Monday, November 25, 2019

Vampyr Citizens Survive for another Night!

I beat the boss I was working on, without needing to embrace a civilian!

In the setting of the fight, there is an unconscious priest. When the boss reaches 66% for the first time, she will drain the priest, healing back up and boosting her power. In theory, you can drain the priest first, and prevent the boss from healing and powering up.

I decided that--since the priest was going to die anyways--I would try draining him first, and see if that made the fight easier.

I started the fight, but could not figure out how to actually drain the priest. I'm not sure If I was standing in the wrong spot, or pressing the wrong button, or if you need to wait for a specific moment. But since the boss was constantly pressing the attack, I didn't have a lot of time to experiment.

Eventually the boss hit the 66% mark, and drained the priest. So I figured I may as well play out the fight and try again. Only I actually defeated the boss in that attempt!

There was one dicey moment in the last phase when I got really low on health, but I was able to dodge away and heal up.

Now I'm on to Act II, and the citizens remain alive. We'll see if that state of affairs continues. All the enemies in the new area are around level 28 compared to my level 21, so I have to be pretty careful.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

A Time for Hard Decisions in Vampyr

It looks like I'm going to have to kill and drain a civilian in Vampyr.

I'm about halfway through the game, and I'm stuck on a boss. The boss is level 21, and I'm level 18. On my own, I can get the boss to about 30%, but she speeds up then, and I cannot keep up. I've tried respeccing and different strategies, but I've come to the conclusion that I need to be higher level. And the only XP left are those tasty civilians.

So far, I have avoided "embracing" any civilians. I did cause one civilian to die due to a bad choice, so I can't get a perfect game in any case. And I think just one or two would be enough.

But which one should I take? I've been flipping through the stat pages, almost like looking through a menu at a restaurant. The vicious gang boss, who's wife is cheating on him and planning on ousting from the gang leadership? The serial killer who's the sole child and support of a genuinely good woman? An unrepentant slum lord? The hospital patient who thinks she's a vampire?

I really like the civilians in this game. They're written very well. Most of them have shades of grey, even the outright "bad" ones.

I have to give Dontnod credit for these mechanics. They fit the game beautifully, and elegantly get across that you're playing a good guy who cannot escape the fact that he is a monster.

As an aside, one other interesting thing about Vampyr is that it is an "auto-save" game. The game auto-saves often, so you can always pick up where you left off. But you cannot access old saves. If you make a decision in the game, it's pretty much final for that playthrough. SWTOR is like this, but it feels unusual for a single-player game. However, it does works well in Vampyr.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Blizzcon Apology, China, Hong Kong

Blizzcon Apology

At the start of Blizzcon, J. Allen Brack delivered an "apology". It was a very oblique apology, not one that was clear and straightforward.

One of the problems with the modern world is that we pay too much attention to what people say, and very little attention to what they actually do. Here Blizzard mouths some nice-sounding words, but never actually state what they did wrong. They did not reinstate Bliztchung, or apologize to him specifically.

The lack of actual concrete actions means that Blizzard's apology was meaningless. A speech to pacify the audience, and keep Blizzcon on track.


I've seen some commentary that many people upset with Blizzard are hypocrites for buying goods made in China. And maybe that's true. But here's my take on it.

25 years ago, our political leadership and business elite made the decision that it was acceptable to do business with China. That we could invest in China, and China could invest in us. The thinking at the time was that China would absorb our values and peacefully convert.

In hindsight, it is clear that was a bad decision. Instead of absorbing our values, China is exporting theirs. Our supply chains are too entangled with China to make disengagement easy. Our corporations will gladly enforce Chinese repression in order to avoid losing access to the Chinese market. Opening trade with China only served to empower the Chinese government.

But I don't think it's fair to fault those who followed decisions of the leadership, especially as it wasn't obvious they were wrong. For better or worse, trade with China is "normal", now. The struggle is to keep "repression" or "suppression of criticism" from becoming normal as well.

Personally, though, I will try to avoid buying items made in China from now on. I doubt it will be possible, but if I can buy a similar item from a different source, I will choose that option.

Hong Kong

I believe Hong Kong is going to end in blood. In fact, I rather think that the pressure brought by China on companies like the NBA and Blizzard is battle space preparation, showing the people of Hong Kong that they can pressure the West into staying silent.

When the tanks roll into Hong Kong, will the people who work for Blizzard or the NBA regret the stance they've taken? Or will they shrug, ban anyone who says anything about it, and keep counting their profits?

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Mandalorian

Disney released the first episode of their new television series, The Mandalorian, today. It was excellent!

It's pretty much a pure space western, with a well-done protagonist, and an interesting set up. There are so many small touches that just work. I loved the bit where the Mandalorian refuses to be paid in Imperial credits since the Empire is gone, and settles for a lesser amount in Calamari currency. The makers are content to let their world-building speak for itself, without feeling the need to state everything.

I strongly recommend The Mandalorian. It's possibly the best Star Wars since the original trilogy.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Nov 2019 Updates

I have been having some trouble with nerve pain in my arm lately, making it very hard to sleep through the night. Hopefully it's nothing serious, but as a result I haven't gamed very much in the last two weeks.

I've played a little bit more of Vampyr, and I think I'm somewhere around the halfway mark. I still haven't Embraced any citizens, and combat seems to be going okay for now. However, the average enemy level seems to be pulling away from my current level.

FFXIV 5.1 was released a couple weeks ago. A good patch. The Nier story and raid are particularly enjoyable, especially for Nier fans. The forums seem to be complaining about how hard it is to win the 2B costume from the end of the raid (3 costumes drop for the 24-man raid), but I got it on my run this week with an 86 roll.

Otherwise, I did the SWTOR: Onslaught Republic story with my Jedi Knight. It was well done, though maybe less interesting than the Empire story. (Possibly that's just my preference for the Empire, though.) I liked the story of Tau and her new padawan, Arn. I also did a couple of the Onderon weeklies. A couple of them are a bit buggy, and some quest markers are hard to see in the dense jungle, but otherwise they're solid.

The new gearing system is pretty nice. It actually reminds me more of gearing in Diablo 3, rather than traditional MMO gearing. Lots of gear drops, and it's all around your current gear level, so you swap in new pieces fairly often with your item level slowly increasing instead of jumping.

I do want to write a post on Blizzcon. Hopefully I will get around to it soon.