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Pokemon X/Y

pokemon-x-y-logo-croppedOver 15 years ago, the first generation of Pokemon games arrived. Since then, they have evolved constantly, yet remaining faithful to that original formula. I remember vividly my trip to my local Woolworths store as a 9 year old boy with my brothers, to return to the family car with that large, red cartridge. Pure delight. To this day that memory is so evocative and real to me, it’s clear to see how dear this franchise is to people of my generation. Pokemon X/Y however doesn’t only just delight old fans like myself, it does plenty to bring in a new audience.

I'm on the road, from Vaniville City.

The game stays true to the winning formula. You’re a young boy or girl; coming of age, ready to go on an adventure. You are told to go and see the local Pokemon Professor; Professor Sycamore. As is the case, he has a selection of 3 Pokemon for you to choose from to start your journey with. Soon you’ll find yourself leaving the town to begin your journey, along with 4 other hand selected Pokemon trainers, each with their own ideas of what they want to get out of their journey.

The story continues along the same path as the many previous generations, guiding you and your new Pokemon from town to town, catching new Pokemon, accruing Gym badges and defeating an evil organisation along the way. In this generation, Team Flare is the enigmatic organisation that is trying to achieve their idealised future of the world. The story follows such a well beaten path, it could feel heavy and derivative. Fortunately however, Team Flare have very little input until quite late into the game and are actually a welcome distraction at that point, praise I could not give Pokemon White/Black’s Team Plasma.

teamFlare

Although there’s little to change the winning formula, there are still plenty of changes throughout. Most notably is the new art style. The 2D portaits are gone, and instead we are left with a beautiful 3D style that is so well executed that even the first generation Pokemon feel brand new (even if that means Mr Mime is the creepiest thing ever). Of the first generation, 111 of them have made their way into this latest installment, so there’s plenty there to get your nostalgia going. In total, there’s a whopping 454 Pokemon to catch. With such a huge amount of choice, it never feels like you absolutely MUST have certain Pokemon in your team to succeed. So long as you’re relatively sensible about your type choices, you really can pick your favourites and you’ll be okay for the main story. The new Fairy type doesn’t affect play all that much, and has only been added really to address the wide use of Dragon types in player battles.

The difficulty level of the main story of Pokemon X/Y is substantially lower than previous versions. During the main story, I never ‘whited out’ once from losing all of my Pokemon. The argument could be made that, 6 generations in, I probably don’t represent the average player. But the thing that made previous Pokemon games difficult was the constant grinding of levels in the long grass between Gyms. Although Exp. Share in previous games helped to an extent, the new Exp. Share almost completely eliminates any need for grinding. The new Exp. Share is a Key Item that you can toggle on and off and delivers Exp Points to your entire team. Couple that with fast rates of leveling, and the game can feel a bit of a push over at times.

megaEvolutions

Beyond the main game however, there is plenty to do. Since the introduction of breeding back in Gold/Silver, I’ve never felt comfortable enough to even attempt to understand the arcane workings of IVs. But the refinements made to the breeding system in X/Y have made it more accessible and the majority of my time played in the post game has been spent on breeding. It’s by far not at all necessary to do, but it’s compelling and rewarding enough to keep me doing laps around the major city to hatch my eggs. With a couple of extra legendaries to catch, some interesting quest chains, an endless Battle Maison and all of those mega evolution stones to get, breeding certainly isn’t the only thing to do in the post game. You could always Catch ‘Em All.

It stands as an extremely well polished RPG, and it would be very difficult for me to not recommend this game.  Not only is there enough in the way of new content and quality of life improvements to continue to please long term fans, the entire experience is accessible to newcomers, young and old. Pure delight.

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Retro City Rampage

RCR_title

Although Retro City Rampage came out some time ago, I’ve only recently picked up a copy and found enough time to play it. It’s a game that’s very hard to describe because it almost doesn’t want to be a game. Instead, it’s a collection of pop culture references and frequent nods towards its ancestors in the video game world. For someone that’s been playing video games for the last 16 years (damn I felt old trying to work that out), I thought it would be right up my street.

RCR_sewer

The game looks very similar to the original Grand Theft Auto. I absolutely adored the original GTA. Saturday mornings in our house when my brothers and I were 8 or 9 years old, would regularly consist of connecting the home PC to the other PC we had laying about in our garage to play some GTA on LAN. Although you’d always pull the short straw and put up with the freezing cold of the outdoors, it was always worth it. We’d spend hours cooperatively piling as many cars as was possible down a single road and then blow one up to watch the chain reaction, over and over again. RCR’s deliberate graphical choice appeals to the 8-year-old in me, still wishing he was playing GTA in that cold garage.

Unfortunately, it’s similarities with GTA start and end at a cosmetic level. I never played GTA’s story mode and I made the same choice here. I did play the first few missions, but what I really wanted to do was cruise around the city, piling up cars. Thankfully, there is a free play mode that allows you to just mess about exploring the city.  The controls are simple enough, with the arrow keys being to move and WASD to shoot in the respective directions, but felt backwards to me after coming from 150 hours clocked on The Binding of Isaac. Changing them was simple enough, which is worth mentioning as so many games; especially console games, will restrict you from remapping your controls, which is frankly nothing short of laziness from the developers. I could now explore more comfortably, but with a map so small, I felt like I had seen almost every road within an hour.

RCR_map

The entire world is made up of references to other games and pop culture. The very first mission of the game has you storming a bank with The Jester who gradually kills off all of his henchmen. You then have to try and cross a busy road without being hit by moving vehicles, until you finally escape down a large green pipe. And this is ultimately my entire gripe with this game, it doesn’t have it’s own personality. Instead, it feels like a child jumping up and down and screaming “Look, look! Look at this thing I’m referencing! Oooo, and this!”. Within a normal game that wasn’t tipping its hat so much at other games it was getting serious burn marks along its skull, the odd reference and nod is usually met with a chuckle and a “Ohh, I see what you did there”. Finding Tuco’s teeth in the Sheriff’s office in RAGE was delightful. Walking passed a ‘SixBucks Coffee’ store, a shop called ‘Go Go Busters’ and a lottery shop with the sign ‘CONGLATURATION !!! A WINNER IS YOU!’ all down the same street, isn’t quite as delightful.

RCR_congrat

This is why I can’t even talk about the game seriously or even take it seriously, as it seems like the entire development of the game was a joke that got out of hand. The whole design of the game feels at odds with itself as well. The choice of the graphical direction was surely done to appeal to the nostalgia of people like myself. People who have grown up with video games as a major influence in their life and like the idea of an homage to the various worlds and landscapes that have helped shape who they are and what they play today. It’s such a shame however, that the execution feels adolescent and characterless.

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Taylor Made

Here’s a link to my most current project. Please have a look and listen to our podcast 🙂

 

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Hello everyone! I’ve just started a new collaborative blog which you can find at http://fairlyimpressive.wordpress.com/

I’ll more than likely be posting anything new I have to say over there. So you know where to find me 🙂

 

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Wow, 15 months of no posts, it really has been a long time. Quite a lot has happened to me since I last posted, so I’ll get that out of the way in this post before I do anymore about anything else. I’m now right at the tail end of my final year at university. With only 6 exams to go over the next 4 weeks, I’m very close to being done with university. It’s taken me 3 whole years at university to realise that Computer Science is probably not going to be my future career. I have no idea what I’m going to be doing career wise, but discovering something I will enjoy will be interesting. Despite not enjoying the course completely, I have learnt a lot in other regards over the last 3 years doing this course.

I also have started and finished my final year project for this course. We were given a choice of 40 or so possible projects and we had to submit a short list of projects we’d like to do. I was allocated creating a Sudoku Solver. The project started in September and finished in late March. I had to learn a fair amount over that time in order to create a solver that would implement the more advanced solving techniques. I also then ported my solver over to work on Android, another steep learning curve. Although I say I’ve not enjoyed my course, I still enjoy programming when I’m given a specific task. I’m pretty happy with how my project turned out and hope to get a good mark for it. Maybe I’ll go into detail about my program some time.

Another thing that’s changed over the last 15 months has been my weight. Anyone that knows me will tell you that this time last year, I was a very porky guy. In July last year I was at 255lbs. Enough was enough and I hit the gym and sorted my diet out. Nearly 10 months later, I’m now 191lbs (a loss of 64lbs) and a lot happier for it. I still have a little way to go (about 20lbs or so I reckon), but exercise is now a fairly large part of my life. This is something that I’ll be posting about for sure. I’m sick of reading articles online about weight loss being an impossible dream, or that you need some miracle product to make it happen. So hopefully my own personal experience and knowledge I have learnt over the last 10 months will  in some way help tip the balance towards sensible and sound advice.

I’ve also quit playing WoW. WoW was quite a big part of my life, but in September 2010, I stopped playing. I’ve had the odd month back on, but I am no way able to play like I used to. I can’t commit to being able to have 4 nights a week free for 3 hours. I just can’t have that level of commitment to a game anymore. I still however keep in touch with a few of the people from my brilliant guild. If  it wasn’t for the people in Inpakt, I doubt I would even have those odd months of re-actived subscription.

Anyway, it’s getting fairly late now and I need to be up and ready at a reasonable time tomorrow so that getting up for my exam on wednesday won’t be torture. Expect some more posts soon 🙂

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Threat

I thought I’d cover something so widely recognized by players, but not completely understood. This is of course, threat and aggro.

We’re all used to the idea of making sure the tank keeps aggro in our raids. On the face of things it seems quite simple: make sure the tank has more threat than everyone else. However, this isn’t actually 100% correct, as there are a few more details behind the curtain than you’d first suspect. But firstly, let’s talk about how threat is generated.

For damage, it breaks down to a very simple 1:1 scale: 1 damage equals 1 threat. If you hit an enemy for 3,000 damage, that’s 3,000 threat. As a side note, Patch 3.0 changed it to 1 damage = 100 threat. The reason for this change was to avoid slow floating point computation and instead use less computationally expensive integer calculations. However, this change only changes the internal workings and a 1:1 ratio generates the same results and theory.

For healing, it breaks down to 2:1 (or 1:0.5). This means that for every point of healing done, the healer will generate half that as threat. A 5,000 heal will mean 2,500 threat. This threat is of course spread amongst all the enemies in the current combat. If there were 2 enemies with the previous example, the healer would get 1,250 threat on each enemy. Although this sounds like the healer will have a lot less threat because the coefficient is much lower, healers are generally healing a lot more than you are dealing damage. Of course, there are class and spec specific modifiers to these threat calculations.

This all sounds simple enough, but there is one more thing to consider. Most people assume that having more threat than the tank will cause you to pull aggro. This isn’t actually true. To pull aggro from a tank, you actually need 110% of the threat of the tank if you are in melee range. To pull aggro at range, you need 130% threat of the tank. This is one reason why classes such as Hunters and Mages should always use their threat clearing abilities often, and not just when you’ve pulled aggro. Here’s a simple scenario to illustrate why:

We have the following threat table during a boss fight:

1st Warrior Tank 1,000,000 threat

2nd Hunter 1,250,000 threat

3rd Elemental Shaman 1,220,000 threat

4th Priest healer 1,150,000 threat

etc

Although the Hunter, Elemental Shaman and Priest are above the tank’s threat, they are still under the amount needed to actually pull aggro. Now, if the hunter pulls aggro, the boss is going to come to him and munch his face off. No problem, the hunter has feign death. The problem however, is that the boss is now in melee range of the Elemental Shaman and Preist. To pull aggro in melee range, you only need 110% threat. This will cause the boss to aggro to the warlock and the preist, munching their faces off and in all likelihood, cause a wipe.

This is one of the main reasons why you need to be aware of pulling aggro. You may well have a threat dumping ability, but it can still cause the boss to destroy the rest of the raid should they come into melee range.

Of course, in a raid you shouldn’t ever pull aggro as you should threat dump early and often.

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It’s been a while

Well, it’s now been quite a while since I last posted here (over 2 months in fact). I don’t really have much of an excuse for my absence other than laziness and possibly, being busy with the start of my second year at university. Even still, neither can excuse me from not even just dropping a quick post. This however, is going to be a quick post, with the promise of more to come in the very near future; maybe even tomorow. I am going to start work on a end game Hunter guide, primarily focused on the Survival spec. Parts of it will apply to MM and BM, but since I’m most versed in the Survival playstyle, that’s where most of it will be directed.

 

That’s enough groveling from me today, I hope to have that guide up sometime tomorow.

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