Demos and Family Business

As I discussed last week, I installed and fired up a couple of free demos. Here are the results:

As I predicted, I was engaged by Bioshock for about an hour. Shooters just aren’t my thing. However, the game is certainly really, really pretty and astonishingly well-designed visually. The story has a cool intro and an apparently solid premise, and then the limitations of the FPS format start interfering with it as soon as the action starts. Being used to the shooter control system would have helped, I’m sure, but I found it not only not intuitive, but after playing for a while I wasn’t getting better at it. This reinforces my opinion that the shooter genre as it stands today just isn’t for me; even a clearly well-designed one like this didn’t catch me. I might have better luck with the much sillier Team Fortress 2, which strikes me as probably being more centered around pure fun than concerned with a story that I thought felt limited by the FPS genre. When I stopped after about 45 minutes or so I unhesitatingly uninstalled it.

As I also sort of thought would be the case, I liked the Supreme Commander demo. A lot. Glorious graphics, very dynamic gameplay, and a ton of depth. There are a few graphics glitches, but nothing major. SupCom is now definitely on my list of things to buy, and I no longer plan on waiting for the sequel – I still have it on the box, and may fool with it some more, since it will probably be a couple of weeks before I can buy the game.

I was pleased to note that both demos did allow me to set my own graphics settings, and both games ran with no problems whatsoever.

In MMO play over the weekend, I did some mining runs in EVE and made a fair bit of ISK. I’ve switched to a mining frigate/industrial/secure container setup, and the difference is pretty huge – it about triples the ISK per hour I can make in high-sec. I need to work out some kind of arrangement to mine in 0.7, though – I need the Omber for manufacturing. This is something I just haven’t tried yet; I’m sure I’ll come up with something. Still no word back from the 2 corps I have queried.

I did get some Vanguard play in as well. First of all, the panel background issue I reported earlier appears to be something that comes and goes; opening Vanguard after a reboot appears to work every time, while starting it after the system has been running other things seems to bring it up about half the time. I did try /reloadui and /flush, neither of which helped. This is something I never saw prior to GU 3.1. Speaking of the update, it does indeed appear to have boosted framerates a bit; I gained about 4 fps after the patch. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up, because the higher the average FPS gets, the less likely the framerate is to dip into the 30s where it’s going to be noticable. Chunking is still an issue. The big problem is that client stability does not appear to have improved at all. This is a real bust on SOE’s part – this thing has to get fixed if Vanguard is to have a hope of building a larger audience.

I’m thinking of ditching the DroxUI – it’s giving me more headaches than I’m inclined to put up with (and I noticed also that this invisible window background thing didn’t happen until I installed it. I will go back to the default interface and see if it still happens and report back. The default Vanguard UI does, after all, give you the option of rearranging most of the UI elements.

My main, Ardwulf, is a member of the Varanjar race, a group of Viking-like humans descended from an ancient seafaring people, now long-settled on land. As an experiment, I made two of his brothers as characters as well. This was interesting because I was able to save Ardwulf’s appearance as a template, which I then applied to the other two characters. His black sheep youngest brother (a rogue,) is smaller and darker-haired, while the middle brother (a Druid) is between the two; not scrawny but not as huge and hulking as the elder Ardwulf. It’s really nifty that I could tweak the brothers’ appearance to be unique, but you can still see a family resemblance between them. This approach would probably be more interesting if I’d chosen a race with more class options, but it’s still kind of cool. I haven’t actually played any of these relatives, but If I do I’ll make Ardwulf’s shieldmaiden sister as well.


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