Tag Archives: Gaming

BRIEF Update and SWTOR CR8-O-M4T!!!

Otherwise known as a Czerka Corp Crate-O-Matic in Star Wars, The Old Republic.

I scored one yesterday!

What is it, you ask?!? A curiosity primarily, BUT it’s also the absolute most rare item in the game. It allows you to disguise yourself as a shipping crate, which supposedly will let you not be detected by enemy non-player characters. I have yet to verify that claim. At any rate, it’s potentially handy for stealth based characters at the very least. 🙂

So yes, FINALLY a bit of good luck. If the thing was sellable, I could write my own check for an obscene amount of in-game currency via the game’s trade network. One does not simply SELL a crate-o-matic however. It’s a rare goodie.

The Actual Update:

Beyond that, there’s not much to report. We’re in a holding pattern until we talk to a termite inspector and a lawyer so we can better plot a path forward. Right now, there are so many variables flying our way from out of left field, it’s hard to formulate any sort of a plan.

We did find out today that the roof on the new place is indeed older than disclosed and in worse shape than the initial home inspection said.

We’ll see how much, if any, of that is from termites.

M$ Just Ate Bethesda and Zenimax for $7.5 Billion

Yes, another giant corporate merger that never should have happened as we move more towards a cyberpunk future where massive corporations truly hold all the power.

Microsoft already has a virtual monopoly on operating systems with the only real alternatives being Apple (which is still largely home use) or Linux. And they do solidly have a lock on the office productivity market via M$ Office. There’s Libre Office you say? Yeah, try interviewing for a job and telling them that you don’t have Office certifications but you know Libre Office inside and out.

OK; this is absorbing a (fairly large) gaming company, so what’s it matter in the grand scheme of things?

If all you care about is how much money Microsoft can make you as an investor, it’s a good thing. Microsoft just put ZeniMax Media, Bethesda Softworks, and all their subsidiary game studios on the payroll making games for their X-Box systems (and only that). Those subsidiaries include Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios. Among the game franchises that come with them are Skyrim and the rest of The Elder Scrolls series, Fallout, Doom, Dishonored, Prey, Wolfenstein, Quake, and Bethesda’s upcoming space RPG, Starfield. In short, some of the biggest franchises in gaming.

As a consumer, there’s now less competition in the market, and less incentive for any of the above franchises to be as innovative as they once were. Less competition equals higher prices and lower quality, almost without exception.

As a gamer, one of the things that Bethesda in particular has been known for is the ability to create modified files “Mods” that add content to a game or change gameplay for certain aspects of the game. Microsoft already treats all their products like cash cows. The price of Office is obscene, as a prime example. Doubly so since the program suite hasn’t changed in a meaningful way in 20 years.

Bethesda has already tried to monetize it’s modding community twice also, and Microsoft will likely (in my opinion) push those attempts even farther until they are making money off of people who create projects and share them with the community strictly for love of the game.

That’s IF they don’t try to shut down the modding community altogether via suspending the availability of the “developer’s tools” used to make them. This is a move I’d expect to see more from Disney, who keeps a paranoid grip on all their trademarks. It’s why there’s never been a Marvel game where you could create your own character.

Microsoft is still a giant, unthinking corporation though, and could very well make the same move citing the creation of adult content for some of the games as unwholesome and against it’s corporate values, yadda yadda. Bethesda thus far had left that subject as “We disapprove and that’s not what we released the tools for”. We’ll see if Microsoft forces Seattle values on it’s new acquisitions.

Either way, to me this feels like the same situation with Disney not wanting to deal with competition and being pissy that Marvel had previously licensed the rights to the X-Men and other characters to Fox Movies. When they couldn’t buy the rights back, they did a hostile takeover of Fox Movies. Why should Microsoft negotiate licenses from gaming companies for X-Box titles when they can just gobble up the companies and make sure those same games never get released for their competition’s systems?

Mark my words folks, these mergers are NOT good for the public nor small businesses at all! If you want to avoid a future where world is controlled by a dozen mega-conglomerates and small business is all but extinct, you’d better start standing up to it now.

Alert for Gamers!!

Square Enix / Eidos is apparently desperate for cash.

They have every game they sell on Steam bundled into an Anthology at 95% OFF! I had a few games already (Deus Ex FTW) so, for me the cost was $36 for FIFTY FOUR games that would normally cost roughly $650.

https://store.steampowered.com/bundle/14956/Square_Enix_Eidos_Anthology/

Here’s the titles list:

1. Rise of the Tomb Raider
2. Just Cause 3
3. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
4. Life is Strange: Complete Season
5. Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition
6. Tomb Raider (2013)
7. Tomb Raider I
8. Tomb Raider II
9. Tomb Raider III
10. Tomb Raider IV: The Last Revelation
11. Tomb Raider V Chronicles
12. Tomb Raider VI: The Angel of Darkness
13. Tomb Raider Legend
14. Tomb Raider Anniversary
15. Tomb Raider Underworld
16. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
17. Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris
18. Just Cause
19. Just Cause 2
20. Kane and Lynch: Dead Men
21. Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days
22. Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Director’s Cut
23. Deus Ex: Game of the Year Edition
24. Deus Ex: Invisible War
25. Deus Ex: The Fall
26. Thief
27. Thief: Deadly Shadows
28. Thief II: The Metal Age
29. Thief Gold
30. Battlestations: Pacific
31. Battlestations: Midway
32. Project Snowblind
33. Mini Ninjas
34. Order of War
35. Flora’s Fruit Farm
36. Supreme Commander 2
37. Conflict: Desert Storm
38. Conflict: Denied Ops
39. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
40. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2
41. Legacy of Kain: Defiance
42. Blood Omen 2: Legacy of Kain
43. Dungeon Siege
44. Dungeon Siege II
45. Dungeon Siege III
46. Anachronox
47. Pandemonium
48. Deathtrap Dungeon
49. Daikatana
50. Omikron: The Nomad Soul
51. Goetia
52. Hitman GO: Definitive Edition
53. Lara Croft GO
54. The Turing Test

I’m not normally one to just do an ad for somebody BUT 95% off is a MASSIVE discount for the bundle. At that price I have to wonder if Square Enix is in danger of going out of business and these games might not be around much longer also.

Sale lasts for another 14 hours as of the time of this post. If you’re a gamer, grab them while you can.

Khajiit Has Memes if You Need Laughs

Yes, given that Skyrim has been out 9 years now, Skyrim memes can be equally dated. None the less, we need more than gloom and doom “this sucks” kind of posts if we’re going to make it through this with our collective sanity intact. 🙂

For those who aren’t gamers… Well first, shame on you. LOL. It makes passing the time in solitary confinement easier. 😀 ANYWAY, a Khajiit is a cat person in the world Skyrim is set in. They are much like the stereotypes for gypsies. They’re wandering merchants and thieves. The meme bombardment started with this over-used tagline in the game:

With that came a avalanche of memes…

And since they’re often criminals, you get some of this:

And one more that only Skyrim players will get (Dragon Shout time!)

Review: Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order

The game has been out for a few months, but I got it for Christmas. I’ve been working my way through it as stress relief in between packing and painting. Now that I beat it, I figure it’s time for me to put in my two cents. I promise only a few minor spoilers too. 🙂

STORY:

I assume most folks that have watched the trailer know the premise. A Jedi padawan narrowly escapes Order 66 and the destruction of the Jedi. He’s eventually discovered by Sith Inquisitors, but escapes with the help of some new friends. One of them is a former Jedi herself and wants to rebuild the Jedi Order to stop the Empire. They set off in search of a Holocron that contains the names of numerous Force sensitive children. Their plan is to recruit the children as new trainees once the Holocron is found.

There’s planet hopping among five different worlds after the starter planet. The Empire chases our heroes the entire way as well. There’s even an appearance by Darth Vader at the end of the game.

The time, if I recall the one line in the game that makes a specific reference, is five years after Episode 3. That would put it 8 years before the start of the Star Wars: Rebels animated series, and 13 years before “A New Hope”.

Overall, the story was very well done. I was particularly pleased that the game returned to a more “original trilogy” view of the Force and Jedi. For example, during a flashback by the main (player) character, his master tells him that “Jedi do not seek out conflict, but neither do we shy away from it if innocents need protecting”.

My main criticism is that the story wrapped up too quickly to me. After the final fight, there’s a brief escape, a minute or two of dialog and it’s done. It was particularly disappointing since the team added a new member right before the trip to the last world and battle. That meant there was almost NO time for any character development for the new recruit, whom I think had the most potential of the entire group as a fascinating character. Those points aside, it was classic Star Wars all the way and better than most of the Disney released movies.

GAMEPLAY:

Overall, also well done. There’s a very solid mix of top notch lightsaber combat, and the kind of platforming, climbing and exploration you’d expect from the old Jedi Knight game series, or a Tomb Raider game. Said climbing and exploration includes some jedi level Parkour moves too, such as short runs along rough sections of wall.

There are four difficulty levels with noticeable differences in each one. A pure novice would be fine on story mode, while “Jedi Grandmaster” mode will give even hardcore gamers a workout.

The game plays equally well with keyboard and mouse or a game pad (yes, I’m playing the PC version). No real bugs either, other than I had a few occasions where the game pad wouldn’t register a particular button at all, and I’d have to switch to the keyboard to jump or activate my lightsaber.

My few complaints would be:

  1. the game was fairly short all things considered. I beat it in 26 hours.
  2. No character creation; you’re stuck with Cal Kestis. The only way you can even customize him at all is by finding new outfit and poncho colors for him while exploring. It’s a small thing, but I’ve been spoiled by games with rich character creation and customization systems.
  3. The starter planet, which just runs you through the basics of movement, exploration, attacking and blocking… leaves you with no map and you’re left wondering at a few points where to go. That despite the path options being pretty limited. You get your map shortly after starting planet #2.
  4. None of the rest of your group is ever playable, and they’re only there to move the story along.
  5. While the game has some amazing lightsaber customizations, most aren’t available till fairly late in the game, including the ability to choose more than blue or green for your blade color.
  6. At probably a half dozen points in the game, a cutscene interrupts key moments of major fights or similar big events and forces a pre-determined outcome on you. This was the one that truly bothered me, as I hate having control of my character seized from me.

All but item #6 were pretty minor things to me. Interrupting a fight I was winning handily so that I can be helped by an NPC “or I wouldn’t have survived” was annoying though, and made the game feel more like a video novel at those points. Still, I’d give the game a 4 out of 5 overall on game play.

GRAPHICS:

OMG, this is where the game TRULY shines, especially if you have a strong system. Seeing the game maxed out on my new system almost made it worth having my old desktop self destruct.

The characters are nearly photo realistic, to the point I’m assuming the game uses a similar process as some of the Mortal Kombat games did; facial mapping and digitizing actors to create truly lifelike looking characters:

Hair and clothing articles move with very natural physics effects. Only Cal’s running animation looks very awkward.

The planets were all very well done also, if you couldn’t tell by the first picture. 🙂 Kashyyyk, (the Wookie homeworld), and Dathomir were particularly well done. Kashyyyk was solidly fleshed out from previous games like Knights of the Old Republic and it’s brief appearance in Episode 3. Dathomir, (home of the infamous Night Sisters) was well done and had a flavor similar to Korriban (the Sith homeworld), only more primitive:

Last but not least, there was that beautiful lightsaber customization I mentioned. Ultimately there are 7 blade colors, roughly 20 materials (housing colors) and several design style choices for the sleeve, hilt, emitter and switch. Here’s how mine turned out:

Yes, I got a dualsaber, and it’s a worthy upgrade that greatly enhances your ability to battle multiple opponents. I seriously went Darth Maul all over the Empire at that point, lol. It’s a shame such a major option isn’t available until half way through the game.

FINAL VERDICT:

Given EA’s recent history of cash grabs and bugs, I was nervous about buying this one. While it does have a few shortcomings however, it’s a worthy successor to the Jedi Knight series. Graphics are great even on lower settings. Lightsaber combat is gorgeous and on par with the movies. Cal does make rookie swordsmanship mistake of WIDE (cinematic) swings and leaving himself open on some basic moves – the joys of being trained to see these kind of things, LOL.

Between the moments where you have an obvious lack of control over the plot, the inability to skip the numerous splash screens at start up, and the game being fairly short, I would recommend waiting until it comes down in price (at least a little) before jumping on it. I’m cheap though, and got it on a VERY brief Steam sale where I saved $10. If you’re a super die hard Star Wars fan like Master Mandalorian over at the Sandcrawler Blog, you’ll find it worth it even at full price.

Replay value is solidly above average. I’d say 7 on a 1 to 10 scale, if nothing else because the combat is so much fun. Also true if you like trying a game a second time on higher difficulty. That replay value offsets some of my frustration with the game being relatively short.

Overall, I’d give the game an 8 out of 10.

No word yet on any expansion content for the game, or if there’s a sequel in the works. I’d say the story quality alone merits a sequel though.

Retroactive Continuity Fun & Games

I’ve mentioned the concept of Retroactive Continuity a few times in the past.  It’s when something gets changed in a story’s or character’s past.  The usual idea is to make the past fit better with a turn the story has has taken.  It could be as simple as the writer came up with what they think is a better idea also.  Since you can’t go back and change the whole story, particularly if it’s part of a published prequel, you have to get creative.

“RetCons” as they’re called for short, are very common in soap operas and comic books.  Fiction writers of all types can benefit from learning to work with them though.  A RetCon can be as simple as a flashback that includes new information that changes the dynamic of a character’s past, or relationship with another character.  Suddenly, there’s a bit more origin for that heinous antagonist, and they used to be a trusted ally.  That one’s been done so much it’s cliche to be honest.  Easy example though.

Shondra Rhimes uses this gimmick so often in “How to Get Away With Murder” that the show is impossible to watch in my opinion.  If she didn’t have a few previous hit shows, I doubt she would have gotten a pilot episode for this one.  The lesson here is use RetCons and flashbacks sparingly and with forethought.  If you’re constantly changing the story, readers or viewers will just think you don’t know how to plot a story properly.

Then there’s the world’s most famous RetCon; The “Dallas” plot twist to bring Bobby Ewing back from the dead after being gone a season.  It was all just a dream.  The show and network caught a good deal of flack for that one back in the day.  Primarily because it erased an entire season of the show’s continuity, and that just felt too unbelievable there.  “It was just a dream” can work for smaller events though.  Heck, I’ve even used it very tongue in cheek to undo years of a character’s game history in City of Heroes and reduced it to dreams while in a coma for five months.

Nancy’s Trip to Dallas

Just keep in mind, it has to be a bit campy or very clever if you’re doing a Dallas level wipe of events.

On the soap opera side of things, there’s the evil twin, or the spy with plastic surgery to look like a character while said character is otherwise occupied (lost, imprisoned, etc…).

RetCons can be as simple as a character misspoke or outright lied (maybe they were forced to), all the way up to something as fantastic as DC Comics’ “Flashpoint” reset that unleashed the New 52 (titles) continuity on us.  That one has become as infamous as the Dallas event, and even used on CW’s Flash show.  There’s all kinds of possibilities in between also, such as incorrect or altered scientific test or lab results.

Here’s one example I’ve done very recently; readers will recall the drama my Champions character ‘Liberty Gold’ had with her old guild.  I gave the character a fresh start by bringing in a clone of her that’s still at her younger 17 year old age.  That trick works in comic books, sci-fi, and to a lesser extent fantasy if there are powerful enough mages in the world.

My personal rules for RetCons is keep them as plausible as your story’s reality allows, use them sparingly, and think about the long term implications for your story’s character and world.  My biggest gripe with Marvel and DC is that they never think about the long term consequences of their stories anymore.  Thus they paint themselves into a corner of never ending reboots.  More on that and other things we can learn from comics tomorrow.

I’ve made a game out of watching TV and movies, and reading books, and trying to decide how I would have told the story.  I figure out what I would have RetConned to get there also.  So, I’m going to put out a little challenge here.  Fun for me and maybe it’ll help inspire some creativity in readers as well.  Toss me a scenario and what you’d want it changed to, and I’ll see if I can come up with a RetCon path to get you there.  Doesn’t matter the genre, even erotica.

Unplanned Break Over

Back among  the living yet again. 🙂   MOST of my absence was just that my schedule got crazy all of the sudden.

I did find myself having to work through a few old issues from popping back into Champions Online.  I’ve talked a little bit about my past gaming experiences.  Long story short when you play online games in-character with others, it’s alot like collaborating on writing a book with several other people, or having a whole improv troop on stage all trying to do their own thing at the same time.  At best, it can get dramatic.

The trouble is, MMO games tend to attract people with low self esteem and other psychological issues.  LONG LONG story, they can get hurtful and manipulative when they don’t get their way (putting it kindly).  Last time I was playing, I got caught in a shitstorm of that drama also.  The thing is, decent people tend to wonder what they could have done different & how they added to a problem.

So, I did reach out and try to talk to a couple of former acquaintances there.  It went about as well as expected, LOL.  It was good though, because it helped weep away any doubt in my mind that these people are indeed toxic.  I got some closure.

 

So, I’m back.  I still have a bit of a crazy schedule for the immediate future, so I’m not sure how much I’ll have to post each day, but I’ll do my best.  As for all the notifications I’ve gotten the last few days.  Well 354 in the last two days is just too much to deal with.  I had to just delete them.  I’ll keep up with new ones as best I can.

The Grand Reveal

A few weeks back, I chickened out of revealing the plot for my first planned novel.  I’m going to partially reverse that decision now.  The story will be a revamped version of a hugely popular piece I wrote for my Champions Online gaming group years ago.

The story centers around my character Liberty Gold.  Libby (nickname) was the third incarnation of that character.  The first version was in City of Heroes, the second in DC Universe Online, and then Champions.  A more detailed description is on the story page, but suffice it to say here, that the current one discovers she’s descended from Greek myth, and that a prophecy surrounding her birth threatens the entire world.  It was a Halloween challenge story, so things got dark, and it took three Liberty Golds to set everything right.

Here’s a peek at the first three chapters of the original version that the book will be based on:

The Dark Prophecy

Beyond that, I’m going to give the rest of you a treat that only ComixFana has gotten thus far; access to all my City of Heroes characters and all my surviving stories.  Maybe some of you will read them where he wouldn’t, LOL.  My best story was as epic as the Liberty Gold story but destroyed by a jealous guild mate who had access to the guild website.

City of Heroes

That’s an OLD OLD blog that I used strictly to have an archive on the cloud.  Keep in mind also that this is 20 year old work in some cases.  The stories and biographies aren’t as polished.  Miss Thornbird in particular screams Mary Sue, but was a fun character to play.  The stories were also influenced strongly by people that trolled me.  Miss Deadshot’s stories you’ll notice go from nice, to me constantly trying to work around drama and BS from other players.  At one point I literally pulled a Dallas on one and made them nothing but a bad dream.

It’s amazing how interacting with other players and their characters can have some strange impacts on a character though.  Oh well, I was young.  Enjoy.

giphy

A Few More Creations

So since I’m officially post whoring now…  Here’s a few more pictures of characters put together from the Champions character creator:

 

First…  An OLD character that was actually part of the inspiration for Witchfire.  Her name is Eldrictch, AKA Becky Carsen.  She’s a half elf mage and used to tend bar at Club Caprice in Champions Online.  It was a fun way to get to talk to other players without committing to major projects.

Eldritch

Her costume displays some of my dislike for the costume creator.  Pieces like her magical bracers were sized to fit male characters and never scaled down for women.  The belt and necklace are huge also.

 

Next up is a failed attempt at recreating Witchfire herself.  I much prefer the Morrigan statue that I have pictured in her story section.  It’s a near perfect representation.  This…  Well I thought people would find it interesting if nothing else:

Witchfire

 

Next, I actually did get a good representation of my tongue in cheek Dr Strange clone in the Witchfire stories.  I give you the infamous Dr Steven Weird:

Dr Weird Front

 

Last but hardly least, a special treat.  Jennifer Saunders, AKA Liberty Gold in the game.  She will actually be the star of the first non-erotica book I’m writing.  Probably with a hero name change though.

Liberty Gold

 

Me and Mary Sue Return

I am officially back among the living again. 🙂

Nicholson

I never was really totally gone, unless you count the lack of productivity in my own writing.

So I had an interesting realization while taking that time off.  Mary Sue is a HARD woman to kill, LOL.  She shows up in the oddest damned places too.  For those of you not familiar with the term, a “Mary Sue” is an overly perfect character; super popular, smart, good at everything, super model level attractive, etc…  The archetype is often seen as the writer’s idealized version of themself.  The male version is sometimes called a Marty Stu.

My first City of Heroes character was very much a Mary Sue.  As I studied more about writing and character development, I got further away from that over-idealized stereotype and made characters for writing and games that were more balanced.  Not perfect, but much better.  Up till last night, I thought I’d slain the dread Mary Sue.

Then, as I’m killing time playing Champions Online with a friend, I realize that Mary Sue had snuck back into my life.  This time a bit more of the idealized me than the perfect person scenario.  My character “Paladin” is a power armor character much along the lines of Marvel’s Iron Man.  Maybe closer to War Machine actually.  I can honestly say I made her BEFORE Marvel turned Rhodey into a jet jockey though.

Side note; he was originally an army helicopter pilot in Vietnam.

So, the character is an Air Force pilot that gets into bad dogfight while taking up two rookie pilots for training in the Middle East.  They get jumped by a group of Russian Migs.  She gets the other two away safely and manages to shoot down two of the five Migs, but not before her plane is hit and she takes some shrapnel to her lower spine.

She’s initially told she won’t walk again.  Being a Tony Stark level inventor though, she invents her armor initially as a suit to act as a junction to her legs and let her walk again.  It grows into the Paladin armor over time from there.

Recapping the character’s origin story for an in-game friend, I realized that she was an idealized version (sort of) of me, and that I apparently haven’t come to terms with my physical issues as much as I thought.

I haven’t talked much about my own health problems.  I want to be known for what I do (or at least write or say) rather than my issues.  Some folks whine and milk their problems to death also, to the point that I think most folks are sick of it all.  Just as a another side note, I do differentiate between that and those of you who blog to help others deal with similar situations.  Completely opposite things there.

Anyway, I have stage two spinal degeneration in my entire back.  That means degenerated (herniated) discs, and bone spurs, but the vertebrae haven’t started fusing together yet.  A good portion of the herniation is mild; only a few centimeters.  Other spots, like my lower back (right where I envisioned Paladin getting hit by shrapnel), is pretty bad.  I have a completely torn disc in my neck also, thanks to a crap chiropractor.

The bone spurs are where the real problem is.  I also have a swollen tendon on the left side of my neck, and the bone spurs tend to pinch it when my neck goes out of alignment.  THAT triggers massive Cervogenic headaches.  I also have a tremor in my left arm that the doctors are still debating if it’s related to pinched nerves OR early onset Parkinson’s disease.  So yeah, I’m a mess, LOL.  I’m still mobile though, and there are people out there alot worse off than me.  Being aware of that, I thought I’d kept a pretty good attitude about everything.

Then last night it hits me that Paladin is how I wish I could fix my problems and not feel as useless as I often do.  What makes it hard for me is that I was brought up to believe people should be as self sufficient as possible.  My issues have derailed completely the last couple of jobs I’ve had.  If I’m very sedentary, I do OK.  Activity has everything popping out of joint and me in real pain.  So, I’m OK if I sit around and do nothing.  Blah!

That’s all the more difficult to take because at my peak I was extremely active.  I’ve mentioned my martial arts training a few times.  At my best, I was training 3 hours a day between two different schools, and loving it.  When I was younger, my parents told me I was too much of a wuss to take classes and that I’d only cry and quit.  Doing itfor 3 hours a day was a real sense of empowerment.

So, things are still more of a struggle than I’d like to admit; coming to terms with my condition and feeling like I should somehow be doing more…  It even gnaws at my writing productivity.  Why am I doing this when I should be finding a way to make money, etc…  Even reminding myself that I intend to be published doesn’t help shut up that nagging doubt.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m in a better place than I was even a year ago.  It’s just frustrating realizing how far I still have to go.

There’s also a lesson here that lessons will show up in the darnedest places and ways if you really look for them.