Browsing the blog archives for May, 2007

Official XBox UT3 Article

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Games, Unreal Tournament

Via the Official UT3 forums I ran across these couple of scans concerning UT3 from Official XBox magazine… I have to say a lot of what I read left me kind of cold, but then again I figure anything coming from “Official” XBox magazine is going to be glorified fanboism for the console. Ignoring the obvious and justified reasons for hating FPS on consoles, the article has some nice looking new screenshots and a few snippets of new information in the article. If you’ve been following the game’s development like I have, it’s definitely worth a look.

OXBox49

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The Ultimate Cipher-Cracker

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Miscellaneous

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Final Fantasy XII: Part 3, Observations

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Games

So after my controller incident I’ve been making some progress in Final Fantasy 12…

Right now I am in the sky city of Bhujerba, and I’ve just gotten Penelo.

I’m kind of curious as to how far along I am in the game, because I really can’t anticipate it. It seems like I’m only, say, one-fifth through the game. Then again, when I think about how much land area I’ve explored already, I have to wonder whether the game world is going to really be so big as to accomodate another four-fifths of storyline.

For example, as soon as I got Vaan and Penelo, before the big feast (or “fete”) I went out and explored the entire Estersand up to the coast of the river. I couldn’t cross the river because the ferry was not there, but otherwise I would’ve kept going. I went to Nalbina and purchased better items and equipment. I explored the entire Giza Plains, and then moved on to the Westersand and explored all of the Westersand. I managed to go all the way west until I hit a roadblock put up by the Archadian empire. I also went into the Zertinian Caverns but I was only approximately level 10 and couldn’t handle the level 16 Slimes that attacked me there.

When I look at the world map, this whole bit covers a rather substantial area. I have to wonder whether I’m going to be exploring all through Archadia to the northeast and Rozarria(?) to the southwest. I suppose I’ll see.

I do have to say that, since I’m kind of walled-in, insofar as I can’t explore anywhere new at the moment, I’m kind of losing my initial excitement about the game. My characters are Level 20+ at this point and require something like six thousand experience to level. The experience scaling in FFXII seems to reward about 100+Level or so experience for an on-level kill. This means I need to kill at least sixty guys to level up a character, which is starting to feel like quite a grind. The problem, at the moment, is exacerbated by the fact that there really aren’t any on-level enemies for me to fight, at least not easily — I could travel back to the Zertinian Caverns and fight the Slimes there, but the Slimes can only be hurt by magic attacks, which means I would need to queue up every attack for every character. Since none of my characters are really rolling the MP, this also necessitates me running around in circles a lot just to regenerate MP. All of the other enemies that I can handle without too much micromanagement are lower level and thus I need to kill over a hundred to gain a level.

My progress on the License Grid is also slowing down substantially. I seem to have explored a substantial portion of the grid thus-far. Most of my characters have almost completely explored the “Augment” section of the board, in the lower left section of the upper grid, and have a smattering of spells and other miscellaneous abilities. Going into the game I was expecting to be very irritated by the lack of knowledge about what item unlocked what ability on the License Grid, but I don’t really mind it. The only thing that somewhat irritates me is that the flow of new items and equipment is so stingy that I’ve been practically forced to develop all of my characters in the same way — Purchase a few White Magics, a few Technicks, and then spend nearly all remaining license points on buying augmentations. New items come in so infrequently that it’s not even worth purchasing the item licenses until I actually have the item in hand.

I will say that, for example, Shamus’ consistent problems with cashflow haven’t been a problem for me. As soon as I set up my gambits, I queued up Vaan to auto-steal from nearby enemies. Usually I make about 10,000 gil from various loot items every time I check in to a shop, so I can pretty much purchase everything I want immediately. I was tipped off to this strategy by a commenter at Shamus’ site, and it’s been working well.

Either way, since I can’t seem to progress my characters as quickly as I’d like, and can’t seem to progress in new vistas to explore, a lot of the wind in my sails, so to speak, is taken away. I’ve also completed all the hunts that have been made available to me so far, and all of the other miscellaneous sidequests. It kind of feels like I’m being railroaded into continuing the story, but I’m reluctant to do so just yet. The story does feel a tad rushed, as in it could be better developed, but I’ll get into that in my next post (probably).

Women In Art

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Culture, Visual

I came across this YouTube video today and I just had to post it up here. Wish I had the knowledge and the time to do something like this … Maybe in the future.

Final Fantasy XII: Part 2, Complications

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Games

I’ve made some substantial progress in Final Fantasy 12, although I did manage to hit a big roadbump along the way. A couple of days ago I had some time to spare and picked up the game for a little while. This was around the point in the game when Vaan teams up with Penelo before the big “fete” (feast).

It’s actually kind of interesting to me to see how I’m playing this game, because a lot of the habits I seem to have picked up come straight from Guild Wars. For example, I’m very completionist when it comes to exploring maps — I generally won’t move on from one map area until I’ve completely explored it. I use the same “wall-hugging” strategy that I use in Guild Wars, even though it’s largely unnecessary in FF12 because the overhead map is so lenient.

In any case, the major roadbump I hit was that I sat down to play the game … And everything was going fine until I attempted to check my licenses. Triangle. Triangle. Triangle. Nothing. This was around the same time that I first acquired and used Libra, so at first I thought this might be a fairly asinine drawback to using Libra. As it turns out, it wasn’t, the controller had half-died on me and I wasn’t able to bring up the status screen or use target lock (L2).

I managed to do a few areas like this, but overall it proved way too frustrating to try and play the game without being able to check licenses or equipment or inventory, so I had to put it aside until I bought another controller. I’ve made some substantial progress since then, but that’s another post or two by itself…

Final Fantasy XII: First Thoughts

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Games

To hop on the bandwagon, I actually got a copy of Final Fantasy XII last week. I haven’t made much progress in the game though, due to other obligations. Currently I’m sitting at ~5 hours of game time all week, and most of that has been me sitting down for an hour, whacking some monsters, and saving.

I don’t know how much I’ll blog about this game, but I may as well record my thoughts thus far: The opening cinematic had me sitting down and watching for so long it was quite absurd. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the cinematics, but I was mostly in the mood for sitting down with the controller and destroying some monsters for an hour, not on getting involved in a story and playing for the rest of the day. All told it felt like half an hour on cinematics and story setup, and I was getting a definite “Star Wars” vibe from the masses of cloned troops and fantastic flying machines zipping around the skies.

I will say that I think the way that they introduced the tutorial sequence was quite good. It was sensible and well executed, though due to my personal desire not to spend much time playing the game I was getting a bit frustrated every time I had to listen to some spiel about this or that game mechanic — I’ve played enough Final Fantasy games that all of this was intuitive for me, though I can understand that people who might not have my experience would need something like that.

Finally, after what seemed like an hour in, I got control of the main character. I ran around town for a little bit then saved the game. So far I haven’t been progressing the storyline much, but I have managed to see the speech that Vayne(?) gives. Seems like an interesting character, though you can pretty much tell from his luxuriant hair that he’s going to be the villain. He at least seems to be somewhat nuanced, so I’m curious what his motivations are.

More later…

Obligatory Victimization Lamentations

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Culture, Miscellaneous, Politics

I hardly watch any television, maybe about 5 hours a week, which is usually not a thing to note. It’s relevant, though, when I talk about a particularly obnoxious commercial I’ve run across rather frequently in the past few weeks.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find the exact commercial on YouTube, but a similar commercial from the same advertising line can be seen below… I found a YouTube clip of the commercial and linked to it below.

At this point you probably recognize the commercial, but I’ll elaborate for those who don’t.

-“Chad” representing Alltel, is confronted by the “Nerds” and instructed to get into the back of the van.
-Rather than containing the ridiculous and stupid pinching segment, that segment is cut from the commercial.
-The next segment has “Chad” asking, “So what level Dungeon Master are you guys?”
-The “Nerds” reply, “Dungeon Masters don’t have levels!” and high five.

Like a good victimized minority, I object to the characterization of D&D players/ Tabletop role-players in such a negative fashion. It’s long past time to stop sitting down and accepting pop culture characterizations of role-playing game enthusiasts as ugly, unhygienic, socially inept people. It’s rather ridiculous that any major corporation will play into such a tired and inaccurate stereotype as part of an ad campaign. What’ll we see next, a “Trail of Tears” ad campaign with Native Americans who aren’t on Alltel’s cell phone network being forced to leave their homes for “coverage reservations”?

Not only should Alltel be ashamed for negatively stereotyping gamers this way, but let’s face it, their attempt to portray themselves (using the proxy of “Chad”) as “hip” and “cool” in the face of those other “D&D nerds” falls flat on its face. Regurgitating thirty year old stereotypes isn’t “hip,” it’s passe as hell. Get your advertising team off of the quaaludes and force them to come up with something relevant to the new millenium. Videogames are the biggest entertainment medium period. Over six million people play World of Warcraft alone. Guess what? If you’re playing tabletop games in this day and age it’s precisely because of the social element of being able to interact with people, face to face.

Time to grow up, Alltel. This isn’t high school anymore, where you can be part of some cool clique just by virtue of insulting other people’s hobbies. A group of people sitting around a table telling stories isn’t some sort of activity that deserves scorn, though nor does it deserve praise. It’s just one of many things people do to entertain themselves.

Henceforth, I call for all humans and demi-humans to boycott Alltel products until such a time as hostilities cease and reparations are made for this injustice.

Update: Here’s a thread on the Wizards of the Coast forums which talks about this Alltel commercial as well.
Update 2: I also found this reaction to the Alltel commercial on someone’s Livejournal. All I have to say is that I agree entirely.

Blizzard Declares War on Korea

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Games

Starcraft 2 officially announced.

Check out the official trailer and the art trailer, as well as the screenshots on the page. This looks great, still very much Starcraft, but with a progression of gameplay, graphics, and story. I’m wondering what sort of machine will be required to run this — if Blizzard’s past games are any indication, hopefully not a monster.

More: Two trailers from the official website, the first being a cinematic trailer and the second showing concept art and some early gameplay footage.

Halo 3 Beta Footage

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Games

I don’t have too much to say here, but I figured I may as well clean this out of my mental cache while I still remember it. A beta video of Halo 3 was released a few days ago, which I’m linking to here…

And, all other comments or criticisms on Halo aside … Watching this video really reminds me of watching Unreal Tournament 2004 … At 50% game speed. With weapons that kill in one shot. Not that UT2004 was really a great game, but it’s amusing to me to see these sorts of superhuman jumps being added into Halo that Epic thought would improve the gameplay of Unreal, but ended up screwing things up. The Spartan Laser looks disgusting too, a single shot kill weapon that’s perfectly accurate and infinite range being used in a game where jumping takes two seconds. It’s a good thing Halo is on the XBox, otherwise it’d be disgusting.