Monthly Archives: February 2012

Ursu writes: A different kind of pain [ Part 1 – Balance ]

This aching pain in my limbs when I try to get up. It’s driving me crazy – and still, it’s what keeps me alive, what keeps me from letting it all go – from finally leaving this world. I still have a purpose – at least that’s what I’m telling myself every morning.

It’s been a long, long time since I talked to anybody about this – maybe I won’t talk to anybody ever again. That’s why I’m writing this with my old and rusty hands – trembling and shaking with the effort. Some things just need to be done – and it took me damn long to understand this. Now, at the age of way too many winters – I’m passing on my knowledge, not knowing if someone will ever find this or read this. This is my last wish and my last effort to try and do something meaningful.

 

Names are unimportant – because they don’t define who you are.

Titles are unimportant – because they don’t define how you are.

Races are unimportant – because they don’t define what you are.

You are important – because you define what, how and who you are.

 

I am old now, but I was young once – young and full of dreams. Then I left my parents home to look for adventure – to leave my mark on this world, to become a known man – to fulfill my dreams. I tried to get known as a honest man and found a job at a smithy where I started work as apprentice. I learned a lot and my hands were swift and talented in preparing the leathers for the different armors we made for the soldiers in the towns garrison. When I started smithing myself, my master taught me how important balance is. So before I could forge my first sword, I had to learn to use a sword – to discern a good from a very good weapon. And because I was ambitious, I wanted to forge the best weapons with the best materials available. A well balanced sword is what makes a good sword fighter an excellent one – while a bad balanced one can easily cost you your life. My first few swords weren’t masterful, but they were good enough to be sold for a fair price. The master was pretty stingy with praise, but I was able to see the pride in his eyes, when he told his wife about my efforts. After a few years of practice and hard work, my swords were known to be the best one could buy with money. Only the kings personal blacksmith made better swords – mostly due to the higher quality of metal – I was sure. With the years, I became arrogant and self-centered. When the old smith retired with his wife, I bought his smithy from him and felt like a god. I used to drink a lot these days – had more than a good share of the towns ladies – married or not – and killed most of my time with stupid drinking games. I worked when I felt like it and because I still knew my profession, my swords were still going for a very good price – and by keeping a low production, I was able to increase the price for a single sword. So I made one or two swords in a months time, where I could probably have made three to four times as many – but charged four times the price I was asking just a few months earlier. I can’t say I am proud about what I’ve done – but those were the days of the young and foolish. It took me quite a while to realize how foolish I was. And it nearly took my life – but that’s stuff for another night…

 

 

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Blog Baton: [ Thank you @4zido ]

Well, my dear friend Mr. Azido threw me a blog baton with 5 answer’s I’ll need to answer. I translate them loosely from german to english for my international readers.

 

1. Sie stellen in einem ziemlich heruntergekommenen Restaurant fest, dass der unter allgemeinem Gelächter bestellte “Inderteller” kein Schreibfehler war. Ihre Freunde essen munter drauf los. Wie reagieren Sie? – In a pretty shabby Restaurant you realize, that the ordered ‘Inderteller’ (Indian Dish?!) was not a Typo. Your friends start to eat – but what do you do?

Well since I ordered it, I’m at least trying to eat it. If it’s not fitting my taste, I’m gonna order something new.

2. Wirsing, Blumenkohl oder gedünstete Jogginghosen in Senfsoße? – Savoy, Cabbage or steamed Joggingtrousers in mustard sauce?

A really good question – probably I’ll take the cabbage.

3. Mal angenommen, Sie könnten zu einem beliebigen Zeitpunkt für genau 10 Minuten ein Wurstbrot sein. Wem würden Sie sich zum Fraß vorwerfen wollen? – If you could be a sausage sandwich for 10 minutes – who would you like to eat you?

Sometimes while reading this questions, I doubt that those can come from a sane person, but as I know Azido, he’s pretty much sane… just with a very weird sense of humour. Anyway: If I’d be a sausage sandwich for 10 Minutes, I’d like to be put in front of a vegan. I don’t like being eaten. 😀

4. Haben Sie schon einmal darüber nachgedacht, sich die Leber zu nehmen? – Did you ever think of taking your liver?

Actually – nope. I rarely think about my liver – it still works. Sometimes better, sometimes worse. But we can discuss this further with a good whiskey I guess.

5. Warum zum Geier beantworten Sie diese saudämlichen Fragen?  – Why do you even bother answering those crazy questions?

I have absolutely no clue – maybe because I’m bored and out of respect for Mr. Azido and his crazy creativity. And MAYBE because I wanna send out some crazy questions, too. Revenge is a dish best served cold, after all – and if there’s one thing I have at the moment, then it’s a cold. *sniff*

 

NOW – since i need to put 5 new questions for 5 other fellow bloggers I know, let me think a bit…

1. What was the last book you read? Did you read the last page before you finished it – and if you did, why do you do this? Do you like Spoilers?

2. There is a blue and a red pillow available to you – you can’t feel nor touch them. Which one do you choose? Why?

3. A good friend of yours asks you to choose the music for his/her wedding party. You style of music do you get them?

4. You can see a young guy harrassing some kids in the subway. At first you think they’re just fooling around, but then a kid gets hurt. Do you step in personally to prevent further harm? If not, why?

5. It’s a cold, dark monday morning and you don’t feel alright, but normally well enough to go to work. Do you skip work or do you push yourself over to work?

 

And the 5 persons I choose for this Blog Baton to answer are:

1. my good friend Ken

2. chrissy from Uniquepotion

3. Michilinmännchen

4. Raremuh

5. Redmaker

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[ #52Games ] Theme 3: Nature

This week, I’ll have a pretty short post about the 3rd theme of #52Games from ZockWorkOrange.

When I heard about the topic, I clearly had ONE GAME in Mind. Fate of the World

In Fate of the World, you’re getting to control the World in the year 2020. You’re there to control the political and economical Fate of the World – trying to prevent climate change, while trying to have your people well educated and wealthy. It’s turn based and after each turn, you get to see the consequences of your doing on the screen. It’s all in your hand – from Nuclear War to World Peace – everything can happen. A really interesting game with a serious background by Red Redemption from the UK. It’s up there on Steam and if you can, you should really try this out.

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A huge disappointment…

Hey guys,

I love games – I love them to the point that I spent most of my life with or on games. A few days ago, I worked on the first topic of the #52Games project and wrote about Jagged Alliance 2. Now, Jagged Alliance : Back in Business was finally released, the sequel I waited for over 10 years now. And to be honest with you: Don’t buy this game, don’t play this game. It’s a shame what those guys made with the licence of Jagged Alliance. This game does not deserve to wear this name and I’m enormously disappointed to the point, where I won’t play this game. The essential parts, which made Jagged Alliance 2 one of the greatest games of all times have been changed and twisted and the game feels anything but right. Play the old game, add mods to it (like 1.13) and play it, if you want a good, solid, extremely well made strategy game with a depth and character strenght – it’s mindblowing. JA:BiB is nothing like this and I, as a fan and enthusiast for games – I can’t stand it and I’m uninstalling it right now. I understand having a game that’s bad – that’s not a big deal. This game is not bad per se, but this game is NOT Jagged Alliance – it’s a freak of development, where someone had an idea how to make Jagged Alliance better. You can’t – a**hole! You should’ve just made Jagged Alliance, not some freakish abomination of a Game. You may have bought the Licence, but you didn’t buy the idea and you certainly didn’t understand it.

 

Sorry for this rant, but after all those years… this hurts.

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[ #52Games ] Theme 2: Cold as Ice, Ice, Baby [ DotA2 ]

After last weeks start to the 52Games Project, which came pretty easy, I had a pretty hard time deciding what to write about the 2nd weeks theme: Cold.

I thought about the old, and for many of the younger ones, already forgotten Winter Games,which was one of the first games I played in my life – only the Turtles game on the NES was earlier. It’s a classic and I don’t know how many controllers and joysticks went to hell for this game. – I decided to choose something else, to find something I could write a bit more about.

After that, I thought about games I played, which have a cold setting – like Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, but since I thought this to be too easy (and already handled pretty well by PeteBACK & Dons Welt). Another great Game I dismissed, despite having a huge amount of cold effects, spells and an overall ambient of FREEZING cold about it, is Diablo 2 : Lord of Destruction! But this still didn’t feel like I had the right grasp on this topic.

Then, last night I went to play some DotA 2 from Valve with a few friends of mine. I chose to play a random hero – and by my surprise, I got the Crystal Maiden – a Ice Mage Heroine!

She’s classified as a support character who can disable enemy heroes extremely well, slowing them with nearly every single spell, freezing them in place and dealing tons of damage while doing so. Now, if you think about it, it’s logically perfect to have something that’s frozen move slower or even be frozen in place. On the other hand, Ice is not only slowing things down, but it’s also slippery and sometimes even dangerously sharp and cutting. Now in most Roleplaying Games or Games with a bit of a roleplaying character, Ice spells have a slowing effect. On the other side, if you take Racing Games, Ice is most likely letting you lose your control over your vehicle while speeding you up. But I’m drifting away here… let’s get back to DotA2.

The first time I played DotA2, I was hugely disappointed about it. The overall game Look&Feel had something wrong about it – I had a really hard time to discern which units were heroes and what simple minions, the whole map colours seemed weird to me and it all blurred out to the feeling of playing on mud (Screenshot). The buy menue (and I still think they can improve it) is really confusing at times and gives beginners with DotA2 a really hard time finding what they’re looking for. For me, League of Legends has a enormously lower entry point for new players and I think DotA2 caters too much to the hardcore DotA players and esport fans from the Warcraft III Mod. I finished only a few games before I quit DotA to get back to playing LoL with my friends. Now about a week ago, a friend from my Steam list asked me if I’d like to join on some DotA2 fun. Since I was really interested to see how it works when you actually got teamplay, I joined their Teamspeak and went for a game. DotA compared to LoL is having a much bigger list of things you have to care about – it has a lot of micro management, where LoL is trying to keep you focused on your hero – I actually like to focus on my hero. But the positives about DotA are there, too. It feels (after the 10something games I played) like there is more action overall and your actions are more meaningful to the outcome of the game. Your hero or heroine is a lot easier to be smashed into pieces within seconds than it is in LoL, so you need to play a steadier and more defensive minded game, where mistakes are seldom forgotten and in my opinion also a lot more costly, as you lose a big part of your amassed gold once you die. Ultimately DotA2 and LoL are too different in what their target audience is. LoL is already having a big esport branch with tourneys all over the world and even TV coverage, but the overall look&feel of the game is that it’s targetting a mass audience rather then hardcore gamers. DotA2 set a high standard for their esport future, when they had a 1Mio$ tournament at the GamesCom in Cologne last year, while not even being released to the public (it’s still in closed Beta stadium). I am really curious as to how DotA2 will change the current dominance of LoL in the Free2Play DotA ‘Clone’ market (we still don’t know if DotA2 will be free2play).

Now I wrote so much about DotA2 and beside the fact, that I played a Ice Mage yesterday, it’s not really about Cold. But I can tell you something: It’s cold outside and sadly also in my apartment, which has some really bad heating installation – so I wrote this whole post while freezing and being wrapped up in a fluffy blanket.

Leave your comments and whatever criticism or praise you have down there, and thanks for the read.

Ursu

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[Giveaway] A few Steam Games for you…

Hey guys,

 

I have a few Steam Keys to give away. Critical Mass, Bunch of Heroes and World of Goo. If anyone wants one of those keys, please comment here with your Twitter Name and Tweet this Blogpost. The first three users to post & tweet can choose one of those nice and cool games! First come, first serve! 🙂

 

Good luck.

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[ #52Games ] Theme 1: A fresh Start

First of all, I want to offer my readers a small overview about the Projekt #52Games from the guys over at the german blog http://zockworkorange.com. A few days ago they announced the idea to blog about games around a weekly theme for a whole year. You can find the complete information site for #52Games here! The first topic is: A fresh start!

For me, my first idea in my head when I read ‘Neubeginn’ (german for ‘fresh start’) was: What game was it, that made me decide my current career path. And ultimately the only answer I could give to this question is this:

Jagged Alliance 2 was released in 1998. I played Jagged Alliance – the Metavira Conflict before I heard of JA:2. JA:Metavira was the first part of the series and got released in 1994 for MSDOS. I got it from a friend of mine, who already owned it and sold it to me for 5bucks, together with the gaming magazine in which it was on a CD.

Jagged Alliance 2 caught my attention with the release of its one level demo nearly 1.5years before the release of the game. I played the demo together with my brother for weeks and months. We found different ways to beat it, found ways to play with less mercenaries, found ways to play on for hours and hours on the same small level. It was a great time. That was the time I started thinking about Game Design – about what could’ve been done better and what really made this the outstanding game I still love. Sir-Tech made one of the best games of the 90s.

To give you a small outlook on how much I loved this game even before it was released:

My brother and I pre-ordered the game nearly a year before it was released. We constantly check with our local game retailer if he’s got news about the release date, since we didn’t have reliable Internet at home that time. Both of us were under the age of 16, when the game released – but since we were that enthusiastic about it, we couldn’t wait and already asked our parents if we’re allowed to buy it, even though the game is from Age 16+. They agreed and we saved up money long before the game was in stores. Imagine how shocked we were, when the game was released in germany and the first rating had it rated at 18+. The game of our dreams was suddenly out of our reach, because we knew our parents wouldn’t let us buy the game now. We were desperate and on the release day we went to our local store, but he wouldn’t sell it to us – despite the fact he already tried the game himself the night before and said he’s not thinking it deserves a 18+ rating. So my brother and I went home and asked our parents if we could still buy the game. They declined and came up with ‘you can do better with your money’. The next day we did the craziest thing I ever did for a game. We had the written permission from our parents to buy the game if it’s 16+, but not for the 18+ game – so we asked passers-by to buy the game for us. We explained to them how long we wait for this game and how we really really really need this game. Well, the third guy we asked helped us. He went into the store with our money (100bucks was a lot for two kids around 13years of age), told the shopkeeper that he’s buying it for us, but he still sold it to him. That’s how we got our game, which was re-rated to a lower 16+ rating a few weeks later after the german publisher appealed.

To this day, there is no other game I have loved more and still consider it one of the best made games of our time – it’s a classic and I started my game programming studies with the hopes to build something that awesome myself. The ‘sequel’ Jagged Alliance – Back in Action (Game Preview in German) is about to be released on Steam after years and years of fighting over the rights to the series. Sadly Sir-Tech (the original game studio from canada) went bankrupt and the rights to Jagged Alliance were sold all over the world (from Australia over Russia to Germany). German Gamestudio bitComposer Games now finished the ‘sequel’ nearly 15years after Jagged Alliance 2 was released – I’m curios if they can keep the high standard and can give me as a veteran player the same feeling I had with Jagged Alliance 2.

I hope you had a nice read and I look forward to get your feedback.

To add the Words of famous russian mercenary Ivan Dolvich: Doswidanja!

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