April 11, 2013

So Many Games!

Posted in Board Games, Games, Role-Playing Games, Video/Computer Games at 9:18 pm by Transmuter

I have played a lot of games over the past four years, so I’ll just cover the highlights.

Role Playing Games

Right after we moved to St. George I tried to keep up with my California D&D group by playing over the internet, but it just didn’t work out for me. A year later, after we moved into our house we met some people in the area that were interested in RPGs and board games, so we formed a group. We played D&D 4th edition for several months, then I discovered Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies, which really caught my imagination. After the D&D campaign died due to lack of interest I decided to run a short S7S campaign, and everyone involved in the 4-episode adventure really enjoyed it. Unfortunately shortly after that two of our group moved to Alaska, where they lived for a year before moving back.

Board Games

Since the RPG group broke up I started getting into board games more, facilitated by the fantastic BoardGameGeek website. I found a few other people in my neighborhood who enjoy board games and play with them whenever we can find the time. I learned how to play Battletech by playing it on the computer via MegaMek. I played board games online at Yucata.de. Recently a primarily board game focused store opened up in town – Game Haven. I found out about and started attending the Saint George Area Board Game Group, which meets weekly at a local library.

PC Games

So shortly before the Cataclysm expansion for World of Warcraft came out I started getting pretty tired of the game. I got the expansion and played it for about a month before dropping WoW for good. I haven’t even touched the game since the Mists of Pandaria expansion came out.

So years ago I posted how I really disliked the Lord of the Rings Online, but every few months Turbine did a free weekend for returning players. After playing the game a few more times courtesy of these free weekends I really started warming up to the game, so much so that I ended up buying the first expansion, then the next, and then the game went Free-to-Play. I got my father-in-law and most of his sons into the game, and I bought the third expansion, but unfortunately started petering out on MMOs in general. At some point during this my wife and I got Star Wars: the Old Republic MMO, which was pretty awesome for a while, but rapidly lost interest and had zero interest in playing once it too went Free-to-Play. I played Age of Empires Online for a while – I was even in the beta – but haven’t played it much recently. My latest favorite is Mechwarrior Online, a team-based Free-to-Play online game based on the old Mechwarrior games, which themselves were based on the Battletech board game. MWO is really great, and I love the strategy of choosing your ‘mech and its weapon loadout and the tactics of helping your team achieve the battle’s objectives.

As far as single-player games go, here is a list of some of my favorites I’ve played in the last four years (in no particular order): Minecraft, Assassin’s Creed (I, II, Brotherhood, Revelations), Batman: Arkham Asylum / Arkham City, Sonic Generations, LEGO Lord of the Rings, FTL, Sins of a Solar Empire, Terraria, Mass Effect (1, 2, 3), Civilization V, Half Minute Hero, Cthulhu Saves the World, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Greed Corp, and Atom Zombie Smasher.

April 16, 2009

WoW Patch 3.1

Posted in Games, Role-Playing Games, Video/Computer Games at 2:13 pm by Transmuter

So patch 3.1 just dropped for World of Warcraft, and so far I like it. My favorite thing about the patch so far is that Divine Plea is refreshed on autoattack when talented into Guarded by the Light. The upshot is that my Protection Paladin almost never runs out of mana as long as I’m fighting something. It’s awesome! Also cool is the new Argent Tournament. I just achieved the rank of Valiant today, and I’m enjoying the new daily quests. They’re good money too, and it gives me incentive to do dailies again, since I’m already exalted with the Sons of Hodir, the Kalu’ak, and the Oracles. (I’m not really interested in the Knights of the Ebon Blade dailies.) Anyway, good times!

Play the Distraction Game! See how well you can focus on the game itself, and not the distracting borders.

March 24, 2009

Welcome (Back) to the World of Warcraft

Posted in Games, Latin Language, Role-Playing Games, Video/Computer Games at 4:02 pm by Transmuter

Rumors of WoW’s death have been greatly exaggerated. I can’t believe I forgot to blog about this, but a few weeks ago Chiemi and I reactivated our World of Warcraft accounts with a little of our tax return money. We’re really happy to have it back, especially me. I was content without it, but we both enjoy it for the social aspect as well as for the gameplay aspect. Just in case we get tight on funds again in the near future we set our billing for the 6-month subscription. That way we don’t have to worry about another monthly payment to make, and it’s cheaper per month that way anyway.

So another thing I totally forgot about until recently is my blog at Path of a Hero. It’s a blog for your WoW character. You take a screenshot of your character and add it in when you make a blog entry. The website will then poll the Armory for your character’s equipped gear and list that along with the screenshot. You can see your character’s progression via means of a slider. Check it out and you’ll see what I mean.

In other news, I am continuing my Latin studies and am almost back to the point in the textbook where I was before I started over. I like learning Latin a lot, I just didn’t have the time or energy to do so back while I was in school. It was way too hard to do side studies while having to do lots of official studies at the same time.

Speaking of not going to school anymore, I really love working for the City of St. George. The people are great, the work is interesting, and we live in a beautiful house in a wonderful town. Chiemi’s blog has much more information (and pictures!), but I’ll just say that it’s small enough to be friendly and clean but large enough to have most amenities. And Las Vegas is only about 2 hours away, so Saturday trips aren’t infeasable.

Achievement Unlocked is a fun little game. The whole point of the game is to unlock all of the game’s 100 achievements. Many of the achievements are hilariously easy to accomplish, such as starting the game, dying, or jumping. The last few are a little tricky, but a hint is try pressing different buttons. I played through it times, just because it was entertaining and easy to play.

January 26, 2009

The End of WoW

Posted in Games, Role-Playing Games, Video/Computer Games at 12:54 pm by Transmuter

The end of my subscription to World of Warcraft, that is. Chiemi and I have given up playing WoW for the time being to help our family save a little money. If all goes well we can renew our subscriptions in several months, maybe for summer or something.

It’s a pretty unfortunate circumstance, but I’ve been working hard the past couple weeks with the deadline (today) in mind, raising faction reputations that were close to leveling, clearing quests and accomplishing various achievements, and especially finishing all the Lunar Festival achievements in a matter of two days! If I’m lucky I’ll be able to resubscribe in time for the next holiday event. All in all, I got to do a lot of fun things and got a lot done before my subscription ran out, so I’m content with the way this ended.

On the bright side, now I have time for other things, like restarting my Latin studies and playing X3 with my X52. Lots of X there, probably some X-rays or something too.

Also, I haven’t been putting flash games at the end of my posts recently! What’s up with that? Anyway, today’s game is called Ice Breaker. You have to rescue vikings that are stranded in glaciers by cutting the ice around them and letting them roll/fall into their longboat, where a viking with a hammer will smash away the ice in which they are encased. It’s a fun little puzzle game, and I’ve never seen cuter vikings. Good cutting to you!

January 2, 2009

The Big Move

Posted in Family, Games, Role-Playing Games, Video/Computer Games at 8:51 am by Transmuter

Well, I have been terrible at updating this blog, as usual. However, I just made a Facebook account! It’s kind of fun, and I can see how some people could waste way too much time on it.

In family news, we just moved to St. George, UT because I got a job there! I’m happy to have finally found a job, and St. George is a beautiful place. I’m working in the City’s tech department with a bunch of really cool guys. We’re renting a really nice townhouse that is more like a real house since it doesn’t share walls with anything. Money’s going to be pretty tight for the foreseeable future, but that’s not much of a change. I may be looking for a little side work to supplement our income though.

In WoW news, I got Wrath of the Lich King and hit level 80 with my paladin. I have no drive to level my rogue right now because there’s so much to do still even at level 80! I’m slowly leveling my blacksmithing, clearing quests, and getting achievements. I now have the Hallow’s End title and the Winter Veil title, as well as the Explorer title. The achievements really add some fun things to do in WoW. Last night my sister and I, and my wife for a bit, ran a few old world dungeons to get the achievements for them. It was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, to save $30 a month my wife and I have canceled our accounts, and won’t be playing past January until we can afford it again.

In other gaming news, I’m hoping to be able to remotely play D&D with my group back in Cali. I found a program called MapTool, which is a mapping program that allows players to connect to the DM and do things like chat, move tokens around the map, and view/modify information. Brett’s going to use his laptop as the DM map, his desktop connected to his HDTV as the player map for the group, and I’ll connect with my computer as well. We’ll try webcams and microphones through Skype or Ventrilo and see how it works. Our next game is scheduled for next Thursday.

I got a Saitek X52 flight control system for Christmas. It was available refurbished for $25, which is an amazing deal considering it’s $100 new normally. I’ve already downloaded a half dozen games and demos of space flight sims to try it out with. I used to own Descent: Freespace and Freespace 2, but I fear the discs are long gone. I loved those games, and I was quite angry when my lovely Sidewinder Force Feedback Pro joystick was not compatible with any operating systems past Windows 98. It’s sad that this genre of games has diminished so much in recent years. However, one game called X3: Reunion looks promising. The graphics are quite good, and there’s a lot of interesting-looking stuff. It does seem to have a large learning curve though, so it’s going to take a long time to get the hang of it. I’ll be focusing on WoW until my remaining time expires anyway, so we’ll see in February.

October 13, 2008

WoW 3.0.2 Out Tomorrow

Posted in Family, Games, Role-Playing Games, Video/Computer Games at 11:00 pm by Transmuter

I’m very excited about the new 3.0.2 patch for World of Warcraft that is coming out tomorrow. I’ve been playing the beta almost exclusively, since it’s painful to go back to the way paladins are in live. There are so many improvements to paladins it’s amazing! I’m sure the other classes have been improved too, but I’ve been having such a good time with my paladin that I haven’t even bothered playing my rogue. Add the new achievement system, and I think it’ll be enough to pull me away from the beta. Besides, all the beta stuff will be wiped away when it ends anyway. I plan getting a bunch of achievements: exploring the whole world, soloing all the low-level dungeons, and buying a bunch of mounts and noncombat pets. I really want the “Argent Champion” title, so I might go farm Stratholme to get exalted with the Argent Dawn. The runecloth will be useful for getting my reputation with Darnassus and Gnomeregan Exiles up to exalted too.

I’m still playing D&D every week, and it’s a blast! I really enjoy the new 4th edition, and playing with my friends is tons of fun. We’re up to level 4 now and just started a new adventure. We’re up to 6 players, which is a bit much, but it’s still fun. If we add any more players we might have to split into two groups! That could be a problem – my brother’s apartment wouldn’t fit everyone!

My two little girls are generally adorable, except when they’re cranky. Arwen is almost 1, and she’s going through the phase where she knows how to scream at will, and does so frequently. She sends her mother and father into fits, making them think she’s in terrible pain or danger. Compounding this is the fact that her older sister Kyla likes to mimic her. Stereo screaming is not fun. Fortunately, most of the time they’re sweet and very cute.

As far as the job search goes, I didn’t get the job I applied for in Wyoming. I haven’t given up yet, and I’m still trying to apply for jobs every day. Today I applied for a job that looks really good working for Blizzard Entertainment, the very company that develops World of Warcraft! It would be totally rad to work at Blizzard. I’m trying not to set myself up for disappointment though; I’m sure they get hundreds of applications. Well, here’s hoping.

I recently found a really cool website that develops flash games! It’s called Nitrome, and today’s pick is called OneKey. It’s a cute little action-puzzle game where you help a little square-shaped native get through a dangerous Aztec temple using only one key – the mighty spacebar! The twist is that you don’t actually control the native; you control all the various deadly traps in the temple, alternately activating and disabling them as the native blindly saunters past. It’s quite creative and innovative. Check it out!

September 14, 2008

General Update

Posted in Family, Games, Hobby, Role-Playing Games, Video/Computer Games at 9:45 pm by Transmuter

Ok, I really need to post something here; it’s been a while since my last post. My wife is so much better at blogging regularly than I am.

Well, last Thursday our ranger was out of town, but our new player Chris got to try out his dragonborn paladin with us in a test battle. It’s nice to have a tank again, and nice for my warlord to have a fellow melee class available again, since he synergizes so well with them. We all had a lot of fun, and I think Chris has grasped the basics pretty well. Hopefully everyone will be able to make it next time.

In World of Warcraft news, I’ve been enjoying the beta still. The new level 80 premades became available, so I copied a rogue, paladin, and druid over to try them out. I still can’t PvP very well on my rogue, but my ret pally is doing massive damage with gigantic crits! It’s very fun, and I’m halfway tempted to level my real paladin as retribution, rather than protection. On the normal beta server my pally has reached level 73, and I’ve almost cleared all of the quests in Borean Tundra and Howling Fjord. I have to say that Blizzard’s quest design keeps getting better. There was a massive improvement from vanilla WoW to BC, but the WotLK quests seem to ge a step higher still, with creative quests abounding. I enjoy the opportunity to submit my feedback on each quest, so I can tell Blizzard that quests that want a large number of items that have a low drop rate are not fun. Fortunately, I’ve not encountered very many of that kind of quest in the beta.

I haven’t been playing on the live realms much except to do arena once a week to build up arena points. I have my rogue in a 3v3 team with a resto druid and warlock. Our first week we went 0-10. The next week I think we went 2-8. Yesterday we managed to break even, winning 50% of our battles! We’re definitely improving our skills. Note to self – don’t try to attack the plate-wearers; you barely hurt them.

Sadly, I didn’t get the job I’ve had my eye on for the past few weeks. It sounded really good, but I guess I’ll have to keep looking. Hopefully I’ll find something as good or better!

In good news, my diet has been working. I’ve definitely lost some weight and and getting a bit thinner. Now I just need to keep it up and exercise more regularly.

No flash game this time. Maybe next time!

August 17, 2008

General Updates

Posted in Family, Games, General, Hobby, Role-Playing Games, Video/Computer Games at 7:01 pm by Transmuter

Hello, it’s been a while since I last updated, so I’ll not post about a specific topic today. Instead, I will make an update about everything (that I can think of, anyway) that has been going on in my world recently.

Read the rest of this entry »

July 6, 2008

D&D – Week 1

Posted in Games, Role-Playing Games, Video/Computer Games at 8:45 pm by Transmuter

Well, we had our first D&D 4th Edition game night at my brother’s apartment, and it was fun, despite not actually playing an adventure. My friend David Wu, who I will abbreviate as DW henceforth for reasons I will explain later, was sick and was unable to attend, leaving only me, my brother Brett, and his friend Adam. I finished my character while Adam created his character, a dragonborn fighter. We then ran a test battle against a bunch of goblins and barely survived, but it was a lot of fun! DW will be attending next week, so I’m looking forward to it. Also, I got an IM from my other friend, David Grow, this week. (Due to having two friends named David, I will abbreviate the latter David as DG.) He played D&D with us back in the days of 2nd Edition, and he said he’d be interested in playing with us! Score! Now we’ll have 4 players in our party, which will be much easier for Brett to balance encounters against.

I’ve been spending a lot of time finding and evaluating various fan-made tools for D&D 4E, such as alternative character sheets and power cards. I’ve tried several of each, and while I haven’t come to a conclusion on the power cards yet, I can list a couple of my favorite character sheets.

The top character sheet in my opinion is by Kiznit. It’s a pdf document that is form fillable and savable, which both add huge value, since I have poor handwriting and I’d hate to have to retype everything each time I want to print it. The sheet seems to have all the information you might need for your character, including a few improvements over the official character sheet to make it more intuitive. It has pages for power cards, and even has a pattern for a little envelope you can stick on the sheet in which to store the cards. You can find Kiznit’s character sheet here. I’d go for the form-fillable version by NeoLithic, just under the main file link.

Another option is an HTML character sheet by “Aria Silverhands”. Links to the necessary files can be found here. It’s a neat collapsing character sheet that you can post online. It’s not really meant for printing out, but it’s a cool idea for keeping track of characters over the internet. My character sheet can be seen here.

A third method of creating a character is by using an Excel spreadsheet you can find here. It’s an autocalculating character generator where you input your race, class, attributes, and pick your skills, feats, and powers, and it’ll generate a character sheet for you. It’s not completely automated, and the character sheet isn’t nearly as pretty as pdf character sheets tend to be, but the convenience is great. What I ended up doing is creating my character with this, then transferring the resulting information to the other two character sheets I listed above. Very nice.

I will post about the power card solutions I like in the future after I’ve had a chance to work with them more.

If you like strategy games, check out Travian. It’s a real-time, persistent game where you build up your farms and village, recruit troops, and pillage your neighbors. The up side and down side is that the game is very slow: for example, upgrading a farm might take an hour or more, and resource production for a small village might be 60 wood per hour, where an upgrade might require 500 wood. Basically, you log on, do what you need to do, then log off for a few hours until the actions get done. It sounds boring, but it’s actually kind of interesting. I admit I didn’t stick with it for more than a few weeks, but it’s a good experience to broaden your web-based gaming horizons. Just try to pick a server that has restarted recently, so you don’t start too far behind everyone else.

June 29, 2008

The Campaign Begins

Posted in Games, Role-Playing Games, Video/Computer Games at 7:48 pm by Transmuter

I’m excited. My brother Brett got the Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition rulebooks, and we’re going to start playing on Tuesday with a couple of friends! It’s been years since I’ve played D&D; I’m not sure if I ever played a 3rd Edition campaign. I think I did, but not 3.5, even though I bought the books for it. Well, I’ve been wanting to get back into playing, but never had enough people to play with. Now that we have 4 people we should be able to play, although the published adventures are balanced for a 5-person party. We’ll only have 3 characters in our party, but Brett (who will be the DM) can just plan his own adventures that are the appropriate difficulty for our little group.

I’m in the midst of creating my character, a warlord named Alan Highland. In a one-sentence summary, he was constable of a small town that was destroyed by a horde of goblins, and he is searching for help in eliminating the goblin threat once and for all. There’s a lot more to his story than that, but Brett’s going to be starting a blog specifically for our campaign, so I’ll put the full version there. I’ll also link to that blog once it’s up.

In other news, I have achieved two of my WoW goals! First off, I saved enough honor and battleground marks to buy Kinz a Merciless Gladiator’s Right Ripper. Having previously wielded Mag’hari Fury Brand I noticed a huge increase in damage output, which means I kill things faster, which means I take less damage per fight, which means I can grind longer before eating. Interestingly, as I have been PvPing to get the weapon for PvE purposes, I’ve disliked being so easy to kill in the battlegrounds. Coupled with the fact that Laeral, my paladin, is the guild’s main tank, I doubt I’ll have much chance to use Kinz in a PvE context in the near future. Therefore, I have designated Kinz as my PvP character, who I will use when doing battlegrounds with guildies.

On the topic of PvE and PvP, I think it’s interesting how there is very little PvP gear that is useful for protection paladins (mainly the gavel and shields), but a moonkin druid can get an amazing set of gear good for PvE all through PvP! Most classes and specs lie somewhere between the two extremes, but it’s an interesting observation.

The other goal I’ve achieved is collecting 15 Badges of Justice, with which I’ve purchased a Libram of Repentance! This libram is a crucial step towards achieving uncrushability, and I’ve noticed that I block a lot more now that I have it. I’m less that 2% away from being uncrushable now! Only a few more gear upgrades and I should be ready to tank Karazhan! My sister Jennie has been working hard at improving her warlock’s gear, and is now just about ready for Karazhan herself. Good job Jennie! Out two hunters have a ways to go, but we’re planning on helping them get geared up over the next month or so.

On a different note, Noodle Fury! is a silly little flash game. You play a superpowered stick figure out to eat a bunch of ramen. The controls are simple: you can jump (even in midair) and shoot beams of energy with which you shoot the randomly appearing boxes to reveal bowls of tasty noodles. The more noodles you collect before the time runs out, the higher your score. It’s a good way to waste about 5 minutes.

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