Sales sales sales!

If you're like me, you don't trust buying things online and dont' like downloading large files b/c it takes a freakishly long time.

That is still the same today but I have started using Steam.

I normally would never use such a system unless forced to (a la DRM and say Dragon Age/Mass Effect 2).. but when seeing they have a massive sale on tons of titles till July 4th, I had to take a peek.

And it had on sale, X-Com: Terror from the Deep for 3.74$!!!!!! And not only that game, but every other X-Com game they've ever made for that low low price! I broke down, made an account and bought the game. It's already crashed once (not impressed) but for that price.. its worth it.
Take a look, you might find some oldie that you haven't played in 10 years.. buy it and realize you threw out the strategy guide a few days ago b/c you never thought you'd play it again..

Is it Friday Yet?

Had to remove some bloggers today from teh blogroll; I don't understand, nor like it. You blog so frequently and then just one day you stop entirely. No word of warning or anything. Just silence and we never hear anything again. I know you don't have to nor are obligated to, but it would be nice to say bye. Just like in mmo's.. my friends tend be hardcore and play 5+ hours a day, every day and one day just stop playing and don't even let you know that they're done.

/le sigh


Instead of playing Puzzle Quest 2 at work during the night shift, I found some pin-up art on io9.com. Very cool stuff. Take a look.



Happy Canada Day for my fellow Canadian bloggers.. ill be working unfortunately.. my work affects the US.. so also Happy 4th of July american bloggers =)


Allods Online Quick Review

So the gf wanted an mmo to play together and recently tried Allod's Online.. at first I was pleasantly surprised:
- the graphics of monster, avatars and spells were much better than most other mmos out there

Don't mess with him..

- the crafting system is amazing;

You have 3 categories with two modifiers, a positive box and a negative box. The numbers start random, and when you pick that number, it locks that number and gives a chance to change all the other numbers.

There are a few ways to approach the game, either
1) if you see a big +number get it, or
2) minimize your -numbers by trying to get as many 0's as possible.

Depending on how successful in the game you are, you'l get either
a) unusable trash item,
b) weak version of the item,
c) the item or
d) a much better version of the item.

Crafting is very user friendly in that, I can give the leather items I make to my gf, who disassembles it and then in turn provides me more leather materials I need to make more items. As long as we (mostly me tho) have the necessary money to buy supporting goods, we could essential lvl our skill very high and not be reliant on grinding mats.

- unique classes to different races; its unfortunate that the other side get mirror images of those classes, but it still provides some variety
- unique pvp; apparently you and a crew control a flying ship and do pvp that way..
- interesting storyline

But I quickly grew tired of the game:
- the restricted race of my favorite class as you see is the Gibberling; and i've never played a cute/small race in any mmo

- very grindey; one of my current quests has me collecting resources (from loot off monsters) to make a bigger bag.. the rate in which any of these mats drop is less than 5% (very conservative number).. long story short, it'll take 5 hours easily to do this quest

- world graphics.. doesn't look impressive.. boxey... wow-ish

- very much a wow clone feel

- expensive cash shop; everything feels too expensive.. buying bank space is only for that one character and not for all future characters

I started playing DDO again.. its fun, but like the tabletop game, requires having a party which I don't currently have yet...


DRM alternative


With all the hubub with DRM with Ubisoft (damn you!) and the inconveniences the company has make possible to protect their game, we have Bethesda who teamed up with Steam for a better system.

Click on it, or go here at Penny Arcade!
And it sounds like a MUCH better alternative.

Benefit for Betheseda:
- less piracy
- Steam will provide a format for easy future dlc

Benefit for Steam:
- acceptance of newcomers resulting in possible new purchases on platform
- ease of use of current users

I was highly skeptical when I first read I'd need to install Steam as I don't like to download games/files online as my household shares a line with 5 other computers.. and 'someone' likes to download full books... rawr.. so my connection is rather slow. I do like the part how it's only needed for initial installation and if you don't have a dvd drive (i didn't for the longest time) or lost the cd, you can install it from Steam. Great idea.

See Ubisoft, that is the way to go. I wonder if Steam has public stocks, i would buy it. My friend Pat just told me though that EA and Blizzard (via Battle.net) both are developing their own version/type of Steam.



Slowly getting used to my Gibberling character..


The Look or The Power

Get your cosplay fix here.

I'm trying out Allod's Online to have an online game to play with my girlfriend, and after one day my friend is trying to sabotage my liking of the game by wanting to play on the 'good' side. He is a min/maxer and thinks the good side has better racial abilities. Unfortunately my favorite class on the good side is available to the ugliest race: the Gibberling.

Why Mike? Whhhhyyyyyyyyy???

I understand people wanting to play Dwarves.. you can associate with their dour.. loyalty, and beer-drinking ways.. but a little animal thingey? Worst than gnomes.. and there are three!


Death Penalty

When was the last game that punished you for dying or failing a quest?

MH3 does it.

Depending on how many times you die (up to 3) in a quest, you may lose 20 points in hunter rank (or xp) per death.
I've failed alot recently due to some incrediblely hard missions and lost quite a few points, but unless you lose every single time and play endless hours, I doubt you could lose enough to lose a Hunter Rank. I don't know if its possible, but its possible to lose alot of points over a very long time period.

MH3 also has a built in level cap.

There are 5 ranks of quests: one to five stars. One being the easiest, five being the hardest. Once many of the quests are completed, an urgent quest becomes available and requires you to complete it before you can start doing two star quests. It also limits the user as the highest rank the player can attain is lvl 8. This may be the hardest part of the game; reaching a lvl cap, not being strong enough to complete the quest and no one of higher rank to help you complete the quest b/c they're on the next tier's quests. You may be doing other quests and gaining xp, but it won't level you above 8 as you didn't complete the quest.

That was me, the past 3-4 sessions (don't play every day, so it seems even longer), I couldn't for the love of Mike defeat a boss monster for a quest. Countless people were attempting the quest, but we couldn't defeat it b/c it had a huge stockpile of life and a charge attack which would cause instant death to nearly anyone with less than the strongest armor.

Last night I was so frustrated, my groups were so noobie that we were failing even the easy quests that should take no more than 10 minutes. We failed 4 straight quests, when finally i joined a game with 3 lvl 9+ characters and hoped they would help me on my quest. Except for one guy that looked like he was just gathering resources (very rude) , the other two helped me take down the boss. I thought it was time to log as it was nearing 2am, but one of the party members joined up for a 2star boss battle, something I couldn't do atleast for 4 more LONG levels. I joined up, but at that point it was only the two of us, I queued and told him I couldn't wait too long for 2 additional people. I did some stuff and when I came back we were in the instance with two incredibly strong players. We completed that quest and THEN 3 additional stronger boss quests and I say thank God I waited. As much fun as it is to learn a quest through failure, being competent and successful is much more fun =)


The Gunner

My journey through MH3 has been throughly enjoyable and i've found out the weapon I originally decided not to become my weapon of choice, the bowgun, has become my go-to favorite.

At first, it seemed clunky, it really slowed down movement. It didn't seem like you could avoid enemies when they came into melee range. And it didn't do too much damage. Not to mention, only the initial bullet type was unlimited and the rest of the ammo could be carried only in small quantities. I didn't understand the ammo system, how there were 3 different parts of the weapon that needed to be assembled, deviation, recoil, numbers for different types of ammo, highlights for certain weapons and what each ammo did.

So I went on to use favor sword&shield and the two-handed hammer. They both provided high mobility, decent damage and eventually relatively good sharpness (see: why are you bouncing off the monster). I don't exactly remember what prompted me to try the bowg again, possibly seeing an experience bgunner, and possibly having an excess of money. Doing some of the easiest quests to learn the basics, I found it was a totally different game experience. Sure it was weaker, but it had range and special abilities. I found that monsters will come within biting distance especially in boss fights but the trick was timing healing, reload, dodging and knowing which button was for which. How many times did I lose huge chunks of health or worse die, because I pressed the zoom button instead of dodging? Many.

Another practice a new bowgunner must learn is how to aim without aiming through the scope/zoom. Unless there is deviation going left or right, a bgunner can plant themselves and shoot, being able to see around themselves as well as be ready with a quick tap of a button to dodge.

Coupled with two very good gunner armor, I could either reload much faster (bhanahara armor), or never run out of stamina (bone armor), with unique ammo, my utility in groups increased exponentially. With high range, I was able to stay out of the monster's line of sight and decrease agro. I would be able to fight longer without needed to carry extra stamina recovery items. I could put monsters to sleep, paralyze them, and heal my party.

If you like being more of a commander and more useful to the group, go with the bowgunner, its a fun experience, just make sure you have the money for the ammo which may become costly.


I love Kevin Butler

And so should you too.

A bit on Monster Hunter Tri

I have about 6-8 entries saved up.. but not enough time to post one every day.. lol

Monster Hunter Tri Tactics
I remember first reading about Monster Hunter Tri that its different than other games as you could just take any class, charge in and spam your attack until the monster died; you'd have to use tactics, learn the monsters tendencies and movement and counter them. I thought that was very novel and wanted to see that in action.

They were telling the truth.The monsters will have their own habits and move accordingly, but not in a way you can do it without thinking/in your sleep.
For example:
There are little frilled monsters called Jaggi's a little smaller than the average human which are opportunists as they don't charge in but circle around the player and try to attack when they aren't paying attention. If you advance on them slowly, they may jump back. Sometimes its only once, but sometimes i've seen them jump back three times to avoid me.

Yes, there is a Murloc stein from Taverncraft..

There are herbivore dinosaurs that if you attack them/their herd, if they're able to they'll try to run you over or run away to a new zone.

'Little' (size of a dog) insects that will gather honey/mushrooms from closeby nodes will go back and forth. If you attack a friend, the insects nearby will come and attack you and if you wipe them out, future insects that spawn will automatically be hostile to the player.

Learn your monsters and attack accordingly!

A different kind of game

Encounter enemy!
Enemy defeated!
Rinse & repeat

One thing about many games is that your first time attacking a monster is exciting and new. Hopefully.
Playing a few more times, you'll find out what special abilites it has and learn to expect or counter it.

Oh, hey Taverncraft, instead of making Murloc steins, why don't you go make my Warhammer stein! LAZY!

And thats about it.

Is it odd, that whereas you have a plethora of skills, your enemy has their typical normal attack and then 1 special attack?
They either:
- poison you
- knock you down
- daze you etc
Its nearly always only one different attack. And whereas we may like to skirmish and run around (though it may not make a difference), the enemy will just stand in one spot and duke it out you or it goes down.

And while if we get low on life we'll try to run away but also still attack.. enemies don't tend to do that. A smart enemy would cast a net/adhesive to slow/stop movement and then run away or heal. Nope.

I'd like a monster to have a larger array of attacks which will keep me guessing or atleast switch up my attacks.

That IS a cool head..

Monsters tend to just mill around, not having any other purpose than to be defeated by you for your quest. How convenient. I like how in Monster Hunter Tri there are these little mobs called Altaroth which are able to tell where the nodes of resources are to feed on. They are atleast doing something instead of just standing in one spot or pacing around; its a different kind of patrol. What makes it different that other games where there are mobs that patrol is that there is a reason you'd want to wait for the Altaroth to go to the node and feed on the resource (so it drops a special item), whereas taking out a normal mob al a WoW is only to dictate the plain of battle.


Mechs coming to a battlefield near you

Oooo I like E3.. so many pretty vids.
Warhammer 40k MMO vid.. dunno whether i'd try it..


So my friend Hunter has his educated response to yesterday's question on whether mechs are a viable military weapon in today's world:

The short answer is say no. They are, no matter how much tech is in it, a big target that can be hit with most weapons. You cant put a 40 foot machine under a radar, or hide it. Jobs done by mechs can be easily done by attack helicopters like the Apache Longbow. Although it could be used as a weapon on intimidation one airstrike or large salvo of rockets from a helicopter could put it down.

However, lets say this idea is feasible and the Govt. puts money behind it. What you would see is a one man highly mobile mech that stand probably no taller than 10 to 15 feet. If it was any taller it would be to incorporate weapon systems and or abilities, but this would make it much more easy to find and defeat.

It would be armored with high tech plastic, ceramic, metal, and or nano fiber armor for decent protection and highly reduced weight. It would incorporate a series of computers for all systems that would be almost as complex as your typical fighter aircraft but would be simplified so that the pilot can concentrate on the mission and not a huge panel of buttons dials and gauges.

The weapon systems would be role specific just like most military vehicles of today you would have mechs designed to for scouting with machine guns and grenade launchers this would be a infantry killer version also. A medium vehicle with 20mm heavy cannon or rotary cannon and a missile system for tanks and other armor this would fill a support role engaging harder targets like bunkers, buildings, armored vehicles this version may also incorporate a anti aircraft system. The heaviest would be a mech that incorporated a missile system like a hellfire missile rack(s) and a high velocity cannon. Mostly for long range support and taking out the heaviest of tanks.

The key to these vehicles is mobility just like another vehicle today but the difference is the abilities to maneuver like a person amplified by 100 times. In addition to carrying enough firepower and ammo to make it equally effective as a squad or platoon of standard infantry.

Generally speaking the Mechwarrior design is flawed for a number of reasons. The armor on a mech diagram is very thin. Thickness is not everything but it is important. The next reason would be weight. A modern battletank weight about 60 tons. Battlemechs are larger but lighter. Obviously this is another flaw.

One may be able to solve this problem is you remember that the world of Battletech takes place in the 31st century. As such the whole premise behind a Mech is that the exotic materials used where are at least 10 times lighter and stronger then current materials. Also, the Mechs ability to move like a person and pack some very serious weapons is what made it a viable platform. In the 31st century tanks/helos/fighters etc where still made from common materials due to cost but Mechs,aerospace fighters and dropships were the made from the exotic materials. These materials might make a Battlemech viable.

Good job bud, you couldn't have said it better =)


Fable 3 - TOR Vids

I don't want to give away a spoiler.. soo.. watch it first.. (sorry couldn't get the embed code)
Fable 3 Vid

I propose a question:
In this day and age, would a mech be a viable war machine? Or are there current technologies are that better and more efficient?


Now that you've hopefully watched the TOR video; I just wanted to say how I totally cringed when I watched the Jedi fight the Sith, hoping it wouldn't be another vid of the Sith winning. And what a courageous trooper letting an explosive go off point blank to take out the Sith.

In regards to the Fable 3 vid, I wonder whether if you pick to play a woman, whether your opponent/enemy will be a Queen instead.. that would be good.


While looking for a wedding photographer for my best friend Hunter, one of the photographer's blogs had this video..

I can't imagine anyone being able to beat this.. wonder if I can..


Photography Tips

No one will let me buy this.. =(

Not my friends, family, Santa, Easter Bunny, or even the Robot Devil.. =(

I'm no professional photographer, but I do know how daunting it is to have a non-point and shoot camera and just expect to know how to use it. Over the past few months these are some things i've learned:

Bring your camera everywhere.
Yes, you won't feel comfortable bringing it with you. Yes there may not be good opportunities, but its worse being presented with a perfect photo opportunity and not having a camera to take photos. Earlier in the month, I wanted to take some photos of the horizon and the Oracle building after my late shift at work, but was too lazy to bring my camera. When I did eventually bring my camera, the nice sunset wasn't reflecting off the building.

The main things I adjust on my camera IF i go full manual:
Shutter speed, Iso, F-stop/aperature, white balance

Shutter speed is basically how fast you want the camera to take the photo; sometimes you don't want to the camera to take a frozen shot, sometimes you want there to be movement or a blur; this is most evident in nightshots with streaking lines. Fast shutter speed is necessary when you want to prevent blur BUT at the cost of a darker/unexposed shot. The numbers range from extremely small fractions to 30s-bulb (which is dictated by the user)

ISO will allow you to increase the brightness captured in your shots. The lower in number the darker the shot but the less noise. Noise is the grainey look to photos you may see which is something you want to avoid at all costs. The higher the ISO number will allow you to take shots in the dark as it'll pick up more light. This increases the noise and the photo will appear more grainey.

F-stop/Aperature is explained through depth of field. I think the best way to explain it is by saying whether if you want mostly/everything in focus or less things in focus. It all depends on the situation in which you want a different depth of field. F-stop numbers below 5ish result in the main object being in sharp focus while the rest of the background will appeared a bit blurred/out of focus, this also allows more light to enter the camera. F-stop numbers of greater than 5 will allow more objects to be in focus but will let less light come in, resulting in a darker photo.

White balance. As humans we're special, we can look at a white object and know it is white, a camera can't always tell depending on the lighting. Have you been in a house where the tungsten light gives a yellow/warm look? It makes differentiating white and non-white harder, and especially hard for the camera. There is an auto setting, but a vast difference will be seen through a bit of trial and error.

Having talked about those 4 areas, its all a balance between them, but mostly between Shutter Speed, ISO and F-stop. It will be trial and error and even now I take practice shots to make sure I have a good setting. My friend Soto advises to put the camera to Auto setting which will try it's best to find optimal settings and take note of the settings it uses and then go full manual and tweak it from there.

Don't be shy.
I don't like getting in people's personal space b/c I hate it when people get in mine. I prefer not to know someone is taking photos of me. Knowing this, sometimes the good shots require you to get out of your comfort zone and do things that you wouldn't normally do. It will feel weird, but you may be rewarded for you attempt. If you want a shot but are afraid of getting into people's personal space, getting a telephoto lens will allow you to accomplish that. A telephoto lens generally 200mm+ has fantastic zoom which gives the distance that a set of binoculars will give. The draw back it is hard to get a steady shot; its like holding a stick, its much easier to hold a 2 foot stick than it is a 20 foot stick.

There is no shame in going full auto.
I used to think it wasn't really photography if you weren't full manual (where you pick all your settings), but you need the photographer's eye and courage to take the great shots. The window to a photo sometimes comes in an instant and you dont' always have the time to optimize each setting manually.

Take advantage of the other modes: shutter priority, aperature priority. It saves time and you get better control.

Get a good tripod.
Sure when you start out, you don't want to spend lots of money on lenses, filters, and tripods, but they will all be worth it. Whereas my friend Pat and I spent 30$ on out tripod and are VERY careful when transporting it (usually unattached), Soto has a much more expensive version where he is confident enough to keep the camera attached to the tripod and just hold the legs of teh tripod. Its 10 times more convenient for him, he sees a shot, plants his tripod and shoots. Pat and I have to setup the legs, put the camera on and then shoot. By then the shot can be gone. The good thing about photography is there is good resale value in your equipement; if you check prices online, used items are not that cheap, especially the high end products.

You don't necessarily 'need' to buy every lens.
Some people need to, but I don't believe so. Figure out (from your own experience) what kind of photography you're into and get the necessary lens. Major areas people like to dabble in is macro (super close up) photography, landscape, buildings-urban, nightshooting (my personal favorite), animals, people, sports. Each of these areas don't necessarily require that you have every single lens. Like a nightshooter doesn't need a macro lens. A person doing portrait (close up, usually one person subject) shots doesn't need a telephoto (super zoom) lens.



- updated the side panels:
- removed some bloggers who have been inactive :P

Added to blogroll:
Vauleen on Volkmar
Blurring Shock
Super Effective Team

There is going to be a
new Dungeon Siege game made by Obsidian!!

Soto, Pat and I went to downtown Toronto last night after our shift at work, the result, great shots:


More Monster Hunter Tri

Yep. If you click on "View Blog" while in the editor, it will take you straight there without asking you whether you want to save or post your current work. And the editor just saved what i'm writing now and I can't go back to my draft... /sad panda

So what had I written from scratch?

I'll develop a new players guide for Monster Hunter Tri (MH3) as after reading the Wikia, it made alot of sense. Instead of running around with no clue, I've found direction. Its unfortunate though, I feel that knowing what to do has taken the fun out of the game, sure I didn't know what the skills did, but that was the adventure. I didn't know what the weapons or armor would look like, where to get the materials, how to complete certain quests.

Pro-tip: sharpness in MH3 dictates whether you'll get a clean slice into the monster or whether you'll bounce off them.


I won't post the pictures, b/c as good as MH3 (Monster Hunter Tri) is, alot of people will write it off because of the graphics. Yes the graphics are fugly compared to today's standard. But give Capcom credit, they're working with the Wii, I can't think of any realistic game that looks good on the system.

I'll reiterate that this is a great game:
- gameplay; many different ways to play, each weapon lending a different approach for taking on monsters
- computer AI; the monstesrs, they're smart. They will gang up on you, go on all sides.. rush you.. and when hurt, they'll run away
- online play; after you learn how it works per
my previous entry, its fast, i've only been disconnected once and it is fast to join another server
- linked gaming; feel like questing on your own, play single player, feel like tackling bigger quests, use that same character and go online
- live events; like Warhammer, there are weekends/weeks with special quests with special rewards

One of my favorite features of MH3 that I didn't realize till last night (granted I've only put about 12 hrs into the game in over 3 weeks), is how there are weapon trees. In MH3, you can either buy stock/base weapons from a vendor or go to the blacksmith and forge weapons (the same one or better versions). The weapons you buy or create can then be upgraded to either "[original name of weapon]+" or "[new name of weapon]". The upgrades eventually branch out to become different weapons, so even if 2 people started with the same weapon, they may end up with totally different ones later on.

For example: There are two initial swords:
Iron or Bone
- the difference between the two are mostly with damage, and durability

The upgraded version increases their damage and durability

But after that, it branches out to different kinds of Iron and Bone weapons; some will have great durability (probably Iron swords), while Bone swords will have greater damage. And they will look vastly different: your iron sword will look more like your traditional swords, while the bone sword will take on the personality of the materials you use. You'll see how the materials you needed to upgrade the weapon is reflected in the weapon, so you needed feathers for the sword? There will be feathers on your upgraded weapon then!

I absolutely love this feature, you and your gear grows; its not a simple game of switching gear when you find it. You must spend the time gathering materials and money to be able to get certain gear. Magic, Rare, Epic, Legendary? Stats? All you need to know is the upgraded item is better but you don't need to think about whether one is better than another; there are differences in types of weapons, but when you have the opportunity to upgrade, its always a good thing. Dont get me wrong, there will still be stat management and many times you'll be looking back and forth, deciding between whether the Hunter Armor is a better fit than the Bone Armor (reminiscent of the times in UO!). It just seems more natural to upgrade your existing gear not through replacement, but by adding materials to it and reshaping it.


Oh, and i'm extremely pleased, I finally got my telephoto lens!

Nikon 70-300mm AF 1:4-5.6G
I'm adventurous, but sometimes I don't want to intrude on other people's privacy/get in their face. This lens will fix that.. super zoom! :D



How-to: join a group in Monster Hunter Tri‏

1. Login to your character and select City[right] instead of Village[left/single player]

2. Select a server
- you can choose between All/Rookie[ranks below 30]/and higher up - you won't be able to join 100/100 servers.. b/c its full

- you may not be able to join 95+/100 servers.. b/c the time in which you click on it, it may be full too

Select a City Gate

- don't join a server that is less than 20/100 b/c there will be less opportunities to group

3. Select a City

- you can choose the type of gamer you want to play with (which is great): ie. Hunt a monster or Lets Quest together

- once again, 4/4 games mean that game is full

- lookout for cities with numbers in brackets ie. 3/4 (3).. which means there are 3 people in that game and they're all in the prepping area and not out questing

Now anyone can figure that out through sheer luck or trial and error.. the key is when you join a game, how to join the group

4. Go to this message board

- the person that signs up for the quest will be able to select how many players he/she wants to join and set a password if necessary- select it and join
- when everyone is ready, go to the top left and get ready to depart
- only once the party leader is ready to go will the party be teleported to the quest area

If you don't do this you'll find yourself alone and doing quests that normally require 3-4 players.

A) as far as I can see, there is no simple hunting in multiplayer unless you pick a gathering quest which kind of is like hunting mode.
B) if you abandon a quest, anything you picked up throughout the quest duration will be lost
C) to change weapons/armor, go to the Workshop (right side of the city) and access the blue chest from there; the blue chest near the staging area/Tavern will not allow changing of gear, only access to normal storage

Have fun!


Even more

Haha, I love this one..

Hey! No peeking, its rude!

A cosplayer of the newest FFXIII

Friends from a birthday I attended over the weekend

Drink man, drink!

How much we've missed

More cosplayers

The staff and demeanor made the costume


Gotta change-up my wall frames now..

A night photo from Montreal

Love it!