29 January 2013

Musings of being Bored

"Where'z da Any Key, Boss?"
Thinking is my biggest thing lately.  What with being unemployed and spending most of my time applying for jobs that don't have the decency to respond with an email saying I had been declined for an interview, I spend the rest of my time playing video games and considering my move to the 'zoo.

I've been making room for my video games for the big move by Min-maxing my stuff.  I'll be taking two consoles with me, my PSP and my Xbox, and working around taking them.  Like getting a CD Wallet and filling it with my Xbox games and favourite movies and TV shows. (Firefly was first in line)

When I chose my Xbox, I thought about how I wanted to continue interacting with my friends at home as The Boys all have Xbox's, so that was an easy choice.  But The Lads, they're a different kettle of fish.  They're mostly PC players, and the biggest game we have in common is Bloodbowl (though a few do stand out of that particular group).

I hope that'll be easy to sort out, because I have Blood Bowl on my PC and so do most of The Lads (I'm pretty sure).  So I would love to see the Blokenstein League start sometime not long after the move, but we'll see.

Though it brought me back to my Xbox because I remember when I was living with Richard, he had a copy of Blood Bowl for Xbox and then it went on to Cross-Platform compatibility, and while it does come down to nobody fighting fair, it's still a thought I indulge.

Playing Blood Bowl in the loungeroom, playing in a League with my friends in Australia, relaxing while I move my pieces around (only to get thwarted, naturally).  However that wouldn't be possible even the Cross-Platform compatibility was possible simply because the Xbox version is still behind by about 3 updates.  It has gone completely unsupported.  It would be easy to sort out, what with Downloadable Content being a large factor in the development of games today, but it comes down to what the developers can and can't do.

Downloading games is a massive thing now.  The availability, the range, the variety.  I just spent the Australia day long weekend downloading entire games for my nephew's Xbox because I promised them to him.  And conveniently, he had vouchers for a free copy of Skyrim and a Free month on Xbox Live.

I remember going through the Playstation Network Store months ago, just having a browse, and found that I could get the Monster World series.  I didn't purchase it, because I had it on my computer as part of an Emulator, but it still made me think how so many games from the past are still available.

Though I still resent the fact that I still have Playstation 2 games that I can't play on my Playstation 3, unless I want to buy them again.  Which I do not.  Backwards compatibility, in my opinion, still remains to be a standard feature.  But I would also like to see the option for the same game on multiple systems.

Playstation have that, with the PS Mini's, games that are playable on both their portable and home systems.  The games aren't complicated, they aren't fit to max the system of the Playstation 3, but they're there for the fun.  The way I look at it, PSP games are much the same.  They're not graphically able to max out the PS3, and they're really good fun.

So what's the harm in letting them play them on the Big Screen?  Heck, I would love to play Patapon on my TV.  I'd play while my nephews watch and order me around, or I could feel like i'm playing the original Final Fantasy Tactics like some of my friends have.

Same goes with other Companies, like Nintendo.  They offered Gameboy Advance games on your TV through an attachment on your Gamecube.  And they still offer many Gameboy games on the online store.  And with the release of the WII U, how difficult would it be to play a DS game through it?  If you can download it onto your system, you could easily play it without a hassle.

Though I wouldn't get myself a WII U, simply because I just don't have any inclination to, I do think about what I'm missing out on.  I have a Gameboy Advance emulator with a large set of games, and I've thought how nice it would be to play these on the big screen.  Especially Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis, one of my favourite games, which I would like to see as a DLC for the PSP game.

But once again, I bring around the point that these are simply musings of a Gamer who wants the world.  If we ever see any of these in the future, I'll be happy.

Oh wait, the Steambox is coming.  It's a Console that allows you to play games from your Steam Library.

Close enough.

Heck, I may even be able to play World of Warcraft through it too.  Though I don't want to pay for it any more.  I think about when the game will actually die, and how much of a waste it will be to have a game like that closed up, and how cool it would be to have Blizzard make a stand alone RPG in it, covering all the significant events that cropped up, from clearing out the training grounds of enemies, to finding out what happened to Magni Bronzebeard after Arthur took Frostmorne, to the Cataclysm.

That or do a storyline on specific character combos.  Like the Orc Warrior, the Night Elf Hunter, the Human Mage, the Goblin Engineer, etc etc etc. But that'll have to wait for WoW to die out first.  I'm still waiting for Starcraft Ghost, regardless of it's Indefinite hold.

18 January 2013

Laughing over Dice

Next week is Cancon.  And I'm sad I won't be going for a few reasons, mainly that I like some of the guys who rock up down there, and I have a few friends down there that I would have liked to have seen before I rock on to the 'Zoo, but it's mostly because of the games I had tonight.

It was a practice night for the Lads going down, and Greg was happy to play some games out on his back deck.  So we gathered together and began rolling dice.

I was playing with Humph, and while I usually somewhat dread it because Gorton Grundback is a Stunty Bastard, but I was surprised how well I played out!  I ended up crippling a Grundback Blaster, a Ghordson Driller, and destroying another Blaster and a Ghordson Basher!

I was very pleased with myself.  Sure, I lost my Behemoth next turn to my mistake of leaving him out in the open, and I stuffed up a charge thinking 14" was actually 11, but I ended up coming out pretty well.  May have gotten the chance to take out Durgen Madhammer if I hadn't lost on Scenario.

The game though brought back a good feeling of fun.  It's been a while since I've played Warmachine and tonight brought back memories of some of the other tournaments I've attended and how much fun I had.  And it made me wish I had planned well enough to actually make it to CanCon.

I've had a lot of good experiences when I went to tournaments.  Heck, made Best Sportsman before, which made me laugh.  But I always came out with new friends in them, or caught up with interstate friends.

I still remember a night when a fella from the Warmachine forums messaged me out of the blue.  I pretty much didn't know he existed until that point.  He said he was a Polish fella backpacking across Australia and thought it wouldn't be any harm to send me a message and ask for a bed for a night or two.  He got lucky.

So did I, in hindsight.  Letting a stranger stay in my house?  I shouldn't be so easy to convince.

When he arrived, I found him outside Central Station and gave him an option.  We can go straight back home, or we can go out for a game.  He took the game option, and I obliged.  They had some models there after all for us to play with, and it's great way to get to know each other by laughing over dice.

It's how I met a lot of my gaming friends.  And when I move to the US, I hope I'll meet people the same way.

07 January 2013


The past few months, about six of them actually, my friends have been going ga-ga over the Xcom: Enemy Unknown, not only after the release but in the lead up to it they were swapping war stories from back in yester-year.

And I haven't had a clue what they were talking about, whether it was panicking from the sudden arrival of a Sectopod, or firing several green orbs straight into the boss from the beginning of the map after mind-control hopping Aliens.

That was until I borrowed Aaron's Xbox copy from him.

I began the game on Normal, and immediately Aaron began berating me for my laziness, for not beginning on Classic.  I reasoned with him that I had never actually played an Xcom game before, so I haven't the foggiest how the game actually worked.  Movement, accuracy, defensive positions, let alone what I would have available for this fight against aliens.

But there I was, leading four hapless souls into battle, following the rails that the games tutorial provided, and a small story of how one Soldier, Santiago Gonzalez, later to be "Crater" the Heavy, survived an attack from two little grey aliens.

Then the game really began.  Randomly chosen maps.  Strange alien encounters.  Terrible match ups.  And cliche'd voice acting (A charm, i find).  I had worked my way quickly through everything, and Aaron commended me on getting halfway through the game within about 3 months of the games timeline.

The biggest encounter I can think of, where I began laughing maniacally (only slightly) was when an Abductor class ship had landed.  The gaping maw of the rear bay doors lay open, with raised pieces of cover lay about, and I stayed there, as wave after wave of enemy came into range only to be shot down by Plasma Fire, again and again and again.
Sidenote: Just saying you shot down a Heavy Floater to your partner gets a really confused response.
But after Aaron's commendation, I had decided to take the time to finish my researches, upgrade all my weapons, and properly equip my squad.  Because I was falling behind, and quite badly.  Elite Mutons tend to shrug off Light Plasma and Laser fire.

Then, I became... bored.  I felt like I had to get an entire set of Psychic Soldiers, and spent my time searching for new Soldiers and making them Colonels, because god DAMN Colonels are better than Squaddies.

Sure, you can give them Titan Armour with Chitin Plating, which will give them a great health bonus, but what about the bonus 3 spaces for your Support guy so he can bolt up and Arc Thrower a Thin Man?

Or what about the Close Quarters skill for your Assault Soldiers who will sit about 5 spaces away from a Muton Berserker, Shoot them, triggering the Berserkers insatiable desire to get close to whomever damaged him, and then get shot again because of the skill?  Double Whammy of Alloy Cannon, bitches.  It's great.

Then you get MIND CONTROL.  Which can be really dangerous.  You can't Mind Control Hop as I mentioned before, but you do gain the Line of Sight of the target alien.  And that can fuck up your whole day.  I had a Muton trigger another Muton Trio, an Elite Muton trio, and a Sectopod.  All running around your god damn flanks and making you panic when your 23 health Assault Colonel is being shot at by the whole fucking lot of them.

I digress.

But that is the charm of the game. You get dropped off in a random map, with a random set of enemies.  You'll get given a heads up of what's there, and how many there are, and on the way in you'll get a clue as to what map you're getting dumped at, but then you have to find your targets, get a hold of them, and strangle their little mongrel necks.

Occasionally the Council will ask something of you, a simple request of "Can you disarm this bomb" or "can you escort this such-and-such" and you'll be amply rewarded with Scientists, Engineers, Money and/or a new soldier.  The only thing you have to worry about are the numerous thin men that may or may not hoard you.

Though they do drop about a half dozen on you after you deactivate bombs.  That's pretty funny.  Especially when most of your squad is on Overwatch and then EVERYONE shoots that one guy who turned up.

Haha, classic.

Now I want to focus on one thing, and that's the end of the game.  For those who haven't done it, this is a spoiler alert.  So I bid you adieu, because you've got a surprise coming your way.

The only other thing I would like to say is that if Xcom were made into a First Person Shooter, or a Third Person Shooter, Ala Gears of War, that would be very awesome.

So it's a bit shit.  It doesn't really explain anything, like why they're there or anything.  And yeah, sure, it's nice you're fighting a series of monsters that you've encountered over the course of your Xcom Career, and it's nice to be in a different map of an alien ship than that bloody stupid supply ship, but...

C'mon.  If I wanted to fight a rail shooter, I'd go play Gears of War.

But I effectively got that on the final run. "Oh look, Sectoids.  Oh look, Cyberdiscs.  Oh look, Floaters.  Oh look, Chryssalids.  Oh look, Mutons and a Berserker.  Oh look, three Ethereals and two Elite Mutons."

And I don't know what the fuck happened, but that last encounter didn't even finish?  I got two of the Ethereals down to 3 health in two turns.  They had a turn, and spent that dropping Jenny down by about 14 health and mind controlling my Sniper, but then it rolled on to the final cut scene where the Volunteer bravely sacrifices himself by taking the Alien Temple ship away from the planet as it turned itself into a black hole.

That was nice.  Yeah, totally nice.  Even let the rest of the squad get on the Skyranger first.  Very considerate of him.

But.  Yeah.  I would have liked to have fought more enemies.  What about a combo of enemies?  Enemies that match well when fighting me?  Hell, even hoard me with Thin Men if you want, just get me shaking in my boots more than when I first came across Chryssalids in that Terror Mission.

Chryssalids, which run around killing Civilians and START MURDERING EVERYONE INTO ZOMBIES.

But no.  I didn't get that.  It was... Dull.  And the most exciting it got was an unfinished fight with Three Ethereals and two Elite Mutons.

The fear in my boots.  I miss it.  Hence why I have begun again on Classic Mode.  And I will probably shit myself again when I see those Chryssalids again.

Yes, it certainly can.
Xcom 1994