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Topics - Bal

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Gaming Discussion / Building Up Steam
« on: September 24, 2013, 02:04:27 PM »
Maybe just something to boot for gaming, but they seem serious about making that work. Which means real ass driver support at the very least.

Real Life / Summer PSA: Please don't drown, guys.
« on: June 18, 2012, 07:26:14 AM »
THAD EDIT: Split from the Obit Thread; we were discussing Rodney King's death by drowning.  Quote added for context:

And this time of year, it's a reminder that even the best swimmer can drown.  Swim with a buddy.

the Arizona summer PSAs have affected your mind, Thad. It's possible you didn't even mean to type that. Much in the same way I don't mean to tell people to make sure they have water with them.

Trench Infiltration

This will be a five to six player game wherein the players must succeed in a mission to infiltrate a WWI German trench, and destroy an objective before morning, when the Allies will be launching an attack regardless of their success. This is strictly a player vs scenario game, where the players must cooperate in order to be successful. Additionally, all weapons are highly lethal, and death can come suddenly. Given the nature of the game, anonymity is not necessary. 

I will be providing a map to keep track of positioning once the game starts.

Turn Structure

Within each turn phase each player will be required to post an action post. These will be in the form of movement actions, partial actions, and full actions. A move action can be followed by a partial action, whereas a full action consumes both, either to allow you to move a greater distance, or attack more times. Details below. For the sake of brevity, you will begin the mission very near the German line in no man's land, so as to avoid ten turns of full move actions. You may speak, or make hand signals, as a free action, but be aware that speech is subject to potentially being heard.

Once everyone has posted their actions, I will do some hidden calculations regarding your actions and the actions of Ze Germans, and make a results post. At which point the next turn begins. All actions are taken simultaneously unless specifically described otherwise in a player's action post. You have 36 hours to make your action post after my results post. If you do not post, you will be assumed to have stuck with the team, but will make no further action.

A brief note on communication. PMs are allowed on an unlimited basis during the turn phase, and I don't need to see them. However, any non-action posts made in the thread will be considered speech, and treated as such.


Movement: You may move three squares in stealth, or five normally with a normal move action. With a full move action you may move five squares in stealth, but are unable to perform any other action that turn.

Attacking: You may attack after a normal movement action, or use a full action to attack multiple times. Details based on the weapon used.

Recon: Actively looking or listening is a partial action.

Other Actions: Be creative. If something seems possible, I will likely allow it. Keep in mind that if I feel that youíve gone over your allotted actions you may end up in a bad position, so keep it within the logic I have described, or PM me in advance if you want to be absolutely sure.


While each role has a starting set of equipment, you can use actions to redistribute equipment as necessary. As all players are trained soldiers, and can use all equipment available on the mission.

Sapper: 1-2 Sappers with one large satchel charge each, timer based trigger, side arm (two    extra magazines), knife.

Rifleman: 2-3 riflemen equipped with a bolt action rifle (one extra clip), 2 grenades, side arm (two extra magazines), bayonette (detachable).

Lieutenant: German fluent, but accent will be detected if he speaks at any length. Equipped with side arm (four extra magazines), knife.

Equipment Details

M1911 Side Arm: Seven round magazine, can be fired four times with a full action, or twice after moving. May choose up to three targets within line of sight during a full action, but only a single target during a partial action. Report likely to alert nearby enemy troops

1903 Springfield Bolt Action Rifle: Five round stripper clip with internal box magazine. May be fired twice during a full action, and once after moving. May not choose multiple targets. Report will alert nearby troops and is likely to alert troops a moderate distance away, possibly causing an intruder alarm.

Grenade: Requires one full action to prepare and throw. No "cooking" will be allowed. Fatal in a 3x3 radius, potentially fatal in a 5x5 radius. Can be reliably throw seven squares. Can be used to depopulate and destroy machine gun nests. Explosion heard for miles, alarm guaranteed.

Knife: Knife combat is situational. Against an unaware or surprised target it is possible to finish the target off without being challenged, against aware targets you will be in for a fight. Knife combat is always lethal for at least one of the participants. Victims may cry out, depending on circumstances, alerting nearby troops.

Bayonette: When attached to the rifle, the bayonette allows you to make potentially lethal melee attacks from up to two squares away, or from above without changing position. Situationally similar to the knife. When unattached, it behaves exactly as the knife. Victim may cry out, as above.

Final Note

Obviously this is a pretty small scale game, and is going to be somewhat demanding of the players involved, so this is not going to be first come first serve. Iíll select the players I think will stick it out and keep on schedule. There might be more of these than I have slots, so if you get left out, donít get too upset about it. I like this kind of one shot, goal oriented game, so I may well come up with another if this goes smoothly and the feedback is good. 

Gaming Discussion / Steam Workshop: Little Big Everything
« on: February 07, 2012, 08:30:58 PM »
So there's a new feature in Steamworks you might have noticed if you have TF2 or Skyrim installed, but here it is if you haven't noticed

The implications of this thing is bananas now that it launched with Skyrim's official editing tools. It all depends how many games get in on this, but I have a feeling we can count every future Valve title on that list at least, and with the popularity of Elder Scrolls mods combined with an integrated browser, downloader, manager, and installer, I think this should be something to watch.

I think there IS a reasonable conversation to be had somewhere in here and we're very close to having it.

I agree. Probably best not to have it in the Penn State thread though.

To the subject; I think it is. In fact, I think it's slightly dishonest to claim that you never would be. Excepting for now the kind of people I think we can all agree do no belong on this Earth or in our society (child rapists/murderers, serial killers, etc.), taking a moment of guiltless pleasure when someone you find genuinely repugnant happens to kick it seems perfectly fine to me. The more repugnant, perhaps the longer the moment. I wouldn't encourage really hateful gloating or anything like that, but taking it as a net gain that they're no longer around, making the world, at least form your point of view, a worse place is, I would argue, completely natural and probably healthy.

Gaming Discussion / Anno 2070
« on: January 07, 2012, 01:54:38 AM »
So Ziiro and I have been playing a multiplayer continuous game of this, which is more of us playing on the same map, at the same time, because neither of us is interested in even economic warfare, though we have traded resources to one another on occasion. We both have  Pretty impressive cities at this point, keeping in mind that this is a small map with two players on it. Here's mine:

The shiny buildings up top are the research faction, which provides unique materials, the ability to construct resource colonies on the sea floor, and certain persistent aspects such as permanent upgrades to your ark, your starting hub and ostensible home base.

I'm playing as the Tycoon faction, as opposed to the Eco faction, and the list of nuances between the two is far too long to list, but your ultimate goal is more or less the same.

If you like City Builders, there is none better.

Thaddeus Boyd's Panel of Death / Christopher Hitchens
« on: December 16, 2011, 03:42:27 AM »
Christopher Hitchens succumbs to cancer related pneumonia

Genuinely upset about this one. Agree or disagree, he had an amazing mind.

Gaming Discussion / Gears of War 3: WHO WANTS TOAST
« on: September 17, 2011, 02:18:21 PM »
In three days time Gears 3 will be upon us. Who is on board with this thing?

High-Context Discourse / Post Your Google
« on: August 01, 2011, 05:59:18 AM »
This is an image I used as a desktop for a very long time, and I never got tired of it. However, it looks terrible on a widescreen monitor, so I wasn't able to use it anymore. Now it's my homepage

Gaming Discussion / Levels
« on: July 25, 2011, 01:44:41 AM »
Sometimes a level just stands out from the rest in a game, and leaves that indelible mark in your mind that has you going years later "Oh man, you remember that part when-". That's what this thread is about. I was inspired to make this thing because I think I just had my first run through one of those levels that's going to stick with me.

In my case it was the last level of the game Painkiller. It's a huge arena style area that depicts a battlefield frozen in time, except it's not just one battlefield, it's EVERY battlefield. You start out passing spears and standards held aloft by invisible men, pennons frozen in a non-existent breeze, past siege weapons and a huge medieval wall. Beyond the wall is a machine gun nest overlooking a system of WWI trenches. The muzzles are frozen with the flash of a fired shot. Looming in the distance is a tower, which on approach turns out to be a nuclear missile over shadowing a blasted out town, and overshadowing it all from the very end of the map is a mushroom cloud, complete with shock wave, frozen as everything else.

The sound effects depict battles happening all around you, related to what part of the map you're in. Men fighting and dying all around you. The sum of war.

You fight Lucifer here (kind of), but that was honest to god the least interesting part of the level. When fighting the devil is the most boring part of your level design, you know you're doing something right.

Now post 'em.

Gaming Discussion / Serious Topic about Serious Sam.
« on: July 13, 2011, 09:23:24 PM »
I just finished playing through the Gold HD edition of The First Encounter and The Second Encounter, and it was totally awesome. In related news, Serious Sam 3: Not Cartoon Bullshit Like Serious Sam 2 is about to come out, and I am excited. This is going to wash that Duke Nukem Forever taste out of my mouth better than Listerine.

Serious Sam is a game where this happened (most of the bodies have despawned by this point), and SS3 is looking really great. If you're not aware, fighting literally hundreds of enemies at a time was not uncommon in the earlier SS games, and SS3 is offering that in a modern engine with 16-player co-op, with enemy numbers scaling up to match the players.

Anyone else looking forward to running at 30kph and just killing monsters for like 12 hours with no cover, no raspberry jam, no love interest, no (unironic) plot twists and generally no bullshit whatsoever? For a long time I've been asking myself, is it so wrong to just want to shoot things and not give a shit about geopolitics? And finally Croteam has answered by handing me a minigun with 500 bullets, no reloading, and the knowledge that it isn't nearly enough. Thank you, you insane Croatian bastards.

Gaming Discussion / Hey kid, wanna Rift?
« on: June 07, 2011, 02:36:38 PM »
I picked up the Rift free trial about two weeks ago and found that I really liked it. The titular rifts make just the regular world very dynamic. They can appear more or less anywhere, at any time, and they can vary in scale from minor rifts, which just bother the area directly beneath them, to ones that spawn invaders that try to take over other parts of the zone, to full scale invasions that have to be fought off by everyone in the zone, or the zone can actually become unusable until you clear the invaders out. Very high level invasions can have massive rewards, but are essentially zone wide, running raids. The gameplay itself is WoW, no question, but with enough differences to make me happy, particularly in the class system, which is super great, and flexible, and if you want to know more, look it up, because it's too huge.

I'm playing a tanking warrior right now, and I'm really happy with the path and abilities I have chosen. I'll probably min-max a bit more later, but for now it's not essential that I do, and with the way the classes work it's pretty hard to actually find the perfect cookie cutter build.

If you feel like giving it a try, I'm on the Molinar "shard" which is not-WoW for "realm" which is WoW for server. Also, if you want to give it a shot, use this link. It will give you some fancy crap, and me some fancy crap, and also the page that leads to has links that explain practically everything I am too lazy to explain.

Don't let the terrible advertising fool you, this game actually has chops.

EDIT: Oh, I play Defiant faction, because the Guardians aren't just religious zealots, they're assholes too.

Gaming Discussion / Thinking With Portals, Again
« on: April 15, 2011, 11:49:54 AM »
First and foremost do your part.

After that's done, Portal 2 general.

Gaming Discussion / Sequels
« on: March 27, 2011, 11:07:40 PM »
Sequels, love 'em or hate 'em, are the cornerstone of the industry. Nearly every big project that comes out is a sequel, and even the new IPs are born with the hope that they will spawn a franchise. I don't necessarily think this is a bad thing. There are a lot of folks who just flatly dismiss sequels as the cancer killing all the beautiful and creative snowflakes out there, but the fact of the matter is that people, including myself, like games that are like the games they like. They like characters and settings that they already know.

I got to thinking about this because I just finished playing Crysis 2 (a very good FPS campaign if you're looking for one), and it got me thinking about things people do in sequels that I don't like, because of a few things that Crysis 2 does that I will describe. Crysis 2 is a game that is trying to bring in new players, first and foremost. To do this they've done some pretty obvious things, like make it available on PS3 and Xbox in addition to the PC, and streamlined the suit mechanic significantly (to the benefit of the gameplay, actually. The old suit was a bit unwieldy with it's powers), and that's fine. It also tries to something that a lot of sequels try to do, and usually fail at doing, and that is make a story that can stand on its own without having played the first game. Ideally, when doing this, new players should feel welcome, and returning players should feel like what they did in the first game is informing what's going on in the second game.

Crysis 2 gets the first thing right, but so much so that throughout almost the entire game, in the back of my mind, I was thinking "What the fuck does this have to do with the first game?". There is exactly one returning character, and it's not even the protagonist of the first game. The setting is different, the alien M.O. is completely different, the mood is completely different. The only thing that's the same is you've got a nano-suit, and somewhere to go. Again, I stress that all of the things I just listed are really, really well done. Apocalyptic New York is beautifully realized, with the same kind of staggering vistas you'd expect from Crysis in the middle of Manhattan, and if I had never played Crysis I would feel like I knew why I was there, and what it all meant, but having played the first game I just find myself with this constant little cognitive dissonance buzzing away at me all the time.

I can honestly say that this is the first time I've ever played a sequel that is functionally better than the first game, but somehow made a worse experience for having played the first game. It makes me think they should have just not called it Crysis. In fact, I think they might not have were it not for the fact that they still wanted to use the same basic nano-suit mechanic. I guess the question becomes "When is a sequel no longer a sequel?". Would it have been all right for them to do something like Final Fantasy, and just have a similar theme, keep the nano-suit, and disconnect the narrative completely? Because, barring a few hints here and there, that's practically what they did, and I almost wish they'd just gone all the way with it.

This became more about Crysis 2 than I intended, so I'll try to bring this back around a bit. This year I am looking forward to a number of, what I hope to be, fantastic titles. All of which are sequels or follow-ups. Portal 2, The Witcher 2, Dark Souls, and Mass Effect 3 to name a few. Dragon Age 2 and Crysis 2 just came out, Gears 3 is in the pipe as well, it just goes on and on. Is this too many sequels? The question gets asked every year. So many sequels, where's the new stuff? Are the sequels burying the brilliant new ideas that must be hiding out there? Honestly, I don't really think so, at least not to a huge degree. Yes, it's harder to get a new IP published than it is for an established franchise, but those franchises get established for a reason. How many new IPs out there are really that good? One in ten? And that's from the ideas compelling enough to get through to be published to begin with. Not to mention that, even if your new game is good, there's no guarantee that it will sell. Take Mirror's Edge. Great game, extremely strong first entry in a potential franchise, but it doesn't sell. Game companies aren't charities, so the sequel gets delayed indefinitely in favor of more Battlefield games, which are proven sellers. Proven further by the fact that Bad Company 2 actually does sell extremely well, so we get Battlefield 3.

So we get sequels, and more sequels, and will continue to get sequels, but most of the time, I really don't mind.

Gaming Discussion / Dawn of War: Current Expansion Edition
« on: March 01, 2011, 03:31:23 AM »
I searched, and apparently there is no Dawn of War thread, so Dawn of War thread. Retribution just dropped, and it is pretty great. Campaign for every race, little bit samey in terms of where you go, but not what you do after the first few missions. I'm playing as the Orks first, because as we all know green is best, and it's pitch fucking perfect. At one point the Orks suspected that there might be an ambush in wait on a certain planet. When attacked by Eldar the warboss declared "Attacked by Eldar? I guess that counts as an ambush. Limber up, boyz, but don't strain yerselves". Amazing. I collapsed a building on some garrisoned units with my Mek, and he said "Dat's wut yez get fer stayin' in on a fine day such as this". Wonderful.

I played a bit of the multiplayer in the beta, and the IG fit in nicely. They still have the ability to put armor out on the field as in DoW, but the scale and effect has been ratcheted up to fit DoWII. Their particular flavor, of being sort of defensive, with a creeping front line fits in very well with the map control focus of DoWII as well. They are quite well done.

Last Stand gained a new map, and a new, IG, commander to play. I haven't messed with it much, but if you liked Last Stand before, it's more/different Last Stand.

Gaming Discussion / Monday Night Combat
« on: January 27, 2011, 08:01:21 AM »
I like this game a lot. It's like DotA, in that there are creeps, and a thing you have to destroy to win, and only your creeps can really make that possible. There are six classes, with four skills each, and they are all quite distinct. It's also a bit like TF2 set to the backdrop of a dystopian hyper-corporate future where the game is actually the most popular form of entertainment, but tinged all over with black comedy largely in the form of the hilarious announcer.

It is also Dota in that feeders can ruin anything, I mean look at this shit:

Fucking feeders ruin everything.

Anyway, MNC general. I play assault most of the time, and if you ever face me in corporate sponsored combat, just assume that you will get blown up by a bomb I have thrown, because this is usually what happens.

Gaming Discussion / The Dangerous Realm of the PS Triple
« on: January 15, 2011, 04:08:54 AM »
I procured myself a PS3 for my birthday, and I now require advice on what to play. I already have God of War III, because I'm a big fan of the series, and I plan to get Valkyria Chronicles. I'm not going to get Demon Souls because they're shutting those servers down relatively soon, and I may as well just wait for the spiritual sequel that is forthcoming. So what have you to recommend? Exclusives and "best on PS3" only please.

So, this is mostly about having been playing games for too long. Shit like this happens to me all the time, but I'm walking through a totally innocuous room in Mass Effect 2, and the first thing I think to myself is "Boy, I don't like how much cover is in this otherwise normal room". Like I say, I end up thinking like this all the time. If it were tabletop, people would accuse me of meta-gaming, but I just can't help myself. When I come back through here, there's going to be a firefight.

How much do you guys do this? I'm sure you're all as bad off as me. I know the Pokemans can't even think in words anymore, just numbers.

Gaming Discussion / Fallout: New Vegas
« on: October 19, 2010, 08:05:47 AM »
If you liked wandering the wasteland in Fallout 3, but hated the story, have I got the game for you. I was having a blast for about 30 minutes, but then a full sized rad scorpion came out of fucking nowhere, and now I'm decorating his stinger so he can show off to all his rad scorpion friends.

« on: July 19, 2010, 07:40:40 PM »
Alien Swarm is officially The Business. Great co-op, hugely diverse tactics based around four classes, eight characters, and like 50 weapons. It's hard to describe just looking at screenshots and then saying "no but see it's not just a top-down shooter it's actually really deep", but seriously, it's actually really deep.

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