (floor to ceiling at the door) and make him run through it then kill it quick, remembering you need to destroy the cancers on its back and it is invulnerable from the front.

While the key grabber (me) does his thing the other three must continue to hold the waves which likely include giants. On any downtime they should loot as much as they can, prioritizing ammo over health. When the key grabber returns, everyone must make a dash back to the bulkhead controls, plug the key in and activate the MAIN mission, which you will then need to finish off.

The only wrinkle at this point is a second father appeared during the checkpoint scan for us. Archer made a good strategy to kill him as the room right beyond the checkpoint door has a balcony - while he and DL held off the spawn and sniped the father Jim and I scavenged more ammo deeper in to give to them (we were out at that point). After killing the father as a team we continued the escape part of the mission, with scarily low amounts of ammo! Fight well, hammer when you can, and remember the father and giant strikers can actually hit through the balcony grating. Took us a few goes but we finally managed to GTFO!

Saturday, 9 April 2022

Trese and My Son

Mysteries in various degrees.

Trese

This animated story is all about the titular modern day supernatural detective Alexandra Trese dealing with forces from Philippine folklore. While the animation is ok, the plot is a bit average not helped by featuring a nearly all powerful and somewhat bland heroine who isn't really ever in any danger at any time. Also, things like having a ghost hacker (who wears ghost glasses) that needs a physical computer to do his work may cross your barrier of disbelief. Not recommended.

My Son

When a boy goes missing, his usually absent father (James McAvoy) goes through extraordinary challenges to find him, and I am so happy that some of these challenges are of the violent variety. Don't let me fool you into thinking this is an action movie though - it's solidly in the mystery category with dreary backdrops, lots of talking, and a good amount of rain. I do feel it runs a bit long though. It's an ok flick if you don't expect anything from it.

Thursday, 7 April 2022

Peacemaker (Season 1)

"You don't wanna believe in miracles, that's on you."

I watch a lot of superhero TV series and while I can't say this is the strangest one I've seen, it comes close to having the stupidest lines ever. That's not necessarily a bad thing because this action comedy is actually all forms of great. The story follows the titular Peacemaker (well played by John Cena) as he is put in another black ops squad following the events of "The Suicide Squad" to save the day, and he makes for an excellent protagonist wanting to change his ways.


So many likeable characters!

Every episode gets better and better as there is no filler, and while the comedy is hit or miss depending on the viewer (mostly good for me) the plot, acting, and action pieces are all very good. Right from the opening credit dance number you know what you are in for, and given my wife wants us to learn it speaks volumes of how much we enjoy the show. Highly recommended, with the small caveat that you probably should watch The Suicide Squad first (which is not a chore at all as it's a good movie). Here's hoping future seasons are just as good as the first!

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

Total War: Warhammer and NBA 2K21

OK games that I didn't get into.

I didn't like Cris Tales due to bad design, but these two just aren't my style.

NBA 2K21

OMG I played a sports game? Yeah, well I tested it out at least - and it was alright! Obviously more fun if you aren't playing solo and you definitely need controllers because keyboard is just wonky. I mean hold num-pad 5 down (and release at the appropriate time) to shoot? Blergh. I did like that the Women's Association is available here too, and I almost exclusively played using them because... why not? Ultimately not one for me, but basketball enthusiasts would enjoy this.

Total War: Warhammer

My last experience with Total War (Troy) was a complete disaster. This time around the battle field is set for the fantasy armies of Warhammer, and it thankfully plays MUCH better thanks to shorter loading times and an advisor who gives more tutelage.

Alas this too isn't for me since I find the Total War battle system to be boring, to the point where I explicitly prefer to auto-resolve every fight. Sure, you can command little guys into various formations on the battle map but rather than watching them you'll be watching their status bars and the enemy status bars and hope their bar goes down faster than yours. Super dull.

I suspect they even knew this, and included buttons to speed up time on the battle field... or better yet, just skip the battle sequence altogether with auto-resolve which is what I ended up doing most of the time. Anyway, if that part still sounds ok to you then this might be one to take a peek at. For me: uninstall.

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

Cris Tales

Beautiful... and stupid.

Following on from a game with good systems and good design comes this fully voiced JRPG with excellent artwork and a really cool premise. You play a girl who can control time (or maybe it's the girl's frog, whatever) but only in the general sense of past, present and future.


The art is amazing.

This is good for puzzles where you say plant a tree in the past to get the fruit now, or in battle where you poison an enemy then send them to the future to die. Or simply send an old enemy further into the future and young enemies further into the past to make them cease existing.

Then come the bad design decisions. In battle, where you cannot reposition your party, you can only send enemies to your right to the future and only the enemies on your left can go to the past. What? Then add in that enemies quickly become HP sponges that make fighting a drag and top it off with (after the intro) lets put a random encounter every 15 steps. Sorry, I don't care how good your art, story and music are - if your game isn't fun that it has failed as a game. Not recommended!

Monday, 4 April 2022

The Last Stand: Aftermath

A well designed hamster wheel.

Following on from games that you need to "start from the beginning if you die" is this apocalyptic zombie survival game where you play as volunteers from a human stronghold who are sent out further and further afield in search of... anything really. These volunteers are all infected (so maybe "voluntold" instead of "volunteer") which means you are fighting a time limit on each run and as expected, the further distance you get away the worse things become.

However, these designers were clever in sprinkling story missions so that there is actually a plot to the game - even if it is experienced piece meal by different player characters. Also, when you collect knowledge you can unlock and improve skills for ALL the volunteers, current and future as well as incrementally better gear for them to start with and find.

Tip: Unlock knowledge & level boosting skills first.

This net gain per death does a decent job to keep my interest, even though it is grinding (bleh), as my initial people were struggling to get through the first area but now each of them are breezing through to area four which is appropriately titled "Hell". LOL.

It also helps that all the systems work well together. Crafting, Scavenging, Stealthing and Fighting are all good. You can be sneaky and throw things to distract mobs away, but it takes longer to do that (and your infection will worsen) instead of just going guns blazing... but might you need the ammo later? I do wish they'd just put extra gas in the back seat rather than ditching the can though.

All up it's a decent game, just not one I play in large chunks of time - basically one survivor per session. Worth a look if this sounds like your sort of thing.

Sunday, 3 April 2022

Demon's Tilt and City of Brass

It's all about your score?

Demon's Tilt

This is a very odd multi tiered pinball game that makes use of pixel graphics and bit tune type music. Unlike conventional pinball, you get all sorts of odd stuff blocking the ball here - like flying eyeballs, fireballs from an evil mage and many more.

Since there are in built gutters (where you have no paddles) and the gap between your paddles is big enough for the ball you have the additional control of "tilting" the game, which basically just moves the ball over a little bit in the direction of your choosing. An odd one for sure, but since it's just about getting a high score its not one I stuck with for very long.

City of Brass

In this first person game your goal is to get through each randomly generated level of a cursed city as quickly and with as much treasure as possible while dealing with the many traps and undead within. Unfortunately the combat (which there is plenty) feels very off, and worse this is a roguelike which means if you die you get to start all the way from the first level again. The only thing you get to keep is a score to remember how well / poorly you did previously. Not my cup of tea at all.

Friday, 1 April 2022

Mechwarrior 5: Twenty Tips

I thought I'd follow up yesterday's post with a few general pointers with things I've picked up while playing this game:

1 - In a fire fight kill weakest things first (usually). Luckily these are often also the fastest so if you draw them to you, you can pick em off before the heavies arrive. Heli-planes (especially the fat Igors) should always be a priority.

2 - Cover is important. Trees are actually OK temporary cover but they block your fire too.

3 - Salvaged mechs will sell for less than the displayed amount, depending on damage and reputation in your current system.

4 - Putting together a mech from scrap is expensive and you won't make money if you only intend to sell it. Only put together something you intend to pilot.

5 - Putting a mech into storage strips it of gear. It will cost time and money to refit again.

6 - Keeping mechs ready in the hangar costs money, as do pilots. You can review this in the operations / stats tab.

7 - Due to inbuilt perks, "hero" mechs are superior to everything else. If you can buy them, do so. We no longer look at rare mechs on the market or salvaging any because of this.

8 - Jim loves fighting in close quarters but this also puts him at risk since he would be the closest target for everything and occasionally gets too blood thirsty in chasing down quicker enemies that lure him into ambushes. Remind players like him to pull back every now and then, preferably behind cover. It helps that his mechs can jump(jet) into or over cover and usually have lots of armor.

9 - I love using light mechs that go fast. Speed and distance usually mitigate lots of damage, so much that I strip out jump jets so that they can run faster. Combined with LRMs this is great for scouting to find target buildings / mechs and taking down turrets / light tanks / heliplanes and artillery emplacements. For raid missions (destroy one structure here, there and there then escape) this rocks. The flip side is standing still is a death sentence, so I leave any "capture the objective" to my brothers unless there is fantastic cover (and even so, then heli-planes will get me).  

10 - DL loves sniping so he's usually pouring on the hurt from far away. As long as Jim or I can see the enemy, he can get a  missile lock on them even if he doesn't have line of sight. Now that he has a thumper armed Cyclops, he does want line of sight though because that's pretty much a giant sniper rifle he has mounted on his mech. You can use the mouse wheel to zoom in and out to help aim for long shots.

11 - Heat sinks are important, shutting down in the middle of battle sucks. Don't rely on the planet temperature to do it for you (yay for snow storms). In a pinch you can also run into some water (if you can find any) to cool down faster.

12 - Don't punch mechs heavier than your mech. You'll just wreck your arms.

13 - When things blow up they can damage you. This includes your own missiles and tanks you've punched or stepped on.

14 - I always try to design my mechs without any gear in the arms as those are always the first to go, even if you aren't punching. Put all your weapons, ammo and heatsinks in your torso where there is more armor. This isn't always possible on every mech due to slot availability but it's a good starting point to work towards.

15 - Many cantina missions are easy and give nice upgrade rewards, always load up on those. Also remember to actually install said rewards after you earn them!

16 - During defend the base missions, always try to fight away from the base. If the mission is a "setup your hold" without a base, we normally pick some high ground to hold and then the fastest mech (usually me) goes to trigger the objective to spawn enemies... who then hunt for you. If you can outrun your enemies, you can lead them on a merry chase while you allies whittle down other foes. Just don't run in a straight line.

17 - During "destroy the base" missions, if you don't have machine guns it is simply faster to ram all the buildings. You'll take a little damage but you'll take much more if you take your time destroying the base as infinite enemies keep spawning in. Airstrikes are very fun in flattening large zones too, but its often better to negotiate your reward to be loot shares and repair insurance.

18 - Beach head missions are probably the hardest to do, so its always worth taking down the radars to get additional allies to assist. Note: if you don't take out the artillery as well then said allies won't last very long as they don't know to stand outside the red circles.

19 - Don't be afraid of cliffs, even if you don't have jump jets. Your legs can take it. More importantly, enemy units will NOT walk off cliffs - meaning this is a great way to get distance from them.

20 - If you need to escape to your drop ship to end a mission, it only requires one mech making it there so send the fastest.

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries

Great when it works.

This has slowly been edging out GTFO as our main cooperative game night game (at least until the next Rundown Extension), since it is very fun to customize your giant fighting robot and then pilot it against other giant fighting robots, tanks, helicopter planes and infantry. Graphics are good as are the controls. It doesn't matter that there are only around five or six types of missions, there will be enough variance to keep you entertained.

The campaign also follows a timeline so while you can be doing jobs anywhere in the galaxy, things happen without waiting for you. Borders change as the great houses fight for more territory. New mechs or new versions of old mechs are released in later years. It's all very cool, yet I can't actively just recommend it because it does have a few drawbacks.

The biggest being it is a pain in the ass to get working cooperatively. For one, we are using a lot of mods (which I am normally against) to get things to work (listed below) and even then there are some missions where DL and I might just drop out of the game or strong hang. The last two missions of the Kestrel Lancers DLC story line on Sarna are notorious for this and we had to join mid battle more than once. Only Jim, the host, can buy equipment from the shops, use the storage tab and accept missions, basically running the management side of things. He doesn't mind, but it does mean DL and I have a lot of down time while he does that.

There's also no in game chat - good thing steam chat works just fine. This is an ok game if you play it single player, but a great game to play cooperatively... when it works. DL has put up some videos featuring the inside of our drop ship and us in the field, in which we just discover mechs have headlights and night vision after literal years have passed by our game. :P

List of mods we use:
Yet Another Mechlab
CompassHeadings
CustomGenericPilotPortraits
Enable Infantry
Yet Another Weapon
Yet Another Weapon Clan
Higher Visibility MiniMap Arrow
Higher Visibility Torso Twist
ThrottleGauge
HeatGauge
Unlock Coop Tabs
Custom Dropship Skin