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Everything posted by Upthrust

  1. I'm curious what Chris meant when he said it's a shame that from now on most people's first experience of Half Life 1 will be through Black Mesa Source. After only making it 20-30 minutes into Half Life 1 and stopping (I think because I was busy, not because I didn't like the game), I've been meaning to pick it back up again, and Black Mesa Source seems like a perfect opportunity to do so. Do the merits of the original HL1 outweigh the graphics improvements, or is it a shame similar to the way that fans of Star Wars consider it a shame that their children will almost always experience the CGI-added re-releases*? By the latter I guess I mean that there is something kind of sweet to thinking that everyone who experience this great thing that I enjoyed will experience it just as I did when it was originally released, and it is a shame when George Lucas shows up and changes that fact. Also: since I only tried HL1 after playing HL2, JP's comments about how surreal it was for Half Life 2 to suddenly give a name and personality to totally disposable characters works both ways. For the short time I played Half Life 1, I was trying to process the new knowledge that there used to be dozens of Kleiners, and they were all jerks. Oh goodness yes.
  2. Quitter's Club: Don't be ashamed to quit the game.

    I actually played three >60-hour playthroughs of Oblivion before I actually bothered to beat the main quest.
  3. Quitter's Club: Don't be ashamed to quit the game.

    The first time I ever quit a game was Ocarina of Time. Ten-year-old me just did not yet understand the concept "the tool you find in the dungeon is used to kill the boss," (even though my First Video game Ever was Link's Awakening) so I was stuck slashing away at Gohma. It didn't help that I was a miserable shot, so nothing happened when I actually did try shooting the slingshot. I ran through the Great Deku Tree three times before shelving it. Of course I did go back a year later, when a friend told me how to beat Gohma, and enjoyed OoT quite a bit, but at the time that I quit I was content to never play it again. The dungeon layout was incomprehensible, the graphics made a lot of things too dark to see, and the boss was impossible to beat. I played Pokemon Silver over and over, but only to the point that you beat the Johto Elite 4. I only bothered to go to Kanto once and didn't make it very far. I think the appeal of any particular Pokemon game runs out for me about level 50, when all my Pokemon are as evolved as they are going to be and have acceptable moves. Pokemon has typically been more about assembling a team (notable exception: first time I played, I used nothing but Venusaur) and exploring, so the moment new places to explore run out and my team is assembled, I am done. The part where you reach the Donkey Kong arcade game in Donkey Kong 64 was the moment I realized why arcades were going out of business. There are a number of reasons why I didn't finish Deus Ex:Human Revolution, and the fact that the plot refers to with a straight face was a surprisingly important one. I suspect the real issue was that the game never suggests that it has a sense of how goofy it was, even though a lot of elements of the game were goofy as heck: You have (ugly) sunglasses embedded directly in your face! Adam doesn't find it the least bit exciting (not even for a moment!) that he can now jump twice his own height! I stuck around as long as I did (the end of the Shanghai part) because I liked the stuff about transhumanism and enjoyed the stealth gameplay enough. I stuck with Final Fantasy 12 for probably ~40 hours, totally convinced I was enjoying it. I stopped for a while to focus on school and ended up coming back a few months later. I had no idea what was going on anymore, so I turned it off and haven't revisited it. In retrospect it feels a bit like the Civilization of RPGs -- fun if you stick to it regularly, but requires remembering so much context that it's hard to pick back up after some time off. And it is hard to keep combat from feeling repetitive.
  4. The Walking Dead

    Assorted thoughts, in no particular order. Big spoilers for everything in Episode 3. I'm finally getting the hang of not asking every dialogue option possible. This game may yet train me out of my Skyrim habits. PS:
  5. Pokemon

    The original pokemon games definitely had pokemon with two types, but I understand a number of the changes made in later generations (I haven't played anything more recent than Silver) are balance tweaks that do make big differences. Special is no longer the monstrous attack/defense stat it was in Generation 1. Dark pokemon were added to create a counter to psychic types that wasn't bug (no idea why there are steel pokemon). I think now pokemon attack types aren't hard-coded to be uniformly special or physical -- meaning the high-attack special-based fire pokemon are now worthwhile (maybe some generations fixed this by giving fire pokemon high special, but I know it was an issue in Generation 1). I will say that deliberately avoiding familiar pokemon is a good way to enjoy things. In my most recent game of Blue I made sure not to use any pokemon in my team I had used before (starting around Cerulean City, as there isn't much variety before then). I enjoyed that restriction enough that I kept playing until I filled out all 150 of the pokedex. I imagine that same strategy could help Moosferatu enjoy Black/White a bit more, just replace "pokemon you have used before" with "pokemon that gives you deja vu".
  6. Episode 179: Spy Games

    I just had a chance to confirm this today. I went to the Ottomans to ask if they were game for invading Songhai. It turns out they were, but wanted 10 turns to prepare. A few turns later one of my spies reported to me that the Ottomans were secretly planning to invade Songhai (I guess we don't keep our field agents informed about these things?). A couple turns after that, I captured Egypt's capital and the Ottomans denounced me. They never came back to start the invasion. So in sum: I get a totally accurate report that the Ottomans are planning to invade Songhai, but those plans end up getting canceled. There's no way to guarantee that every single report is accurate, but some are. Of course, if they're all accurate, it does make it pretty clear that the AI just sometimes doesn't know what it's doing. I will say this in favor of Civ 5's espionage system: it takes such little effort and thought to interact with it that it never interferes with my enjoyment of the game.
  7. Odd quotes that stick

    Bleda will lead us to ruin!
  8. Thirty Flights of Loving

    The first time I played Gravity Bone was during midterms of my last semester as an undergraduate. I have a pretty terrible habit when I'm pulling all-nighters, which is my diet consists almost entirely of oranges and tea.
  9. Bastion

    Well, maybe not obviously the best weapons in the game, but I sure like them. The mortar is monstrously powerful. I pretty much used the carbine like a mortar, so I switched to the slower, more powerful counterpart. It's especially nice at dealing with the idol that blocks damage, as it'll just bounce the mortar round somewhere nearby and do damage anyway. As for the bellows, I originally wrote it off the moment I got it, but it's second-to-none at murdering bird swarms, and doesn't need to be upgraded to pierce armor. Plus there's something gleefully sloppy about burning and exploding everything in sight.
  10. Bastion

    I'm not sure if you mean the cannon or the ram, but I disliked the ram and thought part where you have the cannon was awesome. The cannon gives you this great moment toward the end of the game. You grab the cannon and immediately feel like a badass. This could go through the entire level, or after a few minutes you realize - like I did - something to the effect of "Holy balls, I am such a badass with the pike and carbine that in my hands they are better than a cannon made of pure destruction."* After a couple minutes you come across the arsenal, put the cannon away, and go back to feeling all the more awesome for using your simpler weapons. You could argue that this tendency just makes the cannon a disappointing late-game weapon, but only if you are heartless. The ram, on the other hand, takes those weapons away. It's nice to feel powerful at the end of a game, but it's especially nice to feel powerful in some way that you feel you have earned. The section at the end of Half-Life 2 works for me because I've been practicing with the gravity gun all game (plus there's a small sense of vindication -- I can't be the only person who tried to blast zombies away with the gravity gun once I got it). I suppose it might also work for people who just prefer guns that shoot bullets -- suddenly this novelty weapon becomes the most powerful thing in the game, in which case it works because it is a surprising reversal. *This, of course, was when I was young and foolish. It is obvious now that the bellows and the mortar the best weapons in the game.
  11. Game writing: the best of the worst

    No, but thanks to you and a Wikipedia search I now know that Travis Touchdown and the TF2 Medic are voiced by the same guy.
  12. I never really ran into the end-of-the-game gang-up moment. If anything my allies were content to sit on Kyushu and Shikoku and let my Choshu domain do the entirety of the conquering for the emperor. Saga managed one to conquer one province next to Edo just as I was going to finish the game. It was a bit like they were saying "Hey thanks for slogging all the way across Japan for the emperor, but I'd really like the honor of taking Edo," but that was all the competition I ever got out of my allies. There was an interesting diplomatic issue for a while where Satsuma and Saga fought to a stalemate on Kyushu for most of the game which gave the sense that there could be conflict between pro-Imperial forces, but after Satsuma conquered Kyushu (and the Saga fled to Shikoku!) they mostly sat on their respective islands. Satsuma sometimes moved their armies flirtatiously close to my railroads, but never actually used them. Saga seemed to behave a bit more reasonably by putting large stacks into one boat, charging that boat toward Edo, then pulling back when it seemed the Shogunate navy was coming anywhere close to their transport boat.
  13. Fall of the Samurai

    I played a Long Campaign where I just marched East from the Choshu domain to Edo, and conquered everything in between. Almost all my newly-trained units made it to the front by way of the railroad. I could get units from the southern tip of Honshu to Edo in about 3 turns, so definitely worth it if you can get it linked up.
  14. Fall of the Samurai

    I love Fall of the Samurai. I just finished my first playthrough as the Choshu (Kiheitai are absolute monsters on the battlefield). I totally agree on the theme: there was something a little sad about seeing a city with a Legendary Dojo and deciding "I have no need for this, burn it down." I also found myself fighting my own people as much as the shogun (figuratively speaking -- I don't let things get that far out of control) because of how much I focused on modernizing as fast as possible. I would have liked more event decisions, thought that might have made the game too unpredictable. It was a nice touch of flavor, especially because I could use them to take a stand against the Western powers (Revere the emperor, expel the barbarians!) even while I had American marines in my ranks. I got the impression Lord of the Rings is a popular suggestion, though LotR's salience is waning lately. Still, I think there are a few reasons why they focus on historical settings. Fantasy tends to be a character-driven genre where the larger political dynamic is less interesting (notably excepting Game of Thrones). You're certainly right that strategy gamers are often history nerds. I think it is also easier to design a historical game because it is clear how samurai, line infantry, and Gatling guns all figure on a battlefield.

    I am dabaimaike in MC. May I build?

    Thank you.

  16. Fallout: New Vegas

    In a way it is a bit of a relief. Two guns with ammo, one set of helmet and armor, some food and drink, and meds. You don't have to think about anything else because there isn't room to think about anything else.
  17. Fallout: New Vegas

    I really hope that isn't the only measure they use.
  18. Fallout: New Vegas

    I really like Sawyer's hardcore mod. Playing the vanilla hardcore mode only felt like a different experience at the beginning of the game for me. After that it was like playing New Vegas with the occasional inconvenience of drinking something every hour or so. The hardcore mod gives a better version of the 'world that hates you' experience. My character now is a fragile alcoholic* who murders livestock for food and makes money by hustling merchants in Caravan games and cheating casinos. Satisfyingly, this character is solidly neutral. The hardcore mod changes the karma system so you don't automatically end up a paragon of humanity by slaughtering a dozen fiends. Combat is surprisingly playable if you're careful, though some characters are suddenly significantly harder to fight (power-armored enemies are stupidly good). I've also begun only carrying two guns at a time instead of hauling an armory with my everywhere I go, which I feel gives a play-style much more flavor. *The +2 strength from drinking whiskey makes a much bigger difference when my maximum carrying weight is 90.
  19. New people: Read this, say hi.

    Hello! I'm totally new here. I heard about Idle Thumbs from other podcasts I listen to when the kickstarter began. I've been working my way through in a marathon of podcasts since then.
  20. Civilization V

    I buy only a few tiles across an entire game. I usually buy tiles to get resources I need quickly or to prevent other civs from getting them. Beside that, I might buy a valuable tile near a new city to help it get started. As long as you get around to building a couple culture buildings in each city, you should have enough land and specialist buildings for your citizens. Starvation is mostly solved by building more farms or food buildings, but getting starvation near the end isn't a bad thing if the city is large. It's usually better to have a smaller city with high production than a large city with low production. While we're talking about vendettas: I am eternally the enemy of Ramkhamhaeng. That guy is a jerk.
  21. Civilization V

    Catherine is permanently on my shit list for the number of times she pulls nonsense like this. It's part of her AI; I think she's the only leader who will declare war on someone she has a declaration of friendship with. I just don't deal with her outside of luxury trades. The diplomacy is a bit hard to get the hang of, but you start to pick up the sense behind it after a while. A few hints: -The friendly/neutral/guarded/hostile indicator is useful, but can be misleading (Catherine is especially fond of declaring war when she appears friendly). -You should usually get 1 for 1 luxury trades. If the AI demands extra, they don't like you. -I'm not sure if the AI will threaten you for stuff, but your relative military power has a lot to do with whether they will attack you. -If the AI demands extra for a research agreement (usually a couple strategic resources, ~50 gold, and open borders) it means you are a few steps ahead in the science game. -If you sign a declaration of friendship, try to trade away all your spare luxury resources as soon as possible so your 'friend' doesn't insist on you giving your luxuries away for free. If you are asked for luxuries by a friend, definitely give it to them (especially in the early game). I started having a lot easier time in diplomacy after I began giving away free luxuries when asked. Also: You occasionally come across a spears vs. tanks scenario, but usually because the AI hasn't bothered to upgrade units. In my current game I'm bombarding Arabian warriors with artillery, the warriors just happen to be fighting alongside cavalry. You can do some pretty anachronistic things though. I recently managed a 19th century space race win with Babylon.