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Month: August 2012

I stood there.  I watched as blood seeped from my wounds, as life faded from my eyes I knew intimately.  My skin paled, blood drained from the cheeks and the eyes closed offering an end to the sudden and rapid decline.

In a flash it was gone, shattered into a myriad array of glass-like splinters that vanished into the air.

This is going to be a long day.


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Shadowrun – The Cargo Ship

Free Tibet was a cargo ship heading for Hong Kong out of Seattle.  Dr Strange, Shark and Mayhem Molly had agreed to intercept this ship, free it of some pirates that had crawled aboard and dispose of some sensitive cargo while they were at it.

Getting there was easy, apparently 2072 boating technology isn’t outside the realm of ‘push buttons until it works’.  Molly had the motor running as Shark was halfway through instructing her in ignition unlock process.  Two hours later they were trawling leisurely towards the ship, hoping to avoid detection when the sensors aboard the Free Tibet detected them.  As a largely automated vessel, the smart agent running the systems greeted an approaching vessel on a collision course the only way it knew how.  Fog Horn >> Full Volume

Their stealthy approach shattered, the team boarded to discover a ghostship.  Such is the nature of late 21st century boating.  Not even a skeleton crew to greet them.  Eerily quiet, they stole to the bridge where some elves and a surfer were partying.

Cool as ice and without a care in the world Molly sauntered into the room with a curt but polite “sup” and used the intel given by Johnson to find the container they were looking for.

A cursory examination on the transportability of the cargo resulted in a return trip to the bridge.  As they approached the entry hatch on the main deck the surfer of prior note dove overboard apparently having overstayed his welcome as Knight Errant announced their intention to investigate the vessel.

The ensuing fight was over before it began and our triumphant team cleared the cargo, jumped ship and made for Hong Kong for their payout.

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Mid-Summer Distractions

I played three games this weekend that will later likely receive their own discussion.  Each is awesome for it’s own reasons.

Hero Academy

An amusing turn based strategy game where your team of dudes trash the other guys’ team of dudes.  It’s Multiplayer only with challenges in place to hone your skills and amuse you between turns.  A game doesn’t take a lot of time overall, but you can spend minutes with an individual turn just trying to decide how best to beat the snot out of your opponent’s healer.  Undo/Redo buttons in games is an insane addition to the “I can do that better” pursuit.

It’s only 10 bucks via Steam for us PC users or if you’re IOS enabled, I highly recommend you pick it up via your phone/tablet first (the character packs are cheaper).


One look from across the room hooked me.  I love brightly lit games that don’t try to fool you with fancy sprites.  Thusly, I loved Geometry Wars and still do.  Symphony takes a similar approach with wireframed enemies flooding into your vertical scrolling battlefield.  Oh right.. the battlefield is your music.  Each level a song from your music collection you select.  Each level completed rewards you with a random upgrade you can unlock and upgrade via points you earn.

Like a weird combination of Gradius, Geometry Wars and Windows Media Player.  It has varying difficulty levels and of course some songs are harder based on tempo and where/when enemies come in to attack you.  I thought Dragonforce would be hard, but Rush’s 2112 was particularly abusive with it’s changing tempo.

My only complaint is that it doesn’t support songs over 10 minutes in length.  A rude discovery to be sure, I was enjoying it so much I started to envision practicing on my self-described Endurance Level with a select 45 minute track of Going Quantum’s Dubstep mix.


Also 10 bucks and totally worth it.

EVE Online

I continued and continue to play EVE.  Not being one of those games you eventually ‘beat’, I pursue stronger economic footing and that right mix of people that makes playing consistently personally rewarding.

I left Etoilles Mortant LTD, a corp I’d been with for nearly a year after LMCG and I parted ways.  EML brought some interesting game services to my attention.  Namely, a ‘can system’ with connected API where you could check a website and see what you’d deposited and it’s relative value and what the corp noted as your owed amount.  A number of other services were available from the page I visited.  Services I think are incredibly handy and every corp should have.

I’m off to Lost Dawn Chaos, a multi-wing Corp with it’s foot in Mining, Missions and a host of other activities.  I’m liking them so far, the only thing I could ask for more is a corp with a stronger PST population.

I’m realizing potentials now that I wish could have been expressed to me a year ago, or two years ago.. Oh what hindsight will tell you at every turn.


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Shadowrun – Hong Kong: The Prelude

Dr Strange, Mayhem Molly and Sam Lee walked to the corner noodle shop “Wang’s Noodle”.  With over a thousand locations worldwide it was hard not to find one no matter where you were.  Rumor had it Zurich Orbital had two, but nobody could or would confirm.

They’d met after a local contact handed a stack of dossiers to one of them and suggested they ‘get a team together’.

2 hours later it was soykaf meetings.  They had some familiarity, they had some experience together.  Dr Strange, a shaman of Cat, was practiced in illusion and making uncomfortable situations.  Mayhem Molly was a razorgirl and general badass.  Sam Lee rounded out the trio as the resident gun-slinging huckster with a curious sense of humor.  Sometime, ask him about his Spanish friend.

And so they ate noodles and chatted quietly to themselves in the cool late-night air of Hong Kong.  That was when the girl showed up.  She needed help and desperately asked for it as six of the Ivory Dragons Triad showed up.  In true Triad fashion, they had bravado and they had numbers.  What they lacked was skill.

The fight wasn’t particularly quick, but it did start with a broken nose and ended with the two survivors running away bleeding and morally broken.  Molly hoisted Sam over her shoulder as Strange grabbed his discarded gun and they retreated to a nearby motel to lick their wounds.  Would the Triad retaliate?  Would the Johnson call then with actual work? Only time will tell.

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How I Spent my Summer Vacation

I recently found myself with a bulk of vacation time and so escaped from work, turned off my email and stocked up on hot pockets. What follows is a rough accounting of my journeys through the gaming landscape and my occasional stops.

Kingdoms of Amalur: the Reckoning

I’m something in the order of 40 hours committed to KoA:R with an end in sight far down the road.  If I had to guess, I believe I’m another 10 or 20 hours shy of the end by the way I’m playing which is doing roughly 70% of the side quests that get offered to me before getting bored and moving the plot along.  So far, I’ve really enjoyed KoA:R and would definitely recommend it to my Fable-playing friends.  The combat mechanic gets a little frustrating at times, as I can’t dodge around enemy swings and often get ‘juggled’.

There’s a definite order to the quests and a progression they don’t illustrate very well.  I nearly skipped over an entire region of the game styled after some rocky badlands.  It was only by nature of my curiosity that I followed a side-quest through the mountains and into the arid countryside to discover this area.

It’s a large game, varied in colors and styles and easy to pickup and play.  I’ve enjoyed my time with it but by Wednesday evening I’d had just about enough for a bit.

EVE Online

I don’t play often, largely I keep my account active to maintain skill training so that when I do play I’ve cleared 33 day training humps.  I played a fair bit, 2 or 3 hours at a time through my break.  I made money, I lost money.  Tried my hand at marketing.

I found I’m only really good at PvE combat.  That is, I can fit a ship, shoot stuff and generally advise new players on skill progression and ship selection for what they’re looking for.

To date, I’ve lost every PvP encounter I’ve entered.

EVE is a Sandbox MMO, what you do is more a matter of imagination than anything else.  If you’re tired of the Theme Park MMO (of which World of Warcraft and many others are part) then you might give EVE a spin.  Drop me an email and I’ll send you an invite and can give you some rudimentary advice on where to start or what to look at.  There’s a lot of resources and frankly, much of it is rampant with biased opinion.  malformedfork (at) gmail

League of Legends

A friend of mine talked me into trying it out.  Free to Play, you’re offered a selection of Champions from various worlds each week and given the chance to throw down with other humans or against a limited AI.  By Limited, I mean you’ll wind up fighting Trundle Bot more often than you care to count.

A neat game with a built-in progression in the form of talent-like ‘Masteries’ and Runes.  Fights earn you points, points you spend on runes or permanently unlocking Champions.

The only downside to the game in general I found is that if you like say Lulu (this adorably random fae sorceress with her faerie companion) and want to play her all the time you can buy her either with points purchased from real money or with earned points.  But if you enter a match with another person who has Lulu and wants to use her, it’s first-come first serve and you’re likely out of luck.

The upside is that you can usually find a range of Champions that meet your play style or interests.  It does require some research both in-game and out.

I like the game and I’d recommend it to a few of my friends, but I’m hard-pressed to begin comparing it.  That’s the problem with cornerstone games.  You use them to describe other games, but how do you sum up quickly the game that forms the corner?  Try it, it’s free.  Also one of these premises where if you note me as your referrer then I get bonus points.  I never turn down bonus points.  EgoProvince is my handle in-game.

Portal 2

Went from “Haven’t played at all” to “Fully beat the multiplayer portion” inside of six or so hours.  Not terribly long, the puzzles tricky but not impossible in complexity.  A fun romp and fortunately if you want more there are some quality user-generated maps out there.  Not a game I’d recommend to everyone, as this game has the power to induce motion sickness.  It did to me the first time I watched.

Crimson Alliance

I picked this up last summer during XBox’s Summer of Arcade or there abouts.  A cheap little arcade excursion you buy access to the game through purchasing one of the class packs.  For 10 bucks I got the three classes available.  After that it’s a skill-based button smasher with 4 or 5 hours of content.  I’ve given it more than that, as I pursue higher scores and try to perfect my technique.  It really shines when you have more people and are able to employ strategies beyond dodge, slashslashslash, dodge.

City of Heroes

I’m eagerly awaiting Guild Wars 2 and at present CoH is the only game I have access to that really scratches a particular adventurous itch I have.  But I haven’t played since around January this year and though the game is Free to Play I haven’t felt the interest.  I was reminded at the end of my vacation as I tried to login several times and was turned away by the low-grade textures and the stiff animations.  It’s showing it’s age.  If I weren’t looking at prettier, smoother, more refined games in my near future I might look past the failings.

I do eke out some measure of reward from CoH, it’s not without it’s merits.  It’s one of the few places you can build a team of -anyone- and get stuff done.  Full team of Blasters, check.  Totally doable.  Full team of Tankers? Yeah, slow but manageable.  Full team of Controllers? Yeah, I hear of those regularly.  It’s been descibed to me as MMO on training wheels.  And I rather agree to a point.  There’s room for deep technical builds in the mechanic they use, but right out of the box it’s the easiest MMO I’ve ever played.  Yes, even easier than WoW.  Not to say faster, but certainly easy to pick up a character and ride all the way to 50 without knowing what you’re doing.

Unfortunately, for all my time with City of Heroes I’m afraid I may be soon for retirement and never going back.  Only time will really tell.


Ridiculous and quick to play, this is a card game I picked up a month or two ago and it took me this long to find someone to play with.  It’s great.  I’m just going to say that.  It’s easy to play, the mechanics are simple and it goes fairly fast once you have the basics under your feet.  Much like Robo Rally, you can lose your footing pretty fast as I had to give up a precious artifact to my opponent what cost me the game.  Sad times, but such is the way of things when you bargain with dark powers and throw hastily constructed spells back and forth.

Totally a beer and pretzels game and easily increased fun as you add additional players.

Hunter Prey

A movie in the style of Enemy Mine about some aliens tracking an escaped prisoner after their ship crashes.  The audio is tricky at the start as they were helmets and are semi hard to understand.  Don’t fret, you aren’t missing much as I was able to keep up with the plot through to the end.

Conan: the Barbarian (2011)

I like it, but I’ve been a fan of Conan since the original movie with the Governator.  My only complaint against the movie is that the evil witch-daughter really needed to use more of that magic she was huffing earlier in the film.


A relaxing film about some computer nerds and espionage.  It’s relatively quiet and I spent Monday night curled up on the couch nursing a headache while I watched this for my third or fourth time.

Closing Comments

And that concludes my Summer Vacation.  Seven days of games, pizza, soda and sleepless nights.  See you all next time!


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