Weekend gaming

12th May 2008 – 8.06 am

I had a lazy weekend, just idling over and keeping myself entertained. Normally, keeping myself entertained will involve playing computer games but it didn't look like I'd be doing much of that this weekend. I was keen to play some more City of Heroes, even though the game crashes I had first reported in passing as a 'relatively minor frustration' had quickly become a serious disruption because of their frequency, stopping me for playing for more than five minutes at a time. Even so, I was keen enough to create a new character, of absolutely no interest, as well as trying out the companion game City of Villains for the first time. I created a Mutation Corruptor who uses ice and chill effects to perform nefarious deeds. Say hello to Pam O'Frost.

Pam O\'Frost, Super Villain

Unfortunately, City of Villains seemed to crash in more places than City of Heroes, and I was having trouble simply getting through the tutorial. I got fed up reloading the game after a few attempts and instead watched Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang on DVD. I enjoyed the film and am a little embarrassed to note that I had trouble following the plot. That happens a lot, and gives me a good excuse to watch and enjoy films several times, picking up new elements on nearly every viewing. I went back to the computer later and avoided City of Heroes by instead loading World of Warcraft. There wasn't really a great deal I could do in World of Warcraft either, as my gaming buddies were away for the weekend and I didn't want to outlevel them. On top of that I still had some ennui about retreading the same content again, particularly solo, and still am far from comfortable about finding random groups.

However, my gnome rogue has been trying to get exalted with Ironforge so he can get a swift riding ram to replace his horse, for which he had to get exalted with Stormwind, all so he didn't have to ride a mechanostrider. He was only a few thousand reputation points away from earning the exalted level, but it looked like this last few thousand points would have to come from completing quests in the Uldaman instance. Uldaman is big, complicated, and irritating, because of the labyrinthine tunnels and type and number of mobs inside, and I have yet to complete it with any character, not for want of trying on some occasions. I didn't relish entering it.

Luckily, I had a few low-level quests left in my log that offered Ironforge reputation, so with little else to do I decided to spend an hour or so clearing those up instead of facing Uldaman. It didn't take long, particularly with my new overpowered weapons, as well as some new level 57-58 Outlands armour I bought, and I was only a short gain away from achieving exalted reputation with Ironforge. But that was enough for me in Azeroth for the time being, not wanting to get too mired in to a routine just for the sake of something to do.

I didn't feel like trying to get to grips with the crowded grand prix in Mario Kart Wii again just yet, after the frustrating efforts with the 100 cc class recently. City of Heroes was still crashing. World of Warcraft was offering nothing new. I went out for a walk, and when I got home I rewatched The Departed.

On Sunday, I decided to get my rogue exalted with Ironforge, having prepared myself for the pain that would be Uldaman. I ran around picking up the quests and headed in. As luck would have it, and mostly because the mobs not inside the instance itself having been downgraded from elite to normal mobs, I was able to complete enough quests to become exalted without having to enter the instance. Personal quest complete! When I reach level 60 I can visit the Amberstill Ranch in Dun Morogh and buy myself a swift ram. I was so chuffed with this little but long in coming achievement I was happy enough to get my warrior out and gain her a whole level running around in Stranglethorn Vale completing the 'mastery' quests. She's now level 38, but her target of getting a tiger has stalled after running out of quests that offer Darnassus reputation since level 32 or so. Even so, that seemed to be enough solo World of Warcraft for me for the moment.

After a break I decided to see if I could help City of Heroes run better. I have been meaning for a while to fiddle with the graphical settings in the game to see if I could stop the game from crashing, but the last time I looked there didn't seem to be too many options that might actually make a difference, maybe because I don't really know what I'm looking for and would be relying on trial-and-error, which is a lot of trial and effort surprisingly enough. With an interesting-looking game, some time on my hands, and the only other option I could think of being to buy EVE Online, which I was considering yet again, I fired up City of Villains and opened the options menu.

With the advanced graphics settings enabled I turned most options off or down to their lowest setting, and then ran around for a bit wreaking villainy. This seemed to work just fine, with the effect of making the graphics look rather simplistic. I tweaked a few settings up a bit, so I could get a game that looked to be from a more advanced era than the VIC-20, and ran around a bit more. A bit more trial and a crash later, I decided I had my settings tweaked to offer me a game that looked good enough and, more importantly, allowed me to play without crashes interrupting me. I have to admit, I was really pleased with this! I had to cut the experiment short, as it was time for dinner, and this led to a curious realisation: I didn't know how to quit the game. It had always crashed and I had simply not reloaded it. It didn't take long to find the menu option but it was still kind of amusing to have to search for it after a couple of weeks of play.

After dinner I fired up City of Heroes and got Sue Purr running around Paragon City fighting crime. And by that I mean I hung around the middle of Atlas Park for a while to check that the game wouldn't crash in an area where it was guaranteed from experience to happen. Not only did the game remain stable for the whole time in Atlas Park, although I did have a single crash when I was actually out fighting crime, I managed to pick up a badge for flying to the top of the Atlas statue. Apparently it is a predictable place for newbies to fly. With the new-found stability it looks like I have City of Heroes and City of Villains to enjoy properly as a gaming option, so both Sue Purr and Pam O'Frost will be quite active.

One day I'll find myself in EVE Online, one day.

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