Contents

Caty and Cara's Page

Our Computers

Snapshots with Text

Essays for Fun

Ken Burch's Tales

Ken's Neocron Tales

More Neocron Tales

Secret Wars

Tales of the Walker Clan

Our Cast

Why Kevin Doesn't Dance

Writing of Mine That Doesn't Totally Suck

Stuff dl Thinks Is Cool

The Old, Old Grandma Story

The Final Battle

James' Photos

James Meyer's Birds:

Introduction

Photos 1 through 25

Photos 26 through 50

Photos 51 through 75

Photos 76 through 100

Reading

a book cover

Playing



alChandler's Halls



Serving dozens since 1999!


Doom

I finally came to the first boss of Doom and can say with no equivocation that he kicked my ass, royally, completely and soundly. I tried last night, I tried this afternoon and I realized he was not dying, not by my hand anyway. So I went out, bought two six packs of Magners, drank one cider, tried a final bout and then removed Doom from my system. I had a lot of fun with the game and I do not regret my purchase.

At one time, 10 or 15 years ago I might have been able to have beaten him. My reflexes were never good but through work I was able to complete more games then I do now. In my mid 50s I noticed my reflexes were slowing down. Everyone, even alChandler, gets old.

Games, at least the ones I play, are best enjoyed by the young, young people sans children, sans mortgages, sans responsibility. In my case I'm a 60 year old without those things, unfortunately I'm also sans sharp hand eye coordination. And I'm aware that as I continue to get older the number of games I won't be able to finish will be longer then the ones that I complete. I there are currently nine games on my 2016 list and I only finished four of them.

Last year Gamers with Jobs did a podcast on aging gamers. The oldest of them is Julian Murdoch, he's 45. I would love to have the reaction time of a 45 year old. But I don't.

But I do still have my love for games and I will continue to play them as long as I'm able. I'm aware that as the years go on I will finish fewer and fewer of them but that's all right. I'll end up like an old hunter who takes his gun with him when he walks into the woods. He knows enough to keep it unloaded and the deer don't bother to hide form him but he still loves the experience and enjoys as much of it as he can.

But I'm a few years from that I hope. Next up is the Far Harbor expansion for Fallout 4. That's the last expansion for Fallout. And you know what? I just checked, 0nly 18% of the people who bought Doom on Steam finished it. Either the game is incredibly popular in the geriatric set or I'm not as out of it as I seem.

May 23, 2016


Linux

This morning I followed a Twitter rant from Charlie Stross. Microsoft Word was doing bad things and while he had his manuscript backed up, he lost a day's work. The only reason he even uses Word is because his publisher insists that his work be in the latest Word format.

I'm writing this using SynWrite, my HTML editor of choice, it's Windows only. So is Fraps, the tool I use to record my gaming movies. But there are alternatives. And Thunderbird, Chrome, Libre Office and Steam are all available on Linux. But if you want to play Doom on Linux, you're limited to ports of the original game. And that pretty much explains why I never reinstalled Linux on Kosh.

Valve made a big pitch for Linux games a couple of years ago but it never really took off, the market just isn't there. And all of this means that if you're a gamer then eventually you'll be installing Windows 10. If you use your computer for productive stuff, it's the same. Unless, of course, you don't need to collaborate with people who use Windows.

And most of the time I don't think about stuff like this. Windows works really well for me and, truth to tell, I don't have a lot of stuff on Kosh that isn't backed up or easily replaced. But I just dropped Newton off to be boarded, I won't be leaving until the afternoon and I was perusing my Twitter feed.

And now, another little Doom movie. I'm incredibly low on ammo here but I know from last night that there's a big stash in the office up ahead. But first I have to get past the big guy.

May 20, 2016


Science Nerd

I spent the last couple of days trying to guide Doomguy through Hell. When I get back to Mars I see a science facility burning. My only thought was, "Wait a minute, there's not enough oxygen on Mars for fire to burn there." And yeah, it kind of ruins the image for me.

May 19, 2016


Still More Doom

I'm nine hours into the single player campaign and I'm in the Kadingir Sanctum somewhere in Hell. So far the only things that really give me trouble are the summoners. They teleport in other demons, are hard to hit and are nearly indestructible. But the chain saw really works against them. Just like the rule in RPGs is that you need to take down the magic user first, you've got to kill the summoner as soon as you see it.

I'm doing better then I thought and am really having a good time with this. For the record it's much better then Doom 3.

May 19, 2016


This Year's Model



A cacodemon in 1993.



A cacodemon in 2016.

May 18, 2016


Doom

Divinity: Original Sin harkened back to an older aesthetic in gaming. Doom does too but unlike D:OS it doesn't try to capture the letter of its predecessors as it does their spirit.

In the original version of Doom you were a space marine, Hell had erupted in a research station on Mars and you were single handedly going to send the demons back to their own plane. It's the same deal in 2016. You're the Doomguy and aided by the voice of a scientist named Samuel Hayden, you're trying to stop Olivia Pierce from giving Hell free access to our dimension. That's it. Pretty much everything else is pew, pew, bang, pew. If you want to make moral decisions, get Witcher 3.

And it works. By the end of Divinity: Original Sin I found myself dreading combat because of the slow pace. But Doom relies on a kind of manic glee to carry itself forward. When Doomguy is tasked with disabling the energy supply to the Argent Tower he doesn't follow Hayden's instructions, he just stomps on the control panel as Hayden freaks over your comm channel.

So, I'm liking the game.

May 17, 2016


"No room! No room!"

SpaceX has officially run out of space for their recovered first stage boosters. As problems go, that's a good one for a launch company to have.

May 16, 2016


Divinity

Made it to the mines today and then learned that in order to get ant farther I need invisibility potions, or stealth, plus a quest from some asshole named Brandon. I got a stealth spell but had no idea who Brandon was nor did I give a fuck. I got 54 hours out of Divinity: Original Sin but I'll be damned if I ever play another RPG where I have to do A, then B, C and D before I can do F. I had a choice to try to find Brandon or just leave the game. Brandon can blow me. Still it was fun while it lasted.

May 15, 2016


Chasing Leandra

It's been a long time since I had two games going at the same time but Divinity: Orignal Sin and Doom are so different it just might be doable. Tonight, for a little while, I played D:OS and finally got a handle on what's going down. Icara, the White Witch, and Leandra, who's trying to bring back the Void Dragon, are sisters and Leandra went bad because (wait for it) Icara stole her boyfriend. As motivations go that's pretty lame and a rather embarrassing plot twist but that's what I'm working with right now.

The devs have a habit of putting one or two high level groups in an area that you're not prepared for. When I entered Luculla Forest I was level 9 and I ran across an encampment of level orcs who made short work of me. Tonight I dealt with them again and had the satisfaction of cutting them to ribbons.

Oh, I also learned that Elliot and Janet are gods trapped in human bodies, so that's kind of cool. It seems were were generals of the army that defeated some really bad things and then we were turned into gods to guard a box that the Void Dragon was imprisoned in. I'd kind of like to find out how the two gods became Elliot and Janet.

May 15, 2016


True Confessions

Twenty years ago or so I was so fucking awesome at getting games to run. In the 90s you had to have a set of esoteric skills if you wanted to run games in DOS. But I've grown used to games just working. And if a game doesn't work, like say Batman: Arkham Knight, there's nothing to do except wait for the patch.

Before I installed Doom I downloaded new drivers but the game ran like absolute shit. I looked in various forums until I saw this exchange:

Guy 1: Doom runs like shit.

Guy 2: Did you install the latest drivers?

Guy 1: Of course I did.

Guy 2: Did you restart after you installed them?

Guy 1: Oh. Excuse me, I have to restart my computer.

I used to be so much better at tech.

May 14, 2016


Doom: The Movie!

You may have noticed that there's no movies of Divinity: Original Sin. While I'm having fun with the game, it's slow and any movie I made would be pretty boring. Doom, on the other hand is pretty fast moving. By the way the gory finishing moves are how you regain health.

May 14, 2016


Doom

The buzz about Doom was pretty positive so I decided to go for it today. I have a pretty good system, an i7-4790K CPU, 16 GB of memory and a GTX-970 video card and Doom chugged until I checked for drivers. Once I downloaded Nvidia's latest driver things smoothed out nicely. Normally I don't worry about updating my video driver for a new game but Doom was pretty laggy until I updated.

The game is hectic, I've had to do more running and gunning in the first section then I've done in whole games. The game also doesn't bother with a plot. You're on Mars, demons are everywhere and that's it. So, if you're into mindless shooting and violence, Doom is your game. But make sure you can run it first and make sure you download the latest driver for your card.

May 13, 2016


The Fight of the Century

I couldn't get any further in Divinity: Orignal Sin without defeating Boreas. King Boreas wasn't just a boss, he was the boss of an entire section of the game, Hiberheim. And because these things can get frustrating I postponed the fight until today. I laid in food, got hard cider and prepared for a long session of trial and error.

Five minutes later Boreas was dead and I was looking inside my refrigerator thinking, "Well, somebody has to drink this cider."

May 12, 2016


The Decline of the PC

PC in this case is defined rather broadly:

Worldwide PC shipments (desktops, notebooks, two-in-ones and tablets) totaled 101 million units in Q1 2016, as total volumes dipped by 13% year-on-year to their lowest point since Q2 2011. Apple continued to lead the market into the first quarter of 2016 with shipments of just over 14 million units, despite falling 17%. Lenovo shipped some 25,000 units less than Apple, as its decline moved into double digits on the back of weakening sales in Greater China.

And now, anecdotal evidence! Every game comes with two sets of settings, the minimum setting and the recommended setting. People who play games know enough to ignore the minimum settings and use the recommended settings as the practical minimum. And Kosh was slipping towards the lower end of the spectrum. So last year I got an Asus GTX 970. Later on I ended up having to replace my keyboard and monitor. I also got Windows 10. I wasn't totally enchanted with it but Windows 7 was, at that point, a six year old operating system. Time to move on.

This year I got a new motherboard, memory, chip and after about 10 years I ditched my Soundblaster audio card.

Rolf convinced me that the new motherboard had better sound all by itself and it turned out he was right. The last upgrade was a new power supply. The old one was starting to give out and after spending a lot (well a lot for me) of money on new stuff I didn't want to risk it getting fried when my power supply burped and Kosh restarted.

At this point my relationship to the PC is that of hobbyist. I play a lot of games and so have to do an overhaul every few years to keep current. But in the 90s and 00s the cycle was every 18 months or so. This time it was four years. Advances in hardware have outstripped software's ability to take advantage of them. And I'm what you might call a good customer. If you don't play games and aren't enamored by the personal computer for its own sake you could have a very old system and be quite happy with it. Windows 7 has a 47.82% share, Windows 10 is second at 15.34% and XP comes in third at 10.63%. So there's no rush.

More anecdotal evidence! I have a very old laptop that I don't use very often, a newish Kindle and a two year old iPhone. When the laptop dies I'll replace it with a cheap alternative, I'm on my third Kindle and I've no plans to upgrade the phone this year. So that's the state of alChandler's computers, although technically my Tivo is a computer running Linux. But the point is that the phone, laptop and ereader won't be upgraded this year barring unforeseen circumstances.

And the point of all this anecdotal stuff is that I used to be a much better customer for hardware then I am now. I was what you might call a good customer. It's not that I've fallen out of love with the PC or gaming, hell I just ordered the Witcher 3 expansion, it's that my stuff lasts longer.

No manufacturer likes making mature products. Your television lasts forever and when was the last time you replaced your coffee maker? PCs are mature and there aren't a lot of first time buyers out there. That's why you can't turn around without bumping into and article about virtual reality. It's not just the money for the headset, you need a pretty robust system to run that stuff and that means upgrade! But I suspect that the market for VR is limited to the hard core gamer market. And I do mean hard core. A lot of people play games but not everyone is willing to drop a grand or two on VR and a high end video card to see alpha male deathclaws in 3D.

And that's my take on the PC market, at least for now.

May 10, 2016


Newton Meets Screaming Gamer Kevin

There's something about those old school, old fashioned turn based RPGs that bring out my temper. When I lived is Somers Point Kosh was set up in a corner of the living room and there were holes in the wall there. When I'd get frustrated I'd take a pen and stab the wall (never got my security deposit back). Divinity: Original Sin is bringing that long dormant side of me back into the light. In the two years he's been with me Newton has never seen me go off on a game. He didn't like it very much and has retreated to the bedroom. He's not sure why I was screaming but from his point of view it couldn't presage anything good.

In the meantime, I'm officially new territory. I was never able to enter the throne room of King Boreas two years ago. That was because I couldn't get past a bunch of mages guarding the door to a building where initiates were killing imps to make blood stones. In fact it was during that combat that Newton left the office. I made it past them and then entered a brave new world.

Given my reaction to this game, it's probably good that I never played Wasteland 2, I'm not sure Newton could handle the stress of that one.

May 10, 2016


The Guardian

It's hard to see my guys because of the snow but my team is about to take care of the Guardian after a long fight. And the fight went on even longer because of chickenshit the devs did. See there used to be a way to run past him, trigger a lava trap and then teleport him into the lava for an instant kill. The devs found out that people were using that technique to take care of him so sometime after I gave up on the game two years ago they removed player's ability to teleport the thing. And that, my friends is indeed the definition of chicken shit. No one was cheating, no one was taking advantage of a bug. What happened was cleaver people figured out how to use magic and the environment to shorten a long boss fight and Larian Studios gets pissy about it and alters the game.

It's not enough to make me stop playing, but it sucks and I just wanted to say so.

May 9, 2016


Oh No, Mecha-Roosters!

Fly you fools!

May 9, 2016


And So Ancient Evil Awakes

I'm 40 hours into Divinity: Original Sin and my knowledge of the plot is a little sketchy. I was sent to Cyseal to investigate the murder of Councilor Jake. Somehow that led to a plot to awake something that probably shouldn't be awakened. There's an evil witch and a good witch involved and currently I'm trying to make my way to Hiberheim where bad people have taken her to. Beyond that your guess about what's happening is as good as mine.

Hiberheim was where I gave up back in 2014, I just got bored. It had a lot of combat and combat is so damned slow in this game. I like turn based combat in RPGs but the enemy positively ambles into battle. I found myself shouting, "Hurry up you bastards!" at the monitor all the time.

But this play through I'd like to get to the end, or at least as close as I can get. Divinity: Original Sin is an old school game and at it reminds me a lot of Baldur's Gate. Of course if I'm being honest I have to admit I never really liked Baldur's Gate But Divinity: Original Sinisn't too bad. At least it didn't send wolves to kill me five feet from the starting area like Baldur's Gate did. Let me tell you, the children of the kids who played Baldur's Gate in 1998 are responsible for making Dark Souls 3 in 2016, the smug bastards.

At any rate, the level cap in D:OS is 20 and I just hit level 11. Enemies don't respawn in this game, the idea is the devs don't want you trying to out level the enemies. Yeah, I sure wouldn't want that to happen.

And while I grump my way though D:OS, Doom arrives this Friday. I'm going to hold off until I see the reviews but the original game arrived in 1993, the same year I got net access so they're sort of tied together for me. With that in mind, here's Claycat's DOOM:

May 9, 2016


Beta Release Channel

I'm one of those dinosaurs who uses a dedicated email client, in my case Thunderbird. That makes me as cranky as the 95 year old guy who drives a stick because he still doesn't trust automatic transmissions. At any rate, at some point in the past I fucked around with a file in Thunderbird called channel-prefs.js and changed my update preferences to beta. I'm not sure why I did that but I did, apparently.

Today I changed it from beta to release. That means it will get stable release updates instead of betas. And now I'm feeling the glow of youth because it's been ages since I edited a file.

May 8, 2016


Magical Thinking

That's a headline on CNN" site. Now here's the thing, Cruz may actually believe his own words but he had a big problem. He was a one term senator who spent his time in the Senate pissing off the Republican hierarchy. And some of his views scared the shit out of those guys. The Republican leaders did not want Cruz to be president, they just wanted him to capture enough delegates to stop Trump.

So given all of that, I don't see how getting a dimwit like Rubio as a vice presidential candidate could have done Ted any good.

May 8, 2016


Reading the Newspaper

I can't quite remember where I read this, but somewhere in my past I encountered a text in which the author wrote that when his cat spent hours looking out the window he was reading the newspaper. I like that metaphor. Today, after a week of rain, the sun is shining, insects are buzzing past the office window, the wind is blowing leaves around and Newton is keeping watch over it all. Last week was a slow news week for him but this week promises to be an interesting one.

May 8, 2016


Another Mystery Solved

Every so often I need special characters on this page. For instance, if I want to mention Tolkien's Ainulindalė I need that diacritical ė at the end. In most cases, I can simply copy that from another page, ideally the one that started me thinking about Ainulindalė in the first place. But it's not always that easy. If I want to mention that in Britain a given item costs £50 I either have to find the pound sign on the net and copy it, not that hard really, or insert the code by hand, in this case £ also not that hard admittedly.

And that's how I always did it with HTML-Kit, my old editor. But with SynWrite, my current editor every now and then a table would pop up with quite a lot of special characters. I wasn't calling for the table or anything, it just came up when I hit a keyboard combination by accident. It drove me up the wall because I knew it was a feature of the program but I just couldn't find it. And, in the I'm an idiot category, the command is under >Edit>Insert Character. Which is right where you'd expect something like that to reside. So I've learned something today.

May 5, 2016


I Should Have a Tumblr for Stuff Like This

May 5, 2016


Gaming

After a bit of a gaming drought, I've been playing Divinity: Original Sin for a bit. In fact, before I enter Silverglen, I really should get that werewolf rogue in my party. Not permanently but just long enough so she'll be available if I need her. Then this month the Doom remake is going to be released and on May 19 the final Fallout 4 expansion arrives. It's about 20 hours long and is set in a fishing village off the coast of Maine. Not a bad lineup.

May 5, 2016


The Fifth Head of Cerberus

After all that about epic poetry I'm breaking down and reading some Gene Wolfe. So here's the skinny, in The Book of the New Sun we learn that a black hole has been placed in the Sun and is slowly devouring its mass causing Urth to become increasingly uninhabitable. The thing may have been placed there by one of the relatives of Typhoon, the last monarch of Urth, or it may have been placed there by the Hierogrammates, a noble race engineered by the humans from the last cycle of the universe. Either way the Hierogrammates have an interest in the humans of this cycle but they also believe in a concept known as the conservation of justice. Humanity's expansion through the galaxy cause incomparable pain and so if they're going to intervene and save the ancient Urth, that intervention will be accompanied by suffering.

After the Book of the New Sun Wolfe wrote a trilogy called The Book of the Short Sun. Typhoon had dispatched a generational ship called Whorl to a system fairly close to Urth. There are two inhabitable planets there orbiting a common point. The colonists, who weren't too enthused about leaving Whorl, call the planets Blue and Green. And I'm not reading that. I'm reading a collection of three novellas called The Fifth Head of Cerberus. It may or may not be set in the universe of the New Sun. It was published in 1972 and is set much closer to our time. Urth is still referred to as Earth, and has all the cool tech. The double planets of Sainte Anne and Sainte Croix were settled by by French colonists about 300 years before the events of the novellas. Sainte Anne was originally inhabited by shape shifters who were at a very primitive level of tech, think stone hand axes, when humans arrived and exterminated them. And if that's the way humans expanded into the nearer stars, it might go a long way towards explaining why the Hierogrammates, as payment for their own creation, are willing to save Urth but only after a period of penance.

Of course Wolfe hadn't written The Book of the New Sun in 1972, or even conceived it and he's been quiet about the connection, if any, between Blue and Green in the far future and Sainte Anne and Sainte Croix in the not so far future. But Wolfe is a Catholic writer who takes things like sin and penance seriously so at the very least some of the themes from the early books found their way into the later ones. And in typical Wolfe fashion there are mysteries, starting with Veil's Hypothesis. Dr. Veil theorized that the original inhabitants of Sainte Anne weren't killed at all. They managed to kill the earliest colonists, took their identities and became so human they forgot they had ever been anything else. So there.

May 2, 2016


Unfinished Business

That big fiery lump to the left, is (are?) the Twins Joined by Fire, the last boss in Cyseal that I hadn't defeated solo. I defeated all the other bosses plus the twins in the big punch out with Braccus Rex, but I was having problems with the Twins in their own area so I put off that confrontation for a few days. It's kind of a strange design, the Twins were killed but they're still there in the fiery death pit by the Cyseal exit. Braccus made some off hand remark that his people were beyond death but what it boils down to is that the game kind of expects you to take out the bosses individually before you deal with Braccus. At any rate that marks the last major plot point I had to ding in Cyseal, I'm now clear to go into the next area.

I'm now 34 hours into the game and I suspect it's time to make a little icon over in the playing section.

April 30, 2016


Book Tales

One of the reasons my best beloved Ballantine Adult Fantasy series was able to bring so much forgotten stuff into print was that almost all the works released under the imprint were in the public domain. Case in point, in 1972 the series published an anthology of stories called Discoveries in Fantasy.

Among the stories in the book was The Poet of Panopolis by Richard Garnett. It was set in the 5th century and was about a poet named Nonnus. At a time when people were abandoning the many gods for the one God, Nonnus writes a 48 book epic poem about Bacchus called The Dionysiaca. Apollo is so moved by this that he comes down to offer Nonnus gifts from the gods, but when he arrives in Panopolis he discovers that Nonnus is to be made a bishop and has left off completing his epic poem in favor of a poetic paraphrase of The Gospel of John, hilarity ensues.

Many years later I discovered that Garnett wasn't making this up, there really was a Nonnus of Panopolis, he really wrote the two works mentioned in the story and The Dionysiacawas in print as part of the Loeb Classical Library. They published the W. H. D. Rouse prose translation, the only English translation, in three volumes costing $27.50 each. And sorry kids, fuck you ereading bastards, it's print or nothing.

So I spent $82.50 only to discover that Rouse didn't think much of Nonnus and his flowery, decadent language. Homer was writing at his poems at the beginning of an era, Nonnus wrote his poem at the very end of the same era. You'd be surprised at the stylistic differences that creep in after 1200 years.

The other thing was that Loeb Classical Library editions are really small with tiny print (We make the print unreadably small and pass the savings on to you!). So, with all of that in mind, you can probably see where this is going. Yep, last night I picked up the recently released Kindle edition for $2.99.

Last year about this time I tackled a really long epic poem, The Ramayana. Now that Nonnus is in a readable (to my eyes anyway) format The Dionysiaca might be this years project.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, the 5th century AD or CE (take your pick, I alternate myself) was a really interesting time. One of the dates given for the Fall of the Roman Empire is September 4, 476 when Emperor Romulus Augustulus abdicated and General Odoacer wrote the eastern emperor, Zeno, that there really was no need for a western emperor, you're really in charge of everything and I'm just your humble servant. As for Nonnus, he wrote his stuff in the early 5th century or late 4th century. Panopolis was Eastern Empire and sometime in the 380s Emperor Theodosius the Great banned the old pagan religion for good. So while Nonnus almost certainly wasn't up for a bishopric, turning away from a long as epic poem about the god of wine and dashing off a poetic version of John probably made a lot of good sense. Besides, paganism wasn't coming back the Western Empire was doomed and in the east the policies of Justinian nearly finished the Eastern Empire. It hung on until 1453 but long before that it had nothing to do with the Empire of Augustus.

Things change after all.

April 29, 2016


Doom

The Doom beta didn't go well. The main complaint was that the multiplay borrowed too much from modern shooters. People were hoping for the simplicity of the original game in an updated visual package.

I don't know how the single player game will go but given the complaints about multiplay I'm not going to preorder. And hell, since it took me over 20 years to finish the original game, it's not like I'm under any time pressure. And besides, I have one last boss to fight in Cyseal before I'll feel comfortable about moving on.

But I'm not going to tackle him, or more precisely them, until the weekend when I can have a beer. In one week I've played 34 hours of Divinity: Original Sin and it's time for a three day rest. And that leads me to Doom 3 another game that I never finished.

Doom 3 was published in 2004 and it's definitely showing its age. Which is why it's nice that Clear_strelok made a mod that updates the look of the game to something a tad more modern. It's still an old game and it has all of Doom 3's flaws (open locker, look inside, turn away, zombie jumps out of locker) but it looks as nice as it's ever going to get. And it might be a good way of getting into a Doom mood, just in case the solo game is good.

If Doom 3 isn't in your Steam library I can't honestly recommend picking it up, there's a reason I never finished it after all. But if it is in your library, you might want to pick up Doom 3 Redux From the Mod DB. And I know, I've gotten spoiled by the Steam Workshop too, but the Doom 3 Redux mod is way over the limit so if you're interested in it you'll have to install it by hand. At least he gives you a nice readme file to tell you where to unzip the files to.

April 27, 2016


The Fall of Braccus Rex

Braccus Rex is the big bad of the first section of Divinity: Original Sin and I remember, vaguely, that it took many tries to kill him back in 2014. This time I defeated him on my second try.

On my first try my party marched into the guy's lab. Braccus Rex gives a speech about what a badass he is and summons three other bosses, the Ghoul-That-Guards-The-Lighthouse, The Twins-By-Fire-Joined, and Diederik the Baron of Bones. Boom! I'm dead.

On the second try I send in my other fighter, Madora. She lasts just long enough to kill the Ghoul and do a little damage to the Twins-By-Fire-Joined and then dies. At that point I have Jahan send in a summoned spider and my three surviving party members hide to the side of the door. The spider is noticed by the Twins-By-Fire-Joined, who come and investigate. The Twins notice my party outside the door, attack it and are killed. Then, Diederik comes to find out what happened to the Twins and...you can figure out the rest. When Braccus Rex finally arrives I have Jahan cast rainstorm. Braccus Rex is big on fire magic and in a storm he's just a big guy with an axe. He's killed, Elliot resurrects Madora and gives her his big, thanks for taking one for the team, this will reflect well on your employee evaluation speech.

So that's what I did today.

And may I say that Newton was in the office with me as I was fighting for my life, he gave me a lot of moral support.

April 26, 2016


Whiterun and Cyseal

In Divinity: Original Sin you start off in Cyseal, a city with problems only you can solve. Your initial encounters are with enemies who are at about your level. You can wander into areas with enemies too powerful for you do deal with but those areas are outside the city's gates and the guards will warn you if they think you're not high enough to survive. In Divinity: Original Sin the idea is that by the time you encounter someone like Pontius Pirate you'll be able to defeat him.

In Skyrim you play an opening sequence, then you end up in Whiterun. Once again, you'll encounter enemies at your level. But Skyrim is an open world game and just to drive home the point the devs put a giant about 100 yards outside of Whiterun. Now giants aren't aggressive and they'll leave you alone unless you get too close to them or their mammoths. And because they're not aggressive I made the mistake of thinking that maybe the giant near Whiterun was someone I could talk to. He didn't react until I actually entered his encampment, then he killed me instantly. The devs were making a point here, just because you can go to those big spooky ruins in the distance, doesn't mean you should go there.

Both approaches are valid but Divinity: Original Sin's approach is a bit closer to the way a dungeon master would do things. If there's a balrog in the mines and the party is level 3 then you either have the mines barricaded in some way or have a powerful NPC, maybe a wizard, in the party to take on the balrog.

Meanwhile, I have a two quests to finish up, one in Cyseal and one in the haunted lighthouse. Then I'm calling it a day, gaming wise.

April 25, 2016