Thursday, January 29, 2009

Rage, the great motivator

A long time ago, I had an encounter that affected how approach people, goals, and possessions in Guild Wars and other MMOs.

At the time, Sarutobi wasn't level 20 yet. I hadn't even reached Yak's Bend yet, much less capped any elites, tested out PvP, visited FoW, etc. The game was still very fresh for me, and all I owned of it was Prophecies (to be fair, at the time, that's all that existed).

I joined a team that was attempting the Nolani Academy mission, and on the team was a level 20 female warrior, who was helping a friend complete the mission. She was an arrogant bitch, who immediately took control of the team, and started ordering everyone around. However, the orders summed up to:

"Stay back, I'm fighting"

If we tried to help, if we got too close, or even if we ran in to try to pick up drops from fallen foes, she'd yell and scream, threatening to drop team and make us finish without her.

At several points during the mission, my teammates fawned over her, asking about her armor and gear. She blatantly refused to answer any questions about them, stringing them along, only telling them how expensive they had been, and thusly, how rich she was. I know now that she wore Obsidian Armor, and wielded a Flamberge (No clue what the shield was, the warrior pictured left isn't her).

Needless to say, she pissed me off. After shitting on us for 20 minutes or so, she left talking about how grateful we should all be, that she did us this amazing favor.

Because of this player, I've always made sure that if I can, I take the time to assist others. I try to be generous with my time and resources, and when possible, will give people better gear. I visit lower level areas on occasion and offer to run missions and quests with player, and give advice on character builds and playstyle if it will help. This is true of Guild Wars, and of City of Heroes back when I still subscribed.

I also wanted to prove how powerful and self sufficient I could make myself. I wanted everyone to know that I would work with them, not for them, that I would cooperate, not follow orders.

Most importantly, when I PvP, once in a while, I hope that the bitch from Nolani Academy, with the Obsidian Armor, I hope that she's there, as an opponent. And on this rare occasion, when I remember her when I fight, I hope that she's one of the people I bring my hammer down on, and that she recognizes me, with my retarded name, as I rip her apart and leave her broken before me. I hope she sees me when I start to play that violin ever so softly, after each win.
Of course, this wasn't the first time I'd felt such a burning desire for "revenge".
A long, long time ago, even before this, I used to play Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction. At the time, I was almost solely focused on PvP, especially lld (low level dueling). I ran a level 18 assassin named Solaki. I found a forum created for LLDing in D2, and I started to visit it, trying to pickup tricks and tips that would help me. I came across this thread (which I'm amazed that I found again so easily after all these years), where an open challenge was issued to all level 18 east coast duelists.

Being the idiot I am, I messaged the guy, and set up a meet for a duel. He beat me hardcore. He started talking mad shit, over and over again, pretty much insulting me every way a person could be. I later found out that he was hated by everyone who dueled in that bracket, and that no one respected him.

I almost stopped PvPing all-together after that fight. But I was too pissed to stay away. That's when I made Slice_O_Rama. I figured I wasn't cut out for the lld bracket, so I made a mid-level assassin, who I geared and built to be the best and most powerful at her level. I succeeded, and reveled in the glory of being called a hacker and causing countless level 80+ mages to rage-quit from matches against me.

But I wasn't like HackX. I didn't shit on the people I beat. I talked trash, but not to people who were just there to have fun. I fought for fun, not to bully others. I existed in a happy medium where I only fought those of higher level than me, where I sat in on duels, ready to cream anyone who dared interfere.

It's really weird, that anger motivated me to drastically different paths.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Know your role.

I'm currently very excited about my lowbie warrior, Roland Dresden. He's the one I posted about before, wearing E-platemail. Anyways, as a result, I've been playing him more than Saru, even though buying his armor made me broke again.

Roland is level 16 at the moment. His armor and weapons are max, fully runed and fitted with insignia, and using both normal and elite warrior tomes, I've taught him a few powerful skills he would have been otherwise unable to learn for quite some time. So, quite obviously, when he team with with people his level, and runs quests and missions at his own level, he kicks huge amounts of ass, and dominates his foes.

So, a few days ago, I ran a mid-level mission, D'Alessio Seaboard. Ended up on a team with a lvl 20 Monk (the leader), plus his two heroes (lvl20 splinter barrage, lvl20 minion mancer), a lvl 12 Monk, and a lvl 14 Necro (I'm lvl 15 during this mission). As soon as I accept the invite to the team, the leader asks me to ping my build. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. He's being aware of how his teammates work, but he's also trying to make people alter their builds. I thought about griping at the him, but decided it wasn't worth the effort. I ping the build (basically the same thing I run FoW with), and the leader finds it acceptable. Meanwhile the low lvl necro pings his build, and it's abysmal. I mean, I usually don't tell people what to run, but why the hell does a necro run a build with Rain of Fire, Phoenix, and Conjure Flame, with 0 ranks in Fire Magic. To my surprise, the leader tells him the build is fine.

So, we enter the mission, and I immediately start to like the leader less, cause not only does he start ordering me around, he's calling me "war". It's not like "Roland" is hard to type. Even worse, when he's ordering me around, he ends up saying stupid things that aren't helpful, like "stop moving". How can I tank, or even fight, if I can't move to follow a target or engage a new one?

This particular mission has almost exclusively undead foes, among them, Skeleton Sorcerers. They tend to spam blinding flash, rendering me useless. After fighting several battle where the monk fails to remove it from me, I start to ping it to remind him. He responds with, "don't have rest con". Dude. You're going to tell me how to play, and double check my build, but you're not going to bring any condition removal? What the fuck? Guess what, you're splinter barrage ranger is useless too when she's blinded! Apparently, I run monk heroes more competently than you play your own monk.

We keep going, and once we reach the 90% mark, the leader starts to talk to me directly:

Asshole: Do you know what to do?
Me: Um, pretend I don't.
Asshole: Run ahead of the minions.

DUDE, SHOVE IT! I'm sorry the NPCs minions are dying. Minions were a shitty choice to run against undead, since you can't exploit undead corpses. Even if you could, I'm out DPSing the whole damn minion army, Flesh Golem included. So don't tell the lvl 15 Warrior (with Elite Platemail, wielding a Deldrimor Sword and Deldrimor Shield) what to run, don't tell him how to tank, and don't tell him how to play. I could have soloed that whole damn mission, if only I had had condition removal (Mending Touch, Antidote Signet).

So, we complete the mission, get the bonus, skip the cutscene, and hit the next town. The leader asks who's going and who's staying. At this point, I very politely, and with proper grammar and spelling, decline to join them in the next mission. He promptly kicks me from the team.


I don't know who beat you as a child, or raised you in such a manner that you consider any of your behavior socially acceptable, but you're a tool, plain and simple. You lack the common sense to adjust skills based on the foes you'll be fighting (notice how I swapped out Sever Artery and Gash for the mission, since we were fighting undead, while you kept the MM), you run a prot monk but don't include a single skill for condition removal (as much as I like getting bonded by a monk, it's kinda pointless against lvl 14 foes in NM), yet try to order the team around like you know shit.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I has a fan-club!

Ok, not really, but you'll see what I mean.

So, I tried to organize a FoW clear team today. Got my sister-in-law, plus 6 strangers together. It started out rough, but then went a lot smoother for 30 minutes or so. Then we enter the forest of the Wailing Lord, and everything goes to hell. Classic Saru-style, we wipe and I'm the last one alive, fighting against 2 1/2 spawns. I had a few scrolls of resurrection on me (I craft and keep a few on hand so I don't have to bring a rez skill in PvE), and I try to position myself to where I get the whole team, but I keep having Iron Mist spammed on me, and I get pinged to death.

Good times.

So, we reform, my sister-in-law leaves, and I give the reins over to a Necro named Tangram Soultheif. We get new players, and right before we're set, someone enters Underworld, not FoW. We zone in, and wipe, cause the Perma-Sin is a douche, the other warrior is a complete tard, and no one is listening to me or Tangram.

So, Tangram and I meet back up for a third time, and form a third team. We're more careful this time, Tangram emphasizes that I'm the tank, I lead on agro, etc. We go in, and we do much better than the first run. However, people keep DCing, and eventually, we're down to 5 people left, with no monks for healing or protting. I suggest we hit the beach to clear out the cave for what little loot we can score. Everyone agrees, not realizing that I'm serious, just thinking I wanna dick around on the beach before we resign.

Next thing they know, I've explained to them how the beach is laid out, and how the enemies fight, and we're clearing it, skales and all. At one point, we wipe again save for me, and this time I do get the rez scroll off, bringing all of them back to life mid-battle. Not long after, we reach the cave. Try as we might, I can't keep them alive through the hail of poisoned arrows being fired from the spiders, and they wipe. That leaves me, alone to face the cave. Easy. However, I'm not running my dedicated farm build, so killing is taking forever.

Well, I'm thinking about just resigning, since I'm out of scrolls, then I notice that the team's bitching cause a few shards have dropped for them, but they can't get them cause they're dead. So, I offer to clear the cave, snag the shards once the timer counts down, and hand them back out to the people they dropped for, while continuing to clear the cave, in hopes of more shards. Everyone stop for a moment, then thanks me, dumbfounded by my offer.

Eventually, I reached a point in the cave where I was far enough away from the group that they weren't getting drops, so I try to lure the spiders closer to my team. No dice. Feeling defeated, I break agro and head back to the beach, picking up the shards that dropped. We resign, and meet back at ToA, where I hand them out. Then, Tangram sends me a URL through teamchat.


Tangram told me he had taken those pictures, explaining that most people don't get a chance to take good pictures of themself mid-battle. Everyone added me to their friends list (I was solicited to join another guild), I gave my FoW build to a couple peeps, and talked them through it's usage. All in all, a great time.

Except for the fact that I spent 2 hours in the Fissure without getting a single fucking shard. DAMN YOU RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR!!! A POX UPON YOU!!!!!!1111!!


Things like that were common for me back in the day when I played City of Heroes. There was a much better sense of community, and I felt eager to help out other players, and foster good will. Not so much in Guild Wars, so I'm thankful for what happened today. Even though I failed to clear FoW three times in a row, I feel good about what we did as a team today. I wish I had more days like that.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Get to da choppa!

Erm, I mean, portal...

It's not often in games that you're forced to retreat without the aide of a cutscene. Most of the time, when you need to run away, they just have a cutscene where you run away. I figured it was because gamers can be fairly strong willed, and have been known to go against the grain if it suits them.

Guild Wars, contrart to popular belief, has only one expansion, Eye of the North. It has three campaigns, Prophecies, Factions, and Nightfall, but each is it's own game, and you can play any one without the other two (or you could own all of them like I do). To get to Eye of the North, you have to do a mini intro, where you meet two of your new allies, plus the enemies you'll be facing, the Destroyers.

Destroyers are badass.

So much so, that when the NPCs run off screaming, you join them. Last night, I found myself deep beneath Lion's Arch, with my humble level 15 Warrior, Roland Dresden (who has a shiny set of Elite Platemail, :P), fleeing for my life with my personal golem in tow. Not the first time I've brought a character to EotN, but it always strikes me how unique that segement is. You, the hero, who's deeds include but are not limited to defeating the Mursaat, sealing away the Titans, casting down the Lich, unifing the factured factions of Cantha, banishing the spirit of Shiro the Betrayer, facing down Warmarshall Varesh, rallying the Elonian princes, and casting down a forgotten god, you are now running for your life from gigantic, hulking, magma filled warrior beasts whom wield weapons forged out of their own flesh.

Good times.

Personally, I still think Titans>Destroyers, but apparently Anet disagrees.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fantasy Armor, where style murders functionality

Armor in RPGs is usually the defining part of any characters design. It defines many aspects of a character, be it a potential for strength or speed, limits to mobility or reach, or the ability to complement a fighting style. No one expects a hulking giant of a warrior clad in steel plates from head-to-toe to start tumbling into melee with a rapier, parrying and lunging.

For the longest time, the only set of armor I had for Sarutobi was the 1.5k Templar armor (pictured left, undyed, full set costing 7.5k+materials), dyed silver. I crafted it so long ago that when I got it, it was still called "Knight's Armor", and the silver was closer to white than it is now.

I loved this armor so much for two reasons. Firstly, it was functional. It protects nearly everything I'd want it too, rather than leaving my mid-drift, cleavage, thighs, etc exposed to attack (ok, this leaves the tatas a bit exposed, but not nearly as much as most).

The second reason I liked it was because it was symmetrical. Not a huge deal really, but sometimes it really bothers me how they have their armor sets designed. The art department that worked on Guild Wars deserves plenty of kudos for creating a beautiful game, but seriously, why can't I get armor with two pauldrons? Is it really too much to ask for equal protection of both shoulders?

I crafted this set so long ago, at the time, no elite version of the "Knight's" armor existed. Because of that, I never felt like my character was lacking or inferior, because I was perfectly happy with what I had. However, after I spent a few weeks farming FoW and selling Obsidian Shards on the player market, I noticed that I was getting lowballed by most people who were buying shards. Generally, market price is gauged off what NPCs offer. If the NPC Rare Materials Merchant is selling shards for 3.5k, but buying at 2.5k, the market settles at 3k flat, thus letting the seller turn a profit, and the buyer saves cash in the process.

However, when trying to sell shards, people would lower their offers too me after a face to face meet. Over time, I concluded that since I was wearing cheap armor, people assumed I was poor, so they could still make a buy off me since I'd be too broke to turn them down. After a while, I got fed up and "upgraded".

While it wasn't available for some time, the elite version of "Knight's" armor (now called Templar) came out about two years after launch. Elite Templar, like almost every other set of armor with 'elite' attached to it's name costs 15k per piece. So, I dropped 75k+materials on the new set of armor, which functioned identically to my old set. Not content with that, I went and dyed it black (Black dye is the most expensive, costing 6k-8k, depending). So, that was another 35k or so. And, like I expected, I stopped getting lowballed by every buyer I met. I don't know if it was worth the 100k+ I spent, but at least I don't get 'lolmad' at them anymore.

But now Sarutobi's boobs are exposed. Same with her thighs. And, wait, now she only has one pauldron.


Sure, my elbows are covered now, cool beans. But now I can't even walk through a bush without getting scratched up. How is that considered effective armor? All I'm doing is encouraging my foes to target my weak spots.

And where is it written that exposing cleavage makes armor more effective in a melee situation? If anything, it ensures that not only will I die faster, but my corpse is liable to be violated. Joy. The worst part is that other than that, the armor is actually really neat. The detail is great, I like the texturing, and it keeps the style of the 1.5k version while being something relatively original unto itself (I really like the gauntlets and the greaves, I felt those were the weaker aspects of the 1.5k version. The helmet is weaksauce though).

However, as you can see from my post about farming FoW, I found an elite set of armor that suits me fine for the most part, Elite Kurzick armor. It makes Saru look a little thinner than I'd like, but more than makes up for that by being the medieval gothic version of Storm Trooper armor. Currently I have it dyed silver, and I'm toying with changing that too white (silver has a distinct blue-ish hue to it, despite making the surface shiny).

I'm considering getting a new set of armor. I'm seriously considering Ancient Armor, and I always talk about getting Obsidian Armor, but I don't know how serious I am about that. Obsidian Armor just seems like such a headache to craft, and I don't like dealing with the FoW PUGs that seem to abound in lieu of actual teams.

I'm open to suggestions.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Powerpuff Girls 10th Anniversary!

I love the Powerpuff Girls. Back when I still lived in my mother's house (which was long ago while I was still relatively young) I had a poster of them up on my bedroom door, looking as menacing as three kindergarten girls can.

Yesterday was the 10th anniversary marathon of Powerpuff Girls on Cartoon Network (which is odd, cause I thought they debuted in '98). I was lucky enough to catch a few episodes before my wife walked in and questioned my sanity.

In most movies, shows, and to a lesser extent, comics/games, I find that too many female characters fall within a stereotype, of being either too emotional, or too butch. Take, for example, almost any role that Michelle Rodriguez has played. In movies or on TV, she's always the same person. Mean, bitchy, alpha-female wannabe badass (well, to be honest, most of the time she isn't a wannabe, she is badass). Back when she did Girlfight in '00, this was something that was fresh for her. But then she did it over and over again, in things like Resident Evil, SWAT, and Lost.

Now, look at Jennifer Garner in Alias. She manages to balance a cold-blooded ingenious badass with a caring a loving civilian life. She plays a character with amazing depth, that doesn't need to be sexed up to be appealing, doesn't need to be a bitch to be badass, and doesn't need to be heartless to be scary (heartless=/=coldblooded). Quite obviously, it's not impossible to play the female lead in an action/drama scenario without having to fall back on the female equivalent of Schwarzenegger.

And that's the big appeal of Powerpuff Girls to me. One moment they're firing eye lasers and upper-cutting Godzilla, the next they're at home having a bedtime story read to them. It sends a message to young children, especially girls, that you don't see often; you can be the badass hero by just being yourself. Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup have no secret identity, no lair, no double life. They're the Powerpuff Girls from the moment they wake up till the moment the fall to sleep again, and every second in between.

The action in the show is ridiculous, to say the least. There is blood, both villain and hero end up pretty banged up, and the city is quite literally reduced to ruble on what seems like a weekly basis. Each one is even as strong as Superman. In fact, they manage to fly so fast they went back in time without having to circle Earth, I'd like to see the Man of Steel do that.

But even beyond the message it sends, or how strong they are depicted as being, the writing of the show in of itself is amazing. If you watch enough, you can find references and direct quotes from such films as The Big Lebowski, Taxi Driver, and This is Spinal Tap. They also poke fun at other super-heroes, like Wonder Woman and Spawn, or show the political dynamic explaining the motivation for all the random giant monster attacks (that was all one episode, actually). The show was even featured in the movie Blade 2, being the only show that ever came on when they flipped on the TV (the vampires dig that show, apparently).

If I had to compile a list of what I thought was the best animated features of all time, Powerpuff Girls would go on it. It's really that good.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sarutobi, in the flesh

I've spoken about her before, but now you can see her, Sarutobi Sasuke, my warrior.

She's wearing her Elite Kurzick armor in this picture, armed with a Mursaat Hammer (I have three, Ebon, Sundering, and Vampiric). I guess it would have better to take a picture with the helmet off, so you could see what she looks like, not her armor.

The Elite Kurzick is outfitted with Sentinel's Insignia (+20 AL vs Elemental), and she has Elite Templar armor with Knight's Insignia attached (-3 physical dmg). I have a set of Elite Platemail that also has Sentinel's on it, and I'm debating what to do with it (salvage, refit, etc).

My current goal is to find a build for solo farming Underworld that I'm comfortable with, so I can start farming Smite Crawlers for Ecto. I already have a bitching build I use to farm Armored Cave Spiders in Fissure of Woe for Shards, but it's not suited for UW. But, with recent buffs to Hundred Blades, I think I'll be able to head there pretty soon and start farming up a good number of Ectos (I need 120 Ectos and 120 Shards to make a full set of Obsidian Armor, while a good run in FoW for me only yields 5 shards, meaning I'll need at least 24 runs to be halfway there.)

This single target version of my FoW build can run the beach and cave in under 30 minutes (which is fast), and can survive agro from Skales, while out-healing their degen (which is great). I currently use this same build, with Body Blow traded for Whirlwind Attack. I prefer Swords to Axes; I know that I could get better AoE is I used an Axe and switched out Counter-Attack for Cyclone Axe, but it's my opinion that having superior single target damage lets me cycle through targets faster, and makes the run go quicker. Either way, here's the rundown of the build:

  • Strength 12+1+3
  • Swordsmanship 12+1

  • Max Zealous Sword (+def mods are kinda pointless, go with +hp)
  • Max Shield (-2 in stance is pointless for this build)
  • Max Armor with Knight's Insignia & Superior Rune of Absorption

  1. Power Attack
  2. Counterattack
  3. Whirlwind Attack
  4. Flail
  5. Enraging Charge
  6. Defy Pain (E)
  7. Lion's Comfort
  8. "For Great Justice!"

Otherwise, it functions like any other version of a warrior beach build, but it takes no damage from spiders, meaning the only threat they pose is via degen. Since you'll have over 800 HP near constant, losing 8 hp a second is trivial, especially when you'll heal for 114 about every 10 seconds (Meaning you still post a HP gain of 34 points). Since it takes so little damage, there is little need to pull spiders, you can just dive right in, and start killing. Even if you pull Skale agro, you can live through it, as long as you're actively engaged (Skales can still damage you, and they cause a 20 hp a second drain).

As far as variants, the only skills you have to have are Flail, Enraging Charge, Defy Pain, and Lion's Comfort, and even then, it's really Defy Pain and Lion's Comfort that do all the work. I'm sure more effective variants can be created, but most other builds hinge on using Dolyak Signet, while spamming every Axe AoE they can find (not my style).

Take for example, this build, claiming to be the fastest solo beach run build on PvXWiki. You can see that my build and this one are very different in their approach. Even with the +38 AL granted by Dolyak Signet in this build (giving it 154 AL vs Physical), the -2 stance shield, Knight's Insignia, and a Sup Rune of Absorption, it still takes damage from the spiders (that's -8 physical damage), while mine doesn't (my build possesses -17 physical without the shield, while Defy Pain also gives me +20 AL, for 136 AL vs Physical). Also, notice how it's only direct healing option, Patient Spirit, can and will get interrupted. Lion's Comfort won't, as they don't attempt to do so. Lion's Comfort by itself provides enough healing to cover you, making it you sole source of healing, while the PvX build needs two sources.

It's glaring strength over my build, however, is it's three AoEs to my one. However, as proved by my screenshot, I can still complete the run under 30 minutes, so it's apparently not that much of an advantage. I've posted faster times, but have yet to upload them to photobucket.

The hardest part of farming FoW is learning how to get to the beach. The actual combat is ludicrously easy, given the nature of the instance, but getting there can prove fatal if done poorly. Luckily, many videos exist documenting the safest route to get there, in the least amount of time possible.

Obsidian Shards sell for anywhere from 2.8k to 3.5k, depending on the market. Rubies and Sapphires drop with relative frequency (4.5k to 5k), as do Obsidian Keys and Scrolls of Passage. Standard drops (salvage items, collector's items, white/blue weapons) will earn you a consistent 2k to 2.5k. Less the cost on entry (1k to enter FoW or UW), you'll earn on average 9.4k to 12k, but more than likely, you'll pull more than just 3 shards, and more than just standard drops, earning you anyway from 15k to 27k. Not bad, but not amazing. The real value, to me at least, if not having to pay for shards (If you bought the shards needed for Obsidian Armor, it'd cost anywhere from 336k to 420K).

Friday, January 16, 2009

The PvP is weak in this one...

  • Jumped on Guild Wars for the first time in a week or so and got trounced in an AB.
  • Jumped on Counter Strike: Source for the first time in a week or so and ended up with a negative KDR.
  • Declined to have an argument even though I knew I was empirically correct.
  • Had a staring contest with an 8 year old and lost cause he kicked me in the shin.

Needless to say, things aren't going well for me right now.

My work schedule is doing me in. I don't dislike my job, and what I do, so much as how often I do it. I've been working 65 hour weeks lately, and it's wearing on me. Now, I don't mind a long work day. I worked 13 hours yesterday without complaint, other than the extra 3 hours shouldn't have been sprung on me the day of, I should have had prior notice. This week, even with all the extra hours that got tacked on (at least of them 10 of them) I only worked 58 hours, and next week is looking like a liesurely 45.

I need a full nights sleep, which isn't liable to happen anytime soon. I was planning on getting it tonight, but Leyna and I are getting up (relatively) early in order to meet someone about a litter of rat pups (I'm building a cage at the moment, and she wants to raise some rats from infancy, rather than buy an adult from a store).

Anyway, due to my inability to compete with the living, I've been playing a lot of of console games in place of my PvP fix. Metroid Prime 3, Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, Shining Force Neo, all pretty good games. Shining Force Neo is pretty much 3d Diablo, with how gameplay, loot, and avatar are handled. Voice acting is pure shit. I mean really, I thought that Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders (also a good game) had the worst voice acting of any console game, but I was dead wrong. Even worse than the fact that the voice acting is bad, it's pervasive and they won't shut up. Every time dialouge starts, you have to slog through at least 5 minutes of it. Even worse, every character you've recruited thus far, even ones not currently in your party, contributes. I fear building my party, and shudder to see what 11 characters worth of dialougee will be like.

But Disgaea, still one of my favorite games. It's a tactical RPG. Rather than facing off with randomly spawned monsters, taking turns whacking each other as both you and the enemy simply stand there waiting for the other to act, a tactical RPG is played out on a grid of sorts. While still turn based, you have the ability to move units around the battle field, as you try to out manuver your opponent and gain the edge on them. Think chess with Final Fantasy characters. Because of it's free moving nature, team size isn't limited to 3 characters in Disgaea. You can field up to 10 units per battle, and can have as many as you want in reserve, as part of your "army". This allows you to custom pick your team for each battle, after seeing what you are facing, and how they are deployed.

What really makes Disgaea cool is how it handles character classes and leveling. With a level cap of 9,999, and damage capped at- well, I don't know if there is a damage cap. Anyway, as you level different classes up, you unlock stronger versions of the same class. This in itself is nifty, but then you have the option of transmigration. This allows you to take a character and revert it back to level one, while retaining a percentage of it's original stats and skills. Even more, you can make it a level one of any class. So, your lvl 93 Ninja can become a lvl 1 Shinobi (Shinobi>Ninja), with anywhere from 30-95% of his original power. That, and if you transmigrate your Priest into a Warrior, he'll keep most if not all of his healing spells, same if you transmigrate your Mage/Skull into a Warrior (0MFGT4NKM4G3!!!1!).

Quite obviously, I'm having fun playing around with my units (that sounds dirty), creating quirky, powerful soldiers.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

So a bishonen, a futanari, and a catgirl walk into a bar...

In addition to the live action domestic TV we watch, my wife and I watch a lot of anime too.

Before we got involved, it was a passing interest of mine. I didn't go out of my way to see new things, and was pretty much limited to Escaflowne and Dragon Ball Z. Then, I did a five year stint as a movie store employee (three years at Blockbuster as a clerk, two at Hollywood Video as a manager), and I saw more anime than I can recall. Ninja Scroll, Akira, Ghost in a Shell, Metropolis, Trigun, Princess Monoke, Spirited Away, Howle's Moving Castle, Record of the Loddoss War, Vampire Princess Miyu, Dark Stalker, Spriggan, Now and Then-Here and There, Voices of a Distant Star, Millenium Actress, Beserker, Tokyo Babylon, anything that I could get my hands on, I checked it out at least once.

From there, I progressed to japanese live action films, like Ichi the Killer, Full-Time Killers, Deadly Outlaw Rekka, The Returner, Princess Blade, Audition (best horror film ever). Leyna never shared my entusiasm for japanese film, prefering to stay with anime herself. Once we moved in together, I ended up being exposed to a slew of anime I had either never heard of, or never been interested in, like Last Exile, X, Gravitation, Peacemaker, Tsubasa Chronicles, Full Metal Panic, Tide Line Blue, Orphan, Gance, Samurai Deeper Kyo, Vandread, Saiyuki, Shinesman, plus many others that I've forgotten.

Obviously, I've been exposed to a fairly decent cross section of anime.

Of course, there are still, literally, hundreds of other OVAs, movies, and series I haven't seen, much of which I'm looking forward to seeing. I'm open to suggestions, fyi.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My wife, the Semi-Gamer

Looking at our PS2 game saves expresses a stark contrast in my wife and I, as far as gaming goes. Take for instance, Disgaea:

Save Slot 1: Chapter 5, 40+ hours, level 19
Save Slot 2: Chapter 7, 29 hours, level 44

Or Resident Evil 4:

Save Slot 1: Chapter 2-3, 15 hours
Save Slot 2: Chapter 4-1, 9 hours

To be honest, the rate at which she completes a game is mostly immaterial. Everyone plays at their own rate, and you can't quantify "fun levels" from person to person. However, the conflict isn't' so much from me poking fun at her once and a while; it comes from her ranting about how broken everything I do is in any game I play.

For instance, in Disgaea, I named a character after my wife, a warrior named Claire. Leveled her up into the 30s, then transmigrated her into a Ronin. Last night, while my wife watched, I leveled her up from 18 to 46 in the span of two battles. She immediately has a spaz attack and demands to know why it's necessary powerlevel someone like that. Honestly, seeing as the max level is 9999, I don't see how going up 38 levels in two battles is a big deal. Then again, I've barely scratched the surface of the game so far.

Another "conflict" that arises is our policy our strategy guides. I try not to use them. If I end up stuck in the same place for more than an hour or so (trust me, I'm stubborn enough to try the same failing tactic or method a dozen times in a row before adapting), I'll look it up. Or, I'll check to see how powerful a current item I possess is in comparison to end game ones, to see if investing money to upgrade it is worth it, stuff like that. Meanwhile, Leyna is playing the game with the strategy guide in her lap. If she misses a treasure chest, she'll re-load her game so she can get it on the second try. That being said, it's no surprise that when I backtracking down a path for the 3rd time, trying to find a passage or switch that I missed, Leyna starts griping at me, telling me to load up the GameFAQs page on the game, to read up on what I missed.

I guess opposites do attract.