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Nerdgasm ahoy!

June 1st, 2009 by Joe

New trailer for the Bioware MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic

It’s awesome trailer day today, and this is probably the most amazingly detailed trailer I think I have ever seen for anything, movie, game, what have you.  I cannot *wait* for this game.

I freely admit I am a Star Wars geek, as are my boys, and when I saw this trailer, it reminded me of so many of the aspects of that universe that got me hooked on it in the first place.  What really caught me on this though was the level of detail, and the animation involved in the battle…


shit. Blew me away.

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ohmygodohmygodohmygod is it November yet?

June 1st, 2009 by Joe


man oh man so much of that article is pure greatness, and if it even comes *close* to as cool as it sounds, I will declare Valve the bestest company ever.

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Never trust an engineer

May 12th, 2009 by Joe

Thanks to Newt Pulsifer for the idea for this one in the comments for the last post.

Also, Headwoünd, just for you…

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Something for your desktop

May 11th, 2009 by Joe

So a project idea I had for either this site or another one I might have made to “replace” this fell through, but I had some Gmod things I had made as a part of piecing the idea together that I didn’t want to throw away, so I kept tinkering with some of them. The main one was what became the image below:

This shot was originally just a couple of the characters sitting around Louis yelling at him about how to play. Image everyone around him yelling at him “SHOOT THAT GUY” or “QUICK OVER THERE!” or “LURN2PLAY”. Just a splash graphic leading into a story. Then it became more of a catch-all for other characters too, like the Demoman chatting it up with Zoey, possibly delivering Scottish double entendres. Everything else from that just evolved into a bunch of things in the background, a couple of injokes, that maybe three people will get, and a burning need to have a Boomer in there somewhere.

(click for larger version…but you knew that)

In any case, I may keep adding to this as I go on, coming up with ideas for things in the background. I have to admit, I really like using Office as a setting, because not only are there a plethora of different types of rooms but also great posing and staging areas off-camera.

(Edit: yes I know Zoey’s hand isn’t posed, I forgot to go back and take a new screenshot after I fixed it.  Suffer.)

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May 7th, 2009 by Joe

Actually I don’t believe that this is the end for the franchise. Take Two still holds the rights to it, and I will bet that someone will pick up the property developed so far and make something out of it. Still, it’s sad.

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May 1st, 2009 by Joe

I have been playing a bunch of Survival Mode on Left4Dead, and sucking at it a lot.  That’s not entirely accurate, it’s more the groups I am with are not coming up with the Golden Strategy that we need, as well as the AI Director just going out of his way to make sure there are seven smokers all waiting in a nice orderly line across the map, eager to chain-pull me as far away from the others as humanly possible.  Honestly, there is no more disruptive Special in Survival.

Hunters are a nuisance, but if you are staying close to each other that’s all they are, by themselves.  Boomers are exactly how they are in the Farmhouse finale, something that blots up your screen for a few seconds, but the horde is coming anyhow, so there’s no real difference.  Tanks are surprisingly easy to slap down, actually, because you can have three people jsut focus fire on them while the fourth eitehr shoots the tank as well, or autoshotguns the horde off the other three.

But smokers, man.  They just come in and ruin your Christmas.  About the three-minute mark, their Nokia push-to-talk network switches on, and they are all over the map, coordinating attacks and standing in clusters, so when one gets shot the other is there, tongue at the ready to keep you right where the first one dragged you.  Reverse bukkake at its finest.

This is why I have been using a weapon I almost never use in Campaigns or Versus, the hunting rifle.  I generally don’t like to snipe, except for the occasional AWP-whoring in Counterstrike.  But it’s mandatory for at least one sniper to be in the group of four in Survival, and their role is to snipe the smokers and hunters as they stage their attacks, whenever possible.

Unless of course you have no long lines of sight, and then you are pretty much screwed anyhow because soon you will have tanks on you with no warning.  For example, the Farmhouse.  We got Gold (and then some) by setting up in the attic of the barn, with two people on one side of the hay bales and ammo dump, and two on the others.  We never once had a problem with smokers, as they only came up the ladder in line-of-sight of at least three people.  Hunters? not till later, they appear in the hole in the roof for easy dispatching as well.  It was only until we had multiple tanks that we hit a problem.  Well, less of a problem and more of a dying.

The other thing I have been doing is trying out the free weekend for City Of Heros, which I played for a while when it first came out.  The game had several problems, but it still stands out as the smoothest MMO launch I have ever participated in.  I’ll have some stuff about it soon, but so far it’s kinda fun to revisit the old characters.

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When my mind starts wandering…

April 27th, 2009 by Joe

This past weekend we had a death in the family after what seemed like a brief illness, and as such things generally do it caused me to do a little introspective thinking.  You know, the usual type of “what is life about” and “why do these things happen” thoughts, but also more about where I am in my life.  I’m generally happy with the way things have turned out, so it’s not a mid-life crisis situation, but rather an interesting observation about myself.

I have a few friends that I have had for years, a few that I have worked with and remain in-touch with, and a bunch of people I have fallen out of touch with but still consider to be my friends.  Interestingly, though, I have very little on-line contact with them aside from emails or occasional IMs.

Then I look at my online activities.  I have a small group of people I talk with regularly, maybe a dozen in that group, and have talked to them for nearly ten years.  I have met most of them in-person only once ot twice, and some of them I have never met but still consider them to be good friends.  Then there is another group of people I met through Metafilter, that are part of a Steamgroup I do the majority of my TF2/L4D gaming with.  I also have friends from WoW, old guildmates, current guildmates, and a couple of people I know from work/friends/whatever that happen to play WoW too.  On Steam I have something like 111 friends, from various places and some overlap from the above groups.  Facebook? A smorgasbord of family, friends, co-workers (former and current), old classmates, and an assortment of other people who fail to fit into most categories.

So taking into consideration the overlaps across my various online personas I have somewhere around 250 “friends”, in quotes because really how many of them would qualify.  So following with the morbid topic that began this thought process, I began to wonder how many of them would I be really affected by if they suddenly shuffled off this mortal coil? How many of them would care much more than maybe a quick forum post somewhere?  No, not being morose or depressed, just a mental exercise.

What I found was interesting, that among my online-only friends, there are a surprising number of people that I considered closer friends than some of the people I have actually met and know/knew personally.  It’s not a knock on those people, it’s just the way I consider the relationships I have made over the years doing things online, especially the number of those people who I knew solely through the playing of computer games with.  My closest friends in high school?  I only really keep in touch with one of them, and my two closest friends I haven’t spoken to in years.  College buddies? Over a decade.  People I played WoW with in an old guild a few years ago?  I get IMs from on occasion.  Bandmates from back when I played actively?  Only one I keep in sporadic touch with, not including my oldest and probably best friend.

The point of all this?  Not a lot, but I found it interesting the way various friendships and interpersonal relationships have developed over the years.  Granted, a number of changes in my life have helped that along, like getting married, having kids, changing careers and going into software development, and not hanging out in bars regularly.  But I somehow doubt my case is unique.  I’m not sure how I feel about that either.  I doubt people my age fit the same mold, but as you go down the age levels, I’m sure it’s more and more common.  For good or for ill.

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Survivor: Apocalypse

April 22nd, 2009 by Joe

A few impressions of Survival Mode

I played a few rounds of Left 4 Dead Survival mode last night, on the lighyhouse map, and Sweet Mother McCree it’s brutal.  I came away witha few quick impressions, though:

1. The initial setup strategy is very important, but needs to be varied depending on your initial firing spot after the pump is started.  Placing the gas cans and propane tanks in strategic layers around your spot is going to be the key to blowing through minutes 3-4, when the specials really start coming after you.

2. Tank management.  The tanks start coming fast and furious, with multiples after the 5 minute mark.  Try to hold on to a focused fire strategy, and for chrissake be careful throwing mollies.

3. Communication.  There should be very little silent time on the voice channels.  But don’t get panicky, just call out specials when seen, and definitely when hit, the team needs to release each other from the clutches of hunters and smokers ASAP.

The new Versus levels are pretty good, although my cable went out so I didn’t get a chance to play the finale on Death Toll.  Dead Air was fun but really fast because there were many wipes real early in the levels, so we didn’t get to see the whole thing.  A lot of tank-slapping-people off rooftop fun though.

And yes, I’m alive, just haven’t been writing much lately.  I will admit the lack of success in some new ideas I was going to try and implement burned out what writing desire I had.  That, and the games I have been playing lately haven’t been inspiring either.  Though Braid is pretty good, I may write that one up.  I just haven’t been feeling that much like writing about games lately, because frankly, there isn’t much out there that is really grabbing my interest.

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Left 4 Dead On Speed

February 18th, 2009 by Joe

No, not a pro-drug entry, just something that may make you want some.

I play most of my TF2 and L4D with a group of gamers off of Metafilter, you may have seen the [MEFI] tag floating around, that’s them.  It’s a great little community, and one that does not take itself too seriously (usually) and is in it to just have fun playing the games.  There was one of the players, we’ll call him “Cat” to avoid embarrassing him overtly, who was known for running ahead to the safe room quickly, even at the expense of one of the other survivors being consumed by a bulimic hunter.  (The purging thankfully done off-screen)  This inspired one of the other members of the group to try and hold races through campaigns.

The basic premise was to start a co-op on Easy, and record what the closing credits said the elapsed time was.  Blood Harvest is the most linear, so most of the attention focused on that campaign.  In no time, there was an eight-way tie with 14 minutes, and what seemed like a 4-minute-mile-type barrier was created.  Until…

That’s right, we made it in 13 minutes.  Here are the keys to this:

1. Do not stop.  No houses, no checking side rooms if at all possible.

2. Do not stop.  If the trailing player gets incapped, let him die.

3. Actively hunt down tanks during the finale.  If you are in the farmhouse, go outside as soon as the wave dies down and before the music starts.  As soon as the music starts, find him, group up and kill him fast.  In Easy, this should not take very long with concentrated fire.

4. Did I mention not stopping?  Also, take that extra second and run to the side to pick up that pipebomb under that tree.  You will thank me later.

5. The point player will get swarmed, don’t worry about friendly fire, just mow down the zombies around him and keep running.  Passing him is good, and point runners should be leapfrogging half the time anyhow.

While it goes against everything the game was designed for, it is a lot of fun doing these speed runs, it’s challenging and it will also help in Versus. The other campaigns take a little longer, too, but it’s a great challenge to try and beat your own time on them.

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No Title Here

February 18th, 2009 by Joe

I had some lofty goals for this year, but then stupid reality came in and ruined it all.

First was a redesign and some major changes to the way this site and my other ones operated.  Actually that part I’m almost done with, but it’s taking longer than I had planned for some of the reasons I’ll go in to below.  But as soon as it’s finished, I’m hoping to have some new stuff up and running with things that are actually interesting to read and participate in.

Second was to go through my game backlog and actually write more about the games.  I have a couple of things half-written and one almost done, but during the month of January work really started eating up more of my time, and after spending the day typing things into the screen for work, typing things into the screen for blogs was not appealing.  That all changed a week or so ago when my company shut its doors and laid most of us off.  Suddenyl I have all this free time, right?  Hm, actually no because job-hunting in this market is about as easy as performing brain surgery with Playskool Doctor Kit tools.

That and I had to give back my laptop, so my favorite writing pasttime of sitting on the couch typing up entries and such is gone for now.

The third thing was another project I had high hopes for that I just haven’t been able to get the time to work on.  It involved a number of different things, including the old comic contest entries.  I’m giving up on that for now, and I’m just going to post them somewhere for archiving.

There is a fourth point, but that one’s staying a secret for now, until I know where it actually stands.  Like the Fifth Cylon, I’m really hoping this one turns out to be something great.

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