Valek1394 / Member

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Valek1394 Blog

Stuff n' Junk

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Im Aaron, you might remember me from such blogs as Crap I hate, Why I hate crap, or Everyone sucks crap, and heres why I dont write here (much) anymore (apart from a few comments on blogs) as this site has made doing so an exercise in futility. Even now as I type this, I am dreading having to edit/re-edit to fix all the space removals between words and html code that will likely be inserted in order to both allow this to post and have it be at least semi-legible. Not to mention censoring myself for saying some forbidden word like c lass or s tyle Yes, GS - dont fix THAT. Just throw marbles at the keyboard from across the room and see if you can program a new blog/comment interface. Well done indeed. That aside, Ive spent the last several months hunched over some pile of paperwork or another and burning excel spreadsheet grids into my retinas trying desperately to move my career forward, as it stands I still cant tell if Im about to have the last year+ of my professional life wiped away or not. That would suck as Ive bought a new Infiniti FX50s and as much as I like it I dont necessarily want to live in it. SO to offset that thought, Ive also gone out of my way to play some damn video games I got my 360 out of the mothballs a couple months ago, and picked one of the many games I never got around to finishing. The original Saints Row. I quite enjoyed it enough in fact that I bought the SR2 & 3 on Steam. Ive since played through and beaten 2 and am now about halfway through the story line on 3, but I keep getting distracted by all the side stuff which is ridiculous over the top fun. I know I said I didnt care about buying SR3, but I got it on sale for like 11 bucks. I did say I might pick it up from a bargain bin. So there. To break up all my straight OGing, Ive also clicked my way through Torchlight. I wanted to get Diablo III, as I was a huge fan of 1 & 2 I spent many of my late junior high school and early high school nights grinding for loot in those games. Alas, when it came out and I searched out peer reviews I kept reading about the always online DRM normally, I dont much care either way about DRM, as long as its not opening my PC up to the world at large, the games I play are all offline so I just dont concern myself with it. On top of that, it was obviously designed to put people in position to be always exposed to their auction houses, one of which uses real money which apparently is the only place to get decent equipment without farming for hours and hours and hours (and hours) on the last area (for hours) on end no thanks, I already have a full time job. D3 was going to require me to do the opposite of my gaming preferences, chiefly among those being offline and only spending one flat sum of money to play it. So, I skipped it completely despite my strong desire to play. To ease the lack of frantic clicking, I pre-ordered Torchlight II which came with a free copy of the original Torchlight and I have to say it was actually quite fun despite its lack of story, and is a bit reminiscent of the original Diablo. Which I came to find out later the creators of Torchlight were also the creators of Diablo 1 & 2, which explained the similarity in feel as well as why D3 is being such a b*tch. Ive also played through Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, another Steam purchase quite a fun little puzzler, a bit too much backtracking but still charming in its own right, and upgrading your ship and getting access to all the weapons keeps you going. Short, but a great diversion nonetheless. Lets see, what else have I played I jumped back into Minecraft, its as pointless as ever, but still oddly addictive. This time around I used some of the community mods and texture packs to change things up a bit, and wow some of these mods are games in and of themselves, adding so much complexity its a strange feeling of accomplishment when you go from stacking a couple blocks of dirt to call home to building your first machine to a giant factory with oil piping in from across the world, or building a jetpack to take you farther out. All of it is for nothing but the sake of doing it of course, as is really the case with any game but I find this particular instance to be incredibly enjoyable. My gaming now with the one instance of the 360 has fully switched back to PC, the ease of console gaming over PC has been supplanted by modern installer programs that handle all the major tweaking for you. Steam is by far my favorite means of consumption my stance on digital media has completely reversed, Ive gone from hardcore collector of discs to preferring to never have a physical piece of media ever again. I dont like clutter and thats all that stuff is to me nowadays. My laptop runs games beautifully (when it works) especially when connected to my tv with a full HD hdmi cable when I get my next laptop, probably an Alienware m18x; either later this year or early next on the proviso that Im NOT living in a van down by the river it will be all the better. As for consoles, I think Im done with them for awhile. I wont say never again but next gen for sure Ill be sitting it out.

It's that time again!

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Here is another list of people that just throw my nuts in a blender:

1. The Cacophonous Unit . This is someone who has absolutely no control over the volume of their voice regardless of the situation. Full grown adults that, for all intensive purposes are otherwise fully functioning – speak in tones that could be heard over an explosion. You know how in some social situations, say at a party – the music is so loud you're screaming at your friend to talk, and then for whatever reason the whole room suddenly gets quiet and it's just you screaming "…that's when I realized I had no pants!!!" That… but constant and deliberate. When in doubt, use your inside voice.

2. The Bamboozled Personage. No matter how many times you attempt to explain something, no matter how often – it never sinks in. You can give them a written step by step guide, complete with graphical cues and arrows and yet they can't follow it to save their lives. They'd get lost in a hallway with one door clearly labeled 'Exit' and then blame you for not making it easier for them. I work around people like this, I KNOW JohnSteed7 does too. Read pretty much any one of his blogs and you'll see what I'm talking about. It's one thing to be stupid, it's entirely something else to blame someone else for it.

3. The Delusive Exclusive. These people will never admit to reality, regardless of how obvious their lies are, every time you run into them – they've been on a grand adventure; which by the way you won't ever get to experience because of how much better at life they are then you. There is this need to constantly point out that everything they have ever done is over and above anything you could possibly fathom. It's a contest and you've automatically lost because you're opponent is them. Even though you have no idea you're IN this contest. You can tell this person you went on a cruise through Alaska with your family a few years ago, it was nice and you'd like to do something like that again someday… and their response is "that's lame... I went on a cruise around the world last weekend, but I had the whole ship to myself and my own personal assortment of super models with which to have tons of sex with" That sort of thing is amusing for awhile, but as the claims begin to ramp up it gets harder to keep yourself from telling them to get help for their pseudologia fantastica. Or, for the less concerned – just telling them to STFU.

4. The Insufferable Divine. This one probably gets to me more and more as I get older. If there's one thing I don't like - it's other people poking their nose into my business, and worse when they attempt to police my actions based on what they claim to "know"- there is something intensely arrogant about anyone that even attempts to curtail a complete strangers actions or words due to any level of discomfort on their own part. They're always looking for a debate, ready to prove that they know truth andyour inability to think exactly as they do is nothing short of the devil. This applies to fanboys/fangirls of pretty much anything, including various hardware and/or gods.

5. The Picky Nugget. These people can derail any event in which you find yourself dining out. I would not go so far as to included myself on a list of the mostcultured men of the world, however I enjoy other cultures, learning other customs andI don't shy away at exotic cuisines - even if I am horrified. I find it to be astonishingly rude, you don't have to partake, but behave as an adult should. You're a big girl (or boy)now, politely decline and move on. This applies to any instance wherein someone just outright objects to something different, but this term I apply specifically to the dining scenario. You can say "we are going out for sushi" and even invite them along, if you must. You get to the restaurant, order some sake and maybe a couple of rolls to get everyone started -then The Picky Nugget decides they don't like raw fish - and regardless of explaining that sushi is not comprised only of raw fish, and they are, in fact, thinking of 'sashimi' - the damage is done, and they are now demanding chicken nuggets or something else from a nonexistant kids menu... and a root beer because that goes great with sushi rice. Congratulations, you're now babysitting.... Oh, and no - no matter how far down you slump, your server can still see you.

The last one has a bit more vitriol as I spent most of last week on a business trip with a collegue whom I have absolutely nothing in common with outside the fact that she and I happen to work for the same company. Lunches were fast food (which I almost never eat) and dinners comprised of me trying to wade through subpar Mexican food or extremely overcooked steak, while she ordered chicken strips or the equivalent from each menu. I would have wine or a scotch with my meal - she would always order root beer. Not that there's anything wrong with root beer - but it immediately gets me carded. Looking at the situation one more time, there's a guy eating what was supposed to be a medium rare steak with a cabernet and a girl, who has ordered fried chicken bits and root beer.. in my mind, as a former waiter I see potential for two things: 1) Either both are underage or 2) The female is EXTREMELY underage.... and then I feel like Chris Hanson is about to come around the corner and tell me to have a seat... right over there. I should say that I don't BLAME the girl for her tastes... some people are so picky they just never really expand and maintain the palate of a five year old - really, the only bad part is that it makes them incredibly annoying to take to dinner - particularly when you don't have a choice.

By the third evening, having had enough crappy fast food lunchesand hotel restaurant faire- I state that I am going for sushi, and offer her a generous amount of money to treat herself wherever SHE would like, knowing that my destination would be way under what she would consider consuming. She took the money and bounded off while I returned to my room to shower and unwind before dinner. She caught me in the lobby and decided she'd rather come with me because "it's easier"... The example given above is more or less how it went down, except it was just her and myself - I ordered sake, she said "ew gross, I just want a root beer" which they don't have.I then got carded... again... so, while the server was off making sure I wasn't on any wanted lists, I pointedmy coworkerto maki rolls that were all of the 'American-Safe' variety (pretty much anything with the name of a US city or state in it)while I indulged in some sashimi which is what prompted her to declare an all out ban on sushi forever... and then order chicken strips... Which sushi restaurants DON'T ******* HAVE. I then got to listen to whining about how gross sushi "probably is" for the next 45 minutes while trying to will myself into a coma. She had plain rice and a pepsi.

Dear Gamer, Love, Volition

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I don't normally shoot from the hip, so to speak. Most of my blogs are written in Word beforehand and sit around on my hard drive for a few days (or months.. or years)while I edit out all the BS rambling and make something that is relatively short that I don't completely hate.I'd actually prefer to do this more,since it's a better representation of how I actually think without acting as my own filter... that is to say:rather chaotic and a million miles a second in all directions, and I tend to use the British spellings of certain words for some reason... but, I "curse" a lot and that used to get me in trouble with a few of the more.. shall we say,'supercilious' mods around here and their rather nebulous definition of what constitutes an actual swear word... that and I know it's not easy to read, so I spare you.

Usually.

However, this just caught my eye:

http://www.gamespot.com/news/volition-developer-blasts-used-game-business-6349861

After reading it, I just want to put my thoughts out there while I'm still thinking about it. I apologize in advance for what will probably end up being a bunch of rapid-fire,disjointed thoughts that may or may not make a point.

Jameson Durall, a "Design Director" over at Volition,most known for their Saints Row franchise, has come out and slapped their customers across the face. Not directly of course, but he did essentially equate one who purchases a used game to be the same as a pirate.

The only thing these two have in common is that, as has been stated by people who actually know wtf they're talking about over and over again, is that the number of games pirated do not equal a 1:1 ratio of lost sales -and the sameargument can be made for used games. That's it. The similarities end there and they're not in favor of the person trying to make the argument in the first place. It's like a Christian telling me to be nice to everyone because that's what Jesus would do.

Ten games sold from Gamestop do not equal the lost sales often brand new games from Best Buy.When I buy used games, it's almost always games I was never all that sure about to begin with... take Saints Row 3 for example.. I haven't bought it because frankly, it doesn't hold the appeal to me that it's predecessors did. I can't be counted as a lost sale if I decide to pick it up later this year or next from Gamestop... I'd simply never bother at all if that wasn't an option.

Used games is like showing up to a party after everyone has gone home but the bar is still fully stocked.

To tell someone that their purchase isn't legitimate only for the fact that they didn't buy directly from you smacks of arrogance. That's like telling someone they shoplifted the clothes they came in wearing because they didn't buy them from that specific store.

I see this as being more an issue of a few companies seeing a way to make a *little* bit more money, I doubt that the used games market is taking the industry crippling chunk out of them as Mr. Durall claims. If it is, there would be a hell of a lot more options out there than Gamestop and it's few obscure competitors... Speaking only in terms of the used market of course. I mean really, who amoung us wouldn't flock to a Gamestop competitor if it were as common?

I really don't want to see game companies getting behind this. This developer says, and I quote:

"People often don't understand the cost that goes into creating these huge experiences that we put on the shelves for only $60. They also don't seem to realize how much they are hurting us when they buy a used game and how pirating a copy is just plain stealing"

Oh the poor man! *sarcasm* He doesn't seem to understand that $60.00 is a lot of money to his own companies core demographic. That $60.00 he is talking about is on the heels of a two to three hundred dollar piece of hardware, and all the necessary equipment to use it. Sure it can be amortized over x amount of years (I'm an accountant) sure, but it's still an additional expense. Every purchase we make increases the cost as a whole each month. This generation alone I'm easily in the $2500.00 range. For arguments sake, let's just call it that, over 5 years, I've spent EXACTLY 2.5k. That is 500.00 per year,$41.67 per month.Each game increases that cost bit by bit, and it adds the **** up, and that's just the systems and games,I'm not counting additional controllers, online services, DLC, etc.

I realize that's a bit of a skewed way to look at it,most people don't take into account the TOTAL cost of a generation of gaming... but there it is.

This is NOT a cheap hobby, I am fortunate in that I can afford my vices - but I can tell you with no uncertainty that as a kid, hell, as a college student, I would not have been able to indulge myself in it without the occasional trip to Gamestop, and you know what? I still bought new games because like any gamer there are some I just have to have right then and there. It's the nature of the beast. Some games we just can't wait on, even the most dedicated used buyer breaks from time to time.

If a company wants only to sell new games, they better be prepared to drop that mere $60.00 down quite a bit if they truly believe the used games market it cutting their legs out from under them. Honestly though, I think they're going to be surprised just how much business they'll end up losing on principle alone. I for one will not buy a system that blocks me from playing a legitimately purchased game because I happen to be a follow up owner.

Or maybe this will catch on and spread to other industries, your used car could just stop working one day. Shame on you for not buying new!

Auto-Pilot

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I've had to put Skyrim on hold for awhile, not out of petty frustration, or waiting for a patch - I just can't do it right now.

For those of you who don't know, I make my living as an accountant for a large oil company. This has been a rough year for me, personally and professionally - I have never worked more, or harder in my life. I can count on one hand the number of days I've had off since July 1st, including weekends, and don't get me wrong - it's been very fulfilling and I've finally found myself on a path upwards, lining myself up for a possible promotion next year - all the projects I've had under me are finally wrapping up, one more week to go and on December 22nd, at the end of the day, it will all be finished and I will be off for 5 glorious days.... to say nothing of my unused vacation bank, I'll be leaving over 10 days to the ether this year. Ugh.

Throughout the year, I am subject to a series of audits - some are scheduled, others are random. Next week will be the big annual audit - a team of people come in and scrutinize every bit of math I've done for the last 11 months, make sure all the credits and debits are in the proper places and have all the accompanying backup documentation to go with each of them. It is a complete PITA. I'm completely spent, mentally - I've busted my ass this year and I'm finally burning out, and definitely moving into auto-pilot mode as we speak.

That said, my gaming schedule has once again downshifted to less than casual - spending a small portion whatever waking moments I have from when I get home from work late at night and my inevitable mental exhaustion-coma playing Terraria or World of Goo... and even this it's kind of forced.

I need a vacation.

Side note: I find it incredibly obnoxious that Gamespot reformats everything I post, making two or three words into one requiring me to re-edit. Fix it already!

Brain Pain.

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Sometimes, there's just too much stupid.

People say and do things that cause me to want to spank them with a rabid squirrel.. however,for reasons of propriety, I have to bite my tongue and withhold any squirrel-related attacks. In my head however, my brain begins working overtime in an effort to process all the dumb@$$edness its taking in and attempt to translate it to something more palatable. This rarely works, resulting in pent up aggression and rage blogs.

There have been numerous run-in's with varying degrees of idiots over the last few weeks - including religious fanatics, a d-bag who couldn't shut up about how amazing he thinks everyone else thinks he is, and an obnoxious two faced chick that is so obviously fake...she almost comes full circle... but today - this one has usurped the throne of aneurysm inducing, brain melting idiocy until I can gather up the little pieces of my exploded brain and focus on the others.

I won't give you details, just the question she asked me:

"what time zone are we in?"

She moved here from New York about 20 years ago.

She guessed PST. This is Texas.

I died a little inside, as this came from my direct "supervisor"

Insecurity Speedbag

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Dear Awesome Guy,

We get it, you're a big deal. You're awesome. You're skilled in every form of martial arts known to man and some that you've just made up out of pure awesome. You ride motorcycles backwards just because you can, and routinely put the most interesting man in the world in his place. Your antics are known throughout the universe as both hilarious and frightening. Your ability to just straight up ruin the panties of all females everywhere, simultaneously, is simply breathtaking. No one is manlier than you; you win the manliness competition hands down. Your bicep size and level of flex controls the moon and therefore the tides. Old Spice is made entirely from your sweat.

Your collection of weapons, all of which you are completely 100% skilled at, terrifies children and animals alike. Scientific theories are made and broken based on how intense you are at any given moment. Women name their children after you, all of which you have somehow fathered without even touching them.

Absolutely every single one of us is impressed. Non-stop.

Now then, kindly shut the **** up about it.

Love,

Everyone

The Adventure Begins...

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This is your brain on Skyrim

As you may have deduced, I gave in and bought Skyrim – it's every bit the time sink I knew it would be and I'm definitely enjoying it. Far more than Oblivion; the challenges are fair, character progression is well balanced and the perks all offer noticeable and measurable effects on your abilities.

My character stumbled off into the woods after following what's his name to his sister's house, looking for a golden claw or something, went the wrong way, got lost and attacked by wolves. Fortunately necessity breeds ingenuity… and by that I mean I figured out how to work the menus and realized my guy had some spells to throw around. I also learned how to use the compass and setting current goals/destinations. I returned to the village and went in the RIGHT direction, fought my way through some ruins and found my first shout attack. Loaded down several times past my capacity to carry things, I slowly made my way back to the village to sell my loot and complete my first official quest.

After that I made my way North to talk to some kind of provincial leader or something… On my way in there was a giant or something tromping around – threw some fire and lightning at it from a safe distance and it went down… thrilled with myself I ran to go loot, but discovered I actually did nothing, it was hunters or something – the female among them openly mocked me, then told me to go join the Companions if I wanted to hunt with them. Screw you, lady!

I reported to the… Jarl(?) and was assigned to help the arrogant court wizard. I was sent on a side quest that was completed immediately as I already looted the hell out of the ruin I was supposed to go to previously. After that I found myself embroiled in my first real fight with a dragon – this was sheer awesome on toast, there is nothing easy about taking down one of these things, at least not right now for me. Succeeding, however, is a great feeling.

Despite my elation, my struggles were rather obvious – clearly I needed to improve some things. I decided to give the companions a try after all, they let me in - and to test my fighting skills I had to go to their courtyard and fight with one of their higher ranking members. He promptly mocked my lighting and fire and I was forced to wield a sword I fortunately had in my inventory, holding onto it because it was enchanted and wanted to sell it to a trader who would pay closer to the value. I passed his little test and was then sent on a few menial errands. Go punch a guy over here, take that guys sword to get it sharpened. Bah.

I went to the mage in the Jarls fortress to see if he could train me. It turns out he's not just arrogant, but a huge jerk whom I will return to later to kill. Regardless, he said to go to the college way the **** up north.

So I did.

Now that I'm at Hogwarts, my list of "really dangerous **** to do" has gotten a lot longer. Pretty much immediately, I was shoved head first into another ruin wherein I was fighting off more zombies than could be counted, only to find something no one has ever seen before – obviously it should be up to me to find out everything about it. Naturally the ONE book I need was stolen, so I'm sent south across a frozen Tundra just SILLY with ice wolves and dragons more than happy to eat me if I happen to not want to make it.

Several save/death/reloads later I made it to my destination, where I met a flame atronach - after more save/death/reloading, I finally figured out how to dual cast. This helped quite a bit, especially with the damage bonus granted by a perk in the destruction skill. From there, I once again get to dig around in an underground ruin, looking for these damn books. The dungeon this book thief has set up is rife with what I can only assume are his sex-slave vampire chicks he keeps locked in cages and butchered surgery test subjects, left open and rotting on tables. Basically, I think I'm looking for Jack the Ripper, the one from the Johnny Depp movie most likely.

I decided to save and go to bed there. Nonetheless – I obviously have Skyrim on the brain, and I'll probably have this affliction for the foreseeable future.

Internal Struggles.

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Really, I'm not even kidding myself - I know damn well I'll buy Skyrim. The gamer in me is always trying to justify the purchase... "you finished Arkham City.. you NEED a new game! ... oh hey - you should TOTALLY get Skyrim!"

Then my rational side replies "Are you kidding? Don't you remember what happened with Oblivion? Fallout 3? You were so annoyed with both games you didn't get anywhere near finishing either one of them!"

Then comes what I can only call 'Lifetime channel reasoning'

"It will be epic! This time it won'tsuck! THIS time it won't be boring! THIS time will be different!"

Then I say "No! Just wait awhile at least! You just spent like 50 bucks on various random Steam games! Play those!"

"but I waaaant SKKKYYYYRIIIIIMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!"

I haven't broken down yet, but I know I won't last much longer... I suck at arguing, even with myself.
There is something in me that, ever since Morrowind, has guided me to Bethesda's games like a rat following the Pied Piper – and yet, I haven't finished EITHER of the big titles SINCE Morrowind for one reason or another. Despite owning Morrowind on PC, I also had it on the original Xbox, and it was there that I happened to play it. At first, I had no idea what I was doing, I was just screwing around – by odd chance, I had missed speaking with some key character that would have led me to the guild I was supposed to join in order to begin the main quest. Instead I blindly wandered off and began hitting things with sticks and my all but useless spells, stumbled into a new town, and found the mages guild which then gave me an endless list of tasks to complete. I became so engrossed the world, I completely forgot about the main quest entirely. By the time I remembered what I was SUPPOSED to be doing, my character was a powerful mage, decked in custom armor and enchantments - he was untouchable…. And it was hard earned, head of all the guilds, endless sidequests… no cheats of any kind. When I joined 'The Blades' – I really did feel like my character was indeed the chosen one, he had existed in that game world for hundreds of hours over the course of like 3 or 4 years. Obviously it wasn't all at once, I'd go months without touching the game, but I'd always come back to it. Nonetheless, nothing could kill me, and I flew through the main quest in a week or two… a lot of the quests assigned were simply done immediately as I had already done them at some point or another. Fetching this, carrying that…. Dreaded escort missions weren't even enough to faze me. I really enjoyed the feeling of using my character in the main quest from beginning to end and really seeing all my hard work and time pay off. Once I was done - I felt a sense of completion that allowed me to lay the game down for good, satisfied. I like to picture my character retired in the countryside zapping trespassers who dare to tread on his lawn. Sure I did it completely backwards, but that's the freedom Bethesda games afford you.

That said, I jumped at Oblivion – I wanted to recreate the experience I had in Morrowind. I broke out of that jail, made my way past all the sewer rats, died a few times along the way – and finally got my first real view of the game world. This will be epic, thought I. Setting off in a completely random direction; I was immediately mauled by a bear.

Loading my game, I found myself standing again at the exit from the sewers. Okay, I'll go a different way! I was then killed by bandits.

Okay… THIS time I'll book it straight to the stupid marker on the map, which was a nearby city. I set about finding a guild, and began working my way up – then there was horse armor. I won't go into it… all I knew is that I was still having trouble with ****ing bandits and the fact I couldn't seem to beat them was beginning to give me twitches. One particularly long session of leveling, wherein I sunk everything I had into mastering a few offensive spells with the clever use of summon creature. I went and found a group of bandits…. Aaaand they made short work of me. Again.

Upon reloading I also realized I had not saved prior to the encounter, and lost roughly a 1/3rd of my work. I then rampaged killing various NPCs which of course alerted guards who were all easily as strong If not stronger than the stupid bandits. Reload again.

Now fully hating the game, I went and found the assassins guild. I enjoyed these missions as I finally got to be a semi effective killer. Not how I wanted to play my character, but there was no progress to be had playing a good guy apparently, so screw it. "Renegade for life"…. finally, I broke down and turned to the good old internet for answers. I was somewhat relieved to find I was not the only one having these problems – I had apparently leveled my character all wrong and he was completely broken… but also, the ENTIRE freaking game world was leveling with me, and while I had indeed sunk a lot into attacks of the non-physical sort, the rest of the world was bulking up pretty much across the board, and it would continue to do so for the entirety of the game. I simply had no hope of catching up.

I found some modsthat fixed this, but at this point, I had no interest in really playing the game anymore.

Enter Fallout 3. This one just confused me, I made it to a town built around a bomb of some kind – I don't know why they thought that'd be a good place to found a town – but there you have it. Therewas something about disarming the thing, I think....then I wandered out of that town and eventually died of radiation poisoning or something. Then I found some kind of vampire hideout? I don't know. The game was so boring to me, my mind really only picked up on things when stuff happened, which was rare... so it's just flashes of various places. I went searching for enemies to fight, people to talk to.. I did a few side quests… killed a couple mutants...but wow. It just wasn't for me, I guess. Apparently Skyrim's leveling system is like that of Fallout 3's but I have no idea what that means. The leveling system meant nothing to me, I picked my "perks" but I don't recall really gaining much from them. There was no sense of getting any better or stronger at anything in that game, at least not in the 30 hours or so I put into it.

Which brings me to Skyrim itself; a new installment to a series that annoyed the hell out of me in its last entry, made by a company whose previous big title bored me to tears. Yet like a lifetime movie wife, I can't help myself. I feel like maybe THIS time it won't suck. THIS time I won't have to wear a turtleneck and sunglasses to work and send myself flowers so my coworkers will think that I am loved, respected and well taken care of. THIS time it's going to be different.How DOES Fallout 3's leveling system work? How does it apply to Skyrim? If a game makes me have to research extensively to quell my fears of things that I personally (note the italics denoting that you should pay attention - as this part pertains to these being my opinions) might find obnoxious. Level scaling is not my bag, I'm not sure how this became the evolution of "don't go to some areas before you are sufficiently leveled and equipped or you WILL die. You'll discover these areas for yourself, I'm sure." I don't want the world to adapt to me, I want my character to adapt to the world, and then through various actions the world should change... I play these types of games very meticulously, I'm one of those gamers that loves the grind. I get a thrill from returning to the first areas and taking my ungodlyvengeance out on those first few bandits who gave me swirlies. Doing things like this is not only fun to me, but it gives a distinct measure of just how far I've come. Level scaling removes that.This is actually about 3 different blogs mashed togetherinto some patheticsemblance of semi-coherant rambling (oxymoron?)Hence some things repeat in variation, ultimately I was too lazy to go through and edit it beyond Frankensteining them all together. So there you go.I've since found articles that detail the leveling which was the greatest deturrent to me. I'm still going to fight myself on the purchase because truth be told - I don't have the time to sink into the game... things like this, I want to buy just before a long vacation where I can sit in a comfy chair, laptop suspended infront of me, headphones on and the lights off for a gaming session worthy of the title. I can't do that right now because I spend a large amount of time pretending I'm a responsible adult and not a dragon slaying, icewizard/werewolf.

Stupid job.

Dictatorships for Dummies

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Uesugi-dono wrote up a blog recently, Impressions: Sengoku (PC) – His personal experience with the game is pretty intriguing, enough to make me go check it out. I found the demo online at the dev's website, and true to Uesugi's word, the game does indeed move at a slow pace, but that's not necessarily a bad thing if the political intrigue aspect of say, Civilization, was your favorite part. It's got kind of a steep learning curve – there's no tutorial to be found, you just have to pay very close attention to the pop up hints that accompany each window. (They can be disabled with a click once you're familiar enough not to need it) Once you've got the hang of it though – even though the game is moving slowly, there's a lot going on – improving relations with one province, having an all out battle with another, grooming your heir to take your place, raising/losing honor, building castles and villages, granting land titles to your more successful generals, all in the interest of gaining more and more control of feudal Japan. It's definitely a big bite to take, even if you're a huge RTS fan… but if you're up to the challenge, check out the demo and see what you think.

Playing the demo definitely got me wanting to play the game, but it's a little too heavy for me right now. I haven't had an RTS to play around with in awhile, and it got me pining for something a bit more in the build-a-something type of RTS, much in the way of the Bullfrog's SimThemePark or Maxis' SimCity. I own both those games; however the mere thought of getting them running on modern hardware was more than enough to put me off trying. Instead I checked out Steam, and wouldn't you know it – Tropico 4 was right on the front page boasting a weekend sale!

Having never tried any of the other games in the series, I downloaded the demo first. All of the tutorials are there and the first island less several of the buildings which are locked out, a pretty substantial demo, really. I found it immensely entertaining and purchased the full game the same night.

This game is quite a bit more easy going than Sengoku – You're "President" of a series of islands collectively known as 'Tropico', each island represents a mission, 20 in all, each with its own set of goals and challenges. You can try to be a good leader, but the people's needs are incredibly diverse – and they're all filtered into various factions; of which there are numerous and have their own collective needs. Keeping everyone happy is very difficult. Despite my best intentions, allowing elections, and being re-elected twice - keeping everyone happy had become near impossible, and I had to adjust some numbers in order to stay in office.

As I was officially a dictator, rebel numbers were rising - so I had to start bulking up my army to quell riots. Guard towers went up around the palace and strikers and criminals alike were shot in public to be made an example of… it was actually pretty easy for me to slam down the iron fist now that I think about it.

You generate income through exports and tourism. The trade system is actually pretty deep; you can export raw resources, like salt, gold, iron, etc. or crops such as tobacco, sugar, papaya, etc… later on, with the proper facilities you can refine them into more expensive products, thus netting more profits. Likewise you can import goods to be sold to your people at a premium to supplement your income between export shipments. It's a pretty deep economy simulator underneath the humorous twists.

If you're into RTS games at all, I recommend it.

Arkham City

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I loved Arkham Asylum. On my old PS3 account, I completed all the main challenges, every collectible, the only things I didn't get around to were the brawler challenges, neither with Batman or The Joker - but that's because I was having too much fun with the main game more than anything. I found no faults with it, although I realize nothing is perfect; whatever the game's flaws were – they were completely forgotten if not missed completely, and overshadowed by what it got right.

Arkham City has taken all of that and made it better. I have not touched my consoles in months – Friday night, on a whim, I went into Best Buy and there it was on display, I glanced at the back – and before I could read anything the chick working the section says "just buy it – you'll like it."

Taking her professional opinion into consideration, I went ahead and followed the advice. No regrets here.

As per usual, I selected the hardest difficulty; perhaps a bit overconfident of me given that, as I said; I've not touched a console in months, and I hadn't played AA since its release. I couldn't remember how the controls work, but the devs did such a great job it's not at all hard to figure out within a few minutes of playing around.

The game is set roughly a year after the events after AA, the inmates of the Asylum and the Prison (Blackgate?) have been corralled into an old part of Gotham's slums now called the titular "Arkham City" (seehowididthat? Says the devs) The game opens with Bruce Wayne speaking out against this new setup and is immediately captured by one of the games many antagonists, thus begins the game. I won't go into it anymore – as there is too much awesome to do it justice, and it really should be played first hand by anyone that enjoyed the first game.... actually - even if you didn't play the first game.

Single player games with this sort of quality are few and far between in my opinion, so much attention and time is given to the next "great" FPS to sate the mindless needs of the masses to run and gun – it really makes this dark and gritty game stand out and shine… a diamond in the rough, so to speak.