… a level at a time.

Posts tagged “Mass Effect

Photos, games, and life.

This year has been an interesting one for my photography. As I said in my earlier post, I had some photos and a ceramics piece in a show at the Phelps Arts Center. My photo of the Sunset on the Erie Canal in Fairport got some more attention while it was there. A graphic designer, Chris, talked to me about possibly using it for the Perinton Bicentennial event poster & wine label. After talking with him for a bit, we decided that I’d email him a low-res copy of my picture so he could mess with some ideas to present to the board.A week or so later, I received an email from Chris saying that they loved it and requested that I write-up an invoice for the town and Casa Larga, so they could use the photo.

Chris put me in contact with a representative from Casa Larga, because they would want some background information for a press-release. It turns out they wanted more than that, they asked me to show up at their tent at Fairport Canal Days for wine-bottle signings, and they also want me to go to the wine shop for an event later this month. I had a wedding that I was attending the weekend of Canal Days, and the only day I was able to make it out there was Sunday. It rained most of the day, which sucked… but there were still a lot of people at Canal Days. I didn’t expect that many people to be out. Dad took a picture of me at the Casa Larga tent one of the brief times it wasn’t raining. I ended up signing a dozen or so bottles, and got quite a few compliments while I was there.

After that show ended in Phelps – the pieces I had there, along with a new photo, went over to school for the Spring Arts Festival. The stuff in the show this year was fantastic, better than last year’s show I think. My photos got a bit of attention once again. The Canal photo that is getting most of the attention won second place for photography, and one of the other photos [bottom right in the picture] I entered was given an honorable mention, and the faculty at school purchased it for display around the campuses.

My Xbox 360 died earlier this year; after 5 years it finally got the Red Ring of Death.  That happened right around the release of Mass Effect 3… which I planned on playing on my 360. Instead of continuing my game, I was forced to start a new game on the computer [since I didn’t replace my 360]. I still haven’t made it all the way through the game. School was more important at the time, and I haven’t bothered getting back into it. I’m still looking into replacing my 360, but I’m not sure how I want to go about it. I could buy a cheap refurbished one, or I could take the plunge and buy one of the 360 Slims. I don’t know which I would rather do… that and I’d have to save up for the Slim. Getting a refurbished 360 would be much cheaper, but it runs the risk of getting another RROD. Whereas, if I picked up a Slim it would be more expensive, but I shouldn’t have to worry about the system dying for a while, and I would have more hard drive space. I would also have to buy the transfer cable to copy the stuff from the HD in my old 360 to the Slim. Also, it’s getting to the point that new systems should be released soon. I think I’ll probably just end up with a refurbished one.

Diablo 3 came out in May. This is one game I’ve waited a long time for. I only played through the original Diablo a few times, but I can’t tell you how many times I played through Diablo 2, or how much time I spent farming bosses and the Secret Cow Level with friends.

I’ve heard mixed reviews about D3, personally I love it. It still has that old Diablo/Diablo 2 feel, but there are new features that give it a slight touch of MMO. The skill bar is the biggest one that I can think of; instead of having just the mouse clicks for attacks there is now the 1-5 buttons that you can assign skills to. There are five to choose from; the Barbarian [melee, physical], Demon Hunter [ranged, physical], Monk [melee, physical/magic], Witch Doctor [ranged, physical/magic], and Wizard [ranged, magic]. Unlike Diablo 2’s max level of 99, the level cap in Diablo 3 has been limited to 60, who knows if Blizzard plans on raising that in the future [with or without an expansion]. The stash starts out small [7 blocks x 2 blocks], but is expandable [up to 7 blocks x 10 blocks] by purchase with gold. Then there are also 2 extra tabs that can be purchased with the same amount of space. The stash is also bound to your account, not the characters, there is no more needing friends to hold a game open to transfer items between characters. I’m not sure which is my favorite, but the two I’ve played the most is my Demon Hunter followed by a pretty even balance between the Barbarian, Monk, and Witch Doctor. I think I’ve only invested about 5 minutes into the Wizard so far, but I’ll play that more eventually. Blizzard added a new mode. In Diablo and Diablo 2 there was Normal, Nightmare, and Hell… now there is also Inferno. My Demon Hunter is the only character that I have made it to Inferno with so far. All I have to say about Inferno is that the elite mobs make all of Hell mode look like a cake walk. Some of them are comparable to [mini] raid bosses in MMOs. Blizzard also replaced the Secret Cow Level that was in Diablo 2. In Diablo 3, the secret level is Whimsyshire… the land of flowers, rainbows, teddy bears, and unicorns; all of which are out to kill you… well, except the rainbows – they’re just pretty. The map is amazing, it looks like a little kid drew it. Once again, all the maps in game are randomly generated, so things aren’t going to be in the same place every time.

I stepped away from Diablo 3 this past weekend because I participated in the Guild Wars 2 Beta. I played the first game a bit, but at the time I started playing the first Guild Wars, I was already playing [and enjoyed] World of Warcraft more and I just stopped playing Guild Wars. From what I got to play in the beta, there are a lot of new concepts… but there’s only so far you can go with a MMO.

I would have played more, but I wasn’t home all weekend, and the beta did not like running properly on my laptop… so I left it to when I was at home and could use my desktop. The story is interesting, the way it plays out is you are the hero, and every NPC knows it, when you create a character you give it background which changes how some NPCs interact with you [what god you worship, if you were noble or a street rat, etc]. Some of the chat sequences are a little like cut-scenes, it says they’re still a work in progress. It’s interesting and gives the game a bit of a single-player feel. Combat is cool, there’s the typical combat but there is also an interesting concept called “downed-state” [if you lose all your health]. Instead of dying right away, you go into a downed-state. In a downed-state you can fight using 4 skills [different from the typical class skills] that will do damage and help fill the bar, there is a chance you can survive if you manage to fill up the downed-state bar, otherwise [if it’s depleted] you die and have to respawn at a checkpoint. Other players can also come to you and help revive you while you are in the downed state. There is no tagging mobs for exp/loot. If someone is attacking a mob and you stop and help, you will get a little exp and possibly some loot. I don’t know if it cuts into their loot/exp table from the mob or not, but it’s nice to get a bonus for helping random people.

The attack buttons are pre-defined to the numbers above the alphabet on the keyboard, and I can’t find a way to change them [one thing I did in WoW was reassign some skill buttons to other keys that were easier to get to]. The first 5 skills [1-5] are based on what weapon you are using, and every weapon has a different set of skills. When you get a new weapon, you only have the first attack available. As you use a weapon more, you become more experienced with it and unlock the second skill, then the third, etc. Skill 6 is your self-heal skill, every class has one, there are no healers/dps/tanks. You have to keep yourself alive [use your skills, heal, and double tap directions to dodge]. Skill 7-0 are based on your class and what skills you chose with skill points.

I didn’t get into crafting this time [just disassembling gear for materials], maybe if there is another beta I’ll get a chance to mess with that more. You can disassemble weapons, armor, and some other things to generate the crafting materials, which is neat. You can also collect materials throughout the world [mining, herb gathering, and something else I can’t remember]. The bank is account wide, so if you put an item in on one character and hop to another, you can withdraw it from the bank on that character. The bank also has a separate tab that stores specifically crafting materials, so they don’t take up bank/bag space. I really like that, cause every time I upgraded gear, I disassembled the old gear for mats and my bag/bank would fill up very quickly.

The world is massive, and as far as I can tell, there are no mounts to ride. There are waypoints you can discover and instant-travel to for money, but if you’re always doing that you will miss out on experience and world events that happen all the time in random places. The art is pretty cool, landscapes and creatures are cool looking, yet another reason to run and explore. There is also exploration [jumping] puzzles that will reward you if you find/reach the end [I got an extra skill point from one, and a better weapon from another]. I haven’t had any official groups/parties, just a few with NPCs in the starting areas and the world event auto-group thing. The auto-group thing doesn’t actually form a group/party, but if a few people are doing tasks for an event [ie – protect a farm from bandit invasion (kill bandits & ruin their morale)] and one person completes part, everyone working on that event gets credit. Overall, Guild Wars 2 something I’m going to keep my eye on and play any beta I get into.

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Expansion.

I’ve decided to expand this blog beyond just a gaming blog & include a little more insight into my life… how much insight will be given has yet-to-be decided. I will continue with my thoughts & ramblings about the games I play, so don’t worry.

I added a new menu in the top right [the idea came from looking at the layout at Keep Me Running Wild]. It has a mouse-over drop down function [just for the Gaming and Life tabs: as I create more posts this feature will be more useful] that has different categories available if you would like to focus on something specific.

Still no luck with any of the mounts I was attempting to get on Deathengine. But I only tried for about another week before I went on vacation. I spent the first two weeks of July out in California visiting fiends & family. I took my laptop with me & actually ended up playing more games than I wanted to… leveling alts mostly. I also had a problem with my debit card shortly after I got out there, so I had no money to go and do anything for most of the time I was on vacation. My brother took me to the shooting range where I got to shot a few different guns [for the first time]. I want an AR15 now, heh.

I went to the beach for the first time in a long while. I love the beach & miss being able to go there regularly, I can’t wait til I can move back out to Cali.

There were many barbecues while I was out there. I had a great time hanging out with friends & family. Thankfully, I managed to make it into San Francisco one day and meet up for lunch with a friend I haven’t seen in a few years.

I played disc golf with my family while I was out there. It was, odd… but fun. After I got back, I picked up some disks so that I can play with some friends around here. So far we haven’t been able to get out and play a game, our schedules keep clashing; hopefully we’ll get a game going soon.

When my brother took me to the airport for my return flight, he kept poking at me to stay… I was almost to the point of not returning. If any of my nieces or nephew had been there & even mentioned the thought of not leaving, I probably would have not gotten out of the car & told my brother to drive back home.

Since I got back, I’ve invested more of my gaming-time into the 360 & finishing a few games that still needed work. I managed to finish Mass Effect 2. I forgot how much fun that game is, I’ve already started a second-play through. My first run I went through as a Paragon. For some reason I always play the “good-guy” when I play games that give me the option to be “good” or “evil”. My second play-through I’m playing as a Renegade… it’s time to change things up.

Two of my friends just got Borderlands, so I started playing that again, I forgot how much fun that game is. I’m debating getting new Downloadable Content for it, I already have Zombie Island. There’s a DLC that increases the level cap to 61… I might pick it up. I’ve been messing around with a Soldier and a Hunter lately, levels 19 and 26 respectively. I might wait to pick up the DLC until I get those up to the current level cap [50], or at least close to it.

I haven’t played much more of Final Fantasy XIII, I was too preoccupied with finishing ME2. Now that I’ve finished that I’m going to invest a little more time in FFXIII & get that finished up as well.

I still have to finish a few other 360 games & will be doing that over time. And other than Halo: Reach, there aren’t any more console games that I’m very interested in picking up [at least at the moment], so I can catch up on all the other ones I slacked off at.

Since I got back, I haven’t played much World of Warcraft. I’m probably going to take another small break from it again, at least until Cataclysm is released. If I don’t take a full-on-break, I’m definitely will be cutting down on my time spent in WoW. Saturday was the first time I’ve logged into WoW for more than 30 seconds… not to mention it was only the third time I’ve logged in since I got back. It had been so long since I played a computer game, let alone WoW & Deathengine that it took some getting used to again, haha. It probably didn’t help that I was really tired from spending the day walking around  Park Ave Fest.

I started doing a little more photography & messing around in Photoshop. I don’t have a ton of new stuff, but a few things, they’re up on my DeviantArt page.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done any sort of photography, photo manipulation, or digital-art. I really need to get back into it. I’m not phenomenal or anything, but I do have my moments. I’ll only get better if I practice.

I went to see Inception yesterday [now that it’s 1am] with a friend. That was an intense flick. Good thing I went with a buddy, we had to bounce ideas off each other after the film ended. One of those films that really make you think, & I love movies like that.

I also saw Kick-Ass with some other friends. That was definitely not what we were expecting. We didn’t pay much attention to the trailers or rating. We didn’t know much about that one other than the talk about how the movie was awesome and it was some sort of super-hero wannabe movie.


So much to do, so little time!

One week until Final Fantasy XIII is released. I have to say, this is the first FF that I have really looked forward to since I was disappointed by FF VIII. Even though I enjoyed IX, I didn’t look forward to it at all.

From what I have seen, I don’t believe I am going to be disappointed with XIII. The Japanese trailer for FF XIII is located here and English trailer is located here.

I have my reserve paid off for the 360, as much as I would like to get it for the PS3 [one disk instead of three]. I don’t have a PS3, nor do I have the money to get one any time soon. At least I can burn [“install”] the disks to the 360, which will improve loading time.

I don’t know what is going to happen with Mass Effect 2 once I start playing FF XIII, I have a feeling it is going to be put aside until FF is done.

I wish there was more time in the day. I have so many projects running at the same time… it’s getting difficult to juggle them all & remain productive. Studying for my two exams haven’t helped the process of being productive with anything else either. Then there is my research project… I have to watch & analyze the character interactions & communication in a movie of my choice. I chose American History X, it’s a great film, I love it. But analyzing all the character interactions isn’t exactly what I have in mind when sitting down to a movie.

As an additional note on the Authenticator post the other day. If you do not have an authenticator attached to your account, and your account gets hacked… the person who hacked your account can easily put an authenticator on as soon as they have access to your account.

This happened just yesterday to one of my brothers. His account was hacked while he was at work. Our other brother was at home & online when one of the characters on the hacked account popped online. He tried to log on to the hacked account to change the password; whoever hacked the account attached an authenticator to the account. Luckily, Blizzard has restored [or is in the process of restoring] my brother’s account back to the state it was in before his account was hacked.


No more server hopping.. maybe.

I haven’t done a ton with Mass Effect 2 lately… it’s not one of  those games I can just start and stop when I want. I get hooked in the story and don’t want to stop playing. I’ve had too much homework to take any real-time to dedicate to it. Hoping one of the next few weekends prove to be more viable for a bit of time spent progressing through it.

I still haven’t finished Assassin’s Creed or started AC2. I’m debating if I’ll ever finish it, I might just start the second and skip out on the last bit of the first. I’d rather not though, but with school and starting up World of Warcraft again, I don’t know if I’ll ever have the desire to finish Assassin’s Creed.

Speaking of WoW…. my brothers started playing again a week or so ago. They refused to start on another server or transfer, and my friends and I were already set on Staghelm and we didn’t plan on moving.

I guess it’s a good thing I never transferred my Paladin [Texhnolyze] to Staghelm. Even though I don’t play him anymore. I’ve fallen in love with the Death Knight and Mage, I’ve spent all my time playing on one of those two.

I’m also messing around with a new Rogue a little bit; my brothers, one of my nephews, and I all started new characters together. We’re staying relatively the same level so we can group up for quests and instances together.

I have gotten stuck server hopping so I can play with my best friends and my brothers before. I hate server hopping, I’m bad enough with alts on a single server…

But as it stands now, it looks like all my real-life friends that I play WoW with are leaving the game “for good.” If they do stop playing though, I will be going back to playing on Silvermoon “full-time” [as much as I can without screwing up school and work], which will be nice: no more server hopping. Also, if they stop playing, I *will* be transferring my Mage [Stasís] over to Silvermoon. I wonder if I can convince them to toss me any extra gold & spare mats before they stop playing [haha, doubtful]!

I’m also debating swapping Authenticators for WoW. I have one of the key-chain ones, but I also have the HTC Hero that runs the Android OS. Now there is the Authenticator application available for download on the Android Market. I always have my phone on me, I don’t always have the key-chain Authenticator with me.

I really wish I could go to PAX East this year, really I want to go to any PAX. I’ve never been to a gaming convention. Unfortunately due to obligations, finances, school, & work… actually getting to go is not gonna happen, again.


Free time, time to continue.

Classes are burning a lot more time than I originally thought they would. I’m sure after I get into the swing of being back in school, things will even out and I’ll be able to game a bit more.

I haven’t gotten to play a ton of Mass Effect 2 yet [only two, maybe three hours]… but from what I have played, wow. Especially that beginning sequence.

There are still some issues with bump map loading that existed in the first, but it’s nowhere near as frequent.

They tweaked the combat system slightly. I think the changes they made are a nice improvement, it’s a lot more fluid.

I’ve renewed my World of Warcraft account again. I’m not playing on Silvermoon anymore, at least not as my main server. I started playing on Staghelm again, up and running with some real life friends.

Stasís is now 80, and has full Tier 9 gear, and epics from random heroics. She still has two blues equipped [cloak & a trinket], but that’s only because I haven’t found replacement gear yet [or gotten enough badges to exchange for upgrades].

Played a bit last night, decided to tank a few instances on my Death Knight [Iscariott, 61] just so I could avoid the  fifteen minute [or more] queue as DPS. According to every group I got into, I’m really good at tanking compared to most other “low level” DKs. I stuck with a few people from the first group and did chain instances.

After a few runs, a Balance Druid that was three levels higher than me joined the group, almost immediately he complained that it was “another shitty DK tank.” Both the healer one of the DPS that was with us told him to shut-up because I was good compared to most DKs. He didn’t believe them at first, but after a few pulls, he admitted… “wow, a DK at this level that can hold agro, that never happens!”

I’m debating if I want to transfer my Paladin [Texhnolyze] over to Staghelm, or if I want to just leave him on Silvermoon. I might transfer him eventually, when I have more time and money.


I decided to take a step back to a few games I still need to finish playing through today… Assassin’s Creed & Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Apparently in Assassin’s Creed, I only had three more people to assassinate, now I’m down to one. I can only deal with the repetitive quests so many times before I get annoyed.

I do enjoy the freedom to do the quests in whatever order I feel like. I’m not a huge fan of each city being sectioned off and being locked out until very late in the game… it’s not like an RPG where mobs in restricted areas are a higher levels, it’s the same guys you see everywhere else.

I wasn’t nearly as far in Batman as I thought I was, when I started today, I had only made it about 45% of the way through the main story. Apparently I spent a lot more time exploring & looking for all the hidden things than I had originally believed.

The combat system in Batman, is pretty damn good… I’d say near flawless. There are times that you can issue a command [for example: counter] and Batman will either stop mid-movement and [sort of] transport to the enemy that was attacking, even if they’re a few feet behind him… or he’ll stand there like a statue and get hit. Now, the lack of response might just be today because of the low battery in my 360 controller.

There are minor problems within the game that I’ve noticed, but nothing that reduces the enjoyment of gameplay. I think other super-hero games [Spider-Man, Superman, etc.] need to take a lesson from Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Tonight my brother and I finished the Delta section of Spec Ops in Modern Warfare 2 on Veteran. We now have only the Echo section remaining… which is going to be a pretty good challenge [not that the rest of Spec Ops wasn’t]. I’m kinda worried about doing Echo… in Alpha, Beta, Charlie, and Delta, the “Resistance” rating has varied from “Light” to “Medium” to “Heavy”… all three of the Echo Ops have a “Resistance” rating of “Massive.”

I saw a new trailer for Mass Effect 2 today… I can’t wait. 😀


I’m a gamer, no denying.

The past month or two my computer has been out of commission. Rather than fixing my PC right away, I decided I needed to take a small step a way from games (mainly World of Warcraft) and get out with my friends more. It’s difficult since I work in the morning/early-afternoon and most of them work in the mid-afternoon/evening, but it’s a lot easier since I stopped working overnights. Even with staying up “late” to hang with friends, I’ve been getting more sleep then when I was on overnights.

I dusted off my 360 to play some games that I left untouched, since I have some free time when everyone else is working. It’s a lot easier to pull away from games that don’t require more time (WoW- raids, endless grinding to level, etc).

masseffectFinally finished up Mass Effect [the last 2-3 hours I skipped out on *sigh*], I think it had great story & excellent game play. My only concerns are the load screens/time, and some bump-mapping issues. Quite often it takes a second or more for the textures to load during scene changes [conversation sequences, doors opening, amongst others], and right after load screens. The inventory system could have use a bit of work as well… it felt a bit jumbled at times. Despite all the load screens & bump-mapping issues, Mass Effect is worth it. I plan on picking up the sequels.

I’m still not too impressed with Fable II. I don’t find the story line very interesting, there are many load screens, & if you get a lot of NPCs in one area the game bogs down and gets jumpy, there are also bump-mapping issues at times as well. What really kept me playing the game was the achievements that would add points to my gamer-score, and the fact that I could just go around murdering whole villages or saving the entire countryside on a whim. I’m not sure if I’m gonna pick up Fable 3, we’ll see though… I’m hoping for improvements.

batman_arkham_asylum_imageI’m a big Batman fan, so Batman : Arkham Asylum was a natural choice. It’s pretty good, I still need to play more of the story, I got distracted doing the challenges (specifically the Scarecrow one that was downloadable). The story, graphics, and game play are all excellent from what I’ve seen. There are Challenges given by the Riddler throughout the game that you can solve for extra achievements & game completion if you enjoy that kind of thing, I know I do. That’s probably a big reason I haven’t beaten the game yet, I spend a lot of time “treasure” hunting.

I’ve beaten Halo 3: ODST, the story line was interesting with the way they hopped between each of the squad’s stories. I was slightly disappointed in the difficulty of the Legendary mode, it seemed a lot easier than Halo 3. Since you’re not playing as Master Chief, I would think it should be more difficult without the over-shield and not being genetically enhanced.

Firefight is amazing. Although it has no random grouping functionality (like Halo 3 matchmaking). There have only been a few times I’ve actually had enough friends on at the same time to play and it be worth-while (and even then it’s only been 2… maybe 3 out of the [almost necessary] 4 possible). I would love to play it more, but in order to get far enough to make it worth while, my friends and I are going to have to make some sort of schedule for it.

borderlandsBorderlands… ah, Borderlands. Probably the best description I’ve heard about it is, “it’s like the Diablo games and the FPS had a baby.” I chose to start with Mordecai, the sniper. I’ve reached level 19 on him, it’s a lot of fun. Now my newest sniper rifle has enough power to completely blow enemies heads off, and lower level mobs can be blown to pieces with said rifle. One thing that gets me is the fact that some non-sniper weapons have a zoom scope almost as good as my sniper scope, I don’t think I need that good of a scope (or any) on a shotgun, but some I’ve seen do have absurd scopes on them.

The inventory system is alright, only 12 slots to place things when you first start, but it’s expandable… right now I’m sitting at 18 slots. The lack of space can get annoying at times, since any extra guns, shields, or first aid kits all take up space. If you want to carry a first aid kit or two to be safe, be ready to give up precious inventory space. If you get hurt bad enough, you can chose to fight for your life or respawn back at the last save spot you walked by in what is essentially a clone body… this costs money though (currently $600-ish per spawn). I should probably start carrying a first aid kit, just in case I need it, but I would rather be able to carry that one extra gun that will add to my arsenal, or my wallet if I sell it. You also start with the ability to carry a main weapon and secondary weapon, as you progress you unlock the ability to hold up to 4 weapons, all choseable by cycling through them or hitting a hotkey.

I still have a few other games to work on that didn’t impress me too much for one reason or  another: Blue Dragon (RPG, might just need to get further into the story), Assassin’s Creed (while pretty, it is very repetitive), & Grand Theft Auto IV (I’ve always taken my time with the GTAs, so this one will take a while) just to name a few.

DeathObviously I’ve since fixed my computer. And yes, I’ve started playing World of Warcraft again, but nowhere near as much. I still enjoy the game, but I know I need a break from playing it as much as I used to, so I’ve been limiting myself. When I do play, I’m hopping between my Death Knight [Deathengine] on a server with my brothers and my Mage [Stasís] on a server with some friends. I hit 70 on my DK today, and did a few of the Headless Horseman quests for the Hallow’s End event. I’m debating if I want to power level to 75 so I can complete the quest to kill Headless Horseman, the event ends next Saturday.