Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hey, it's that guy I am.



This uses a mod to remove the level cap and fame cap, increases max skill levels to 20, and add a new tier of Legendary equipment (of which I don't have anything equipped yet).

My character's title is permanently stuck at Unattainable due to the mod not being that comprehensive, but I just imagine that he's so awesome at this point that nobody could ever attain such a high rank as him, thus Unattainable.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Torchlight Endgame


Happy Thanksgiving!

We had our dinner yesterday and it wasn't the best day in the whole world, so I'm going to rant about Torchlight some more while you folks eat.

I've spent a lot of hours in the world of Torchlight and had more fun with a new game than I have in a very long time. I've completed the main dungeon and defeated the final boss with my Destroyer character and I've started playing around in the infinite dungeon, about 10 floors worth. I've decided that the Torchlight endgame is still fairly weak.

I'm only at level 50 and playing is starting to feel kind of bland. I've tried some mods to remove the caps and add some new equipment, but the game still doesn't really have enough life to it.

Hopefully there will be some kind of official expansion in the future, or at least some quality fan content. I'd love to see totally new dungeons, environments, monsters and quests. And not just new layouts for the existing areas. They're already randomized, and I can't imagine someone redesigning the dwarven ruins or lava schemes in such a way that I'd feel excited to play them for the 40th time.

The game really needs a ton of new equipment because that's what really keeps me coming back to this sort of game... cool stuff. I keep finding special rare gear but then I look and 90% of it is more suited for lower level characters. It's also irritating that you find most of the best items from the gambler merchant in town rather than by killing enemies and searching dungeons like a good adventurer. How'd the gambler get these incredible and impossible items.

Even after you completed the main game in Diablo II, you always wanted to keep going back to see how great you could make your character. Not that I ever reached the crazy state of fighting the same bosses online countless times hoping to beat the other players to some item that had a 1 in 1000 chance of dropping or some nonsense. But I feel like in Torchlight, the total number of possible items is small enough that I don't really have any chance of finding something that most of the other players don't already possess.

It's definitely a recommended game. You get a lot of hours of play for your $20 bucks and there are three character classes. I'll eventually have to get around to trying the other two.

My plan originally was to go back and replay Diablo II, but it seems that Blizzard is being somewhat unreasonable with the price, even all these years later.

Instead, I remembered that I had purchased Titan Quest and its expansion a couple of years back and never got very far. Now I'm starting to remember why. The controls are kind of clunky, you can hardly carry anything and have to go back to town all the time to sell, the voice acting is really weak to the point where I had to turn it off, and the setting leaves a lot to be desired. Still, I'll try to stick with it for a little while longer and hope that it gets better.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Go fan heaters, go!

My plan for getting through the winter minus poverty is to use a couple of fan heaters in the sections of the house I spend the most time in. This allows for the central gas heat to be kept at somewhere between low and absurdly low so that I don't heat rooms I am not using. I mean, I might want to use those rooms, but I have free will. And the heaters are pretty portable.

November is pretty early in the heat-using season, so it's hard to find anything too conclusive about how much money I've saved. I got the gas bill today and I can see that there's a clear difference between usage this November (far right) and last November (far left).





There. I also went back to the previous year and saw that there was an even bigger improvement this year over 2007 for November.

The other side of this is how much the electric bill has increased, but I don't have that bill at this time. I did however give myself a crash course on reading the electric meter and it seems that the bill is on track to be only slightly higher than October's, which hopefully means I've made a net profit here.

The true test will probably come in December, where as you can see on the above chart, our use of the central heat skyrocketed.

Even if the amount of money saved is pretty small, I'll probably continue with the plan if only because the gas company has given me more headaches than the electric company in my life.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Incoherent Babbling about Torchlight and Star Wars

Still playing Torchlight... now at floor 22 and about 8 hours of play. This is easily the most enjoyment I've had from a game of this type since I first played Diablo II. Believe me, I've tried a number of Diablo clones over the years, but none of them have been good enough to even stick with (I'm looking at you, Titan Quest), much less be comparable to the original.

A lot of this type of game revolves around the simple pleasure of making your character more powerful and cooler looking through leveling and getting better equipment. There's an absurd amount of equipment dropped from enemies to the point where you'll need to send your pet to the surface at least twice per floor if you pick up everything. Only rarely do you find something useful or interesting, but the possibility alone makes it hard to stop playing. 

I seem to always pick the Barbarian class in this type of game but I might be enjoying Torchlight enough to actually give it another run through or two. I like the idea of retiring a character and handing down a family heirloom so that there's a sense of continuity from one playthrough to the next.

I've also been watching some Star Wars again. My first experience with the movies was with the VHS Special Editions and I'm somewhat embarrassed to say that I've never seen the theatrical versions at all. I guess because I grew up with the new editions, it was a lot easier to fool me with the line that this is how the movies were always meant to be. But the older I get, the more embarrassed I am watching some of the lamer changes and additions.

And while it was nice to finally watch the trilogy again in DVD quality, things of course got even worse, such as the face palm inducing decision to insert Hayden Christensen into Return of the Jedi's ending.

I'm not a prequel trilogy hater. They aren't great movies, and there are parts of all three that are downright terrible. But I am fond of several parts of Episode III and the existence of the whole PT is not a major problem for me. The problem is just with trying to force the two trilogies to fit together into a coherent story when they can never possibly do so.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Torchlight




Attention Diablo II fans:

Stop what you're doing and download the free demo of Torchlight.

It's pretty much a complete Diablo clone, made by some of the same people. That might sound a little lame, but it's the best way to relive the awesome experience of those games without giving yourself amnesia. Sure, you could wait for Diablo III, but who knows what its release date will be or even what kind of PC you might need to run it?

Like the original Diablo, Torchlight takes place in a single town with one massive dungeon. There's different character classes, hordes of monsters to fight, a ton of loot to collect and equip, and even an animal sidekick who fights by your side sells your crap for you so you don't have to leave the dungeon all the time.

The single dungeon has a number of completely different looking areas and the floors are all randomized. The graphics are simple but attractive and the game will run on almost any system, even a netbook.

Once you finish the main dungeon, you can work on one with infinite levels or retire and leave your next character an heirloom.  

I recommend getting the demo or full game over Steam, but there are a number of options. The demo lets you play a few floors and reach character level 7 or so. If you upgrade, you can keep on going from where you left off.

There's no multiplayer yet, but a fan mod might enable that later.

I still have a ways to go before I'm finished, but I'm amazed at how the time flies when I'm playing this.

Here's some screens from the official site:



 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hey!



After a six day battle, Dr. Mario is dead and I fight for survival. Well, to stop coughing, at least.

I seem to be making progress against the disease, loyal viewer. person who found this by accident while searching for Dr. Mario.

I hope to return soon with even more rants and incoherent babbling.
 

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bring me Dr. Mario at once!





Yeah, I'm still sick and on the verge of being bored out of my mind. This really sinks. But at least it gave me an opportunity to replay SMB 3.

Now, even though Super Mario All-Stars is a pretty awesome collection, I really prefer playing the NES version. With anything else, those nice nostalgic feelings don't hit me full force. And Mario 3 was such a perfect release to begin with that the idea of making any changes at all makes me feel kind of wary.

It's like if they took the Wizard of Oz and decided to redo some of the effects with computers. I guess it's hard to be too tough on SNES Mario 3, but it's a slippery slope. The voice acting alone kills the GBA version, and that's far from the only atrocity within its evil shell.

So, back to my run. Since I was not feeling fantastic, my play was a little bit sloppy. I can usually breeze through the first several worlds without really thinking about it, but this time I lost several lives in World 3. It was a little bit embarrassing but it also reminded me of when the game was new to me and I couldn't play it in my sleep.

In that same spirit, I devoted a little more time to experimentation and exploration than I normally would. My replays of these games has become a little too mechanical. Now it's not like I really needed any extra lives or powerups. I always have a full set of items and dozens of extra lives no matter how I play. I just wanted to see if I could make some minor discoveries. I did locate a couple of 1-ups and things that I didn't know existed and had a little glitch where I hit a P Block and then ran on top of some coins instead of falling through them.

My favorite section of the game is squarely in the middle. World 4 (Giant Land) W5 (Sky Land) and W6 (Ice Land). Next up is probably W8 (Dark Land) followed by W3 (Water) W7 (Pipe) W2 (Desert) and W1 (Grass). That's not to say that there's anything really wrong with worlds one and two but when you've played the game through so many times and mastered the hardest levels, these early spots can feel a little boring. And Pipe Land has never been a favorite of mind. It has some really good, challenging stages, but also some slow puzzle oriented ones that I find drag the whole thing down a bit.

Anyway, to close this thing out, here are some Youtube videos I found of beta and/or testing levels that are on the NES cartridge but not playable without a game genie code. These aren't anything new, but still kinda cool. These kinds of finds are the closest we'll ever get to a "making of" documentary on these classics. Enjoy.

Mario 3's Lost Levels Part One

Mario 3's Lost Levels Part Two