Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tales of the Abyss

Every Friday, several members of CAINE including myself get together and play Tales of the Abyss.  We just started a few weeks ago, and we only play on Fridays (except one failed attempt at trollage on a Saturday).

Tales of the Abyss (or really, the Tales series) is something that the world needs more of: Offline Cooperative Role Playing Games.  It's so fun to get together with friends and beat the shit out of some enemies.  The game is playable single player, but I can't imagine having to manage all that stuff by myself, there's just so much to manage.  In multiplayer everyone controls one of the characters and you just roll.  You can coordinate way better, there's laughs, WTF moments, and other fun.

I started out playing Luke, since I was subbing in for Citrus who missed a couple of weekends.  During this time I spammed the shit out of Fang Blade, which is easily Luke's most usable arte since you can combo into it from basic attacks.  However, I could never get the hang of the game's guarding mechanic (press X to guard, time it right for shorter guard stun).  I did the usual thing and blamed the party's healer whenever I died.

Then we got the bow-wielding character, Natalia.  I had been telling everyone the entire time that I was much better at ranged support than melee, and with Natalia's arrival I finally had a character to play.  I can sit back halfway across the battlefield and spam arrows to my heart's content.  She also has some healing spells and some buffs and debuffs, so I play her as more of a healer with a bow rather than a bow wielder that can also heal.  I pretty much always hover near full TP.

Also, when we got to Cheesedonia, which is what we've taken to calling Chesedonia, we gave a bunch of shit to Din.  After a while of giving shit to Din, we decided to get a bow (and some other stuff) and paid the best amount we could.  I got the best possible bow I could get at the time, the Hunter's Bow, which raised my physical attack by about 300.  So until everyone else catches up in weaponry I'm just pwning things from the backline.  I also manage to get the final killing blow a fair amount of the time, so a good portion of the battles end with Natalia in the middle of the screen saying "Oh my, is it over already?"

The only issue with Abyss is the, well, abysmal load times on the world map.  Seriously.  If we're in a dungeon or in a town, everything loads nice and quickly, but we have to wait forever if it's the world map.  To try and alleviate this I got there early last Friday and installed the game to my PS2's hard drive.  It worked, the world map load times were nonexistant, but we discovered that the game randomly freezes.  After getting home I did my resarch and enabled Mode 1 (and changed the HDD access speed in ToxicOS to MDMA0 as per a suggestion on a compatibility list).  I haven't yet tested this out, but I guess I should.

Also, playing a four player cooperative RPG on a PS2 means using a multitap, which was the entire reason why I got called in.  My multitap is basically living over at CAINE house until we beat the game.  I'm also bringing two controllers including my wireless controller.  For our room setup, three wired controllers and one wireless actually works pretty well.

The only other offline RPGs with coop that I can think of right now are Secret of Mana (even on Virtual Console!) and Final Fantasy 4 (select character slots can be changed to the second player, at least on the PSX version).  Champions of Norrath doesn't count quite as much since it's based off of an MMORPG as opposed to being originally designed for offline play, but it exists.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Change (it's good, right?)

I've decided that this blog should be more for structured, planned out posts rather than just random bullshit. But since I like posting random bullshit, I've made a separate blog for it. You'll see it over in the "blogroll or something", oddly enough it's called "Random Bullshit". It has a link back here. And lol @ Facebook, I just import this blog there so I appear to be more active than I really am.

Most of the Guitar Hero and other gaming updates (except for Chrono Fever and Classic DOS Games updates) are going to be posted there from now on.

The big difference between here and there is that here I only really like to post once a day at the most, which gives me time to put my thought into each article. Random Bullshit is just that, random bullshit; and as such there can (and already have been) several posts in one day.

I also dicked around with the theme of Random Bullshit a bit, just to change it up and break away from my rut of "black background, light grey/white text, red accents". While I like black/red color schemes and that probably won't change, Different is Good™. (That's the motto of WCNR 106.1 The Corner, the best radio station in Charlottesville)

What this means is fewer rants and random posts here. I'll still post structured ones here, but if something's just pissing me off (or otherwise on my mind), you can read all about it on Random Bullshit.

Maybe I'll actually play Chrono Trigger sometime in the near future. I fired it up to take pictures of my characters/game time, but that's all I've done. Maybe it's because there's more grinding ahead, I dunno...

Also, posts on Random Bullshit don't have tags. The blog title is the tag that all of those posts would have anyway.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

GH/RB check-in

If you haven't already seen it, I now have a Blogger page specifically for summarizing my progress/accomplishments. The contents of this post are things I consider to be too specific to include there.

Things I've done recently (as in, January/February 2010) in Guitar Hero: (unless otherwise specified: difficulty = Expert, instrument = Guitar)

Rock You Like A Hurricane - Intro FC (completely randomly, too)
Impulse - Successfully tapped the Funkiest Riff In History zigzag and went back to strumming immediately after without breaking combo
Mississippi Queen - FC (128,989)
The Way It Ends - New personal best: 298,676 (should have been higher, I didn't get my usual last activation), hit the first burst SP phrase despite not actually burst strumming (these two accomplishments were in two separate runs)
Knights of Cydonia - New personal best: 408,401 (almost FCed Ammending Chorus->end, messed up in A Free Man's Laurels)
Raining Blood - Made it past Mosh 1 only to fail soon thereafter

Hot For Teacher - passed (If you can pass the intro, you can pass the song)
Satch Boogie - passed (Solo F is just a matter of finger speed and your ability to keep playing a pattern that goes on for five years)
Everlong - FC (466,408)

Career Mode - Finally finished playing through career mode. Ended up with 251 of 260 possible stars. Four of the nine missing stars are due to two songs I could only 3-star and the other five are 4-starred songs.  One of the 3-starred songs I've 4-starred in Quickplay, so...  yeah.

More Than A Feeling - FC (303,827)

GHSH: (instrument = Bass)
Hey You - ReFC, upping my PS2 1st place by almost 250 points (woohoo?), moved up from overall 21st to overall 18th. Maybe it's time I looked at some SP paths for this song. ScoreHero needs more PS2 players with overall first place on a song...
Full Game 5 Star - hell fucking yeah, and this actually means something with complex bass parts like YYZ's, which is just as hard as the guitar part (because Rush's bassist actually plays the instrument instead of just strumming one note twice per beat and changing notes every few measures)

Orange Crush - FC (86,481)
When You Were Young - FC (125,406) (I now have this FC'd in both GH3 and RB1, lol)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

hueg wallpaper update

Yeah...  I think after this I'm going to voluntarily stop saving Haruhi wallpapers.  Also, this update has the very first wallpaper from a currently ongoing series, Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu.  One of the characters in the wallpaper is actually male...

The reason I probably won't be saving very many more Haruhi wallpapers is that I have over 100 of them, and the next closest series is K-On! with 55 wallpapers...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chrono Trigger time!

In my previous post I mentioned that I'm almost completely set up to be able to get all the endings, I'll elaborate a little more about what exactly that entails and how to go about the process yourself. Be warned, it involves a lot of grinding.

Getting All The Techs

The first thing is that I have all of the single, double, and triple techs for each character and character combination, with the sole exception of the White Rock triple tech PoyozoDance, which is obtained further along in Black Omen than where I've saved. Whenever I started getting tech points, I stopped going through the story and just farmed them until I had all the available techs, then I went back to the story. Doing this will get you obscene power very early on (you don't have to get very far in the game to get to Spekkio and learn magic). I'm talking having Luminaire available the first time I went to 65,000,000BC. It's kind of a waste to have it that early as it's expensive, the monsters don't have enough HP to warrant using it, and the MP-restoring items you get aren't plentiful enough to counteract its cost. But it's awesome nonetheless to pwn something in Guardia Forest with Luminaire.

If you want to get the techs quickly, you'll need to know some good spots for farming Tech Points. Initially you have to use what's available to you, which is 1000AD Guardia Forest. This gets you 15 Tech Points per run.

The next best place is 65,000,000BC Forest Maze, which can vary by 2 Tech Points per run depending on whether you entered from the world side or the Reptite Lair side. From one combined run (one entering from the world side, then going back through from the Reptite Lair side), you'll get 70 Tech Points. It was also here that I discovered that critical hits happen in a set pattern, and by changing who attacks when, you can change who gets to hit the critical hit. Learn the pattern the game has given you (it changes every time you start it up) and use it to double Marle/Lucca's damage output.

The last place I only had to use for Magus, which is the third room of Giant's Claw. Get him his ultimate equipment and put the two lowest HP characters you have in the party with him. Let the other two die and take advantage of the DoomSickle's special effect: Damage * 3 with two dead allies. From the two battles in this room you'll get 59 Tech Points.

Dual and Triple Techs are learned automatically when you have the requisite Single Techs. If you have the requisite Single Techs, but not the Dual Tech or Triple Tech, fight a battle with the relevant characters in the party and they'll learn it at the end of the battle.

Getting To Level **

All of my characters are Level ** (that's Level 99, the game's max level). To do this, you need to find a battle with a high experience yield and do it repeatedly. The fifth battle of Black Omen works quite well for this.

This battle consists of two Synchrites and a Martello. From this battle, your party gets 2064 experience and a HyperEther. Out-of-party characters will get 1548 experience, which is only relevant for levelling Lucca and Marle since they're faster to level out of party due to their relative lack of non-spell attack damage. The battle probably gives tech points, but as previously mentioned I had all the techs long before reaching it. Once you get to the point where Lucca and Marle are the only non-Level ** party members, put Crono, Ayla, and your choice of Frog or Magus into your party and let 'er rip.

Fighting that battle a whole lot (and selling off batches of 99 HyperEthers (5000 each, 495000 for 99) to get rich while doing so) is the general strategy, but you can change your accessories to make it go faster. Equip one character with the Berserker, which makes them attack as soon as their ATB meter is filled. One less character to have to tell to attack. On the other two, equip the Rage Band (50% chance of counterattack) and the Fury Band (80% chance of counterattack). As characters reach Level **, you'll need to remember to swap the accessories around to your new party members so that you maintain your damage output.

Then, through experimentation, find the exact right point to trigger the battle so that your characters end up in a straight line with respect to the Martello. This is important for speed purposes since the Martello's attack hits along a straight line. Regardless of which character it's actually trying to attack, you want it to hit all of them so that you have a shot at both counterattacks triggering. Simply spam regular attacks and you'll kill them off pretty quickly.

Don't forget to heal periodically. The best time to do this is when you leave Black Omen to cash in your HyperEthers. There's a save point right next to the Synchrites/Martello that we're fighting, and you get more than enough money to finance a steady supply of Shelters, so... heal up and save in one go.

You should level up Ayla as one of the first few characters you level up, and keep her in the party while levelling up everyone else.  When she hits level 72, her fists become Iron Fists. This makes her attacks confuse enemies, which isn't very useful. When she hits level 96, her fists become Bronze Fists. This makes her critical hits deal 9,999 damage.  All three of the enemies in this battle have less than 9,999 health, so if she lands a critical hit, something's going to die.  This will speed things up whenever it happens, so keep her around.

Doing All The Side Quests

The side quests get you a lot of useful gear, including max weapons and armor for the party. Naturally you'll want a max weapon. You'll need high armor and a good helm as well, and one of those should provide status protection.

Farming Tabs

Each character has three stats that can be increased by using their associated Tabs: Speed, Power, and Magic. You'll find these all throughout the game if you look closely enough for the sparkle. Once you get Ayla and she learns Charm, you can get them off of specific enemies as well. Hold onto all of these tabs until your characters reach Level **, as some characters' tab-affected stats will actually max themselves through levelling. Speed never changes by levelling, so toss on speed tabs any old time.

Speed has a slight nuance that isn't obvious at first. A stat having ** for its value means that it's maxed, and Speed reaches ** when you use a speed tab to raise it from 15 to 16. Speed actually maxes out at 24, though you can only up it to 16 via tabs. The reason for this is Marle's Haste spell/the Haste Helm. Either of those will raise the affected character's speed by 50%, which when speed is **, is 8. Try it out and you'll see that a character with ** speed and a Haste Helm is faster than a character with just ** speed.

Getting Through The Game

If you farm Tech Points, this shouldn't be an issue. There are, however, some helpful tips for certain areas and bosses.

Learn where the free places to sleep are. This is less important as the game goes on, but any time you can replenish HP/MP without using an item or paying money is worth it. Crono's House in 1000AD; the beds in Guardia Castle 600AD; any of the Enertrons in 2300AD (you'll still feel hungry though); Ayla's hut in 65,000,000 BC; and Terra Cave in 12,000BC are all free.  You can also restore HP/MP in The End of Time. There are others, but this was just to show that there's at least one in each time period.

If you can, before kicking the story off, get 40 Silver Points and win a Crono Clone from Norstein Bekkler's lab. This will make a side quest later in the game easier.

Get found innocent in the trial. This is fairly easy to do. There are five things that can affect it at the Millenial Fair, and then you need to answer the Chancellor's questions correctly. Just remember: Talk to Marle before getting the pendant, take the cat to the girl, refuse to talk Marle into selling her pendant, don't take the old guy's lunch, and wait patiently for Marle to buy candy. Then tell the Chancellor you started it and that you weren't tempted by her riches.

In 2300AD, the R-Series can be defeated with two uses of Fire Sword per row, so leave Marle behind when the game asks who to leave behind to open the door.

Fast forwarding a long way, when you're in 12,000BC going into the secret rooms opened with the books (in the order Water, Wind, Fire), when the 6 Nus challenge you, make sure to have Frog in the party. Let them take you all the way down to 1 HP, then have Frog use Frog Squash for an easy victory.

In the Ocean Palace, when fighting the Golem Twins, have Lucca third in the party. When both she and Crono are ready, have Crono use Luminaire, and while he's doing that, immediately queue up HypnoWave on Lucca. If all goes well you'll deal a lot of damage and then immediately put them to sleep. Repeat this until they're dead. Sometimes one or both of them won't be put to sleep, so you'll want Marle, Frog, or Ayla in the remaining slot for their healing; and leave them ready for this exact purpose.

When you wake up in the Last Village after finishing the Ocean Palace, immediately put Ayla in your party. Then go get captured by Dalton in the Commons. Having Ayla in your party means that you can attack enemies while you're running around the Blackbird trying to get your stuff back, instead of getting sent back to the room they locked you in. They can't take her fists away from her, after all.

When doing the side quest that puts you up against Son of Sun, equip a Red Mail on your party's healer. If you have more of them (either New Game + or you charmed more), equip them on the rest of your party too. The Red Mail will absorb fire damage, which Son of Sun deals exclusively, so you won't actually take any damage.

If you get all the techs as early as possible, several miniboss fights are made a lot easier. For example, Magus can be defeated between when he "risks casting a spell" and when he casts DarkEternal (making the Barrier phase harder simply because it takes longer), and both versions of Nizbel can be defeated in 5 turns each.

Getting Chests

Almost all of the chests present in 600AD have a counterpart in 1000AD. Both chests will contain the same item. To get two of that item, get the chest in 1000AD first.

This process has an extra step for sealed chests. You'll want to open the sealed chest in 600AD first, and if it says "Something inside is reacting to the pendant's power. Remove it?" say no. Then go to 1000AD and open that same sealed chest for an upgraded version of the item in the chest. Then you can go back to 600AD and get the original item. It's easiest to run around 600AD priming all the sealed chests so you don't have to worry about it when you go for them in 1000AD. If it doesn't prompt you in 600AD, the item inside isn't upgradable with the pendant, and the chest has no corresponding chest in 1000AD. The chests in Guardia Forest are an example of this, even though there's one in each time period.

Getting The Rocks

Five of the Triple Techs are invoked by having one of the characters wear a rock as their accessory.  Just like regular Triple Techs, these have requisite Single Techs that you'll need to have already learned.  The rocks aren't too difficult to find, but the method for getting a couple of them is kind of obscure.  Particularly the Gold Rock, where you have to have Frog in the lead of the party and get hit by one of the guys throwing rocks in the Denadoro Mountains.

Getting the rocks certainly isn't required, but if you want to use a Triple Tech without Crono in the party, or have Magus do anything other than Single Techs, you'll need at least one of them.

Use FAQs To Your Advantage

Almost every one of my suggestions is most likely mentioned in someone's FAQ on GameFAQs.  In addition, I didn't get specific on how to defeat any of the bosses or anything like that, so you may want an FAQ if you just can't beat someone.  I kept track of what I did, but my notes are really only useful if you play the game exactly as I did.

Monday, February 15, 2010

For Future Reference

For whatever reason I don't want to play any more Chrono Trigger without at least documenting the amount of game time it took me to get everyone to Level **.  So here are pics.  Therefore it happened.

I've got a rather in-depth post queued up about how exactly I went about doing this, and how I made all the boss fights really fucking easy.  Here's a hint: I'm not on New Game + yet.

This is the first barrier to being able to get all the endings. The other (comparitively minor) barrier is maxing out everyone's Power, Magic, and Speed.

The last good portion of this post is about Blogger.

The issues I was having with Blogger's new post editor (regarding input lag at least) are gone entirely.  I dunno if my computer was loaded down (Firefox likes to randomly use 100% CPU after a while) or what, but the editor's working perfectly fine now.  It also autosaves a lot faster after I stop typing than the older editor did, which is really nice.

Blogger also now has "pages", which are basically custom static pages.  I get 10 of them, I've used two so far.

The one thing I don't get: Why doesn't the post editor use the same font that my blog's theme uses?  Wouldn't that make the WYSIWYG view actually live up to its namesake?

Some other posts that I'll be posting in the near future:
  • Maybe something about Guitar Hero, though I've got a Blogger page for summary stuff now.
  • A post about Vib Ribbon (Japanese music game with infinite levels — literally)
  • Recent CAINE shenanigans (there's always something fun)
  • Another recent anime post (hints: Railgun, Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu)
  • Another wallpaper update, maybe (I'm getting tired of managing my Picasa account, and constructing the updates has always been a chore)
  • If I can get the game working again, A Classic DOS Games post about The 11th Hour

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Okay please stop snowing.

I'd like to be able to drive places again.

I'd like to not have a tree leaning on our house right outside my bedroom window.

At least the cable's working again, so we have internet and tv. We had to watch the Super Bowl commercials over the air with an antenna. Also between the commercials there were people playing football.

I've spent a little bit playing around with Google Documents, and it's pretty neat. I haven't done a tremendous amount of work with it, but the editing features look easy to use and you can always dick with the CSS and HTML it generates if you need to.

The only downside I can see is that it doesn't handle tabs well. You know, the key on your keyboard to the left of Q. It converts them to four spaces and this isn't configurable. I'd much rather just have it leave them as tabs rather than converting them to spaces.

I've got the Chrono fever, so I'll probably be playing Chrono Trigger some more. This means there will inevitably be more posts about it. I'm almost completely set up to get all the endings (which is required to unlock everything in the PSX version's Extras mode). After doing that, I'll move on to Chrono Cross, which I've never actually beaten. It's been so long since I last played Chrono Cross that I actually forgot where I left off (and where I had to go next), so I'll have to start the story over again.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mio has arrived.

A long time ago I placed a pre-order for Alter's figure of Akiyama Mio from K-On!. A few days ago I received an email telling me it had shipped. I figured "oh, knowing customs it'll be here in a month", but today the mailman asks me to sign for a package and there it was.

It's my first actually decent figure, the ones I've gotten up until now have been the cheaper ones.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I wish I knew how to do this...

If something like this doesn't already exist, it'd be awesome if I knew where to start on making it. If it does exist, point me to where I can download it kthx.

I like the Onslaught mode in UT2k4. I play the hell out of it. I can't help it, it's a lot of fun. I tend to prefer the competitive multiplayer modes that have goals beyond just killing all the other players. I'll briefly explain Onslaught so anyone can understand what exactly I'm saying when I actually describe what I want.

In Onslaught, each team has a power core in their base. Placed throughout the map are power nodes, that are linked to each other in one of a few different configurations. The active link setup is shown with a minimap in the corner of the screen. To be able to take a power node for your team, it must have a link to your power core either directly or via another power node that you already control. As the match goes on, you end up with a chain of power nodes leading back to your power core. The goal is to destroy the enemy team's power core. You can only attack their power core if yours is connected to it via power nodes, so naturally a lot of fighting happens at the power nodes. To aid you there are plenty of weapons, as well as armored vehicles. There are other nuances, but that's the gist of it.

Now that we've got that out of the way, here's my idea. A power node usually has two nodes linked to it, though sometimes more. Each node is constructed when it reaches full health. You can use the link gun to speed it up, and having multiple teammates doing this helps, but it still takes time. Each node has the same amount of health regardless of any other nodes linked to it, which is the subject of this proposed mutator.

What would be awesome is if each node that you have constructed helps your team construct the other nodes that it's connected to. One node (or a power core) would be like it is normally. Two or more would decrease construction time according to some reasonable proportion, and the opposing team could increase construction time along that same proportion by taking another node that's connected to the node in question.

Furthermore, allied nodes connected to the node in question should provide it with armor once it's constructed. This too would depend on both the number of allied nodes connected to it and the number of enemy nodes connected to it. The goal here is to have everything be normal when one node of either team (or one of each) is connected, but have a bonus for node layouts that interconnect nodes with multiple paths. Everything would also be normal if both teams had two nodes connected to a specific node, and so on. Lastly, isolated nodes shouldn't count.

Tipping the balance in your team's favor would become a lot more important, and the node layout would lend that much more strategy to the gameplay. Under normal circumstances all the player really has to do is find the first round dot and turn it their color, then move to the next round dot and repeat, engaging enemies as necessary. With this mutator in place, the player would have to take into consideration which round dot would be the best one to attack.

Here's the minimap from one of the simpler maps, with five nodes.

Map: ONS-Severance

As shown here, the blue team is in a rather dominant position, holding four of the five power nodes. Each node is marked with a number for ease of communication during actual gameplay. I just loaded it up quickly with the console so I'd be the only one there and thus had a controlled environment to make a screenshot.

Note how the node in the middle (node 1) can only be connected to by the red team from one node on the map (node 4), but it's connected to three blue nodes (nodes 2, 3, and 5). With this theoretical mutator in play, after taking node 4, red would be wiser to destroy node 3 before attacking node 1. In doing so, node 1 would become easier for them to destroy since it would then have one fewer node connected to it. If they then took node 3 for themselves, each team would have two nodes connected to node 1 and the proportions would even it out so that node 1 would become just as easy for red to destroy as node 3 was.

On this map, node 1 holds great strategic importance due to the fact that whichever team controls it gets a Leviathan vehicle. This vehicle is very heavily armored, has four corner turrets and a homing missile launcher each controllable by a different player, and the driver can place it into a stationary mode where their homing missile launcher is replaced with a beam that utterly annihilates everything around the target. To balance all of this out, it's very slow, and it's a huge target.

I briefly mentioned isolated power nodes earlier. It's possible for a power node to become isolated from the rest, though this depends on the link setup. In the layout shown above, if red were to take nodes 4 and 3, blue could isolate node 3 by destroying node 4. Isolated nodes slowly lose health until it's all gone, and then revert back to being neutral. The team controlling the isolated node can repair it to keep it alive longer, and still has access to the vehicles that spawn at that node until it dies.

I feel as though the mutator I'm proposing here would make Onslaught gameplay a lot more strategic. Unfortunately, as previously mentioned, I have no clue how to make this sort of thing.