Sunday, 1 May 2022

Hustlin through the Old Republic - Ten years of Lightsabers, Blasters, Starships and mildly entertaining Dialogue

Ohh boy I don't even want to remind myself how long it's been since I did a SWTOR update, 4 years! four damn years of course If I had have been blogging regularly like I used to this wouldn't be the case but at least back then I was still doing annual updates. Well I can proudly state after all these years I have finally finished all of the class stories, not to mention pretty much all of the content updates right up until the latest one: Legacy of the Sith. Yes I've done them all from my original Jedi Guardian to Sith Assassin, Trooper Vanguard, Jedi Sage, Bounty Hunter Mercenary, Imperial Agent Sniper, Smuggler Scoundrel and finally Sith Marauder. Of course there are some advanced classes that I have not experienced, this has been made a bit easier in this latest patch allowing you to change your combat style. I played through the Legacy of the Sith story on my Guardian, it was quite short, the part on Manaan was ok and the new flashpoint was good apart from me not being able to finish it cause the damn Darth Malgus fight was bugged causing you to glitch out while fighting which you'll see in the video. I started it with my Sith Assassin but only got a bit of the way through before my subscription ran out. I thought about doing it just with preferred status but I really couldn't be bothered, I don't know I just wasn't into it anymore, I have been playing Ghost Recon Breakpoint and The Crew 2 with a friend and have been much more into those lately. I've also started Bully which is fun though it's not really making me want to come back to it though it is one of the more classic games by Rockstar

The first screenshot of SWTOR I ever took, the interior of the Senate Building on Coruscant, looks grand, walking through the Senate Plaza was amazing too.

I suppose I should talk about my history with SWTOR, it's been literally 10 years now, 10 years of blasting and slashing and electrifying and crushing countless poor NPC's in the name of the Republic or Empire. My initial post was in 2011 when the game was announced and boy was I excited, A Star Wars MMO? that hadn't been seen since the likes of Star Wars Galaxies. At this point in time I was heavily into Minecraft though I was actually still playing World of Warcraft but only sporadically, Wrath of the Lich King was the highpoint of WoW for me (I reckon it was a for a lot of people) and then Minecraft came. And after I'd had my fill of that WoW had come out with Cataclysm which was a very game-shaking update and a lot of fun, but by then my interest was waning.

One of the first SWTOR videos I ever posted, back in 2012, ahh the game has changed so much since then.

The main thing that made SWTOR different from WoW was the Class Storylines this was a story specifically for your chosen class which of course was my main focus for each character, there were planetary storylines (same as zones in WoW) but these were optional though when I first started the game I would always complete these also. In ever-updated multiplayer games my usual goal is to complete the content in the order it came out, which is what I am doing now for Ghost Recon Breakpoint. This is often difficult as you often have to look up what came first but as SWTOR had only recently come out this wasn't really a problem. So I played on and completed everything I could as the patches came out. Sometimes playing the game felt a bit lonely as the landscapes were vast as time went on other players became fewer and fewer. Indeed there was the outside of game problem of the oceanic server shutdown saga which is summed up on reddit here. Ultimately though I was never really alone playing SWTOR as were always at least some other players and guilds around.

The way leveling worked was that you basically focused on your main story and the planetary storylines and other missions were separate. Having a main story for your class was a huge benefit for leveling in SWTOR compared to other games.

Yes indeed it does seem my real-life friends aren't much for MMORPG games as in both SWTOR and WoW I didn't play with much at all, with the exception of my current partner and my brother most were just online friends but of course these were just as good as anyone else. SWTOR had guilds of course and while I went through a few guilds not many had as much rapport and activity with them as I did with WoW as pretty much all of them were US-based Guilds. One I can remember early on was 'Academy Exemplar' but there was one I joined rather late in the game and have stuck with for years and that is Guardians and Knights a Republic based guild with an Imperial Sister Guild 'Forgotten Knights'. This guild were my greatest friends through the rest of my SWTOR career they were always friendly, helpful and accomodating no matter how often you played, how good you were, and which country you came from. While I wasn't the most active with MMORPG's anymore (mostly due to GTA Online) I still tried my best to join in on Flashpoints, Operations (Raids) and other guild events and I ended up getting more thingsa completed in that guild then ever before. I was glad I had found somewhere to belong on the US servers and I will be sad to not be coming back much or maybe not at all anymore.

I finally complete the Dread Palace with my Guardians and Knights guidmates


Throughout the years of playing I mostly stuck to my usual MMORPG things like leveling, doing flashpoints (dungeons) and operations (raids) when I could. I was never that much interested in other modes such as the on-rails Space Combat levels although it was kind of cool and I did try the Galactic Star Fighter too when it came out though with only two maps available it got boring pretty quickly. I tried out Strongholds but never really got into that either, I did get the Coruscant and Dromund Kaas apartments for free but I never expanded the rooms due to the cost of both opening the rooms and purchasing stuff to put them in. All of the strongholds were pretty damn big, there was a great feature where you could view others strongholds, and after looking at a few no matter how well they decorated it, the whole thing just looked like a bunch of stuff just placed awkwardly in a room, it's hard to explain but unlike say buildings homes in the sims or prebuilt apartments like in GTA online it just didn't look right, probably to do with the Star Wars aesthetic and visual style. Also there was also almost no interaction with anything, you couldn't sleep on the beds, you couldn't use a lot of the chairs and you couldn't interact with things like gambling tables etc so what was the point?

Galactic Star Fighter, was kinda fun

In any case I would much rather spend my credits and cartel on awesome weapons and gear for me and my companions which is what I did and boy was that fun, that was one of the best things about the game, building awesome sets of gear and showing them off and also being able to dress up your companions too was great.The ability to change stats on any type of gear made this so much easier and a later patch made your companions level up with you making gear only cosmetic made this even better. I also enjoyed constantly having a companion with me compared to WoW where unless you were a certain class you were mostly alone. The game truly had some spectacular outfits and no wonder there were sites like TORfashion which focuses on the SWTOR fashion world, it's also no wonder these sites are still up and running even though most of the other fan-made websites having been shut down or left unattended due to the decline of the game. More honorable mentions would be Dulfy, Vulkk and Swtorista whom I have got a lot of information from.

One of my favourite shots of my Sith Inquisitor Assassin lookin' cool as

Another thing that made SWTOR great was the conversation and choices you could make al la Mass Effect and other Bioware games, the voice acting was that StarWars level of appropriate but corny at the same time, I think the best parts of SWTOR was where the game was being unintentionally funny and if you have watched any of Zanny's video series you would agree. I enjoyed all of the 'romancing' options of course and interacting with your companions was very enjoyable, they even had that Bioware style of suggesting a sexual encounter by "walking off screen and fade out then come back and stand there awkwardly again" because this is Starwars so there's no nudey-nudey of course this didn't stop them from putting in revealing outfits because you know Princess Leia in Return of the Jedi. Of course there was also the Dark and Light Side choices which led to the option for you to do some really messed up things like killing someone's family after you swore you wouldn't or propositioning a girl for sex after her house had been blown up.

One of my favorite answers from the conversation wheel.

I'm not sure when it became my goal to finish all the class stories in WoW but it did and now I've finished and completed pretty much all of the content I could and when I finished that final class mission for my Sith Warrior I felt like I had completed something. My plan was to do all of the class stories and use my main Republic and Empire Classes my Jedi Knight and Sith Inquisitor to do the new content and expansions and that's done now so I think I'll take a break a well-deserved break really after 10 years of playing. I have been thinking of going into Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) as I miss the medieval side of things and have a close friend who actually plays.

My motley crew from the end of the Smuggler class story, the only time I ever went a female character.

Looking back on my tenure with SWTOR it has been great, I love the Star Wars universe and the game did certain things differently in the MMO world. I really am glad I tried it out, though now I guess it's just on to the next MMO though I may be back.

JD

My Imperial Agent Sniper in the droid outfit I made for roleplaying, this was a lot of fun to do. Aso it was refreshing to play a non-force using character one in a while.

I only romance when there is a button for it.

Monday, 17 January 2022

The Past and Times of Yore - Driver, you are the Action Film Star

Release date: 25th June 1999
Genre: Driving, Action
Publisher: GT Interactive Software
Developer: Reflections
Platforms: PS1, PC, GBC, Mac
Modes: Single-player

1999 was one hell of a year for gaming, some of the most memorable games came out during this period, Unreal Tournament, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Age of Empires II, Shenmue, Medal of Honor, Wipeout 3, and Resident Evil 2 to name a few, the Playstation was well into its life and the Playstation 2 had been announced. During this time my main racing games were Crash Team Racing and Wipeout. I'm pretty sure I had not really gotten into any kind of realistic racer apart from possibly Nigel Mansell's World Championship Racing on the Super Nintendo. My first foray into open-world driving would have been the original Grand Theft Auto for PC and it wasn't until I tried Driver 2 that I really got a taste of a true 3D open world. I loved that game and played it many times even when others had their PS2 consoles and were playing the likes of GTA3 and it wasn't until recently that I decided to try the original Driver. I had decided all those years that I'd just go straight to Driver 2 but from the recommendation of my good friend Brok I decided to give Driver 1 a go as it was highly regarded within the gaming community. I knew that it was more basic in terms of features in comparison to Driver 2 especially the fact that you did not have the ability to leave your car. But technically even having this ability in Driver 2 did not mean much as 95% of the game you drove your car the only time you needed to get out was to run up the stairs of a train station etc and it was really just a gimmick. This kind of roaming around a 3D open-world city on foot didn't really come in until GTA 3.

Taxi's! everywhere!

The Driver series of course does not just contain Driver and Driver 2, there is also Driv3r which appears to be named by the same person who came up with "Th4if". There was also Driver Parallel Lines and Driver San Francisco which I have played previously. I decided to play via the Epsxe PS1 emulator as this was the easiest way to play, you could also save anytime you like and have fun playing around with the frame rate limiter. I enjoyed the initial opening cutscene of the game, with the protagonist Tanner escaping a parking garage while being chased by a cop. It was such a simple scene, It reminded me of Driver's roots coming from 1970's car films such as The Driver and Vanishing Point. Indeed scenes like this just wouldn't fly in movies today, no explosions no rocket launchers, no hanging outside the car driving another car at the same time or whatever the action hero's are doing now. Come to think of it I played the entire game and I don't think I saw any explosions in the whole thing. I must also mention the loading bar, it's not much but it's goddamn huge, and seeing it again made me nostalgic for my old PS1 games, it's such a classic console thing, well the Playstation really, the Nintendo 64 still had its cartridges.

The initial missions with Rufus in sunny Miami

Driver's main storyline is titled 'Undercover' with the protagonist being John Tanner who you may remember from a certain GTA 3 mission. He is apparently an ex-professional racer who now works for the NYPD as an undercover cop and is tasked with infiltration a mafia crime syndicate. You do this by being a getaway driver, tailing then taking out other cars, smashing cars, stealing cars, performing crimes and running from the cops, all of which is done inside the car as you never get out though other characters do get in and out of your car. The storyline, set in 1970's USA plays out over 4 different cities, Miami, San Francsico, LA and New York, each with a varying layout and weather and can be a different time of day with each mission. Watching the cutscenes are humorous by today's standards but of course this is a game from the early 2000's, Tanner often moves like he is some sort of android, the scenes where he is on the phone l appear to be just a still image as he doesn't flinch a muscle. Also the voice acting is corny and the sound quality just isn't there yet but It all strangely works for that low budget 70's film which I know all too well watching the original Gone in 60 seconds

Some shady figures getting in the car

In terms of the actual driving and gameplay, you get one hell of a trial by fire as the very first thing you must do is complete the infamous 'parking garage' training section where you have to do a list of stunts to prove your worth as a driver all within a set time limit. This I have found is a scene taken right out of the 'The Driver' film. This part of the game is possibly the most famous aspect of all of the driver series as it was often criticized for it's difficulty specifically the garage section and the final mission since you could not play the game until you passed it, making Driver also frequently appear in lists of 'hardest PS1 games'. It was no surprise that in Driver San Fransico this section was hidden and unlockable by finding a DMC Delorean and taking it to 88mph, wow there's two cultural references in one.

I was so close!

So once you complete that section  you then appear in the filthiest shittiest barest motel room I have ever seen. I mean I know Tanner's not one for anything other than cars and you could argue that his car would be immaculate but come on urgh the bed even has poop coloured linen. Sorry to go on about this but I do have a liking to the accommodation you recieve especially in RPG games and whew what a shithole that is. However the quality of your apartment changes and gets better as you change cities which is pretty damn cool, I guess you are promoted in the mob. So you can look around your gross apartment and do things like save your game or take a ride around the city but most importantly is your answering machine where you listen to recording and go on jobs to continue the story.

Your initial motel room, classy isn't it?

Once you've accepted you're out in Miami and into your undercover work picking up your fellow felons from a bank job and escaping the cops. As mentioned before the missions are varied you could be simply driving fast to a destination, delivering a car, picking up some pixelated passengers, escaping the cops, taking out another car or any combination of those. The game's graphics have not aged well but using a PlayStation emulator sharpens them up a lot and makes everything nice and crisp. The draw distance is also not the best but unless you are going full tilt it's pretty easy to see what's coming. As for the actual gameplay I liked the shape and weightyness of the cars, it really felt like you were throwing around a large heavy 70's Chevy or Ford and all the details such as the car being smashed at different angles and the hubcaps flying off. Oh and also the dedicated burnout button no holding down brake and accelerate this time hehe. You are guided to your destination by a giant semi-transparent black arrow on the minimap that gets smaller as you get closer, the full map itself is a classic Melways style map.

San Francisco and LA with a few cutscenes thrown in. I remember LA having these hugely long strips of road that I was always charging down.

While doing the missions the difficulty of the game quickly comes into play, I had to redo a few missions especially the ones that involve stopping another car or heavy police presence as I found myself either wrecked or out of time on many occasions though I didn't have too much trouble indeed the only missions I had trouble with was the initial carpark mission and the final mission which I could not finish. The main story has a decent amount of cutscenes and you have enough variety to keep yourself interested all the way to the finish, I couldn't get enough of the voice acting and animation though it really felt like I was in a 70's film "It's MAYA! Castaldi's MAYA! She's O'deeeeed on me man!" "You gotta get here QUICK!". I don't know whether it's the way they are modeled but all the cars look great, maybe it's just the way they all appear flat and sleek unlike a lot of cars today which are boxy and have a high centre of gravity. I think the beauty of Driver is that when it was released there were open world racing games with the likes of Carmageddon, Crazy Taxi and Midtown Madness but all of which were based on a destructive arcade style of driving. You could argue Driver was one the first open world realistic driving games as all the other realistic driving games were circuit based like Gran Turismo for example.

Meeting with someone or other.

There is plenty of other game modes as well as the story that get you right into the action, you can drive around the city you can initiate a quick car chase or getaway from the cops. Trailblazer is an interesting mode where you have to drive through cones as long as you can, but by far the fan favourite is survival where you spawn randomly in the city and then are set upon by what is apparently the entire police force. All of these modes are very useful for one of the best features of Driver: the 'Film Director' mode. This allows you to replay your last mission or run with automatic cameras or set up up your own scene and angles with a timeline and eveything which was pretty cool for a PS1 game to have this feature. I only toyed around with it briefly but I knew that many players would have spent hours making their own 70's action car film. It's these kind of features that really increase the longevity of the game, the only thing they could have done was make a two player mode but I should know from experience that often two player-split screen modes put a tax on the console and they often aren't worth it as the gameplay experience has to be scaled down so there's basically no point, I remember some racing games back then having a two player mode but only with no other computer-controlled racers which was pretty shitty.

  

A clip made in the video editor by my good friend Brok.

Driver was a masterpiece in it's own right that couldn't be compared to GTA at the time with it's top down view and comical driving and physics. Basically if you wanted to cause bloody carnage you could go play that but Driver was more of a game made from a film then GTA ever was, it didn't matter that you couldn't run over pedestrians and they magically dodged out of the way every time, this isn't Carmageddon this is a 70's action film, this is Driver.

What I liked:

  • Great driving physics
  • Good storyline and setting
  • Different cities, time of day and weather conditions
  •  Humerous dialogue and cutscenes
  • Classic movie feel

What I didn't like:

  • Lots of graphical popup and short draw distance
  • Can be challenging at times
  •  No in car view

9/10

JD

Screeee!

Pedal to the carpet

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Minecraft Update September 2021

Well it's time for a Minecraft update and wow it's been a while, I have updated anything Minecraft since the Sunken Temple rebuild back in Feb 2019. I've decided to make this post for both the Minecraft Adventures and Minecraft Creations section as it encompasses both sections.

So since the last post I hadn't really touched Minecraft apart from seeing different updates on facebook etc but one day I managed to persuade my partner Casty to start a Minecraft world for ourselves, just over LAN. So we did, and as soon as we found a suitable location we hollowed out a hole in a small hill and started homesteading. Before long we had a nice little home hollowed out of the hill with a farm and lots of animals and plants that Casty and grown and bred while I went out hunting for supplies. Our home was not far from a lovely seaside with a coral reef where she found turtles to breed also. I must admit having a shield and wolf pet made dealing with skeletons so much easier. We had many pets including wolves, cats and horses. After awhile I decided to switch to creative mode as cutting enough timber to finish the house was getting way to time-consuming so I quickly finished it off and by the end we had a large two story house with no trace of the original hill.

External Shot of the main house
Afterward Casty suggested the challenge of recreating a house each from a real estate picture. We both agreed mine came out really well but Casty had trouble with the bulky size of the Minecraft blocks. I don't blame her as she plays the same which is much more realistic, When you are dealing with MC blocks you have to really adjust your designs to be large and wider as each block is about the size of a large treasure chest.

A flyby of Casty and I's world with all of our created houses.

After this I joined my friends Stefan and Fraser on their server which was chock full of machines. machines that gave you XP, machines that grew plants, machines that farmed animals, machined that farmed Slimes, even a machine that auto-harvested wood, Stefan was very interested in these things you see. While they were showing me all this they gave me some Elytra and then introduced me to what I think is the best thing ever to do in Minecraft. Apparently if you have firework rockets in your hand and fire them off when gliding with Elytra you are propelled forward (this works without using Elytra too) which basically gives you the ability to fly. And man I had heaps of fun flying all over the place and I even created new worlds to zoom around in, the amplified world was especially fun. After looking around the world a bit more I saw the nether and their huge open cavern that was dug down to bedrock and this gigantic hole which was some kind of sponge farm. I then noticed that the world was messy I mean really messy there was crap everywhere and when I asked them if they had a house they basically pointed to this red building with no windows.

 

Flying with Elytra and Fireworks in Stefan and Fraser's World.

This was apparently their first abode, a windowless shack with no floor, Minecraft tracks going into the ground and a villager for some reason. Well I decided to do what I did best, yep build them a house! I started breaking apart the current house and leveling out the ground. Fraser and Stefan were actually playing in Survival mode so I had to use what materials I had available. As i mentioned before the server was a mess with machines and constructs and chests all over the place, searching through them all I found what materials were in abundance. For example Stone brick, I had looooots of that so I made that the bottom area which would be the basement of the house.

Some shots of the outside of the finished house


So I toiled away listening to the sounds of the cactus machine and the baa'ing of the multicolored sheep. I was going to make the house three levels with three rooms one each for Fraser and Stephan and one for this other guy whose name eludes me, Nathan I think. So after much foraging and building and gathering supplies the giant house was finished, complete with three levels, one made of stone bricks, one made of iron blocks and one made of birch logs. Other materials used were birch planks, oak planks and logs, wool for carpet and glass and iron bars for the windows, and yes the stairwell looked sort of like a jail from the outside but the inside was fine. I was very happy with my contribution to the server, I don't think they ever used it but I was proud of it nonetheless.

Interior shots of the finished house. No furnishings as It would have taken forever in survival mode.



Probably needed a support pillar in there.

At some point I was invited to a friends birthday which was held in Minecraft, which was a great idea I thought. Except I probably would have done it a bit differently, for example he put the difficulty on hard and hard difficulty in survival mode is bloody hard especially when most of the attendees either hadn't played Minecraft or had little knowlege of it. It was a bit of a shemozzle with everyone randomly running around being killed by monsters and supposedly random players coming in to the server killing everyone through apparently he upped the security for his next MC birthday. Two lockdown birthdays? that must have sucked. I would have suggested playing on peaceful mode until everyone was relatively settled and had shelter but it was fun anyway.

Ahh chaotic fun times.

After some time I joined my friend Moofs on the Auscraft server, this had been the first time on a public server in awhile and I reminded myself how much I loved looking at game spawn areas. We settled in a Savanna biome and began building a home in a mountain. Before long Moofs had quite a big base going as he always does and I'm of course always just small time and simple.After playing for a while on that server we moved to a different one where we settled in a Taiga biome. I'd always wanted to make. I'm not sure where I thought of the idea though I could guess it was from the Woodland Mansions that were added in the Exploration Update

Explorin' the Nether in Auscraft server

 To be perfectly honest I could create a fortress in any type of biome, I have created many fortresses and temples over the years. This one was a simple design made of cobble and spruce wood which matched Moofs village, except this time I stripped some of the logs for a different aesthetic. I designed the fortress into the land as I usually do but it was a sort of plus symbol with extra corners instead of being square. The finished fortress had a top and bottom level with a balcony of course. One of my favourite bits was the window at the top of the front door which you could climb up and look out of.

The finished Forest Fortress! you'll notice I didn't furnish fully, wasn't too bothered about the furnishings.

So finally the most recent adventure was on my friend Tewdric's MC realms server. When I joined this server Tewdric and Moofs had already established themselves and had flattened out and built on what looked to be a plains biome. In the centre there was some sort of large purple building which I had no idea what it was for or what it was made out of, it also seemed to be full of eels. It was surrounded by fields of farms and a large barn. Speaking of farms, Moofs had been busy making his farming creations again, I'm not sure if these are like standard for maximum efficiency nowadays but what I can say is they would be incredibly inhumane and almost impossible to do in real life. There was a building where a builder of each speciality was stuck in a 1 block space in front of a lectern, chicken and beef 'vending machines' where dozens of chickens and cows were jammed into small space and bred then slaughtered and dropped into a chest. Though I suppose this is all done for efficiencies sake and not like I hadn't seen anything like it before in Fraser and Stefan's Server.

Some of the farms created on the server.


There was also the usual xp and monster farms and some nice looking houses, I noticed a chimney of one of the houses had smoke coming out of the top of the chimney which I hadn't ever managed before as the smoke from fire usually goes away before it get to the top of the chimney then I found Tewdric had put iron bars inside the chimney and a campfire on top of that allowing lots of smoke to come out form the top, this was an ingenious idea I thought and decided to try it with my next house. I noticed there was a Dark Forest biome near the main town and thought to myself "Well I haven't made a house in a mushroom biome before" so I did. Now this time I had really run out of ideas, I had previously tried to build a house around a mushroom and on top of one too but neither worked. This time the plan was to do a partially hidden house that was semi-underground nestled away in a ditch. So I immediately got to work chopping down dark oak to use to blend in. 

My hovel with the separated bedroom, at this point I was using Chocopic's shaders from Optifine

Now you would think I'd use dark oak logs but I wasn't going to make the whole thing out of logs it would be made out of wood with dark green and brown carpet and a nice brick finish for the walls. So I walled off the ditch with wood and started digging, there were actually a number of trees and tall mushrooms in the house area but that was ok I'd build around them it was supposed to be hidden anyway.After a lot of building and resource gathering I had a nice little cozy house with a bedroom and fireplace, bookshelves and work area. There was more room to add other things too like an enchanting table or alchemy lab.The house was square and I put dirt to grow grass on top to make it a little less conspicuous though I did make a skylight for more light. Another note when looking around the Dark Forest biome I found another very picturesque house and garden. I loved the design and architecture and I will use it for my creations in the future.

  

Walkthrough of Tewdric's Realms server and my Mushroom Hovel

So that's basically an update of what's been happening in Minecraft for the last maybe 2 years hah. Hope you all enjoyed seeing the creations.

JD


Forever building...

Sunday, 18 July 2021

GTA Online - Cars, Bikes, Boats, Planes, Friends and a Sense of Purpose

Hello! well it has been a while, probably the longest ever time between posts, 8 months that's more than half a year. I was just thinking of doing another post and then checked how long it had been and wow that was a looong time. Well, a lot has happened since the last post. I now have NBN, and I've started streaming! FYI I now have my Twitch and Youtube channel link in the top right of my blog. When I finally decided to get NBN it took a very long time to get it installed in my apartment and since then I have been doing a lot of work streaming and building my youtube channel. Hopefully, I get more chances to update soon.

Now that's a good line of cool cars

What made me want to make a new blog post is that recently I have finally found a crew in GTA Online that does car meets on PC, which I had been looking for for a long time. I had made a post in the GTA Online Facebook group I was in and received a message from a member of the 'Killer Clowns' crew whose I will refer to by his GTA name "Mr Miyagi". He was also an Aussie but the guild itself was mostly European. So I went on to their Discord and signed up and saw that there was a car meet coming up soon and it was for offroad! This was awesome so I immediately started planning the time and what vehicle I would take. I found that the meets were scheduled at night British Summer Time (BST) which meant it was going to be pretty damn early, but I wasn't going to let that stop me. So at 5:40am on a Sunday I arose and logged into GTA to take part. We met at the car lot out in Sandy Shores and I rolled  in and lined up with my orange Injection Dune Buggy, which I will admit looked pretty damn small compared to the other cars and trucks which were a mixture of big 4x4 trucks, one person even had the Scarab from Arena War which did pretty well with its tracks. So we set off down the road and met up at the lighthouse on the western coast and lined up again. 

The lineup on the cliff near the lighthouse. Some of those wheels aren't suitable for offroad lol.

I learned pretty quickly how these meets worked. We met up in one arena, then traveled to the next area and stopped for more photos, this time we stopped on the edge of a cliff! By the time Miyagi rolled in and everyone was present we started off down a first road and then, of course, my GTA crashed. When I got back the group had finished the route around Mount Gordo and were on their way to Mount Chiliad. I decided that I might go a bit bigger in my vehicle choices so I decided to use my Australian-themed Marshal which worked really well as it has an Australian flag on the back. The monster was powerful and had lots of grip which made short work of the steep hills and ravines we were climbing up, in fact the only downside for Marshal is that's it's quite slow compared to other off-road vehicles but speed was not an issue at all for this run.


Convoy!

So we drove up and down the mountain and then along the beach and the swamp before finishing at Stab City. Apart from getting flooded a few times I went really well, the Monster truck made things really easy. The next part of the meet was motorcycles and I picked my favorite bike, the Nightblade. The bike meet was ok but the offroad one was far superior as we all moved slow and we all moved together. In any case I had a great time and took lots of photos and recorded the whole session. This was great this was what I had been looking for for a while. Playing with my friends Moofs and Tewdric and others is fun but the problem I always had is that I'd pretty much played until I'd done almost everything the game had to offer and bought all these cool things but most of the time whatever we did didn't give us a chance to use our custom vehicles. Yes when doing missions you could often drive to the location with your own vehicle or when doing things like doing CEO crate missions you could use your own car too but most of the time you were driving around in what was required for the mission like trucks or post-op vans or helicopters or your Oppressor Mk2

My edited music video of the Water Meet

Most of the time to use my custom cars I did classic land races but were hard to get going unless it was the weeks where they were 3x money where I found that lots of people started them. I did try to do the occasional car meet but impromptu car meets never really work, especially in a random lobby. Even the meets I did with other friends were small and short-lived and also were prone to people wrecking them. The best car meets are well organised and most importantly in private invite-only lobbies.

We're the self-Preservation Society!

Over time I have attended another 5 meets with two of them being organised by your truly. I ran a small vehicle offroad meet and roam where we used Dirtbikes, Quad Bikes, and Buggies and we raced haphazardly through mountain passes. And a water meet and roam where we bombed the rivers and sailed the seas with Jet Ski's, Speedboats and Yachts. Other meets that were organised were Movie-themed, Air Land and Sea, James Bond, and a second offroad meet where I used my APC. Using the APC was great fun as it was amphibious so I had no worries of being flooded. I even had to do two rescue missions where crew members were stuck at the bottom of cliffs and I had to ferry them out of there.

Full video of the second meet.

I am so glad I have found this community and that I have a chance to show off my custom vehicles, Grand Theft Auto is the best game to do this due to the variety of vehicles and customisation you can do. I have spent a lot of time recording and editing videos of the meets out of a passion for these events since I saw the very cool video by Atomic. I've been trying to record using the Rockstar Editor but it can only save to your C Drive where I don't have very much space but I'll see what I can do. I need to work on editing mine down a bit and getting them more precise.You can see all of these videos on my Youtube channel.

Atomic's excellently edited video of the first meet. You can see me!

I just wish now that I could find the same thing in the Crew 2 :) 

JD


We got ourselves a Convoy!

Monday, 26 October 2020

The Past and Times of Yore: Warcraft, Orcs and Humans, where RTS all began

I've decided to do a return to the original format of my blog I'll somehow try to get it done around my playing but as I said in my previous post may not be as detailed as before. Also because of my Covid and my lousy internet upload speed I will not be posting any videos, I could post other videos from youtube but I'd rather just update the posts when I can with my own work.

Release date: 23rd November 1995
Genre: Real Time Strategy (RTS)
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Platforms: MD-DOS, Classic Mac OS
Modes: Single-player, Multi-player

It was only a week or two ago when I saw that the Warcraft I&II bundle was on special on GOG (which is a great resource for games I might add) and I just couldn't say no. Yes it's arguable that these games should now be free but for $12 what the hey, whoever does the conversion of these games into a playable format does a great job and I have no trouble playing them. Warcraft: Orcs and Humans though is a special case, released in 1994 it's one of the oldest Real-Time-Strategy (RTS) games out there. In fact I was interested to know what could be considered the first, and after doing some research I found that the Sega Genesis game Herzog Zwei released in 1989 was regarded as the first, I had never heard of it, but then again I had never considered RTS games on console. The term Real Time Strategy was coined as a sub-genre of strategy video games in which the game does not progress incrementally in turns as many games such as Powermonger did. Back in the day I was a huge fan of RTS, and so was everyone else, what with the 1992-1998 golden age of seminal titles with greats such as Command & ConquerCommand and Conquer: Red Alert, Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, Age of Empires and Total Annihilation which introduced 3D units and terrain. All these were a huge hit of course then came Starcraft, so RTS as well as online multiplay well and truly took off worldwide and when Warcraft III came around well I had the RTS time of my life and I can honestly say I have not played a better one to this date. 

The Humans, clean, noble and righteous, what you'd expect really.

Nowadays unfortunately I just don't enjoy RTS as much as a I used to, I'm not exactly sure, it may be the stress, the structured building of bases and starting from scratch every game and all the damn micromanagement, or maybe it's just the fact that seeing my army routed and defeated just makes me much more sad then if I was playing as a single entity. The last two RTS I played were the Starcraft II Trilogy and Planetary Annihilation: TITANS which was a fan-made reboot for Total Annihilation. But that was just for nostalgic value really and to see the series through, I faced it a long time ago my tenure with RTS was over.

The Orcs: A very different look, rough, ugly and crude

But that is now, back then I was really into these games. Warcraft: Orcs and Humans (WC1) was Blizzard Entertainment's breakthrough into the RTS genre and a big success for the company. It introduced the Warcraft universe which tells the story of the Orcs invasion of Azeroth from their homeworld of Draenor, which to my delight was the subject of the first Warcraft Film (to a degree). WC1 had great graphics and voice acting and I loved the intro sequences for the missions where the text would scroll and the actor would vocally read out the mission details which was unique for it's time then then part of the map would pop out in 3D as you started. It was all very good but there was a problem as the first Warcraft game that actually I played was Warcraft II (WC2), it wasn't until I got the famous Warcraft: Battle Chest that included WC1 that I had a go of it, and to be honest although it was still a nice and polished game with a great story and presentation, after playing WC2 it just didn't cut the mustard which I'll admit can happen going from playing a sequel to playing an earlier game. 

3D Map! it was a cinematic but I still loved this bit.

WC1 suffered from a few drawbacks including: Only being able to select 4 units at one time and no ability to right click to attack, you had to either click on the ability or use the hotkey, units didn't path well and often didn't react when an enemy was near them. Even on the fastest speed it took a long time to build your base and get things organised to attack the enemy and often you couldn't play on the fastest speed as you needed to slow it down to organise units in a battle. Plus every unit on each side had the same voices and said the same lines when clicked on or when an ability was used. So after a few hours of "My Lord?" "Yes my Lord" "Yes!" "My Liege?" "Yes my Lord" "Yes!" "Your will Sire?" "Yes!" "Yes my Lord" I was about to throw my keyboard out the window, the Orcs although a bit funnier in their speech were the same. The other issue was apart from the spells used by the Clerics, Conjurors, Necrolytes and Warlocks, each unit on each side was pretty much identical to the other in starting stats and abilities. I must admit I did love playing with these spells being able to summon a whole bunch of monsters including, spiders, scorpions, Water Elementals and Demons was great fun and lets not forget raising the dead too.

Orc Necrolytes summon skeletons from both my dead comrades and theirs, it was difficult in a sense that the computer controled army can move any units they like whilw you are stuck to moving four at a time.

As I've watched various people play it on youtube I think everyone can agree it's a lot of hard work and chore to play you have to do a momentous amount of mousework unless you know the hotkeys off by heart. In my most recent playthrough I found the incredibly helpful (heh) Warcraft Mouse Helper which made things a bit easier by adding modern RTS game functions but regardless I just couldn't find the game fun, then and now. I found myself looking forward to the unit-only missions where you didn't have to build and defend a base as in my later years these are the RTS levels I prefer. 

One of the Human, Unit-Only missions, these were usually always in caves

Unfortunately I just couldn't drag myself through the whole two campaigns again, I even resorted to using the cheat codes again as I was losing badly and just couldn't be assed, the ability see all map one is great as it allows you to see how the developers laid the map out and any easter eggs included which is fun. But really as before this is more a nostalgia trip then anything. I also never found any to play multiplayer with, and I don't think I ever will, not for a game this old, the multiplayer is only 1v1 anyway.

Youtuber Yshsod playing the multiplayer with a friend.

Warcraft:Orcs and Humans was a great game for it's time but just doesn't hold up very well. It would need a complete overhaul to the magnitude of Brutal Doom to be playable by today's standards. Nevertheless the sound, the music the colourful units and artwork and fantasy setting made this game what it was and a great base for things to come and I would regard it as a must try for lovers of RTS or Warcraft in general.


JD


Things I liked:

Over artwork and design, colourful units

Sound, Music and Voice work

Fantasy setting and story


Things I didn't like:

Clunky Controls

Bad unit pathing

Can only select 4 units

Repetitive unit speech

Not much replayability

Game requires a lot of effort to play

 

Youtuber WTii with a full playthrough of the game, wow that was a lot of demons and water elementals.


We've come a long way

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Liero, The Unwanted Legend

Well hello there, it's been a while, I honestly didn't think I was going to make another post here due to changes in my work I had decided to leave my blog as I couldn't put in the effort I had before. I had just been sporadically updating my Youtube channel and now even less cause of covid. But my partner inspired me to continue writing and posting and I remember other friends and relatives commenting on how they saw and read my posts and how my blog was going and I wanted to thank everyone for that as it was inspiring to me. I must say the posts will not be anywhere near as long as before with in depth reviews and musing etc I just want to make small posts about things I'm doing and playing now. It will still be about games of course with videos and screenshots. I gotta say it's good to be back doing this again as I have missed it.

The year was 1998, I was in high school and it had computers and the internet, so what did we do? we played games of course. Yes back then flash games were the rage of course but also simple small downloadable games ones you could place on a USB drive and play anywhere without having to access the internet. I can remember Elastomania and Blobby Volley and Battle Painters to name a few, and of course there was Liero.

Liero is Finnish for earthworm and was inspired by the earlier game MoleZ, Liero provided inspiration for the later games Soldat and Noita. Liero was described a real-time version of the Worms games where two worms fought to the death using a choice of five weapons from a total of 40 in a two-dimensional map. The worm characters could dig through the dirt or destroy it with explosions to reach their opponent and gain extra mobility by using ninja ropes. So you could imagine there wasn't much in the way of narrative to a game like this.

A small preview of gameplay from Liero

I played this a lot, and during a creative writing session at school, I decided to write a story line for Liero, I called it LIERO , The Unwanted Legend as It wasn't really needed, or wanted, the game didn't need it but I thought it'd be fun to write. So I wrote most of it around 1999 and then it was left unfinished, until now, so without further I do, I give you Liero the unwanted legend:

Prologue

Liero is one of the most violent, chaotic and meaningless computer games I have ever seen. It consists of two worm-like creatures in underground tunnels each in bright colours and using ridiculously destructive weapons to blow each other apart. This may seem like a normal shoot-em-up game to some people with the amount of video game violence today but what makes this stand out is the mindless chaotic destructiveness with no plot or storyline whatsoever. Which does not mean the game is particularly bad, I myself like it a lot, But that’s what brings me to the point of this story, Yes unlike the game this story has a point to it.

I thought it would make an interesting scenario to try to create a detailed storyline to Liero, to create reason out of random violence and an explanation as to why this is happening and why Liero is what it is today.

Justin Durrant    


LIERO , The Unwanted Legend

CHAPTER 1 – The Imperfect Creators

When the Creators first came to the planet, it was young and rich in resources and full of oceans and underground tunnels and coated with an atmosphere which allowed lush plant life to grow . But other than this lush layer of grass and trees there was no life, no giant primitive beings, no scaly reptiles, no tiny insects, not even the slightest living microscopic organism. Creators knew that to leave such a perfect planet untouched, this was what they had been waiting for. The chance to create the perfect life-form.

The Creators were exited over the richness and complexity of the planet, the planet had everything needed, air, water, grass, trees and it’s relation to the sun brought interesting dark and light effects. As if it was dark on one side at one time and light on the other side at the other time. The Creators were efficient bringers of life, they quickly calculated the kind of life form that the planet could sustain and created seedlings of the one life form which they thought would be perfect to start off a whole chain of species on the newly discovered planet. The Creators laid these microscopic seedlings all over the planet, on the surface, undersea and in the underground tunnels. Over time the seedlings began to grow and to the delight of the Creators did not freeze or melt in the extreme conditions in some parts of the planet.

When the seedlings finally hatched what came out was an exact opposite to what the Creators expected. Instead of the white larvae of the proposed “perfect” life form, there were tiny colorless worms. The Creators were dismayed at the fact that these were not at all like what they had originally designed. They frantically hoped that if they failed to create the right species, that that species would not be able to survive in that environment and would die out quickly and they could start again. The Creators wanted to make sure that they had not wasted the planet with their embarrassing mistake.

But the Creators were successful in one way not the other, Each one of the tiny worms were perfectly suited to their surrounding environment and multiplied by the thousands, spreading across the planet with the highest population in their teeming underground tunnels. The Creators found that they had succeeded in making their creation be able to live and multiply in perfect harmony with the planet.

The Creators lurked in their colossal space-faring vessels pondering over what they could or should do with the ever-increasing useless mass of teeming worms that had shown no signs of evolution whatsoever. Knowing that if they tried to launch a second life form onto the planet it would instantly overrun by the worms no matter how fast it evolved, there was different opinions and views.  Some opted to try to launch a second batch of seedlings that would quickly spawn and ultra-being that would evolve and be strong enough to drive the worms to extinction, but this was almost impossible because of the sheer immensity of the worms population. Others thought that they should find a way to exterminate the worms without destroying the planet. Seeing as there was no way to get rid of the worms and start a new race, nor even save the planet the argument came to two final solutions.

One was to incinerate the planet and eliminate the race of worms altogether in hope that one day the planet will become what it once was. The other was insisted by particular Creators who were sympathetic or intrigued by the race of worms and wished to leave the planet and in time return in hope that the worms had changed beyond their original form. The Creators agreed that such a planet and the labor that went into creating the race should not be thrown away so casually, they agreed to leave the planet and search for a new untouched haven for another chance.


CHAPTER 2 – Growth, Evolution and Adaptation

Ironically not long after the Creators had left the planet’s solar system, the worms began to evolve dramatically, they grew bigger and fatter and eventually turned into what looked like a giant snake-worm. The most distinctive changes were the fact the worms no longer squirmed across the ground, they grew to an enormous size and reared up in an S-shape. They grew bigger, fatter, stronger and taller (up to 1 and a third metres). The other quite noticeable change was that the worms had developed arms and clumsy, fat but strong hands and fingers.

The worms adapted to the land and to the underground tunnels where most of them lived and even underground the planet was rich in resources as the worms had the ability to make a meal out of almost anything. But as the species evolved they started acquiring certain tastes, some craved large tasty flowerbeds other preferred watery lilies and lush ferns, and some ravenous minorities  had even started to get a taste for flesh eating small cave creatures and even other worms . This heightened intellect resulted in the worms quarreling over food, warmth, living space, even personal possessions such as large sticks or uniquely shaped rocks.

Years pass and the worms had virtually dug an underground city of tunnels and holes, and had uncovered water by drilling holes deep into the ground, they worms did quarrel from time to time but this was stemmed to the fact that they were still a primitive species with limited intellect. The worms seldom had anything to anger them they were all roughly the same height same shape and were the same pale white color from the darkness of the underground. But as the worms dug more and more this reasonable peaceful state could not go on forever and the inevitable was about to happen.

 

CHAPTER 3 – The Surface

In what was to be the most significant event in the life of the worms, the few that were at the highest point of the underground tunnels, felt warmth coming from the surface and small groups of them started digging upwards and upwards, this escalated into millions of worms shoveling out the roofs of the their tunnels toward the surface. After this happened it took barely a week for the first of the worms to reach the surface.

When the first worms broke through the surface of the planet they noticed at once that there was a bright glow coming from the edge of the horizon they reeled back at the harsh light of the sunrise as more and more worms erupted from the ground. Hours passed and the sun had reared up into the sky in the full light of noon the worms had barely adjusted their dark eyes to the sun when their skin made a dramatic change. As the sunlight beams down on the pale white hoards of worms their skin began to change shade into bright colors of the rainbow, some just turned a much brighter white other made a more dramatic change to pale red or yellow or even a dark blue, green or even black.

Weeks passed and the worms entire population had made it to the surface and as they explored the “new world” with new foods, plants, creatures and resources they began to build huts gain and new possessions and weapons, similar to what they had done in the underground but this time there was many distinct differences, on the surface the worms could use their vision to a greater extent and they could even climb tress and hunt other smaller creatures.

The worms explored the world their population ever expanding and gaining insight and influence and access to much more resources that they had previously, decades passed and the worm race evolved into the most populous and technologically advanced species on the planet making use of modern inventions, and weaponry. To counter their lack of limbs they used bungee style ropes to gain heigh and move quickly   There was no leadership within the worms, as they all managed to coexist peacefully.

 

CHAPTER 4 – The War for Resources and the return of the Creators

The Worm kingdom enjoyed years of peace but after the constant farming and desecration of the planets natural habitat, resources started to dwindle, the worms started to divide themselves into separate colonies by colour to safeguard their remaining resources. However this tenuous situation could only go for so long, soon various colonies began to attack each other on resource raids, leading to all out war between the colonies. The war went on for 500 years and terrible weapons were used on a global scale leading to devastated landscapes and millions of worms dead, the planet was eventually turned into a war-torn wasteland.

It was during this time that the creators decided to return to the world and saw with their horror at the consequences of allowing the worms to live, the worms had evolved so much that they had gained enough intelligence to be dangerous and that had led to them destroying their own planet. The creators had no choice but to incinerate the planet destroying the worms before they figured out how to travel the stars and infect other worlds. The entire population of the worms was destroyed as was whatever was left of their civilization. And so the creators left richer with knowledge of their failed creation.

However unbeknownst to the creators some worms had survived and fled underground to escape the scorched surface. But instead of rebuilding their society the remaining worms dig through the earth and hunt each other down with the weapons they have left, so ingrained is their will to survive is that they will fight each other until they are the victor.

Thus we have LIERO

JD


Oh the little joys