Entries for July, 2018







You know, I find myself surprised that Quake Champions isn’t that bad. I thought it would be a big pile of junk. And while it is in Early Access still, it feels like an actual game, albeit one with a lot of stuff locked behind a paywall. And I won’t be spending a cent on it.


I only have the default champion unlocked, the Quake 1 Ranger. It’s nothing too impressive, and I kinda think his face looks like a lump of playdough, so it’s a good thing I don’t have to stare at it. He has a teleport ability- you throw out an orb(moving slightly slower than a rocket), and you hit the same key again(default f) and you instantly teleport to that location.

I’m sure that in the right hands, it can be a real asset, either getting you out of a tight spot or allowing you to reach an out of the way area. However, in practice, I don’t find it terribly useful. At least, not for me. For one, I constantly forget about it. Because I’m an old fart, I still play the game like it’s Quake 3, meaning I just run and strafe and fire, with no time to play around with cutesy abilities. For another, I think I play with my mouse sensitivity set too low for it, since I try to teleport behind someone, but I get wiped out before I can spin around, since the teleport keeps your orientation. That means, if you try to throw it behind someone, you’ll teleport with your back to them, facing who knows what.


And then I get fragged.


Really, though, the game just feels too fast to be able to use an ability like that. It really does feel like old school Q3 in that respect. Player movement is swift, and the frags happen just as swiftly.


The graphics are fine. I mean, in this day and age, graphics have all reached a certain level of fidelity, and they all just blend together for me. The sound is nice and meaty, and even the f2p nonsense like lootboxes is viscerally enjoyable.


However, at the end of the day, it is a free-to-play game. That means lootboxes, that means content locked behind paywalls, that means a certain imbalance in the rate of unlocks. I don’t even really like the Quake Ranger. I’d much rather play as BJ or Doomguy, but I have to plop down real money, or accrue 250000 game credits to unlock just one. And then there are all kinds of different models and textures for everything from your helmet, to your weapon, to your entire character model. And it still has periodic free champions and lots of unlockable stuff.

But it’s all built around a decent and enjoyable deathmatch experience. It’s a strange one, Quake Champions. Even with just the default loadouts, you can have a lot of fun, engaging in classic Quake gameplay. But it’s all packaged with stupid F2P stuff like lootboxes. In general, I don’t like to support F2P first person shooters, but since Quake Live didn’t really catch on, is now $10, and last I played, didn’t support mods, it feels like one of the only games in town.



Hmm, I wonder of Unreal Tournament is doing. . . .?


Posted by Narzack on July 6, 2018 at 11:19 PM | Get some!

Man, I really like Babylon 5.  I started watching it about a month ago, having missed its initial run on television in the mid-nineties.  It’s strange that I didn’t watch it, because I’ve been a space dork for as long as I can remember.  Really,  I have no idea why I never watched it.  I remember seeing Babylon 5 mods for various space games, like Freelancer, but I never ended up getting into the show.  I have memories of watching a good bit of Deep Space 9 and Seaquest DSV during that time, so why I never sat down with Babylon, I’ll never know.  Maybe I was just too into Star Wars at the time.


Although, I’ve also never seen the Stargate show, despite loving the movie and even having read one of the novels, so maybe I just suck at pursuing the things I’ll end up loving.


But, I don’t think I’ll ever watch Stargate SGanything.



Anyway, Babylon 5.  It’s great.  One of the things that made me decide to stop screwing around and start watching the bloody thing was reading that it was written with a three act structure in mind, with the full narrative being told over five seasons.  That’s what first interested me.  Watching the first episode, confident in the knowledge that even then, the writer knew where it would all end was very comforting.  It’s nice to trust the storytelling of a show.  Plus, J. Michael Straczynski wrote 90% of the episodes, including all of season three.  That goes a long way toward instilling trust that the characters will be true and honest to themselves.  Sometimes, with no clear thruline and writers’ rooms, characters can get muddled and exaggerated, or even contrary to their original presentation.  See Taco in The League and Kevin from The Office as examples.


Yeah, sure, it’s dated in the visual effects and art direction, but I’ve never had a problem watching old movies and television shows.  It’s easy for me, for the most part, to appreciate a piece of work through the time during which it was created.  Shows like Seinfeld, The X-Files, and Home Improvement are very much rooted in the 90s, but I still love them and can watch them anytime.  There’s no way that Blazing Saddles wasn’t made in the 70s and I die laughing every time.  I’ve never really bought into the idea that entertainment doesn’t age well.  Some things may look corny now, but the overall enjoyment can still remain.  The same with books.  Just because a book was written hundreds of years ago, doesn’t mean it isn’t still just as good now as it ever was.


Babylon was really one of the first shows to eschew models and miniatures and really embrace the nascent CG technology.  It looks very clumsy by today’s standards, especially alongside shows like The Expanse, but there’s a charm to it.  The low rez textures remind me personally of the videogames I loved during the era, like Wing Commander and Final Fantasy. There’s a joy and exuberance to it, as if, there’s this wonderful new technology, so let’s use it!


Another aspect that it carries with it is that because it was made during the 90s, there is a real feeling of hope.  The future of Babylon 5 is not the dystopian apocalypse of the 80s or the 2010s.  The future is bright, with fantastic technology supporting massive space stations and spacecraft, and exotic aliens populating the galaxy.  There is war, and tensions exist on the space station, but it is by no means dreary, oppressive, or bleak.  It’s not utopia, but neither is it a nightmare of wretchedness.  It feels all very pre-9/11.   In this universe, the future is something to look forward to. 


I like it.  Plus, Garibaldi totally looks like a low-rent Bruce Willis, and I love it.

Currently listening to: The Astral Stereo Project - Ursa Major
Currently reading: The Long Utopia by Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett
Currently watching: Deadwood Season Three
Currently feeling: pleased
Posted by Narzack on July 11, 2018 at 02:02 PM | Get some!

So, I’m kind of obsessed with Space Game. I can’t get enough of it.  Sure, some people might refer to it as Elite: Dangerous, but it’s Space Game to us. 


I didn’t get it in Early Access or pre-order or anything.  In fact, I didn’t even buy the game until some time last year.  It actually didn’t take me long to get right into it.  I bounced off Eve Online the first few times I tried it, and it took me many attempts plus watching tutorial events to grasp Crusader Kings 2.  Heck, I never even scratched the surface of X3: Reunion.  But I immediately took to Space Game. 


I played the dickens out of it for a few months, and then Max was born.  It wasn’t until recently that I was able to start playing again, and holy smokes, do I love it.  I bought the Horizons expansion, so I can now do Engineering stuff and planetary landings.  But for the most part, I just tool around the galaxy, running data delivery missions and hunting pirates.


Right now, I’m flying a heavily modified Cobra Mk.III.  I call her the Valdosta II, in honor of the old live action Space Game that Haley wrote.  I bought that one because it seems like a good multi-role craft, adept at combat and exploration, with a moderate cargo bay.  I don’t do a lot of trading or cargo run, so I don’t really need a lot of cargo space.  And I figure if I end up wanting to become a trader, I can just save up and buy a hauler or something.  As it is, as I run missions, if I get interdicted by an NPC, I have the maneuverability and firepower to be able to hold my own.  Plus, with the modifications I’ve made, like better shields, hull, and engines, I don’t have a lot of problems in combat.


The exception, of course, is last night where I ended up tangling with multiple Asps and Cutters with Deadly combat ratings.  Got my butt kicked and lost a lot of bounty vouchers that I was saving.  I believe I lost a lot of cartographic data, as well. 


I probably need to upgrade my pulse laser or switch to beam weapons.  I’ve been having trouble getting through some of the more powerful shields.  On my old Sidewinders, I’d take down enemy shields with lasers, then chew up their hull with autocannons.  I haven’t done that setup on my Cobra, yet.  I think I’d rather have some more powerful autocannons than 2G rating. 


But, I love the bloody game.  I’m not Elite rated in any category, barely past Novice in Combat and Scout in Exploration, but I’ve enjoyed every second of it.  I love flying around the galaxy, chilling in my space ship, visiting planets and stations, and blowing up bad dudes.  And there’s so much more I could do.  I could do smuggling, passenger transport, piracy, trading, mining, or even galactic politics.  But, for now, I’m content being my own dude, carving out a tiny little chunk in a vast galaxy. 


I would kill for VR, though.

Posted by Narzack on July 24, 2018 at 02:20 PM | Get some!