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Topics - dark_drake

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Gaming / Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition (PC)
« on: September 06, 2012, 06:40:45 PM »
Dark Souls is a 3d action-rpg in an open world with monsters, big and small, that need to be defeated. The best way I can explain it is Legend of Zelda meets Metroid with an infusion of Ghosts'n'Goblins/Contra/Ninja Gaiden/<insert the hardest game you've ever played>. There's a giant world to explore, giant bosses to slay, and treasure to be found all over the place. However, unlike Zelda and Metroid, very few zones are actually locked for you at the beginning. Yes, there are locked doors between shortcuts that you'll unlock later, but for the most part, you can wander down any path, and the only thing that will stop you is a giant axe to the face from an NPC that says you shouldn't be here. It's not like you need the ability to turn into a ball or have the hookshot to get there.

Now, something that's going to happen to the player is death. And it will happen a lot. Luckily, death has very little consequence. You'll drop all your humanity (necessary for returning to human form) and souls (currency and experience), and be returned to life at the bonfire you last rested at as an undead with all your equipment intact. From there, you can go ahead and recover your dropped souls. But be warned, all creatures have been reset.

Combat is definitely the star of the show in Dark Souls. There's bows, magic, swords, axes, whips, spears, and more to find, use, and upgrade. Each has a unique style of combat, so there's plenty of room for you to find what works best for you. Would you like to hold your shield while prodding the enemy with a spear? You can do that. Do you want to go all out and two-hand a powerful greatsword? Go for it. Each style feels unique and viable. Weapon and armor upgrades are accomplished through the various smiths found in-game.

Combat allows you to roll around, block, dodge, and parry in an effort to gain the advantage over your adversary, which you'll need to win. Even the lowliest of enemies can decimate a reckless character. Strategic combat and careful exploration are encouraged when first entering an area to allow the player to make the most progress towards the next boss or bonfire.

Boss fights usually require a few deaths before you understand the timing required to block, dodge, and attack. If, however, you find yourself stuck on a boss, you may need to level up, boost your equipment, or summon a friendly player or NPC to help you. Watch for the glowing white signs on the ground while you're in human form. You'll be able to summon a player character's phantom to help you fight.

Of course, while in human form, you'll also be subject to invading phantoms. In a few cases, the phantoms are NPCs who will drop decent loot upon death. However, invading phantoms will most likely be other players. They're out to slaughter you for laughs, humanity, and souls. Unfortunately, the only time it's particularly bad is early in the game when you are most likely to need the most help. Low level players who fought to the end-game are too happy to invade the first few levels to kill new players.

The final multiplayer component is the ability to leave messages on the ground. Is there a trap you'd like to warn people about? You can do that. Signs telling you to be careful, where the next bonfire is, and any illusory walls are all over the place. At the same time, however, you'll have to be wary of the people who put false messages to trick or kill any unsuspecting characters. For example, I jumped in a well in the 2nd area of the game because someone said treasure. I only found death. Thankfully, you're allowed to rate messages as + or - to let others know if the message is true or not.

Now, something that many find frustrating is the almost complete lack of direction from the game. You land in Firelink Shrine, and you are told there are two bells to ring. One above and one below. After that, you're almost on your own with a few cutscenes to help you out after major events. If all else fails, try talking to NPCs, checking vendors for important items, read the description for any keys you may have, and go exploring. After ringing the bells, you should have enough shortcuts and familiarity with areas to be able to cover ground quickly and look for new paths. There's also a fantastic wiki out there.

All in all, Dark Souls is an incredibly satisfying game. The difficulty, though, makes this title a hit or miss for people. If you're unsure, I'd recommend waiting for a sell on the various digital distribution sites and picking it up for $10 if you're curious at all.

General Discussion / Undergraduate Research Assistants Woes
« on: February 09, 2012, 12:35:42 AM »
Anyone here ever have the pleasure/displeasure of mentoring one? This semester, I actually have two. The one doing experimental work is great. He'll read the literature, ask questions, and do excellent work in general. Also, I can give him a general assignment, and he'll figure out how to do it without me having to be in the same room. I look forward to working with him because I know something will get done.

The other one is the complete opposite, and she's doing data analysis. She refuses to read the literature, doesn't ask questions, and requires unbelievably detailed directions (e.g. more detailed than a gen. chem. lab). Even then, the work doesn't get done unless I send emails twice a week (on top of our weekly meetings) asking what's been done. I really don't know what to do about her; I feel that in some way I've let her down. I've written up detailed notes explaining the theoretical basis of the analysis. I've given her code samples and been available basically 24/7 to answer questions. None of this seems to be of any use. I can't help but think the time I've spent trying to break the project into infinitesimal parts, creating code samples, and making the detailed notes would have been better spent doing the data analysis myself. 

Do any of you have any recommendations for how to deal with this? I've already tried to subtly let her know I expect more, but it didn't really change anything. I'd really hate to ask my adviser to light a fire under her ass, but that might be the only way to go at this point.

General Discussion / Did you know it's Ergot's birthday?
« on: December 13, 2011, 08:59:37 PM »
Happy Birthday!

General Discussion / Laptop Shopping
« on: November 03, 2011, 12:54:58 PM »
Well, I've finally decided to cave in and start shopping for a new laptop. I'd like to get it between now and the end of the year (and don't tell me to go to black Friday. Saving $50-80 really isn't worth it). Does any have any recommendations?

Budget: ~$500. I'm leery of spending much more than this because I'll probably be laptop shopping again in 3-4 years.
Uses: Nothing too heavy. If it can play games from 2005, run Excel and Aspen Plus, and surf the web, I'll be happy. It'll be tethered to my workstation for the most part.
Size: 13"-16"
Processor: I'd prefer AMD. But processors have changed so much since I last bought a laptop that I'm really not sure. I was intrigued by AMD's APUs, though.
Battery life: 2-3 hours running Microsoft Office or the browsing the web.

This Gateway looked good. But like I said, I'm really not sure what's good anymore.

General Discussion / Happy Halloween!
« on: October 31, 2011, 11:36:52 AM »
Anyone planning to steal candy from little kids? It's particularly easy tonight as long as you ain't afraid of no ghost.

Gaming / Dragon Age II
« on: February 24, 2011, 12:38:01 AM »
How many people are excited for this one? I know I am. I thoroughly enjoyed the first one, especially how amusing some of the characters were (e.g. Shale). I'm told they've streamlined the combat and UI, and I have mixed feelings on this. Micromanaging fights for strategic wins is always satisfying (giant dragons!), but sometimes it's just more fun to run around with the phrase "Let's hunt some orc!" in mind. I'll be downloading the demo later this week, but I'm sure I'll be getting the game down the line.

There are a few things I'm tired of related to games in general. Downloadable content on release day feels wrong, almost like the game being sold is incomplete. It's only worsened by the fact sometimes the content adds a lot to the game. An example of this is Shale in the original Dragon Age vs. downloadable characters in Mass Effect 2. The golem was hilarious, and by far my favorite party member. It had unique dialog options, and you could interact with it like a normal group member. Without Shale, the game would've felt incomplete for me. However, in Mass Effect 2, the downloadable characters felt half-assed, and you couldn't have too many meaningful interactions with them. Thus, I didn't really care if I had the character or not.

Entertainment District / How to Train your Dragon
« on: March 26, 2010, 01:58:04 AM »
This movie looks like a ton of fun. I'll be watching it this weekend. What does everyone else think?

General Discussion / Netbooks?
« on: August 16, 2009, 02:35:03 AM »
Does anyone here have anything to say about them? How are they? Would you recommend one? I'm contemplating buying one and would love some input.

General Discussion / Did we not make a birthday thread for Sidoh?
« on: August 12, 2009, 04:42:38 PM »
Seriously? Well, one day late. Happy belated birthday!

General Discussion / Las Vegas for my 21st?
« on: August 04, 2009, 12:29:48 PM »
Well, my birthday is September 5th. If you don't want to get a calendar out, that's the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. I was back home this weekend, and someone suggested it, and I really can't get it out of my mind.

Academic / School / GRE
« on: July 28, 2009, 07:54:02 PM »
So, I've finally decided to shoot for graduate school. Does anyone have any tips for the GRE? Any advice? Thanks in advance!

Entertainment District / Transformers 2
« on: June 26, 2009, 12:29:50 PM »
Was just AWESOME!

Entertainment District / Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus
« on: May 31, 2009, 05:52:44 PM »
Awesome scene!

Anyone seen it? I think it has a lot of promise.

General Discussion / Happy Birthday Joe!
« on: September 25, 2008, 09:59:38 AM »
Eat cake and be merry!

General Discussion / Happy Birthday CrAz3D!
« on: September 05, 2008, 04:44:30 PM »
Oh yeah, I went there.

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