Saturday, April 28, 2012

Diablo 2 - Ladder Reset May 2012 - with Screenshots

For those of you still playing Diablo2 off and on, a new season of Ladder starts the 2nd of May, 2012! Don't worry, Blizzard has stated that it is NOT, I repeat, it is not the last ladder reset of D2, just because D3 is coming out:

See that, Other Game Companies? That's how you keep your customer base coming back for more... Thank you, Blue.

Heck there are still tens of thousands of players online and many more messing around on Single Player. I myself have recently been trying out The Cheat Engine on Single Player, but with the Hero Editor there is really no need, as you can give your character level 90+, level 90+ skills and max out your stash with goldz for gambling. Do a few Boss Runs, save the items as files, then you can import them into the other characters! I hope Diablo3 has this sort of thing... I don't want to sound like 'that forum guy/girl', but I may not purchase Diablo3 if it doesn't have Single Player. Even the annoying must-have-an-internet-connection Single Player is fine, as long as cheats and utilities are allowed for those of us who want to beef up our characters. [Must not... include rant about online single player games and them not working when servers/companies go down and how they should all be like Diablo2...]

Speaking of D3 (a separate post will be made about the beta), it seems like Gold and other things are all server-side. This makes sense, since D3 items are going to be able to be sold for "Real Life Money" and you don't want some hackers giving their characters a million goldz to sell for real cash. However, again, for those of us who like to supe-up our characters, the ability to have (built in?) cheats of some sort would be nice for isolated/offline single player gameplay. I purposely do not read/view too much on a game before it comes out and I haven't heard anything about Single Player in D3 and how it's going to be handled yet.

Distraction! This is a post about Diablo2, and so let's bring it back with some screenshots:

My Necro in NM Den. If you can change the game running from DirectDraw to DirectX, I highly recommend it.
The shading and colors are superior.

My Barbarian following in a Chaos and Baal Run in Nightmare. Yup, that's what I call the Necromancer Clay Golems.

My Hydra Sorceress running Hell Countess for Runes. My strategy was usually to teleport to her [I miss the old 3-level Tower] and then let the hydras kill her and her guards off. Pretty easy with decent Hydras. The one Hydra on me is for defence of the position.

Ahh! This is what happens when you don't play your characters for 90 Days and someone takes your name before you sign in again. Drat, I don't mind losing the item holders but she was a good sorc. Oh well, a chance to make new!

My 83 Wind Druid on Ladder. I was in the top 10 at the beginning, then stayed in the top 50 for a while, but I just can't keep playing and keep up. It was fun for a while anyway and I got some fast levels with good groups.

My Windy Druid found Ali Baba, woot! What's the best character to MF with these days?

Going through some items from Ladder on my Item Holders and found Warshrike, a nice throwing dagger weapon. Now where's my Throwing Barb again?
Found Jalal's Mane for my Bear Druid. Yesss!

My Bear Druid's Stun Strategy. Want easy PvM (player versus monster) fights? Just level a Druid to 24 and get Shockwave. Coupled with a nice strong Grizzly, just 'Stun-Em-And-Run-Em': Shockwave stun and let your merc and grizz clear em out. The only thing you have to worry about is what loot to pick up when it's all over.

My Necromancer can use Charged Bolt! Ok, he can't, but my Bonemancer entering Hell WSK looks like he does in this screenshot, due to some Lightning Enchantedseses-es near the Waypoint.  Don't forget kids, if you hold the mouse farther away from your character when you cast Teeth, they will come out in a narrower cone, and if you hold the mouse closer to your character, they will come out in a wider spread.

A quarter of a million gold for dying? Man, I hope this doesn't happen in D3.. Ah, well it was about time for a break anyway..

That's it for now, see you in there!

N.B.: This post has been copy/pasted to a few blogs out there (that seem to mainly just copy/paste others' work). This is the original article (our logo is in the screenshots still and they left one of the copyright statement of ours intact). Please ask if you wish to copy/paste entire articles (thank you for the compliment I suppose) and it's great if you could just link to this one. Thanks, though.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfware 3 - The Free Weekend and First Impressions (Feb and April 2012) Text-Only Version

[Currently this article is text-only, with no screenshots. They will be added in the near future (read: after the free weekend)]

Sometime around January/February, 2012:

Greetings all, TheTechnician here and I can honestly say that I have never played MW3 before in my life. This free weekend/demo of the game is my first time playing any other of the COD series besides the first, which I tried on a friend's PC back almost a decade ago, and even then, I only played a short while.

Three main things hit me right away after downloading the free/demo Steam version and starting it up. The first was the game/server matching system. I thought I was playing Left For Dead Joins The Army. Not that it is a bad thing, as most of the decisions were automated, but it was quite different than... oh let's pull a game out of the dark randomly here from hundreds of games... Battlefield3.

There was no huge server list to wade through, no filters to set, no options to play certain maps, no inviting friends to play on your maps with you (at least I didn't see these things at first, perhaps they were Unlockable, as most of the game seemed to be). Two comments about this: one, unlockables aren't bad. They are an attempt to keep people playing (their numbers are then high to submit to shareholders and industry press) and add a freshness to the game, as time goes on and there are 'new' things to find within playing the same game for a time; and two, simplicity isn't bad as well. I can see that this game was made more for Console players (let's try not to start THAT war now) from the beginning as the simplified matchmaking and server choices (no choices at all actually, that I saw at first) make for 'plug-it-in-and-get-a-drink-and-just-play' game starting, which isn't a bad thing either.

Coming from PC gaming (I have played consoles since PONG but only owned a couple such as the NES) it was quite a different feeling, not being able to set how many players I wanted to play with, what maps I wanted to try (if I wanted to limit it to one or two for a while to get used to them), and I can honestly say - as a PC Gamer remember - that I missed that. I felt my army-bootlaces were being tied together for me from the very start and to place a value judgement on it, I didn't really like that there were no lists of options that I could pick through to get the type of game exactly how I wanted. Perhaps I am 'spoiled' as part of The Master Race [according to Console vs PC wars] but to not have all those choices and be forced to play with a small group of people I didn't know in such an intimate (spatially and conceptually, not emotionally) way was.. uncomforting.

Small is the operative word now. Small as in a group of only 8 as in ONLY EIGHT people were present and the game started. That's it? Why didn't it wait longer (since it made me anyway, again no choice) and why only eight? Is that the minimum required to play? /gasp Is that the maximum?

The game started and I was thrust into warfare. I tried to switch weapons scrolling my mousewheel but couldn't. "Only one weapon?" I typed. Noone answered. I ran and sprinted but then I stopped sprinting for some reason. Is my keyboard dying? I'll have to troubleshoot that later... There must be more weapons as it definitely showed more than one thing on the screen at the start, what class did I pick again? I tried hitting some keys such as 'throw grenade' and "2" to switch weapons, ah there we are, feeling more comfortable now, things are getting learned. Wow, this game looks pretty good.

Yes, the game looked good. It was realistic. Nice shadows, detailed textures, this city map I was in looked great. I haven't watched any 'BF3 vs MW3' videos on YouChoob (I try not to watch much gameplay video before playing a game) but if they argure about detail and realism, I would say they are both very similar and both very good.

As I moved around, I felt a bit like I was 'floating' around, gliding on skates as opposed to ...oh I don't know ...some random game like.. Battlefield3. Don't get me wrong I am not complaining, it felt a lot smoother and I remembered right away how COD was based on the QuakeIII engine and when Medal of Honor and Battlefield1942 first came out, crossing over to those games [from Quake3] felt like I was running hip deep in water all the time. I don't know if MW3 is just a really-really-souped-up Quake3 engine, but the smoothness of movement reminded me of it, and it was nice.


That's where I stopped working on that post? Hmm.. well, from what I remember, it was a pretty fast-paced, action-packed couple of days. I only got to Rank 4 but was starting to learn the controls and the game. I even killed a few people. 

My biggest complaint (other than what seemed like the odd never-miss person, I don't like to throw 'that word' for them around) was the scope of the play areas. If the limited number of players gave me a taste I didn't like at the beginning, the limited play space by the end left a lingering, bad aftertaste. Perhaps I am spoiled (am I really using this phrase again?) by the sheer size and huge number of players in BF3 games, but to be put into a little kennel of an area, usually what felt like five rooms together and some open spots (read: small spots with no rooves) was just plain... small. Perhaps it is the limited hardware in consoles holding back programming for any larger scope of gameplay, but whatever it is, you either like it and love the close-quarters action - or you don't, and feel that you were just thrown into a kennel with other dogs, all just itching to fight. At least, that's what I remember...


Fast-forward to the April 2012 Free Weekend of MW3 and... I can't play it. Every time I start it through Steam, my computer reboots itself. Great, now what's the problem? 
"Steam, verify the integrity of your cache."
"Yessir. All files successfully validated, sir."
"Understood.. hmmm."
Well, let's look at some forii and see if anyone else is having "mw3 crashes" or "mw3 reboots computer" problems... "Update your ****" well, thank you very much, I actually have the latest drivers, blahblahwait.. my BIOS. I didn't update that since I upgraded to my sex-core FX with Gigabyte Mainboard! 

Ah, Gigabyte, the gimmick-laden utility-dropping wonder of a manufacturer. Although I will usually say "ASUS" when people ask what to get at the lunchtable, for dependability (Remember Kids, It's Pronounced 'ahh-suhs' As In 'Pegasus', Which The Company Is Named After (sounding more like us-us than ah-sus or the ear-tearing ay-soos)), I also heartily recommend Gigabyte. Feature-packing and ready-to-go, I easily find the Touch Bios utility at the website, which allows BIOS access within Windows and tell it to Automagically Update the BIOS with the latest version found over the internet at the manufacturer's website. Oh, it's done already? 


The game starts and I can begin to run around and die once more. What's this about Free Weekend = Hackers on the forum I saw? Bah.. too bad, but I'll still try to play some.. It looks like they are doing updates as the weekend goes even, updates are coming down the Steam pipe. [dude, steampipe, get it, dude]

So, for those having crashing issues with the April 2012 Free Weekend of MW3, after making sure all your drivers are up-to-date, update your BIOS through your manufacturer's instructions (will make a post on this in the future) and that should help.

See you in there!

[Screenshots and more to follow...]

Short versions of updating the motherboard bios from our Resident Techie:
  • For Gigabyte: install TouchBIOS, run it and update via the internet for the latest version straight from them.
  • For ASUS (and others): go to the company's website and find your mainboard through models/type/etc and in the Downloads section, download your board's BIOS, latest version. Install and run the manufacturer's update utility (usually on the disc, or dl it from the website) and tell it to update using the file that you downloaded from the company's website.
  • Reboot.

[Back in my day, we took up the phone line to put the handset on the cups and we put the bios updates onto floppies and booted to dos and ran a separate flash utility and prayed and gave scented offerings to the gods that nothing bad happened and we liked it, dagnabbit]