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Fallout New Vegas: The Weekend

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How quickly things can change.

Still having the sound problem. Got my first infinite loading screen. But I've noticed that load times are getting worse, and the "pauses" are getting longer and more frequent. In short, the game is starting to finally become unplayable. I've seen a lot of comments that the longer you play, the worse it gets, and I've only been playing for 15 hours or so. If it's this bad now, I don't want to see how bad it'll be around hour 50.

I'd assumed I would just keep playing this until I was finished, but suddenly Fable 3 is looking a lot more tempting. I expect I'll still play New Vegas tonight, but tomorrow....I'm probably gonna take a break and start Fable 3. Obsidian needs to hurry up and fix this game.

Nothing special to report gameplay-wise. I managed to get into The Strip, got a nicer apartment at the Lucky 38, did some more sidequests (one of which became a problem...I had to finish it the one way I didn't want to because the person giving the mission went and got himself killed by mutant bugs.) Got some of the game's better weapons, and so on.

Jacobstown is cool, even if there's nothing to do there. The Strip is decent, even if I'm afraid to actually go into any of the casinos for fear that it'll crash again.

Overall, my enthusiasm for this game took a huge hit this weekend.

Fallout New Vegas: Day Three

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Best day yet. No problems, more time to play. Hell, I probably played for four hours last night.

With nothing to complain about, this'll end up being short.

As expected, my first destination was to go get a residence. The motel was right where I thought it would be, so I gladly handed over 100 caps and now I've got a nice motel room that I can't redecorate. But at least I can store my stuff without worrying that it'll disappear. Because I've got a lot of stuff.

And now that I've got a place for my stuff, my habit of compulsively collecting things has taken over. In Fallout 3 I collected a bunch of stuff: Nuka-Colas, teddy bears, pre-war money, things like that.

This time, I'm collecting all of those, but I'm also collecting Pre-War books. The doctor at the beginning has a ton of them, and you're free to take anything of his that you want. I don't expect they'll be worth as much here as they were in FO3, but they're still something I'm gonna keep my eye out for. It's a shame I don't have a bookshelf in my motel room, but I'm hoping there will be one in the place you get in Vegas, because I look forward to stacking them all nice.

More mismanaging of my skill points. What happens is that I'll find something I want to do that will require a certain number of skill points, I'll level up that skill too much, do the thing, and realize that it so wasn't worth it. My lockpick and science skills are probably too high at this point in the game, simply because I wanted to get through a locked door or hack something I didn't need to.

I now have two factions after me, which kind of sucks. At first, just the Powder Gangers (is that what they're called?) hated me, since they're the ones that attack Goodspring in the beginning. I had a chance to improve my reputation with them by saving a couple of them from the Legion, but apparently it didn't take, because now they still hate me, but so does the Legion.

Fortunately, simply "hating" me isn't enough for them to attack me on sight, though apparently I'm still going to be occasionally hunted by assassination squads.

I'm also way less concerned with Karma in this one. I guess it doesn't mean as much relative to the Faction Reputation system. So I'm more willing to steal crap. Though of course since I haven't been putting ANYTHING into Sneak, stealing isn't that easy just yet.

Ammo hasn't been as big a problem as it was in the early stages of FO3, and I've also had no trouble finding enough weapons to keep my favorites well maintained. I'm also finding more valuable stuff to sell, so money isn't too much of an issue either, except when merchants don't have enough caps.

On the other hand, I'm finding that stimpacks are tougher to find. None of the merchants I run into seem to have more than a couple, and I'm someone who likes to stockpile those. So I'm at the point still where I maybe have 20-30, and I hate using them because you have to use two or three just to get back to at least most of your full health. Because of this, I've started using the randomly placed beds more to recover health.

So far, one of the things I'm liking the most about New Vegas is that things are much closer together. I've heard the overall map is smaller than in FO3, but there are more locations. You don't have to wander endlessly to get to the next destination, which is nice. I'm also hoping that this game has skipped the ridiculous subway mazes that were in FO3. Those made travelling kind of a chore.

After a slow start where I didn't know what to do next, the game is picking up, and I'm looking forward to travelling aimlessly, stumbling upon new destinations and hopefully new sidequests. Just flipping through the guide, it looks like once again there are fairly few main quest missions, but a TON of sidequests.

Fallout New Vegas: Day Two

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Day two: more time to play, got more accomplished, and ran into more problems.

First, the problems. They started right away when I booted up the game and experienced choppy sound. On the next system restart, and the several afterwards, there was NO sound. Finally there was sound. The most infuriating thing is that I don't know what, if anything, I did to get the sound to work. It's like simply starting the game in gives you a 20% chance of actually having sound. The fortunate thing is that once I got the sound working, it stayed working; it never dropped off or became choppy after that.

So yesterday's conclusion that it was a mic issue seems to have been proven wrong. It's a sound issue, and I expect it'll continue to plague me.

The other major problem I experienced came a bit later, when I experienced my first (and second, and third) freeze. They all happened at the same point: upon entering the little crap casino in Primm, I spoke to Johnson Nash, and when I tried to buy/sell from him, the game froze upon trying to exit the transaction. Tried it again, same thing. Once more, same thing. It wasn't a complete freeze, the sound was still going, I just couldn't do anything.

Finally, I skipped the buy/sell, walked around a bit, talked to people, then spoke to Nash again in another area of the casino, and this time I was able to buy/sell without any problems.

Now for the good stuff.

I managed to travel a ways, though not far enough it seems. I cleared out Primm, blew up some guys with dynamite, collected a ton of loot (enemies seem to carry a lot more stuff in this game!), and then made a bit of progress towards the next destination in the story. I guess I picked up/finished a couple small sidequests as well, but they came and went so quickly I don't really know what exactly they entailed. I ran into an evil faction, and was surprised when they let me go without attacking me. Fought a LOT of dogs. Sold off a bunch of loot, and now have a fair bit of cash.I'm either at level 5 or 6 right now. I raised my lockpick skill to 40 so I could use a magazine and get into a locked door, and found nothing of much worth beyond, so I'm kind of annoyed about that.

Also tried that new card game "Caravan" for the first time. Game makes no damn sense. Lost 120 caps and I haven't learned a thing about it. I'm not sure I'll rush to try it again. How they didn't even include a tutorial in the game is beyond me. They teach you how to shoot, which is second nature to everyone picking up a controller, but they don't even begin to teach you how to play the ultra-convoluted card game they invented specifically for the game.

What I didn't accomplish yet is to get an apartment or some sort of "home". Apparently I stopped playing too soon last night, because if I understand right, there's one available in the next town I arrive in. So that's something I'll definitely be looking to get done tonight. I'm carrying too much junk (teddy bears, soda, armor, etc.), and I don't trust leaving it in a place I don't "own".

The game definitely still feels exactly like Fallout 3, so I'm encouraged. The dynamic of the different factions looks like it leaves a lot of room for variation in how the game plays out. It's not just a matter of good/bad, now you have to worry about your reputation among several different factions, and it seems impossible that you'll be able to get them all to like you.

Fallout: New Vegas Day One

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So after hearing all day about what a buggy mess New Vegas is, it was with more than a little nervousness that I fired up my own copy after work. Fearing game freezes, glitches, things like that. I still wasn't prepared for the first problem I ran into.

No sound. None. Of course, I let the opening cinematic play for a while, thinking "maybe it was a stylistic decision to keep it silent?", but it just felt wrong. So I started over. Same problem. Getting worried. Skipped ahead into the game. No sound. People talking, no audio.

I probably should have tried reinstalling, but I was so annoyed I just said "screw it" and exchanged it at the store. New copy, reinstalled it, even deleted the Gamestop pre-order bonus thinking maybe that was it. Still no sound.

Now I'm getting angry. Finally, it occurred to me to try disconnecting the mic.

There's sound.

Now, the mic is new. Never even used it, in fact. I'm not a big multiplayer gamer, but I keep meaning to play more (and in fact, I've been playing Blur online a TON lately), so I grabbed a mic. I plugged it in to charge it, then forgot all about it. No other games got muted, so clearly it's still an issue with New Vegas, but at least it's not BROKEN.

Anyway, now I can finally start the game. And meanwhile, Gamestop now has a returned but perfectly fine copy of New Vegas, and I have an extra pre-order bonus code, which I'll give away eventually.

Of course there's the endless agonizing over character design, which is pretty funny due to the crippling lack of REAL variety if you want your character looking anything like normal. Then there's the equally endless agonizing over setting up your initial SPECIAL stats. In the end, I went with a perfectly well-rounded character, all 5's and 6's. Too soon to think about specializing in one area or another.

And with that, I ventured forth. Now, I have NO idea what this story is about yet. And maybe that's deliberate. Your character "wakes up" with amnesia, so I guess it's fitting that we the players don't know any more about the situation than the character. But Fallout games have always been pretty directionless in the beginning, and this is even worse.

There's the opening town, and the brief tutorial, and even your first sidequest, which is about as far as I got into the game in the first day. The sidequest involves defending the town against a few weak attackers, which I did, but either I did something wrong or the game glitched, because now I have one of the town's settlers chasing after me trying to kill me. Apparently I accidentally shot one of his horned cow things. I can't kill the guy without incurring the town's wrath (I'm playing good, as I always do), but I still have to dispose of him somehow. Tonight, I expect I'll lead him off to somewhere remote and put him down. I'll take a karma hit, but it can't be helped.

Now, as for my initial impressions of the game itself: thus far it's exactly the same as Fallout 3. Could be an expansion pack. Graphics are the same, environments are the same, gameplay is the same. But this is just in the beginning, so no doubt it changes as the game progresses.

One notable difference is that now, using skills in conversation is no longer left up to chance. You either have the necessary skill points, or you don't. For instance, in the sidequest mentioned above, you can enlist the help of other citizens, and each one requires you to have a certain amount of a certain skill. For one guy, you need 25 Barter. If you have 25, it works. If you don't, it doesn't. It even shows you in the dialogue menu, highlighting the selection red or green, and showing the points you have in that skill. I don't really like this development. If you don't have the necessary skill, there's no point even making that selection, so why even have that option? At least in Fallout 3, even if you didn't have the necessary skill, you still had a small chance of success, so it might be worth trying.

VATS is back, and works exactly the same. I haven't fought anything difficult yet, so I've put down everything with ease.

I'm playing normal difficulty, not Hardcore mode. Can't handle that right now. So my character keeps taking a sip from the pre-order bonus canteen, but I can't help wondering what the point is, since apparently dehydration is only an issue in Hardcore mode? I might be wrong.

All in all, it was a pretty unproductive night. Spent too much time trying to deal with the sound issue, so I didn't have too much time to play the game itself. Hopefully tonight I'll get more accomplished.

Learning how to Street Fighter, by someone who's never Street Fought.

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That's right. Never really played a Street Fighter game, except for the occasional button-mash in the arcade many years ago. At least, I assume this. Some of the characters are familiar, but I don't know if this is from playing the game or simply from pop-culture exposure.

I've played other fighting games though, and I suck at all of them. I never bother to learn moves, so it's just button mashing, and so I play for as long as that works before quitting. Usually not very long.

What's always intimidating about fighters is how obsessive and meticulous they can make some players. The insistence on fight sticks for "faster response time" when the difference is in milliseconds, "frame data", where you actually have to take into account how many frames of animation each move takes, and the dozens of stick/button combinations you have to memorize in order to fight effectively. So because of all that, I just never really bothered learning the fighting genre.

But lately I've become more interested, and decided to pick up Super Street Fighter IV. I know that I'll never be anywhere near "great" at the game, but I've finally made peace with that. All I guess I really expect is to be able to hold my own.

Surprisingly, I think it was Guitar Hero that convinced me I could do this. Guitar Hero was a game where I could actually feel myself improving. When I started that game, I was convinced I'd never be able to finish a song on Hard. By the time I got bored, I was doing pretty well on Hard. It was the first game in a long time where "practice" gave me tangible results. So I'm thinking that a game like Street Fighter IV could benefit from a similar approach.

Last night was my first attempt, and it was mostly just to get a feel for things. I looked up a couple moves, read the instruction manual, focused on one or two aspects, and just spammed those in training and then in Arcade on Easy. To be fair, I mostly still ended up button-mashing, but occasionally I would try deliberate things like blocking or doing specific moves. Of course I reached a point where the opponent was blocking everything I threw at it, so that was the wall for me. Now I have to focus on figuring out how to counter those blocks. Learning to recognize which attack the opponent is doing is also going to be a priority.

Which I think is the approach I'll be taking here, and which I'm sure is the approach everyone takes: fight until you can't do something, then learn how to do it. The important thing will be taking things one step at a time. Right now, I'm bad at everything, and can't really defeat anything. But instead of worrying about all the things I can't do, I'll focus on one thing I can't do, learn it, and then move on to the next thing I can't do.

We'll see how long the experiment lasts.

Basically a Test Blog

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Still undecided on what, if anything, I'd blog about. But I am thinking of things. Never really been a blog person, so I don't yet know how to organize my thoughts into blog-format.