Archive for August, 2011

Guild infidelity

I love my guild, I love being in Eff the Ineffable and hanging out with them. What started out as a “we’ll see how it goes” kind of thing has grown into one of the best guild I’ve ever been part of. That said, not everyone I know is part of Eff and I would not expect them to be either.

For example, quite a few people at my job have picked up WoW recently and have offered me to come play with them, run a few dungeons and just mess around when I feel like it. No pressure, just plain fun goofing around on an alt.  And to be honest it’s kinda fun playing with people new to the game who are not focused on endgame raiding or even having the best spec.

Yet for some reason, it does feels a bit like I’m cheating. I know a lot of people keep alts in multiple guilds over different servers so I’m looking for some advice here. How do you manage this kind of setup? My main focus is still Eff but sometimes, I do want to goof around with the others… so any advice on how to best handle this would be really appreciated.

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Earlier this summer during the Steam super sale, I bought a little indie game called Atom Zombie Smasher after warm recommendations from my brother and for a few months it remained unplayed, on my “to play when I have time list”. So during the weekend I was looking for an escape from my horrible losing streak in World of tanks and decided to install AZS on whim.

I’ve been hooked…. badly….

The face of my new nightmare, reduced helicopter speed!

So, this game is all about getting yellow dots (civilians) into a helicopter before zombies (purple dots) catch them and eat them. While the game is inspired by tower defence games, it does not play like one, or at least none of the games I tried. Where defence games tend to favor stopping the enemy at all cost, this one about getting your people to escape and figure out what the acceptable losses are. Add on top of this a deceptively strategic city map where you trade territories with the zombies and you got one great, hard, game.

Every turn, you are taken to the city map where you can review the different zone with varying zombie infestation levels. The higher the infestation number, the harder the map will be. To help you, you have one helicopter plus three other units to help you. These can be defensive like mines and wall or offensive like soldiers and artillery. This is where the game throws the wrench in your plan,  besides the helicopter, you’re three other units are chosen at random. So you can get soldiers, barricade and the zombie bait wich are great or be stuck with snipers (they suck), mines and dynamite.  Add in the random map properties like fast zombies or short day and this can make for some really hard missions.
And for me this is where the game shines. It’s trying to make in work despite impossible odds, watching the little yellow dots get eaten while you scream at them to run. You can even make out the stories and just imagine the poor guy trapped trying to find a way out as you watch a lone dot moving erratically between two large mobs of purple dots. Or wonder why that one is suicidal and just runs headlong into the zombie horde, maybe he had tons of debt?

So, to everyone who’s looking for a fun little game which doesn’t cost much this is definitively one of my best picks. If anything you’re helping out an indie developer make even more great games. Now for those wanting to start out, here’s a few tips for those early games!

  • Look at your available mercenaries before heading out to the mission. Don’t pick a level 3 infestation if you know you have a crappy selection.
  • Acceptable losses is the name of the game. Saving as many people is ultimately what it’s all about. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to save everyone.
  • You can actually use zombies to herd civilians toward areas you’ve setup for. Most normal civilians will flee zombies… normally…
  • Civilians do have a line of sight and won’t see zombies incoming around street corners. Watch out for those.
  • Barriers are you best friends! Love ’em, level ’em!

And finally, the list!

The monkey love:

-A crazy original take on zombie games which makes purple dots seem scary again

The monkey likes:

-The simple but stylish graphics.
-The difficulty, so hard yet so good!

The monkey would have liked:

-Better tutorials
-slower ramp up of the difficulty

The monkey wants something to be done about:

-The music. It’s fun at first but a few other tunes or more subdued ones would have been great.

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For reasons that are still a mystery to me, the fine crew at the Twisted Nether blogcast have invited for a chat this coming Saturday. To say I was surprised is putting it mildly but  I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Still, doing an interview in English when my first language is French is a bit terrorizing but I’m confident I’ll manage. If anything the Effers have all said I’m doing great.

So if you want to pop in to say or just to mess with me, feel free to this Saturday at 11pm EST (or round 11:15 I’ve been told).

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This is a long ranty post, feel free to ignore my ramblings 🙂

Back in Wrath I tried all the variation of tanking and dpsing with my DK. I was a blood/frost/unholy tank and I’ve been a blood/frost/unholy with all the dual-wield and two-handed variations you can think of.

By far, my best performances were done in frost spec. At the end of Wrath I was a frost tank, nearly invincible and a frost DW dps, topping meters at a time where DKs were not supposed to top anything. I had my groove on and I just having a blast all around.

The tree I never got though was blood. No matter how I tried I could never replicate my success I had in frost and to an extent unholy wich I was also doing fine with. There’s was something about the mechanics of blood I never get mastered.

Fast forward to Cataclysm and I’m forced to tank with the blood spec.. and I switch from frost to unholy because of the nerf to howling blast and because one weapon is easier to find than two weapons. And since I’ve been tanking a lot and my dps spec was doing ok, I never truly reconsidered the unholy choice.

That started to change two weeks ago when I was finally freed from Blood tanking. You see, I can tank in Blood spec, I can even do progression in blood spec. I kept aggro, used my cooldowns, moved the bosses, did not stand in the bad and my Rageface tanking skills is something I’m really proud of.

But… I was missing something, the little something that makes a good tank a truly great tank. I simply could not get my Deathstrike to work right for me. I don’t know why, maybe it’s me not seeing a critical detail or maybe my brain just flat-out refuses to wire itself for blood tanking but just like I couldn’t really nail it back in Wrath. Part of the blame could be put on Blizzard. I mean, if you look at the charts there’s very few DKs doing progression tanking. But, a few means it possible and no matter how much I try I just can’t seem to nail that last final piece.

It was incredibly frustrating for the past two months. To know you’re a good player, that you proved it numerous times in the past but still fail to grasp that last detail. 

So, my squishiness was becoming an issue and I stepped down from tanking. I’ll still do it to help out for when we need tanks of just do a heroic but my main tanking days as blood are over and I’m starting to realize it’s for the best.

I did not enjoy tanking as blood. I hate the mechanics involved. I loved frost tanking wich was all about cooldowns and being not squishy, not the self-healing crap of blood. 

All of this brought me to reconsider my other choice, Unholy dps, and try out frost dps again. Wich I did yesterday…. and it was wonderful. I’m actually angry at myself for not doing it sooner. It was just like meeting an old friend after a long time. Everything felt familiar… and right. I just wish I had the eyes to see it before and not be so focused on trying to make a spec I hated, blood, work.

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Huttball vs lore

I know, if you’ve been following sw:ToR  the announcement of Hutt sponsored death football is not exactly news. The new battleground to be announced, Huttball is simply a blood sport sponsored by the Hutts where the goal of the game is to score points by bringing a ball in the opposing team end zone. The catch? There’s deadly traps and you can kill the opposing team if it suits your needs.

As a game concept I felt this was more or less a capture the flag type of thing, wich I’ve never been a big fan of. It’s a very pretty capture the flag and it looks like one the better designed ones so who knows, maybe I’ll become a convert.

On the lore side, it makes perfect sense when you look at it from the Hutt point of view. It’s been already firmly established that if there’s money to be made, the Hutts will do anything. If it’s a blood sport, wich the galaxy seems to love, even better. So having a crazy game like Huttball makes perfect sense in the Star wars universe.

Where it makes less sense would be in how the various classes are involved. Mmogc has a good post on the topic already so I won’t repeat everything here but suffice to say that why a Jedi would participate do require quite a few loops of logic. After all, you can only save so many orphans from slavery before the Jedi Order starts questioning your motives.

But this is where I disagree with the hardcore lore nerds (which I should consider myself part of) who scream that it’s an affront to Star Wars. It’s not an affront, Huttball does make sense in the broader context and I think it’s an original way of presenting a capture the flag event without breaking too much immersion. Sure, why the classes are there present a few hitches but nothing really game breaking.

And this is also where I think some people need to start to realize that ToR is a game and that as such, we’re bound to run into these situations where game mechanics and lore don’t mesh perfectly. I’m actually impressed by what they did with Huttball considering all the other less interesting choices they could have made.

I just hope the people screaming bloody murder will take a step back, enjoy the game and don’t start spoiling the party for those who actually want to enjoy themselves.


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