jshipley01eb / Member

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jshipley01eb Blog

I'm still alive .. and still gaming! :)

Wow, I haven't written in this blog space for almost a year ... people might think that I'm not playing games anymore! Thank god that's not the case....

Life has been interesting over the past 9 months and I really just haven't had it in me to pick up the electronic pen and start writing again. But here we are, October 2nd 2007 and I think it's frankly time. And it's a game that brought me back ... Hot Shots: Open Tee for the PSP. Since I've purchased this title it's become a PSP Greatest hit title and after picking the title up again after almost a year of not touching it, I know exactly why ...

It's fun!

It does everything I ask for in a game these days ... it entertains me for both short and long stretches of time. It remains pretty consistant throughout and it's just an enjoyable title. I love games with some kind of character customization which Hot Shots includes and the graphics are enjoyable, yet percise. It's an all around good game for it's platform.

This is in stark contrast to my recent purchase of D&D Tactics. Ugh, what a mess this game turned out to be. A clunky, difficult to use interface makes this game no fun to play at all. Final Fantasy Tactics for the PS One is a better title (and they are remaking that for PSP .. can you say "Must Have"? I knew you could! But seriously .. I don't know how a developer can play thisgame after making it and think it's a grade A title. But then, I suppose it's easy to forget to look past your own product to the players sometimes. It's hard to detatch yourself from your product and look at it from someone else's perspective. I wish I was asked to consult ...

So my search for a D&D 3.5 edition turn-based game continues. I love what Tactics was trying to do ... I think that a turned based D&D game was long .. LONG over due. So I'm really happy someone tried. But you need this game to be on PC, to begin with. Because menu navigation belongs on the PC ... the PSP controls are god awful. But you also need solid turn based play with multiple creatable characters. Neverwinter 2 was/is a great title, but I think it would perfect if the combat was turned based. D&D is a turned based game that people keep trying to make in real time. You know, there are still gamers out there that like to take their time and think out decisions and when to use what skills. We're not gone from the gaming market ... it doesn't have to be all "go go go"!

So I guess I'll keep waiting for that ... along with the next great X-Com remake. Now THAT's how you make a turn-based game. I miss you X-Com .. if I could get you to run on my rig, I'd be playing you right now. You were truly ahead of your time.

Until Next Time ....


Why I Never Stopped Loving Nintendo

So I'm old school, right?  Hella Old School according to Gamespot... so you know I've been playing video games since I was a little kid.  I started with Atari 2600, never had an Intellivision or a Collecovision (though I played them both) and then it was a Nintendo 8 bit system.

I've been a Nintendo fan ever since.  I hated the Sega line of consoles and I never really took to the Turbographics system.  Hell, it took me a while to give in to trying a Sony Playstation.  But I've always been faithful to my Nintendo.  I've owned every console they have ever released and the Wii is no different.

If there was a system out there that could revitalize console gaming at home, it's Nintendo's Wii system.  It's so family, friend, and single player friendly.  It makes console gamine accessible to everyone in my household.  My parents play the Wii!!  It's really amazing!

I love that Nintendo gives my wife something to enjoy about console gaming.  Watching her get excited when she bowls a strike in Wii Sports just makes me so happy.  She's having fun with something that I've loved all my life.  It's really great that she enjoys it.

Nintendo has done something here that Xbox and Playstation have yet to truly acheive, they've made their console accessible to all audiences without taking out the elements that make gaming fun in the first place.  And it gets better when you think about how the Virtual Console offers old greats from the full Nintendo library!

The Wii also has access to the previously mentioned Sega and Turbographics consoles' games.  I hated Genesis but I did love the first Sonic, Altered Beast, Golden Axe, Ecco the Dolphin...  I get to relive all these great games with the virtual console.

With the money I've invested in my Wii I've gotten far more then I could with spending the same cash on a Playstation 3 or an Xbox 360.  Let's check the breakdown:

Wii System : 250

WiFi DS Adapter : 40

Entra Remote : 40

Zelda : 60 (might have been 50)

6000 points : 60  (Which has gotten me: The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Brothers, Donkey Kong, Sonic, Altered Beast, Golden Axe, Super Mario 64, Street Fighter II, points left over)

That's 490 bucks!  Look at all the games I have to play!  And with the Virtual Console dropping new games every Monday... explain to me how the Wii isn't the best gaming investment out there!

Nintendo has always had the masses in mind when they designed their systems.  They wanted to open the door to men, women, and children and they have succeeded with the Wii.  I'm very excited for the next 5 years to see how this is going to turn out.

The 4 Main Flaws of Neverwinter 2

It’s a great game and I enjoy it very much.  But, unfortunately, there are things that take away from the flawless experience you’d expect.  And here they are: 

Changing Zones Removes all Buffs

This one really infuriates me.  Whenever you change zones (main locations to other main locations) all of your buffs will drop off your character.  Now, I understand when traveling out in the world that it’s reasonable that you have to rebuff when entering new areas, but the biggest culprit of this “bug” is when you’re inside Neverwinter. 

While in the city you pass between the different quarters (like in NWN 1) but this time you actually go to the world map to do it.  When you select what should obviously be neighboring districts you appear with all of your buffs gone.  This gets really frustrating when you’re about to enter the warehouse portion of the City Watch quest line.

Thinking I was in for a big battle, I wisely buffed my party outside the warehouse door.  I play a wizard so having my spells ready is critical.  When we were all set I clicked the door into the warehouse.  Much to my surprise, when I entered the warehouse all of my buffs were gone.  It was like a day had passed from the outside of the door to the inside.  This is really annoying and someone should fix this.

Improved Mage Armor has Incorrect Duration

Both Mage Armor and Improved Mage Armor have the same duration listing in the spell text.  It’s 1 hour/caster level.  That’s a pretty long time.  Why then does my Improved armor always drop WELL before the regular mage armor.  Again, as a Wizard the improved spell is much more beneficial and I’d like to not have to rest every 5 minutes to rebuff myself with it.

Conversations Teleport Party Leader

This is the worst of the lot and I probably should have listed it first on my complaint list.

So I mentioned I’m playing a wizard right?  We’re squishy, with very few hit points to speak of.  So it would be no surprise that I want my wizard to be at the back of any altercation to give my fighter time to intercept incoming attackers.  That’s just smart playing.

It’s a shame the game feels the need for the main PC to be involved in every conversation that takes place.  The following has actually happened to me in several different ways through the course of the game so far:

I see a group of enemies ahead.  They have the talk icon which tells me that I’m going to have to chat with them before I can slaughter them.  I’d prefer to keep my mage well back and let my fighter do the talking but, nope, that’s not possible.  As soon as I initiate dialog my main PC (again, A WIZARD) appears right up close to the enemies for the conversation.   So when things turn south and we get into battle my poor wizard is within easy striking distance of the enemy.

This is poor design, in my opinion.   If I was playing a fighter I wouldn’t care, but a wizard cannot afford to be that close to the action.  The game mechanics disrupt proper planning on my part (the player).  It’s bad enough the camera is always a pain in the ass, now I have to deal with this stupid flaw too. 

Vague Item Spell Descriptions

A minor, but important flaw for me, is the lack of truly descriptive text for some of the in game items.  Neverwinter 1 had this problem and it persists here in NWN 2.  Some items in the game cast an effect, let’s use a Wand of Frost as an example here.  The Wand allows you to cast Frost Bolt at a target.  Now, it would be nice if we knew what frost bolt did (1d4+1) in the wand description.  But it doesn’t say that, it just tells you it does Frost Bolt.

So now I have to go find Frost Bolt and find out what it does.  This is annoying, especially if I didn’t have a wizard in my party.  It’s very possible that you could have a party for the early part of the game without a caster.  That means you have no resource to look up the spell in question and its effects (save the manual).  It just seems to me like it’s more convenient for the player to be verbose in descriptive text to give the player every advantage they need to play the game.  This is a minor thing, but it bugs me enough to make my list.

Because Cheating is Fun!

Okay, I was going to get back to my post below, and i may still, but I don't feel like it right now cause I want to do this post instead.

Playing Neverwinter 2?  Want to have any feat you want at any time?  It's easy to do ... just follow the instructions below!  You can thank me later.

1 - Enter console with the "~" key.

2 - type "DebugMode 1" (this is case sensitive, but the way, so make sure to use the big "D" and the big "M")

You'll see a message in your chat window that says you've entered debug mode.

3 - close console ("~") and select the character you want to add the feat(s) to.

4 - Reenter console ("~")

Now, each feat in the game has a number reference from 2 to just under 500.  There are a lot of things you can add, not just standard feats but any "ability" that shows up in the feat window of your character (or any character).  I started to make a list but got tired of writing around 50 or so ... so for now you're going to have to experiment to get the feat you need.  Anyway, the how is easy....

5 - Type "givefeat #" where # is any number between 2 and 500. 

Keep in mind, some numbers don't do anything (like 1, for instance).  When you enter the code correctly, it will tell you in the consol window exactly what feat you have added.  Most of the standard stuff is in the 2 to 100+ range.  Experiment!

And have fun cheating!


Neverwinter Nights First Impressions - Character Creation

If there were one drawback to getting married, it's that i feel compelled to spend some more time with my wife when I get home from work then i do to play games.  I know what you're thinking, "Perish the thought!" Well, it's true.  So all I really got to do with NWN2 last night was create a character and run around a little bit in the Tutorial.  The following is my review of that experience.

For the D&D players out there, is there really anything better then rolling up characters?  It's so much fun.  It harnesses the joys of leveling up all at one moment.  I love making new characters!  THANK GOD Obsidian paid attention when they designed the character generation system for NWN2.

A quick shout out to Chris Avellone ... What's up Chris, I'm a man and I love you.  Hehe, okay, well I love Fallout 2 and so i love you by proxy.  Just wanted to get that out.

Anyway, character gen in NWN2 is WAY cool.  So much better then the previous game in every way really.  I love it!  It has one flaw though, and I'll get to that later.

1 - Race

You get to pick your starting race from an increased cast of races including deep gnomes and wood elves and the like.  I couldn't quite figure out how to get to the different sub classes of gnome, dwarf, elf, etc... but it was my first time trying it out and I didn't read the manual so ...

You get to see a base picture of what the selected race will look like, you choose male or female and you can see a race description that tells you what the benefits and penalties of each race are.  it's vey well organized.

2 - Show me your Face!

Next you get to do limited customization of your facial features and your beard if you're a guy, etc.  Limited but better then we had from NWN.

3 - The rest of it...

Will be coming later .. i have to get back to work right now :' )  Damn employment!  Cutting in on my game time!

A Good Job is Hard to Find

But FINALLY I've found one!  YAY!  It's only been six months out of work, but after much toil and hardship I've finally landed a job again.  And it's one I'm pretty excited about.  So three cheers for me and working!  YAY!  YAY!  YAY!

You know, some might say that being out of work for six months is a nice vacation.  After all, I received a severance package from my last job (we were bought out by another company) and the government has been helping me search for work by keeping me afloat (aka Unemployment), so money was still coming in .. that's good right?

Wrong.  Sure at first it was nice to be off.  And I enjoyed myself for the first month and a half.  But then, no matter how into gear I kicked it, i couldn't get that bite that I needed.  At interviews I kept coming up empty and new prospects for my skills are slim in my area.  I didn't know where to turn.

So I really need to give a shout out to my man Paul (who will never read this and none of you probably know) who really looked out for his friend and helped me get the interview to land this position.  I appreciate good friends like that and don't worry, I was sure to tell the guy in person that I appreciated his assistance.

Maybe now I can settle in for a little normalacy.  At least for a while, anyway.  I mean, it is work, isn't it?  It's a crime that we can't be independantly wealthy in the first place so we don't have to even do this crazy working thing.

See you all around the water cooler!


Back in Black

Well, after a few rough starts I finally figured out how the friend system on gamespot actually works, so I'd like to take this time to welcome all my new friends to my page.   And thanks to all of you I've gotten myself a new little tag thing over there called neighborly.  I'll be sure to find out what the heck that means when this is done :' )

So anyway, welcome to all the new folks.

And now a question.  Why do I have to track you to be your friend?  I mentioned this in the forum but I don't keep track of every little thing my friends in real life do, why do I have to be up my virtual friend's asses too?  Just doesn't seem to make much sense.  But what can you do?  Nothing, I tell ya!

Hello Boredom My Old Friend

Wow, I've neglected this for too long.  My last post was in May?  Yeah, way to go with that whole stick to your guns thing.  Just ignore that, anyone who reads this.

Gaming ... man I bored right now.  I've played everything I wanted to up to this point and it's getting to be time for something new again.  And let me tell you something... looking at the upcoming new releases out there there's going to be an end to boredom on the horizon.

Neverwinter Nights 2 looks really kick ass.  I can't wait to get my hands on that one.  Final Fantasy XII is also out at the end of October so there's two things my wife can be made about.  :' )  The of course we have the WII launch in November, which I can't wait for either.

You know, you have to hand it to Reggie, he can sell the sh*t out of those things.  I saw his E3 show and I was in.  What's scary for me is that I care more about being able to download old Nintendo games then playing some of the new stuff actually coming out on the system.

There's Zelda, of course, which is like a must own title, and the new Mario which is out next year I think, but there isn't much else I care about yet.  What's the one game everyone wants?  Red Steel or something like that.  Yeah, that's a whatever game for me.  The gameplay is certainly innovative with the numchucks but other then that it really looks like just another first person shooter.  I'm so over that phase in my life.

Um, that's a lie.  I'm playing through QuakeIV right now.  So I guess I not completely over it.  Nevermind that last paragraph.

So there's a lot to look forward too and it starts less then two weeks from now.  All I have to do is figure out how to buy these without my wife beating me to death with a sharp eraser and I'll be fine :' )

Wednesday May 31st, 2006 - When Will Tomorrow Come?

Well, let’s see.  There’s a lot to get to here so I better get started.

I noticed today that most of my former trackers are gone.  All that’s left are you 4 brave souls.  Thanks for continuing to read along.  I hope I continue to give you something worth reading about.

What’s happening to PC games? 

I was in my local EB store the other day and I noticed a sad sight.  The PC section was regulated to a small display stand in the center of the store.  There was hardly any impact to the section and it’s likely that anyone browsing that section was in the store for it anyway.  As a PC guy I found all of this very depressing.  I decided to check around to see if this was true in other stores as well.  I found that Gamestop was the same way.  PC just isn’t as big anymore.

Maybe I’m too old school but I remember when the entire wall of the store was covered with PC games.  Back in the day when I was managing an EB store it literally was the first thing you saw when you walked in the store.  Remember when Diablo II was coming out how crazy the demand was?  We had a whole wall of just that!  I shed a tear for my lost PC section.

I think the biggest downfall to PC is that fact that you really have to keep upgrading your system to keep up with the latest titles.  Technology moves so fast and PC is always there to take advantage of that.  When you consider that once XBOX and Playstation come out with their systems you don’t need to upgrade your system further, you just need to buy new games, it’s really hard to see the value of the PC.

So what does PC have that these consoles don’t?  Well, a top of the line PC has better graphics, sound, and resolution then the consoles as well as internet capability.  There’s also massive upgradeability that you just don’t have with the TV units.  And these days you almost have to have a high definition television to really get the most out of the graphics.  Don’t get me wrong, I DO have a high def TV, but that’s not the point.  I’m hardcore.  What about your average gamers?

In my opinion there’s nothing better for a shooter then a keyboard and mouse.  I love having all those buttons to do things with.  And because PC is so competitive right now you tend to get a high class of games from your premiere developers.  There is one other HUGE problem with PC, though.  Developers these days think that it’s okay to release a game before its ready.  By ready I mean 98% bug free.  And that 2% is rare and not system threatening.

PC developers have this idea that it’s okay to release and patch later.  It really is a terrible concept.  Yes, I realize you’re in this business to make money and not to make great games.  You probably tell yourselves it’s to make great games but the boys upstairs know the truth, don’t you.  Of course you do!  You want the money.  Making a great game is nice, but if that great game doesn’t sell it’s not worth it.  Isn’t money terrible?

When can we get the cashless society like they have in Star Trek?  It seems to work well for them.  While we’re at it, how about perfecting teleportation technology so I can see other parts of the world without having to fly.  Figure this one out:  I’m willing to have my atoms scattered all over the cosmos to get from point A to point B but I don’t want to fly with all my atoms intact.  I’m crazy.

Anyway, I love PC and I just think it’s a shame where the [PC] industry is going. I hope that something can be done to revive this great medium.


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