A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Thursday, January 30, 2014


It has been a while since I covered MWO.  Like nearly three months.  In that time honestly I have barely played the game.  And all the playing I have done was for this blog post.  I probably needn't have bothered.

Let's get to the mediocrity.

(As usual click pictures for larger.)

Our first update back in November was this.  A couple minor tweaks, some new support modules and some bug fixes.  Its nice and all but.. not exactly lighting anyone's world on fire.

 A new stupid hero mech paint scheme.  Blah.

New silly things to buy with real money, and more hit box tweaking.  Not exactly a reason to spend your Christmas holiday playing this game again.  The spawn point changes are nice however.

Then two weeks later.. 

Do we get Interface 2.0 and thus Community Warfare giving us a reason to shoot robots besides to shoot them?  New game modes?


 If you buy any of these packages you are in fact a complete moron.  Its real money for virtual product.  And its just more robots to shoot other robots in so you can afford new robots to shoot more robots.  Or just buy some games from Gog.com or Steam and get actual games you can play forever in Gog's case, and likely forever if Steam never goes away.  And play great games for under 10 dollars each.  

Free to play is VERY customer unfriendly.

 Do not worry.  They got even worse!  GOLD VERSIONS.  For 500 dollar each.  For the biggest morons on the planet.  This is virtually the sign of the apocalypse, the obvious death of the Free to Play model.

 But due to some whining a day or two later they modified it.  Buy a single Clan mech now (due in 6 months or so) for 55 but get extra mechs for 5 less up to a certain point.  I think you could get it down to 35 a virtual robot.  Which is still stupid.  

More minor bug patches.  And one of the Phoenix mechs is now freely buyable without spending real money, the Thunderbolt.  Also we now have a new game mode and map.  Skirmish is basically all we have been doing except now?  No way to win besides KILL OTHER TEAM COMPLETELY.  All this really accomplishes is keeping base camping and rushing out of the metagame for this mode.

I would like to show you the new map but after a good 20 odd matches of irritation I have yet to actually SEE it.  And I am so tired of what the game is like now.  I want actual and meaningful content not.. SILLINESS.

 Two weeks into 2014 and we get a new stupid hero mech with its own bobble figurine.  I just can't contain my excitement.  My pants are as a giant big top tent.  Really.  

The two big Autocannons both get a speed nerf, making them more useless than they already are.  Some bug fixes.  Wow.  We waited a month for this.  I really feel at this point all the jokes about Vancouver (where the developer is located) are not mean enough.  More BC BUD jokes!  More cracks at pig farmers who feed said pigs with pieces of dead hooker!

Its SAD at this point.  PGI is almost inept really.  Its like watching a Sinclair Spectrum 48K model try to play any game ever.

 Now we can buy the Battlemaster!  Its a cool model.  Honestly that is really the only thing worth a happy crappy in MWO.  The utterly amazing mech re designs.  Vancouver shouldn't be feeding prostitutes to piggies.  They should be paid to constantly service the art team, and bring tons of cocaine along to share.  The art crew deserves it.  (Plus you know, women not being dead and all.  Least they caught the SOB doing it.  I could get political here but I won't other than to say nobody should have to work the streets.  Or worry for their lives regardless of what they need to do to survive in an uncaring world full of selfish and self absorbed douchebags.)

More hit box adjusting!  More bug fixes!

The Battlemaster isnt a bad little machine.  It can be a fast Assault mech if you need heavy armor somewhere quick like.  The problem is the weapons layouts and that idiotic GHOST HEAT really ruin the viability of a lot of builds.  Running 7 medium lasers in my 1G was.. not pleasant.  

Also a problem is that the current 12 mechs a side metagame tends to mean most mechs die instantly outside of Conquest mode since most people stay grouped up.  In general either play a Jenner or an Atlas.  Nothing else is honestly that viable.  You need mega speed and maneuverability or ultra heavy armor and firepower.  A fully armored Battlemaster can die in SECONDS if a couple mechs spot you alone or in front.  Imagine what the medium and heavy classes go through.  Not even really time to realize you are getting hit!  Especially since at least the Battlemaster can avoid running an XL engine and still get a good speed going and be survivable.  Mediums and heavies practically require an XL to fit a decent weapon, armor, speed, and cooling ratio.  Meaning they die even faster since 90% of all shots seem to go for the torso.

(And with an XL engine the loss of any of the three torsos destroys your mech.  With a standard only the Center Torso or Head destroyed equals an instant death.  Many people target the legs on lights as one destroyed turns a speed demon into an easily hit cripple, and double legs removed is also a kill.  Lights almost always have XL engines since speed is what keeps them alive and they need as much as they can get.)

But I have a few in game shots of what I could get over the last quarter so let's get to them so I can go back to playing a good game. (Aka not this one at this point.) Maybe I can get the new HPG map screenshotted some time in the future.

 Skirmish mode:  Its like the other modes but now as I said there isn't even the possibility of any other type of victory.  Meaning even LESS reason for teams to do anything besides huddle up and one salvo kill anything that dares poke its' head out of cover.

 The new spreading out of lances is supposed to help with this but honestly all teams do is immediately group back up for the most part.  Either lances need to be spread out to the point of instantly being in visual of an enemy lance or they might as well not even bother.  It really just slows things down while everyone usually regroups.

 Oh yeah.  Project Phoenix mechs have gotten into the hands of those foolish enough to spend real money months in advance for virtual robots.  Again, great looking designs but nothing to do with them but DEATHMATCH, DEATHMATCH, and WOW DEATHMATCH.

Mechwarrior 4 had more modes within like a month of release and more genuine content.

It came out when an 800mhz CPU with a 3dfx Voodoo 5 5500 was enough power to run the game and be a host server for a dozen players doing Capture the Flag mode.  Yeah.

 Sometimes when the Word of Lowtax is actually around and playing (almost never now) we can do pretty well.  Solo dropping into a pick up group (PUG) is usually a miserable experience still.  No in game voice communications.  

 A shot from the cockpit of my Battlemaster.  Decent enough but those big old screen frames do block some visibility.  I am still tweaking my builds to see if I can't make it actually workable in the current metagame.

And the new windscreen realism thingie.  Realistic and classy but... not exactly a MUST ADD IN NOW change.  Too much isn't in this game yet.

ANNNNDDD BACK FROM PLAYING.  A tiny handful of the Word of Lowtax were on.  I bought my second Battlemaster.  I still can't manage to do anything with them.  Spiders still seem to be tiny little gnats incapable of ever taking damage even though the game has claimed it has fixed hit boxes and the "lag shield".

And I continue to be unable to get the HPG map to show you all.  

But.. next week it is rumored USER INTERFACE 2.0 is due.  Which the developers known as PGI claim is why we have fart all to do in the game besides shoot each other.  Everything is held up because they need to implement it.

If this in fact does arrive and not make the game go kablooey with bugs I will report on it.  And maybe even show this mythical new map.

(Ghost Heat will probably continue to make Battlemaster and Hunchback builds effectively useless however.)

Friday, January 17, 2014

Retro Computing: Why Bother? Special: More Fun With the Commodore 1084

I just cannot get over the mighty massive utility and quality of this little gizmo.  While it is not the better looking and stereo S version it is just so damned GOOD.

A good composite monitor is basically one of the least effort requiring display options you can get for your computing needs.

And hell, as I have shown it even makes your console games look great.  And given that some console titles were ports from computers you have even more effort light ways to play your favorites, in some cases much cheaper!  Let's show some more stuff!

(As always click for larger.  And note this is me pointing a camera at a screen and using Sony Play Memories to do some light editing.  In general they look so much better in person.)

 Here we have the SNES version of the Amiga classic GODS.  It still runs fast like the Genesis port but it looks and controls nice and sweet.  Plus in level music, something the Amiga original didn't do. For some reason a lot of UK made software in the 8 and 16 bit era were either sound effects or music in game, but never ever both...

And unlike a 1 button DB9 port controller I can use this mighty joystick with 6 action buttons, variable speed turbo and slow motion (on games that pause with START), and even have all 6 buttons at even autofire or normal button press independently.  A very classy stick!  I love my Epyx 500 XJ to death but the sheer volume of controllers for the consoles gives you some leeway.

Heck, with the SNES you can even get away from terrible ancient portable game consoles with their tiny screens, no lighting, and passive matrix screens.  Its called The Super Game Boy.  

 Some games such as Metroid II even have a default color palette though you can use various SGB menu options for various borders and color schemes.  Some were even designed for the SGB and have exclusive colors and borders, which its bigger and more versatile brother never did.  (More on it later.)

 I generally go with the black and white palette for most games designed without any SGB support and a black border.  Which is why I am zoomed in on this here Ultima Runes of Virtue game.  (Yes kids, there were two exclusive Ultima games only on Nintendo consoles.  Both of them are still better than Ultima 8 and 9 are.)

 Even if Sherry the Mouse got kind of homicidal...

 Shadowgate Classic is the Gameboy/Color dual cart translation of the Macintosh 68K adventure game.  On a SGB black and white is ideal I would say.  

 Speaking of the black cart Game Boy Color titles, Dragon Warrior 1-2 have a custom border but they don't let you mess with palettes.  

But the Gamecube had its' own Game Boy player, one that also covered the Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Color, albeit losing some of the palette and background goody options the SGB had.  Let's take a look eh?

 Dragon Warrior in full color.  But in widescreen mode it looks.. ungood to me.

 Much better in proper aspect ratio.

 You can also shrink the screen for a sharper image.  

 Widescreen is still butt though.

 Shadowgate Classic now looks like a BOSS.  It even looks superior to the NES port.  

 Most GB original games just go to some default color scheme I think is the same as the Game Boy Advance and GB Color auto palette options.  You can change to a couple presets by holding directions and buttons but compared to the SGB it is a giant pain.  No menus and you pretty much have to write down the combinations.

 Sherry is green.  With EVIL.  I guess she was based off someone Lord British in real life was dating.  Break ups can be rough man!

 Metroid II looks AMAZING though.  Great color selection trumping the SGB.    

Really folks.  Never play Game Boy-Advance games on anything but a Super Game Boy or Gamecube Game Boy Player by and large.  

On a Commodore 1084 you get a crispy good picture and stuff!

 Its pretty good for actual Gamecube titles too!  Resident Evil looks damned good and scary.

But let's go back a bit.  Show the enemy of the Commodore 64 and how it can utilize the 1084 for retro gaming glory.

 My ancient NES manufactured in 1986 for said Christmas season.  Still with many stickers 12-13 year old me was dumb enough to put on it, plus an original game pad, the original GREY Zapper light gun, and the magnificent NES Advantage.  

See how old my rig is?  367K serial number.  It should have been even lower but.. well when I get to a full NES retrospective I will talk more about that.

 It was a pain getting games to run but once I did it is sheer excellence thanks to the A/V cables on the side of the NES that the top loading machine of the later era skimped out on while making cartridges more reliable.

 With many a great screw removal we see the internals of my NES.  Its the US launch version.  CPU 04 motherboard.  I opened it up to give the internal contacts a good cleaning.

 Also to clip this 4th pin on the 10NES lockout chip.  The ceramic capacitor made it a doozy to get to.  Clipping this pin allows for unlicensed games to be used and for legit games to work better without that constant blinking screen issue.  You still need to clean your game and console contacts though.

 See Nintendo in their usual form of WE DO WHAT WE WANT AND YOU LIKE IT ways decided instead of plugging a cartridge in that they would slide into a slot like a VCR, then you would press it down to connect to the contacts.  This makes for loose connections.  And is also why NES cartridges are roughly twice as tall as their Japanese counterparts.   OMG NINTENDO'S ISSUES CAUSE ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES SOMEONE CALL SOME TREE HUGGERS!!

 This sort of contact is called a Zero Insertion Force contact.  This can make electrical connections shoddy in the long run.  I am showing a cart inserted as before I screw a good 20 screws back in I want to make sure it works.

 Yep.  While many games take a couple tries to work there is no more blinking and it requires a lot less effort.

 Yes indeed.  Ancient games that were rarely taken care of with tons of build up of ucky on their contacts are given a little rubbing alcohol cleaning with a cotton swab and it helps a bit.  Once I get a proper bit to open these cartridges I will give them a super good cleaning and remove all issues.  Plus new batteries for battery save games.

 MULE on the NES is much cheaper to get than the computer edition.  Mainly because NES fans don't know classics when they see them.

 A bit more MULE screenage.

 And Ultima 3 on the NES for more port action.  While my photo has a bit to be desired it is all pretty and crisp in person.  And blows the HELL out of the Atari 8 bit version.  NES Advantage > Keyboard commands.

And one last thing.  Your modern TVs cannot do light gun games but the Commodore 1084 CAN.  This was my first game of Hogan's Alley B mode in... 20+ years.  Got a fairly decent score.  Gun seemed quite accurate in spite of me sitting awkwardly on a big comfy chair mostly full of my 26 NES carts.

So what have we learned kids?  

Well we now know that a good composite monitor is one of the best investments for your computer AND console classic gaming unless you simply cannot get past using a 13" monitor and must have some enormous thing instead.  

That and we learned that sometimes a beloved computer classic is available in other formats which sometimes are superior though by NO MEANS ALWAYS.  (You don't even want to see the THING Defender of the Crown is on the NES.)

But this kind of is giving me an idea now that my retro collecting has been picking up as of late as my hobby gaming is slowly ending sadly.

Not just buying games cheap, but PLAYING THEM.

I am maybe thinking of taking all my games, all my systems and redoing my collection posts with a plan.

A game a post.  I HAVE to play each game I own for at least 45 minutes and talk about it.  I can play it more but it has to get 45 minutes of play.  Then I can say if I want to play it more immediately, when I have time, or if I am fine never playing it again or whatever.

This is kind of why my hobby gaming has been dying.  What is the point of buying this stuff to merely sit unused and unloved?

And unlike hobby games a good videogame can be played without anyone else.  Or even leaving the house.  Great for our modern terrible work and life schedules where you gotta get your fun in whenever you can.


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I like to play nerd games! I am a nerd! Join our nerd ways at https://www.facebook.com/groups/112040385527428/