Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Seen on FB: Zynga's cross promotion of their games

"Seriously Zynga??? Don't appreciate being forced to kill and rob people in that STUPID game in order to get an animal for a game I do like.... BAD TASTE!!!!" - a Farmville player on Facebook.

I guess the farmers are about to lose their innocence and get real blood on their hands.

Zynga's cross promotion of their games get the better of a friend's usual cool demeanor here. Apparently, she has to play some Mafia Wars in order to get a special animal for her farm on Farmville. Mafia Wars is a pvp (player vs player) game which is very different from the cooperative nature of farmville -- instead of peacefully building a farm, the game is more about killing other players and robbing them of their goods. The player base between the two games are of course, different -- many farmvillers who play Farmville enjoying the peaceful farm maintenance and coop play are not likely to  enjoy the "violent" nature of Mafia Wars. This does show that Zynga doesn't care who plays their games as long as they get numbers in. Farmville is still the most popular facebook game, I suppose the developers thought they could get some of them to play Mafia Wars, it would certainly be a gain for them (Zynga).

Mafia Wars did use to be fun until it became a real chore to play. Much like Farmville, it requires you to constantly recruit and pester your friends. The game is designed in such a way that having 501 friends playing it is good for your character/gang. (501 is the maximum no. of people you can take with you into a "fight".)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dark Souls - Taurus Demon has trouble discerning small objects

clinging to walls.

I killed him on my fourth attempt. The first time I died was due to pure ignorance. The second time I was too brave and tried to go toe to toe with him, there just wasn't enough space to roll away from his blows. Dead. The third time I got stomped on. The fourth time, I killed the archers on the top, and used the tower to deliver my first blow on the Taurus Demon from on high. I did it twice more -- and when he managed to jump on the tower where I would be, I would stay on the ladder by the wall going up to it. I notice that he couldn't see me and jumped up and down the tower top looking about for me. I lopped a couple of fire bombs and stabbed him from on high again and he was dead. It was still a close fight.

There was no encounters after that until I reached a bridge. As I was crossing it, a red dragon swooped in on high and singed me to half health with its breath of fire. And now it's crouching on the other side, breathing steam. Backtracked to the last bonfire to recuperate.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Dark Souls - a log (spoilerific)

I am really enjoying this very much.

And I'm really starting to see the difference in world design between this one and Demon Souls. The open world concept is incredible and very well done, expanding on what they have done in the previous.

After the prison and reaching Firelink bonfire, I actually had a few choices before me. At first I didn't know that and wondered down some steps to a graveyard. The graveyard had a few tough skeletons and was near impossible to progress very far. After countless deaths and defeating a few skeletons, a large one at the end gave me trouble and I was sent packing.

Finally decided to cool off a bit and examined the area around the bonfire. I discovered a way leading down to an entrance of a sewer but decided not venture in as I don't know what's down there. I rather be outside anyway.

Then I found a path leading up a hill and into the distant walled city of sorts. This way was easier -- the undead soldiers were slow and careless (but of course still dangerous, and the path up was narrow and I fell off it once trying to duck a blow.) Found an entrance to a tunnel, and within was large undead rat feasting on a corpse. I made the stupid mistake of taking a high swing in that narrow passage way, hitting nothing and leaving myself open. The rat lunged twice and I died.

The next time I went in, I stabbed the rat with a hard thrust of my sword. Two more and it was depleted. I learned that it took more stamina for that but that was the only way to attack in such a narrow passage, and nearly caused me to stumble.

Made my way up and found the second bonfire. From there, I proceeded to explore the surround area finding more paths and a new merchant who seemed to sell a good spread of weapons and items. Bought a bow and learned how to use it. Clumsy still. I intended to use the bow and arrows for purpose of luring monsters one at a time out from where they stood.

Everything costs in souls, even arrows.

To do, exploring for possible short cuts.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Dark Souls (PS3) - Prepare to die, or don't pick up this game at all.

The mantra of Dark Souls is also its official website address:  This game is not for the faint of heart and it's not for tourists or people who think they can grind their way to victory. Elder Scrolls is a game for tourists, so if you want game with lots of exploration where you can pause anytime you like to enjoy your surroundings, play Oblivion or wait for Skyrim. I'm not being disrespectful saying it like that, I love Elder Scrolls for what it is, a big open world exploratory RPG.

I'm not going to repeat all that has been said about this game in reviews by Gamespot, 1up or any other website that you can find on The game is also available on the Xbox360.

I loved Demon Souls and it's why I got Dark Souls, because I expect more of the unforgiving, no nonsense challenge -- an action RPG where every fight requires attention and care. Sure enough, I am not disappointed.

There are no easy monsters in this game. All of them are dangerous if taken lightly. The game is hellishly unforgiving but doesn't play unfairly. If you die in this game, it is your own fault. There is no cheap death. There are no cheap victories either.  You won the fight because you knew what you were doing. You died because you didn't.

The game environment is beautiful and detailed, worth going over carefully, and not just because there might be traps and pitfalls; careful exploration may reveal a shortcut or a treasure chest. Monsters are all formidable at first and some even seem impossible, but the game isn't impossible, you just need to persevere, to observe, learn from your mistakes, take your time, strike at the right time and keep your head about you. Each fight is a duel. Each step you take, there's a sense of risk and danger. Every milestone and bonfire you reach, there's a sense of accomplishment few other games can match.

As for the RPG elements, you can improve your character's stats as you level up using the souls you collected from defeated monsters. You could direct your character build any way you want, no matter what starting class you picked. Equipment can make killing certain monsters easier. However, the game is not about grinding or kewl loot. There is no point where you could become an uber character invulnerable to even the lowest ranking skeleton warrior. You'll die for your mistakes and carelessness in this game, makes no difference what level you are if you don't learn to play skillfully and thoughtfully.

Personally, to me, playing a character in this game is like being in hell. I feel like my character has been sentenced to a nightmarish dimension, doomed to fight over and over, wounded and killed repeatedly until she learns to deal with each encounter.

I think I'll try a few character classes before I stick to one.  I've got a long hard journey ahead.

(It's worth picking up Demon Souls if you are not sure about this one, as one can probably find the earlier game in bargain bins or used. Demon Souls is not related to Dark Souls in terms of story and world, but the gameplay style, challenge and character building system are exactly the same. Dark Souls seems to have better enemy AI. )

Friday, October 7, 2011

Steve Jobs - thoughts on ill thoughts on the man

I don't know enough about the man, all I know is that he is responsible for managing Apple, and I love my Apple things -- my mac, my ipod, my ipad, etc. I am grateful for his Company and the direction he led this company, that led me to buy these products, that led to thousands of hours of pleasure working and playing on these gadgets, that led to making friends with those with similar likes.

I can't say much about him as a human being. Some people say he's a good man and a great human being, some people say he's a ruthless businessman and a control freak. I don't know because I don't know him, and so I can't judge him on that bit.

What I do find off-putting is people who continue to use memorial threads and websites to attack his character even after he's dead.

To internet critters: If you hate him so much, well -- he's dead. Heaven doesn't require you to bring attention to his flaws which you probably know little of since it's safe to say most of you don't know the man personally. Perhaps it's time to reflect on your own self and to think about whether you can achieve all that you can before your time is up. Will you be able to leave behind a legacy that your friends and love ones will carry in their hearts and that strangers will pick up and adopt, or will people remember you as being loud, full of opinions and nothing much to show for? Or worse, people don't even have anything to remember you for at all.