Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tales of Fridays resumes

We decided that Symphonia is next, but first, we're finishing off Abyss.

The first portion of gameplay was us trying to figure out where we left off.  We'd been using a guide on GameFAQs, so basically it involved pausing and scrolling down the FAQ until we found where we were.  You really need a guide for the Tales games, if you don't have one, there's so much of the game you'll miss out on.

Our Fridays follow a distinct pattern: the first part is story, and the second part is side quests.  The side quests are basically everything you'd miss out on, and they get you so much stuff.  Anything from artes to weapons and items useful elsewhere in the game.  So we went through the story part.  Ion died, Anise was a spy (not by choice, but through blackmail), and Mohs is a dick.  We fought some regular enemies with enough health to be bosses, and FINALLY GOT THE FUCKING FLIGHT STONE THAT LETS US GO THROUGH THE STORMS.  Also, Mieu Fire 2, which is necessary for the aforementioned flight stone.  There was a bit more story, but then it became sidequest time.  We ground items for Din to get a specific doll for Anise (the Artificial Life Form one that gives her X-BUSTER, Honya's busy grinding a red chamber on that), then got a few costume titles, including the two remaining titles for Natalia that affect search point drops, Star of Malkuth and Adventurous Princess.  This happened in Nam Coband Isle (or... Namco Bandai Isle), filled with references to old Namco arcade games.  We lol'd.

Next time is more story (I dunno what, we've got something to do in Baticul I think).

I'm still playing Natalia, still mostly as a healer with party buffs and a couple of attacks.  I have no clue who I'll be playing in Symphonia, if I even play anyone.  There was talk of a dedicated healer and getting me drunk so I could heal people, we'll have to see what comes of that.  I heal people well enough sober with Natalia...

Also, CAINE house needs a new projector.  The bulb on the existing one has, as the projector irreversably bitches at us, "has reached the end of its usable life", even though it still works so we can see the message.  I guess technically all that needs to happen is replacing the bulb, but the projector's kind of shitty, so I guess maybe get a better one and leave it at that.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Re: What were the chances of this happening anyway?

In reply to my own post this time, here's a slight update.

First off, after having become acquainted with the level editor and haivng learned how to set up a computer hack like this one, I now know just how easily this could be fixed.  Every computer hack, when you're setting it up, has outputs on various events that can do whatever you need them to do.

Since Alien Swarm was released just so the modding community could have fun with it, there's a version of Landing Bay that's loadable in Hammer.  Loading it up and looking at the hack's trigger, it's supposed to trigger the spawn to break down the door when the hack starts.  So, what I guess happened is: since the hack started up complete, none of the OnComputerHackStarted outputs fired, and none of the other outputs cause enemies to spawn.  No enemies spawned, nobody to break down the door.

However, there are other events where the spawn that breaks down the door could be enabled.  OnComputerHackCompleted jumps out as being suitable at first, but it's probably a bit late to spawn them, since the door does take a while to knock down and we want the players to have some sense of urgency.  OnComputerDataDownloaded is much too late, if they spawned then, the players would have to stand around and wait for the door to be knocked down.  It should be set to OnComputerActivated, and maybe increase the delay from 5 seconds to 7 to account for the computer starting up to give it about the same amount of time in the end.

Yet another solution involves changing the door itself.  As it exists in the level, it's nonfunctional and not welded.  If we change both of those, so that the door can open if triggered and make it welded, players can still get through if this ever happens again.  To prevent the obvious speedrun exploit, the door's Total Seal Time could be jacked up from the default 10 seconds, and the door set to be fully welded.  This will make it take a while to unweld the door.  The exact amount of time required would need some research.  Figure out how long it takes the chainsaw to break down a default health door and go from there.  The door out of the room on the other side would need to be locked until the OnComputerDataDownloaded output of the computer hack fires.  I'm unsure as to whether or not it's locked in the first place (it's been a while since I chainsawed the door down to check).

There's something that bugs me about this though.  Looking at the outputs on the computer hack trigger, there's a broken one set for OnComputerDataDownloaded with a target of AfterHackSpawnTrigger.  This trigger doesn't appear to exist in the level.  Was this broken output originally meant to be in the level to prevent this "mystery case" from messing up the game?

The other update is to correct the data needed to calculate the probability of this happening.  I forgot to mention that for the hack to complete, all of the columns need to be moving the same direction.  So the new situation is that the hack starts up with all four ones aligned AND moving the same direction.  Basically it adds an extra bit's worth of complexity to each column.

I've noticed it start up with two of them aligned every now and then, and three fairly rarely.

One thing's for sure: The odds of anyone at Valve reading this: zero.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I'd Tap That

Tapping is an advanced technique in Guitar Hero that involves the player moving their strumming hand up to the fret buttons to press them.  It's adapted from a technique of the same name for playing real guitar.  What makes this possible is the fact that not every note in a chart needs to be strummed.  For those who have never tried to use them before (and never played the friggin' tutorials), any note in GH3 and newer that's glowing on top doesn't need to be strummed so long as you don't break combo.  They exist in the earlier games too, but they're harder to see, and in GH1 they're almost impossible to use.  The reason a player would want to tap is simple: It makes the section of the song easier.  You only have but so much dexterity in your fretting hand, so breaking a section down into what you hit with your fretting hand and what you tap with your strumming hand allows you to get around that.  The technique is perfectly legal for both ScoreHero and Guinness World Records.

If it sounds difficult to do, well, it is.  I've been trying to learn how to do it for a while now.  I've been doing it all over the place in World Tour, Metallica, and Smash Hits thanks to the slider notes which never need to be strummed even if you break combo, but that doesn't really learn you how to tap the complex stuff since you can just start your combo back up without having to change what you're doing.

The section I've been tapping is in Guitar Hero 3.  The song Impulse has a section called Funkiest Riff In History, which ends with a fast zigzag on red, yellow, and orange that I can't hit with just my left hand.  I'm terrible at zigzags in general.  I've had a fair amount of luck learning how to tap this zigzag, to the point that I've played the entire section, started tapping, and gone back to the strum a mere two notes after the last tap several times now without dropping combo.

Some people share their fingerings for song sections and just imply that "this is THE way to do it", when in reality, different methods will work for different people.  When reading anything suggesting a fingering for a specific section, it should be regarded as "this is what works for me".

So, this is what works for me.  This image is from the chart on SlowHero.

The tricky part about this zigzag is that it speeds up.  When it gets to the last red note in measure 63, I anchor red. This slower part is easy to one-hand while I move into tapping position.  When it begins to speed up I switch over to tapping the orange notes that I circled in red.  Note the chord two notes after the last circled orange note, that has to be strummed.  Speed in moving your strumming arm is everything to tapping.  The major barrier for me is to do it without really thinking about it, which in my case will result in moving my arm faster.  I tend to think about it too much and end up dropping right when I would otherwise begin tapping.  But I just did it without even really thinking about it at all.

So if I were posting about this on ScoreHero, I'd probably just post the zigzag (well, everything starting from the green note in measure 63, and all of measure 64) using their fret icons, with number notation for fingering.  But here, with the black background, the fret icons that I'd have used otherwise won't show up properly, and just putting a random mass of numbers would be confusing.  So even though I really want to post the numbers, I won't.

Rather, I'll explain what the numbers would represent.  I slide my index finger from green to red, then use my index finger on red, middle finger on yellow, and pinky on orange.  As mentioned, when I get to the first red of the zigzag (the last one in measure 63), I hold it down for the rest of the zigzag (anchoring).  Beginning from the third orange note, I tap with my strumming hand.  This is usually my middle finger just because it's longer, but really, anything works as long as it's intuitive.  Hitting the zigzag basically becomes a matter of developing a rhythm between pressing yellow, tapping orange, and releasing yellow.  Then, after the fifth orange, waste no time in getting my strumming hand back down to strum the chord.

I just hit it again in practice mode while verifying that there is indeed no red note at the end of the zigzag.  Sometimes I fail to notice the strangest things about certain charts.  For instance, there's an orange note in Generation Rock that I didn't even know was there, even after FCing the song several times.  I thought it was blue, because it's blue when that pattern comes up earlier in the song.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Re: I Don't Need Directions

Relevant link:

Dear Randall Munroe, author of xkcd:

When GPSes work properly, they're nice.  However, they don't work properly all the time, and send their unsuspecting users who don't know how to read road signs off on unexpected expeditions, as has happened to my GPS-dependent friends before.  Basically, I left as the last of three cars, an hour after the first car left, and got to our destination first.  One car stopped for food, but the other got massively off track due to over-reliance on, you guessed it, their GPS.

Our electronics-addicted society has forgotten how to navigate using the abundance of information that's conveniently placed EVERYWHERE alongside ALL THE ROADS.  So much intuitively placed documentation should not go to waste.

Admittedly, the signage system isn't perfect, especially around Washington D.C., but in sane areas of the country, it gets the job done.

Your fan and regular reader,


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Guild Wars 2 fangasming

So they just had an English demo.  With Ranger gameplay.  Confirming a lot of my hopes about the class.

It was really hard to tell in Guild Wars 1, but Rangers were the very first class that relied a lot upon positioning and agility in battle moreso than just running in all guns blazing.  There were skill types and specific skills that aided this, such as the traps and the elite stance Escape.  For the longest time I used Escape as my elite because I recognized that the rest of my bar was decent damage and support-wise, so I used Escape for defense and to reposition myself during fights.

Rangers in Guild Wars 2 will get damage bonuses and a chance to stun by flanking their enemies, and the different bow types play into your strategy as well.  This really embodies what the Ranger tried to be in Guild Wars 1, but couldn't due to limitations of the engine and mechanics.

One thing I'm sure they'll cover in the months between now and the release is racial bonuses and skills.  They've mentioned racial skills in the past, but haven't elaborated save for an example that only used Warrior and Elementalist because those were the only classes announced at the time.  I'm really having a tough time deciding what race I want to make my Ranger, and knowing about things like this ahead of time will make all the difference.  I don't want to get 50 levels in and then realize I made the wrong race choice and have to start the whole character development process all over again.  I know their whole emphasis is on "no wrong choices", but the wrongness of the choice will be entirely due to play style and not mechanics, and I want a race that will supplement my play style very well.
  • Human, well, is what my current Ranger is.  I'm curious what incentives there will be to play a Human character vs. one of the four other races they're adding.
  • Norn sounds like it could work well for a Ranger. Basically, combine the pet with the Norn's shapeshifting abilities and some melee weapons.  That sounds like it could be fun.
  • Sylvari kind of meshes with the whole point of Rangers: to be one with nature.  Perhaps the least is known about Sylvari since they were born at the end of Eye of the North.
  • Charr Rangers were honestly the most threatening of the Charr classes in Guild Wars 1.  Since they used Ignite Arrows, combined with the fact that it was a low level area and you had crap for armor, they really pumped out the damage.  All the other Charr were really just there to get between you and the Rangers, or to prevent you from killing them.
  • Asura is absolutely my least likely choice for a Ranger.  Asura just sounds like it would be better suited for a casting class.  Though I do plan to make an Asuran Warrior, just to find a really big melee weapon so I have a tiny character with a huge weapon.  Combine that with their golems and you might actually have a potent melee capability...  Or maybe their golems could be treated like pets and work alongside a pet for an Asuran Ranger?  I dunno.
If it sounds like I regard the Ranger as the best class in Guild Wars, well, that's correct.  Ranger is indeed the best class in Guild Wars.  They're far more versatile than any other class, capable of delivering pressure, sustained DPS, disruption, area control, and more.  About the only thing they can't do by themselves is use skills on allies, but that's what a secondary class is for.  You can play a competent and viable Ranger with no skills from a secondary class.  Once you bring that secondary into play, you get a ton of versatility.  With creative use of your Expertise attribute (moreso at the game's release, it's been nerfed a ton by now), you can do things far better than any other class.

This post will now descend into random notes.

A build I want to put together and try out (once I'm done capturing elites as it requires a Necromancer secondary) involves taking a pet along with the Necromancer's Flesh Golem (and probably Death Nova).  I'm calling it a Corrupted Beastmaster.  Attribute spread before runes 12 Expertise, 9 Beast Mastery, 9 Death Magic.

Arenanet has always loved putting references to all sorts of things in popular culture into Guild Wars, and it shows.  With skills like "For Great Justice!", "Make Your Time!", "Never Give Up!", "Never Surrender!", "It's just a flesh wound.", "The Power Is Yours!", Sight Beyond Sight, and many, many more, it's clear as day.  So, I was looking through GuildWiki a while back and noticed that there's a boss named Grabthar the Overbearing, who drops Grabthar's Hammer.  "By Grabthar's Hammer, you shall be avenged!"  I went and farmed it just for the lulz, even though I don't like its stats (Earth damage, seriously?).

I've also had an idea for a "Walking Reference" character who just uses skills whose names reference things.  The best class mix for this is Paragon and Warrior, as they have all the shouts, and a good portion of the shouts are references.  We actually have a choice of elite skill, since both "The Power Is Yours!" and "It's just a flesh wound." are both elite.  In fact, the build can be almost entirely shouts.  I currently have it at seven shouts and the stance Bonetti's Defense.  And of course, the only proper weapon to wield with the build would have to be a reference, to which Grabthar's Hammer would work perfectly.  It's not meant to be a viable build anyway.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

leet skillz

I went capping a few days ago and again today.  Did Warrior a few days ago, and both Necromancer and Mesmer today.  Today I started at 74k and after spending 20k on cap sigs, money from selling drops (and the gold drops themselves) left me at 61k.  So basically I have enough left to do the remaining 5 professions.  Those profits exclude dye drops, materials salvaged from salvage armors, and runes/insignias on salvage armors, which I haven't taken care of yet because I typically do them in batches.

I've watched two of Arenanet's live broadcasts from Gamescom, and I don't know if I'll watch any more.  The major barrier is language, it's all in German.  Which is to be expected being that Gamescom is in Germany, but still... even watching the gameplay by itself just isn't satisfying enough without being able to understand the guy who's explaining what's happening.

Apparently at Gamescom they announced the Necromancer profession.  The official site hasn't been updated to reflect this at all, so hopefully when Gamescom ends that'll happen.  Also, hopefully after Gamescom they'll put up screenshots of the user interface and detailed explanations of the traits and so forth.  It all looks really interesting, but the videos only show but so much.  I especially want to know what the user interface for a Ranger is going to look like with pet controls and the pet's skill bar.

Of course, I expect that the user interface will be fully customizable like in GW1 where you could move everything around and resize things so it worked for you.  I had to do that so I could heal people.   The default interface is fine for playing most classes with the keyboard or the mouse, but is absolutely horrible for a mouse-oriented player playing a Monk.  The amount you have to move your mouse to heal people is just retarded.  So, if you've seen my screenshots, I've changed it around.  The main point is that the skill bar is vertical, right next to the party window.  This way I can click a health bar, click a heal, click a health bar, click a heal, etc. with minimal mouse movement.  Of course, there won't be a dedicated healing class in GW2, so the point is kind of moot, but I still expect that the interface will be customizable.

I'm wondering about parties in GW2, though.  All the emphasis so far has been on the awesome things you can do with other players without ever forming a party.  To my knowledge, I've never seen people actually partied up.  I'd like to see that interface too.  It'd be necessary for the dungeons anyway, so it's got to have an interface accessible outside of the dungeons.

So, knowing that the game will have 8 classes, and four have been revealed so far (in order: Elementalist, Warrior, Ranger, and Necromancer), speculation is flying around as to what the other four will be.  We already know there probably won't be Assassins, Dervishes, or Paragons, just because the official list of weapon types has been announced for some time now and doesn't contain daggers, scythes, or spears.

However, it does contain firearms.  No class has been announced yet that deals primarily with the firearms, whereas we've got a melee weapon class (that can use bows and firearms), a bow class (that can use melee weapons), and two staff classes (that are probably stuck with their staves).  I feel reasonably safe predicting that one of the classes will be a gunner or a rifleman or something like that.  As for the other three...  it's anyone's guess.  Part 2 of the Combat Developer Notes article says, and I quote:
Choice of profession will of course have a huge impact on how the game plays. There are eight professions in Guild Wars 2, many of which will be familiar to fans of Guild Wars, as well as a few professions new to the Guild Wars world. Each of these professions is roughly categorized by the type of armor they wear: scholars wear light armor, adventurers wear medium armor, and soldiers wear heavy armor. Currently there are three scholar professions, three adventurer professions and two soldier professions.
If I interpret that correctly, then so far we know of one soldier profession (Warrior), one adventurer profession (Ranger), and two scholar professions (Elementalist, Necromancer). This correlates exactly with the three different max armor levels in GW1.  I will infer that the gunner/rifleman will probably be the other soldier profession.  Also, take note that it says there will be "professions new to the Guild Wars world." Given that the four we know of now were all in GW1, it would make sense that the other four are the new ones.  Or will the fifth be Mesmer?  Mesmer was a really neat, though underplayed and undervalued profession, it'd be a shame if they were just forgotten about in the 250 years since GW1 ended.

Hopefully they don't nerf AoE, because that's the one thing I've consistently hated in GW: that enemies move out of AoE and do it so quickly that it's not really worth it to bring AoE.  Meanwhile, I'll be yelling at the henchmen and heroes "move out of the AoE, idiots!"

Also, a huge gripe I have playing as a Ranger in GW1: I use a flatbow.  Typically either Drago's Flatbow or the Forgotten Flatbow, though I have an Elswyth's Recurve Bow and a custom-made Vampiric Shortbow of Fortitude available for different situations.  Flatbows have the best range with the fastest fire rate, but aren't terribly accurate unless you bring Favorable Winds, which has been stapled to my skill bar for years.  If you're on top of a hill and the enemy is at the bottom, you get even more range.  So, quite often, I will find myself a mile or so away from an enemy filling it with arrows.  With all the heroes and henchmen just standing around not doing anything until the enemies get close.  Why should I have to sacrifice the superior range of my weapon just to get them to attack?

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I mean, GreaseMonkey.

I wrote another script, this time for YouTube.  Here's the story.  I was on my subscriptions page when I noticed the navigation bar at the top.  My first thought was "hey, it's nice to actually have these links visible where they can be easily clicked instead of having to click on my username first!"  Then, I thought "it'd be nice to have that navigation bar on the rest of the site."

I started writing JavaScript, and victory was had.  It adds the navigation bar to video pages, channel pages, the video editor page, and the main page.  If you're on your channel or on the video editor page, those items show up as selected, just like all the others do when you're on their pages.  Essentially, this brings the navigation bar to the rest of the website.  I know there are other pages, for instance group pages and opt-in pages for various things YouTube is testing like their HTML5 player, but they're so obscure and hard to find that they might as well not exist.

Finally, intuitive navigation returns to YouTube.  It's kind of sad that websites these days are "improving" by becoming harder to use and obscuring critical functionality.

Anyway, here's the script.  The bar takes a little bit to appear on the pages it has to be inserted on (at least on my computer), but this is normal and to my knowledge can't be sped up.  I don't know if it's because of how I generate the extra markup or what, but it is what it is, and it works.

And here's the Blogger navbar tweak script I wrote a few posts ago.  Seems like I'm scripting a lot of navbars lately...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I could have sworn they disabled this...

In Windows XP Service Pack 2, I could have sworn they disabled the at command.  Having it enabled allows any random user on your computer to escalate themselves to the user SYSTEM, which has absolutely full control over everything and can do things Administrators can't.

I was dicking around and decided to try to escalate to SYSTEM for the lulz.  Imagine my surprise as I went into the command prompt and typed the following:
at \\XT-8147 21:29 /interactive cmd.exe

And then a few seconds later, a command prompt pops up with SYSTEM's priveleges.

I'm running Windows XP Service Pack 3.  It was installed immediately after SP2 was installed, immediately after a virgin install of SP1 from a CD.  Due to Microsoft's infinite wisdom, you have to do it that way (probably not if you get the standalone installer, but it's not like they make that easy to find).  At any rate, I've disabled it now.

The average user might not see the point, or even the necessity, but regardless, if you're still running Windows XP, it's an important thing to have disabled, and disabling it is simple if you have Administrator privileges:
  1. In the Control Panel, go into Administrative Tools, and open Services.
  2. Scroll down, select Task Scheduler, and double click it.
  3. In the dialog that comes up, change Startup type to Disabled, and then click the Stop button.
  4. Once that's done, click OK, then close the services window.
There are videos on YouTube showing off this exploit.  You should heed any rational computer expert's advice and never run this command ever except to show people and then reboot to revert back to your regular account (or, you can use it responsibly to go in and disable the vulnerability).  It's more applicable if you're using Windows XP in an environment where you have a restricted account, like possibly at work.  Just for kicks, I tried the same command in my VM of Windows 7, and it specifically gave me an error message saying it wouldn't run it due to a security problem.

Edit: By the way, the "penis" reaction was me trying to click the edit link and missing. lol

Guild Wars ramblings

So, after getting Signet of Spirits on my rit and setting up a spirit spammer build on her, which was really the entire reason I made her, I've set up a spirit spammer on my ranger now.

It's not that spirit spamming doesn't work on a primary rit or anything.  It works beautifully.  The issue is unlocked areas of the game.  My rit has very few, whereas my ranger has been everywhere.  I'd been kind of skirting around that issue for a while when farming items for Nick, but this week's item is deep in Factions, and much further into the campaign than I've gotten my ritualist.  It just wasn't feasible to get her there.

So, as I said, I've set up my ranger with a spirit spammer build now.  It's kind of weird to be playing a ranger while using only rit skills.  The ranger's primary attribute, Expertise, works beautifully with the build since it reduces the energy cost of all the binding rituals.  Now if only Expertise could be reverted back to its original functionality so it would reduce the cost of all non-Spells, so Armor of Unfeeling would be reduced as well.

Now that I've done this, there's two things that can happen a lot more quickly and efficiently.  First, I have one more elite skill title left (the Elonian one), and second, I really need to finish War in Kryta so the Kryta zones will revert to their previous spawns.

For the skill title, I need money.  Each Signet of Capture is 1k at a skill trainer (this cost starts lower and gradually increases, maxing out at 1k), and I have 85 skills left to cap (140 total, minus the 55 I already have).  After having done some farming earlier this morning, I'm sitting at about 77k, which is pretty much in the threshold where I'll make the rest of the required money as I go along.  The farming I did, after the farming for Nick, was to get the materials necessary to craft several Powerstones of Courage, which are a consumable item that's basically a reset button.

Seriously.  It removes all death penalty for all party members, then gives all party members a 10% morale boost.  This is precisely what I need for the War in Kryta.  If it's going to be cheap with its spawns and enemy skill sets, I'm going to be cheap with my tactics.  The only real problem is the materials required for a single Powerstone of Courage.  I need Granite, which is balls easy to get (HM Hulking Stone Elementals cough up enough of it to go into the countertop business), and Glittering Dust, which is more difficult.  I don't know of a single enemy that has Glittering Dust as its primary material drop.  I've been farming undead, which do drop it, but their primary material drop is Bones.  Glittering Dust is almost easier to get by salvaging it from things like Luminous Stones and Spider Webs.  The only reason I stick with the undead is because they're low level, thus, the farm is easier.

And yes, a spirit spammer can solo farm pretty much anywhere in the game.  I'm preparing to take my ranger into the Underworld so I can get the sole remaining pet he doesn't have in his menagerie: the Black Widow.  You can just barely fit Charm Animal into the build, so theoretically it should work.

Lots of people have tons more money in-game than I have, but... I've been spending money like fucking crazy, so I haven't really had the opportunity to stockpile it.  Once I'm done with the elite skill titles, the only money titles remaining are Drunkard, Party Animal, and Sweet Tooth, which I haven't actually invested any money into yet.

I'm feeling a little more optimistic about vanquishing areas on Hard Mode now.  I just vanquished Plains of Jarin with no trouble.  While yes, it is a 4-man area, the same tactics I used are applicable to real areas.  Also, maybe now I can go back and grab Eastern Frontier and do more work on vanquishing in Tyria.  Since I last tried it, I've gotten way more skills, and developed a lot better tactics for HM, so hopefully I'll be able to get somewhere instead of stalemating on the first group of Grawl.  I'll hold off on doing the remaining Kryta areas until I've done the rest of the War in Kryta, but I can hit everywhere else.

Seriously, why didn't they make an easier toggle for that than having to finish an almost impossible series of quests?  I can make progress with Frozen Soil in my build, but I hate that I have to bring it to get anywhere.  I still need one of the ritualist skills that kills an allied spirit (preferably nonelite, I like running burnpoison).  If all else fails, Summon Spirits can get it out of the way.

Once I have my Powerstones, I'm going to use a tactic I found on the GuildWiki article for A Little Help From Above, which makes the quest a bit easier but requires a death.  Once you get the key you need to get, the road you had to pave to get to the enemy is now populated with hidden White Mantle groups that pop up as you approach them.  This can be avoided entirely by exploiting how resurrection works.  The only res shrine in the zone is in the safe area where Livia, Zinn, and Blimm are, which is precisely where you need to go after getting the key.  So, after getting the key, go suicide on the first White Mantle pop, res back in safety, pop a Powerstone, and continue with the quest.  Like I said before, since the whole quest line is so cheap, there's no reason to not be cheap right back at it.

Sometimes I think game designers believe that challenge should be instilled through added tediousness.  If they believed otherwise, the groups here wouldn't be as follows:
  • All are higher level than the party, which affects the damage equation in their favor
  • All groups are at least 10 enemies in size
  • A good portion of the enemies have resurrection skills (as much as I exaggerate it, it's not every single one.  It's more in the range of 30-40%)
  • The enemies' profession combinations and general builds are not predictable based on their name, unlike everywhere else in the entire game.
  • They're balanced for groups of 8 humans, but the area is only accessible from an area which is balanced for a group of 6.  The only way to get a group of 8 there is to start from Temple of the Ages.
  • The Temple of the Ages henchmen are level 15 and are thus little more than a liability, which is no doubt contributing to my frustration.  If they can force them to level 20 with better skill sets in Hard Mode, why can't they do the same here?
  • Getting a decent party of 8 humans is very difficult these days.  Most people either go by themselves with three heroes and four henchmen, or with another human and six heroes.
I had a whole rant in here about pulling enemies that I extracted and turned into an article in my userspace on GuildWiki. Thank me for this, as this post would have been much longer with it present.

Monday, August 16, 2010

My Best Effort Yet

81% is just before the SP phrase at the end of Twin Solo. I was so close.

Certainly better than failing in the intro at 1-5%...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Greasemonkey Blogger Navbar tweaks

So, I took it into my own hands to add some links to the navbar that Blogger hasn't yet.

It turns out that they do in fact have a Dashboard link on the navbar, but it's mystery meat.  See that B logo in the top left corner?  Yeah, that's it.  Even worse, the tooltip that comes up to explain it says "Go to" instead of "Dashboard".  Could that BE any less descriptive?

Now my navbar has both a clearly labelled Dashboard link, and a link to the new Spam inbox so I can easily review any comments marked as spam.  Also, that lets me access the comment moderation, which in Blogger's infinite wisdom has to be ON for the spam inbox to be accessible.

The script detects whether you have Blogger in Draft enabled and modifies its links accordingly.  Really only one link needs to be modified, because the Dashboard link is relative and their server figures it out automagically.  It actually says when I mouse over it, but when I click it, I get the Blogger in Draft dashboard.

I guess I should host the script somewhere so anyone else who wants it can have it.  There's nothing in it that makes it blog-specific, I've tested it on both of my blogs (even though I don't use Random Bullshit anymore, I don't seem to be able to import its posts here and remove it...)




Edit: What the hell, it was there long enough for me to flag some comments as spam, and now it's gone.  Random Bullshit still has it, but THE BLOG THAT ACTUALLY FUCKING NEEDS IT doesn't. What the fuck.

Edit 2: Oh, I see.  It's Blogger being counter-intuitive again.  You have to have comment moderation on to be able to access it.  So basically I can't have the best-of-both-worlds solution, where legitimate users can post unencumbered and shithead spammers get filtered.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Negima Magic World OAV Episode 3

If you haven't watched it already, or aren't up to date on the manga, you probably won't want to read this post.  This is a collection of screenshots of some of the moments I liked best, as well as some commentary about the story and where the OAV seems to be headed.

For any such person wishing to avoid spoilers, everything's after a jump break.  So if you get spoiled, it's your own fault.  Yeah, I know I have a "spoiler tag" CSS rule that I've used exactly once, but...  Honestly it's hard to use because I'd be using it on the entire post and it doesn't do anything with images.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Guide to Soloing Landing Bay

I've certainly done this enough, and I've even shown a friend how to do it, but the limits of in-game text chat prevented me from saying absolutely everything I wanted to say.  I could have put on my headset and just talked to him, but whatever.

Anyway, this is an extensively screenshot-supported guide to soloing the first level of Alien Swarm's Jacob's Rest campaign, Landing Bay.  The items it uses are available standard at level 1.  The recommended difficulty level is Hard, for the +20% experience bonus.  Insane changes the spawn wildly, and is not recommended.  Done correctly, you'll get over 1400 experience from a single run.

Monday, August 2, 2010

This Season In Anime

Yeah, it's another season where there's four things I'm watching.  Ugh.  I really can't handle more than three.

From this season, I'm watching Strike Witches 2, Highschool Of The Dead, and Sekirei ~Pure Engagement~.  Carrying over from previous season is K-On!!.  One of two things happens when I have four series I'm watching at a time.  Either I get overwhelmed for some reason and fall behind on all of them, or one of them gets neglected.  I've done both already.  I fell two episodes behind on the new season right away, then caught up.  I've been neglecting Sekirei the entire time.

Honestly though, there's a reason I've been neglecting Sekirei.  It's a very simple reason.  It's been two years since the first season, so I'm in my usual indecision about whether to watch it now or marathon the first season before watching it, just to remind myself of what was happening.

Anyway, about each series or something.

Strike Witches 2 picks up pretty much where the first season left off.  You see, they won that battle, but the war is still on.  For whatever reason the 501st Joint Fighter Wing got separated to go do various other things, and there's a reunion battle.  It's pretty much exactly the same as the first season in terms of content, balancing the fanservice and the story/battles.  Myself and a couple other people I know were worried about the studio change, after all, when Minami-ke changed studios it went to shit.  But this season doesn't seem like it's suffering at all from the studio change.

Highschool Of The Dead is a zombie apocalypse anime.  The main characters, as one might infer from the name, are students.  The apocalypse happens during school one day and they have to fight off zombified versions of all their classmates.  The chosen few who can actually fight eventually meet up, along with the school's nurse (I guess for fanservice value).  There's the token asshole, the good guy, the good guy's love interest, and all the typical zombie story characters, save for the black guy (lol).  I can't wait to see how the token asshole dies.

Sekirei, well, I haven't been watching, as previously mentioned.  What I do remember from the end of the first season is kind of hazy, which is why I was thinking of watching it over again.  I remember some really big shit had hit the fan, in the form of the main character's love interest becoming involved in the whole thing and thus being someone he'd have to fight against.  It's one of those "master/servant battle royale" series where the winners get a fabulous prize, but it also incorporates harem elements.  One master (the term used in the show is Ashikabi) can have more than one servant (the Sekirei).  Given this harem element, naturally, the main character gets several Sekirei of varying harem anime character archetypes.  There was a lot of fanservice, but hopefully they haven't forgotten the plot that they built up during the first season...

Finally, K-On!! is, well, K-On!!.  The continued adventures of the light music club.  Right now, they're preparing for the school festival.  Which of course involves writing songs and trying to practice.  More insert songs headed our way, hopefully within the next few episodes.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

To War!

This post is an addendum to the Custom Ad-Block Filters post I made earlier.

Like I've said before, Sankaku Complex really needs a script surrogate for ideal ad-free functionality.  Being that one pretty much doesn't exist and writing it would take forever, we can play cat-and-mouse with Artefact.  It's not like anything can be changed that prevents us from being able to attain ad-free full site functionality, so Artefact's really just making Sankaku more convoluted in the process.

There was a change not too long ago.  I edited the necessary remedy into the post mentioned above, but AdBlock Plus supports a much better way to push the necessary changes to the masses: a filter subscription.