[PC] I Found My Filler

I decided to finally finish Dragon Age: Origins and I’ll be using that as my filler game until Skyrim comes out. Oddly enough, I completed Dragon Age 2 but not the first one. Of course, the second one was far shorter and didn’t really have as much content as the original one.

I took a look a Oblivion, but I have completed that and wasn’t all that keen on playing through it again. I was already done with Sanctum which was much like Plants vs. Zombies in that it isn’t a game you play at length over a long period of time – it’s more like Minesweeper or Solitaire.

I was flipping through Steam pages looking at games but nothing stood out. I almost picked up Dead Island but I can’t really get into zombie killing games. I feel guilty for the senseless violence they focus on all too much and it bores me in a very short time. Generally the zombies are not all that challenging or different in much other than looks. Yeah, I get that there are quests and missions and it’s sort of like Borderlands. I just don’t like the content of it. You could have quests and missions just like Borderlands but have the content be Hello Kitty stuff and it wouldn’t do anything for me either.

I even briefly considered checking out Age of Conan which I didn’t really like much beyond level 20 and not much really before then either. The idea was neat, but meh.

So after all that reflection, I decided on DA:O with the excessive gore turned down (at least turned off the persistent blood). I went with a Dalish Elf Rogue (female) because I didn’t play a rouge before and thought it might be different. My previous characters that I played through about 50-60% of the game were Warrior types; one was sword and board while the other was dual wielding and failing horribly because of the heavy armor (he was always out of energy after using one or two of the abilities).

After playing it for a bit yesterday, I’m not sure I shouldn’t just play a Mage type… That’s the same sort of trap I fell into last time, I kept restarting and trying different characters and back stories. Ah well, I’ll knuckle down and see if I can’t get it done by November 11th.


Not Dead Yet.

I haven’t posted for what seems like ages. Some of that might just be personal perception. I’ve had several days that have felt like they were a week long lately.

Ever have those days? Ones where by the end of the day it feels like the events of the morning happened several days ago? It’s been like that every day for the last few weeks.

What’s up?

Work. Family. Small amounts of playing games. Sleep.

I’ll skip to the more interesting stuff. Games.

I’ve been playing Borderlands on and off with my oldest son. We actually completed the game (playthrough 1) together. I was playing Siren while he was playing Roland. I wish there was some way to see how many times I saved his bacon, because it seemed like that was all I was getting to do for awhile there.

He’s got some interesting ideas.

When the engineer opponents drop turrets, charge, jump over the turret so that they can’t shoot you (they have a front 180 degree cone of fire). So he’s right, he just takes a bucket load of damage while running there and jumping over. On top of that he’s now got no cover from the enemy either.

Me? I prefer to pick them off from cover because when they die, the turrets disappear too.

He also tends to charge in without looking which does a number of things. First, it ends up making him an easy target. Second, he blocks my line of fire which ends up protecting the enemy from me. Third, he gets his toon killed which forces me to charge in and save him.

I ended up developping a strategy to help out with that. I whittle down an enemy and let him kill it off for a ‘second wind’ revival. Unless I can get to him and still have cover. Using his toon as cover while reviving him was also a common tactic.

Still, we beat the boss at the end. He was really excited about that.

We haven’t started Playthrough 2 yet (I have on my Hunter who beat the game quite some time ago), instead we took a quick look at the expansions. LBO is pretty keen on the General’s Secret Armory expansion so we’ve played that a couple of times.

On the WoW front I’ve mainly being doing my Oracles dailies (I don’t know why I didn’t bother getting those done previously) mainly. Once those are done, it depends on how much time and what mood I’m in. I either run a heroic (usually I queue up for one while doing the dailies) or work on other rep or rep item required mounts (such as Argent Tourney). I’ve taken one shot at that mount from Anzu in Sethek Halls. It’s a fun one to solo as a Hunter and good practice for pet control. I haven’t been back since it is a little time consuming.

Other than that, I’ve been mucking around with a Rogue on Stormrage where I might end up transfering to for Cataclysm – well, a little before Cataclysm. November 1st to be exact.

I recently played a Rogue up to the 40s on another server so leveling this one again after the 4.0.1 changes is quite something else. The damage I’m dealing at lower levels is quite insane, even before I loaded the toon up with heirloom armor and weapons.

Using Hogger as an example, I watched a Mage kite him around for several minutes before I stepped in and finished him off. Then when I found him back up again (he was tapped for the Mage), I realized we were even level. I expected a bit of a challenge, possibly having to use a potion.

Nope. I absolutely ruined Hogger in a really short time without taking much damage at all. It’s sick.

The rogue class has always interested me. I’ve always enjoyed the ability to move about unseen and the frantic nature of the class concept through various games; MMO or pen and paper. For some reason, I’ve never really taken one to any significant level.

I played one to the early teens in D&D 3.5e. I’ve leveled one to the 20s in EQ and EQ2. I fiddled with the lower levels of one in DAoC, DDO, LOTRO and Vanguard. I’ve just never really leveled one to any significant level. Really the highest I had was this one I leveled to 40.

I haven’t the slightest reason why. Most likely, I abandon the game or switch my focus back to my main and never really look back.

That’s all I have for now.

Move Over, Old Timer

Some of the guys that played EQ with me and some other games often joke about how quick I am on clicking to loot stuff. They even go so far as to mention, “loot whore.” Fair enough.

In my defense, it’s not my fault the corpse dying animation takes longer to play out than it does for me to right click on it while I’m standing right there. I mean, I was in its face, it’s taking up most of my screen. It also isn’t my fault that the server messages sometimes came back in the wrong order:

Smaken has looted a Fine Steel Scimitar
Smaken has looted 2 gold and 5 silver.
The Orc Warrior has died.

In later MMOs it was a blessing, we’d kill stuff get the loot prompts and move on to the next group of mobs. Sure, sometimes the loot prompts would show up in the middle of a fight, blocking your view of what you were tanking or trying to target. That’s okay, it’ll still be there after you click your need, greed or pass choice… for the next five windows.

To be honest, I do that last bit specifically because people complained about the windows popping up. If the fight is a chump fight, I loot mid-battle. Usually not a problem… for me. Heals are covered, damage is coming, agro is held… I’ll just rummage through this corpse.

Well, I met my match.

Last night I caved and gifted a copy of Borderlands to the LBO so we could play together. He was sneaking onto my Steam account and playing mine here and there. He likes shooters. I figured at the discounted price, no worries, I’ll gift him a copy to his account and we can play together.

The kid loots faster than I can… and I was hosting!

Chests? Looted.
Trash piles? Looted.
Boss drops? Looted.

At least least he was leaving me the sniper rifle ammo… but none of the sniper rifles.

He’s such a good boy!

Borderlands: Destroyer Down

Yup, I completed it. Downed the Destroyer at the end. It took me a few seconds to figure out what was going on with the Destroyer but once I did, I took him down.

I played through as the Hunter (Mordecai) mainly speced for Sniper and some Gunslinger. I had a kick ass sniper rifle that was just blowing limbs off the Destroyer.


I quickly figured out you had to shoot the purple knobs in the tentacles to destroy those arms else they’d shoot some purple stuff at you that made clouds where they land meaning you had to find other cover. Once they were killed, you could switch to it’s main eye for a bit.

The other threat is the big front tentacles which will slap the ground in front of the Destroyer creating a shockwave and causing knockback.

One last attack ability manifests later in the fight – that big eye you were shooting? Well, it shoots back.

After awhile it will wrap two big tentacles around nearby stones and pull itself out of the portal some more. I think it also grows the purple shit flinging tentacles back. This may mean you have to move to new cover or it might not.

As the Hunter, I was using my Sniper rifle on the purple knobs in the tentacle which meant it was a one shot kill (shooting there is critical on the tentacle – I was doing over 6k damage to each tentacle) and then I’d switch to my assault rifle or the SMG I had.

The assault rifle was a ‘yellow’ con item, which is second from the best (orange being the best), and had electricity element effect on it which works really well on the aliens. The SMG was ‘blue’ or ‘green’ con but it had acid element attached which is pretty nasty.

Yes, it was a little disappointing because you don’t actually get to go into the vault. You get to hand over the vault key to the chick for almost 300k – which was a drop in the pan since I’ve got almost 3 million on me.

Oh, and the planet’s name, “Pandora”? Yeah, it’s foreshadowing with the vault being her box.

Let’s reflect on that a moment. I said, “her box”.

Moving on, I was rewarded with a pretty sweet Sniper Rifle that is a base of over 300 damage (the one I was using was 400+ damage base) but also electric x4 (which makes the damage insane), it bursts on impact doing splash damage, it has a large mag and pretty quick rate of fire. It’s an “orange” con weapon.

Once you’ve beaten the game and cleaned up any quests (including handing over the vault key) you can play through again (exiting to the main menu then selecting the character again) and all the enemies will be scaled up. At first I didn’t think that was the case because I was killing them with one shot of my new rifle, but I checked the level and they were all in around the right range.

I will likely play through again (weird of me saying that) simply to max out the level – I think he’s level 38 or 39 at the moment and I will pick up the extra content – they’re only 10$ each so…

Exploit or Common Sense?

A little Borderlands talk here and popping into MMOs and exploits.

I’ve always been good at finding holes in systems and games are systems when you look deep enough. Creatures have a pattern, be it a path or series of attacks or method to their movement or even sound cues.

I pick up on these intuitively and use them to my advantage.

Truth is, that’s all part of playing the game. These are all programmed in to be part of the challenge.

One example would be the way Skags in Borderlands work. They are some sort of twisted hybrid of lion, wolf and acid splitting worm. The face opens up to bite or spit (they’re really vulnerable if you shoot them in the face while it’s open – go figure), they howl at you, they pounce and claw or they charge at you. The larger ones sometimes spit acid, lightning (shock) or fire.

Taking them down is pretty simple; shoot them in the face when it is open, shoot them in the ass when they aren’t facing you and avoid shooting them head on because their armor will soak up the damage. When they charge, jump out of the way or at least jump because you’ll probably be knocked out of harm’s way. If they pounce, jump out of the way.

Knowing this, I can defeat them easily with the only challenge being when there are large numbers of them.

What do you do when a pack of wolves is chasing you? Stay on the ground where they can get you or do you get to high ground where their four legs aren’t able to get to?

That’s what I would do.

In some MMOs (like AC2) it was called ‘perching’. You’d get up somewhere high where the critters couldn’t get to you and pick them off. MMOs deal with this in various ways; the creatures ‘reset’, they warp up to you, they gain gain crazy reach or maybe they summon you to them.

Personally, I don’t believe that is an exploit because the game has mechanics for handling it. In the case of Borderlands, some of the Skags will shoot stuff at you while others will pounce on you. Either way, I still have to dodge stuff while aiming, timing and shooting the critters.

Others would disagree.

Another case of common sense would be when fighting that oversize moth that breathes exploding fire down on you. It’s idiotic to think you can just run around and shoot at it – maybe you could – while it was raining explosive death down on you (two hits dropped my near 400 point shield and a couple of more dropped my health).

I quickly noted the thing never swoops down so I bolted to the nearby vehicle shed where I used it as cover, popping out to shoot at the giant moth and popping back in when it started shooting back.

Exploit? I don’t think so, just common sense.

Truthfully, there could be some improvements to the AI in Borderlands. If I was up a tree shooting at wolves they’d run for cover, not just continue to bark and yap at me.

What I do agree is an exploit would be sitting in a location that creatures can reach but for some reason stop responding when you do. One example would be a corner in the Plane of Disease in EQ1, right on the inside right corner of the bone wall. There was a soft spot there that the creatures would stay agro to you but couldn’t attack you for what ever reason. As a melee type it wasn’t so useful but as a caster or ranged type it meant easy leveling.

That would be an exploit – it’s abusing a bug in the game for your advantage.

Another, similar exploit, would be in Deadmines of WoW where people would put their healer on a cannon that was out of reach of the melee enemies. The healer would then draw all sorts of heal agro on the tank taking VanCleef on so the adds would rush to the healer, only they couldn’t get to him.

Sounds like perching?

Not quite, because these adds had other targets to go after, they just couldn’t because of the agro list and not having a path to that healer. if the healer wasn’t exploiting the pathing, the encounter would be much tougher as the tank would have to keep the adds on him or they would have run off and squashed the healer.

I think there is a pretty fine line between what using common sense and what is using an exploit. MMO developers (and designers) really need to design for ‘common sense’ and avoid calling ‘exploit’ when it is something of their own failing. That said, if you know it’s a bug and make use of it for your own advantage then you get what you deserve for exploiting.

P.S. Skagzilla was my bitch. I didn’t have anywhere to perch and his armor made him immune to most of the stuff I could throw at him, but he couldn’t take me down either. Eventually I wore him down when I switched to an exploding sniper rifle.

Skags is so stoopid!

Borderlands – More Thoughts…

I’ve been playing this on and off soloing as a Hunter (Mordecai) solo and as the Siren (Lilith) online with Tim (UFTimmy – the guy who is so nice to me in comments on this site).

It’s been good fun. I have to say I’m really enjoying both classes, but I definitely prefer the Hunter. Using an explosive sniper rifle is just too much fun.

Mordecai is level 21 or so and into the second area while Lilith is around level 18 or 19 and close to getting into the next area.

Tim has been flip-flopping around from the Hunter to the Soldier to Brick. He stuck it out with Brick the longest, lasting several sessions and now seems to be flopping back over to the Hunter. I admit I tried out each of the classes and was originally intending to use the Hunter in online games but I found it difficult to compensate for lag with Tim hosts (clearly his PC has issues translating my awesomeness and therefore lags).

I have to admit, the Berserk ability is pretty sweet… and hilarious. I really like that it wasn’t just a matter of getting bigger or stronger, the guy actually goes nuts! Raving and laughing maniacally as he pummels stuff with his fists.

The vehicles are pretty fun too, though I found the controls for driving them to be a little weird. I suspected it was some innate penalty to Driving since I was playing a woman.

The steering works in a way that where you are looking is where you are going so you steer by mouselook which seemed a little odd to me. I do like that when you’re solo you can fire rockets and when you’re playing two (or more) players you one of you can get in the turret and handle the rockets while the other person handles the forward mounted gun… and run shit over.

I really liked running shit over, almost as much as I enjoyed blowing up my targets with the sniper rifle.

I’m amazed at how much simple fun there is to this game. It’s not Mass Effect as far as RPGs go, in fact it’s more like a shooter with levels. Still, good mindless fun when you need it.