Wednesday, November 30, 2011

mmm, hard-boiled eggs

I got some random noodles a while back in my hunt for something similar to ramen but without all the sodium, and the package suggested serving the noodles with a hard-boiled egg.  That got me started on this whole thing.  By the way, the noodles appear to be Korean, as there's Korean all over the package.

Hard-boiled eggs aren't all that hard to make.  You just need a pot, a bowl, some water, a stove, and some spare time.  To make sure I did it right, I Googled the subject and brought up a few different sites.  Curiously enough the directions were all slightly different, so I did what they had in common.

Basically, stick the eggs in the pot and cover them with cold water.  Put the pot on the stove and bring it to a nice rolling boil.  Then cover the pot, turn off the burner, and remove the pot from the heat.  Twelve minutes later, use a slotted spoon (or drain the pot) to get the eggs out.  I recommend the slotted spoon, that way you don't waste water if you decide you want to make more, or are making them in batches.  Stick them in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes, this stops the cooking process and eliminates that grey ring around the yolk.

There, done.  Of course, you'll want to peel them.  Lightly smack both ends of the egg on a plate, then roll the egg on the plate, applying just enough pressure to crack the shell.  Now peel.  The large end of the egg is a good starting point, as there's usually space between the shell and the egg white there.  Dunk the egg in the water periodically to remove bits of shell, make sure you get that film just beneath the shell as well.

Now you've got hard-boiled eggs, ready to be served.  They go great on salads (slice them so you end up with a bunch of reasonably circular slices), or you can slice them in half lengthwise.  Then you can make deviled eggs if you want, though you'll need a small bowl for mixing.

Simply apply gentile pressure around the edge of where the egg white meets the yolk, then turn the egg over the small bowl and apply a small amount of pressure to the underside of the yolk to pop it out into the bowl.  Repeat for all the eggs.  Now mix in some mustard.  There's no real set amount, just do it until the yolk-mustard mixture reaches a consistency you can live with.  You don't need a lot of mustard, though.  And as always, why use yellow mustard when you can use dijon mustard instead?

Now get a spoon and spoon the mixture back into the yolk cavities in the eggs.  Being that you added mustard, you'll have more stuff than you originally did, so it'll heap up.  If you have it, sprinkle some paprika over the top when you're done.  There you go.

Apparently, according to the internet, peeling hard-boiled eggs works best with eggs that aren't brand-new.  I don't know how long the eggs we have have been around, but they were pretty easy to peel once I got a system going.

And there you have it.  Easy food that makes you look like a better cook if you so happen to rely a lot on prepared and instant foods.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Munchkin Quest

A bit of a break from computer game reviews, and showing that there is more to my life than computers (but not much lol).

A few friends and I played Munchkin Quest a couple weeks ago.  I meant to get something up right then since it was still fresh on my memory, but I forgot.  First off, I'll answer the typical first question to answer in any given review: What exactly is Munchkin Quest?

Munchkin Quest expands upon the formula that's worked for years: a satirical card-based tabletop game where you race your fellow players to level 10 by defeating monsters, collecting treasure, and screwing your friends over right as they're about to defeat monsters or win the game.  It expands upon this by defining the dungeon that you've been kicking doors down in all this time.  You have dungeon tiles, door connectors, and a wide array of extra materials including player figures and level counters.

I'd been thinking that something of this formula would be really neat for a while, and then it happened.  The key would be making it work without being too complex, because Munchkin's greatest virtue has been its ease of play.

To be expected, it's more complex.  That's going to be a given.  You and your friends can expect to spend the entire first game with your faces buried in the rulebook.  Each class and/or race now has a d10 ability: where you have to roll the included ten-sided die and have to roll under your level to successfully use the ability.  Each monster in the game now has a card that represents it within the dungeon.  You roll a colored die to determine who owns the monster, it gets that colored base.  The colored die is also used for monster movement between turns, and has six sides.  Being that the game is four players only, what do you do when you roll one of the other two colors for determining monster ownership?

You get to decide.  You can throw the tough stuff at your friends if you want.  Fully in the spirit of Munchkin.

However, you may want to take it for yourself, as there are certain benefits to defeating a monster you own.

You have health tokens as well, that represent your life.  When you lose a battle, you lose one (and flip it over to the side that shows it empty).  When you lose all of them, you die.  There are ways of recovering health as well.

There are three card types this time around: Monster, Treasure, and Deus Ex Munchkin.  Deus Ex Munchkin cards can be races, classes, and extra cards like potions and Super Munchkin, for example.

Winning the game has a new twist.  Just like before, you still have to get to level 10.  But now, once that happens, you have to get back to the dungeon entrance and successfully defeat a boss monster to win.  In a way that makes sense, what kind of a dungeon-crawling experience doesn't end with a boss fight?  Plus, it fits right in with the cooperative-competitive nature of Munchkin: Your friends can still try and screw you over as you're making your way back to the entrance or while trying to fight the boss itself.

I feel it's important to mention that the cards are not compatible with other Munchkin games.  So no Space Munchkin Quest or Munchkin Cthulu Quest yet.  The cards in the game seem to be based primarily off of the original Munchkin, but with changes and updates for the rules brought in by Munchkin Quest.

I don't want to delve too deeply into the game's mechanics in a review of it, but some of the new stuff did warrant some explanation.  There's far more I haven't even mentioned.

What we noticed while playing:
  • The level of complexity was startling for a group of first-time players.
  • Monster movement can and will result in a clusterfuck that moves together after a while.  We had a group of four or five monsters that everyone avoided because you have to fight all of them at once...
  • The dungeon crawling element did have some advantages: different rooms affect you or your combat in different ways.  The dungeon definitely felt like a typical role-playing game dungeon; full of rewards, but with plenty of hazards between you and those rewards.
  • A "reasonable amount of time" is still defined in the rules as "about 2.6 seconds".
  • You'll need a big table to play the game, since the board expands as you play.
I don't want to judge the game solely on our less than favorable first time experience, because it seems like it's pretty well thought-out.  It's just that the level of complexity really did startle us and make us want the game to end more and more as we were playing.  I could imagine really getting into it if our group had the time to read and fully understand the rules.

Overall, I'm going to say that it's fairly complex, but if you can get into it, it looks like it'd still be incredibly fun, and that it would give some definition to the gameplay style you've enjoyed in previous Munchkin games.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Magicka Challenge Mode

Outside of Magicka: Vietnam, the rest of challenge mode is the same.  Pick an arena and a set of allowable drops (which can be unrestricted...), and battle against 20 waves of enemies.  You can bring up to three allies with you, but so far I've just been going solo.

The format and scoring system is fairly similar to the Last Stand mode of Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War 2.  Enemies enter the arena from fixed locations.  You have a multiplier that goes up as you kill stuff and goes down as you suffer deaths.  The difference lies in the drops I previously mentioned.  During each wave, one or more chests will spawn.  They then grow legs and proceed to wander about the arena.  They can bite you and deal damage to you as well.  Destroying the chest makes it drop an item or a magick.  Thus, you're at the mercy of Magicka's random number generator concerning what you're going to get.

That said, it's very possible to develop working strategies, that change depending on the drops you get.  My staple for the very beginning when I have nothing is ARSE mines.  They allow me to play a game of control, where the enemy can't kill me because they can't get to me.  As I gain magicks, I'll adapt as necessary.  On several occasions I've gotten both Invisibility and Summon Elemental.  If that happens, anything's possible.

As far as weapon drops go, Invisibility can be rendered less necessary if I'm fortunate enough to receive the Scepter of the Troll King, which makes enemies prefer other targets.  However, that only works if I can summon other targets for them to prefer.  Fortunately, if I don't have that ability yet, its active ability allows me to charm an enemy, which comes in handy even if I have Charm, seeing as how it just takes one click to charm something with the active ability, compared to inputting WED spacebar to use Charm...

My suggestion is to find the stuff you prefer, and then turn off all the categories that don't contain it, so you have a better chance of getting what you like.

I'll give a rundown of spells, magicks, and weapons I've found to be useful.
  • Spells
    • ARSE regular cast (or area cast if you have Teleport) - I used to use this on weapon cast as well, but...
    • QREASR weapon cast - Be very, VERY careful with this one.  As in, come to a complete stop when you swing your weapon to actually cast it.  And then high-tail it in the other direction.  This spell deals massive damage.  Doing any other cast method with this spell is suicide.  Also, it'll get you the achievement for having 5 elements in one spell if you haven't already gotten it some other way (using Steam...).
    • QFASA (or QFQFASA...) regular cast - Go-to beam for killing chests.  Also works wonders on anything that's been frozen.
    • QFQFQFQFQF area cast - If you have frost elementals around and you don't have Rain, support them by area-casting this.  It will wet down your enemies, which the elementals will then freeze on their next hit.  What's better than an enemy that moves very slowly?  An enemy that can't move at all.
    • EQRAF self cast - Inputting the F at the end melts the Ice back into Water, allowing you to have a shield that protects against both Water and Lightning.  Handy for casting Thunderstorm and then being able to conjure Lightning while being immune to the lightning strikes from Thunderstorm at the same time.
  • Magicks
    • Haste/Teleport - Mobility is king in this mode.  If you can avoid the damage, you'll stay alive.  Simple as that.
    • Invisibility - If they can't see you, they can't target you.  It doesn't render you impervious to damage, and doing anything other than movement or conjuring will make you visible again.  Still, it's nice to have around.
    • Charm - Temporarily turning one of your enemies into an ally is not to be underestimated.  Especially because you can charm a powerful enemy, then wet them, freeze them, then lightning beam them without having to worry about retaliation...
    • Summon Elemental - What's better than killing things yourself?  Summoning magical beings to do it for you so you can sit back and relax for a while.  I prefer frost elementals myself, because of my aversion to playing with a control strategy.  There are a couple waves you have to look out for with frost elementals though, so it's not perfect.  I would advise against summoning more than one type of elemental, because the dominant type will kill the minority type.  Also, if they're all one type, they'll heal each other and you'll only need to worry about them on the waves with the grenade guys (11? and 20).
    • Blizzard - If you have Summon Elemental and want to produce a bunch of frost elementals quickly, cast this and then spam Summon Elemental (well, as fast as you can type SEDQFS and hit spacebar...).  Blizzard will automatically turn them into frost elementals for you.  Toss up a quick ER self cast before casting so you won't freeze yourself.
    • Rain - Wets enemies, letting frost elementals freeze them in place.  Affects the entire arena, so you don't have to worry about it not hitting something.  Toss up a quick EQ self cast before casting, so you can still conjure lightning.
    • Raise Dead - Not as useful as Summon Elemental, but anything that puts targets out there that aren't you is worth having around.  Note that some enemies are immune to poison.  They won't damage those enemies, but they will still surround them and block their movement, which is still useful.
    • Conflagration - Spiders absolutely hate fire.  Just so you know.
    • Thunderbolt - When it hits what you want it to hit, it works wonders for eliminating a single target.  It can get confused with lots of elementals about though.
  • Staves
    • Scepter of the Troll King - Active charm ability, plus the passive ability of making enemies prefer other targets, makes this staff precisely what you want if you can summon anything at all.
    • Staff of War - Double HP plus physical resistance.  Need I say more?  The active Arcane Bolt ability recharges pretty quickly and shouldn't be forgotten about.
    • Daemon Arm - While it's one of the best in Adventure, it's not as useful here, because you'll need to be moving a fair amount of the time.  Still, when you've got it down to that one last enemy, you can pop off a beam and let 'er rip.  Only marginally useful, just mentioned it so I could say that.
    • Gnarled Staff - Active ability summons trees to fight for you.  Great if you don't have any magick that summons anything and you're not up against a wave that deals fire damage.  The summon ability has a long recharge though, so you'll have to support them.  Note that you can heal them.  Area cast heals work best, but risk healing your enemies at the same time.
  • Weapons
    • Knife of Counter-Striking - It took me way too long to figure out what this weapon was referencing.  It's referencing the knife in Counterstrike, where if you're carrying it you can run faster.  Having this weapon essentially gives you a permanent Haste, which is indispensable.  Especially considering that you can still Haste yourself while wielding it, and the effects stack...
    • RPG-7 - Don't underestimate the value of 3000 damage in a single spike.  True, some spells can out-spike this, but it's a worthwhile weapon nonetheless.  Just make sure you've got some distance on your target, and don't forget about the manual reloads (and the length thereof...).
I've gotten to wave 20 twice solo, and died on wave 20 twice solo for entirely stupid reasons.  The first time I stepped on one of my own ARSE mines by accident and couldn't thaw, heal, and cast Invisibility fast enough, and the second time I was trying to cast Blizzard and summon more elementals and got hit by stray grenades.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Magicka: Vietnam notes

The Vietnam Rescue Mission DLC for Magicka is a bit of a challenge.  Not only because you play it in challenge mode, but also because it's fairly simple and straightforward up until the very end.  I've got notes about the entire thing though, so here you go.

I mention spells with their default keybindings, if you've changed yours, you're weird.  Also, this is entirely for singleplayer.  I'd imagine it gets easier in multiplayer.  Furthermore, I stick with the firearms theme and use very little magic.
Staple spells/magicks:
  • ED self cast - rock armor.  Given how there's lots of them and one of you, and they all have automatic weaponry, without this you'll find your health skyrocketing in the wrong direction quickly.  You'll want to keep this on at all times.
  • EDDDD self cast - full rock armor, for the end.  You're waiting for your evac, and whaddayaknow, the Vietcong are after you in full force.
  • EDQ self cast - rock armor with water resist thrown in, useful because I always forget that I'm standing in water and can't hit A to cast Haste...
  • ARSE weapon cast and/or regular cast - Best. Mines. Ever.  Launches enemies high into the air, deals lots of damage, and freezes them so they take forever to get back up.  If you're trying to outmaneuver and outsmart a large-ish group, these will help tremendously, since you can basically keep an entire group at bay.  I don't recommend area casting mines since you don't get Teleport in this mission.  If you get hit by your own mines, make your first self-cast Fire, not Life.  Either that, or combine them.  You get one cast before you have to go through the slow recovery, you see.
  • ASF spacebar - Good old Haste.  With the rock armor reducing your speed, you'll need it.  You don't get it until partway into the first area, head to the left at the first opportunity.
  • QFDWFF spacebar - Napalm.  Great for taking out fortified positions, giants, etc.  Use of this is crucial to surviving the holdout at the end.
You might as well use the robes that come with the DLC, these grant you a gun that shoots three round bursts and the Patriot Staff, which has Liberty Grenades as its active ability.  Here's a hint: Liberty Grenades can set off your ARSE mines.

After you're no longer being rushed by enemies, head to the left and up a bit to claim the spellbook for Haste.  This will come in very handy for getting into and out of trouble.

You get Napalm a certain amount of time after the mission begins.  There isn't any other trigger for it other than passage of time.

Napalm always sets fire in a line perpendicular to the direction you're looking when you cast it.  Use this to your advantage.

The fortified position near the Haste spellbook has a heavy armor enemy.  All the heavy armor enemies carry the RPD gun.  Grab that.

There are enemies that become priority targets whenever they're nearby.  The guys with RPGs, the guys with mortars, and the giants.  These guys can kill you with considerably less effort than any of the other enemies you'll come across.  Fortunately, there's very few of each.

The first area contains an ammo building and a radio tower.  RPG guy at the ammo building, and two mortar guys at the radio tower.  Both can be Napalmed if you so desire.

The second area contains an ammo building, a radio tower, and the five prisoners.  Two RPG guys and one giant inside.  Giant near the well, one RPG guy near the exit, and the other near the side entrance.  Watch your fire near the prisoners.  There are barracks buildings dotted about that spawn enemies, destroying them predictably stops the enemies from spawning.  John will attack enemies if they're nearby once you free him, so either be prepared to follow him and heal him, or kill everything first.

The third area contains the military plans.  They're in a fortified area guarded by a giant and two mortar guys, with plenty of regular guys as well.  A well-placed Napalm can take out the giant, since he won't move if you don't fire at him.  When you leave, a group will attack that includes an RPG guy.  Just after that is the spellbook for Time Warp.  Grab it if you want, I've never found it to be all that useful.  It seems to slow me just as much as them...  I guess since it doesn't affect the speed at which you can conjure and cast spells, that alone makes it useful.  I dunno, I beat the mission without using it.

After getting the intelligence and Time Warp, the area opens up to a large clearing with a creek.  As soon as you cross the creek, Vlad will radio in, and the holdout begins.  At first it's just the small fries, but then the cavalry shows up.  Plenty of offscreen mortars, the occasional offscreen RPG, and one giant.  Give yourself breathing space with Napalm, and shoot away at anything that makes it through alive.  Once the giant is dead, it shouldn't be too much longer before the helicopter arrives to get you the hell out of there.

In multiplayer, you can get some diversity in your weapons.  Someone may want to partake in some friendly fire to get the M60 at the beginning, there's AK47s all over the place, and an RPG is fine too.  3000 damage a pop is worth the manual reload and long reload time...  Also, since you have multiple people and the death of a single player doesn't mean the end of the mission like it does in singleplayer, you have a bit more freedom to play around with using spells during the mission.  Especially because you'll need to heal.  A lot.

After you've beaten it, then all that's really left to do is complete it faster.  I'd imagine a group of four people could do it faster than singleplayer.  Though weirdly I did it faster in singleplayer than a two player LP I saw on YouTube...  Speaking of YouTube, searching "magicka vietnam speed run" doesn't actually return any speed runs of this mission...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Technically this game is still in alpha.  I have a copy because I donated for the Humble Voxatron Debut.

Voxatron is an arcade-style shooter where you move from room to room blasting bad guys and collecting powerups.  What sets it apart from its competition is that its graphics are made up of voxels.  Voxels, for the uninitiated, are volume pixels.  Basically, make a pixel a three dimensional object.  There you go.  To emphasize the voxelly goodness of the graphics, the environments are fully destructible.

There are three main modes of gameplay.
  • Adventure - Takes around 1-2 hours to complete
  • Arcade - Basically just a "hold out as long as you can against wave after wave of enemies" deal
  • BBS Levels - Browse through and play user-made levels.  This provides the majority of your gameplay once you've beaten the adventure.  While browsing around, you can favorite levels you like so you can just go to your favorites list to find them later.  Levels can do all sorts of fun things, including changing the player model.
As the BBS Levels would suggest, there's a level editor.  I haven't used it, but from having played the main adventure and then a few user-made levels, it seems like it's powerful enough to be worth doing things in.

Now, we get to discuss the controls, and for this I have a little story.

In the beginning the controls were keyboard-only, and couldn't be configured.  You could face different directions and fire, but while you were holding fire, your aim was locked.  So basically to re-aim, you had to stop firing, look a different direction, and start firing again.  This was extremely unintuitive, and made the game unplayable for me.  However, since the game is still under development, an update was released that added keyboard+mouse controls and gamepad controls, as well as the ability to configure the controls any way you want.

In the control config, you can set buttons (or joystick axes, for the gamepad controls) to both move and fire in different directions.  Doing this basically un-cripples the controls and turns it into a twin stick shooter, and I highly recommend it.  The keyboard+mouse controls offer the same ability, you'll simply fire at wherever you're pointing with the mouse.

So it has mouse and gamepad support now, but one small thing is lacking.  You can't use your mouse or gamepad to navigate the menus.  For gamepads, a quick JoyToKey config solves this, but it really should be implemented into the game directly.  If you're making a JoyToKey config, you'll need to bind the arrow keys, Enter, and Escape to buttons.  For mice, I don't know of a solution unless you have a mouse with tons of extra buttons and a utility that lets you re-bind them per program.

I have no clue when the full game will be released, and I don't really feel like searching the internet to find the website for the game.  Google isn't that hard to use anyway.

In terms of how beefy of a computer you'll need to run the game, it seems like it's fairly light on resources.  I never ran into any lag or anything, and I built this computer in 2004.  If you're having issues, make sure that 2x Antialiasing is off (turning it off doubles the framerate for me), and set shadows to hard.  If all else fails, run it windowed.

Overall, it's a pretty fun and challenging game.  Once you've exhausted the main adventure, the BBS Levels are your friend, and there's a bunch of decent stuff up there.

yeah, yeah...

If you don't run an ad blocker you may notice (up to three) ads between my blog posts now.  A while back YouTube offered me the ability to monetize my videos (all three of them...), and I figured what the hell, sign up.  I still have to manually enable revenue sharing per-video and they have to review it before it gets enabled, but whatever.  Anyway, with that having gone through, I got an AdSense account that I could link this blog to.  So I did that.

That's the entire story.

Still feels kind of weird running ads even though I'm so vocal about using ad blockers.  I doubt I'll get much money from them, but you never know...

Edit: I did some customizing so that they look better.  As you can tell by looking at them, they're now centered within this column and have a border below as well as above.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Remember when I played the Magicka demo and made a post about it?  Well thanks to a free weekend on Steam, I've beaten the full game now, and I'm back to offer my thoughts again.

The demo is an older version of the game, and several things regarding how various elements work have changed since then.  The area cast Shield, then spam heal mines trick no longer works.  Earth and Ice armors no longer hold you in place when you cast them, but you do move more slowly.  That's really about all I noticed.

The game is set in a satirical fantasy setting.  It makes references to a lot of things.  Just the ones I noticed, in no particular order:
  • Star Trek - There's an enemy you fight named Khan, and NPC dialogue just before the fight concludes with "KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!"
  • Back to the Future - you get sent back in time partway through the game, when this happens you get the achievement "88mph"
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail - The druids shout "Shrubbery!", "Ni!", and "Ecky!", and there's an achievement called "Blue!  No... Yellow!" that you can get while selecting your robe color.  I got it by selecting blue, then yellow (lol).
  • SkiFree - Remember that old Windows 3.1 game?  Where once you got past a certain distance a yeti would come and eat you?  Well, that happens in the game.  A soldier skis down a hill, goes over a rainbow colored ramp, lands, and gets eaten by a yeti.  Then you have to fight the yeti to avoid being eaten yourself.  Here's a hint: fire.
  • Guitar Hero - Believe it or not, there's a staff in the game that grants fire immunity and a resistance aura, and in its description it says "'Through the fire and flames' - 100% guaranteed".
  • Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - When you use your first checkpoint, you get a fairy. This fairy will resurrect you if you die (only once, the second time you go back to your last checkpoint), and periodically gives you useless gameplay tips after saying "Hey! Listen!".  Also, a general reference, you can find the master sword, and it shoots a projectile when you're at full health.
There are a whole host of weapons available in the game, which you can switch to as you come across them.  I didn't really pay attention to them past a certain point, because I settled on a weapon setup that worked well for me.  So well, in fact, that any time I died and lost one or both of them, I'd purposely die again to load back at the last checkpoint.

Rather early on in the game, a village that manufactures gunpowder gets attacked, and if you save it without any of the five houses being destroyed, you get the M60.  It's a machine gun.  That takes your melee weapon slot.  It doesn't deal a heck of a lot of damage, but you can just keep firing.  A lot of enemies are vulnerable to it, or can be made vulnerable to it.

A fair distance after that you kill an enemy that has a Staff of War that doubles your HP and has an Arcane Bolt active ability.  I used this up until I got...

...the Daemon Arm.  It doesn't offer any active ability, but it gives your beam spells infinite duration.  Without it the beam will just stop after a while and you'll have to recast it.  With this, you can just keep on beam spamming.

One of the things I like about Magicka is its lack of a mana bar.  This makes each fight more about skill and knowledge of the elements, and less about "oh I wish I could cast the spell that would end this but I don't have enough mana".  It helps greatly towards the end of the game where it starts getting really frustratingly difficult.

On that note, the game does have a decent difficulty curve.  At the beginning it's easy and you have a lot of opportunity to play around with the elements and what spells you can make, then as it progresses you start encountering more and more enemies with elemental resistances, immunities, or armor that needs to be destroyed, and you need to know exactly what you need to be doing at any given moment.  Giving yourself elemental immunities becomes very important towards the end of the game, especially so in the final boss fight (both phases of it!).

A rather fun thing I had to do towards the end was effectively dropping enemies into lava.  You're going through a room with tons of lava that you have to use aoe frost spells to solidify so you can cross it, and there's enemies waiting for you on all the platforms.  Including the annoying guys with the instant kill rocks.  I would get their attention with my M60 and lead them back out onto the solidified lava, then shoot fire at them to un-solidify the lava and drop them into it.  It might be cheap, but hey, if they're going to spam instant kill rocks at me in an area with limited room to dodge, I declare free license to drop them into lava.

One of my go-to spells when there were lots of enemies around is the ARSE mines.  Yeah, those are the keys you press to make the spell.  They could be in any order, but it's more fun to call them ARSE mines.  Anyway, they have lightning and frost in them, so they deal a fair amount of damage and slow enemies down, which helps as you're trying to run around dodging instant kill rocks.

One of the great things about this game is that there isn't really a set method for getting through most of it, leaving you free to experiment with the magic system.  You know, the magic system that was designed to be experimented with.

Throughout the game you get Magicks as well.  These are specific element sequences that you enter and cast by pressing the spacebar.  These range from being overlookable, to helpful and useful, and finally to required to get through certain parts of the game.  I came pretty close to getting them all (for the vast majority you have to find books to learn them, which can be hidden).

The game offers up a lot of achievements to get, some of which contribute references (as I previously mentioned).  A fair amount of them can be obtained just through normal gameplay.  Others I got because of repeated failures meaning I racked up more kills (the "overkill 1000 enemies" and "kill 1000 enemies with firearms" achievements).

When you begin you can select a robe, and the different ones do different things, including affecting your starting weaponry.  I beat the game with the Vanilla Robes that don't do anything special, and I have another game started up with the Space Marine robe, just so I could get the "have trouble choosing a robe color" and "die while wearing a yellow robe" achievements.

Normal post ends here, spell bullshit after the break.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Giant Foods Free Sandwich Coupons

So for quite a while now I've been getting the deli sandwiches from Giant.  They have this deal where if you buy six of them with your bonuscard, you get a coupon for a free sandwich.  I typically make the free sandwich one of the more expensive ones just to save money, and this has worked up until today.

Today, suddenly, without warning or notice, there's now a price restriction on the sandwich that you can get for free.  This restriction isn't listed on the coupon, or anywhere else.  In fact, the only restrictions listed are "Participating stores only, limit one per transaction", which I happen to be totally fine with because both stores around here participate and I only ever spend one coupon at a time anyway.

But to suddenly say "these coupons only work on the cheapest sandwiches" when they've been working on the more expensive ones all this time feels like a massive bait and switch to me.

I will reiterate.  All the coupon says is "This coupon is good for one free sandwich on your next visit. Participating stores only, limit one per transaction".  It doesn't mention anything about a maximum price threshhold.  At all.  Which is why I feel justified in complaining about there suddenly being a maximum price threshhold.

Stop your shenanigans, Giant.  Either make this price restriction publically known, or remove it.  As it is currently where it just "exists" but isn't listed anywhere isn't fair to the customers that are trying to redeem the coupon.

It did kind of work out.  They wouldn't give me the sandwich I'd picked for free and honor the terms printed on the coupon, but they did take the "maximum sandwich price" off the cost of the sandwich.  That doesn't make the lack of notice of a maximum price forgivable, though.  In fact, it just might make me stop buying the sandwiches altogether.

On a side note, the coupons don't actually say "limit one per transaction".  They say "limit one peoooransaction".  Somebody failed somewhere, hard.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Advanced Renamer 3.15

So after 3.10 had issues and I switched back to 3.05, I checked the site recently and noticed in the update notes "Fixed incompatibility issues with Windows XP".  I downloaded the installer (at that point, 3.14 was newest), and then promptly forgot about it.

Until today.

I installed 3.14 and this time it happily converted all my presets from the old format to the new one.  Then I check the settings dialog, and no more access violations upon closing it.  Awesome.  Next, I inspect the preset list, and find it to be empty.  Oh well, it moved all my presets out to external files, so I go and load one back in.

This is when I discover that it polluted the converted preset files with methods from other presets.  So then I got to go through and delete all the methods that shouldn't have been in each preset, and re-save them.  With that bit of "I shouldn't have had to do this" out of the way, I noticed it was still saying "Update available" at the bottom, so I downloaded 3.15.

A bunch of new stuff has been added since 3.05, which I may or may not actually end up using.  One method (or possibly tag) I wish existed would be for CRC32.  Being that I remux anime a lot, I end up with files where the CRC32 no longer matches what's in the filename, and I'd like to be able to easily update it.  I've got a ghetto setup now where I use a command-line CRC32 tool to calculate all the CRC32s, and then manually rename the files, then go back to the command line and verify that I typed them all correctly.  I'd very much like the ability to just chuck the files into Advanced Renamer with a rule that replaces 8 characters starting at the 5th character going backwards with the file's CRC32, hit Start Batch, wait a while as the CRC32s are calculated, and have it just be done.

Yeah, I know, CRC32 is a rather useless data integrity checking algorithm these days, given that it's so easy to forge one and that the files I have with them in the filename are distributed via BitTorrent, which has its own data integrity checking.  But it's useful on a case-by-case basis, I guess, and the case I made above is one of those.

Another thing that I wish existed would be a way to remove a preset.  Even with the new format, once you load a preset, it stays there.  No way to remove it from within the program.  You have to go into the Data subdirectory of its directory in Program Files and edit both methodlists.ini and settings.ini to remove it.  methodlists.ini is technically the old format, which I edited just because I felt like it, and the settings.ini just points at a bunch of .aren files that you've used.  The new format is really just taking each preset's method list out of methodlists.ini and putting it into its own file, which doesn't explain at all how the presets got polluted when I converted them.

Overall, it's still a very useful program for renaming tons of files at once.

Backlog Gone!

The one remaining thing was the Gundam 00 movie, which I watched last night along with a metric fuckton of other stuff.  Seriously, my computer was decoding video for 12 hours straight (with breaks for food/bathroom, duh).

That 12 hours contained:
  • Carnival Phantasm 5-7
  • Fate/Zero 7 (Rider = most awesome servant ever)
  • Gundam 00 movie
  • and the last six hours of the Far Lands or Bust livestream archive.  My guess for the contest ended up being pretty close (the extra four hours added by donations helped), we'll see if it was close enough to win eventually, once Kurt organizes all the entries.
Also, because of the CAINE theme showing last Saturday, I picked up a new series.  The theme was "Srsly, wtf am I watching".  Someone brought an episode of Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai.  I'd been thinking about watching that from the start, and was confused when all the fanart I saw go by on Sankaku Channel was just the series' female characters in bathing suits.  But this one episode sealed the deal, so to speak.  It introduced the character that I already know will be my favorite.  Meganekko science girl with no social inhibition.  So, I downloaded the OAV and what's out so far, and I'll probably watch all of that later tonight.

Overall I'm glad my backlog is finally fucking empty.  I hope to keep it that way.

Oh, what did I bring to the theme showing, you ask?  Yuri Seijin Naoko-san, which I immediately thought of when the theme was announced, and Rejected.  Yuri Seijin inflicted bouts of WTF on everyone for its relatively short six-minute runtime, and Rejected is just awesome and needs to be shown periodically, and I figured it might be wtf-inducing enough to bring it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Backlog almost gone!

So, rather than pointlessly marathonning early seasons of The Simpsons, I decided to buckle down and work through this shit.

Since the last post I've watched everything on my backlog except the Gundam 00 movie.  Yes, including Tsukihime.  Since I'm curious why the internet collectively denies the existence of this anime, I think I might just track down the visual novel.  To me, who hasn't experienced the actual story, it seems like a case of "it's a semi-decent story on its own, but given the name it carries it delivered less than was expected of it" or something to that degree.  We'll see, I guess.

I remuxed Ghost Stories to turn on the dubtitles by default.  For the uninitiated, when ADV dubbed Ghost Stories (original name: Gakkou no Kaidan), they basically threw out anything that wasn't the bare shell of the plot and just had fun with the rest.  The English language dub is therefore quite hilarious.  The dubtitles add a bit, as they captioned some sound effects in creative ways, like "[Leo screaming like a little girl]" or "[Keiichirou sob™]".

Later on they start throwing in foreign languages.  There's a bit that's entirely in Spanish, they bring some Japanese in (as in, the English VAs are speaking Japanese), and there's one scene where Satsuki and her dad are speaking in Pig Latin.  There are many third (fourth?) wall breaking moments, and they point out when the anime rips off various classic horror movies (like The Ring, about four times).  I highly recommend watching it dubbed, and the dubtitles help for verifying that they really just said that.

The only series on the list that I didn't watch was Sekirei.  I instead deleted it.  From both my hard drive and my MAL anime list.  It had potential, but squandered it in favor of ecchi fanservice, then rushed a plot in the last few episodes, didn't conclude it, and ended with a "to be continued".  Then they made us wait two years for more, only to go back to the ecchi fanservice.  I no longer have any desire to watch the series.

I went into Asobi ni Iku Yo! knowing very little about the series.  All I knew was that it was something about catgirls and probably had some fanservice.  Well, I was right on both counts, and it was a pretty decent series overall.

I'll get all this into my MAL account eventually, I've been focusing more on getting through the backlog as well as not falling behind on current stuff.

I'm intentionally leaving out the re-watch list for now, as it's less important.  My first priority is making sure that I've watched all the anime I have on my hard drive.

Also, since CAINE's showings wrapped up all three series for this semester, I got to give Seto no Hanayome the treatment it deserved.  I marked it on MAL as Dropped at 26 of 26.  I'll be using the Dropped section for stuff that really isn't worth watching that for whatever reason I've watched.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


TRAUMA is a point and click exploration game.  The story is fairly simple: the main character is hospitalized after a car accident.  You're playing through four dreams she has while in the hospital.

The game is available on Steam for $6.99 outside of a sale.  I got it through the Humble Frozen Synapse Bundle.