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Robust McManlyPants on Average Display » 2004 » November

November 2004


So, I spent another five or seven or so hours playing V:tM – Bloodlines yesterday. 

Aw yeah.

I really, really like this game.  Taking Crash’s suggestion, I
eased off running with the highest possible settings everywhere – not
hugely, as the game looks every bit as good as it did before – and some
of the problems with skips and reverb got better.  Much better, in
fact.  Compare this to ToEE when it hit the shelves and you’ve got
two different worlds in terms of completion and playability.

(Crash – I just got Hollywood added to my cab map, but I have some very
minor mop-up to do downtown before moving on, just to give you a
progress indicator.)

Around the 8th hour (total playing time) I figured out how to make
Discipline selection much easier, and then I stumbled across the whole
mouse-wheel thing and then I read Crash’s comment, so now things are
much, much better.  Thaumaturgy owns me.  I love
Thaumaturgy.  I love playing a Tremere.  It wouldn’t have
been such a big deal to swap out Disciplines if I didn’t have an
idiotic standing policy best summed up as “We don’t need no manuals
’round these parts.”  Ah, hubris. 

Now, combat is still clunky as hell.  I mean, damn.  It’s
like they didn’t even try.  On the other hand, I’ve found the
occasional highly exploitable deficiency that benefited me just as much
as any other klunkiness hurt me.  Last night I fought a fifteen
minute boss battle that I won only because my healing took place at the
normal rate but bosses don’t heal in combat and I was able to find
complete cover behind the upturned legs of an overturned coffee table
but the boss character just kept shooting at me without moving despite
his total inability to hit me.  The key is, if they can see you,
they think they can hit you.  That equals time, which equals free
healing. 

I’m also a little tweaked about the “diverse solutions” the game
claimed it would have to given quests.  Perhaps it’s because I’m
not a particularly menacing or sociable little Tremere, preferring to
run around with a severed human arm in one hand (my preferred melee
weapon) and the other cupped around Thaumaturgy and Dominate like
they’re my two lucky hand grenades (which they are), but I’ve yet to
find many quests or sidequests that involved anything other than
running and fighting at the bottom line.  There’s plenty of
chit-chat along the way, plenty of places to express my character to
the degree I can (I’m a Tremere – I’m kissing the asses of those above
me and stepping on everyone further down the food chain), but I’ve yet
to run into any circumstance I could actually talk my way out of in
terms of boss encounters.  For those, it takes force and lots of
it.  I’m willing to bet it’s a whole different story when you play
a clan with Obfuscate or Presence, though – and that’s what I really
want to try next.

…Which seques into my next point:  now that I’m a dozen or so
hours into the game, I’ve started to feel that this game may actually
have the high replay value so many games promise but, once I’ve played
them, fail to deliver.  The game isn’t so long as to make replay
seem not just boring but in fact sanity-crushing (see Elder Scrolls III:  Morrowind
for an example), and I’m willing to bet the experience is actually
different enough from one clan to another to be worth running through
to see what changes.  I can’t wait to roll through it as a Gangrel
and just claw the shit out of everything, and I think it might be
interesting to roll through it as a Malkavian to see if they do
anything interesting with the player’s experience of the game as
filtered through insanity (a la Eternal Darkness, or whatever that GameCube game was called) or as a Nosferatu with nothing but buckets of Obfuscate.

What ultimately sealed the deal for me last night, though, was an experience that made me realize how true to the flavor of V:tM the game is when compared with the previous implementation of Vampire
on the PC.  At one point the Prince of Los Angeles is telling you
the Primogen are getting antsy because the Sabbat have shown up in
town.  Rather than think to myself No primogen worth her salt
is going to think twice about waxing a few shovelheads – a primogen
should be able to stake antitribu with one hand and fold socks with the
other
, I found myself thinking, Those primogen won’t last five seconds if they think it’s bad now.  I wasn’t thinking in terms of how the game “should” be, I was thinking in terms of the game as presented.  If they’ve managed to draw me in enough to feel like this is an actual, viable game of Vampire
and gotten me to step past my inherent desire to find fault with anyone
else touching my very favoritest game ever, then Troika have
succeeded. 

Now I’m off to pass love letters to Troika during Algebra II. (more…)

Are y’all able to login?

UPDATE:  Nevermind.  Here I am wondering if something
is wrong and instead they’re upgrading Pine for us.  Thank you,
iBiblio!  You rawk!  I’ll quit bitching now. (more…)

Well.  With NaNo done and printed and etc., I’ve finally allowed myself to install and start playing Vampire: the Masquerade – Bloodlines.

If you’re not interested in first-person action-RPGs based on goth
pen-and-paper roleplaying games, you might want to skip this one.

Right.  So basically now I’m talking to the people I already game with.  C’est la vie.

At any rate, I’ve put in about five hours with it tonight, and so far
so good.  There are a couple of minorly buggy bits, but they’re
all in the presentation – conversation or background music occasionally
skipping when I choose a conversation option.  It isn’t a big
deal, it’s just a slight skip which causes me to miss nothing
important.  That said, it is noticeable.

That said, that this is the biggest problem I’ve seen so far in
a game that’s just been released is a miracle of miracles.  It is
from Troika, and they do know how to machine-tool the gaming goodness, but… well, let’s just say their game last year, Temple of Elemental Evil, came out of the box with some, uh, issues.  Significant ones.

So far, and here I knock hard and loud on particle board, rapping
bloodied knuckles against the surface of my computer desk, I haven’t
seen anything like that.  Combat is a touch clumsy, but that’s
because I suck at first person games so I opt to switch out to 3rd
person when a fight starts.  The keyboard commands leave a bit to
be desired, too, in the case of pretty much anything that isn’t in the
standard WASD scheme – and all the truly important stuff is, so that’s
also a very minor deal.  My biggest complaint so far is that it is
a TOTAL pain in the ass to switch from one Discipline to
another, so I have yet to use my nifty Thaumaturgy 2 power because,
mid-combat, standing still long enough to switch to it would get my ass
killed.

Oh, that’s my other big complaint:  the clans and powers are more
or less the same, but not entirely and that feels really, really
weird.  I know, I know – how the hell do you incorporate some of
the more distinctly social or roleplay-centric Discipline powers into a
first-person computer game?  I know.  Still.  That means it’s not actually Vampire: the Masquerade
– not by the book, no matter how fantastic a job Troika have done
creating the mood and ambience and overall flavor of the World of
Darkness.

That segues nicely into my big thumbs-up:  the game feels a lot more mature and a lot more like V:tM than Redemption did.  It actually earns its M+ rating, so far – not just with the cursing, but with some good gore and an appropriate laissez faire
attitude towards the spilling of blood.  You are penalized in a
very real, very eventually-you-lose-the-game way for committing random
violence, much like in pen-and-paper V:tM.  However, also much like V:tM,
sometimes the only thing you can do is lay the smack down on some
Sabbat ass.  It feels right.  The game has this going for it,
that’s for sure:  it feels a hell of a
lot more organic than Vampire: the Masquerade – Redemption.  That it’s
in the Halo2 engine and that it’s made by a significantly more talented
company probably have something to do with it that, but it’s worth noting.  If the first V:tM
PC game scared you for all the wrong reasons, I’d suggest giving this
one a try.  It’s an entirely different experience. 
Honest.  I’m enjoying it a great deal so far.

Of course, it’s me saying that, so maybe it’s that they did a
good job and maybe it’s that there are, in the midst of the horror, the
right amount of tiny, silly touches that remind me of our tabletop Vampire
games – like getting a “dance” action when you walk onto the dancefloor
in the local goth club, and that action icon being a sillhouette of the
Travolta pose from the poster for Saturday Night Fever

That right there?  That’s the delicious taste of Fallout right there.  I love Troika.

Still, Troika need a web designer so, so badly.  Please.  They need to hire one now.  Seriously.  I could give them some names. (more…)

Hey, look – it’s a post about something other than NaNo, so it’s really just a link!

Ever wanted an electric car?  One of the coolest made just became available for import to the US.

I recommend this site not just for the Zapz cars, but for the “cars for sale” page.  Specifically, check out the bottom car in the right column on the second sale page

I don’t just want an electric car – I want an electric Winnie The Pooh car.

Fuck yeah. (more…)

65,270 words.  273 printed pages (Verdana 12-pt, double-spaced).

Printed out.  Coil bound.  Gods love Kinko’s.

I am so ready for a nap.

Here’s the PDF version, if you want to read it in that format.  Lord help you. (more…)

Picked up Vampire: the Masquerade – Bloodlines yesterday, but I cannot allow myself to install it until I’ve finished my NaNo.  Speaking of that, I’m at 57,675 words.  I expect to wrap it up tomorrow while I sit at work with nothing to do.

Nothing to do whatsoever.

I cannot wait to play Vampire.

Today, I am grateful to still have my brain in one piece. (more…)

I passed 50K tonight.  And I kept working on it (a little).  Tomorrow I
will still be working on it.  I hope to finish it around the 65K word
mark, and then I can print it and put it on the shelf and be done. 

I am so ready to do things like play videogames.

But gods, I love the feeling of passing that 50K word mark, and of finishing things, and printing them when they’re done.

Aw yeah (more…)

Like having a blog wasn’t evidence enough on its own.  Thus, I
love looking at webstats and going, wow!  People! 
Still…why the hell is California suddenly the #1 place for people
coming to this site?  I mean other than the people who ended up
here after searching for “pink camo” at online shopping sites. 

Yes, that has happened.

Anyway, I know, like, four people in California.

Hello, Californians I don’t know (and Californians I do know)!  Very sorry about your governor!  Are you tired of hearing people call him The Governator
yet?  Because I don’t know about y’all, but I was tired of that
the day he announced his candidacy.  Seriously.  Today I
skipped past his most recent film while channel-cruising and watched Love At First Bite instead.  Sorry about that, but I am required by law to watch anything involving vampires.

I would love to see San Fran sometime, though.

Right now I’m listening to Wig In A Box, the Hedwig tribute
album.  I just got done listening to some Pet Shop Boys. 
That would be the sound of your gaydar dials splitting down the middle
while the needles just spin and spin.

[UPDATE, 3:57am EST:  The next song to come up in my big-ass
writing playlist left on “shuffle” was “Grey Gardens” by Rufus “throw
me on the floor and fuck me, I am one hot gay guy with a voice that
could make the icecaps melt” Wainwright.  I shit you not.  If
this doesn’t count as divine approval of the gay lifestyle, nothing
ever will.]

Also, it’s 3:50am and I’ve been writing and drinking coffee for the
last three hours.  My brain is making sparky noises but otherwise,
ain’t much goin’ on up in this mug.  37.5K words and counting.  Whee!

Is it just me, or is it sleepy in here?

NO CARRIER (more…)

Ever wanted to play Pac-Man in the real world
I reckon any group of friends could figure out some equivalent with
lower technology, but super-imposed images of pellets and ingredients
and human ghosts who eat Pac-Man by tapping her/him on the shoulder,
mixed with VR headsets and a huge outdoor area, is still pretty cool.

I would totally do this. (more…)

…You find out you haven’t.  Want to target practice at
work?  Hold up, Good Citizen, you needn’t bring that Glock to work
and unload into the filing cabinets.  Instead, why not sign up for
online target practice using real guns and, one day, real animals?

The Internet:  come for the free porn, stay for the a la carte ammo.

Freakin’ A, man.  Freakin’ A. (more…)

Want some happy news today?  It’s been a year since the
Massacheusetts Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples could wed
under the state constitution.  CNN’s story has a fantastic picture of one such couple.

I could talk at length about the 11 states that went in the other direction a couple weeks ago, but Bascha‘s
already done that for me.  In the meantime, there are thousands of
couples in Massacheusetts who are happy and healthy and married. 
The wingers quoted at the end of the article can’t take those smiles
away no matter what they do. (more…)

Hit the 33K word mark last night, after utterly failing to assist Katastrophes and Mr. Pink Eyes
with their TiVo.  “Happy wedding,” I told them, “All your friends
pitched in to give you a tremendous pain in the ass.”  Ah
well.  Didn’t get the updates uploaded, even though I thought I
had, but que sera sera.  I will tonight, when hopefully I will hit
the 37K word mark.

I dreamt last night of strange travels and a house in the country with
an ancient, disused road in its back yard.  The road led away from
the house and something told me walk it to the other end.  There
would be a toll booth along the way, but I’d have to pay in clever
answers to tricky puzzles.  I’m shit at puzzles, so I remember
telling someone, “Don’t worry, I’ll be back before long.”  But
then I got talked into simply visiting the gift shop instead. 
Weird.

Bascha has up pictures from Vegas, and all I can say is, damn, girl can take some pictures. 

Mr. Pink Eyes has up a link to a CNN article
about the Texas high school that swapped its Opposites Day for Dress
Like Guerrilla Fighters Day because some student’s mom got her knickers
in a knot over the cross-dressing.  She claims it’s an effort to
push a homosexual agenda in the schools.

News flash, girlfriend:

1)  It’s Texas.  There’s no big homosexual agenda.  Puh-leze.
2)  The agenda for the rest of the world actually involves studiously ignoring Texas.  Nyah.
3)  We are actually quite happy to hear bad booger drag is no longer officially sanctioned.

I’ve said this repeatedly since reading the story, but I still mean
it:  I sincerely wish some Texas drag queens would put on their
pumps and get behind this mother’s crusade against bad drag. 
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if she didn’t feel so alone in her fight?

What’s so sad is that in my deepest, darkest, most stereotype-loving
hind-brain, I am ready without having seen a single picture or read a
single description to assign this mother one of two appearances: 

–the all-out Helmet Hair, complete with a cashmere sweater stolen from
the bottom layer of 1957’s hope chest and a Bible containing
illustrations

OR

–a blue jeans mama with a wife-beater and a mullet, the perfect stereotype of a diesel dyke anywhere but Texas.

She goes on to say that she thinks cross-dressing for homecoming week is “like experimenting with drugs.”

News Flash Follow-Up:  in every tiny town in the country that has
too many busy-body parents and not enough shit to do, your children are
experimenting with drugs.   Trust us on this one.  Duh.

The sheer idiocy is staggering.  Seriously, has this lady never seen To Wong Foo?  I can’t expect her to have seen the original Priscilla
because despite its resemblance to Texas the Australian outback is
still a foreign place full of funny foreign people and besides, no one
in Texas wants to see Agent Mitzie Elrond in a dress made of
flip-flops, but that shouldn’t excuse this woman from at least knowing
that Patrick Swayze has the ability to teach any tiny town a lesson in
the value of drag queens.  This is Red State America we’re talking
about here, and this lady is shirking her duty to consume the very
entertainment she rails against at Prayer Breakfast every Monday down
at Hardee’s. (more…)

Yesterday I didn’t just hit the 25K word mark – I crossed the 29K line.  That puts me well ahead of schedule, which has me feeling a bit more comfy with things so far.

I’m still totally loving the RuPaul cover of “People Are People,” too. (more…)

I’m sitting here at Cup a Joe’s at Timberlyne, working on my NaNo (I’m
about to cross 25K words, which is awesome, though I still feel like
I’m behind schedule somehow).  I’m listening to a bunch of
electronica and dance music as I write, as one of my favorite things
about NaNo is the excuse to arrange playlists.

I’m currently listening to the new RuPaul album, Red Hot.

She does a cover of “People Are People” by Depeche Mode.

It’s really, really good. 

What makes a man, indeed.

Also, RuPaul has a blog on her site.  Holy CRAP, I love RuPaul. (more…)

Two very cool websites:

10×10

After Life – watch, wait, mouse-over. (more…)

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