Thursday, February 28, 2013

Yet Another War In Kryta Rant

Yeah, I've been playing GW1 lately.  GW2 just doesn't feel the way I wanted it to.  It should have been a Guild Wars MMO, but it ended up being an MMO in the Guild Wars universe.  Crafting professions were unnecessary, and the auto-debuff system basically means you'll never actually feel like your character has gained any strength at all.


So I finally decided to take another shot at doing the very last part of the second-to-last War in Kryta quest, Mustering A Response, where you escort Livia, Zinn, Blimm, and a bunch of Ascalonian settlers from the Ascalonian settlement to Lion's Arch.  Being a War in Kryta quest, it throws ridiculous numbers of overpowered enemies at you and calls it challenge.  All you can really do is run.  If you stop to fight, you're dead.  In fact, even the wiki article for the quest recommends flagging a sacrificial hero or two behind the party to divert the horde's attention ever so briefly.

After failing it because Blimm died when I was almost there, I got an idea.  All we're doing is running, right?  Let's go with that.  Warriors have an elite skill called "Charge!" that makes all allies within earshot move 33% faster for a while.  It lasts around half its recharge time, but I have a party of six available, all of whom could be configured to have "Charge!" on their skill bar with enough attribute points in Tactics to matter.

Entered the quest with a party of six, all with 12 Tactics and only "Charge!" on their bar.

Blimm died when I was almost there.  Ugh.

A second try would be much more successful, and I was finally, after all these years, able to move on to the final quest in the most horribly designed quest line ever: The Battle For Lion's Arch.

On the tin it looks like a standard "defend the area from waves of enemies" quest.  Which is exactly what it is.  Except for one thing: it's a War in Kryta quest.  Which means every wave is 20-30 enemies.  As it goes further, more and more of the Mursaat's Jade constructs get mixed in, with their frustratingly high armor levels.

I lost count of how many attempts I made.  The furthest I ever got was the wave just after the one with Oizys the Miserable.  When Zinn activates the Spectral Infusion buff way too fucking late to be of any use whatsoever because all the NPCs it's supposed to protect are dead by this point, and the enemies rushing the town are so far out of the remaining NPCs' league that they don't last very long anyway.

I've ranted about War in Kryta before, so I'll summarize what I've previously said:

Up until this point, two enemies with the same name had the same build, guaranteed.  Not so here.  The primary profession is usually the same, but the secondary can and will differ, and the skills they bring will of course vary.

Up until this point, if enemies carried resurrection skills at all, they were rarely used or semi-easy to deal with.  Sole exception going to post-skill-rework "We Shall Return!" in Nightfall.  They never did rebalance Awakened Cavaliers after making that change.  Even then, you can deal with their newfound spammable insta-res, because you're riding giant undead wurms that can siege the fuck out of them.  The War in Kryta pretty much requires your party to contain a Ranger with Frozen Soil to prevent the enemies from using their resurrect skills.

So, what have we learned from this?
  1. First, whoever designed the difficulty brick wall for the War in Kryta content needs to be shot.  Repeatedly.  Until they die.  I would say this to that person's face.
  2. Second, the Winds of Change content in Factions is probably much of the same.  Probably even the same person in charge.  I haven't yet started it because of the foul smell, taste, and experience of War in Kryta.  Plus I hate Factions PvE anyway.  It was thrown in as an afterthought.
  3. Third, this whole quest line showcases horrible design decision after horrible design decision.  It's not just a little bit different, it's completely different from the entire rest of Guild Wars 1.
  4. Fourth, I don't know if this is ArenaNet's definition of "fun and challenging", but I assure you it's neither.  It's tedious and frustrating.
Now, let's try to be constructive.  How would I take this War in Kryta mess and produce a balanced quest line out of it?
  1. Make sure that entry into the content was willing on the part of the player, and provide a means to pause or disable it without having to complete it, while remembering where the player was if they decide to pick it back up.
  2. Tone down the enemy group size.  It reeks of Factions PvE.
  3. All enemies with the same name would have the same exact build.
  4. No more than two enemies with a resurrect skill per group.
  5. Tone down the armor on the Jade constructs.  It takes several minutes to kill one of them, and you get four or five thrown at you at once...
  6. Longer pauses between waves.  Give the player a bit longer to recover, and maybe actually let them go pick up some of the items that dropped.
  7. Allow the player to put together an 8-person party for the entire quest line, regardless of where they start from, since all War in Kryta content appears to be designed for parties of at least 8 players, which is a bit of a punch in the babymaker since the maximum party size for anywhere other than elite missions is 8.
  8. When taking henchmen into War in Kryta, automatically buff them up to level 20 with appropriate armor and skills.
  9. Have the auto-resurrection timer be shorter than 10 seconds on The Battle For Lion's Arch when the player has been pushed back to Lion's Arch Keep itself and is resurrecting while still under fire from the spells that killed them in the first place.
  10. Make the NPCs who are defending Lion's Arch with you actually have decent armor and skill sets.
  11. Do the auto-res thing for all the defending NPCs, not just only certain named ones.
  12. A mission effect similar to the bounties received from people at res shrines in Eye of the North, so that death penalty can be gotten rid of without using consumables.  Basically, a bonus every 25 kills.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Azure Tusk

...or, you know, Bluetooth.

With my new phone's ability to use Bluetooth, I naturally wanted to be able to use that.  Especially considering how the network completely mangles the images and audio I send to it via MMS.  I began my quest by poking around various TracFone-related resources for the phone, since TracFone likes to be a little bitch and disable or overly restrict all the useful features on their phones.  There I found conflicting information, both suggesting that TracFone had disabled the ability to transfer files via Bluetooth, and that a good number of people had been using it on a regular basis.

I found way more of the "file transfer via Bluetooth works" sentiment than the "no, it doesn't work" sentiment.  So, I hopped over to Newegg and ordered myself a USB Bluetooth adapter.  Specifically, the IOGEAR GBU521 Bluetooth 4.0 USB adapter.  $8 shipped, with promo code that despite being openly advertised on their website I had to subscribe to and then later unsubscribe from their email newsletter to actually use it.  It arrived yesterday, and so my adventure in getting it installed and set up began.

The instructions that came with it gave conflicting directions for Windows XP.  First, they said "oh, the driver disc has a driver for Windows XP on it".  Next, they said "If you're using Windows XP, go to our website to get the latest driver".  Lastly, they said "or you can just plug it in if you're using Windows XP SP2 or later and use Microsoft's Bluetooth stack, limited though it may be".  Care to take a guess as to which one was the correct thing to do?

Well, I tried the driver they told me to download.  Even though it's for the GBU421 and their site makes no mention of the GBU521.  After installing that and plugging in the device, I got greeted with a Windows Found New Hardware wizard that never produced any results.  So, that wouldn't work.  I tried rebooting, just on the off-chance that it was actually required, and nope, still the same thing.  So, I popped in the disc and installed from that.  Wham, it worked.

So anyway.  Pairing my phone with my computer was rather simple, and I got the non-ass-quality PNG version of my wallpaper transferred.  I then tried to transfer the text message noise I'd made in FamiTracker, basically recreating my old text message noise (the Power Rangers communicator beep) in NES.  It transferred, but didn't go into the ringtones folder because the phone doesn't recognize WAV files for some stupid reason.  So I encoded it to MP3 and it took that.

Then it started acting up and not letting me transfer anything from the phone at all, saying I'd need to reboot, so I did.  Then it worked properly.

Anyway.  The things you should get from this are:
  • Install the IOGEAR GBU521 Bluetooth adapter's driver from the disc on Windows XP, not from the internet, and don't just plug it in and try to use it with Microsoft's shit, because it's, well, shit.
  • TracFone-branded  LG 420G phones can indeed transfer files via Bluetooth, and therefore not have to suffer through faggoty automatic-by-cell-network transcoding/lossy compression, and for free.  If any later software version happens to change this, my phone's software version is LG420GHL_V10f.
  • People always think that the Power Rangers communicator beep is something from Kim Possible.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Main Screen Turn Off, The Sequel

So, over two years ago, I bought a Tracfone.  I didn't really expect much from a prepaid carrier, but I never anticipated it being as shitty as it was.  Still, the phone worked, so I stuck with it and kept buying airtime to extend my service date.

After a while I realized "hey, Twitter has the ability to post and get tweets via text message" and set my shit up for that.  This would become the primary use of the phone, to check and update Twitter while I was out of the house.  Occasionally I would make calls, but it was mostly text messaging.

At some point during MAGFest, the phone's plastic became cracked.  It had been starting to crack for a while, but it was relatively minor, so I didn't really care.  This crack, though, was a lot bigger and I could see the circuit board inside the phone if I looked at the right angle.  The phone was aging anyway, and I'd seen a newer one at Giant with a $30 price tag and a camera for a while.

I got that phone last Thursday.  Despite not being labelled as such, it was actually $15 with the bonuscard.  For anyone who cares, it's an LG420G.  Took it home and went through Tracfone's process to transfer the number and service from my old phone to the new one, which was actually really easy.  Just fill out a form with some uber-secret values from the old phone and the one identifying value from the new phone, and shit happens.

Things I've noticed:
  • It has an external screen for Caller ID and displaying the time/date/signal/battery life.  I still set it to only answer a call if I open it and press Send, though.
  • It will actually charge off of a USB connection from my computer, unlike my previous phone.
  • Getting used to a slightly different button layout will be annoying.  Both for general use, and text messaging.
  • It has bluetooth.
  • It has a "web browser".  Tracfone charges 0.5 for each minute of using this, rounded up to the next whole minute.
  • It can do wallpapers and MP3 ringtones.
  • It can also apparently send email.  Regular emails cost the same as a text message, but I sent a picture via email and it deducted a whole minute and then half a minute.  I assume that the extra half minute was for the time it took to upload the photo.
  • The camera maxes out at 640x480, and won't let me zoom it in despite having the option to do so.
  • It also came with a TF64SIMC4 SIM card, meaning still on AT&T, meaning still shitty signal in my house.
  • It came with double minutes for life, so I don't need to buy that card again.
  • Being a new phone, the spring in the hinge isn't broken, so I can't just flip it open with the flick of a wrist like with my old phone.
Regardless, it's a much better phone that isn't falling apart, so I'll take it.  I'm going to save up my money and get the 1 year/400 minute card so I won't have to buy minute cards as often.  Those 400 minutes will double to 800, which should theoretically be more than I need in a year.