Eldramesha / Member

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Eldramesha Blog

Those Magical Mystery Games.

Game most played at the moment: Civilization 4

Game most wanted at the moment: Portal 2

See, here's the deal. I've played Civ since it was newborn. I remember when it was two Civs to a color and you got color slots rather than Civ slots, when Barbarians were red and everything was glorious pixels.

Civilization 2/4 continued that glorious tradition. I skipped 3 as I was in the middle of my RTS/Console gaming teenage phase when the testosterone was high and the patience was none. Quite thankful that's long done.

Civilization 5 isn't Civ. It's a good perhaps even great strategy game but it's not Civ. It's hard thing to put one's finger on. It's not like Master of Orion III, which destroyed my faith in even series quality (I'd been highly spoiled with good luck and gaming taste up til then). The flaws aren't hideous or glaring. It's a little slow and it's a little too streamlined but there's nothing "wrong" with the game. It just doesn't appeal to me. It's a very pretty game and it's a very nicely put together game but for some reason I just don't see the point. Perhaps it's the city states, perhaps it's the lack of stacks though to me that's a huge improvement. Perhaps it's ranged bombardment but Alpha Centauri had that and it still felt like part of the Civ sequence.

I think it comes down to some mythic combination of qualities. Perhaps much as building an empire to stand the test of time is more an art than a science, so too I think Civ is art over science.

To me, Alpha Centauri was the high point, the standard by which all others would be measured. It was an ineffable thing, a long, hard stare into the eyes of the gaming gods and a brazen "Your Move". Civilization 5 doesn't look the gods in the eyes. It sits among them and perhaps still has some spark of divinity left but it does not breath the spark of absolute devotion into the once ardent acolyte.

Valve on the other hand, I've not lost faith in. I know they will deliver as all truly great game companies do, "when it's done", the Blizzard Creed, taken to heart by others who are truly daring, stupid or just that good. Blizzard may not be crazy innovative but they know how to make a consistently good product that appeals in general to fans of all stripes of previous games. I can understand Valve's schedule slip, they don't want Episode 3 to be Starcraft: Ghost (Note to games companies, avoid titles that include references to infinity or dead beings in your titles.)

Portal 2, I am looking forward to intensely. I loved Portal 1. It was a solid lesson in how you build a game. Particularly the Valve method of that type of design. Very much a physics toy disguised as a game with a solid coat of shiny paint, an awesome story and characters despite being nearly non-existent. When you can carry a game solely on a silent protagonist, a pair of levels worth of cutesy turrets, and a gloriously funny psychotic computer, you've done some things very, very well.

So here's the lesson from this I think, find a good game with some unknowable spark of pure genius. Play the heck out of it. Understand it to its core in ways you can't describe. If you can, lasting greatness is achieved by that game for you. If the game aggregates to that, then perhaps it can be called, objectively and truly, timeless. Because sometimes you find that spark when you least expect it. I expected it for Civ 5 and it wasn't there. I expected Portal to be worth while but it was and is magic to its very core.

Back in Action: more or less.

Well it's been a good two years since I last posted. Still breathing, still gaming though maybe a bit more responsibly than in the past. I still play more than I should what with being in school and all.

A run down of the last two years. Stayed off WoW since March 2008. Played Warhammer Online, was at first impressed and then dissappointed. It was not anywhere near as immersive or compelling as I thought it would be and the lack of contiguous landmass really got to me after a while. At least in WoW you can walk from zone to zone in some kind of georgraphically related way and the story does make you care a good deal of the time about what you are killing and why.

I also played EVE for a long while. Easily the most intense PvP I've ever experienced. Comparable to the real thing actually, same levels of adreniline. Had my nose broken on the way home one night by some kids right after I quit WoW, then home invaded 4 months later, minimal losses outside of my favorite camera. $300 dollar rent comes with a price I guess. I got the hell out. Moving on.

Cataclysm might suck me back into WoW though I doubt it. I think I may well be done with MMOs for good. The only ones that have a chance of getting me are WoW of course, EVE might be able to if I get friends playing it again and then the upcoming 40k and Shadowrun MMOs if they do them right. Shadowrun would be a potentially perfect MMO if executed correctly but that would nothing short of a miracle. I'll probably go into just how Shadowrun could be perfect in another post.

PS2 has been retired for the time being. Honestly I don't really miss it that much.

Got heavily into cheap games on Steam, picked up most of Relic's collection and then I discovered Bioware.

I had seen Mass Effect advertised but missed it coming out for PC during all of my life turmoil. I also wasn't sure that I wanted to pay 50 bucks for it. I had paid in full for Bioshock and been fairly unsatisfied. And I bought Dawn of War: Soulstorm on good faith. Not more good faith I said, I swore off new games.

In any case, I literally slept perhaps 12 hours in the 4 or so days that it took me for first playthrough of Mass Effect. Magnificent game worthy of standing shoulder to shoulder with the other great sleep annihilators like Sid Meier's work and X-Com.

I then proceeded to buy everything on Steam related to Bioware. I also purchased Dragon Age new. Not as good as Mass Effect in my book but good enough to warrant 50+ hours. I found the lack of protagonist voice acting to be the most jarring shift.

Picked up Mass Effect 2 and I'm on my 4th playthrough thus far. I've put over 300 hours into both Mass Effect 1 and 2. I know the games have flaws, I know they aren't perfect. I simply don't care. Kudos to Bioware.

Also been playing a lot of Borderlands. Absurdly fun shooter even solo.

I will likely not be getting anything else any time soon for a number of reasons. I'm trying to live better within my means and spend less time gaming. I'm a math major (as well as a basically finished humanities major). Math is fun but it does eat time like little else. Still I'm sure I'll work gaming in somewhere. I've been gaming for 20 years, I'll damned if I'm going to stop now.

Crusade done and burned...mostly

Well I played WoW again for around 2 months total, having gone from 1-70 on a Blood Elf Paladin in 12 days 5 minutes played (My previous 60s had taken 30 and 17 days respectively from my two previous tenures)

I basically played until I got bored. I'd been forced to quit WoW the two times before due to financial or technical issues so this was the first time I quit WoW of my own total volition. I have now a Retribution Paladin decked out in Rares with a couple of Epics. I could continue to try for better gear to access more raid dungeons since I'm keyed for everything up to and including Karazhan and all heroic modes. I simply have no desire to continue as there are many better things I could be doing with that time.

Ultimately I do get bored with most computer games in the long run and WoW certainly has had a long run. I am free so far as I can tell and that is a very good thing. Makes me wonder if I will ever finish Final Fantasy XII.

To Burn a path of Crusade

Today is a momentous day, a day that were I religious I would have prayed never came, I upgraded to Burning Crusade and reactivated my account after going without WoW since late July of 2006. And to be honest I couldn't be happier.

WoW is the absolute height of a particular design paradigm. It may not be as brutal as EVE which I've played for the past 5 months but it is relaxing to play. It sucks you in and keeps you there, something that EVE could never truly do. I'll blog more on this later but for now, Azeroth or Kalimdor (I forget which continent I was on) awaits!

If you wish to adventure with me, PM me for my server info and what not.

Things to get out of my system

Firstly I finally took one of those signature linked Final Fantasy, "What character are you?" tests.

Which Final Fantasy Character Are You?

I do indeed generally favor Laguna over others. I still like his combat music more than most other pieces in the series outside of XII's Boss music which owns all.

Next up we have what happens when I get tired of Dark Industrial music like this (Track 7 is easily my favorite)

I begin listening to this

I've been playing a lot of Soul Calibur 3 and I really should rereview it.

Anyway, time to go outside and see if I can find the lunar eclipse.

Just another Bug Hunt, marines...

I hate roaches. Not because they are ugly as all %$#* but because they refuse to stay outside. I live in Georgia, which means roaches by the score in the summer. And they are big &$#*ers too. I have over 80 confirmed kills in the last two years which are the only times I've had real roach issues. This thing shows up on one of my roommates' dirty dishes in the sink (I keep trying to get her to wash em but that's another tale), I manage to get a couple of clear shots at it with a close combat weapon (read: Sponge) and it is on it's back, flailing. I come back with a wad of toilet paper to apply the necessary constriction and pressure to ensure demise. I then decide to take a picture of the roach corpse. So I go get my camera to take a picture so people will believe that I have to deal with these massive suckers. So I take a picture and right after, it rolls over and tries to skitter off. I slam it for the 8th time and then thoroughly crush it before I disposed of it.

Here is the pic I took of it, my hand is shown for size reference. This pic is not for the squeamish, stay away if you are. For the record the brownish splotchs on the tissue are the roach's insides. The tissue was clean and fresh when I used it on the roach.

4dventure

I apologize for using what is technically "Leetspeek" but I am simply calling it what Wizards of the Coast does.

There is a graphic with that word where the Dungeons and Dragons Official Website should be. It is confirmed that this has something to do with the release of a 4th Edition for Dungeons and Dragons pen and paper. I am hopeful but I will take a wait and see approach this time.

I know some will be angry. There will be hell and fury spent on this. I think it will be wasted. If 4th Edition is anything like Star Wars Saga Edition was then we roleplayers have nothing to worry about. I just want to see an end to Vancian casting but we all know they won't kill that sacred cow. Pity.

Within a Deep Forest

Here is a game that we really should publicize to the politicians so that they will get it out of their pint-sized skulls that all digital gaming is violent trash. I took the liberty of uploading the Intro and Tutorial into my videos section as a test upload. It came out really niceless. I used CamStudio with their Lossless Codec thing. That thing is impressive, it does real time screen capture without any real slowdown and not skipping in the finished film. Windows does jack squat next to that.

Ultimatly this thing is a relaxing game with a good pace and really nice gameplay. It's simple and cute. I like it. Granted it's no Bioshock or Final Fantasy XII but what do you expect from some guy in his spare time for free? I think it's awesome.

Muddy Waters

The water coming out of my taps and into my toilet is a medium reddish brown.:? I suspect it has to do with the maintainence work on the pipes down the street. I hate living in this city sometimes. I just wish I could shower but I am betting that the water will be the same tone there too.

Update: It turns out that they had simply turned off the water to replace the meter with a new electronically readable one. Water is back to normal and I smell nice again.

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