On Second Seals and Going Cold Turkey

For the past week, I’ve been feverishly playing Fire Emblem: Awakening unlike any other long-term engagement I've spent with the game since its release. This time, however, I’ve been spending time with my neglected Hard/Classic playthrough as my magic-focused/strength-addled “Charlie” (yes, Charlie) and while the beginning was wrought with much restarts and careful planning to ensure Frederick only acted as a mere meat puppet, everything turned for the worse when I began to build spreadsheets specifically for the game.

You're disgusting, Virion.

It was all so simple at the beginning when all I cared about was who will marry whom and for no particular reason other than the fact that they didn't get married in my first playthrough, with some measured preferences for Chrom and Charlie, of course. From then on, it became a bit of an obsession now that my knowledge of skill inheritance entered the equation and how their children will make use of their Master Seals (that was a mistake). Referring to a Skills list allowed me to meticulously plan my, hopefully, overpowered children characters by taking note of skills such as Aptitude and Galeforce (perhaps the most revered mainstay, and rightfully so) and appropriately reordering their parents’ skills to make sure they would be passed down.

"MAX" -- yeah right

Everything went pretty smoothly for the first few days, progressing through the story and paralogue chapters, slowly, with tons (tons) of replaying of the EXPonential Growth map DLC littered in between. What surprised me was how simple it was to "max out" my characters yet still feel immensely underpowered, especially compared with the children characters, which I suppose is expected after all from being carefully produced through what is literally selective breeding, and made it seem like they were meant to be thrown away once I recruited their kids.

Eventually, I caught on.

There had to be something to this stockpile of Second Seals in my inventory as I never really needed to rethink anyone’s class sets or question their given class upon recruitment, so my curiosity finally caught up to me and I decided to use it on a character I thought couldn’t develop any further.

The “>”’s indicate the usage of a Seal, the color green signifies what’s maxed or acceptable, orange means it needs some work and yeah, I needed to stop.

Unsurprisingly, there was more to the game than I originally thought.

And so I proceeded to use a Second Seal on everyone and thus began my own personal descent into madness much like Brad with Dota 2 wherein I just could not stop playing this game, enough so so that my hands started cramping (clearly not as seemingly health-threatening as something tingling in your back, but notable nonetheless). It was fun imagining the sheer relentlessness my team would be delivering as they blazed through the main game and difficult DLC chapters like Infinite Regalia and The Future Past DLC’s, but the amount of time necessary to make that dream happen -- there’s only so much one man can take of Champions of Yore 3. So, so much.

The game became a chore, basically, and with that the game lost its original, and unexpected, appeal to me: its characters.

While my genuine enjoyment with anything remotely anime-related or, hell, Japanese-related stretches as far as select Final Fantasy games, all things Persona 3 and 4, Bayonetta, and choice animes (Case Closed and Lupin the 3rd), my total experience with individual unit strategy games is slim. With XCOM: Enemy Unknown, I was not only introduced to an entirely new genre last year but one that came with an element of fear and uncertainty attached to its ostensibly (hah) third-person gameplay, but not quite. Rather than controlling one member of a squad, I controlled of them one and their designations and actions, one by one.

There’s a simple beauty to leaving things up to a player’s imagination when it comes to attaining a nickname, but that’s all there is to it.

While the gist of it can be boiled down to prioritizing placing units behind full cover and frequently risking ammo with low hit chances on standby, what disappointed me was how replaceable each of my units were. Unlike Fire Emblem, XCOM’s focus relied on the heart of its gameplay, playing on the intensity and almost desperate feeling one can have against unknown overwhelming odds, leaving character development and story by the wayside.

What separates the two and makes the other more memorable was the existence of meaningful character interactions. Rather than providing a ubiquitous blank slate, Fire Emblem strived to make units’ interactions on the battlefield matter through supportive means, be it specific stat increases or reacting to their partner’s well-being when affronted by an enemy. And not only that, they retained these partnerships beyond the battlefield producing (usually) clever and funny dialogues toeing along my unfamiliarity with anime tropes, all thanks to 8-4’s wonderful translation duties.

To take this all away and diminish the experience to grinding for hours on end, stepping back to allow myself to realize exactly what I was doing reminded me of my original goal: to see every pairing’s conversation. It’s still an arduous task, but a much more manageable and exponentially entertaining one. By just sacrificing my first playthrough’s save with “Chie” (yes, Chie), all my memories of mindlessly grinding returned and terrified me; powering down my 3DS was never sweeter.

A day later, my time with Fire Emblem: Awakening has gone down from six hours a day to zero. I suppose my time spent with this document also counts, but my biggest takeaway from all this is that I should have internetted harder before I got into this whole self-deprecating mess. You're one damn amazing game, Fire Emblem: Awakening, please stop... because in a few days my PC will finally be completed and I guess I'll share its specs then? Join me next time on Spreadsheets 'n Shit with rjayb89.

Hey girl. Damn girl.

Notes:

  • document created on may 27, 2013 (Chrom's birthday)
  • saved over first playthrough (separate save) with new playthrough on same day in attempt to stop addiction; to instill the thought of having to do it all over again, I just cannot bear the thought, at least not anytime soon = successful (possibly temporary) disengagement
  • dat severa
  • backflips ‘n bioforge is fucking awesome
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My Mass Effect Stats Revisited

Aha, this time I got this table shit figured out by pasting html versions of my Google spreadsheet. Anyway, not too much change from last time aside from my still ongoing re-playthrough of the entire trilogy with Jenna down there. For what it's worth, my favorite games of the series are Mass Effect and Mass Effect 3.

The first for allowing us to actually explore the world, which made me love the series in the first place. It triggered my obsessive need to scavenge the unknown for all its resources in the hopes to raise a number in my journal (when it was useful). And the mood and atmosphere some random excavation site or seemingly abandoned building can emit are still, to this day, unparalleled and it's definitely a feeling I missed having as I went through the next two games.

Mass Effect 2 and 3 excelled in their gameplay upgrades from the first game, which kind of put these two games in their own league. Story, in subsequent playthroughs, take a backseat as far as I'm concerned and while Mass Effect 2 made me love the characters in the universe, seeing through their story arcs once was enough. From a gameplay perspective, Mass Effect 3 made combining different squad mates' powers actually matter adding in biotic explosions and tech bursts that help annihilate those pesky reapers which, as a result, places this game above Mass Effect 2's rather simple power mechanics and random placement of barricades everywhere (still plagues the third but much, much less... noticeable).

And, for the record, I was completely indifferent to the ending before and after the Extended Cut. But, as you can tell, a lot of my Mass Effect 3 playthroughs are incomplete. Like I mentioned, I'm indifferent to the ending, but with the knowledge of how it ends and how there may be more DLC for the game, it's just a matter of waiting until the next Mass Effect game comes out. Whenever that is.

Mass Effect

NameGenderAlignmentClassRomanceVersionNotes
Jade 1FemaleParagonSoldierLiara T'soni360First/"true" playthrough
Jade 2FemaleParagonSoldierLiara T'soni360
JohnMaleRenegadeAdeptLiara T'soni360
RachelFemaleRenegadeAdeptKaiden AlenkoPCDownloaded save
AidanMaleParagonVanguardAshley WilliamsPCDownloaded save
JennaFemaleParagonInfiltratorKaiden AlenkoPC
TotalsTotalsTotalsTotals
Male=2Paragon=4Soldier=2Liara T'soni=3
Female=4Renegade=2Adept=2Kaiden Alenko=2
Vanguard=1Ashley Williams=1
Infiltrator=1

Mass Effect 2

NameGenderAlignmentClassRomanceVersionNotes
Jade 1FemaleParagonSoldierThane Krios360First/"true" playthrough
Jade 2FemaleRenegadeInfiltratorGarrus Vakarian360
JohnMaleRenegadeAdeptTali'Zorah nar Rayya360
DrahcirMaleRenegadeEngineerAshley Williams/Miranda Lawson360Universe generated through Mass Effect Genesis
JessicaFemaleParagonVanguardKaiden Alenko/Jacob Taylor360Universe generated through Mass Effect Genesis/Incomplete playthrough
RachelFemaleRenegadeAdeptKaiden AlenkoPC
AidanMaleParagonVanguardJackPC
ChieFemaleParagonSentinelNonePC
JennaFemaleParagonInfiltratorKaiden AlenkoPC
TotalsTotalsTotalsTotals
Male=3Paragon=5Soldier=1Kaiden Alenko=3
Female=6Renegade=4Infiltrator=2Thane Krios=1
Adept=2Tali'Zorah nar Rayya=1
Engineer=1Jack=1
Vanguard=2Garrus Vakarian=1
Sentinel=1Miranda Lawson=1
Ashley Williams=1
Jacob Taylor=1
None=1

Mass Effect 3

NameGenderAlignmentClassRomanceCrucibleVersionNotes
Jade 1FemaleParagonSoldierLiara T'soniSynthesize360First/"true" playthrough
JohnMaleRenegadeAdeptTali'Zorah nar Rayya???360Incomplete playthrough
AidanMaleParagonVanguardAshley Williams???PCIncomplete playthrough
JennaFemaleParagonInfiltratorKaiden Alenko???PCIncomplete playthrough
TotalsTotalsTotalsTotalsTotals
Male=2Paragon=3Soldier=1Liara T'soni=1Synthesize=1
Female=2Renegade=1Adept=1Tali'Zorah nar Rayya=1
Vanguard=1Ashley Williams=1
Infiltrator=1Kaiden Alenko=1

Totals

Gender
Male7
Female12
Alignment
Paragon12
Renegade7
Class
Adept5
Soldier4
Vanguard4
Infiltrator4
Engineer1
Sentinel1
5 Comments

My Mass Effect Stats

Because I fucked up typing out these tables two nights ago and last night with them disappearing when I pasted something into one of the cells and some other thing that was less infuriating, I'll just add a few sentences telling you how I fucked up instead of some silly anecdote and stuff. Without further ado, here are some notes I've taken during my playthroughs of Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 from crude Notepad document form into Parchment v2! Yay! Also, they're in reverse order than I intended them to be:

RomanceTally
Mass Effect
Liara T'soni2
Ashley Williams2
Kaiden Alenko2
Mass Effect 2
Thane Krios1
Tali'Zorah nar Rayya1
Kaiden Alenko1
Jack1
Garrus Vakarian1
Miranda Lawson1
Jacob Taylor1
None1
ClassTally
Soldier3
Adept3
Vanguard3
Engineer1
Infiltrator1
Sentinel1
AlignmentTally
Paragon7
Renegade5
NameAlignmentClassRomance
Mass Effect360
(t)Jade 1ParagonSoldier(g)Liara T'soni
Jade 2ParagonSoldierLiara T'soni
Mass Effect 2360
(t)Jade 1ParagonSoldierThane Krios
Jade 2RenegadeInfiltratorGarrus Vakarian
JohnRenegadeAdeptTali'Zorah nar Rayya
(c)DrahcirRenegadeEngineerAshley Williams/Miranda Lawson
(i)(c)JessicaParagonVanguardKaiden Alenko/Jacob Taylor
Mass EffectPC
RachelRenegadeAdeptKaiden Alenko
AidanParagonVanguardAshley Williams
Mass Effect 2PC
RachelRenegadeAdeptKaiden Alenko
AidanParagonVanguardJack
ChieParagonSentinelNone

(t) denotes first/"true" playthrough

(i) denotes incomplete playthrough

(c) denotes a universe generated by Mass Effect Genesis

(g) denotes a guess

5 Comments

My puppies one month later...

Uh, I selected more images than this but this image "side-by-side" thing is either really retarded or can't function properly because I'm retarded. Hopefully they all show up once I post this blog. Also, it took me about five tries to finally get this bundle of images to appear.

I posted a blog a month ago asking about the furry one's breed. My vet says it might be a mix between a Queensland Terrier and a Corgi. Hell, I don't know. That puppy is still adorable.

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No one man should have all those consoles AKA RIP PS3 (2008-2011)

I'm sure I've mentioned this before somewhere in the forums but, just to make sure, I have never actually bought a PS3 in my life. It was definitely not by choice, but I thought the 360 was the only console that fit my lifestyle. Most of my buddies had a 360, you see. And not one night has passed where I didn't see at least one of them playing Call of Duty or Halo or whatever dudebro stuff they were into.

Sending over a chat invite was simple. I didn't have to be in the same game as they were to provide some light chat over Viva Pinata or Mass Effect from my end, everything was just fine while they were trashtalking the other team, even though it was really me getting the misdirected abuse. Until one day, my sister messaged me that I'll get a PS3 soon.

I was like what? Why?

Obviously, my textual surprise sounds like I was totally against getting a PS3 and at the time, I'll admit, there weren't any games I really wanted that were exclusively on the PS3. Except maybe Metal Gear Solid 4, which I have completed since then, but that's a different story.

Apparently, my sister's boyfriend (now ex) asked for a PS3 for his birthday and eventually got what he wanted during their short relationship. Great for him, I suppose, until my sister threatened to get legal up in that bitch. Weeks later, and without legal action, the PS3 was finally in my hands. There were a few save files remaining from the likes of MotorStorm and skate., I believe, that I deleted immediately once I hooked it up to a non-HD TV.

Among my little group of friends, I was the only person who had one and I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with it.

==========================================================

Fast-forward three years, everything that shouldn't have happened has been undone on this very day -- my 60GB (upgraded to 160GB) backward-compatible PS3 can no longer turn on, LA Noire up its guts, and its power light bleeds red. (And if it isn't really dead, well, there was my PS3 origin story).

With Nintendo pulling out a new console next year and hopefully Microsoft's and Sony's the next, I'll be much, much more careful with what consoles I choose to get. Sure, it was nice knowing that I was able to experience the best games each console had to offer this generation, but with the games I go for now? I avoid playing any game's multiplayer, so online functionality isn't a problem or hindrance in my purchase decisions.

Waggle, Kinect, and the Move are without a doubt great for kids and I'm not going to knock either of them if they continue this trend of motion controls as I do have little ones running about in my household occasionally and they provide a handy distraction. Using a chatpad or whatever silly proprietary contraption I had to use to send messages through these consoles are now replaced by my smart phone and twitter. If anything, console exclusives will be my sole deciding factor.

However, just knowing that Nintendo will still pull out Mario games and Microsoft more Halo games (franchises of which I've grown tired of, but still hold a great deal of respect for and have their most recent entries still visited by me), Sony is sounding much more appealing to me and that's only because I don't know what they're planning for come the next generation. Favorite franchises of theirs that have grown on me feel like they've only just grasped me. Uncharted? Why the fuck not? Yakuza? THE TITS. PixelJunk? FUCK YEAH. Veronica Belmont>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Dead puppies>>>Jessica Chobot.

Anyways, I have a dead PS3. I'm pretty bummed about it. Now check out this sweet puppy.

A puppy and a fly trap that's PACKED with dead flies
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Having problems identifying breed of puppy...

I've had this little pup for about a week now, my father found him under his truck and later asked neighbors if they're missing the little thing, and I'm not entirely sure what breed it is. I've had a German Shepard, Dalmatian, and a Chihuahua before (all gotten within a month of each other, and died of ages 10 years and over, I believe), but this one seems like a mutt of sorts. Yo, check out these sweet pics: 
 
And since I can't insert any more line breaks because I can't drag this box to make it larger, the little one (the chihuahua), I calls it, was another dog my father picked up. He said might as well get another one, of which I said I disapprove. Anyway, as you might notice, along with the pups are makeshift beddings and a pair of bowls off to the side. We weren't prepared to get these little guys but we're hoping to keep them and shower them with gifts like some sweet snuggie shit. Also, no names yet, but I'm thinking of calling the furry one "Rusty." 
 
So, what is it?
 

 The furry one
 The furry one and the little one
 The furry one and the little one
 The little one
 A halfling and the furry one 
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Choice quotes from Ice-T's book...

"Ice: A Memoir of Gangster Life and Redemption-from South Central to Hollywood"

Two nights ago, I finished reading Ice-T's book of memoirs and only just realized the impact his music career was on artists like Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G., the two rappers whose music I grew up listening to the most in my "rebellious" years, and grew an admiration for the man and less so ironically admire him for his tweets and the possibility that he may appear on our beloved Bombcast. As you might have hoped, he does mention a few video games here and there:

The record had been out for a whole year; it was on Body Count’s debut album. But we’d performed “Cop Killer” a full year before that on the Lollapalooza Tour. That made the song—if not the record—about two years old. The album came out, was selling well, and all of a sudden this organization called CLEAT (Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas) started calling for people to boycott Time Warner and get “Cop Killer” removed from stores. Other police groups soon joined them, railing about the record. I’ll never forget the moment. I was at home playing a video game called Tecmo-Bowl with four of my boys when Sean E. Sean called me.  


Once you've tested the fire, you become very comfortable with the calm. These days, I’m in a quiet zone. I prefer staying in the crib, eating at my own table, chilling with my wife. The only blood and mayhem comes when I’m playing Xbox. Call of Duty. Red Dead Redemption. I can play that shit all day long. I love gaming so much. Last year I was even asked to voice the character Griffin in this dope-ass third-person shooter game called Gears of War 3.


And before he records a Bombcast with our beloved Vinny, he's got to blow off this mindset!

One thing I learned about Italians. They’re hot-blooded. Proud as hell. Easy to rile up. But they also respect the fact that you’ll stand up for yourself. By the rest of the shows in Italy, the whole story had reversed and all the Italians I met told me, “Look, Ice, we apologize for Milan.”


Anyway, just so I don't give it all away, always keep this in mind IN REAL LIFE and in video games, which is just as effective, surprisingly. Serious business, guys.

IT’S HARDER TO HIT A MOVING TARGET. PLAYERS KEEP IT MOVING.


(It was in all caps in the book)
...

Moovin'
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DLC: Arrival mini-review (no story spoilers)

Class: Adept 
Difficulty: Normal 
Version: PC 
Preferred Heavy Weapon: Missile Launcher
 
Well, I just completed Arrival and it took me maybe about one to one-and-a-half hours to complete. And being the guy who enjoys shooting people before asking questions, I totally acted like an asshole every chance I had. Now, I'm not going to spoil anything with any story-specifics except naming a few names, but do note that you will be playing this completely solo except during an earlier bit in the DLC that you'll probably see in the Ask Me Anything Brad and Vinny did (then was pulled down, maybe it'll be up later today), then after that, you're completely alone. 
 
Anyways, I jumped into the game pretty rusty having not played the game for maybe a month or so, but the DLC begins easily enough with Admiral Hackett asking you to rescue a friend of his in a heavily batarian-populated system. You're given the option to either get to her discreetly or guns-blazing. For the sake of an achievement, I did it quietly and it proved to be much easier than I thought it would be. No need for any special abilities, like cloaking by way of an Infiltrator, or quick-wit maneuvers to get to cover quickly before anyone sees you as you will usually find guards facing away from you. All you need to do is find a different path around the guards (which are clearly laid out for you), and that'll be that.
 
Eventually, I was led to what was basically a wave-based combat arena. In my first, and currently only, playthrough I was an Adept with a maxed out Warp ability (I'm guessin' it was Heavy Warp I upgraded it to) and killed most enemies with one flick of my hand. Although you'll suffer no consequences for dying during this part, you will receive an achievement for surviving all five waves, with the last rolling out a Heavy Mech. Previous waves will employ troublesome and more enduring (compared to normal grunts) Pyros that can do some heavy damage to you if they get too close to you.
 
Now the rest of the DLC is fairly familiar as you'll traverse through corridors and the usual room with most obvious places to take cover behind. One thing I will note though, is that grunts really love throwing flash grenades at you. They don't do enough damage, if at all, to make it a remarkable challenge but they threw them too constantly. I can imagine a Soldier having a problem with this since they are naturally shooter-focused and with the washed-out visual effect clouding your enemies things can get a little difficult, unless you move about cover a lot, of course. In the final scramble, I was being bombarded with flash grenades and a second, and final, Heavy Mech encounter.
 
After all was said and done, Arrival proved to be a solid Mass Effect 2 experience. No big surprises here, except for one unique mechanic that puts you in control of the enemy for a short time, and a completely combat-avoidable section in the game. Between the bare-bones conversations with your colleagues about the upcoming mission and impending arrival of the Reapers, combat varies dispatching of a small group of grunts to those led by a shielded merc, or sometimes a mech. While the outcome of the DLC will not be seen in full effect until Mass Effect 3 comes out, the arrival you've all been waiting for is nothing spectacular. It's just more of the same and a final message to hold you over to the next game. 
 
3 puppies out of 5

So, there you go. A little mini-review for you, I suppose. I had fun with it, by the way.

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A query on Rico's fate in Killzone 3... (Killzone 2 spoilers)

Now that the game has been out for a day, I was wondering if someone in particular dies, and I'm talking about Rico here. Does Rico die? 
 
I know, a weird question, but definitely warranted when his AI can't figure out how to shoot the final boss in Killzone 2 or take cover from him. Until he finally gets up close to the guy does he actually do (massive) damage to him.
 
Thanks, asshole. (But, thank you for answering, reader). 
 
If he does die, I will be very happy to pick up a copy of this game to at least see him die, and if I myself have to kill him, I'll probably have to buy two copies.

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DVD drive/USB ports/Memory Card Reader not working...

UPDATE: Problem resolved 
 
I've been having possibly the most frustrating night and morning in the past few years since I upgraded my laptop to Windows 7 Home Premium (32-bit). I installed the appropriate drivers (in order, as suggested by esupport.sony.com) from a CD while I patiently waited for each process to complete. But then suddenly, my mouse's lights turned off to which I said oh, I'll just unplug it and plug it back in. No luck. Since then I've been scavenging ways of how to repair it which included: 
 
  • Going into Device Manager to uninstall the multiple instances of USB Root Hub, then restarting (didn't work)
  • Going into the Registry Editor to remove the UpperFilters and LowerFilters files from directory HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class\{4D36E965-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}, then restarting (still didn't work)
  • Turning my laptop off, removing the power cord and battery, and letting it sit there to reset the CMOS (or whatever, I'm no tech guy), but anyways, it didn't work either.
  • System restoring my laptop to an earlier time (before it suddenly dropped USB, DVD drive, and Memory Card Reader support) which did work for like 5 minutes, then just ignored their existence once again.
  • System restoring my laptop right when the Windows 7 install finished to have a fresh start to which I'm greeted with no Internet access because I haven't installed the appropriate drivers that I can't access because my CD drive couldn't read anything.
  • Booting into BIOS to some stuff I have no clue what to do with.
 
Eventually, I figured out that my CD/DVD drive wasn't working either and my Memory Card Reader, too.
 
What choices I have but fucking can't because my CD/DVD drive doesn't read shit:
 
  • Restoring the computer to factory settings, of which I can purchase the CDs to do so from esupport.sony.com (my laptop is a Sony VAIO VGN-FW139E)
  • Reinstalling Windows 7, you know, with the CDs my laptop can't read.
 
I really don't want to bring this thing to a tech repair shop since I do have college work that I've been neglecting to do the past two days. Any help would be hugely appreciated and if my situation has really, really gone to shit, I guess I'll have to take it to some repair shop so I don't punch the monitor anytime soon. Anyways, here's my feelings on the subject: 

fuuuuuuuuck
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