Dev page up!

Some changes are taking place. Inspired by Notch’s page, I’ve decided to publish some glimpses on the projects I’m working on. These will fall under “The World of b0b” as seen on the new menu above.The old “TFB” link has been removed, as they now have their own site and forum.

I’m still doing game reviews on the main page – at the moment the biggest news being that Minecraft has gone out of Beta and now carries a Version 1.0.0 tag! I’ve been playing it non-stop for the last few days and am loving the new balance, features and server stability. Your character feels less vulnerable these days, giving you a better chance to survive a night out in the rain.

In other news: I had a tape about 15 years ago. It was “The Simpsons Sing the Blues”. For the last 2 days one of the songs, every single word of a song that I haven’t heard in 15 years, has been stuck in my head. That and the theme to “The Fresh Prince”. Ugh…

Oh, and my awesomely cool Nintendo wallet has arrived! It’s awesomely awesome!

Mount & Blade – Warband

This is probably going to hurt.

Finally another post-worthy game. I found this little gem by accident when I was fixing a scrapped PC and found it installed after the recovery was done. Before now I’d never even heard

of the game, but boy do I wish I had known sooner.

Mount & Blade – Warband is a RPG like few others. You experience medieval warfare in gritty detail: pit fighting, tourneys, open field battles, village looting and even castle sieges.  Here’s an extract from their website:

In Mount & Blade: Warband, you play as an adventurer in the medieval land of Calradia, a fictional land devoid of magic and high fantasy, instead bearing many similarities to our world in the Middle Ages.

The game offers you a great deal of freedom in this world. You may roam around the map visiting towns and villages, trading, pursuing various quests, taking part in tournaments, or trying out a myriad of other activities.

You will soon notice that the world itself is dynamic. Caravans travel between towns, sometimes being waylaid by bandits; villagers take their goods to markets; armies

Storming the enemy before their bowmen reach that ridge

assemble to move across the land, besieging towns or castles and raiding settlements. Instead of giving you a fixed path to follow,

Mount & Blade: Warband lets you freely adventure in this world. In time, you will be well known in many places as you make friends and enemies with other characters, which in turn will allow you to affect events in profound ways. You don’t need to remain a penniless adventurer, either. You may obtain great wealth and power, become one of the trusted vassals of a king; conquer and own villages, castles and towns; command armies, and if you like, even lead rebellions and replace kings with other claim holders.

And who knows? If you are great and cunning warrior you might one day become the Ruler of Calradia.

The game itself seems fairly simple. Recruit some soldiers, battle bandits and rival factions, capture castles and cities, take part in the dusty arena or the glorious tournaments,  rinse and repeat. Warband takes this simple idea and turns it into a masterpiece.  Every step of the way, even on the most basic settings, seems like a new challenge. You swear your allegiance to a king – he now wants you to fight for him during his war campaigns, but he does give you some income and may even grant you control of a few fiefs. Go at it alone and others will treat you like a bandit. Denounce your leaders and start a new kingdom and everyone will be at your throat, unless you can convince them to grant you a peace treaty.

Castle sieges!

Once you are a ruler, things get even tougher. You have to balance out warring other factions, improving your cities, keeping your vassals happy (which is a doozy) and a myriad of other things. And just when you think you have everything under control, expanding your territory at a nice pace, a vassal will denounce his loyalty to you to join your rivals. Of course he’s kind enough to take all the lands you gave to him with him, leaving a gaping hole in the defence you thought was air-tight.

To summarize - Warband came as a total surprise to me. The graphics may be outdated but the sandbox feel of the game, the constantly changing atmosphere and the total replayability makes it a nail-biter. Coming from unknown developers and an unknown publisher (although it is now available on Steam!), this game deserves much more credit that it has received. Even better is the fact that there’s a Song of Fire and Ice (think Game of Thrones) expansion out for it too.

For all you medieval RPG/strategy gamers I’d definitely recommend giving Warband a try. I give 4 out of 5 MisGuilded stars. Just the occasional wonky physics, strange graphic glitches and downright silly AI on sieges prevents this from getting a full score.

Adventures in Nethack

Basically I’ve gone utterly off 90% of the games that I own, and pretty much not looking forward to anything that’s on the shelves or coming out in the near future. The only thing that gives me a glimmer of hope at this point is Diablo 3, and that’s been set back by another few months again.

So I’ve returned to an old nightmare – Nethack. It’s one of those games that looks utterly simple on the surface yet has so many ways to kill you, so many different items, so many different ways to play that no two games ever pan out the same. I have to admit that I’ve not ever been any good at it. I’ve never ascended, I’ve never seen the Amulet of Yendor. I’ve never even gotten past the Oracle or Dwarf Town. This time is going to be different – and here’s my story:

I started off as a Chaotic Human Barbarian. I figured this would give me the biggest chance of survival. Things were pretty standard at first, with me only finding a Lawful altar and a fountain on level 2. Much to my surprise though, quaffing from the fountain gave me a Djinn, a friendly one at that. One wish later and I had a greased silver Dragon Scale Armor, albeit only +0. This would be my fighting chance! Bravely I ventured forth, clearing level 3 with ease. Sadly my wand of detect hidden doors failed to find the entrance to the Dwarf Mines, but I did manage to find a hidden vault. I let the guard escort me out, but I took note of it for the future. As soon as I find a pickaxe that gold is mine! Considering my axe is corroded, the gold will come in handy when the shop finishes taking inventory.

I descended to level 4, where a swarm of Hill Orcs made quick work of my kitten. With no time to mourn, I retreated to a tunnel and tried to take them one at a time. One of the Hill Orcs happened to have a wand of digging though, wreaking havoc on the room I had entered from. I dispatched of the Orcs (finding a cloak of invisibility in the process) and continued exploring – just to find the ghost of a previous adventurer – more specifically the highest level adventurer I’ve had. I kicked that ghost till he begged for mercy. Now I’m sitting with all his inventory, and boy was he a hoarder. Now to carry everything back up to level 2 to check for cursed items and then equip myself further, and give my hitpoints a time to regenerate.

Part 2 to follow!

In other news: My WoW account that’s been dormant for almost a year got hacked… No idea how – I’ve ignored every email from Blizzard or the hackers pretending to be Blizzard, I didn’t even have WoW on a hard drive that was plugged into my machine. Anyway, got notified about it on Facebook, quickly changed my RealID password, downloaded the MASSIVE patches and logged in. Damage wasn’t too bad, I didn’t have much to start with. The bot did leave me with a ton of ore and much more gold than what I started with, and a 30 day timecard loaded so I didn’t bother reporting it. Right after this, Blizzard sends me a “Hey, we’ve missed you, here’s 7 days free playtime” email, which turned out to be legit.

This was last week. How much have I played? A total of 7 minutes. Yup, the drug has worn off, it’s out of my system. I’m no longer driven by the WoWmachine.

Had to share.

[This post has been heavily edited due to problems with authenticity.]

Oh, and just a note on World of Tanks, which has just been updated to version 0.6.6, which added a few new tanks, including the E-50, 75 and 100, a new Tier 10 tank! I had the most awesome battle the other night. I was in my KV, moving along the side of the map (slowly, as only a KV can) when I noticed our west flank had totally disappeared. I turned and rushed back, which caused my east flank to also be destroyed. I found myself the sole survivor at my own base, with 2 kills racked up already and 6 enemies (Tier 3, 4 and 5 lights, mediums and artillery) remaining. With a feeling of impending doom I waited for the inevitable rush.

But as the loading screen tip says “It’s rude to correct your enemy when he’s making a mistake.” The opposing team thought it was a good idea to rush me one by one, giving me the opportunity to pick them off as they came into range. End result: I end up with 8 kills, the win and the Kolobanov’s Medal!

Oh, and the girlfriend started playing WoW…

Street Legal Racing: Redline

Today’s review is on one of my old pets – you know the one, awesome to play with but it keeps crapping on your carpet and chewing your furniture. Street Legal Racing: Redline is that puppy. It’s the second in the Street Legal series by Invictus (a third is rumoured) and improves greatly on the inadequacies of the first one. Sadly it’s just as buggy as the first, requiring multiple patches almost as large as the game install before it’s anywhere close to being playable.

Back to the game itself: The premise is simple – you’re a newbie racer with a bit of cash in your pocket and you have to race your way to the top. You can afford something from the used-car dealer which you can then repair at a cost and start modifying. Don’t bother looking at the new car lot quite yet, this will be out of your reach for a while. Business as usual then, except that unlike most racers where you buy a car and then have limited upgrades available, Street Legal lets you customise your car to your heart’s content. You’ll be fitting each part yourself, tuning things like intake and exhaust cams, air-fuel mixtures, gear ratios and tyre pressure to your heart’s content. Most of the time is spent in the workshop, fiddling with different combinations of spares to try get that extra millisecond off your quarter mile time. The damage model is great too, hit a kerb at speed and your suspension will buckle, hit a tree and you’ve got some serious repairs to do.

The racing is simple. Exit your garage during the day and you’ll see other racers on your minimap, cruising around waiting for challenges. You agree upon a section of road and the stakes (Sort of like the outrun mode in Need for Speed) and you’re off. At night things heat up a little. You head toward the midnight racing location and then take part in organised 1/4-mile drags against ranked opponents for either cash or pink slips. As the power of your car increases it get’s a little harder to keep it in a straight line, resulting in spectacular crashes (and a huge repair bill) if you get it wrong. Build up your car, and your, prestige and you get to take part in the Race of Champions, a mountain circuit race with a grand prize of a new high-powered car.

The cars are loosely based upon real-world cars, with names like Shimutsibu instead of Mitsubishi, Baiern instead of BMW and Furrano as Ferrari. Each car can take a certain type of engine (4cyl, 6cyl, V8, etc) and a certain drive-train (FWD, RWD, 4WD), which can sometimes be modified to other types with special parts. The mod scene for this game is huge, with much more support than the game got from its actual developers, giving you access to many more cars, parts and accessories for the game. There are even community-made patches that greatly improves upon the playability of the game.

The game is still available to purchase, but you can probably find modded game files on the link above (Not that I condone such a thing of course!). If it wasn’t for the awesome customisation and damage model of this game, it wouldn’t have made any impact whatsoever, but the instability of the game engine (This thing crashes more than the Fins crash Escorts in the snow) stops it from being a true great. It has always been a budget title, being released by Activision Value, so don’t expect Need for Speed graphics and Toca handling. It’s just a fun drag-racing game that will keep you in the garage for hours.

Final verdict: 3 out of 5 MisGuilded Stars – A nice time-waster without being a waste of time.

Portal 2 review

I finally made some time to play Portal 2 after it sitting in my “to play” queue for what feels like forever. And wow was it worth it! Immediately after installation I set about the promo vids included in the game, which cracked me and my partner up. I should explain – she’s a total non-gamer and usually has no interest in computers beyond work, but I found her sitting behind me watching as I play, pointing out things I might have missed. Or listening to the dialogue and giggling. Even when I got stuck at key points, I’d call her over and she’d be able to help me out.

Ohhai GLaDoS - Long time no see.

Anyway, to the game, which like all Valve productions is available on Steam. After the original Portal my hopes were high, and I was not disappointed. The game stays true to the theme, and there is a much stronger drive toward a decent plot this time. Without divulging into too much detail to give away the plot, here’s the basic outline of the singleplayer campaign: You start off as your old self again, having somehow been recaptured and kept in stasis for an unknown length of time. Something goes wrong in the world in general and your manservant robot helps you escape your cubicle… back into the now abandoned test chambers. Everything is in a state of disrepair and you fight your way through new obstacles caused by the devastation above ground. Your manservant promises to help you get out of the test facility… but first you need to get past your old friend GLaDoS. I’ll leave the rest of the plot for you to discover, but be assured that the adventure is much longer than what you’d expect, and much more complex than in the original.

The graphics are top-notch, as could be expected by a Valve release, and the music wonderfully changes tone to indicate successes, keeping the atmosphere very much alive. The characters are also much more fleshed out, and there are many more than in the original. The humour portrayed in Portal 1 is also continued and improved upon, giving endless mirth through the dark wit, eccentricities or just plain madness of the cast – ranging from your robot saviour to the previous masters of the test facility to a potato… Yup, a potato. Play the game and find out. As always, your companion cube makes a comeback, but is not as deeply tied to you as in the first game.

The game opens up the story of the test facility, giving you insight into the dark past of the Aperture corporation and as always, giving reference to Black Mesa in delightfully humourous ways. The puzzles are as challenging as always, and the solutions are not always immediately apparent until you sit back and take in the entire scenario. Some of the solutions are so simple once you know what to do that you can’t believe you’ve been sitting for twenty minutes without a clue. If there is one complaint, it’s that occasionally there will be a puzzle so obscure, with no hint as to where to go next, that the game may slow down – leaving you feeling dejected. But once you finally figure it out, the flow keeps you enthralled. The addition of new tools at your disposal opens up a variety of new ways to solve puzzles too.

After my first 3 days of playing I have to say I’m very pleased with what Valve has brought to the table, the singleplayer version anyway. I’m yet to dive into the Co-op missions, which I will review once I’ve finish those darned last stages. Their philosophy of releasing the game when it’s ready, as with Blizzard, makes for a polished and superior play. Now if only they would hurry up with the next episode of Halflife already!

Final score: 5/5 MisGuilded stars – a brilliant game that everyone should play.

Gearing up in Terraria

I had a few requests for this after my initial review on Terraria, and since I’ve pretty much maxed my gear within a few days, I’ll post my findings on gearing up in Terraria. Please note, this post is MUCH longer than my standard ones, so if you’re not into Terraria, you can stop right here.

Continue reading

World of Warplanes!

Following the huge success of World of Tanks, Wargaming.net has announced that they’re developing a new Free to Play based on the same era as World of Tanks… but with planes! I don’t know about you, but I’m quite looking forward to taking to the skies in a Spitfire, Mustang or possibly a B-29 Superfortress. Here’s the official news from Wargaming:

Wargaming.net announces the new project - World of Warplanes – based on military air dominance ranging from the 1930′s through the 1950′s.
World of Warplanes is a standalone Free to play game being developed by the team that have created World of Tanks.
“We are proud to be able to develop another high quality Free to Play game for the world’s gaming community”, said Victor Kislyi, CEO of Wargaming.net. “World of Tanks has been extremely successful and we look to bring the same high quality if not better to World of Warplanes.”
With the recent announcement of the partnership with Lesta Studio overall portfolio of Wargaming.net comprises more than 20 titles warmly acclaimed by media and players.

With more than 20 titles in the lineup, I wonder what we can expect next? If they stick to the same genre, I would assume warships, submarines, even possibly a FPS infantry game. And if the quality of World of Tanks is anything to go by, the rest will be a huge success too.

Screw the T1 Heavy.

I got my KV! Yeah it still has that shitty turret and puny cannon, but at least I’ve got new tracks on her too. I even had enough credits to get the 75% crew training, which does seem to help on that godawful turret rotate speed. My luck with her so far has been terrible too, putting me in mostly unbalanced matches where I’m in the bottom third of the weaker team. It took me something like 9 matches before my first victory last night.

I also gave up on the USA Arti, deciding to rather concentrate more of my efforts toward the USSR tree. So I bought a SU-18, ran a few matches with it and then unlocked the SU-26. Now there’s an interesting beast. It’s the only Artillery unit that can rotate its turret fully. This means that aiming is usually much faster, giving me more shots on target before the other arties have time to turn on their tracks. It also makes it harder to spot while hiding in a bush :D . The firepower is still pretty weak though, and of course the range is poor, so you have to move further out and hit them more times. I’ve also noticed that it seems to be able to hit targets behind rocks and obstacles better than the USA counterparts. The higher trajectory must account for the crappy range.

And for interest’s sake: My number 1 search term for the last 48 hours is “Hetzers gonna Hetz” :D Awesome!

Image courtesy and (c) WorldofTanks.com