Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Kludging for a Better Tomorrow

Few people believe that we are as tough on computer equipment as we are at work. When asked why I spend extra to buy Panasonic Toughbooks over standard Dell laptops, I told the gentleman that as it is we break about 6 Toughbooks a year and as long as it's under warranty, Panasonic asks me no questions about how it happened, which is good, when you consider that these damn things are literally bulletproof, trying to determine how one would rip the screen when it is mounted in the cab of a vehicle is something I care not to contemplate.

I have also found it to my benefit to be a horrible pack rat. Between budgetary concerns and the slowness of the purchasing process, it's often better for me to just kludge together a solution. Hence I have shelves and cabinets filled with parts and half working examples of the electronic history of mankind.

That leads me to today. Sitting behind me on the shelves above my servers are 9 Toughbooks in various states of destruction. Between them all, I was able to locate one working hard drive to repair a tenth Toughbook whose drive had crashed.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dragon Age: Origins

I have now spent almost a week with Dragon Age Origins, and while I have not completed the game yet, I can say this is not the best Fantasy RPG ever made, it is just a tribute. Much like the Fallout series was the spiritual successor to Wasteland, technically superior, but not resonating with you in the way the original does (who doesn’t love Hobo Dogs and nuke worshipping cultists?). Dragon Age: Origins is the same to Baldur’s Gate. While the wise-ass remarks of Alister and Morrigan (voiced by Claudia Black) are entertaining, it just doesn’t hit home in the same way Minsc’s off the cuff insanity did.

That isn’t to say this is a bad game, it is good, remarkably good. Of course any game that starts out with Tim Curry killing your family and being a complete and total dick that you swear to hunt down and kill gets a thumbs up from me.

The graphics are excellent, and the voice acting is superb. Only Batman: Arkham Asylum has had better voice acting. Which is good, you spend a lot of time talking in this game. The only problem with the voice sound is that during cut scenes when there is a sudden shift in perspective, some times the voice cuts out or goes almost too quiet to hear.

Environmental sounds are excellent and put to good use. Even using the two speakers on my TV alone (through the HDMI hookup) I could tell where approaching individuals were by the sound they made.

The tactics system is also very good. You can micro-manage your characters actions, ala’ Baldur’s Gate, but it really draws out the battles. The better way is to set your parties tactics. It is basically an in-game tool for scripting AI. You set parameters, actions, and priorities for each character in combat, or use one of the default sets.

For example, I’m playing a heavily armored berserker I want Loriana, my main thief/bard, to attempt to flank and backstab whomever I attack, that can be set in tactics. I want to control a spellcaster’s spell choice, set through tactics, I only want certain characters to hand back and snipe, set through tactics. I want someone to charge at the most powerful enemy on the screen, hit with their most damaging special attack and then run away when they drop to 25% health and chug a potion, set through tactics. Other party based RPGs need to look at this tactics system and copy it, it is that good.

So go get Dragon Age: Origins, easily worth your video game money.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Just in time for Halloween

The Face of Evil, Christopher Lee, was knighted last week. So now we can have Sir Gandalf facing off with Sir Saruman. I love Christophe Lee and no man personifies bad assed evil like him, he's been Death, Dracula, Satan, Saruman, A James Bond Villain, and a Sith Lord, plus he has more on screen sword fights than any actor in history.

This comes from the Guardian Online

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Today's Picture full of win

Again, snagging fromComic Book Resources, thebest comic site on the net bar none. I present today's image full of win from the Marvel Solicits for the Siege crossover (I know, one post after I lament all the damn crossovers, I'm a hypocrite and I suck).

Monday, November 2, 2009

What sold in comics in September?

The September sales numbers are out,

Blackest Night sold over 140,000 units, beating the next biggest seller (Captain America: Reborn) by about 30,000 units. It's sad, I though Secret Invasion was pretty poorly done (it didn't really have an ending, there is still very little in the way of an explanation for the fall out, and when you realize it takes place over a matter of about 2 days you begin to realize all the problems with the thing).

Compared to Blackest Night, it's a master piece of narrative. Blackest Night is like that D&D game everyone has been in at least once where the DM has to drop in a character to explain the plot and shove the characters forward because they have spent the last 3 hour bickering over who gets the extra gold piece left over after a 4 way split.

I tried following it, as did my wife. She gave up after having to keep asking me who some of these characters were that had been dead for nearly 20 years, I gave up when the Indigo Tribe popped up and had to beat everyone over the head with the plot forwarding stick.

To see this sell this way leads me to believe that we will not see the end of these super-mega-ulta-event crossovers in my lifetime.

Also, DC, could I get some characters staying in one place for a bit? You realize that with Beast Boy and Raven now mentoring the Teen Titans and Cyborg, Starfire, and Dick Grayson Batman going to JLA, you really don't have much of a reason to have the Titans anymore?

Oh yeah, way to make my buy Teen Titans again too, I hadn't picked up an issue since around the time of the Judas Contract, and now I'm reading it again, you bastards.

And While I'm bitching, Marvel, fix your fucking release schedule. I'm tired of having weeks were you pop off three issues and then drop 20 on me the next, or going 8 weeks without an issue of a comic and then you pop it on me on back to back weeks.

Check it out:
Oct 21st: 16 releases
Oct 28: 37 releases
Nov 4: 20 releases

Nova comes out in back to back weeks (Oct 28th and Nov 4th), Captain America:Reborn #3 hit the streets on Sept 15th, #4 comes out Nov 4th.

They need to get their act together. If there is one thing DC consistently does better than Marvel it's spreading their releases around and having a fairly regular cycle.