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…just another face in the crowd.

Archive for the 'Gaming' Category

99 Cred Balloons

Posted by Rankyn Phyle on 24th June 2015

I’m a little surprised that day two of the big credit dupe in Star Wars: The Old Republic​ has come and gone with no hotfix.

It’s not even one of those things that requires you to dance on one foot under a full moon to exploit… it’s as simple as buying a 1cr item from a vendor (as intended) and then immediately selling it back for 100cr (unintended).

It takes less than 5 seconds to create 9,801cr since you can buy 99 of the things at once.
Dedicated exploiters can crank out tens of millions of credits in a very short amount of time.

I mean, at the very least they should have run a hotfix today to just remove the item from the vendor and then fixed the item and put it back in with a regular Tuesday update next week.

There was a notice about it on Tuesday after the extended maintenance and they’ve posted updates about it over time, but it remains unfixed.
If they were going to hotfix it on Thursday, they’d have certainly posted an announcement before now.

 

UPDATE: Looks like they’re hotfixing it (with very little notice) early Thursday morning.

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I’m a Genuinely Terrible Mayor

Posted by Rankyn Phyle on 20th March 2015

No matter what I try to do to improve the lives of my citizens in Cities Skylines, I seem to make something worse.

I tried to build new roads to alleviate traffic but they all just shifted over to this new road because it was a more direct route and it immediately became a giant parking lot.

So I made parts of it 1-way to divert some of the traffic and they practically stopped using it.

One of the many traffic nightmares that plague my city.

Now I’ve got garbage trucks backed up for miles and a sudden spike in the mortality rate means that the hearses can’t get to the dead bodies fast enough which is causing a health crisis.

Then, to make matters worse, a link in my power chain went down which caused my suburb across the highway to suffer brownouts right about the time the pollution from a designated polluting zone grew large enough that it started contaminating my drinking water causing more sickness and death.

I was using this first city as sort of a ‘sandbox’ to see how everything works without the pressures of a budget, but I’m about to the point of just starting completely over so I could at least untangle my bus routes.

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Legacy 50

Posted by Rankyn Phyle on 13th December 2013

Ding!

It was exactly 2 years ago today that I started playing SWTOR (post-beta) and I have finally hit Legacy 50.

In honor of this momentous occasion, I fished up a thread on my old SWG guild forums where I had posted my early likes and dislikes about the game (before I had any idea about what I was doing) and now I’d like to share my stream-of-consciousness ramblings with you.

It was fun for me to look back and compare my very first impressions of the game with those of today.

I don’t like:
– Learning curve. You get it with every new game and it’s not hard, but there’s a LOT of stuff and it kind of feels like they expect me to learn it on my own and I’m just SOL if I don’t pay close enough attention when the help bubble pops up the first time I encounter something. Fortunately, everything seems to have a tooltip.

– Chat interface. I’m sure once I’ve customized it, it’ll be better but I find the default chat difficult to keep up with because of the way it’s presented.

– Mini-map overload. So much data. This is another thing I think will get better once I get a feel for how everything interconnects.

What I do like:
– No giant walls of quest text. DCUO was great in that you didn’t have to read your quest objectives. You essentially got a briefing en-route to your destination.

– Quest dialogue that matters. I’m not sure how much it matters, but at least I’ve got some options for how to progress when talking to the quest givers.

– Cutscenes. Finally quest interaction is more than just clicking on an NPC and taking the quest. It may, however, get annoying if they prove unskippable after I’ve seen them eleventy different times with alts.

What I’m on the fence about:
– Instanced story quest progression. It’s a cool concept and solves a lot of problems in giving the single-player experience in an multi-player environment but I don’t like the big red/green doors and the way players appear/disappear through them. This is mostly an aesthetic complaint so maybe they’ll come up with something that looks better eventually.

Dislike:
– In video terminology, their mission cutscenes have some bad edits in them. If you were recording a dialogue between two characters, you would not cut it together like this. Maybe the average gamer won’t be bothered by this but it bothers me.

Like (so far):
– The combat system makes me feel pretty heroic. So far I don’t feel like I’m just slaughtering rats and even at lvl 5, I feel like I’m kicking ***.

Like:
– Death animations. It’s nice to see the MOBs do more than just fall over and stop moving.

Like:
– Saw my first quest where my dialogue responses appear to have actually made a difference in the way things played out. I talked my way out of the situation rather instead of shooting.

Dislike:
– In typical MMO fashion, there’s a lot of walking back and forth. There seems to be a WoW-like transit system that you unlock as you discover it but all this running through the wilderness seems out of place in a sci-fi setting.

Dislike:
– The lack of swimming. Even SWG’s lame ‘tread water’ bit is better than this. They’ve followed the STO model of just not having water that’s so deep you can’t stand up in it. I suppose I’ve been forever ruined by Rift’s awesome swimming.

Like:
– I’ve really just discovered it but the weapon upgrade system looks pretty cool.

Dislike:
– The ever-increasing cooldown timer for being revived where you died to avoid the respawn and long walk back from the med center, especially when you get revived in a dangerous area and can’t get to safety before your invulnerability timer runs out.

Dislike:
– How the quest “Deadly Delivery” seems less about what I’m delivering and more about how many times I die while doing it.

Dislike:
– Companions from the same quest line all have the same name. So now there’s a bunch of people running around the place with a henchman named Corso Riggs.

Dislike:
– Clothing details such as buckles and pouches on the models look like they’re just a rubberized decal rather than an actual item of clothing since they bend and stretch as the model animates.

Like:
– The loading screen text changes to summarize what’s going on with my story.

Dislike:
– I hate it when games don’t want me to have a last name. I don’t wish to be known as “Captain Geoffrey” because that just sounds lame. They didn’t call him “Captain Han” did they? No. I think STO has the best implementation of this because it lets you determine which name the game uses to address you.

Like:
– I don’t know if it randomizes them or if they’re static but shuffled, but the conversation responses in quests aren’t always stacked Good/Neutral/Evil so you usually have to put a little thought into which button you press.
Conversely, it isn’t always clear exactly which morality you’re choosing based on the choices that are given.

Dislike:
– The longest available male hair isn’t very long.
– There is no tattoo-less Zabrak face.
– Zabrak hairstyles are pretty lame.

Like:
– Separate container for mission items so they don’t take up inventory space.

Dislike:
– The slight delay before the “this corpse has loot” indicator appears because you have to break your ‘run & gun’ stride to wait for it. On the other hand, the indicator itself is very cool.

Like:
– Area loot. It’s an option you can activate that will loot all corpses in the area when you click, not just the one you clicked on. Very convenient.

Like:
– The area map is very comprehensive and includes more than just walls. You can actually walk around an area pretty well with nothing but your map visible.

Like:
– The ‘kick in the crotch’ and ‘bash on head with pistol’ combat animations (especially when used together) are outstanding.

Like:
– Enemies die when your grenades knock them off a high ledge.

Like:
– Alien voiceovers are done in the appropriate language and you have to read the subtitles.

Like:
– Even though I hate the big red/green barriers (as mentioned above), it’s nice that they keep me from wasting time exploring an area that has nothing for me in it.

Like: (sort of)
– I have discovered that the spacebar will let me jump through the quest cutscenes. Not the whole thing, but at least multiple presses will let me skip forward to the “make your choice” option quickly. Hopefully they’ll patch it at some point to skip all the way through it.

Like:
– During your open-world quest cutscenes, you don’t see other players around you. This makes the experience more personal and you don’t have to deal with LuuuuuukkkeeSkeyewalllkurrr humping your questgiver while you’re trying to enjoy the game.

Like:
– While WoW requires lots of addons to give you all sorts of quest tracking assistance, it’s built into this game.

Like:
– Cool things during combat. I threw a sticky bomb at an enemy. My companion shot his grappling hook at him and pulled him over to us. I shot him in mid air, detonating the sticky bomb. The enemy died in a large fireball and went flying across the room.

Like:
– Companion appearance items. At least it’s possible for the thousands of different Corso Riggs’ to look different. Being able to turn off other players’ companion’s names also helps hide the fact that we’re all walking around with the same NPC.

Dislike:
– The “affection” stat for companions. I know it’s just a number relating to how well my companions agree with my actions, but it creeps me out when it tells me my henchman’s affection for me has increased. Surely they could have come up with a better name.

Dislike:
– Weekend beta is over.

 Published by WebStory

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A Case of Altsheimer’s

Posted by Rankyn Phyle on 22nd January 2013

I finally finished chapter 1 on my Trooper last week so I’ve really just had him in maintenance mode for a few days; sort of milling around, gearing up, and doing all the interlude stuff while I played other characters, moved inventory around, and upgraded alts.

So Tuesday morning I had some extra time to play and I’m ready to send him off on his next adventure.
Quest journal says Tatooine so that’s where I’m headed next.

The first thing I notice that’s odd is that none of the usual quest givers seem to be offering quests.
It’s been awhile since I ran my Smuggler through Tatooine so maybe I’m remembering the layout wrong.

Anyway, I’ll go to the cantina to grab the bind point and the quests that are in the basement and hope they aren’t bugged too.
On my way there as I’m puzzling over the lack of quest givers, I notice that I’m level 34.

That’s strange… all that rest XP and XP boosts appear to have paid off.
Wow! I’m gonna be seriously over-leveled for this planet.

I get to the cantina and the only NPC offering anything is a heroic and I don’t want to do that.
This really is strange.
Maybe my high level means that they won’t talk to me.

Oh well, let me go find my mission and get this planet started.
My class story will keep me pointed along the proper path so even without the side quests, I’ll still be able to function.

Oops, forgot the bind point… let me run back in and get it.
Strange that it doesn’t have the “undiscovered” symbol over it but maybe this is the one that it automatically gives you when you land.

Whatever, it’s time to be off.

So I head to the taxi and it’s the damndest thing… I’ve already got all the taxi routes unlocked.
When I land at the next site, I check my map and a very large portion of the map is unlocked as well.

Maybe I’m so over-leveled that it unlocked all of this stuff for me and that’s why I can’t get any quests except my class quest and the daily heroics.

Hooray! I’ve solved the mystery!

Now let me get back on the taxi and head toward my objective that’s over in the bonus series part of the map…

It was at this point I realized that I’m not seeing the benefit of some new feature but rather that I am, in fact, losing my mind.


You may recall this line from the top of the page:
I finally finished chapter 1 on my Trooper last week”

I’ve been flipping characters so much lately that I’ve completely lost track of who’s done what.
It might be time for a break.

Notes for the Uninitiated:
In SWTOR, your class story progresses through a series of planets.
Once you’re finished with one, you’re sent onto the next.
However, in between planets, you may be sent to other places (frequently to places you’ve already been) to flesh out the story before you’re moved onto the next planet.

For Republic classes, Tatooine usually falls in your mid-to-late 20’s and is followed by Alderaan.
Finishing Alderaan marks the end of Chapter 1 and you’ll be in the mid 30’s at this point.

There’s a lot of running around to get Chapter 2 started and that took me back to a planet I’d already completed.
Unfortunately I’ve been playing so many different characters over the past month that I’ve lost track of who’s done what and thought it was the first time this particular character had been there.
That explains why nobody would give him quests and most of the planet had been explored.

It took me a good 5 minutes to realize this.

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A Note on Situational Imperial Loyalty

Posted by Rankyn Phyle on 31st December 2012

As we’ve seen, Imperials tend to be stupidly loyal.
When confronted with an unstoppable killing machine with bodies piled up behind me as far as the eye can see, Imperials continue to believe that they will be the one who will finally halt my forward progress despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
This makes the encounter I just had with a particular Imperial Major somewhat perplexing.

The scene: Two heavily armed and armored Republic Commandos casually walk into a secret Imperial listening post where the Major, a guard, and two techs are working.

Guard: Sir! Intruders!
Major: WTF!!?! Drop your weapons or we’ll kill you.
Me: Whoa there… I’m not here to fight, just tell me what I want to know.
Major: You can ask your questions from jail. Now, drop your weapons.
Me: Dude, seriously, just tell me where the droid I’m looking for is and I’ll be on my way.
Major: Seize them!

Guy I’m Chasing (via Holo-call): Hello, Major, we’re ready to… WTF is that guy doing here??!?
Major: Shut up, can’t you see I’m busy?
Me (to guy on the phone): Is that any way to let your new bosses treat you?
Guy: Pfft… Those guys are just a means to an end. Have fun killing them.
Major: Don’t be ridiculous. We’ll handle this.
Guy: No, you’re about to die and then he’ll be coming after me. Goodbye. (disconnects)

Major: That disrespectful SOB…
Me: Look, just tell me where the droid is and I’m outta here.
Major: Are you nuts? That guy may be a scumbag but he’s vital to the Empire’s plans and I won’t let you stop him.
Me: He can’t be trusted.
Major: You have convinced me. Here’s the information you wanted.
Me: Tell me why the thing he’s working on is so important.
Major: No problem.  Also, shoot him once for me.

Note to future Imperial allies: Always be polite to the mid-level functionaries lest they toss you to the wolves and, in the process, bring about the failure of a project that could have turned the tide of battle in their favor.

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DiabNO

Posted by Rankyn Phyle on 9th June 2012

After having spent the better part of a week in Diablo 3, I have come to the inescapable conclusion that I do not especially care for the clicky dungeon crawler genre.

 Published by WebStory

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I Wonder What They Think of Shoplifting

Posted by Rankyn Phyle on 4th June 2012

It disturbs me a little bit that the random villagers in Diablo 3 are not the least bit fazed when I stroll through their towns and go through the pockets of their dead friends and neighbors that are lying in the street.

 Published by WebStory

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Criminal Masterminds

Posted by Rankyn Phyle on 15th April 2012

This is a follow up to Found: The First Intelligent Imperial!
…which was a follow up to Putting the Fear of Me into You.

It seems that maybe the criminal factions are the smart ones.
They don’t feel the urge to posture needlessly and make empty threats… they seem to have a more objective outlook on what the future will be like after a conflict with me.

Criminal: So, you’ve come to steal from us. The truth is that I let you wear yourself out on my minions so that my elite guards and I could dispatch you with ease.
Me: (I swear this was the actual dialog) I’ve already marched across the swamps, fought your army of thugs, and invaded your stronghold. Do you really think you can stop me now?
Criminal:  Good point. Tell you what, we’ll turn around and walk away if you promise not to shoot us on your way out. Deal?
Me: Ok. Also, give me your lunch money.
Criminal: Here you go.

I realize that it’s not terribly exciting as far as storytelling goes but it’s probably a much more realistic depiction of the way things would happen.
On the other hand, movies would be MUCH shorter if they played out like this.
Just imagine a world where secret agents didn’t have to announce their name twice on the off chance you missed it the first time.

Goldfinger: I don’t believe we’ve met, Mr.?
007: Bond. James Bo…
Goldfinger: Oh shi–  Wait right here and I’ll get you that code for disarming the bomb.

Just imagine… you’d be able to watch every 007 movie ever made in the course of one afternoon.

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Snidely Whiplash, Imperial Agent

Posted by Rankyn Phyle on 14th April 2012

Now that patch 1.2 is out for The Old Republic, I’ve decided to get serious about playing the alt game since there are Legacy benefits to be gained.

I’ve been kind of bored with the game for about a month because I knew what was coming but I didn’t want to start new characters until I could see how the Legacy system would work since that might influence my decisions.

So there wasn’t anything to do but think about my alt strategy while I waited for the update.
One of the things I want to do is flip my “Evil Jedi” character concept and make a “Compassionate Sith” character.

This may prove more difficult than I thought.

It’s pretty easy to play evil on the Republic side because your conversation options are pretty straight forward:
1) I’ll do it because it’s the right thing to do.
2) Pay me and I’ll do it.
3) I’ll do it when I’m done setting this box of kittens on fire.

The waters are considerably muddier on the Sith side.
I mean, is the “true Sith” answer the ‘good’ one or the ‘evil’ one and is the evil one #1 or #3?
1) I’ll go kill the villagers and end their suffering.
2) I expect to be paid for killing the villagers.
3) I’ll go kill the villagers and set their kittens on fire.

It’s really hard to approach playing an Imperial character because the game has defined you as evil.
There’s no “we are the good guys from our point of view” thing happening here… if you’re part of the Sith Empire, there’s really no doubt that you’re a dick.
The best you can hope for is to occasionally be given an option that doesn’t require you to be as much of a dick.

Now, I’m not saying this is inherently wrong or bad design.
It’s really quite liberating to be a complete and total scumbag and be rewarded for it.
In fact, I’m quite sure that’s the allure of it for many, many gamers.

As for me, it sort of plays as comically evil.
I feel a little bit like one of those “evil dictators” who says things so outrageous that you have to think that there’s no way they could honestly believe that we believe what they’re saying and yet they keep saying it anyway.
I just really wish the character creation options had let me pick a handlebar mustache that I could twirl as I showed up in the middle of winter to foreclose on the orphanarium.

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I am Officially Giving Up on The Sims Social.

Posted by Rankyn Phyle on 10th March 2012

I was willing to jump through their hoops to dabble in an interesting little time killer but it’s become obvious to me that it’s nothing but a money grab.

You need about 8 friends playing the game to make any progress.
Then they tempt you into completing the quests but in order to complete them, you either need a billion friends playing regularly OR you need to spend money.

Case in point:
Now that I have some Facebook alts to be neighbors, I finally have a chance to accomplish some goals so I thought I’d participate in this week’s weekly quest.

What I have to do:
– Buy an item from the store with in-game currency. Done.
– Assemble this item by spamming your friends repeatedly to get them to supply you with items. You need a lot of items and are limited on how often you can spam. In Progress.
– Buy another item from the store with in-game currency. Done.
– Assemble this item by using many of the same things you need for item #1 resulting in the two assembly attempts working against each other. Done.
– Complete a quest with multiple parts that requires either more of the same items, more mundane items, or random drops from world interactions. In Progress.

Now, this is the one that really gets me…
After assembling one of the aforementioned items, you need to use it repeatedly to gain skill in it.
That’s not a big deal, it’s just time consuming since you have a limited amount of energy that takes a little over an hour to fully recharge.
BUT in order to gain all the skills on this item, I have to unlock multiple tiers, EACH ONE using more of these friend-given items.

Given enough time, this would be possible and I’m perfectly willing to spend the time doing it BUT THEY ONLY GIVE YOU SEVEN DAYS TO COMPLETE IT!

I’ve been working on this one since it went live and I’ve completed half the quest, partially unlocked the 3rd (of 9) skills, and have just over half the stuff needed to construct the other item.

BUT they’ll take pity on me and let me spend a little “Sim Cash” to bypass many of these requirements.
OR if I don’t get the quest completed in time, they’ll sell me the quest reward for a significant amount of Sim Cash.

Oh yeah, Sim Cash is what you buy with real money.
You earn a tiny bit as you level-up but if you ever expect to buy anything good, you’re gonna need a lot more than they give you.
The conversion rate is about 7 per dollar.

I was willing to jump through your hoops up to a point, EA.
But now it’s clear to me that you expect me to jump and miss and then give you my money.

Well, it ain’t happening.
It’s a fun little time waster, but I’m done with it.

Good day, sir.

 

 

UPDATE 15 Mar 2012

I held off on removing The Sims Social so I could see how much they wanted to charge me for the ‘almost impossible to complete’ quest item.
40 Sim Cash.
That’s almost $5.75

Now it should be noted that it’s possible to earn the occasional Sim Cash in-game but they are few and far between.
I’ve got enough to buy this particular item but that’ll leave me with less than 20.
…which they’ll then try to bleed out of me through the next impossible quest so that I have to start coughing up money if I want to enjoy the game.

I’ll be removing that game from my profile in the next 5 minutes.
I was willing to jump through the hoops and deal with the hassles to play for free, but I’m not willing to play a game that’s designed to bleed me dry if I ever hope to make progress.

My complaint isn’t about being charged for what’s essentially a cosmetic item… it’s that they dangle the “freebie carrot” in front of you, knowing full well that you can’t ever reach it.

The sad thing is, if I had really wanted the quest item, I’d have probably paid for it.
I mean, it’s in the $5 range and I’ve certainly paid more for digital collectibles.
I wanted to enjoy the quest.
I wanted to get the feeling of earning this item at the end of a long series of tasks.
But instead, I can ignore the tasks and get the prize for $6 in a week or I can do the quest and pay $30 for all the various collectibles I need to gather for the quest that I can’t possibly hope to get without eleventy billion friends.

No, the fundamental design of this game is to cheat people and I want no part of it.

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