Wandering the Mojave Desert

Well, I decided to put some time into Fallout: New Vegas. I guess I stopped at a point where I was stuck on the side quest Easy Pete's Dynamite. I had don't a bit of searching on the net for answers, but often came up with the unhelpful "You don't need his dynamite" responses. Anyhow, I was able to complete the Easy Pete''s Dynamite side quest, as well as the following Ghost Town Gunfight.

Now, I am kind of wondering the desert, not quite sure what to do next. I got a few waypoints on my compus, but I am unsure of where they lead, or whether they are actual quests, or something else.

I am unsure what difficulty level I am playing on either. I get notices about being dehydrated and have drank some water to cure myself, but I don't really know the best way to stave off dehydration.

I know I selected some option for some kind of "desert craziness", but I don't recall the name of that option, or exactly what it was supposed to do.

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Angry Bird Millennium Falcon - Sucks!

I just started using the Millennium Falcon in Angry Birds Star Wars. After completing all the other levels with 3 gold stars, I had 75 Millennium Falcons.

I wasn't really sure how game play would work, but now I have a better idea. Once you select the Millennium Falcon, your current bird is changed into an egg. That egg, after being launched and coming to a stop, acts as a target for the Millennium Falcon, which flies in and release a barrage of shots. The Falcon always does substantial damage, making most levels fairly easy.

The Falcon attacks are strangely scored by percentage, rather than points. That makes it rather confusing, as it is unclear what makes a full 100%, or what prevented you from achieving that percentage. Also, you seem to get some kind of credit for having unused birds, but how much they count for is not clear. It is often a toss up between using the birds to attempt to reach 100%, or using an additional Falcon on the level.

Every single time you use a Falcon, one is deducted from your total. So if you retry a level multiple times, you will use up more of your reserve of Falcons. Also, if you kill all of the pigs, the level will end, and if you haven't reached 100% (if that is your goal) you will have to do the level over again, using additional Falcons. So in order to get 100% you may have to miss one of the pigs intentionally, to give your more opportunity to destroy the structures.

As I mentioned above I had 75 Falcon when I started the playing. I began with Tatooine, and thought I would easily clear all the levels and be able to try some Death Star levels. It turned out to not be the case. I used up 75 Falcons, only completing 31 levels, with two of them not reaching 100%. There is the option to buy more Falcons, but this seems rather unscrupulous (as it requires you to spend money to complete the game), as a lot of money would be required to complete all 140 levels (soon to be 160).

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All Gold Stars in Hoth!

Well, I finally got all the gold stars in the Hoth level. My obsessive quest to get all stars was greatly impeded by real world events, so I couldn't dedicate every waking hour to the Angry Birds Star Wars.

I still have to get that last golden droid on the Hoth level, but so far I don't have any idea how I could possibly shoot it. So, there are three additional stars I haven't got, but those three stars are unlike to reap any type of reward.

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Angry Birds Hoth

After FINALLY getting 3 gold stars in all levels of Path of the Jedi, I have begun playing the Hoth levels. The Hoth levels have a few new characters, most notably Princess Leia, as well as a few new game play elements, such as snow and ice, as well as giant snow walkers.

Princess Leia has some kind of pink tractor beam, which adds a small change to game play. As mentioned about there are some terrain changes, ice and snow. Ice will allow some objects to slide across it's surface, where as snow can be destroyed by impacting with it.

The Hoth update also adds a single additional bonus level (which can be unlocked without even accessing the Hoth levels) as well as one addition golden egg level.

One point of note is that at this time is that Hoth only has 20 levels, with the other levels to be unlocked at a later date. From the look of the level selection page, it seems that the last 20 levels may be set in an asteroid field.

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Angry Birds Hoth

Well, I got the new update, but I have been too busy to play Angry Birds Star Wars (or anything else) lately, so I still haven't completed my quest to get all the stars in the Path of the Jedi. I really want to wait 'til I get all the star before I begin the Hoth levels.

I did take a peak at the levels and saw that there is a new bonus level and a new golden egg level.

I am wondering if there are any any other rewards for completing levels in Hoth.

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Angry Birds Mysteries of the Jedi

I came across a review of Angry BIrds Star Wars, and I was kind of appalled at how trite the complaints they guy made against the game were (not to say the game is perfect). One point was that he as annoyed that you have the option to buy additional Falcons. That reminds me of people who complain that keys in Team Fortress 2 cost money. In both cases, the game is free, and no aspect of game play is limited if you do not purchase anything. Being that spending money on the game is completely elective, and that anyone who chooses to can play the game for free, this a ridiculous complaint.

Also, they reviewer was saying that you need to purchase the Path of the Jedi levels, you can actually unlocked them free of charge, by getting three stars in every level of the Death Star episode (you may need to do so for the Tatooine levels as well)

There are a few things I have considered, which I think would reduce the frustation level with the game a bit, but I am unsure if these aspects are design choices, and if changing them would detract from gameplay.

One thing would be to have the ability to have a redo for your second and other birds following the first. There are times when the first bird does exactly what I wanted it to do, but then I miss fire with the second bird (or send him slightly off course). They way it is now, I have to redo the first bird, which requires mutilple tries to once again get it to replicate the sucess of my previous attempt.

Also, there are some levesl where it would be nice if you could choose what type of bird you can use, as there are some times when the abilities of the bird given to you do not match the set up of the pigs and their fortifcations. This is most likely a predetermined design choice, as allowing you to choose what type of bird to use would completely eliminate the challenge of the level, so it is unlikely to change.

There are still a few things I don't understand about the game.

1) After completing the Path of the Jedi level, you get unlock the ultimate lightsaber . How is the ultimate lightsaber different from the orginal?

It turns out that "ultimate" merely means green.

So I found the answer to my first question.

2) How is the use of the Falcon's tallied? Does attempting to complete a level with the Falcon use up one Falcon, or can I attempt the level an infinite amount of times with a single Falcon?

Right now I have 60 Facons, but there are 120 levels unlocked. Would I need to acquire 60 more Falcons in order to complete each level with a Falcon?

3) How are the medals awarded? (They are shown on the bottom right side, when you look at the level select screen) I am assuming they are awarded for completing a level using the Falcon.

4) What are the rewards for gaining each level of stars? There must be a list somewhere....

Well, just after quitting Star Wars Angry Birds for the night, I noticed there is an update. I downloaded it, and hoped it would unlock the Hoth level, but it didn't.

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Angry Birds Star Wars

I have heard of Angry Birds, but had never seen the game before, and certainly hadn't played it. After a two week marathon run of the Team Fortress Halloween event, I was a little sick of Team Fortress. Due to my dedication to all things Star Wars (except the prequels) I decided to give Angry Birds a try. I have been playing it obsessively for the last 3 or 4 days, all day long.

Since I haven't played the original version of Angry Birds, I don't know which features are unique to the Star Wars edition. It's fairly safe to assume that the lightsaber, blaster and force powers are unique to this edtion. The look of the game is certainly appealing to Star Wars fans, as it has all the appropriate characters and background settings. While it's enough to entice Star Wars fans to try this game, but it certainly does not make you feel like you are in the movie. Come to think of it, there has been a dearth of Star Wars games for a few years, but I don't think this really helps fill the void.

The game is fairly fun to play. It consists of using birds in a slingshot to try and knock down pigs and the fortifications that surround them. It's not as clear cut a it may seem, as each level has it's own complex configuration, so you have to think about how you can take out all the pigs before you run out of birds. Each level only takes about 30 seconds to play, but there are 40 levels per area, and so far three different areas, and a couple of bonus areas.

As long as you take out all the pigs, you have completed the level. You are also given a score and a ranking of 1 to 3 stars. Higher score will give you more stars.

The only real downside comes when you attempt to get all 3 stars for a certain level. First you have to figure out what method of attack you need to to win the level with as much damage to the pigs and blocks, while using as few birds as possible. But after that you will have to repeat your attack, and continually reset, until you get the perfect stroke of luck, with all the blocks toppling in precisely the correct way to maximize damage, and which results in more points. This may mean replaying the level in excess of 20 or 30 times.

While the game is fairly intuitive, there is no manual to speak of (I bought my from the Android Store: Google Play), so there are a few things that aren't quite clear. One is the role of the Millennium Falcon. You are awarded 5 Falcons after acquiring a certain number of stars. It seems that the Falcons are used in an alternative game mode, but I am uncertain how the Falcons are used up (you are given the option to buy more Falcons, for real money). Also, the birds attack mode can be deactivated once they strike an object. You are given a short grace period, but this was confusing, and required some on line consultation.

I had actually decide to buy the game, or to purchase the Path of the Jedi, to unlock those levels and to hopefully free the game the the annoying ads. But then I had finished getting 3 stars on every level, which unlocked the Path of the Jedi, so I don't need to do that. This is one other thing, there are some indications of what the stars will unlock, but other unlocks remain a mystery as to what you will unlock and how many stars are required.

As for the ads, there are some that are less intrusive, and even a little bit cute, when Artoo runs across the top of the screen, revealing an ad, or a lightsaber that reveals an ad by extending its blade. But there are other ads, that stop the game and block the entire screen. While these adds are closed with a simple tap on the "X", they are intrusive, and do irritate more than motivate me to buy those products. I am already well aware of the coming Hobbit film. Spamming me about it is making me less inclined to see it. The Campbell's Go ad is especially annoying, as it merely shows the name of the product, revealing nothing about the product, which I hadn't even realized was actually different product from regular Campbell's soup, until I saw Stephen Cobert belittling the product on his show.

Also, since I am using the free version (on my android phone) I had briefly entertained the idea of buying a tablet to play the game properly, but rethought spending $400 plus for a game that I have completed two thirds of on my phone. Still, I wonder if it is easier to play (and less frustrating) on a tablet.

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Merasmus

The new Team Fortress Halloween event has started, and it is mediocre. Not to deride it, but it lacks the thrill the previous years events had, while providing a much more fair experience for all players.

Honestly, Merasmus is the most even boss created yet. He doesn't have the instant kill powers the Horseless Headless Horseman had (which was rather frustrating), he has a number of attack methods, keeping players on their toes. Merasmus does have a lot of hit points, meaning that only a concentrated team effort can defeat him. This also give in to the only short coming of this event. Player killers can take advantage of other players being focused on Merasmus and get some easy kills. It is baffling as to why some players can enjoy doing so. Unfortunately, some players just cannot understand that team fortress is a team game. Unless you are working towards the goals of your team, you are a liability to your team.

Year round, there are a number of servers that run various user created mode of game play, some of which have been integrated into this years event and map. First is the Wheel of Fate, which operates quite similarly to Roll the Dice, except that the outcome effects all players. Also, none of the unpleasant and annoying effects usually included in rtd are present. Second mode is Prop Hunt. In this case, Merasmus disappears and several "props" (items of furniture, rocks, targets and such) appear. Merasmus is disguised as one of these props, and players have to attack the correct one for Merasmus to reveal himself. While this mode is quite fun, it can take quite a while to find him, eating up time needed to defeat him. That being said, the objects that appear are quite large and oddly placed, so it making it rather obvious which objects do not belong. It would have been interesting if smaller, less obviously placed objects were used, making the hunt that much more challenging, but also taking quite a bit more time.

Valve has completely eliminated the problems that existed last year with the presents, and people stealing and killing over the presents. Last year that was quite a problem with people abusing admin power to steal the present, mostly by using no-clip, or others non-admins who would shoot another player in the back, or airblast such a player away from the present, in order to take it for themselves. Now present spawn only visible and collectible by individual players, so no stealing can take place. While this system is the fairest possible system, it takes away the challenge, and limits the amount of presents an individual can collect in any given amount of time.

Lakeside is actually a map that has been around for while, but the cosmetic changes make it virtually unidentifiable from it's original incarnation with an Egyptian theme, though the Egyptian version seemed much large. In fact, the map has a large area where Merasmus doesn't spawn, meaning if you are killed in a battle with him, it takes most classes quite a while to get back into the fight. This is a serious problem, as Merasmus's time on the map is very short, making it the biggest obstacle to killing him.

Also, Skull Island makes a return from last years game mode, which seems to indicate a lack of creativity.

All in all, a good experience, with a little less excitement than last year, but also minimizing crying.

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Mann Up Expert

Valve has just recently made some additions to Mann Up mode in Team Fortress 2. While the original mode was already challenging, with a good team, it could be beaten on a consistent basis, with very few attempts.

Now there are two new modes, easy and expert. As I have beaten the regular (now know as advanced) mode several times, I haven't felt the need to play easy mode. I have however been playing expert mode. Now, not only is having the right team essential, as well at the right strategy, but their also has to be some flexibility. Failures should be met with changed in strategy, and while it may take several attempts, the levels can be beaten.

One other requirement is persistence. This has often been a problem as, some players quit after the first failure. But now, Valve has add some kind of punishment for those who quit early. I don't know what that punishment is yet, but I just try to avoid playing with people who bail suddenly.

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Team Up Mode

While I've played a lot of computer games, the greatest enjoyment I get out of games is playing with teams that work together. In many games that include teammates, Team Fortress, Tribes, Battlefield 1942, TIE Fighter Vs X-wing, (a few that I have played) the people that I played with were completely oblivious to the concept of team.

I recall once playing Battlefield 1942 with 3 friends. Once the game began, they all went in their own separate directions and didn't respond to communication. Another time, I recall playing Tribes with a friend, who spent the whole game sniping the enemy spawn. While he was doing this, the members of the enemy team were able to capture our flag. When I said to him that he wasn't benefiting the team, he said something like "I got killed the highest number of team mates" Good for you, but this isn't deathmatch.

So many times in team games, there is no coordination, communication or strategy, meaning there is no team. At the very least, knowing the game's objective and responding to threats to that objective will help the team. I have found two different types of team's on Team Fortress 2 new mode Mann Up: Mann vs Machine. Those who work together and win, and those who don't and lose, repeatedly.

I've been lucky to play with some great teams, who worked together and when necessary changed strategies (and sometimes even class) to over come the enemy.

But on a lot of teams, people don't get the concept of team. I will join a game with 2 or 3 of the same class, or people will not respond to the bomb being moved near the capture point. Then they start blaming other people for not doing something. Honestly, there isn't a whole hell of a lot you can do if a team mate isn't playing the way you want him to, but bitching about him certainly isn't going to improve the situation. While a team game requires some sacrifices, you have to remember you are part of that team too. Maybe you are the one that needs to make a sacrifice. Maybe it's change strategy or class, or maybe just encouraging other players rather than berating.

What I am trying to say is, that finally there is a mode of play in Team Fortress 2, where team play really makes a difference, and it's the first time I have ever played with teams (in any game, except StarCraft) who understand the meaning of teamwork, making for one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences.

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