Sunday 30 June 2024

Piracy in the Age of AI

I'm very late (as per usual) compared to others talking about the feats AI can achieve these days, but given that I've now got a chatGPT level spam comment on one of my posts its a good time to get into it. Sure, making essays and stories might be one thing but what impresses me most is chatGPT is able to handle stuff like "make an HTML webpage with a form that lists these countries as a radio set, have character fields for name, email and comment and a submit button" and it will generate the code for you. I wouldn't be surprised if it could handle heavier programmatic requests either!

Then of course there's the AI art side of things where you just type in what you want to see and it makes it for you. For this one I'm using Night Cafe which has some excellent free to use capabilities (but pay for an expanded range of options). It certainly feels like cheating when you get an amazing artwork in under five minutes. This side of things still has obvious limitations especially when it comes to fingers or some requests like: "a spider wearing boxing gloves" which almost without fail produces some form of friendly neighborhood Spiderman. What I want to know is... are these almost-instant codes and artworks plagiarism and piracy? Should be no but also... yes? Regardless, I might start using some of these AI pics on this site just for laughs.

Speaking of actual sea faring piracy, the Chinese coast guard are keeping that alive when they harass Philippine soldiers at sea with swords and axes. Keep in mind both sides have firearms but I assume to keep things from escalating they just stick with medieval level weaponry. This practice isn't just for their ocean forces either as modern Chinese soldiers armed with spears testing their borders with India.

Sunday 23 June 2024

Four more Epics (Sail Forth, Orcs Must Die 3, Circus Electrique and The Big Con)

Tried and skipped, but maybe these are what you are looking for?

Sail Forth

This is a cute sailing game with one major problem for me: I didn't like the sailing controls. That's a pretty big issue since the entire game is sailing, and I never got to the cooler ideas like managing a fleet and such. It might just be a me thing but if you are faced with the same issue I can recommend Windbound which is much better (but a little different since there's a survival component to that one).

Orcs must Die III

In this tower defense game you (and possibly a friend in two player co-op) need to stop the steady waves of orcs from reaching the thing they're not supposed to reach! Place deadly traps and upgrade them and your own weapons between levels to keep them out. Decent graphics but solo tower defense is dull for me. Two player would be better, but with that frame of mind four player would be even better by simply switching game to Dungeon Defenders which is really neat (and we really got into it back in the day). That said Dungeon Defenders is more traps reliant so if you like fighting things yourself, you might prefer this one.

Circus Electrique

The reopening of your local circus has caused the local robot / android populace to go mad. Now it's up to you to continue to hire performers and send them out into combat ala Darkest Dungeon style while also running the circus, because apparently everyone else doesn't care about this strange turn of events and still come in droves to be entertained. An unexpected union of genres with some decent art and easy to understand mechanics but for those who have already played Darkest Dungeon this might not be "the next best thing". That said it is easier than Darkest Dungeon so if you wanted that type of "row of four of your guys fighting a row of four bad guys" type thing that isn't so punishing, this might be your jam.

The Big Con

Faced with the prospect of losing property to debt, you set out to make money the best way you know how: by making other people lose property through swindling and theft! Not sure what the game is trying to teach people here and it has an art style that you might other dig or hate, but because it is the most unique of these four I spent the most time with it especially since it rewards exploration and there are a ton of optional things you can do to reach your target dollar figure faster. Not a bad game in the entertaining sense but it might pose some moral issues? Haha, yeah if they let me kill the people before/after robbing them then it would be ok right? I think my compass is broken. :P

Thursday 20 June 2024

Mad Max (1 2 3 and Fury Road)

Driving in the wasteland!

Mad Max (1979)

It's a grim future in the Australian outback, but hey at least there are still police around right? One said copper is Mad Max (Mel Gibson) who is decent at driving and gets at odds with a drugged out of their brains criminal bike gang. The story isn't great and its obviously dated badly. There are even shots where characters walk farther away and start to have to yell because there is no mic following them away! Really its just the physical stunt work that this has going for it as after watching it I was amazed that anyone would have green lit a sequel! Not recommended.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)

The future from the first film just got a lot darker with a great war really screwing up the world. This time Mad Max (still Mel Gibson) is just looking for some fuel and instead comes across a convoy being harrassed by bandits. With a welcome guest star of scene stealer Bruce Spence, this is a huge step up from the first movie as not only do the amazing stunts persist here but the story is actually a very decent one. It's the best of Mel Gibson's Mad Max movies for a reason! Recommended!

Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome (1985)

After getting robbed Mad Max (Mel Gibson again) needs to trade his skills for gear in the huddled trading post of Bartertown where things just go from bad to worse. Not just for Mad Max, but for the audience too! The story seems to go off the rails and into Peter Pan land with a focus on child actors who are neither endearing or useful, especially when they intentionally speak "broken Australian"? At least there's an interesting finale and Tina Turner gets to flex her acting chops (she should have been in it more) but unfortunately, its not enough for me to recommend this to anyone.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

This film continues the trend of Mad Max (this time played by Tom Hardy) getting a shitty start, being enslaved by the War Boys as a blood bag before fate manages to get him behind the wheel of his own life again. A good (albeit simple) story backed with awesome stunts and an increased level of violence make this a very entertaining spectacle to behold. Easily the best of these four movies which should be no surprise given the amount of technological advancements film wise since the previous one. Recommended!

Wednesday 19 June 2024

Blades in the Heart: The Old North Port

[Part of the Party Time journal]

As soon as our heroes exit the faux light cycle within the barrier into the cold and unforgiving darkness they are set upon by ghosts but Juris simply commands them to fight each other and succeeds. They do notice that the lighthouse here is strangely active though so they make their way towards it and through some fluff ball filled space which DL recognized (for being a Severosi) at a form of attack by a pair of giant fluff ball centipedes lying in wait (yah, just like the one in Scavengers Reign)! Again though, these are no match for Juris whose Lord of Nature ability simply lets him order these bugs away.   

Approaching the light house they discover the light to actually be burning, AND it's stopped randomly turning and instead trying to target them - but with good rolls they all make it to the door and spot Priestess Aranna here manning a ritual site. Mom lands a head shot with her rifle but the Priestess simply shatters like shards of glass into hundreds of little cockroaches that begin climbing up to the top of the light house. Since the ritual site is right here they decide to step out while Juris lightnings it to destroy it, which is successful but doesn't damage the structure.

They also come face to face with a gigantic rhino / ape summoned horror who is impervious to DL's sword and knocks Rose away, but Rose gets her revenge by succeeding to command it to "just die already", at which point it breaks its own neck and collapses into a pile of quickly evaporating goo. For this Rose unlocks her first dream power - given to her by the man of her dreams (I'm kind of hoping thats me lol) - which is the invisible blink: she turns invisible if she closes her eyes (much to the amusement of the table).

While mom hides below (to complete a dream task), Rose starts climbing up the lighthouse with her eyes closed but DL beats her to the top using circular breathing, reforming right behind the priestess and kicking her off the tall structure to her death (and Juris starts eating her)! The light then slightly burns DL but then is shattered when Rose blinks in at point blank to destroy it with her pistol. With this spirit anchor destroyed, the anchored burning spirit is gone too. Not willing to waste any more time out here the team quickly return into the barrier to recover and regroup.

Tuesday 18 June 2024

Blades in the Heart: Ritual Smashing

[Part of the Party Time journal]

Mom, DL, and Rose pass by the Bellweather Crematorium within a huge park whose trees are toxic for people to touch as it was marked as a ritual site but are stopped by a door sized hull who dutifully tells them that they are not permitted inside and to return "never". Since DL doesn't want to hurt this thing just doing its job, he takes the team on to the same club in Nightmarket where they find a handful of drunk cultists guarding a messy ritual site. The drunks are easily disposed of, except one who mom keeps alive (he happens to be a simpleton) so they decide to take him to Ironhook personally.

This act unlocks mom's first dream power, guided by a vision of a giant owl - the "death manifest". She got a vision of her death (which mom surprisingly described as "violent") and now she has a clock to use this power with. Whenever she touches something or someone and wills it, it will die her exact death on the spot. Then her clock will fill based on a dice roll. Should the clock fill up entirely, then she will die in the very same manner.

DL actually also unlocked his first power in the previous post after performing an autopsy on the eel man's head, his guide - Kenny V - taught him "circular breathing" where he can simply transform into air and slowly float around like a ghost (for 3 stress) then reform whenever and wherever he desires. To keep things simple, this technique also magically makes his gear air too, and it comes with him when he reforms.

Anyway, while passing through Coalridge the trio encounter a young girl named Quill who works at the factory, along with other children due to labor shortages. Her eight year old brother Sten had recently been killed in a workplace accident and she wants help in kidnapping the new foreman Fartinghard (previous boss of the fire brigade), to talk to him - also mentioning that some of the other kids are planning on killing him. They ignore this for now and continue to drop off their prisoner in jail before running into a sizeable mercenary force that escorts them to Lord Elon who is slightly upset that they didn't level his bank but at the same time is agreeable in helping them stop the potentially city destroying rituals.

He loans them some heavy barrier crossing kits, and even sends some men to go pick up Juris from Fogcrest who right at that moment was just finishing a battle against a pair of john killing hoes who were also manning a ritual site. Juris called upon birds to distract the women before finishing them off and the gunfire and lightning blasts could be seen from a long way away. When the team reunites they make their way to the barrier's edge to the next ritual site just beyond it, at the old North Port.

Monday 17 June 2024

Blades in the Heart: The Lord of Nature

[Part of the Party Time journal]

While the others are clearing the docks, Juris decides to head to Lord Strangford's house at Charhollow to follow up on his cult connections and runs into Matt taking care of the butcher's death dogs. Since this is the first time he's encountering Matt I can finally reveal the Matt is a demon. Yep, "Matt Demon". The cringe almost kills Juris IRL but he rolls a 6 to not die. LOL.

Anyway, Matt says the dog's owners - Coran and the other butchers have been drafted into the army, while Adda and the Inkrakes (journalists) were arrested and taken to Ironhook for siding with Strangford. For some coin Matt reveals he's a demon that eats "trade", so he has no quarrel with anyone. He also tells Juris where to find the door his ancient key will open - in the tunnels far beneath the Shield of Dawn district!

Juris thanks him for the into and continues to Strangford manor where he neutralizes and recruits a hull and dodges a trap before finding correspondence that the cult has a fall back plan to nuke the city via luring a leviathan from the ocean with "targeting" rituals. Along with a handy map of where these sites are (some are outside the barrier), he recognizes the handwriting and signature to be Quellyn's - his teacher whom he hasn't seen in years.

As one of the ritual spots is nearby, Juris pays it a visit and sees that its on a barge in the middle of the canal which he boards and encounters cultists led by priestess Aranna. Thanks to good dicing, Aranna spills the beans that the clan hopes to revive the Burned King to defeat the Immortal Emperor and reveals Quellyn is their leader and is in one of the exterior sites. Thanks to Quellyn's desire to recruit Juris, Aranna lets him go and once he is safely back on shore he lightning bolts the barge until it sinks, killing all but Aranna who gets away.

Afterwards he meets up with the others back at base and tells them of his findings and they agree that taking out all the ritual sites is of high priority. While they others head out to do just that (with NPCs Eisele the last gondolier and her new student Jennifer taking care of the one in the bank at the docks), Juris follows Matt's instructions and heads down beneath the district to open an ancient door beyond which he battles a hungry Glazerbu looking like demon and wins (at the cost of a hull bodyguard). Beyond it he finds an ancient box with a broken stag horn within, and following the voice in his head, jams the horn into his own skull.

This is all because it ticks off things on his "dream" sheet, and his visions - guided by what looks like a gigantic Norweigan forest cat - rewards him with some special abilities. He can now eat freshly killed sentient beings to reduce stress (in fact, he has to as he is now addicted to it or suffers stress penalties) and also gains the "Lord of Nature" skill in which he can command low intelligence fauna and flora to do his bidding!

Sunday 16 June 2024

Blades in the Heart: Kicking the Bank

[Part of the Party Time journal]

Just over a week after the Lord Governor's visit, the extremely brief civil war ended with a whimper and the remaining rebels rallied at the docks. Due to the Iruvian and Dagger Isle secession that was announced over this period the military has since shifted focus to a massive draft and are now training new recruits at the closed off Six Towers district. For their previous efforts the Shield of Dawn was granted access to supplies usually restricted to the military forces and are now TIER VII, which is actually higher than the local military forces. While that makes them really tough, it also means gaining XP is going to slow to a crawl as you gain much more when going up against things leagues more powerful than you (and somehow surviving).

I'm also experimenting with something new this "season" with an idea pilfered from Heart RPG (hence the new title) and have made each of my players have a fading dream which states a goal and contains random tasks they vaguely remember doing to reach that goal. Mom wants to rule a nation, Juris seeks to kill the emperor, Rose hopes to rule the ghost veil and DL is somehow going to achieve world peace. I mention that they hear their own voice in their head suggesting they "follow their dream" and then provided them with their dream list. Also, Juris' corgi (whom he names "Nyryx the 2nd") inexplicably shows up with an ancient looking key and drops it at his feet.

Colonel Sanders, liaison to the Lord Governor, again re-iterates the rebel threat at the docks which Rose, mom and DL decide to look into, especially since Rose's tavern keeper friend Klyra has gone missing ever since some Ironhook Prison guards (who are now doing double duty as police since the original police force has been wiped out) came around looking for her and that is one possible district she fled to. En route a cloaked Lord Elon Dalmore bumps into the trio, saying that the rebels have taken his bank, and to please just level the whole place as he has some secrets within. DL says "we'll see what we can do" and Elon just trusts them to get it done as they proceed into the docks district.

The Colonel, who is disappointed to not be going with them, asks they first kick down a rebellious flag in the square which they totally ignore and instead proceed to the bar where Rose thinks Klyra may be, but it is empty. They then cross the street to Elon's bank and out of the forty rebels within capture 16 thanks to Rose. The rest are obliterated by mom and DL who then scout out the place, finding a corpse and ritual circle they don't touch, and a secret passage down to some laboratories where it seems someone was combining humans (listed as "in debt") and eels!? At the very bottom they slay an eel man and a number of eels in a flooding tunnel before returning topside where Rose is dealing with a handful more rebels whom mom just guns down immediately.

They don't blow up the bank and instead return to Colonel Sanders with prisoners (and five rescued captive women) and then let him and his troops move in to sweep out the district, and the first thing he does is to proudly march up to that rebellious flag and kick it down himself - triggering the frag grenade attached to it and killing himself. The Colonel got fried!

Saturday 8 June 2024

Dragonheir: Better than Before

[Part of the Cursed story line.

With the holy river restored its time to destroy the source of the corruption down here in the Underdark which leads through many team based fights that need much swapping of line ups and many attempts before I manage to get through to the corrupted boss, an big ugly drider mama (level 165) who enjoys summoning adds. Fortunately the trick with her is rather easy, just turn off auto combat and make sure to use the ultimates on the adds before they get too overwhelming! The winning team was Fire Main / Garius / Voresh / Heksandra / Sigrid. Yes, I finally got the blonde archer on my roster and she is a freaking powerhouse if paired with a debuffer like Voresh who debuffs everything as her ultimate hits ALL debuffed enemies, and prevents them from healing!

It turns out destroying this creature is the last step in restoring my memories - I am also a child of Tiamat! Aka The child of chaos who tried to kill her so long ago but failed so she ripped my soul into two pieces (and the reason why this belongs in my "Cursed" journal). Obviously the next step is to reclaim my other half from the death lands but he isn't very happy to see me. To my great surprise this level 170 boss is the FINAL one (you mean there's an end!? yep!) and his phase two is not easy at all since he has a move that captures one of your team mates and if you don't destroy the hand before time runs out its insta-kill time for that person!

It takes me a few goes before eventually finding the winning team (but that's ok because he has some pretty nice boss music) of Fire MC / Horrus / Heksandra / Sigrid / Journ, all fire based heroes to get the "inspirational" damage bonus which is required for this boss. In addition, Journ - the legendary gnome inflicted with crystal disease, also debuffs with his AoE flamethrower and ultimate mine field abilities. Upon completing myself (and the game really), I run into Tiamat who this time - lets me go to continue adventures since "I've changed". The end! I know there's a season two coming / available but I just felt this was such a decent and unexpected end to this story so I'm stopping here. Thumbs up Dragonheir! You turned out to be a much better game than I originally thought you'd be.

One last arena flex because I doubt I'll reach this rank again. Big step from 15+k!

Thursday 6 June 2024

Atlas, Industria and Ninja Kamui (Season 1)

Where future tech makes plot holes!


In a world where AI had advanced so much they look a lot like people, then warred against their human creators and fled the planet, a random lead falls into the hands of the world government who call in a specialist scientist who hates robots (played by Jennifer Lopez) to team up with a force of humans riding robots to go fight the bad robots on bad robot planet. The opening narration kinda sounds as tacky as my sentence there, but this turned out to be an enjoyable but predictable film.

While the CGI is ok and the main plot points are decent, I feel the creators added things that they thought would be "cool" which puts many devils in the details. How exactly does an oxygen -mask- necklace provide air? THROUGH SCIENCE! How does this character achieve with almost zero training what the legion of trained extras failed to do? SCIENCE!? Control two extra arms made from 10 minutes of scrap metal bending? SCIENCE!!!! Seriously though, you need to like or at least not hate Jennifer Lopez if you watch this as she carries 3/4ths of the movie. I don't mind her acting so it's fine with me, but if for any reason you don't like her then definitely give this a skip.


This is a decent, albeit short first person shooter about messing with technology and getting transported to another world full or hostile machine men and machine dogs. Easy controls and simple enemies won't really challenge an experienced gamer but it is still good nonetheless thanks to the voice acting, the atmospheric maps, and the plot - which has some very strange bits that make no sense at all and leaving many questions unanswered - possibly to hook you in for the sequel. Thumbs up for this one.

Ninja Kamui (Season 1)

It is the future and the way of the ninja has gone global but due to a rift based on their code the loyalists brutally hunt down their rebel bretheren which leads to a John Wick scenario if John Wick was a futuristic ninja. Yes, the protagonist is pretty flat here as is the plot but the smooth and violent action scenes coupled with a decent sound track almost make up for it. I say almost because apparently since this is the future, ninjas eventually get mecha type armor suits then it becomes a bunch of robots fighting each other with martial arts. While that's ok-ish it really breaks the excellent combat streak that this show started with making season one finish with a "meh". If there's going to be a season two then this will really need to up its game.

Wednesday 5 June 2024

Surviving the Cat of Salem Islets too?

Catching up on some epic freebies.

Surviving the Aftermath

A post apocalyptic game that focuses on two different maps - the first is your home map where you construct your base which includes things like tents and outhouses for your dirty survivors and remember to actively tell them where to harvest things because by god, they morons. Your lumber camp might be sitting idle once they've deforested the nearby area and if you don't tell them to go find more trees "here" it simply will go unused. Once you build a gate you can send your specialists (hero characters who you occasionally can recruit - you start with two) to the world map to do quests, fight bandits, and salvage... science? Yes. That's a thing. With enough science you can pay for crowbars or something. Note that your home map can and will still be attacked by bandits, plagues and stink clouds regardless of what's happening beyond. Very management heavy and lost my interest after one session.

Cat Quest II

Is exactly like the first game, except now you can two player it (or play two characters) as a cat and dog adventurer. It's just as cute and just as grindy as the first so for the same reasons I've given up on it.


An action platforming game with some pretty decent art that tasks you with reconnecting a bunch of floating islands. Alas it features the same problem most of these types of games have for me which is if you leave a screen and come back, all the enemies respawn. When you add that backtracking is almost mandatory, that just gets an immediate thumbs down from me.

Town of Salem II

The worst of this lot for me. Basically a digital version of the Mafia or One Night Werewolf party games where a group of players are trying to reach their randomly given, secret winning conditions by eliminating other players through voting (or murder!). They could be townsfolk trying to execute the secret witch coven and vice versa or perhaps you're of the jester faction and you win if you can get yourself executed? Some odd design decisions here killed this one for me - the first is "go to youtube to see a tutorial". Really? But the second one really sucks and that is the "waiting to have fun". Not enough players? Guess you'll have to wait. Got killed early? Guess you have to wait. Or quit, join another game and wait for enough players. I hate idling. Still, I guess there's a market for these sort of games as this one even has the audacity to have a cash shop!