Yearly Archives: 2008

A real job is a job you hate.

So here’s the latest problem that I discovered when I had a quick dip into City of Heroes just the other day; they’ve gone to all this effort to put day jobs into the game, and then I go and roll a new character who already has one:

Well, I had to give the new Shield powerset a quick test run, didn’t I?

What’s that? Excuse for making another alt you say? Noooooooooo. Honest independent journalistic research, that’s what it was.


Money, it’s a gas

After letting the dust settle for a couple of days, I believe I can confidently and officially state that I have no idea exactly what the business model of Star Wars: The Old Republic will be, and therefore I am either outraged or delighted by it, and will definitely be playing it and supporting BioWare’s innovative and brilliant plans or possibly boycotting this hideous abomination, and urge you all to do the same. Huh, bang goes that idea for a rant. Fortunately SOE stepped in to the breach with the Station Cash announcement, though really I’m fairly agnostic on the whole RMT business, by which I mean I believe it’s inherently impossible to know the ultimate nature of such transactions due to our natural inability to verify any experience except through another subjective experience (I’m hoping if I repeat that enough it’ll become a catchphrase, and people will shout it at me in the street.) Vaguely seriously, as with so much else I think it’s pretty daft dealing in absolutes like “RMT is evil and I’ll never touch a game with microtransactions!”; if done reasonably so you’re not having to pump pound coins into a slot in your PC every couple of minutes, why not? I doubt very much the subscription model is going to vanish, and some alternatives perhaps geared more towards shorter “dip in” sessions would be interesting to try.

Though I can’t get terribly worked up about RMT, there was something in that slashdot piece that drove me to green-inked blog madness. In the comments, an EQ player points out “Money, Time… what’s the difference”, and someone replies:

There is quite a difference. Money cannot buy authenticity. Authenticity in the game is built by spending the time in the game, having, as people above have mentioned, experiences in the game. To have worked through things like that ‘builds character’, as Calvin’s father might say. Someone who buys a character, or buys stuff, got it ‘the cheap way’–he is not authentic. Think about a person who has a lot of money and goes out to become a ‘real cowboy’–He buys the horses, the land, the hat, expensive spurs, all the saddling and bridling, etc.–all a a premium because they’re ‘authentic’. Then he puts them all on and goes to try to hang out with ‘real’ cowboys. “Look at me,” he says, “I’m a real cowboy–all my things are authentic cowboy.” Of course, then the real cowboys laugh and tell him to keep thinking that, and to keep paying them to be his friend. Or they just beat the horse-shit out of him.

Money cannot buy authenticity.

Now obviously there’s the nub of a point there. “Authenticity” (whatever that’s supposed to be) is built by spending time in game, having experiences in game, great, agree with that, yup (skipping over nuances like the fact that in MMOGs there’s often a lot of grind, and there isn’t much more “authentic” about one character that killed a billion rats using the same basic three attacks as another who killed ten rats, but the former’s got the “Amazing Rat Killer” badge and a bunch of purple loot with a 1/10000 drop rate). But then the cowboy analogy. “People in glass houses” and that, I’m sure there’s enough bad analogies on this site (some deliberate, though), but dear god what is it with people deploying rubbish analogies to support simple concepts? “Experienced gamers wouldn’t respect someone who just bought a high level character”, is that a huge challenge to grasp? “Nope, you totally lost me there, as a slashdot reader I’m intimately familiar with cowboys but have no experience of these ‘online games’ of which you speak, maybe if you put it in cowboy terms that would help?”

Just remember, a good analogy is like making love to a beautiful woman: you take two elements, propose that they have a relationship, and take care that the attribute of the first that you’re transposing to the second doesn’t render your argument invalid.

Year in review: Part the second.

Onwards then with our little sojourn on memory lane. The second (and final, I promise) look at the various search terms that we’ve found amusing over the vast rolling plain of time that is the ten months that this blog has been running. So pull-up a fire, throw another log on the comfy chair and snuggle down in your favourite cake as you nibble on a festive jumper, and we will continue our reminiscences:

“how many times can you shapeshift into a cat (if your into those types of things)?”

Zoso: Seven. If you’re not into those types of things, eight hundred and six.

Melmoth: I can only assume that ‘shapeshift’ is someone’s very strange attempt at a euphemism. In which case, generally the cat will shred your testicles when it’s had enough.

“phoenix gate what do you do with the flag”

Melmoth: Run with it! You run, and you run, and run and run and run and run, and you keeping running and running until you get to Mourkain Temple. Then you drop the flag and get on with playing a decent scenario.

“warhammer online magus floating disc removal”

Melmoth: Sorry, you can’t remove it, you’re stuck with it. Negotiating latrines is left as an exercise for the reader.

Zoso: So, Mr Magus, you’d removed all your clothes in order to secure these “achievements”, and then you just happened to “slip” and “fall” on your disc? No, no, we’re not here to judge, the doctor will be down shortly.

“are we individuals?”

Melmoth: Yes! We are all individuals! I’m an individual and so is my wife.

Zoso: A: We are Devo!

“male female warhammer bug”

Melmoth: Mythic have confirmed that there will be male and female sexes when they release the new insect race, but nobody will be able to tell which is which, not even the bugs themselves.

“smiling how long can we do it.”

Melmoth: Four hundred years! Or two days. Or ten weeks! Or an hour. The Guinness World record for continuous smiling is seventeen days, eleven hours and twenty three minutes, and was only halted when the challenger’s face fell off.

“updated wii from dvd on accident”

Melmoth: I probably couldn’t help you even if I knew what the hell you’d managed to do.

“you must be this high “world of warcraft””

Melmoth: There are no known height restrictions for playing World of Warcraft. However, there is as yet no conclusive study as to how much crack cocaine needs to be consumed before a person can stomach the incessant end-game grind.

“asses are made to bear and so are you (what does it mean?)”

Melmoth: It means that I like pretentious post titles.

“disguise tips”

Melmoth: I always veer towards a Brian Blessed beard, glasses, deerstalker and an over-sized trench coat with a pillow stuffed down the front.

Zoso: I shapeshift into a cat (if I’m into that type of thing).

“i break things by accident”

Melmoth: Congratulations, you are clumsy! Had you instead told us that you break things on purpose, you would be a vandal. Thank you for taking the ‘Am I A Vandal Or Simply Clumsy?’ online personality test.

“i love her”

Melmoth: That’s… that’s not so much a search term, but a statement of fact. If you’re hoping Google will confirm that for you, well, maybe you need to search for “I need expert medical help” next.

Zoso: Google understands. Google says “there, there”, and would put a comforting arm around your shoulder, only Google is afraid it has no arms.

Melmoth: Also, Google knows that you don’t like friends to touch you.

“wii fit waste of money”

Melmoth: Again, are you asking or telling? Because Google really doesn’t give a flying frogspawn what you think. You do know this, yes?

Zoso: Google disagrees, Google rather enjoyed it. Google reduced its BMI by 2.47 through rigorous yoga.

“guild banks are rubbish in world of warcraft”

Zoso: Google thanks you for the information. Google will avoid using them, then.

“im stuck on act 1 at 27% in far cry 2”

Zoso: Google is sorry to hear that. Google suggests you Google for a walkthrough.

“great adventures i’ve had”

Melmoth: I certainly wish you good luck in finding the website that tells you all the great adventures that you had, I’m sure it’s out there somewhere.

Zoso: Previous searches possibly included “who am I?”, “where am I?” and “have you seen my trousers?”

“grats thanks”

Melmoth: You’re welcome.

“i love to accept my reward”

Melmoth: As the winner of Best Kiasa Search Term 2008, I award you the prestigious Frightened Rabid Skunk with Diarrhoea.

Zoso: “Learn”, I think you’ll find. Unless it isn’t a mondegreen, in which case Google agrees, Google loves to accept its reward too.

“killed over guitar hero”

Melmoth: I’m pretty sure we didn’t make a post about our last Guitar Hero get together, did we? That Google search engine is really very clever.

“who leaves strictly come dancing 29th november 2008”

Melmoth: My money is on Clement Attlee.

“to make a flaming torch”

Melmoth: Take one torch; here’s one I made earlier. Now – and this is the tricky part – set fire to it.

“survivors bonekickers”

Melmoth: Are both utterly rubbish and an embarrassment to the nation. I suggest trying Dead Set or IT Crowd to correct the balance.

Zoso: Survivors isn’t that bad. Apart from the writers inexplicable failure to kill Abby Grant despite so many opportunities.

“space chimps review kermode”

Zoso: They said “he gives all bitter, middle-aged film critics a bad name”. But they quite liked his stuff with The Dodge Brothers.

Melmoth: Space chimps would make the best reviewers, not least because anything they didn’t like could be vaporised by their orbital review station.

“low level bright wizard cape”

Melmoth: The year’s must have fashion item for the discerning Black Orc was indeed a noob Bright Wizard dangling down their back.


Melmoth: Wait! This is the Best Kiasa Search Term 2008, give me back that Frightened Rabid Skunk with Diarrhoea, you.

Thought for the day.

So the announcement has apparently been made that the Star Wars based Bioware MMO is going to be Free To Play, But With Micro Transactions So Not Actually Entirely Free Really.

Or FTPBWMTSNAEFR if you want the short, catchy abbreviation.

I had a quick ponder on this over a coffee this morning – I always do my best thinking early in the day whilst hovering above a heavily caffeinated hot beverage – and I think I’ve come up with the perfect plan for Bioware/EA’s extreme money making scheme:

Bioware has stressed that the game will be about story, that your character will make choices and be able to affect how NPCs react to you. As we all know Bioware RPGs, we all know that this is most likely going to be done through conversation paths, where you hear the NPC say something and then you pick one of three or so options in response, usually the responses follow the lines of the I’m A Good Guy statement, I’m An Ambivalent Fop statement or I’m an Evil Bad Guy Grrrr statement.

And now, a micro-transaction charge will be made every time you make a dialogue decision.

This also ties-in nicely with the management bullshit bingo full house term mid-session game, because you now get nobbled for payment in the middle of each session of play.

Accept a quest? Payment!

Ask for a reward? Payment!

Tell a random passer-by that you don’t want to rescue their pet space <Star Wars animal> that’s stuck in a tall <Star Wars vegetation> because you’re an evil bad guy, grrr, grrr? Payment!

If anyone at Bioware or EA wants to discuss my fee for this idea, please contact me via moneymoneymoneymoneymoneymoney @ this domain. Thank you.

Year in review: Part the first.

December; Christmas fast approaches, and a young man’s mind turns to stockings, roasting nuts and steaming slabs of meat being shoved into eager waiting mouths.

It may well be a time to feast and make merry but it is, unfortunately, not traditionally a time to sit quietly in peace, and blog about games that you haven’t been playing because you’ve been out shopping for the hundredth time trying to find the right colour socks for old uncle Bodger.

So apologies for the lack of updates this month, normal service will hopefully resume in the new year.

In the meantime, we’ve decided to do what every entertainment medium does around Christmas: harp on about the past year, and run repeats.

So without further ado, we’ve been through the logs for for the past (most of a) year and picked out our favourite search terms that have led to the site, the first batch of which follow for your reading delectation:

“all the thing druids can turn into”

Melmoth: So many druids in so many games, but the druid I know – the World of Warcraft one – can turn into a bear, a cat, a different cat, a freaky looking seal, a bird, and potentially an owlkin or a tree. Despite popular belief, they do not, however, turn in to articulated lorries, ambulances or Volkswagen Beetles, and hence telling a druid to “transform and roll out” will normally earn you a sharp claw to the gluteus maximus.

Zoso: When is a Druid not a Druid? When it turns into a side street! Wait, I think I told it wrong…

“discovery channel shapeshifters”

Melmoth: To the best of my knowledge there are no creatures who can transform themselves into the discovery channel.

“far cry 2 can you get killed by hippos”

Melmoth: Definitely. Watch out for their snipers, hippos are notorious fat lazy campers.

“friend not wanting me to touch them”

Melmoth: Are you hoping that we can perhaps give you advice on how to touch your friend without their knowing it? Or advice on how to persuade them to let you touch them, maybe? Have you tried washing your hands? Have you tried not touching yourself first?

“gaming peed himself”

Zoso: Surely lesson number one of end game raiding is the empty coke bottle, no?

Melmoth: I like the way they changed ‘myself’ to ‘himself’ to cover their tracks. “Yeah, it was my buddy. Really. I’m just searching on the Internet for anti-pee advice because I’m a concerned friend”. Uh huh.

“great adventure in getting killed”

Melmoth: Yes, that can certainly be the case. We all love great adventure, not so hot on the getting killed part, though.

“guitar hero aerosmith guitar limited edition bundle ps2”

Melmoth: But does it have a guitar?

“ironbreaker helmet and hair”

Melmoth: Helmet hair is a nightmare for Ironbreakers, I can only recommend a very good hair gel, or a short-crop hairstyle.

“scariest nutters in england”

Melmoth: Google’s search engine is really quite eerily accurate.

Zoso: I don’t know about “scariest”, though, I mean there’s Nutter “Scary” Bates, Scariest Nutter (East Sussex Regional Winner 1986 – 2004) for a start. And Geoffrey Howe.

“dwarf ironbreaker good levelers?”

Zoso: I’m afraid not, no, they really don’t have a strong position on suffrage or religious toleration.


Melmoth: A wimple is worn on the head at all times. It is only worn around the bottom at certain exclusive gentlemen’s clubs in London.

“world of warcraft accidents”

Melmoth: I think this is just ‘gaming peed himself’ trying a different tack.

“zoso wizard”

Melmoth: Yes he is. He’s also a member of a wandering troupe of chartered surveyors, a former Ravenmaster and the current Easter Bunny.

“catherine tate illuminati”

Melmoth: The Catherine Tate Illuminati are a highly overrated and publicly over exposed sub-branch of the Illuminati.

Zoso: I don’t believe they’re bovvered, though.

“dungeons and dragons item straight jacket”

Zoso: I think he means straitjacket. Unless 4e has really expanded item classifications to include sexuality.

Melmoth: Generally worn by any dungeon master who has tried to run a game with Zoso and myself as player characters.

“free online man and woman dating”

Zoso: You’ll be wanting the bi jacket.

Too many buttons!

So Warhammer’s 1.0.6 patch has arrived, tier 1 areas host roaming packs of Knights of the Blazing Sun hunting ostrich, emu and peacock for decorative feathers (but, following the law of the MMOG, having to make do with sparrows and the odd chaffinch to start with), battling with hordes of Blackguards in scenarios dubbed “Clash of the People Wearing Lots of Armour who Hit Each Other for a While with Little Effect”. I rolled one up, and can exclusively reveal their level 1 ability involves hitting people. Possibly with a sword, though I wouldn’t like to commit to that level of detail just yet. I still seem to be generally immune to alt-itis, though, so chances are he’ll get parked up next to the level 3 Witch Hunter, level 3 Archmage and level 3 Swordmaster who hang around the background of the character select screen looking a bit fed up that I only log in to them when bag space is getting tight and I’m shuffling around some dye.

Back to my main Bright Wizard, and things have changed a bit. I popped in to the Warhammer Alliance Bright Wizard forums to see what people were saying about the career tweaks, read a couple of threads, and spent the next half hour squirting bleach up my nostril to try and cleanse my brain. (Remember, kids, never squirt bleach up your nostril. Try a brillo pad on a stick instead. Actually, better still, just don’t go to the class forums of Warhammer Alliance. Or any other MMOG, ever.) Non-exhaustive empirical testing from a few scenarios, I’m further down the damage table; it used to be rare for anything other than a higher ranked Bright Wizard to be above me, now there’s a fair mix of Order careers towards the top of the board. It’s not a disaster, I’m still putting out decent damage, so I’ll see how things pan out over the levels and the 1.1 patch before singing the Doom song at maximum volume.

One thing I did needed to do was sort out my talent points, and re-slot talent and morale abilities, which meant sorting out my action bars again. Pop quiz, hotshot: you’re a Bright Wizard in a scenario heading off to capture a flag and your party encounter the enemy. You notice a Witch Elf vanish into stealth, a Magus and a Shaman are hanging around at the back casting spells of some kind, and a Black Orc and Disciple of Khaine are charging towards you. What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO?

If you said “apply a healing debuff and DoT to the Magus, de-hex any DoTs that have been applied to you, detaunt the Black Orc, drain the Disciple’s action points and increase her global cooldown, root the Witch Elf that inevitably stabs you from stealth, activate your shield then focus fire on the Shaman using morale abilities to knock the Black Orc back”, well done, you’re an elite PvP machine. If you smirked at that previous sentence because only some sort of n00b would try those tactics, award yourself a further 10 smug points. If you said “AAAAAAAHHHH, push buttons, AAAAHHHH he’s hitting me get him off get him off hit him with a bucket ruffle his hair up they hate that AAAAAHHHHH I’m dead”, congratulations, you’re a normal human being. And if you said “that’s a stupid question utterly unsuited to a multiple choice format especially with such limited and specific options”, feel free to provide a short essay instead, though I’m afraid it won’t count for any extra credit.

Anyway. The point is, there’s lots of options for a Bright Wizard in WAR. A few too many, I think; I’d filled two actions bars of buttons by level 30 and I don’t really want to start a third, partly to preserve screen real estate, and partly because I’ve got quite enough to be getting on with already, thanks, with my standard fireball, and standard DoT, and better DoT with longer cooldown, and AoE DoT, and instant cast PBAoE, and detaunt, and healing debuff, and spell to get rid of combustion, and spell that knocks the target down, and quick cast single target attack, and channelled damage/snare, and cone AoE, and channelled AoE, and targeted AoE, and a ten second shield, and a one hour shield, and some other buff, and… what have I got bound on alt-7? Something useful, I’m sure… and panic/flee, and a mount hotkey, and a potion or two, and an assist macro, and a coffee maker, and a speedboat, and a nagging sensation that you left a window open upstairs… I exaggerate, of course, there’s no action bar option for that last one. It’s a morale ability. No, I’m kidding. It’s obviously a tactic.

Generally I’d be happy to lose a few of those abilities, my poor brain (and action point bar) can only cope with so many possible courses of action in the middle of a fight, but maybe that’s just me. And sometimes you really do need a quick way of activating the coffee maker while on your speedboat…

Antisocial, tu perds ton sang froid

I know I keep going on about there being too many good games around at the moment, which as a hellish moral dilemma is right up there with having too many flavours of ice cream (“oh noes, after working through the mint choc chip and pistachio I’m so full I can’t manage any rum n’ raisin, whatever will I do!”), but then just as the copy of Grand Theft Auto IV I’d ordered a while back turns up in the post, City of Heroes goes and releases Issue 13 as well. It never rains but it pours (what’s that supposed to mean anyway, if it’s “pouring”, by definition isn’t it “raining”? And what about drizzle?)

First task, to install Grand Theft Auto IV. It’s rather a depressing business, as laid out in the Rock, Paper, Shotgun article on The Many Doormen of GTAIV. Not so much SecuROM, I’m something of a DRM agnostic, by which I mean it’s inherently impossible to know the ultimate nature of copy protection systems due to our natural inability to verify any experience except through another subjective experience. OK, maybe “agnostic” isn’t the best word; I don’t condone piracy, but I don’t think DRM works, it’s almost invariably cracked for anyone downloading games via torrents or whatever and just ends up inconveniencing people who actually bought the game. My moral convictions don’t extend any further than slightly grumbling about it every other Wednesday, though, I don’t boycott games and complain to the publishers over DRM. I like to think it’s pragmatism, but it might just be apathy. Anyway, online authentication, bit annoying typing out long strings of alphanumeric characters, then typing them in again trying various combinations of 1, I, O, 0, but I can live with it as a one-off. On top of SecuROM authentication, it needs Games for Windows Live. Huh. Still, at least the mad buggers have stopped trying to charge for it, so I signed on up, got myself one of those GamerTag whatsits, after all it’s used in Fallout 3 as well. I can see the point for multiplayer, friends lists and all that, it’d be nice if everyone could agree to use a common platform like Steam, but then much of the attraction of the PC is diversity. That’s not all, though, you also need the “Rockstar Social Club”. What in the name of buggery sod is the point of that? *Another* mandatory application that, so far as I can see, offers high score tables. Woo! And maybe some user-made videos. Double woo! Restrain me, lest the excitement cause me to literally explode. Dutifully signed up on the website, then went to launch the game, which has to be done through this “Social Club”, and it promptly failed to login. Thankfully you can still launch the game without being logged in to the social club (though the application still runs), otherwise I’d’ve been writing a stiff letter to my MP and no mistake. In green ink and all. Still! All hoops jumped through, the game fires up, go to set up the display; it’s on 800×600. That’ll be the default setting obviously, I’ll get it to auto-configure to determine the best settings. There we go, now we’re up to… 800×600. Huh. Auto-configure doesn’t seem to have worked to well, I’ll just pop it up to 1680×1050 manually, and… the slider gives a warning of poor performance at 1024×768, and refuses point blank to go higher? Yeesh, I know my PC isn’t right on the cutting edge, but it’s been running stuff like Crysis and Far Cry 2 quite happily. Playing through the first mission or two, it looks surprisingly decent, but still isn’t a smooth as it could be, and a quick browse of forums suggest I’m not the only one with performance problems (in GTAIV only, I hasten to add, unless you believe the spam). With a bit of luck some enterprising soul will come up with an array of tweaks to get it running nicely, or Rockstar will release a patch, either way it looks like another case where holding off for a few months could be beneficial, if for nothing else than a new PC.

Still, it’s not like there’s a lack of other games to be getting on with in the meantime. I managed a couple of games of Left 4 Dead, which continues to be splendid, though unfortunately I haven’t managed to hook up with any Soupy Twisters yet (about the only drawback with Left 4 Dead is that with only 4 or 8 on a server, the chances of a free spot in an existing game are pretty low, we should probably pick a specific time and sign up en masse, but that would need something approaching organisation). I’m up to the heady levels of Medium difficulty on the drums in Guitar Hero World Tour (the title of this post taken from a Trust song I was just playing and strangely apt for the GTAIV install), getting towards the latter tiers on Expert guitar, and wondering when we’re going to get new Wii DLC in the UK (no Raconteurs or Killers yet?) And then the small matter of those famed non-time consuming MMOG thingies.

In WAR, patch 1.0.6 is live/going live in the US, and shortly after the EU, bringing with it lots of career tweaks. From a cursory glance, it doesn’t seem like it’ll make a massive difference to my Bright Wizard, but they’re refunding talent points so I’ll see how things play out there. Scenarios continue to be a great way of popping in and getting a bit of PvP in the odd spare half hour here and there.

In City of Heroes, Issue 13 brings a bunch o’ stuff including a new shield powerset, so I whipped up a quick shield scrapper, but didn’t really have any character ideas so he ended up being Random Costume Man and I logged him out after waving the shield around a bit. There are also day jobs, offering bonuses for being logged out in certain spots, so I grabbed a few of my main characters and wandered them into PvP zones, graveyards and the distant past to start on the journey to badges and shiny stuff. Just shifting everyone into place made me remember what a splendid game it is, and I’m tempted to pick my Crab Spider back up at some point; the Rofflecopter Assault Force sound like they’re having a splendid old time, and I’m also tempted to restart my EU subscription, but I just can’t bring myself to leave my level 50 characters over on the US servers and their accumulated badges, veteran rewards and such, and subscribing to CoH in two continents as well as WAR seems a touch excessive. Even moreso as I’m half contemplating heading into Tabula Rasa for The End (of our elabourate plans, the end; of everything that stands, the end; no safety or surprise, the end; I’ll never look into your chaingun again, DAKKA DAKKA). I don’t really know why, I’d had a bit of fun in the beta but not enough to go ahead and actually subscribe to the full game, somehow the news of the forthcoming shutdown made me want to head in there and give the old girl a bit of a send-off. If I see a cheap box of it around somewhere I might try and squeeze it in, amongst everything else.

Not so Heavy Metal

I’m sure completing every stage of WAR’s Heavy Metal event was supposed to be tough. I can’t find the exact quote, so I’ll just apply standard journalistic integrity and roughly paraphrase what I think I probably remember reading somewhere (ooh, biting satire): it was along the lines of “only the most dedicated players will be able to unlock the new careers early”. After the Witching Night had turned out to be a bit of a grindfest to fill the influence bar up, that set the old alarm bells off and caused a shift in GRINDCON status to Bikini Speckled Rumba (moderate to heavy grind expected, keep doors and windows closed and fill a bathtub with machine tools). Turns out it was a false alarm, most likely I misremembered or misinterpreted the quote, either way it was a waste of machine tools and it’s going to take forever to get those oil stains off the bath, but more importantly the Heavy Metal event was a positive breeze. After the first seven days tasks were assigned on specific days, the final seven tasks were available to complete at any point over the last week; I cheekily zapped through a Tier 1 public quest again and did five PvE quests in pretty short order, then with another task being to rack up 15 kills in Open RvR I wandered off to Black Crag, where there were reports of the occasional minor skirmish. By which I mean there were a good three or four warbands per side charging around the place. I got a spot of good keep defence in, but after Destruction withdrew and we charged after them, to be met by an extra warband or two coming up to reinforce, the Lagfiends of Gorax VII reared their ugly heads and made fighting a bit tricky, granting warbands mystical invisibility and teleportation abilities. Still, I’d racked up the requisite kills by that time, and most of the other tasks involved the Reikland Factory scenario, which happily was popping up very frequently. Within three or four runs we’d eaten a sandwich, thrown gravy bombs and killed some chickens, which I understand is a reasonable approximation of what our American readers call “Thanksgiving”, and that was enough to secure the final influence reward in one evening, the chance to roll a Knight of the Blazing Sun early with the new 1.06 patch; I hadn’t even needed to complete all 14 tasks, only 12 being required to fill the bar, giving some leeway if you’d missed a previous day. All in all, very sane and reasonable requirements leaving plenty of time to pursue other Heavy Metal-related activities, like drumming through the Ozzfest stage of Guitar Hero: World Tour. All aboard!

The frets! The frets! The frets are on fire!

After suggesting Van Hemlock try Frets on Fire in the absence of frankly ludicrous quantities of plastic instrumentation for a console, I took another look at it myself. I’d had a bit of a play a year ago, but after getting Guitar Hero III for the Wii hadn’t particularly bothered, and it’s come on quite a lot since then. There’s a fork, Frets on Fire X, with all sorts of extra fun like optional Rock Band or Guitar Hero-type configurations and support for drums and scrolling lyrics, so after getting that going I had another tinker with pairing a Wiimote with the PC to use the Wii guitar, and that worked an awful lot better than before as well, some hunting around for native drivers for my bluetooth dongle eliminated the need for any extra software past GlovePIE to map Wiimote inputs to keys, and either the new drivers or new version of Frets on Fire picked up the inputs much more smoothly. Next stop, fiddling around with the drums to see if they work as well, then maybe multiple inputs, and if I ever get bored of the World Tour songlist I’ll have no shortage of other stuff to play through. Nifty!

I am a part of all that I have met.

Just a quick post to let readers know that there is now a KiaSA group on Steam for those of you who expressed an interest in joining Zoso, myself and other KiaSA readers in playing Left 4 Dead and any other games that might take our collective fancy.

You mad buggers.

The group is called Soupy Twist (tag: ST) and it’s public for the time being, so feel free to join, say hello and then join hands in a joyous skip down winding country lanes as we slaughter the undead with wild uncaring abandon, while singing the Admiral’s song from Pinafore.

Now landsmen all, whoever you may be,
If you want to rise to the top of the tree,
If your soul isn’t fettered to an office stool,
Be careful to be guided by this golden rule–
Stick close to your desks and never go to sea,
And you all may be rulers of the Queen’s Navee!