Friday, February 29, 2008

Kiss your fleet goodbye

I finally managed to trap these fools in a phase lane inhibitor, and they just couldn't disengage. I managed to nearly wipe out their fleet, including three capital ships, and never lost a single capital ship of my own. The video may be a little bit difficult to follow, but think about how I felt! Luckily, the AI is very good at handling micromanagement of ship skills and manuevering. There are special abilties firing all over the place that I never have to trigger, since the AI will autocast them when appropriate. Lets you just enjoy the big picture, as I mentioned before.

Your ship asplode!

The one that got away

We had a great match on The Scheldt last night. An incredibly aggressive start from Greg including five mortar halftracks, great defense by Mike utilizing 88's and other equipment, and a pair of late-game Panthers from me to seal the deal.

Unfortunately, my game save is messed up.

So, the below video is not from that match! Instead, I bring you gameplay from another match earlier in the evening. In an uncharacteristic team arrangement, I'm the lone American, with Greg and Mike both playing as the British Commonwealth. Mike has an impressive display of emplacements (with some great late-game Victor targets) while Greg uses British commandos and light tanks to create an intense pocket of fire right inside the German bases. I manage to do something with airborne and tanks, but it's not nearly as splashy.

Enjoy the video montage below.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sins of a Solar Planetary Bombardment

Wow, even simple things make great videos in Sins of a Solar Empire. It's just a fun game to watch. It's incredibly busy when you're playing, but if there's a time that you can sit back and watch the show, it's very rewarding.

Like the below video. I caught the tail end of the bombardment of an opposing faction's home world. The four Krosov frigates and the single Marza Dreadnaught make short work of even this fortified target.

I've gotten a chance to play a couple game with locked teams, and it really changes the game. When you have a team mate from the outset, you have a trading partner and someone who can watch your back. From at least one direction you don't have to worry about getting attacked, and even though you may let them down, they'll never turn on you.

This video is from a 2v2v2 match on a map called Gateway, and it's a pretty interesting map. The main battle centers around a single start with many planets, where up to six factions fight for supremacy and control of a single Terran world, also named Gateway. This planet links with the single phase lane to the system's star, which provides a jump point to a second, resource-rich second star system. My teammate and I managed to clear the way, and I'm just setting up shop there in Gateway. Should be some great videos for when the other four cut off and angry groups come my way.

For now, enjoy the explosions.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Company of Heroes with the boss

Actually, it's my boss's boss's boss who plays Company of Heroes, so I think we're going to get some matches going. I once kicked his butt at UT 2004 when he was just my boss, but I may have to concede a match at this point, since he's a VP and everything. Maybe he can just be on my team.

Bofors rule the day

Greg and I had a chance to play a couple matches in Company of Heroes last night. We started out on Point du Hoc with a pair of hard computer opponents, one each of Panzer Elite and Wehrmacht. They just wrecked us. Greg got hit hard, then I had to pull back from the center victory point after being challenged by several light PE vehicles supported by troops. After I dropped back to my initial starting point, they all went to Greg's base and just wiped him out. I fell soon after.

We restarted, and this time we were on the opposite site of the map. I learned my lesson and I made sure the light vehicles would be punished for pushing into my territory. I made for Sappers as quickly as I could, while Greg held the north flank. Because his position was solid, all the light vehicles tried to come down my way. A Vickers machine gun nest on the southern munitions point provided for a way to anchor my territory. Three scout cars fell to this one emplacement, and they were never able to take back the point. By holding it, I ensured I could place emplacements, a Bofors that dominated the area, on the road just back from the center victory point where in the last game I had to fall back. Not this time.

As you can see in the video, after the center Bofors was up, I didn't have serious problems from light vehicles. A timely Stewart canister round removed opposition to the center as I moved in and held, and them managed to push forward to their bottom base. After I built emplacements just outside their base, even a pair of Panthers couldn't push me back. AT guns ended their run, by putting accurate fire on their base and tanks, even though I lost a pair of Churchills to Luftwaffe anti-tank aircraft fire. Greg handled the top of the map well while I grabbed the beach as our own, and even a German flanking move couldn't get back territory relevant to their effort, and we finished them off.

Enjoy the video.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mario Kart Wii Edition

Just what we need, more great games coming out this year. Now we have another to look forward to, Mario Kart on the Wii. The game releases May 1st of this year, and looks to be pretty well developed. New features include the Mario Kart Channel that allows you to share statistics and content with other friends.

These new online features from upcoming Wii games, such as Brawl and Mario Kart, promise to link users up in new competition in and out of the games. The multiplay stuff has really been missing in the Wii since the launch. We have fun with the channels, but it's not really multiplay. The upcoming titles should give me new and interesting ways to kick Mike's butt.

LEGO Universe

"LEGO Star Wars multiplied by a million."

So says Mark Hansen, the Director of Business Development for the LEGO Group from this Wired article.

Let me be perfectly honest: a LEGO game where you can build models to run around in within the game world, and then order as a real-world set, is the realization of several childhood dreams of mine.

This game excites me. If it can capture the magic of the LEGO Star Wars games, be child-friendly, and allows for simple creation of user-created LEGO content, it will be huge. Making the game appealing will be easy; making it safe for children and adults alike will be trickier.

The game itself is probably a couple years out, but I intend to keep an eye on its development.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Super Smash Brothers Brawl

Ever since we got a Gamecube and Super Smash Brothers Melee several years ago, my son and I have enjoyed pitting adorable Nintendo characters against one another. The new Super Smash Brothers Brawl releases next weekend, and we're very much looking forward to it. Not the least of which because Greg already pre-ordered it for us!

A bunch of new game modes promises to make Brawl the most expansive game yet in the series. You're able to play many online, as well as design your own or download other stages, share pictures and videos, and compare your stats with other players. Achievements abound, with stickers, trophies, music, and the new challenges unlockables all track your process in Brawl.

Additionally, the amount of new content is staggering. Sixteen favorites return along with sixteen newly announced contenders. Those are besides the secret characters always present and unlocked through play. There are also a huge number of stages to choose from, with over twenty new stages and several that return from Melee.

Because of the built-in SD slot on the Wii, I'm sure I'll be able to share some funny screenshots, and hopefully videos if those are exportable, once the game releases in March.

Sins of a Solar Learning Experience

So after a few tries, I think I'm getting a better idea of how to play this game.

I designed a custom map that I hoped would give me a better chance at getting a good start. First thing I did was axe the retarded Space Pirates. Listen, paying people off to attack your enemies is fun. But when you get Pirates sneaking to your homeworld and bombing the crap out of it, over and over and over, because you're the top dog and everyone else pays them off? Not good.

Then I jacked up the amount of neutral factions in habiting planets. I've found that these guys tend to be good roadblocks; they don't come attack you, but they resist the spread of other groups. A few neutral factions in the right places can really keep the other players in check.

I also got a lot better at trading, both within my own territories and those beyond. I place much more emphasis on getting those trade posts up, relying on the additional income to build up my fleet. As a result, it's much easier to become an economic powerhouse.

To a lesser extent, I've started using the Orbital Refineries, but they're a much later game structure. The research to get there is a little complex, but they're good add-ons as well to increase metal and crystal.

The game really is one of increments. There aren't points where you can blow the game wide open. Research improves things by 5% here, 10% there. Investing in Efficient Crystal Sorting can seem expensive at the beginning, but over time you recoup that investment and begin dominating in production. That patient buildup, more than anything I think, defines the game.

Oh, and massive fleets of warships.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

In-person Gaming

So my gaming experience last night actually consistent of gaming in person with Alex, Kasey, Anna, and Greg. The kid and I brought the Wii over to Anna and Greg's apartment, and we played several of the great Wii party / minigame titles. We played WarioWare: Smooth Moves, Wii Sports, and Mario Party 8, all very good for in-person gaming.

It's so fun to watch Alex get fired up while playing these games; he's such a good sport. Whenever anyone would win on Mario Party, he would shout "Two cheers for Greg!" or whatever, dependent on how many mini-game scores you had collected up to that point. We were cracking up. We're definately building a little gamer.

Video Card Issues -- Resolved?

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been having crashes with Guild Wars. My video card is new, an ATI 3850 512. Not doing anything crazy with it, no overclocking or anything. I've used RivaTuner in the past to check statistics and view clock speeds. I decided to use the tool again to see if there might be some heat issues with the card when running Guild Wars.

Strangely enough, Guild Wars taxes my system more than any other game. I run GW in 1680x1050 with full graphics details and 4xAA. Specifically, I don't use AA in any other games, unless it's an older title.

I wondered if these caused me some heat problems, by pushing the card to the limit. Turns out, that might be the case. With Riva Tuner running, I saw that the card pushed the 90C mark. That's Not Good. Everywhere I've read says keep it at 70C or under.

Using Riva Tuner, I'm able to monitor fan speed as well as card temperature. Even at 85C, the fan doesn't spin up past 25%. There seems to be some kind of problem with using the automatic fan speeds at a given temp to govern how fast the fan should spin. It's like the fan never speeds up. Consequently, I just hard set the fan at 70%. After setting the fan speed, I don't seem to get any readings past about 65C, and that makes me very happy.

I let Guild Wars sit overnight (since I reinstalled, let it download what it could to the .dat file), and had no problems. Ran around a little this morning, didn't have any further problems. I have hope that this will resolve the issues.

I'm a little disappointed in the fan management on this card. I'm not sure why the driver set would either A) Not spin the fan more at higher temps or B) Simply fail to set the fan higher by default. The default setting is 25%. Far too low, as I think I've observed.

Maybe a run through Frostmaw's will now be possible. If only we could get Mike's networking issues resolved.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Darkrime Delves

Who wants some of this?Did a little run in Darkrime Delves yesterday evening, just a warmup for some Frostmaw's later on. We had pretty good luck with the mobs (one wipe because I was filming rather than paying attention to the game), but have had terrible luck with game stability and network performance. I had no less than three crashes (one RIGHT after axing the boss -- pun intended), and Mike lost connection several times due to pings in the 30 to 60 thousand range. Thank goodness for the Guild Wars resume session feature; we would have been out of luck. But we persevered and cleaned up, no small part in thanks to Greg's ridiculous Necromancer build, relying on Arcane Echoes with Spoil Victor and Pain Inverter, along with buffs and energy management.

(The Necromancer in question, ready to party.)

Mike's drops, again, were terrible. I mean, just epic. On the way walking into the place, I got a green drop, pretty decent scythe. I also got a yellow inside. He got lucky and got a silver dye for the entire time. I don't know what it is, but the loot tables in this game just despise him. At least with dungeons you know you're going to get something. And in the dungeons pretty decent Dwarven faction. When we used to run Sorrow's Furnace, he had a hell of a time. Poor guy. Yes, you are.

But we did well with the mobs. Aside from the Necro, my own Pain Inverter was working out well, as you can see from several places in the video below.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Frostmaw's Burrow

One of the few dungeons from Guild Wars: Eye of the North that I haven't tried is Frostmaw's Burrow. I love several of the unique weapons dropped here, including The Axe of the Kinslayer. Besides being an axe man, I just plain love the design of this weapon. I believe it looks much better than its sister sword and hammer. Mike and I have talked about trying it out this weekend, and I hope we do. Plan on some screen caps or maybe some video of the multitude of wurms present in this frosty subterranean dwelling.

Sins of a Solar Warlord

I've been unable to do anything but fight, fight, fight in Solar Empire. Which isn't too bad really, but I guess I was looking for something more. There's almost never a time when some ship somewhere isn't in combat. I'd really like to explore more elements of the cultural and trade aspects of the game, but everytime some faction (or Space Pirates!) are knocking on my door and I have to beat them down. Is there a setting to make everyone mellow out? Accept my Cease Fire, dang!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Panthers on Hill 331

Last week we (Mike, Greg, and I) had a great match on Hill 331. We typically beat up on the AI just because we aren't a real competitive bunch. It's just fun to roll through with four Panthers. As you can see below.

We ended up crushing the Allied bases thanks to the initial push. And thanks to an extremely strange bug, because we had the game type set to Annihilation, the match never ended, as British HQ truck after British HQ truck continually spawned, preventing us from ending the game. Mike and Greg have some silly footage of them artillerying one another in team-killing horror. Have to see if I can grab that.

Milden LAN Party February 2008

Just have a little video from our recent LAN Party. Enjoy.

(Warning, it's a large video, may take a while to cache.)

Credit goes to the crew for video production.

Professor Leyton and the Curious Village

I got Professor Leyton and the Curious Village for Kasey the other day. I thought she'd like the unique puzzle and story elements. Turns out I was right. The game is completely full of charm, and we both enjoy working on puzzles, often together. The puzzles range from spatial, math-based, and word problems. Great exercise for a little mind-stretching. There are also a bunch of collectables in the game to track your progress, as well as meta-puzzles that you solve by doing the main puzzles in the game. I definately recommend picking this game up, available for the Nintendo DS, if you enjoy a good puzzle. Also, puzzle.

Ilsunder, Lord of the Fire Bomb

Mike and I ventured to the Catacombs of Kathandrax last evening. We enjoyed the dungeon for the most part. Wallowing into pools of molten rock while battling Infernal Siege Wurms is actually not too bad.

However, it was the boss of the dungeon that really gave us trouble. The main trouble, aside from the massive rolling fireballs ripped from Indiana Jones and given a burning paint job, are the fire bombs. Old Illsunder there gives you a little present, consisting of one ticking time bomb. You have to drop it, and run. Fine if you're an aware human being. Something different if you're a computer-controlled AI, much like six of the members of our party. After several party wipes though, we managed to get Broad Head Arrow to stick, and knock Ilsunder down a notch.

(Note that Mike -- Rakhin -- is dead. Also note the ridiculous amount of fire bomb drops taking up the chat window.)

In the end, Ilsunder was defeated. I got a gold with a perfect Strength and Honor inscription and 1500 gold for my troubles. Not too bad for an evening's work.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Fallshrim, Fllashimr, Flashing... German Elite Paratroopers

FYI, the Fallschirmjager are now called German Elite Paratroopers.

Company of Heroes server issues

So a few friends and I enjoy Company of Heroes and play it online from time to time. The game is fantastic, but the Relic matching service leaves something to be desired. Last night we got one game in, but several times following, we had dropped players. Apparently there's a patch in the works, version 2.300, but I can't find any specific information about it (although I knew there was a news patch on the online service).

Edit: I found it.

Sins of a Solar Empire

Sins of a Solar Empire... Even the name is epic. But avoiding hyperbole, I enjoy the scale of the game. Seeing your vast fleets of starcraft, the planets below you... What a sight. This Civilization meets Homeworld mashup just seems to be great fun. Only don't expect to get right in and going -- there is quite a learning curve. Which is good, because the amount of gamplay present in the title is deep, and it just takes a while to get used to it. I'm just getting started, but expect to hear more in the future.

Little sample of my frosty world for fun.

Milden Gaming

I like to play games -- mostly with my friends. From LAN parties to adhoc online play to solo skirmishes talked about later, video gaming is essentially a shared experience for me. I got this crazy idea to write about those experiences in order to share them with my gaming group, and perhaps a larger audience. I intend to share personal game reviews, videos, replays, screenshots, hints, opinions, and general feelings regarding those games. So stay tuned!