Torchlight shining light over a neglected genre

December 27, 2009 at 08:52 | Posted in games, indie, RPG, software, Steam | Leave a comment

Since everyone and their dog seems to have been talking about Torchlight at some point or another, I finally caved in to the peer pressure and managed to snag it when Steam put it up on their holiday sale.

If this game’s attention somehow has eluded you, let me give you a short introduction: Torchlight is a point-and-click RPG action game where you explore endless dungeons, kill monsters and get loot. Make no mistake, this is about as close to Diablo you can get without getting sued for copyright infringement. It’s quite understandable, seeing how several of the senior staff from said Blizzard franchise have moved over to Runic Games to create this.

I’m not going into too detail about this game as many already have already put up various reviews and thoughts on this game and how it plays, so I’ll just post some thoughts that have struck me personally as I’ve played through the game.

Kill Streak
Killing streak

The first one is of course how easy on the eyes the game is. The vibrant colour doesn’t exactly instil the gloomy setting Diablo is known for if that’s your thing, but it does make the hacking and slashing more light-hearted and fun. Fun in the way only gratuitous amounts of vibrantly coloured blood after destroying several of your weaker enemies can imbue.

There’s no real plot to speak of though. There’s the mention of ember several time, the mysterious material known both for it harmful energies as well as it’s potent properties, and the very reason for building a small mining village on top of the dungeon. But this game doesn’t really need a story other than to give you a reason to slay a ridiculous amount of monsters.

One of my favourite parts about this game is how easy it is to pick up, play for a short while and then put down again. When you log back on to your character you’ll be exactly where you left, making this game ideal for when you need a quick fix. The streamlined experience of the game also makes sure that you’ll feel as if you’ve accomplished something during this short while, and not just spent 10 minutes trekking to the place where you can find all the monsters.

The game’s netbook mode looks interesting as well, even though I’ve yet to do any deeper studies or tests of it. It’s basicly a single option that seems configured to preserve power for your laptop of choice. It’s a handy feature for those who wants to get mobile with the game but doesn’t have the resources to pay for a top-of-the-line computer.

One of my favourite parts of the game is also it’s moddability. There’s at least two different modding sites out there dedicated for the game, and being a huge fan of game customization I’ve been delving through the archives and found a few gems. What I found interesting is the fact that not only does the game ship with an editor, but there’s also achievements tied to installing and using mods on the Steam version. An interesting way to put people’s attention on the mod community.

On a final note I’ll mention the plans for Torchlight to become something bigger. The idea with this game is to get the brand name out there as well as finance making a MMO later on. So seeing how well recieved this game has been I wouldn’t be surprised to find a Torchlight MMO within next two coming years.

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Casual RAID with GRUB

December 2, 2009 at 14:29 | Posted in GRUB, hardware, Linux, RAID, server, software, Ubuntu | Leave a comment

Unexpected hardware complications yields underwhelming results for the server.


dinner’s served
Originally uploaded by limaoscarjuliet

So I got to installing Ubuntu Server the other day. Most of the installation went on smoothly and the OS is now fully installed. Only one catch though. There’s no way to start it.

So it turns out that the server I got was equipped with two harddrives configured for a RAID 1 type of setup. That’s pretty sweet and unexpected in itself as I’ve never had RAID before. And what better place to start using it than on a server?

The only problem is that the standard boot loader for Ubuntu called “GRUB” doesn’t seem to like RAID, at least not the hardware version. In fact, it refused to install with it, and thus I’m left with an unbootable OS.

At the time it was getting late and I just left it for later, but hopefully I’ll be able to get a fix for this before the end of the week. I have an idea to solve it and if that doesn’t work I’ll just have to ask my Ubuntu guru later on.

Googly waves

November 30, 2009 at 17:22 | Posted in Google, Google Wave, software | Leave a comment

A peak into Google Wave yields mostly positive results.

I was recently sent an invite to Google Wave. I hadn’t looked much at it since it came, but it did seem as an interesting concept. A web based tool for distant cooperation with hints of IM-services, seems pretty neat.. The truth however is that while it does certainly hold potential as a great platforming for cooperation, the IM-part has work to be done.

A friend and me has been working on a side project. As we both live in seperate countries, going over to his place and drawing up plans on the dinner table is out of the question. The project itself was in an infant stage when I gained access to Google Wave and so I decided to try out the capabilities of the Wave. It was in fact the reason for why I asked for an invite to begin with. So soon after I logged in I sent on of my own remaining invites to my friend by mail.

A nice part about the invitation system is that whoever you invite is added to you contact list automaticly and vice versa. So I could immediately see when my friend logged on and started a conversation, or “Wave” as Google would like us to call it. By using shift + enter one could reply to messages pretty much instantly and it pretty much worked as a slower IM-service. I was reminded about one of the chat functions of good ol’ ICQ in how you are able to see what the other person is typing before they even hit enter. While this serves little purpose on an IM level, it does help when collaborating around a project. I can see what the other person is typing when they’re typing it and then sometimes predict what they’re writing. This would be especially useful when there’s more than two people using using it at once, but I digress. In essence the conversation was less than ideal, but it was certainly better than e-mail. And since the recipent isn’t required to be online to recieve the messages, it has it’s uses.

Then we started a new wave and started typing down what we had discussed earlier about the project. My friend however was at the moment occupied, but this only served to further show how versatile Google Wave can be when not everyone is online. Since anyone can edit the wave at any time, it was like editing a document (in this case guidelines and notes for the project) and now and then you could see someone else add or edit it.

The biggest downside to this however was that unless you used the somewhat cumbersome “replay wave” where you can see how and when something was added there was no real way to see what had been edited or added. In this case there could be entire passages that might get lost for the other part since we didn’t know it was added. A tool to give a quick oversight of what had changed since the last time you looked up the wave would be useful. In our case we just agreed to colour our contributions to a certain coulour so one could at least see who had added it.

To sum it up I have to say that I see Google Wave having potential, but it still needs some work on some parts to be as fantastic as some people make it out to be. I’m looking forward to seeing those changes come to pass and I’ll probably keep using it, probably a lot for said project.

Mmm, XHTML

November 24, 2009 at 16:05 | Posted in domain, software, webdesign | Leave a comment

Reviewed domain settings and a web design course sparks a creative streak.

I like making websites. I don’t know why I don’t put more time into it. Probably because I rarely have something useful to make. But now I might have two things coming up where I could use my (somewhat limited) skill set!

To top it off I’ve started my web design course. It’s at a very rudimentary level and so far I’ve done a fourth of the assignments in less than one day without actually learning anything, but that’ll probably come soon. It’s nice to have school work motivating you to spend time on something you like.

Saying that I haven’t learned anything might be a misnomer though. While I haven’t learned anything so far in the study plan I looked up what XHTML actually is only to find out that it’s what I’ve been doing so far anyway, almost. Pretty sweet, since it’s all about how you write the code to make it easier to decipher, and not just for the computer to read.

In the spirit of all this did some fiddling with my domain name. No longer is the adress to this site http://kroax.blogspot.com (even if it does refer to this site) but instead you’re able to just type in http://blog.kroax.se! For most people this won’t mean a thing, but I’m having fun with it. At the moment www.kroax.se works as well, but that’s only temporary until I get something else up there again. Soon I’ll have access to Kroax.net and then I might change that, but http://blog.kroax.se will always work.

I feel delightfully nerdy right now!

Edit: Why, oh why does Blogger add line breaks automaticly in “Edit Html” mode?!

Edit2: Got access to Kroax.net now and moved it over here.

Dragon Age, The Second Coming of CRPGs

November 18, 2009 at 13:00 | Posted in games, RPG, software | Leave a comment

After many years of waiting the spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate finally arrives.

I’ve now had my hands on Dragon Age: Origins for almost two weeks. This is a game I had been waiting for since Bioware first announced it several years back. I’m a bit fuzzy on the details of when this was, but it was somewhat soon after the release of Neverwinter Nights. All in all a long times waiting, and so far it’s been totally worth it.

I’ll begin with saying that this game is made first and foremost for the PC. One could argue that a lot of games are better looking and have more choices than you average console port, but some games, especially action and platform games, plays better on a console. In Dragon Age, it’s clearly a computer game ported to consoles and not the other way around as in say Mass Effect. If you’ve ever played Baldur’s Gate and WoW, you’ll immediately feel right at home with the controls.

While the various stats and options might seem a bit disorienting at the start of the game, you’ll soon learn what abilities are useful for what. If you’re not the stat savy type there’s always the option of “auto level up” which helped me out a lot in the beginning with some of the NPCs. What makes the system intriguing is that all classes gains the same amount of differing abilities. No longer are mages the only versatile characters available to you as warriors and rogues alike have just as many tricks up their sleeve. That being said however, several of the non-magical abilities are “turn-on-and-forget” modes, but even they give you a tactical choice.

And you’ll need those tactical choices. So far I’ve only been playing on normal difficulty, but whenever you meet a boss it really pays off knowing your abilities and how to use them. After the difficulty nerf in the last patch to easy and normal however I’ve been thinking of upping the difficulty to hard to get closer to the sometimes soulcrushing encounters you would find in Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2. It’s less about luck than it is about sound strategic planning, and finishing of a particular hard fight leaves a great sense of accomplishment.

The story so far has also been good. It’s nothing mind-blowing, but it suffuses the world and gives a great immersion factor. It works off the vibes of a gritty low-fantasy setting where there is no tangible sense of wrong or right. One of the ways this plays out is the fact that there’s no arbitrary alignment meter that is so common these days in RPGs. Instead you, the player, gets to choose what course to take, and they’re often far from the “Satan vs. Jesus” type of choice and more in the realms of grey, although often less gloomy than The Witcher. It follows in the footsteps of the latter though in how your choices actually do alter the course of the game in a tangible way and aren’t just concentrated to that particular bit of the story.

Suffice to say, this game is all that I wanted, even if I didn’t know what it was I wanted when I got it.

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