Archive for the ‘Shilling’ Category

Darkest Dungeon

February 8, 2021

I downloaded and started playing Darkest Dungeon recently and it was a rough adjustment. This game is designed to be difficult and scary. The game borrows heavily from cosmic horror and the darker corners of fantasy. You play as the heir of an ancestor’s Estate. Your Ancestor relates to you in writing that they accidentally unearthed a horrible monstrosity and numerous other horrors that now infest the area around the estate. You must operate from a nearby hamlet and hire adventurers to travel around the area to cleanse the place of monsters. There is no shortage of people stepping up to the plate to help you destroy evil and recover your family’s treasure (both material and sentimental).

Each mission allows four slots for adventurers to take along with you. Two things are very important to achieve success. First, you have to pay attention to party composition. There are 17 different classes who all have somewhat different yet overlapping roles in battle. Some are heroes and some are rogues just looking for fame and fortune. You have to balance damage, defense, healing, damage over time, and other abilities to get the most out of battle. Second, each character you pick has a preferred physical order in battle. Combat is only in two dimensions with characters on the right being closer to the threats and the people on the left being further away. Some characters are only able to perform certain abilities from a specific spot in the order.

The thing that was hardest for me to accept was that your characters are going to die. They are going to die a lot. The first time it happened, I got a knot in my stomach but soon it was something that was expected. I have gotten better at keeping it from happening but things can still go downhill really quick and somebody is just gone. They don’t just die. There is a vastly complex system of stress and physical ailments that can afflict your characters. Getting hit, traveling through darkness, missing attacks, and other things cause stress. If a character gets enough stress, they come to a breaking point. At that point, they can either gain a positive trait from it or a mental condition. If they receive enough damage and stress in battle, they could simply have a heart attack and die instantly. On top of that, they can catch all sorts of nasty diseases.

The key to keeping your crew intact enough to keep advancing is to provide them with plenty of support. When they come back stressed, crazy, and sick you have to take care of them. The tavern and the abbey are places where your crew can relax and drink or meditate away their stress. The sanitarium will try and cure their new mania and physical afflictions. Luckily, you have a whole group to choose from so you can stash some in town and have enough ladies ad gents to play with back in the dungeons.

The artwork is fantastic. It uses a comic book style with thick outlines, plenty of shadows, and grimy textures. Every hero looks troubled yet defiant. Every monster looks absolutely disgusting and threatening. The attack animations are really satisfying to let loose on your enemies. The dialogue and lore you uncover definitely puts you right in the middle of this horrible world and makes the game both stressful and fun.

Sometimes a Dog is Just a Dog

November 28, 2016

So, something new has happened in my life recently. I’m not talking about Thanksgiving which was an adventure worth having but, if given the choice, I would have taken tradition instead. No, I am talking about a dog. My brother has started fostering dogs for the local SPCA and that I agreed to help him since I am spending much of my time at home working on schoolwork. When he goes off to the gym or meets with a tenant, I get to watch his temporary dog. (The dog is temporarily his and yet permanently a dog) I really do not mind even though it can get a little distracting. I am working on final papers for the semester so I am not really out and about.

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Here she is.  Who’s a good dog?  Rizzo is.

Of course, this is Baltimore so there is one breed of dog that is likely to be hanging out at a shelter in the city. Yes, my brother picked up a bonafide purebred pitbull. Her name is Rizzo and yes that name is based on the character from Grease even though she looks nothing like any of the actresses I have seen in the role. In fact, her coloring ends up making her look more like a cow than any dog I have ever seen. She is a sweet dog at age two and she still has a lot of energy and not a lot of focus. She will lie down on her bed next to my couch as I type away at this computer just fine. Then, the door opens or some weird sound happens from somewhere nearby and she is up on her feet. It is cute but a little distracting. I think she will grow out of that.

Unfortunately, “pit bull” is a dirty word in American society today. Pit bulls were originally created by breeding terriers with bulldogs. The idea was to combine a terrier’s agility with the bulldog’s bite strength. The reasoning for this was to create a creature bred for violence and specifically the pit bull was made for dog fighting. Unfortunately, that is what a lot of them are still used for these days. Their behavior leads to people vilifying the poor misguided things. I was always skeptical of labeling pit bulls inherently dangerous. Now that I have met Rizzo, I am sure that the reasoning is flawed.

Rizzo is strong as hell. In a lot of ways, she is much stronger and faster than I am. I have seen her savage objects with her teeth and I know how capable she is at destruction. She could destroy me and not even work up a sweat while she did it. While she is very capable, Rizzo is not interested in that. I have seen her meet a few people now and she is just excited as your average Labrador retriever or hound dog. That excitement has never translated into an attack or any indication of violent behavior. So, I don’t believe any domesticated animal is inherently dangerous. It is all in how the dog is treated. If you train a dog to be violent,  it will be violent. If you treat the dog with love and respect then it will do the same. Whoever adopts that dog will be lucky.

Pirates in the Stars

August 13, 2008

I’m a gamer. That’s been a simple fact of my life since the original Nintendo came out and blessed our humble Baltimore home. I generally hung out on consoles most of my life and I still enjoy the console genre. It’s fun. However, in the last 6 weeks I was turned onto a game on those fabulous intertubes that really has caught my fancy. Star Pirates (available at Starpirates.net) is a very simple game that is fun to play. It’s sort of hard to explain completely.

First, there’s nothing to download. Good news fellow paranoid masses, Star Pirates is virus free. All you have to do is go to the site and sign-up. For free, even! You pick yourself a pirate handle that appeals to you. (Mine’s Mengi) Then you start out with a happy little ship with which to get into pirate shenanigans.

Second, there’s a huge community of over 7.000 players. It’s mostly divided into fleets. I joined up with the Terran Astry almost immediately since it’s full of fans of one of my favorite webcomics, Starslip Crisis. There’s something to be said about being among people who share similar interests as yourself. There’s a natural progression to our fleet since we have military ranks (I’m a Commander) and we even have an Academy you can use to hone your skills.

Third, the game does not have to take up much of your day. It is a game played completely through clicking links on a webpage. You click a few links and you’ve just attacked a ship or made a exploratory run through an Asteroid belt. Then you wait for your fuel or energy reserves to fill back up and you click again. What do you inbetween clicks? Do your work, watch tv, do the dishes… heck I’m writing this blog in between clicks. It does not recquire 100 percent of your attention, just as much as you are willing to give.

I probably did a disservice to the game by explaining it poorly. If you’re a gamer or even if I’ve peaked your interest, go to the site and sign-up. You’ll like it. And if you don’t like it? You didn’t lose any money or time. If you do like it, think about joining the Terran Astry. If you don’t join the Terran Astry… don’t mess with us. : )

That’s all for that

Cmdr. King Mengi aka Steven


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