The adventures of Altross Ansgarde

Haven't updated in awhile. Now's as good a time as any, with the release of Skyrim and all. Just purchased it on Steam a few days ago and like everyone else, I am awestruck.

So much so I decided to, not unlike many other people I'm sure, start a photoblog of my journey through the game. I will be updating it about every other day. Enjoy! You know, if you enjoy this sort of thing.

I welcome any feedback or suggestions.



Quick Review of Torchlight.

So Torchlight made it to my "to play now" list, with so many games coming out that is about how far behind I am on releases. 
Diablo clone would be an understatement. This is practically Diablo re-skinned. Seriously. With a few minor adjustments, granted.  I tried the caster character first - probably not a good idea, because the the ranged fighting is extremely frustrating. The camera follows your movement to the STEP, which is an issue I had with Diablo. Be absolutely sure you click on the mob you are targeting, otherwise you are going to be running past it. And there is no targeting reticle of any kind, besides a faint red highlight on the mob your mouse is on, and with all the damage spam crowding the screen for the dps junkies, it isn't that helpful and makes it even less visible.  In addition to the furstrating targeting, the line of sight mechanics for ranged spells are even more maddening. The path of your projectiles can literally be obstructed by a tiny rise in a suspension bridge. Also, your character could be standing at the edge of a bridge facing a flat room, and with your mouse targeting directly strait ahead, your ranged spells will hit the sides of the bridge.  I really should fraps a video of it, because it is quite hilarious.  
The music is outstanding! Eerie, haunting, beautiful and epic. The ambiance and lighting of the environments was extremely well done. I am growing tired of the cartoon texturing, but I was still impressed nonetheless. 
For 19 bucks, I would probably just say to go grab diablo II and play it through again. 
Thanks for reading! 

Start the Conversation

4.0.1 sucking me back in...

...again. Time to neglect more great games just so I can start to re-feed my World of Warcraft addiction. I started playing w/ my daughter some time ago, and so it has kind of revived the game for me. Having a duo buddy there ready to go at any time is awesome, even if said duo buddy is in training. She's a quick learner though.
I am excited about the new changes. I don't raid really, I am a pretty casual player but I have been playing off and on since the games launch.  That being said, my favorite class, the Shaman, got some really cool changes. I played enhance on my previous Shaman on Horde, and me and the kid decided to roll Alliance this time around - and of course I love the Shaman so much I started another. This time starting out elemental, which Blizzard has made extremely viable at early levels. I am an AOE/nuking machine with an overabundance of mana. Shhh don't tell them. It's freaking great! I was farming level 19 elites last night, and I am level 21. I am talking with little to no downtime. I couldn't make the blue bar go down. I stacked up the spirit for the new "attack power" increase from that talent and I am having a blast.
We'll see how long it lasts, because if you know me, I am the most erratic and random WoW player probably, well, ever.


ROOF ATTENNA... did not win.

OK - I nearly killed myself trying to install the roof antenna, and not just because I am NOT handy with the home improvements. I ended up in the attic trying to find a good place to get the cable into the house, and did so without a cable guide of any kind. That on top of the fact that it was 180 degrees, and I didn't have a mask on of any kind. My clothes were soaked. 
I even used my iPhones compass to point the antenna in the correct direction, using I got 5 channels. 4 were cutting in and out. I don't have any obstructions, and I am only about 20 miles from the broadcast areas.  Anyone else had any experience setting up antennas for HDTV?
Also, watch this, it will induce Zen and it is why I love Giant Bomb:


Upgraded the HTPC

So just an update on the home theater PC - I have done some major upgrades and it is now almost a fully functional HTPC box. Got a directional, roof mountable HD antenna on the way and will be integrating HD signal w/ Windows Media Center for Windows 7 and Boxee. I ditched the cable, no need when you have a PC in the living room. I haven't been doing much PC gaming on the thing lately because I...
Also upgraded the TV to - Let me tell you right now, this TV is great! It is the latest in the Vizio XVT line and from what I can tell so far, they have improved on everything and every issue from the previous generations. This is a great gaming LCD and I highly recommend it if you are wanting to go 55in 1080p gaming. With some minor tweaks here and there, games look great even when being upscaled to 1080. The XBOX 360 looks so good on it (not as good as PC rez but, I digress) that I have neglected to play any PC games on it yet - if I do I will need to upgrade some stuff, and with a 55in TV I might as well just save my money and enjoy the XBOX for awhile.
About playing PC games from the couch: after trying this solution out for almost a year now, I can say that unless you have a setup where you can sit up, w/ a mouse and keyboard on a flat surface, it becomes problematic in many ways. Couch mouse surface works with the right multi-surface mouse, but it just become a bit uncomfortable after awhile.  
P.S. ADD MY GAMERTAG! Need some more folks to play with: pure guava 76 (with the spaces!)


Living Room, PC Gaming

I am an avid PC gamer, but not a pro gamer by any means. I've played a lot of console games mind you, from the NES all the way to the XBOX360, but I have always preferred that mouse and keyboard combination - and the ability to truly customize my game, and my gaming platform.
I also, like some of you, now have a family - wife and a kid, dog and a cat. While I love my family, shutting myself away for hours back in my "man cave", as I like to call it, to play some PC games, doesn't always gel very well with the girls. And working in the web-hosting business, I get to sit in front of a PC a majority of my day. Coming home to sit in front of another PC for my entertainment has gotten less and less appealing over the years. Solution?

Build a rig for the living room!

If you are a PC gamer as well, the first question you might be asking is: "Mouse and keyboard on the couch? Really? Headshot much?" 
That was the most difficult part of the project, and required many many trips to the local Fry's Electronics. However, I found this gem of a product: Microsoft Comfort Desktop 5000 with Bluetrack technology. Look it up! This Bluetrack mouse works on just about every surface I have tried, and has made PC gaming from the couch a reality for me. It offers extremely precise control as well - it isn't as gimmicky as it sounds. 
Surprisingly, the adjustment hasn't been that problematic. Now granted, with games like Dragon Age: Origins, World of Warcraft, Diablo II and strategy games, this transition was quiet easy (and quite comfortable I might add!) - My TF2 and CS:Source matches are still needing work,  but by no means is it impossible or dreadfully worse than some might imagine a transition from the desk to the couch to be. And a true ladder match of any kind will always require a desk.
Some other myths/theories I was facing:   
  • 1280x720 on my 720p Samsung 40inch LCD + a DVI to HDMI cable = loss of quality? 

Quite the contrary. I was amazed to discover the display quality of my games had little to zero degradation  from my high contrast 1600x1050 ViewSonic 25 inch wide screen PC LCD. Keep in mind, physical distance from the TV plays a factor here, due to the resolution. I would love to do a side by side comparison, but I am pretty sure that overall presentation even rivals my XBOX360 HDMI setup. I would also love to try this on a 1080p LED/LCD - I can only imagine it looking even better. 
  • Sound quality
A 3.5mm stereo jack to RCA to my home theater didn't present any problems, and wow, do home theater speakers/sub make a difference for a game! I need to get an optical 5.1/7.1 surround sound card to really make this part of the experience shine. And thank the nines for Bluetooth headsets.
Having had this setup for only a few weeks, I can already tell you it was a great decision. The family time has gotten more exciting, and sharing the PC and the web this way has made for a really cool experience overall. Bringing the PC into the living room is a must try for all you Dads out there wanting to do some gaming, and share music, the web, etc. with your spouses and/or kiddos. Move over consoles.

Dragon Age: Origins

So it finally arrives, after a year or so of anticipation, and so far it has delivered. Bioware returns to its roots in fantasy RPG gaming on the PC. And yea, I know it has both PS3 and 360 versions, but I really don't care. Any true gamer knows that this game was meant to be played on the PC.
I am about 3 hours in to my Elf Rogue - city dweller story line. I have just rescued my bride to be from the clutches of the human king's son and am now on the run from his minions (I opted to kill the scum). I am about to join the Grey Wardens - warriors against the Darkspawn. 
Great roleplay potential here - my dialog so far has been moving more and more towards a hatred of humans.
First Impressions

- NOT for the short attention span gamer.  
This is a good thing - deep story line, lots of lore to read and listen to. If you aren't prepared to spend long wintery nights next to the fire listening to some good lore and reading about the history of a new world, then this game might not be for you, or you might not unleash all of its potential.
- FOR the old school CRPG gamer.
Deep PC RPG story telling and elements so far. What appears to be some PSX RPG elements mixed in as well, more on that later. i.e. Vagrant Story, FF7, Ultima, Might&Magic, Baldur's Gate, Fallout. 
- Great dialog options and story building 
Some of the most impressive aspects of the story, to me so far, are the dialog options. How you respond to NPCs in the world really DOES have a DEEP effect on the story and your interactions with that NPC from that point on. Also, it appears the way you start out talking to someone, effects the dialog options beneath the initial one. For instance if I start off a bit angry at the NPC, I can continue to press on down that direction as far as I'd like. You just have to see this to believe it, this is NOT the typical Baldur's Gate stuff. It's a bit like Mass Effect style interaction, but expanded.

- Incredible music.  
Some of the best fantasy themed symphony I have listened to. See: Howard Shore, Nobuo Uematsu
- Great combat.  
Fast paced, critical timing, and choice of tactics.
- Awesome skill set.
As I have only played a Rogue thus far, that is all I can comment on. I have 3 "trees" to chose from, and can create any combination of the three to create a truly unique style of play that suits me. You  basically have a rogue tree, stealth, stuns, etc. A dual-wield tree, lots of back stabbing and melee dps. An Archer tree for some ranged DPS and ranged crowd control - like snaring and knocking out.

- Loot and treasure, as well as crafting loot!  
Something to loot from every room/area I clear so far. Lot's of hidden treasure around the maps, towns, etc. Again, a hint of old school console RPG.
I will blog my characters journey and my impressions as I continue. Pics and video to come!