Friday, October 31, 2008

FalloutLog 01

After grinding to a halt with FC2, I called up the store yesterday morning to see if there was any hope of getting Fallout 3 at the end of the day like FC2. "It was an FC2 deal" they sad. "They ring us up and say it's good to go, then we ring you guys". Ok, well let me know if it's available then, because I have another long night rebuilding servers if it's not in. As it turned out it I got the call around midday saying it's good to go, just as I was finalising plans to shoot through early from work as compensation for another late night. Perfect!

Fired up the into with Cameron and Sandy watching on. It looked familiar from a teaser released months ago, so I thought I'd be Ok for Cameron to watch. We were then greeted with a birth scene with proud dad asking what he got, a boy or a girl? A glowing box appears for you to choose. Wha? interactive character creation? It's done just right.

We're now 1 and escaping from the creche we find a kids book "You're SPECIAL". Opening it up it once again surprises me that we're stepping though character creation in an interactive way. The primary stats are the same, the blurb is almost identical from Fallout 2, but it's oh so well laid out. I'm grinning as the similarities meld in with this new experience.

Skipping forward again to a 10 year old birthday party and my very own PIPBoy, this time a wrist computer with almost the same interface as in Fallout 2, but now it's ingrained into the game. I love it. Much more intuitive and yet so very similar.

Another skip forward and we're sitting a GOAT exam to find out what type of job we're suited to. Once again it's an interactive way of setting your skill preferences, but in an Ultima IV type question and answer session. You can change it once you're done to what skills you wanted if you've played it before. The last question is awesome.

One more timeshift leads into a dilemma. Dad's left the vault and everything is going to shit. I finally make it out of there too, but a few of the mentors developed though the moulding process are killed either at the hand of the overseer or by me. I'm free of the vault and good riddance.

Before I exit I get one last chance to change any of the settings before they are permanent ala Oblivion. I didn't really see the connection to oblivion through the whole process until that final screen, then it all seemed to slot together as the same type of mechanic. I had to repeat the process once because it needed a total restart once i signed up to Games of Windows LIVE and the non-skippable scenes of the birth process was a right royal pain, much like Oblivion.

Outside is awesome. After coming off a FarCry sensation I was pleased with the decimated vista that greeted me as I stepped out of the vault. The Oblivion feeling was still fresh and I mulled about whether it felt more like Oblivion or FarCry. Outside it definitely loses it's Fallout charm and drops more into a regular open world FPS, but it's holding its own so far.

I had a bit of a purposeful deviation to see if there were any interesting things to find scattered around away from the beaten path down to Megaton, but there was precious little growing, let alone stuff to collect. I sauntered back toward the city and met my first Wastelanders in the form of a travelling salesman complete with 2-headed cow and bodyguard (must be standard fare). I traded some junk I vacuumed out of the vault in my not-so-hasty exit for a laser pistol. I had picked up energy weapons as a priority skill since it fit better with the science look I was going for, but remembered an agonizing wait to get ahold of a laser in Fallout 2 when I tried the same build. Having a blaster and energy clips already is awesome. I'm happy with skill picks already.

Megaton is at the top of the hill and robbie-the-robot greets me with a canned advert spruking the pleasures found inside. Nice touch. The Sherriff was just inside the gates and gave me some instructions about the city as well as having an issue with a bomb he'd like me to solve. Talked him into giving me 5 times the caps (?) for doing it. I haven't seen it yet, but how hard could diffusing a bomb be?

The problem with the bomb is that it's fkn HUGE! Say, 10 times the size of Fat Boy? I doubt a plane would have even been able to carry it. There's also some crazies paying homage to it as "the bringer of life". I tell you what, if that thing went off there'd be NO life within 1000Kms. Turns out I don't even have sufficient skill to even open it up to have a look, and I'm giving it a wide berth anyway. Maybe my skill choices weren't all that flash? Damnit Fallout and you're penchant for agonizing choices at character creation!

Poked my head into most of the shops and buildings in the city to see what's going on. The freaky barkeep at the saloon turned out to quite a likeable zombie, more so than the regular "me first" mentality. He also buys my junk at a better price, so he's now lumbered with 50,000 plates and spoons I hoovered from the common sleeping area.

The water sanitation plant needed help, but it too needed more skill than I had; or so I thought. Revisiting my inventory revealed a set of overalls from 101 that boosted my maintenance skill just enough to fix the leaks around town. 2 of the 3 were easy to find, but the third eluded me for ages. It's amazing how many pipes there are in the town when you're looking for them.

Next was a trip outside to see a lady about some monies owed to trade for info on my Dad. She turned out to be more believable than the slimeball running the bar that sent me on this mission, but she seemed to give me more than he was asking for to do the right thing. Something didn't add up, but I'm richer and happier. I bet there's a sting when i get back to trade for the information though.

Dug around the wreckage of the old town for some random pre-world items, but stumbled into a firefight that I eventually realised I'd caused. I had walked past a blown up school and heard shooting so I got closer for a look. I didn't know they had seen me and were trying to shoot me, but were just lousy shots. I taught them a baseball lesson in why you'd want to aim straight. They turned out to be raiders. Probably not the brightest and most dangerous, but they weren't really much of a threat. What are all the Megatron citizens whinging about if a vault-n00b can take them out with a baseball bat?

The school was filled with pre-war books. Some charred, but still saleable (Gob will love these). I feel a bit like a pack horse lumbering all this armour and goodies back to town for a few more bottle tops. I'll be back this way for sure to relieve these guys of their burdensome armour.

Fallout humour is more evident now that I'm used to the outside expanses. Lots of little incidental stuff, like a poster in the school teaching kiddies a Vault-tec inspired duck-and-cover strategy.

Cleansing the school also got me to level 4, and enough skill points to look at the bomb. It's relatively straight forward and the 500 cap windfall makes me probably the richest guy in town. I'm now dealing in stimpaks as a pseudo $50 to keep Gob happy buying my leftovers. I also have a house!

Here it is, home sweet home ... What's that smell? There's milk still in the fridge?

The last happy snap introduces a new character. I picked up a toaster in the vault and it reminded me of talkie-toaster, so he's my companion from now on. I'll see how many shots I remember to put him in.

With a place to stash stuff I started to unload some no-so-immediate things I'd been carrying around. Extra guns and armour purely as spare parts. I like the new maintenance section. you can fix anything if you have the same type of equipment, but not as well as a full-time mechanic. I'm pretty gifted in the tinkering business so it might be worth a dabble. There's also plans I picked up for a home-made bomb that needed nuka-cola, an ashtray and a tin can or something. Looks like all the junk I've been hoovering might actually be used. Gonna have to stash 2 of each just to be safe. I feel like Noah...

Finally made it down to the supermarket for some "book research" and got acquainted with another raider nest. I finally figured out the VATS system. It's great for lining up 4-5 shots at once rather than just about aiming. Especially from hidden cover you can almost guarantee an ashen pile at the end of the laser barrage. Found my first hackable computer too, and it let me into a room filled with goodies.

There's so much stuff here I drag it out to the doors, hoping for a quick fast-travel to get me home. No such luck. Can't fast-travel when overburdened. Now I'm wishing I had put a few more pips into strength. I left it all inside the door. Going to be maybe 3-4 trips to get it all back. Do I need all those plates ???

All Fallen Out

Ok, Fallout 3 wins. This game is amazing, especially after FarCry 2 left me wanting to interact more with the people to give me more valid options other than "kill this guy". It's FarCry environments laid on top of Oblivion freedom, all in a classic Fallout style.  I'm sure the guys doing Michael's uni course on RPG's are going to to be pleased. This IS Fallout. The next generation of Fallout for another generation of gamers.

I'm feeling pressured about the Game Deluge, especially after I've ramped up my involvement with CollectorsEdtition, but so far so good. FarCry 2 stepped back into the shadows to leave me with an open window for Fallout 3's early release yesterday. The only thing is I doubt I'm going to be able to put down F3 anytime soon. 7 days until LBP. 14 days to Wrath and GH:WT. Erkk. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mavericks: The Blathering

Mavericks: The Blathering: A Parody of Collectible Card Games based on the 2008 Election Season

GameLog 63

Far Cry 2 (10h) - After a whinge about emulation software from the DRM, I decided that was the final straw and time for a format. The new motherboard made the transition a bit easier, and a new external enclosure with 2 extra 500Gb HDD's made it easy to try something different. I've been fiddling around with truecrypt at work for password files and the new version allows whole disk encryption. Took about 2 days to get set up, but it's looking Ok. There doesn't seem to be any noticable performance hit on games using the transparent encryption.

Ausgamers did a pretty good review of the game, but the comments are pretty spot on too. Software mouse = boo! Multiplayer = Boo! Everything else = YaY!
Or you could have a pisstake at the buddies. I can't wait for Zeropunctuation's angle ...

Colonization (5h) - Tiny map only has 1 player and the natives. Kinda boring, but good for total land grab.

World of Goo (2h) - Bit of towering at work

GH3(2h) - Tried some hard songs again after some training analogies of Fast, Slow, In time.

Warhammer Online (1h)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'd give you the Charizard

A Pokemon analogy to the current financial crisis.

FarCry 2: Collector's Edition

After delving into the inner workings of, I thought i'd take a bit more time opening up and recording what goes into a collector's edition box.

First up is Farcry 2. I 'd forgotten I'd pre-ordered it, but I'd been over to Gametraders anyway to talk about CE.o. Hopefully the dynamic storyline lives up to the hype.


Complete pack:

Art Book:
The making of - DVD:
And finally, the crate opened. As far as I can tell, this game beats them all in the crate review system; actually coming packed in a crate!

The Goo is in my Head!

The morning after I finished World of Goo I doodled up a telescope while waiting for Cameron to finish his Brekky.

Android fully open source

Android is now available as open source (Android Open Source Project)

 | AY

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Baba Yetu

Soren Johnston wrote recently on the music of Civ 4, which reminded me of Baba Yetu once again. I had found Christopher Tin's blog recently purely because of that song, and the memories of countless hours replaying Civ4 and just sitting at the title screen soaking it in.

Now Soren's done up a back story to Baba Yetu along with numerous youTube performances.

Here's my fave; amazing body in the song from such a small group:

A Fanatic on .. err .. CivFanatics did up the lyrics.

As I was going through the vids I thought that this would be an AWESOME Guitar Hero: World Tour song for the trackmaker. Might see if Christopher has a PS3 ;).

Monday, October 20, 2008

GameLog 61 & 62

Colonization (30h) - Remake of the Sid Meier classic. Plays almost identically, but more emphasis on defeating the old world rather than sucking up the taxhikes and seeing out the turns.

Deus Ex (15h) - After a stint at Fallout 2, I opened up Deus Ex for another step up the ladder of "great" games I didn't get to play 1st time around. Plays more like MGS than Quake. Didn't really get deep enough into the story to really see it shine.

World of Goo (10h) - Nuff said

FM08 (5h) - Gateshead, 2nd BlueSquare Premier - Only a few more games to go in the season. I'm in the FA Trophy finals which I was gunning for, but also managed to get into the Setanta Shield final for a back-to-back win.

Warhammer Online (5h)
Veeyar, 19 Bright Wizard, Lustria
Veeyar, 12 Shaman, Anlec

GH3(4h) - Just mucking around after work.

Trackmania nations (3h) - Real F1 Racing again.

+ Lots of little demos and online Kongregate games. Procrastination mode is keeping me away from doing something substantial and the next big wave of collectibles are on their way.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Gone all Gooey

I was intrigued at one of Andrew's articles. At first I thought it was half-wake half-dream ramble, but enough made sense to keep reading. In the end I didn't really know what to think, but it made me feel better for reading it. I read it again, then again. I got more and more out of it each time, like reruns through hitchhikers.

I took me a while to realise that it was a kudos piece to an indie game World of Goo, which lead me to nab the demo to see what it was about. An hour later the office was dark. Oops! Time to go home. It played like Bridge builder and Gish combined, but with a whole lot of additional style. I checked when I got home who the creator was because it seemed quite likely it was Chronic Logic finally breaking out. Alas no. Bridge builder will still have a special place in my gaming memory, but we're onto a whole new thing here.

The demo had me hooked, but the tower building challenge would have been enough for me apart from knowing I didn't have enough goo to make the tallest. A $30 outlay seemed a fair deal to really see what the game was like. I'm glad I got it too. I had briefly read some other plaudits for the game (10/10's everywhere), but I'd seen enough to warrant it anyway.

You know what this game reminds me of? Portal. Here you are, caught up in some interesting puzzles where each room seems fresh, then all of a sudden you're in the middle of a story. There's a subtle twist where the "Goo" could mean something entirely different as a Corporation; a world corporation; an evil corporation that bled out the internet with personalized advertising. Man, that brought a smile to my face!

I've raved to Sandy about it during tea time and have literally laughed out loud at certain sections that dragged her over to have a look. I'm pretty sure she'll play it once her Colonization game is over.

After tea there was an agonizing choice. I had the 300 max goobers to build my tower, but there was still more to the story. I tried an idea I had for a 3 pronged tower, but it failed miserably so I headed back into the story. Again like portal, the whole storyline finished up pretty quickly and left me feeling comfortably complete. Well, apart from those couple of OCD's I missed ...

This game out-portalled Portal. The puzzles were fresher each level, the OCDs more devious, the music on the whole was better (but it's hard to go past the closing credits & song of portal) and I loved the art style, it all fits for one smooth inhale. Love it. Now I can't stop thinking about it and it has me blogging away at 1am after finishing it off. Maybe it's tower time?

One thing I must have missed was the hype. I had thought that since it was an indie game it stood to reason that this one wouldn't have come up on my radar much sooner, but there have been people pre-ordering since February. If I can stumble on games like this and enjoy it all the more because it's all new, then I'm turning in my boarding pass for future hype trains.

Oh and now Andrew's post makes even more sense. Fan fiction for an indie game. Who'd a thunk it! (Doh! just remembered Boatmurdered)

And another thing I forgot, no DRM! And it closes immediately on Alt-F4! It's just a pleasure to use.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Collector's Edition

I had an idea for a site to help collectors of computer game paraphenealia gather together, but it looks like it's already in the making.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Now I know my ABCs

An odd thought occurred to me while listening to Cameron sing through the Alphabet Song. The last line finishes with "Next time won't you sing with me?". Who is that question directed to? If Cameron is singing it to me, is it an invite to sing along next time purely for accompaniment? It certainly feels as though the words are meant as a direction from adult to child, or mentor to pupil; an encouragement to learn the song by singing along. It also smacks of progression. Once you have learned the song you can then pass it down. The student becoming the teacher.

I don't recall such an overtly learning centred verse existing in other songs, although I'm surprised it has taken 35 years to realise that the words are so purposeful. Maybe it's the Teaching degree kicking in; changing my mind to look for pedagogical principles.

GameLog 59 & 60

Uni is finished for the year and school holidays have come and gone.

Warhammer Online (30h)
Veeyar, 18 Bright Wizard, Lustria
Veeyar, 11 Shaman, Anlec
Finally got some time to build up some toons in Warhammer. Lustria started off pretty good, but it's a deadzone compared to the betas. Finally made up another character on the OpenRvR server and it's a totally different experience with Scenarios popping with less than a 10 minute wait.

GH3(7h) - Sam brought over his guitar for some co-op and battles for the Saturday LAN. Good fun. Looking forward to GH:WT.

Fallout 2 (7h) - Started playing Fallout 2 in preparation of Fallout 3 in a month's time. It probably hasn't aged as well as I remember.

Trackmania nations (5h) - Real F1 Racing have set up 100 famous F1 circuits with a 5 lap, no restart server. Seemed odd to start with and a little anal with the ruleset, but I'm enjoying it a lot now.

FM08 (5h) - Gateshead, 2nd BlueSquare Premier - Read a bit about FM09 and it's new 3D mode. Either this version is going to be the last of the greats or the new one will be the first of an even greater series. Triggered me into at least finishing off the season.

Kongregate (2h) - Played enough to get a couple more cards for Kongai
Kongai (2h) - Started some ranked games because the practice was getting a little antsy with people kicking or dropping more often than not.

Friday, October 03, 2008

New TV

Finally picked up a new TV after our old 68cm chinese CRT finally died after 3 dodgy years. After spending a week looking around online and in the stores I finally decided yesterday that it came down to 2 decisions:

1) Get a decent plasma:
I had read great reviews of the Panasonic TH-42PX8A 106cm HD Digital Plasma, especially its ability to display SD in HD as my DVD-R will only be playing back SD. Getting one for around $1300 looked achievable onine.

2) Get an 80-90cm LCD:
After finally tossing out the need for 1080p (even though I have a PS3), I just needed a decent 80cm HD TV for under $1000, hopefully ~$800.

I went in to Clive Peeters with the plan, get them to drop the price of either one of these to my target and I'd walk out the store a happy man. For all my use of the internet I'd still rather talk with a real person when it comes to deal time. I want them to look me in the eye and say it's a good deal, and assure me that it's going to last a while. That to me is more important than a bit of paper for warranty. If someone wants to stick their reputation on the line with the sale, then I'm happy to trust them.

The plasma price was almost there at $1450, but no 80cm LCDs under $1100. Eventually got the price of the plasma to $1300 and was almost settled on it when I looked a little harder at the screen. It was playing back some NTSC American Football review and was shearing all over the place. I got him to hook up the normal terrestrial signal to see what it was like and it too didn't cope very well. It got better when you went ~3-4m away, but I lie on a matress in front of the TV only ~2m away. It might be a great 106, but useless to me.

So I turned to the LCDs and was again looking at another Panasonic that came in cheapest, a
Panasonic VIERA TX-32LXD80A 80cm knocked down to $970. It looked great, fit with the DVD-R, but just a little expensive. Hunted around some other stores but couldn't get anything near that price, so I picked it up with a moderate smile on my face.

Grabbed the PS3 from Mark's on the way home as well as 2 HDMI cables to complete the setup. Plugged it in and set it up straight from the antannae first to test HD. It's a dream. Sweet crisp picture, no artifacts, good on movement. Oddly enough the difference between SD and HD was mainly noticable through the sound; the picture was great on normal SD.

I then plugged in the DVD-R through HDMI and set up the VIERA link. The signal comes through the same from normal SD channels, but was a little lossy from playback. Might have to set the recording level up a notch now that I have a TV that can handle it. Sound was great too, but VIERA link was a little gimpy. Yes you could control the DVD-R from the TV remote, but not nearly as easily as from its own remote. It will be convenient if you can't be assed getting up to get the other remote, but if they are both within reach it's a waste (much as I thought).

Watched a couple of hours of normal tellie and was really impressed. It was better than I was expecting and the system was working wonderfully together. I had the stereo running off the TV now instead of from the DVD-R, so no matter what I'm watching, be it HDTV, SD thru DVD-R, DVDs, DivX, or PS3, it can all be heard properly. Now I have a real incentive to set up the satellite speakers.

Next I set up the PS3. At first it failed to play any sound, but I'd fiddled with HDMI at Mark's for a comparison and it didn't redetect a new TV on the other end of HDMI. Kinda silly, wasn't that part of the point of HDMI? Anyway, didn't take long to get the PS3 to set up the link again and get it all working sweetly. GH3 in 720p was Ok, but there were some noticable jaggies like there wasn't any anti-aliasing. Might fiddle with 1080p to see if it cleans it up through an upscale and downscale. Since the PS3 had been sitting upstairs for the past 2 months it also hadn't been connected to the net, so of more concern was the 50 minutes lost to automatic updates.

Bottom line: I love it. Thought I'd been forced a downgrade by the plasma, but I definitely made the right choice.

Guitar Hero World Tour Hands-On Preview -

Digging around a bit today on some AusGamers previews for the coming crunch months and it looks like I messed an excellent Guitar Hero World Tour Hands-On Preview. I'm dead keen for the ability to make your own songs (and that fact alone will make me buy the game over RB, RBII), but I was pleased to hear about the drumkit. Cameron will be pleased.

Free Full Games

Ausgamers has a couple of new free games:
Rise and Fall: Civilizations at War Free Full Game
Area 51 Free Full Game