Endless Legend Review

October 4, 2014

Endless Legend is a turn based 4X game set on a distant fantasy level world. Players take control of unique factions with their own abilities and weaknesses, grow, build huge armies and kick the crap of out each other. Eventually, someone wins.

Its a 4X game! If you don’t know what that is, pick up Civilization 5 when its on sale, and you might as well stop reading this review.

The Good
Absolutely amazing UI that blends nicely into the background. Seriously, this is one HELL of a pretty game screen, with an amazing art design team. Seriously, kudos.

Cool, thematic storyline and world with neat animations and storylines, including unique quest lines that lead you to victory. Fun factions with halfway decent writing that will make you want to explore your faction’s storyline.

Some really nice ideas I wouldn’t mind seeing in other 4X games.

The Bad
High levels of micromanagement. By the time I get into the mid/late game with 8-10 cities, I’m getting bored of the game. At this point you are dealing with trade routes, empire effects, guarding all your cities,

Combat is ok, but cities feel almost absurdly vulnurable after playing Civ 5. The only innate defenses they have are these incredibly feeble militia units that trip over their own shoelaces. Building garrison units in every city aren’t really an option either – you will be too busy producing a constant stream of new buildings, and if you want to spend any time on an army, you fall behind on growth if you don’t use it to take a city (which is easy, because the AI is problematic).

I also feel that this game has horrible balancing problems. The Vaulters seem horribly overpowered as an individual faction, and Broken Lords fall off very heavily into the early mid game unless you go on a rampage and start taking over towns. Cultists are just awful on anything but a tiny map.

Custom factions are so broken I don’t even know where to begin. Just… don’t use custom factions unless you want to break the game. The point values for the different abilities are laughable.

And finally, this game is frustratingly random. I don’t mind different things happening in the game, but so much of the game is entirely out of your hands. For example: starting tiles. Civ games usually starts you at terrain that gives 1-2 food,1-2 hammers, 0-2 gold. Terrain in Endless ranges from 0-8 in four different categories, and there’s almost no base bonuses for the city. I’ve had starting hammers ranging from 6 to 36, starting science from 2-30… that’s ridiculously broken from turn one. Another example is quests: you frequently are given quests when you stumble into a ruin or attempt to convert a minor faction to your cause. Sometimes these are as simple as exploring a ruin. Other times, they want you to give them a material you won’t even be able to SEE until turn 100 or so. Get that quest and you’ll have to burn the village to the ground or pay them a ton of money. I should mention that one faction (cultists) relies on being able to convert these villages as quickly as possible to get their army out of control. There’s a very fine line you have to walk, a point where games go from being random fun to random frustrating, and I think Endless crosses that line a bit too far for me.

Who is this for: Turn based strategy fiends who can’t wait until Beyond Earth comes out, but are already bored to tears of Civ 5. Alternatively, people who liked Endless Space and want to continue to support the game.

If I had to give it a score: 6/10. This is not an average game: its a beautiful, highly ambitious game that will likely improve as the developer balances out aspects of it (much as was the case for Endless space).

Even broken, its still a hell of a lot of fun to tear up the country side and conquer the world in the name of your faction.

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Notes on League of Legends Quarter Finals, Day 2 (Cloud 9 vs Samsung Blue)

October 4, 2014

Note: Real life intruded pretty heavily on my viewing of this, sorry.

Pregame: The teams feel much more easily matched here, in that both of them have actually lost games in the group rounds.

Game 1: Sadly I missed this due to some scheduling conflicts. C9 wins, somehow. Will watch later.

Game 2
Early – Missed this part as well.
Mid – Missed this.
Late-  Some smart plays from C9, but SSB are locked tight in those team fights, and they close out with a commanding lead. As usual, the NA team plays brilliantly from behind. SSB did a great job combining Twisted Fate and Teleports to just bamboozle C9 this round.

Game 3
Early- Some crazy risky plays lead to Samsung getting 2 kills at top and then C9 getting one at the bot. Graves is an interesting choice. Not sure I agree with him as a pick – lots of wide damage on him, and SSB’s team is pretty tough (Maokai, Lee Sin, Braum, and Jayce) and I doubt area damage will matter much. 10 minutes in, SSB’s gold lead is something like 200.
Mid – Stuff happens, and I am suddenly busy, but C9 gets gradually pushed out as SSB builds momentum. C9 gets picks, but just about EVERY team fight goes horribly horribly wrong for C9.
Late Game – C9 goes “squit” like a pimple.

Game 4
Again, real life intrudes, and I was suddenly busy during this match.

The very short version of the game is this: SSB develop a gradual lead. Highlights: C9 wins an utterly AMAZING fight at dragon, with Corki as the only survivor and picking up the dragon in the process. This lets C9 recover enough to be a threat to SSB, but SSB gradually gains ground, getting a substantial advantage on turrets and kills. They pop the first inhibitor, but a baron play goes horribly wrong, and C9 goes after SSB’s mid. C9 takes the mid inhibitor and two of the nexus turrets in a kamikaze run similar to that crazy 70+ minute game back in the group stage. They don’t get it quite as low as that crazy agme, but its a near thing before they all get taken down. SSW’s entire team goes up, and they drop on what’s left of C9’s base before the respawn.

So final, is 3-1, with the last game being a very near thing. I would have liked it to have gone to 5… and lets face it, I wanted to see NA get a bit further this year. Now its going to be a Samsung Semi Final, which will be an interesting game to watch. I think I’ll be cheering for SSW next time around: they really seem to have been the strongest team this year, and I hope they continue that performance in the semi finals.

Notes on League of Legends World Championships: Quarter Finals, Day 1

October 3, 2014

Pre Show: Who the hell cares.

Opening: I’m screaming in Korean. I’m screaming in Korean. I’m screaming in Korean. I’m screaming…. IN KOREAN.
http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/59lqle/he-s-singing-in-korean

Samsung White vs TSM
They’ve won every game. They’ve only lost 5 towers in all of them. WHAT?!!? That’s insane! How do you do that? TSM will be lucky to win a game, let alone a best of three. They’ve been playing ok, but they haven’t been roflstomping everyone like SSW has. If TSM wins a game, they should be happy. SSW is the better team.

Game 1
Early: DO SOMETHING! You’ll get crushed if you just sit there against Ryze and Jayce Farming.
Mid: Everything falls apart for TSM.
Late Game: There is no late game.
Other note: I think TSM’s AD carry choice was poor here with those shields. I was thinking they would go for a siege comp with say, Kogma.

Game 2
Early: Ok. Do something other then going 0/2. You might as well go to bed.
Mid: TSM dies the death. By the end I am quoting Orwell about a boot stomping endlessly on a human face.

Game 3
Early: WHAT? WHAT? Somehow TSM goes 2/0 right off the bat and get the first two dragons. TSM manages to pull this one off convincingly around the 30 minute mark.

Game 4
Early: Its not quite as bad as game 1 and 2, but TSM gets fairly convincingly owned here.
Mid: And here too.
Late: Amusingly, TSM manages to completely outmaneuver SSW by responding to a Baron with a push in mid, taking SSW’s inhibitor. This fantastic move forces SSW to defend the nexus and throws SSW on the defensive. The next time they get sneaky though, it goes horribly, horribly wrong and SSW does what they do best: turn a disadvantageous looking team fight into a one sided ass kicking. Pentakill on Imp here turns the game around.

What we have learned.

Team Solo Mid loses when playing the enemies game. But they demonstrated that yes, it is possible to beat them. Also, that TSM did a wonderful job of using Fabian tactics to play from behind with that little maneuver. Sadly, this lesson was not good enough to get them into a semi final spot, but I think they did fantastic here.

I honestly don’t think Samsung White has any particular weaknesses as a team. Beating them seems more on the line of not playing into their greatest strength, which is team fighting. SSW move like a well disciplined machine in a team fight, instantly making the correct decision and counter engaging out of horrible situations. That’s not to say their other aspects are weak: its more the idea that if you try and straight up team fight SSW without an overwhelming advantage, you will almost certainly lose. And even if you have it, you still might lose anyway: Samsung White is just that good.

I think anyone who plays them is going to have to try out lane them, establish ward control, and then out maneuver them in the jungle, cause grouping early and getting into an early war over dragon strikes me as suicidal once everyone has their base skills and ulti’s.

Of course, I’m Silver 1, so what the hell do I know?

Game 2

Gamergate (This Tag)

September 20, 2014
A line of people following #gamergate mascot Vivian James out of the city into the desert, presumably for 40 years.

Pharoh ZoeQuinnkhamun… LET MY PEOPLE GO!

To the tune of This Land is Mine from Exodus
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fw0FLzUKphw

This tag is mine

Gamers gave this tag to me

We swear, honest,  it’s not misogyny.
And when we dox someone
And make threats so plain
Because its our side
That means its fine Ethicallyyyyyy

Though I am just a man…
With Breitbart by my side
Cause with help of neocons
I know I can be strong!

Secret Confession from Unknown Game Journalist on Gamergate

September 4, 2014
I received this, unsolisted exclusive report in an unmarked brown enevelope, stained with blood, with only one word: #Gamergate.“I was a game journalist, and part of the Quinnspiracy. I admit it. I know it was wrong. I mean, I’m a gamer. I shouldn’t badmouth everyone in a group of people just because a bunch of them were wrong. That would be tarring all gamers with the same brush, like all Social Justice Warriors do.

But the life style writing for sites like Kotaku and Polygon got to me. You don’t know crazy that indie game dev scene gets man… the all night sex parties with all the hot indi devs (the things Phil Fish can do with his beard!). The free flowing cocaine, lighting cigars with $1,000 bills… escorts (of all genders, races, and LBTG representation, of course) it all gets to you. Eventually you just stop caring about the ethics of games journalism and concentrate on that fat cheddar.

But everyone has their limits. Mine was Frank.

He’s the one who got me into the business, otherwise I’d still be writing for radnom blogs with single digit daily hits. Frank was the one who first originally introduced me to Zoe Quinn. I kissed her ring, and after that, I was a made game journalist. Just so long as I said games were sexist and white males had no place gaming or in games, they’d print my stuff: after all, its what the editors and all powerful indie devs wanted. They were who we had to please.

Anyway, one day, Frank had too much at one of the parties and screwed up. Frank never could handle alcohol, let alone when you mixed it it with cocaine. People were joking, having a good time, laughing at all the mouthbreathers on 4chan (when secretly we admired and respected for their character and rugged handsomeness).

That’s when he made his mistake:  he made a sarcastic joke about Anita Sarkeesian. You don’t badmouth the Godessmother, even in jest. Anyway, they disappeared him. That’s why you can’t find his articles on Kotaku or Polygon anymore. Want proof? Google Polygon and Frank Frezetti. Look for yourself: no articles at all. Poor Frank. You don’t want to know how the SJW deal with traitors. Lets just say he doesn’t identify as CIS white male anymore… at least a functional one.

Anyway, that’s when I started to really have my doubts in what I was doing might be wrong. Like all SJW’s, I thought that anyone who didn’t believe in what I wanted deserved to die and video games were evil, and of course I was receiving millions for lying about how inclusive and accepting the gaming community was, but the mutiliation of my close personal friend had made me begin to reconsider: was what I was doing morally right?

My decision was made for me anyway.

A few days ago, I was at the elite pre-PAX indie jam SJW collective the next day, helping Zoe with her make up for that false flag operation. I tried to tell her it wouldn’t work, that 4chan was too smart. I figured someone would realize it was an obvious false flag, but I was just a lowly reporter. Her response was a literal slap in the face. I, being an omega herbivore male, fell to the floor and cringed. “Quit Mansplaining, CIS Hetero scum!” she spat. “We own the gaming press. Of course they’ll believe it. And that will be the final piece to the Quinnspiracy! Soon there will be no more gamers. There will only be… Social Justice Warriors for Feminists Domination! Muahhahhahahhahahhah!”

That’s when they sicked their enforcer on me: Jim Sterling. God’s gift to gaming was easily the scariest one of all. He didn’t smile, he didn’t laugh. I had no idea he was in on it till that moment. I weakly looked up and said “You too?”

In response, he raised his Willheim Dafoe doll, covered his mouth with his hand, and intoned in creepy falsetto “CHECK YOUR PRIVLEDGE”. Next thing I knew, I was in the alley, dazed and struggling to regain consciousness. My work is gone too, though I’d managed better then poor Frank.

But all my hard work, my ill begotten millions in royalties from games journalism was gone. I had sold my soul, for nothing to the worst kind of people, and what did I have for it? And how long till they did away with video games entirely? I don’t know. But the only one who can possibly halt the end of gaming from the all-powerful social justice warriors on gaming websites it are those brave, inclusive and corruption destroying activists on Twitter and 4chan. “

Dark Dungeons Review

September 3, 2014

Dark Dungeons: The Movie, Review By Marc Thompson Background

Dark Dungeon Poster

Back in the early 80’s, Dungeons and Dragons came as close as it ever was going to get to being cool. D&D was readily available in toy stores and book shops, and there was even a cheesy Saturday morning cartoon I remember with equal parts nostalgia and shame. As the game’s popularity grew, there was also a backlash from certain fundamentalist groups and moral crusaders against D&D (there was even a 60 Minutes segment on this). Enter Jack Chick. Jack Chick is a cartoonist who creates “missionary bibles.” These are short, free comics that warn people they are going to hell unless they worship Christ in precisely the way Jack Chick does. His comics rail against a variety of targets (Muslims,Catholics, sex, drugs and rock and roll) but one of the most unintentionally hilarious is a comic he created called Dark Dungeons (1984) which showed how Dungeons and Dragons is a tool of Satan that leads to players developing THE REAL (satanic) POWER from its intense occult training. It has been a source of unintentional amusement for gamers for years. A gamer managed to get Jack’s permission (likely with a Charm Person or Suggestion spell) to use turn his eight page comic into a 45 minute movie. Naturally, once this sucker hit kickerstarter, it was fully funded. It is now available for $5 here.

How come the D&D books I read never taught me how to use THE REAL POWER?
Opinion So is it worth $5 for this 45 minute movie? If you are hard core role-playing nerd, I would give an unqualified yes. This is a movie made by gamers, for gamers, loaded with obscure cameos and references just for you. There’s even a cameo: the Gamer’s cast plays a bunch of hooded demons trying to conquer the earth for Satan from their dark tower in hell. Even if you aren’t a gamer, you may still find it quite enjoyable, so long as you know enough about RPG’s that they don’t actually involving casting spells. Even if most of the in jokes and gaming references go right over your head, this movie just works as a comedy.

“Those RPG’ers. We tried to get them kicked out, but they’re just TOO popular.” Only slightly less believable than the idea that D&D teaches you real magic.

Most parodies these days make the critical mistake of not really giving a shit about their source material, instead relying on stereotypes, in jokes, pop culture references or zany manatee gags. However, the majority of Dark Dungeon’s comedy doesn’t derive from in-jokes, pop culture references or manatee gags. It works because it a faithfully adapted, utterly clueless movie based on an utterly crazy worldview in which the UN wants a godless one world government and Muslims worship the moon. Dark Dungeons takes the original material and adapts it faithfully, keeping as many of the lines as possible. When it can’t rely on the source material (presumably from extending a short comic into a 45 minute film) it at least keeps to the spirit of the original, adding in bits from other comics, or the aforementioned in-jokes I mentioned earlier. The result is damn funny, even if the gaming references mostly go over your head (or at least, my significant other found it really funny). I really wish Hollywood comedy writers would take note. Recently movie parodies make the mistake of flying way too far off the plot. You have to give a certain level of faithfulness and understanding of the source material for a parody to really work. You also have to let the actors actually act as though they are in the situation in the movie. You can’t just throw in pointless dated pop culture references, some zany manatee gags and call it a parody. Surely, having taking the ridiculous situations being taken with deadly seriousness adds another level of comedic appeal to the joke.

If you don’t get this reference, get off my lawn, whippersnapper.

Caption: If you don’t get this reference, get off my lawn, whippersnapper.

When the source material is itself ridiculous, it just makes sense to just play it absolutely straight. Every line in Dark Dungeons, no matter how ridiculous, is delivered with gloriously goofy earnestness. Where ever possible, the movie choses to go with Jack Chick’s original dialogue, stuff from his other pamphlets he’s written, or made up insanity that might as well have been written by him. The only in movie indication that the movie is aware its a joke are the easter eggs and references that no one but a gamer would know.

Other then that, this movie takes place in the world envisioned by Jack Chick’s: a world in which D&D really is a super popular addictive gateway drug into real magic, occultism, Satanism, and playing around in college steam tunnels where you are likely to be eaten by a grue. Your only chance is to burn your books and accept Jesus as your personal saviour, or C’thulu will be summoned and Satan will reign on earth!

You can check out the first 20% or so of the movie on YouTube for free. If you like it, you can get the whole movie for $5 at http://darkdungeonsthemovie.com/

Also, those creepy occult demons at the start in the robes?
Those are the cast of the Gamers movies. Check out their stuff at http://deadgentlemen.com/ if you are a fan of tabletop RPG`s.

The Unknown Gamer’s PSYCHIC HEADLINE FROM THE FUTURE!!!

September 2, 2014

Totally unrelated image

Strange Flu like Disease Grips World. CDC Baffled.
October 24th 2014

Famous important doctor person from CDC

Famous important doctor person from CDC

The CDC are reporting a massive spike in the reports of flu and cold related sickness today, an increase of 30,000% over the national average. This flu is said to dis-proportionally affect those with sedentary lifestyles spent in front of computers.

Dr. Pravin Lal of the CDC commented. “It just came on suddenly. I don’t get it. We had a lot of vacation requests as well this week, so we are really understaffed right now. I think a lot of people showed up today are also working sick, they all seem really tired, lethargic and their minds aren’t on their jobs at all.

I saw a bunch of people in the lunch break – it was well past the time they should have been back at work. They all looked really tired but were debating politics. That’s pretty rare around here, but they kept going on about trade routes and how the Slavic Federation was completely broken. I hadn’t heard about that on the news though.”

Officials are baffled by the pathology of the disease, whcih seems to ignore everything known about virology and outbreaks, appearing seemingly over night and infecting a huge swath of the population in heavily modernized countries.

Symptoms include
Insomnia
Irritability
Mumbling “Just… one… more… turn.”
Refers to anyone they don’t like as “Drones”
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Refusal to move from sitting position
Loss of appetite, loss of libido, failure to take sufficient fluids
Inability to speak, introversion in otherwise social individuals
Inability to concentrate

If you know or suspect you or a loved one has this disease, the CDC recomends remaining at home so as not to spread the infection, but to remember to get sufficient sleep, food and liquids. Loved ones and bosses are reminded to ensure that this disease is flu like and non-life threatening, and should become managable after a week at most, with occasional relapses that last for a day at most.

In other news. I’m probably not going to be posting much in late October.

Logo/Ad for Sid Meier's Beyond Earth

RoboCraft

August 7, 2014

If your robot looks this normal, you are doing it wrong.

If you haven’t already checked this game out, you might want to if the idea of a cross between Minecraft and World of Tanks piques your interest (and if it  the answer is no, you are sad, and I’ve no desire to speak with you further).

In RoboCraft, you use various blocks to construct a robot that wheels, hovers or flies around the map, shooting at enemies with SMG’s, Rail Guns or Plasma Cannons. Hits knock off individual blocks, reducing your robot’s effectiveness, until the block immediately below the pilot gets destroyed. 

When you spawn, you are assigned randomly to a team (that tries to keep balanced). Your goal is to eliminate all the opposing robots, or capture the opposing team’s base where their team spawns. 

Kicking ass, capturing points or simply revealing enemies gives you experience points (Increasing CPU, which lets you use more blocks on your robot)  credits (the “free” in game currency) which can be used to buy more blocks/weapons/systems, and tech points (which is used to unlock better versions of various parts). As your robot gets larger and develops more advanced systems, it will “Tier” up. 

Being in a higher tier means your robot is viewed as more powerful. The game tries to balance battles so that robots aren’t too far apart in tier, and the teams are roughly matched in terms of overall power. This isn’t always perfect and doesn’t take into account skill (I found when I built tier 1 robots later on, I kicked rear end), but the game forces you to play in a higher tier if you want to unlock more powerful blocks, so this doesn’t happen all the time. 

So how does this game fare? 

Quite well, particularly the building phase. There are all sorts of ways to build the optimal robot, and half the fun of the game is finding new crazy ways to abuse the physics and damage engines to give yourself an edge. I found myself frequently rebuilding my robot from scratch to try some new crazy design. 

In fact, I spent more time on that then playing, which is where the weakness of the game lies. The maps are relatively small and free of terrain, and there’s only a few basic maps. Because there’s no voice communication and the games are short, there really isn’t much of an opportunity to come up with a coherent strategy in game unless you are playing with friends (in a ‘platoon’) and even then, what you can do is pretty limited. 

Still, it engaged me for a few days, and I can’t really complain about a game that’s very new, still constantly updating, and cost me nothing to play. I’m sure that with some more maps, game modes, and new blocks to use, this game will get more interesting as time goes on. 

So Is this game worth playing: Yes. Certainly! Its free, which is hard to ignore. The cash shop is relatively generous, as well, so spending a few bucks isn’t a terrible idea, even if you spend most of your time puttering about the garage, trying to tweak out just a little more durability by shaping armor tiles. The game is worth checking out just for the garage screen.

Starting Tips
– Disassemble all the crappy starting robots. Use the parts to make a single decent robot. 
– Always try to use max CPU when possible. 
– Six guns is the maximum that can fire at any one time.  
– Flying and hover robots require experience. I recommend starting with wheels.
– To keep your wheeled robot steady and maneuverable, try to have a low center of gravity (don’t make it high), use heavy blocks on your center, and keep the wheels extended out away from the main body. 
– The most efficient use of the “paid” currency you get is repairs, by a wide margin. I would use all my starting cash for this. 
– On many maps, there is a big, wide open area in the center. These areas are deathtraps that get covered by snipers. Avoid.

Actual HUMAN hello world.

January 15, 2010

This is my blog, ideally one that will be chalk full of writing samples and reviews so that I get off my ass and have a portfolio ASAP.

Hello world!

January 15, 2010

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!