Monster Hunter on PC.

Friggin’ took them long enough! 😛

So, my experience with Monster Hunter is fairly long, and… very rocky. 😛 There are a fair few posts in here detailing my frustration with the series, actually (this one’s okay, but plz don’t look at the other posts, some of them are so pathetically whiny and often very wrong 😛 ). I “get” the game, the idea really works for me, so I should enjoy it… right? But nope. With the exception of Monster Hunter 4 which resolved a few killer issues I had with previous games, I’ve hated every Monster Hunter game I’ve played. After playing the game, hell, even with MH4, I always come out of the other end of it thinking “for fuck’s sake, why the hell (insert complaint here)”. Let me throw out a few examples…

1: “For fuck’s sake, why the hell did they make these monsters so goddamn cheap?”

Most of my negative memories come from Monster Hunter games on the PSP, specifically Monster Hunter Freedom: Unite (MHFU). The “difficulty” of MHFU was just painful. Notice the quotes, indicating sarcasm. 😛 Personally, I prefer difficult games. I find them more fun, they give a better sense of accomplishment, and they generally feel much better to play. However, there’s a fine line between “difficult” and “cheap”, and when that line is crossed, I get a burning desire to dump a tanker of wallpaper paste into the studio of the developers responsible. 😛 I remember two monsters in MHFU that crossed that line so blatantly that it blew my mind that they actually got away with it, to the point where I actually still can’t believe it was for real. For example, Kushala Daora, a dragon that can generate a wind shield, was effectively broken. The wind shield instantly interrupts anything you do when you get close, so you basically can’t land any hits, and the thing you need to break to remove the shield is protected by the shield. Allegedly, the shield could be disabled temporarily by poisoning the monster, but… you can’t even try to inflict poison because of the shield, meaning that the only option is to use a bow/bowgun… which is next to impossible solo, because Kushala Daora is one of the fastest Large Monsters in the game. Another monster, Plesioth, a giant fish thing, spent the vast majority of its time in the water (effectively making it invincible), the items you can use to get it out of the water are very limited and sometimes don’t work, and the bottom line was that it took so long to beat it that I ran out of time. What was the time limit? Oh, just an hour. -.-

This catastrophically cheap bullshit never appeared in Monster Hunter 4. I never felt angry at the difficulty, and never felt like I was struggling. In fact, at times, it actually felt a bit too easy. Although that might have been because of my main weapon, a weapon new to MH4 called the Insect Glaive. It feels so overpowered that it’s actually a bit embarrassing to admit that I use it. 😛

2: “For fuck’s sake, why the hell is the collision detection so god-awful?”

Seriously, MHFU, and all other MH games on PSP, had some of the worst collision detection I’ve ever seen. 😛 Plesioth was one of the main culprits here too, and the one that sticks in my mind the most. When doing its tail swipe attack, the tail is so high up that it just never looks like it hits you, but oh, of course it hits you. Rolling underneath it is impossible because the game considers its tail as a huge box which extends all the way to the ground. And don’t get me started on its body check attack.

Again, I never felt like I experienced this in Monster Hunter 4. When things clearly didn’t hit me… they didn’t hit me. 😛 Plesioth wasn’t really in Monster Hunter 4, though. He was relegated to a fish you catch in a mini-game. 😛

3: “For fuck’s sake, why the hell did they put it on this stupid console?”

Seriously, Capcom must do this on purpose.

The last time Monster Hunter was on a console that made sense was at the very beginning. The original Monster Hunter, and Monster Hunter 2 (Japan only) were on PS2, which is a perfectly reasonable choice of console. However, from then on, Capcom just stopped making sense entirely.

They began releasing Monster Hunter on PSP, which, aside from the DS, was the worst possible console for this game. It had less power than a PS2 so the graphics and framerate were worse, the screen was tiny, and the controls… holy crap. The PSP only had one tiny analog stick for God’s sake. There was no right analog stick, so you had to rotate the camera using the D-Pad above the stick. You had to develop a stupid technique which (quite affectionately) became known as The Claw, where you bend your index finger in such a way where you could move the character and the camera simultaneously. I can’t actually fathom why they put it on the PSP, and then continued to do so for years afterwards.

Well, they continued to do so until Monster Hunter 3. But instead of staying loyal to Sony and putting it on the $599 US dollar PS3, they decided to change allegiance to Nintendo and dumped it on the Wii, completely ignoring the clearly successful Xbox 360. WHY did they put it on the Wii, a console with vastly below-average power and driven by a stupid controller with only one analog stick?! ARGH! And then, for Monster Hunter 4 and Generations, they continued to ignore those tasty, popular, powerful home consoles, instead choosing to release it for the 3DS! Yes it was somewhat popular and somewhat tasty, but it wasn’t powerful! I mean, it was probably good for them that they didn’t release it on the Vita since that thing tanked harder than anything I’ve ever seen, but come on, why did you choose the 3DS over every other option? They must have been targeting the weaker consoles on purpose.

I mean, this goes without saying, but the true stars of Monster Hunter are, of course, the monsters. They can be awesome, beautiful, creepy, weird, or even stupid, but I love pretty much all of them, and they often contribute towards Monster Hunter’s weird sense of humour, like Yian Kut-Ku’s run that makes him look like a chicken, Tigrex’s ice breath which can turn you into a snowman, or Congalala’s attack where he literally throws shit at you. 😛 But I’ve never really been able to see the monsters in all their glory, because Capcom keep choosing the weakest possible console to release their games on! I’m pretty sure they did this so that they could keep re-using assets over and over again. Like, I swear, Rathalos uses exactly the same textures in Monster Hunter 4 as he does in the original Monster Hunter.

This has been my biggest gripe with the series all this time. Why can’t they just release it on a console that makes sense for once?! I JUST WANNA SEE PRETTY MONSTERS AND CONTROL THE CAMERA WITH MY RIGHT HAND!!! IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK?! 😛

So… when they announced Monster Hunter: World for PS4 and Xbox One… I was both extremely irritated and very excited at the same time. Excited because the series had finally made it back to consoles that made sense… annoyed because they were stupid consoles that I didn’t want to buy for just one friggin’ game. But then they announced a PC version, and you can probably imagine how high I jumped for joy. 😛

And today? Finally… finally, Monster Hunter has made it to the console of the Master Race: the PC. 😀

Have I played it? No… not yet. 😛 I was planning to jump on it as soon as I got home, but I was so tired when I got in from work that I didn’t feel like it was a good idea. But hey, no worries. I’ve got all day to play it tomorrow, because I’ve booked tomorrow off. 😛 Hehe, that’s the first time I’ve booked a day off work to play a game. It’s also the first time I’ve pre-ordered a game in a very long time. So yeah… I’m a bit hyped for it, which doesn’t happen often with me, so it’s quite a special moment. 😀

Ahh, yeah! I got so into ranting and blabbing all that crap that I forgot the other half of the reason for this post. I made a little render to celebrate Monster Hunter: World’s PC release. 😀

This render was probably the reason why I felt so tired today. 😛 I stayed up way too late, trying to get the render to a point where I was happy to share something. I wasn’t sure if I’d have anything at all when I first started, but it ended up going surprisingly well!

Anyway, it’s still a work in progress, but here, check out this monster hunter:

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He’s not a monster hunter, but he is a monster hunter. Because he’s a monster, and he’s a hunter, but not hunting monsters, he’s just hunting? And Monster Hunter was released today? Yeah?! Get it?! YA GET IT?! HEH 😛

Man, this one… seriously, I’m so happy with how this came out, even if it is unfinished. 😀 It’s probably the most mature-looking render I’ve made, but because of the underlying pun, it’s still got that hint of humour that I like to portray. 😀 It’s a bit unusual for me too, because it’s not very often I render a dragon standing on their hind legs like this. I prefer to put dragons in a more bestial or feral pose. Sure, the black dragon in Ghost Stories is on his hind legs, but he’s doing it for dramatic effect, whereas this dragon looks like he naturally walks on his hind legs. I should try this a bit more often, because I love how it came out! 🙂

Jesus, listen to this pleb trying to sound like an artist. 😛

Anyway, even though it’s just a work in progress, I hope it pleases your eyes! 😀 I’ll probably be back tomorrow to update this post with my thoughts about Monster Hunter: World after I’ve actually played it. 😛 And of course, I’ll be back with the final version of that render, too, along with some bigger versions that you can stick on your desktop! If you want. 😛

Right, I’m pretty hungry right now, so I’d better go cook some Well-Done Steak*. Cue the music!

(*i lie, i have no steak 😦 )

UPDATE!!
Monster Hunter: World follow-up

So, I’ve been playing Monster Hunter: World for 3 days now. Apparently there’ve been loads of complaints in the Steam reviews about not being able to play online or something. And that’s quite funny, because the first complaint I had with the game was that it doesn’t give you a “play offline” option. 😛 Sure, I’d like to play multiplayer, I’ve never really done it before and it’s probably even more fun. But I don’t want to risk going into a game and getting carried by someone with overpowered equipment. That’s not fun. Besides, I just can’t bring myself to play co-op with random people. Not sure why.

Anyway, whatever, who cares, because the game is glorious from the moment it starts. It has an introduction that wipes the floor with every other game in the series. Also, like Monster Hunter 4, there’s a story, thank fuck, because MH4’s story, regardless of how balls it was, was a huge driving force for me, and made the game more enjoyable. No, so far, World’s story isn’t much better. Come on, it’s a game about hitting giant monsters with sticks and bagpipes, there isn’t much you can do with that. 😛 However, World’s story is told much better. Because Capcom have added something that is so state-of-the-art it actually blew my mind. Voice acting. I mean WHOOOOAOAHAHHAHAAH voice acting in 2018?! NO, surely not! 😛 But yes, finally they bothered with voice acting so that you can hear the characters, rather than having to read them all the time. 😛 Of course, not everything has voice acting. Just cutscenes, tutorials, and other important bits of the game.

Oh, speaking of tutorials, World kicks the living arse out of every other game in the series on that front, too. The game doesn’t freeze solid and perform information overload on you now; it’s much friendlier than that. Like, in MH4, when doing weapons training, you were dumped in a room, forced to read a ton of text about your weapon and how it worked (which couldn’t be viewed again without exiting and restarting the training), before finally being given control so you could try remembering and doing everything the guy just said. In World, you get a brief voiced description about the weapon you choose, before being given a bunch of on-screen controls and useful combos to try. When you’re done with trying one weapon, you can pick a different weapon from the box and try that without having to reload the mission. It’s a shame you don’t get a live target to practice on, though, you just get some boxes and shit. 😛 I found it really useful in MH4, because it’s how I discovered just how overpowered the Insect Glaive was (on my first try with it, I took out a Great Jaggi in half the time it took me to take it down with a Long Sword, a less complex weapon that I already knew how to use).

Thankfully, as far as I’m aware, it isn’t overpowered in World. Hard to tell, though, because I haven’t done a proper test of all the weapons yet. The weapon set consists of the same 14 weapons from MH4, nothing new. Some weapons appear to have new moves or tweaked move sets, though.

As for the controls, well. When I finished my first proper hunt, I just sat there, staring at the game with a smug “I told you so” grin on my face. That was the first time in the whole history of Monster Hunter where I’ve been able to move the camera smoothly and freely, and it’s a ridiculously huge improvement. And there’s more, too, because they’ve added… a lock-on camera, called the Focus Camera. And this seems to be Capcom proving that the lock-on camera is a stupid idea, because it is. I tried to like it, but it just ended up annoying me, because I found it really hard to hit the part of the monster I was trying to aim for. But don’t worry, because they’ve also added the option to use the Target Camera from MH4, where you can press LB to make the camera face the monster. They also added an option so you can use these cameras on all monsters, not just Large Monsters, but laugh my arse off NO. Just no. 😛

Difficulty? Yep, there’s some difficulty here, but I don’t think it’s horrific. I reckon the perceived difficulty is totally dependent on experience, both with Monster Hunter and with games in general, but personally, I’d say it starts off fairly mild and slowly gets harder. Overall it’s challenging, sometimes difficult. I haven’t fainted yet, but I’ve had some close calls. That just makes things exciting, though! 😛 Fainting isn’t really a huge deal in World, anyway. Since gathering is so much faster and easier, and since they added a feature where you can set certain items to auto-craft, it’s easy to restock critical items like Mega Potions, so you don’t really need to worry about wasting money on them. Also, unlike previous games, you have all the information you could ever reasonably need about monsters in the game itself, like weak points, elemental weaknesses, drops, and even vague drop rates. And the Palico (a Felyne sidekick who helps you in battle) is very helpful this time around. Right off the bat, he has a skill which can restore a sizeable chunk of your health, and he uses it intelligently. This has genuinely saved my ass at least twice, so he’s probably a gigantic help for new players. But if you do struggle, again, unlike previous games on the dumb consoles, co-op is actually a feasible option this time around. 😛

What else… oh, yeah, graphics. Well, uh… when I first saw my Palico in a cutscene I was like “OMG :3”:

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Then when I encountered my first Jagras I was like “SO PRETTY :O”:

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Then when Anjanath first officially said “hello” I was like “SO AWESOME :O”:

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Then when I got to see the legendary Rathalos finally in high-resolution glory before he proceeded to kick the shit out of an Anjanath he didn’t like, I was like “SO EPIC :O”:

vlcsnap-2018-08-13-20h16m53s315.png

Then when he kicked most of the shit out of me afterwards I was like “💩, uncool bro, that nearly killed me, but I forgive you because OMG YOU’RE SO BEAUTIFUL :O”:

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The graphics you see there are “max graphics where it matters”. 😛 By that, I mean I’m using the top LOD models, no resolution scaling and full texture quality, but everything else is knocked down to compensate. Because realistically, I can’t run this at truly max graphics. Not sure why people are going “WAAAAH IT NEEDS SO MUCH CPU POWER” because it just… doesn’t. It uses less than half of what Forza Horizon 3 does, and I know that game canes a recent-generation i5, because a friend of mine played it and always complained about the CPU usage (rightfully so). GPU power, though, well, ha haaaa… you’re gonna need that. And you’ll need to get that power from just one GPU, because World joins the ever-increasing (and annoying) list of games that don’t support SLI. -.- I run two GTX 970s (so, just one), and with my settings, I get about 40-45FPS average at 2K (2560×1440). I’m not locked by GPU memory. Here’re my settings, along with NVIDIA’s hilarously stupid “optimal” settings:

NVIDIA GeForce Experience_2018-08-13_20-34-34.png

I’ve since turned off anti-aliasing since Temporal Anti-Aliasing costs 4 FPS for something I probably won’t notice. But the gains for dropping any of the other settings are so low that there’s no point. I mean, subsurface scattering sounds pretty expensive, but it actually only costs me 2 FPS and really makes a difference in some situations (see Rathalos encounter above). And lmfao, that “optimal” texture quality of 256. Dropping from Full to 256 has no effect on FPS, you fucks! I’m bored of Monster Hunter’s traditional PS2-quality textures! I wanna admire Rathian’s pretty face for once in my life!

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It’s in the eye of the beholder, okay?! 😛

So yeah, the graphics are absolutely gorgeous if you have a good GPU, and if you have a modern 1000-series NVIDIA GPU or AMD equivalent, I’d be surprised if you didn’t hit 60 FPS at 2K. Maybe a 1070 is enough, or maybe even a 1060 if you run at 1080p. This is just me guessing, though. 😛 I’m planning on upgrading to a 1080 or 1080Ti soonish, both for rendering and for gaming. I’d get one sooner, but I’m holding out for the 1100 series. Sure would be nice if they’d just tell us roughly when it’s coming out… -.-

Complaints? Well, yes, I have a few. The first and most irritating thing about the game so far? Scoutflies. These green things:

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MY FUCKING EYES.

They’re supposed to act as the game’s GPS, because the maps are now so large and so complicated that I find it ridiculously hard to figure out how to get to places. But they also highlight things for you, like gathering points. All of this, especially early on, is just… total information overload. 😛 But even after you get used to it, they’re so bright and so distracting that I actually feel relieved when I find a Large Monster that wants to kill me, just because the flies go away when that happens. 😛 There have been so many times where I’ve thought “right, yeah, I know where the monster is, no I don’t want to look at any more footprints because I know where it is and I’ve maxed out the tracking level, no I don’t want any blue mushrooms, I just want to make my way to the monster with no guidance or distractions now, please go away…” but no, green particles everywhere, and no, you can’t turn them off. And then, when you do want guidance, they’re not only blinding, but they’re also sluggish, often very unclear, and in situations when you’re carrying an egg and have access to the Scoutflies because nothing’s trying to kill you, the route they choose is usually impossible, trying to taking you through small gaps and other areas that you can’t access while carrying an egg. In fact, the idiot Scoutflies and the sheer complexity of the maps is why I simply can’t be fucked with the mission where you need to deliver two Wyvern Eggs.

Those missions are my second complaint, actually, the egg carrying missions. Were they even tested? They’re absolute balls. There’s no way you can do them solo without being a cheap little bitch. Delivering two Herbivore Eggs was difficult enough, because the nests are right next to where the herbivores endlessly spawn no matter how many you kill, and they’re faster than you, and there ends up being about six of them before you eventually get headbutted by one of them and drop the egg. At one point after dropping said egg, they surrounded me and pretty much gang raped me, which was somehow both hilarious and insanely annoying. So how did I finish it? I used the Ghillie Mantle, an item which effectively makes me invisible. As I said, “cheap little bitch”. 😛 And that one I mentioned earlier where you have to deliver two Wyvern Eggs? Fuck that shit. The moment you pick up an egg from the nest where she never is, Rathian senses a disturbance in the Force and immediately heads for your exact location, even if you’re wearing the Ghillie Mantle. Of course, she can’t actually see you, so she doesn’t chase you, but this doesn’t stop her from following you at a distance, waiting for the moment when the Ghillie Mantle wears off. It’s just so mind-numbingly broken. Because the route is so complicated and the distance you have to travel to secure the egg is so long, longer than the Ghillie Mantle can ever last, the only way I can imagine doing it, even in co-op, is by being a cheap little bitch and killing Rathian before trying to transport the eggs. And I don’t know about you, but that seems slightly outside the scope of the quest. 😛 And hell, even if you did do that, you’d still have to figure out how to get back to a camp without using the Scoutflies, because they’re dumb and try to take you through inaccessible areas. 😛

And my third complaint… audio. It’s a pretty minor one, but for me, the game is oddly quiet. The audio settings are all at max volume, but even with my headphones at full blast, the game’s still a bit quiet. I got around this problem by routing the game’s audio through a virtual audio cable and amplifying it before routing it back to my headset, but this is a faff, it kind of affects the audio quality and adds a bit of latency, which isn’t cool. Hopefully it’ll be fixed in a patch or something.

And that’s it. Scoutflies, egg missions and quiet audio are the only problems I’ve found. Not sure what all this screaming about broken servers is, because it works for me…? 😛 I’ve not actually played with others, sure, but I can connect to online sessions just fine, and I’ve collected my daily shit with no problem. Maybe the problem is when you’re in an actual hunt? Whatever, doesn’t really affect me, no-one I know will ever get this anyway. It’s probably a bit difficult for them, and they wouldn’t have any time for it. 😛 I’ll play online eventually, when I’m ready. Just don’t want to rush through the game or get carried by someone overpowered, that’s all. 😛 Uhhh, nope. Someone I know was interested in getting it but was put off by the alleged server issues, so I tried responding to an SOS flare and testing some multiplayer. Didn’t have a single problem. The only thing I noticed was that holy hell, the session filled up fast! The SOS flare was sent by a solo player who hadn’t had a response when I tried to join, and by the time I made it into the game about 30 seconds later, I was the last player to set off from the camp.

UPDATE 6!!: Since then, much to my surprise, my friend actually ended up getting the game, and we’ve played some co-op. And now I can say with confidence: I have literally no idea why people are complaining about the online play being broken. However, I can understand complaints about the online system, because it it were any more obtuse it’d be a straight line. Angles? Obtuse? No? 😛 Anyway, the online system is insane. You have sessions which can consist of 16 players, and within these sessions you can have hunts which consist of up to 4 players. This is all totally understandable and quite cool so far, but when it comes to making a session for just you and your mates, things get shit very quickly.

First off, the game doesn’t prevent you from trying to join the sessions of people who are in an offline session. If you try, the game just sits there for a while before saying it failed to connect. So, my friend tried creating a private online session, and sent me an invite through the Steam overlay. That didn’t work either. Some amount of time after that, I noticed that the in-game invite option was greyed out, so I tried making a normal, non-private session. That made the invite option light up, and my friend was able to join the session. After this, I changed the session options so that it was private, and that worked; no-one random joined after that. Basically, you can’t join private sessions even if you’re invited; you have to make a non-private session, do your invites, then make the session private, or use passcodes on the quests you post.

But that’s not all, because Monster Hunter: World has laughably bad multiplayer story support. When you post a quest that contains cutscenes, you have to start it single-player. After all the cutscenes have played, the quest opens to other players. So this means… if a group of friends want to play a story quest together, they all have to start the quest individually, get to the point where the SOS flare can be fired, return to HQ, and then one player has to post the quest again and have the others join it. That’s just retarded. 😛 Oh, and you know I said that the quest opens up to other players after all the cutscenes have played? Yes, but every attempt I made to join those quests ended up failing immediately. That’s probably a bug. 😛

And Expeditions? One does not simply join an Expedition. No, you can’t just join a friend’s Expedition, which is a ridiculously stupid oversight, because it’s not like multiplayer Expeditions aren’t supported. There’re only two ways that it can be done. The first way is for everyone to join a quest and complete it, and during the end-game timer, leave the option as “return to camp”. This puts you in an Expedition in that area. That’s a faff because you have to complete a quest, so the other option is to enter an Expedition alone, fire an SOS flare and have the others join you through the SOS menu. You can cancel the flare when everyone’s joined. This is much less of a faff but it opens up the Expedition to EVERYONE, so there’s a chance of someone random joining, which is annoying.

I highly doubt Capcom’s gonna address any of this. It’s probably been like this on consoles up until now, so the chances of them fixing the issues now is probably next to zero. But in summary, yes, multiplayer works, flawlessly, and as far as I can tell, everyone who is crying about broken servers is just talking crap. However, the multiplayer system is ridiculously obtuse, confusing as hell and has awful story support.  UPDATE 7!!: Gotta take back that “flawlessly” statement, because we’ve since had a couple of annoying connection issues. Sometimes, one of us has randomly lost connection to the session, and that puts the session in a weird state where the player who dropped can’t re-join. This has only happened at the very beginning or end of a hunt, though, not midway through. There’s been one instance where a posted quest just stopped appearing on the board, too. But as I said, annoying issues. Not crippling. I wouldn’t say the servers are broken, they just have a few teething problems.

Waiting for Monster Hunter to finally land on the PC was worth the wait, though. I’m not disappointed. It’s the best game I’ve played in a long time, and I can see myself continuing to play it for a long time to come. 😀 It wasn’t long ago that I loathed the series, so this is quite the epic turnaround they’ve managed!

Now, let’s move onto the subject of “Monster. Hunter.”. The celebratory render. Guh, this is gonna get confusing, isn’t it? 😛

Monster. Hunter. render follow-up

I was really surprised with the first draft of the render. It took about five hours to put together. But after that, when the environment was in and needed to stay active because it was making a critical contribution to the final lighting… the PAIN BEGAN.

DAZ Studio can’t handle scenes like this when using Iray. It babs itself when things get even remotely complicated, sometimes taking minutes to recalculate, making it impossible to tweak the scene while the interactive Iray render is running, therefore making it extremely difficult to tweak things such as materials. In fact, not long after I produced the draft render, this scene became so heavy that it wouldn’t fit in GPU memory, so only the CPU could render it. This isn’t a realistic option. In fact, I’m not sure why DAZ offers the option. Because it’s a stupid thing to do. From experience, I think it’s about 20x slower than GPU rendering. Ain’t got that kind of time, brah.

And with this render, ohh, I’ve never seen DAZ Studio bab itself quite as much. The first problem was when the scene became too heavy for the GPU. I really wasn’t happy with the grass density, or the quality of the ground texture, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and added a lot more higher-quality grass. This pushed the scene over the edge and became too complex to fit in GPU memory… not to mention that it was getting very difficult to do anything with the interactive render running.

To cut down on memory usage, I used a tool which can reduce the size of texture maps of objects you select. After halving the size of everything in the background, the scene was able to fit in GPU memory again, which was great. Wasn’t any faster at rendering, though, and this was a problem, because I needed to tweak the lighting. After this, it just descended into a whirlpool of fuckshit which connected directly to Satan’s testes. Yes, it was that bad.

First, it started leaking memory, so I couldn’t do more than one Iray render without restarting DS. Then, for no reason at all, it began to crash after turning on the interactive renderer, if not before rendering the first time, then always before rendering the second time. And then, it began to do this really weird shit when rendering, where the top half of the render would begin after the bottom half, making the top half look darker. I imagine that was some insanity with double-GPU rendering, but who cares, it was annoying. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, bang, it stops rendering with the GPUs. Had to reduce texture quality again just to get it to stop whining. Oh, and then, I discovered a problem where the Dragon 3’s left eye would render black, even though both of his eyes are one material and the right eye rendered just fine!

Monster. Hunter. 3 (Head Fail).jpg

I eventually discovered that this was caused because of a render setting that I’d changed, “Instancing Optimization” under the “Optimization” category. I changed it from Speed to Memory, because of the multitude of aforementioned memory issues I’d been having. But why the hell. His eyes aren’t instanced objects! The only instanced objects in the scene are the grass objects! Why would this option break the eyes?! And what does it even mean?! It’s not fucking documented! Look, this is the documentation of the whole Optimization category! (Backup screenshot here in the hilariously unlikely event that they update it.) OOOH SO USEFUL!!

And then, when I finally manage to get DAZ Studio to start a goddamn render, BAM, I was bitten once again by the IDIOT default settings of a two-hour maximum render time. Just as a final “fuck you”.

Haaah… so yeah… I wasn’t particularly calm. 😛 I even resorted to singing out my anger over a track from Disgaea 5 after it started playing as part of my “every piece of music on the PC” shuffle playlist. It helped a tiny bit. 😛

To be honest, though… the pain was worth it. Because look at THIS:

Monster. Hunter. (Character Focused)
(Available in these flavours: 2560×3072 “Character Focused” Version, 1080p, 2K, 4K)

MORE PLANTS! MORE GRASS! MORE FORESTY! 😀

Yes, it’s still a work in progress. UPDATE 2!!: I replaced the WIP version with the final version. I increased the texture resolution on the tree and added something that went missing in the last WIP render. 🙂

I… don’t really know what else to say. I mean, I’ve really surprised myself with this one. It was only gonna be a quick celebratory render, so I never imagined it would turn out as good as it has! 😀

Oh, wait, of course, I do know what to say: RENDER STAAATS! 😀 And oh, it’s a biggie. My longest render ever. That render, at 2560×3072, quality level 2 and 94.5% convergence (because I needed to kick off the desktop renders before going to bed and couldn’t wait another hour for the last 0.5% convergence 😛 ) took 20 hours 57 minutes 45.31 seconds. BOOM, R-R-R-R-RECORD BREAKER! Holy CRAP that’s a long time. But there’s a reason. The scene, despite all my efforts, flat out would not fit in my primary GPU’s memory, because DAZ Studio needs 2 GB just to show it in the viewport, the render needs about 3GB extra, and my GPUs only have 4GB of memory each. So I had to render it with the secondary GPU only, because that didn’t have anything in memory.

UPDATE 3!!

Heyyy, as you might have seen from the updated links under the image, I’ve added some desktop versions, the traditional 4K, 2K and 1080p trio. The 4K version took 11 hours 46 minutes 29.91 seconds to render… which is odd, since it’s about 400k pixels larger than the character focused render. There’s one very good (and equally confusing) reason for this, though: I was able to use both GPUs to render it. Not sure how… because again, larger image. They require more memory to render, right? 😛 It was basically a miracle, because the scene was 49MB off not fitting in GPU1’s memory. Look!

MSIAfterburner_2018-08-15_09-27-01.png

4047MB peak usage! The GPU only has 4096MB of memory! I didn’t even want to sneeze on the computer just in case it went over the edge. 😛

Anyhoo… normally I render all three resolutions individually, but this time I just rendered the 4K version and scaled it down. The main reason is because of Iray’s irritating grainy renders. Basically, any areas of the image that are even slightly dark, reflective or translucent turn out grainy, regardless of the convergence ratio or render quality settings. To counteract this, I apply blur manually to especially bad areas by converting the image to a Smart Object, applying a Gaussian blur as a Smart Filter, and airbrushing the mask white wherever I want to reduce the grain. This helps with the 4K image, but then I have to repeat the blurring process twice more with the 2K and 1080p images, and that’s really boring. 😛 So instead, I apply the blur to the 4K image, then downscale it. This not only saves time, but it reduces the grain massively at lower resolutions, and actually looks better than if I’d just rendered it at those resolutions.

And since we’re on the subject of postwork, I’ll mention what else I did in that area. 🙂 Apart from the signature and the blurring, I also added a vignette and a slight levels tweak to the desktop versions. But that’s all. 🙂

That’s all from me for now, but I hope you like the pic! Laterz. 🙂

UPDATE 4!!
(obsolete, see update 5)

I don’t believe it. After posting the final version here, after creating those desktop versions, after posting it to DeviantArt, after posting a follow-up comment on my Bookface post with the “finished” version and a link here for the desktop versions… I’ve noticed a huge mistake in the pose.

He’s NOT DRAWING THE ARROW CORRECTLY, oh my GOD I’m such a MORON!

Just… yeah. Just look carefully, and you won’t un-see it. The bow string is tensing against… what, exactly? It’s supposed to tense against the back of the arrow, you absolute dumbfuck MongMaster, what are you smoking?! This was my number one focus when posing. I looked at a lot of pictures of people drawing bows, and spent a lot of time making sure it looked just right, because I’ve only ever drawn a bow once before and was afraid of getting the pose wrong. And now look. I got it wrong. For fuck’s sake.

Not happy at all. I’ll fix it, but it’ll take a couple of days. -.-

UPDATE 5!!

Okay, I’ve replaced the renders with a new version where the dragon is drawing the arrow correctly, and all is good again. 😛 But hey, even though I had to spend another evening rendering both versions of this picture again, I found another silver lining! I learned another DAZ Studio dumbfuckery! 😛

As I said before, the character-focused version of the render wouldn’t fit in my primary GPU’s memory, so I couldn’t render it with both of my GPUs; I had to use my secondary GPU by itself. The knock-on of this was that it basically doubled the render time to nearly 21 hours. When it came to rendering the scene this time, I was wondering if there was any way to squeeze the scene size down just enough so it could fit in GPU memory without any major quality sacrifices. I tried some dumb things like closing DAZ Studio viewports and panels to try and save memory. Of course, this did nothing, so as a last-ditch, blue-sky thinking, really-clutching-at-straws-here attempt, I tried shrinking the DAZ Studio window down so that it was really small. Lo and behold, doing this actually freed up 100MB of GPU memory. Absolute top lel. Maximum lel. Lel overload. 😛 If you don’t believe me, here’s a demonstration.

That 100MB saving was enough to do the character-focused render with both GPUs. This saved about 11 hours, which means I can actually play Monster Hunter again tonight instead of using my PC to re-render this scene constantly, yay! 😛

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wow

Ni hao! How’s your 2018 been so far? If it’s been poopy, never mind, because now it’s a NEW New Year! The Chinese one! And this time, it’s the turn of the DOGE! And of course, a new Lunar New Year means a new Lunar New Year render! 😀

It’s quite funny, actually. In last year’s post, I ended by saying “Next year’s pic should be much easier to get a model for”. In fact, I decided to procrastinate until I got home from work yesterday, because I thought it was gonna be an easy win. I mean, it’s a dog. Y’know, one of the most common pets in the world, “man’s best friend”, there are about 9001 breeds of them, c’mon, obviously there’s gonna be loads of dog models to choose from.

Heh, nope! 😛

When I looked around at first, I could only find the DAZ Millenium Dog, and, well… that’s what, 18 years old? But that was the only reasonable result. Sure, there was a cartoon-style dog, a low-res dog which is designed to be in the background, supermorphs to create furry-esque humanoid dogs, dog tags, and “sea dogs”, but they’re… just not what I was hoping to find. I mean come ON, why was a product containing dog tags the first friggin’ result over an actual dog, sheeeesh… 😛

So I was kind of shiteing bricks thinking I couldn’t find anything good, but then I tried searching for a wolf instead. My chain of logic was like “well, if there’s a wolf, maybe I can get an add-on or do something to make it look more like a dog”. And that’s exactly what happened. 😀 I found a wolf, and then found that it had two add-ons, both of which changed the textures to make it look like a breed of dog. Boosh. 😀

After that slight panic, I thought the rest would be easy, but again, heh, nope! The model itself was good, but it had awful morphs. I had to break several morph limits to get even vaguely close to the expression I was hoping for. Then there was a plugin called Look At My Hair (LAMH for short), which is probably the best plugin available for DAZ Studio. Uh, don’t take that the wrong way, though, because being better than all the other DS plugins I’ve had the displeasure to use is not hard. 😛

I already used LAMH when making Year of the Monkey, and it was pretty, but terrible. It crashed all the time, the hair preview destroyed the viewport framerate and made it impossible to pose, you couldn’t hide the hair preview without clicking on a million things… yeah. This time, though, it was even worse. I’d decided to use Iray for Year of the Dog; the first time I’ve used it in my Chinese Zodiac renders. I decided that because I’m much better with it now that I was when it first came out, and it does tend to produce nicer results. But hey, guess what doesn’t support Iray?! -.-

Well, no, I lie. LAMH does support it… sort of. There’s a function you can use to export the hair into an OBJ. The idea is that you pose first, apply the hair, then press a button in LAMH and it will export the hair as geometry before importing it back into your scene for you. Sounds easy! It should be! Yet it isn’t! It’s borderline broken!

It started out by generating files which were 0 bytes. A file of nothing, great. -.- Then, as I was trying to figure out why this was, it started generating files of nothing, then crashing! Then it started crashing before trying to generate the files of nothing!

It took me hours to figure out just how idiotic the plugin really was. When you press the “to OBJ” button, a dialog pops up confirming a path to where it will save the geometry. If that path doesn’t exist, it will pop up a browse window, starting in the directory where DAZ Studio is installed; a directory which the application has no write access to. No matter what location you choose in this window, LAMH will sit there churning for several minutes before, for some reason, dumping a zero-byte OBJ file in that directory and/or crashing. Oh, by the way, if you press cancel in the browse window, the plugin will Do Stuff(tm) for a few seconds before popping up the browse window again. Hurrr. 😛 The solution? You have to manually create the exact path that pops up in the dialog box when you press the export button. Most likely this dumbass plugin has that path hard-coded into it somewhere, doesn’t bother to create the directory if it doesn’t exist (probably doesn’t even friggin’ check!) and doesn’t properly handle asking the user for a directory (obviously, because it goes in a loop when you press cancel). I just… grrrrrh! As a programmer myself, this retarded bug just pisses me off way more than usual. I mean, I wouldn’t get away with that! In the places I’ve worked, it’d be classed as a critical bug, and we’d have to do an urgent hotfix release to sort it out ASAP!

Anyway, in summary, if you’re having that issue, create the exact path that shows up in the dialog when you press the “to OBJ” button. Should be “C:/Users/<your username/Documents/DAZ 3D/Studio/lookatmyhairAM/geometry/”. Create that directory and try exporting and it should work properly. You have to sit with the computer while it does the conversion though, because you have to press OK on every “hey I’ve done this bit of the work” dialog box that comes up, since the plugin is shit.

Aaaaand breathe. 😛

So yeah, long story short, I made a render with a dog in it! 😛 I really wanted a Shiba Inu, but I couldn’t get one of those, so I chose a Siberian Husky! BOOM:

2018 - Year of the Dog (1080p).jpg
(Available in these flavours: 1080p, 1080p Dark, 2K, 2K Dark, 4K, 4K Dark, lol5K, lol5K Dark)

After all that crap with LAMH and finding a model in the first place, I gotta say, I think this one turned out great! 😀 This was the first time I (knowingly) used proper three-point lighting… uh, well, sort of. There’re actually four lights; I added a light underneath. But the first three use the basic principles! 😛

Anyway, here’re the traditional render stats: At 4K with DoF, Render Quality 2 at a 97% convergence ratio… oh. I’ve just realised that the render hit the default 2-hour time limit. So it took 2 hours 14.83 seconds and reached a convergence of 74%, god, damn it, fuck. -.- 2K reached 93.5% convergence before it hit the iteration limit of 5000 in just under 2 hours. And 1080p did the same but only took 56 minutes 26.65 seconds. And now I’m suddenly glad I write down the render stats because it made me realise these renders aren’t at the best quality! You see, when using Iray, the render can be, or rather has to be (because there’s no way of disabling it) configured to stop if they take too long or iterate too many times, and the defaults are STUPID!

Welp, I’m gonna have to re-render these later on, but for now, I hope you enjoy them as they are! Check back later for some higher quality versions (although the differences may turn out to be minute 😛 ). Now, though, I am going to go cook a stir fry, because I haven’t had anything to eat since getting back from work and I am HAAANGRYYYY. Hungry like the wolf. Hehe. That song sucks. 😛

Bye for nao! 🙂

UPDATE!!

Okay seriously, the developer(s) of LAMH can go and suck a dick. How much dumbfuckery can one possibly cram into a plugin?! I’ve just found out that when you load a scene that is supposed to contain exported LAMH hair objects, it doesn’t! So, let’s look at this logically: when I save a scene that contains exported LAMH hair objects, it clearly does save the objects because it takes an age for the scene to save and it ends up being around 300MB instead of 4MB. And then when you load the scene, it also clearly loads the objects because it takes an age to load. So the only possible explanation as to why the hair objects are not in the scene when it finishes loading is that LAMH fucking removes them for no reason!! And because those objects disappear, the material settings also disappear! So now I don’t know what settings I used! So now I have to fag around taking ages to do test renders and tweaking settings that were completely fine until this idiot plugin deleted my shit!

You don’t believe me? Well, because I do tend to doubt myself sometimes even when I know I’m right, I did think that I was wrong for a few seconds. But then I tried pretending to be the plugin developers: I applied dumb logic to reverse-engineer their code in my brain, and guessed that they did something like: “if (there are geometry objects under LAMH group) then {remove those geometry objects //hahah twats}”, even though that makes ZERO sense. So I tried unparenting those objects in the LAMH group (and it crashed the first time because LAMH is broken), then saved the scene and reloaded it. And guess what?! YES! I was RIGHT! The hair objects remained in the scene! And that’s the proof: LAMH deletes parts of your scene for no reason! Seriously, give me ONE good reason why it would go “nah ya don’t need dem jometry objects under dat group even do I genertarded dem, no sirree”.

God damn, if software keeps going like this, they’re gonna have to put me on blood pressure tablets. 😛

Anyway, I’m re-rendering the scene in its various resolutions now. I’ll even throw in a bonus 5K version for people with those idiotic 5K Macs. Such as me! 😛 Yes, I have one. At work. I’m forced to use it. I hate it so so much. 😛

UPDATE 2!!

Theeere we go. I’ve re-rendered all the resolutions of the image at best quality and updated all the links. As promised, I also added a 5K version. For some reason, the 5K render took a full five HOURS longer to render than 4K. It was probably DAZ Studio thinking “wtf mate why is it so big what kind of dumb monitor are you displaying this on”. 😛

LAMH continued being fun. I found out that when it exports the hair objects, for some reason, it’s non-deterministic. In other words, it can come up with something different every time it’s exported. So the fur looks different now than in my original renders. Urrgrgh. I mean come ON the hair data is exactly the same as it was a week ago so how can the output be different seriousllyyyyyyyy…

Anyway, here’re some proper render stats! 5K took 9 hours 25 minutes 25.80 seconds, while 4K took 4 hours 24 minutes 17.64 seconds. As for the sensible resolutions, 2K took 2 hours 6 minutes 29.24 seconds and 1080p was 1 hour 32 minutes 22.80 seconds.

Ghosts in the sky…

Heyaaa. How was everyone’s Halloween? Yeah… it’s not really one of those things that people do any more. Well, not me, anyway. When I was a kid, sure. But to be honest, I don’t really get it. It’s supposed to be a religious thing, and I ain’t, but people went ahead and commercialised it and now it’s not really a religious thing any more. In some parts of the world, sure, but not ‘ere. 😛

Anyway, it’s the day of scary shit, right? That, and it’s the only time it’s okay for children to go around and get strangers to give them sweets. 😛 Thankfully I don’t get any kids buzzing my flat. Not like I ever answer my buzzer unless I’m expecting someone, anyway, but still. It’s nice.

I had an idea for a Halloween render about a couple of months before, and I wrote it down in OneNote, ending the description with “Halloween’s on October 31st so we got about 3000 years to get this done. Give or take.” When Halloween came around, I opened up OneNote, not to read what I’d written down in August, but to keep track of how many meals and stuff were in my grocery shop as I was doing it. 😛 After finishing the shop, my brain seemed to autopilot me into the Render Scene Ideas section and I went “OH SHI CRAP DAMN ARGH I FORGOT”, leaving me with 6 hours until Halloween ended, and if I posted a Halloween render after then I would look stupid. I mean jeez it’s not even Halloween any more how dumb would that look for someone to post something for Halloween after it was over.

So without further ado, here is a Halloween render!

Ghost Stories - DracoIndomita
(Available in these flavours: 1080pQHD/2K, UHD/4K)

Hahah! Honestly, I… loved this idea. 😀 It was my first genuinely decent idea since Dueling Dragons. My vision was a bit different from the result, but I think this is way better than what I envisioned.

I used Iray again, if you didn’t already know. 🙂 I’ve been trying to battle past the total idiocy of it, because I really really like it. Er, what it can come up with, that is. Don’t like much else about it. 😛 I used a combination of emissive lighting and standard lighting, the latter of which I never really used because I didn’t think it worked with Iray. I thought that all Iray lighting had to have some kind of physical presence in the scene, but nope, you can use standard lights. I just never tried giving the standard lights unrealistic values like Iray seems to want. 😛 Finding that out was pretty much a godsend. The spotlight of the torch wasn’t possible with emissive lighting, and the light from the campfire wasn’t lighting the correct side of the younger dragons on the left. I fixed that with another spotlight. 🙂

And hey, as a nice pat-myself-on-the-head-and-give-myself-a-peanut bonus, this is actually my first ever good quality render containing three subjects! My good renders have only ever contained a maximum of two before. Sure, some test renders I’ve done contained up to four, but they… weren’t good. 😛

Now, render statz! This was a LONG render, probably the longest I’ve done so far. In 2K at quality 2 with a target convergence of 98%, it took 5 hours 51 minutes 3.68 seconds. I’m expecting the 4K render to take around 13 hours. D: Looks like I am an estimation winner! It took 13 hours 14 minutes 54.38 seconds. Yikes. 😛 Postwork consists of a slight bloom effect, grain reduction, a levels adjustment and manual removal of some background distractions. There was a thin layer of light along the ground, and it looked really weird.

The post title is a reference to one of the songs I listened to while making this: a cover of a song called Aaveratsastajat, by Hevisaurus. That link goes to Spotify; I can’t seem to find it on YouTube. Anyway, it’s a repeated lyric in the chorus: “Aaveet taivahan”, which means “ghosts in the sky”. Maybe. I used Google Translate, of course. I can’t speak Finnish. 😛 If you remove the capital “A” it becomes “ghosts to heaven”. So I have no idea. 😛

Anyway, hope you like the image! If you’d like it in a different resolution, don’t be afraid to ask. 🙂 Well, as long as it’s not much higher than 8K. DS can’t render images with either dimension exceeding 10,000px. 😛

UPDATE!!
Wow! This sure got some love; WordPress tells me that it was my best day for likes! Thanks so much, everyone! 🙂

There were a couple of little things that bugged me about the render, so I made some changes. Namely, I thought the blue dragon’s neck looked weird and distracting, so I adjusted it. I did a couple of tweaks to the black dragon’s eyes, too: they’re a bit more open to make him look scarier, and his gaze is more focused on the other dragons.

Also, I’ve added a link to the UHD/4K version of the render. 🙂 Funny story: before I went to bed, I started the render with the hopes that it’d be at least nearly done overnight. When I woke up and checked the PC, it turned out that DAZ Studio had decided to ask the CPU to do the render, instead of using my two GPUs like I asked. So it burned the hell out of my CPU for about nine hours, just to reach an iteration count of about 900-odd, something that my GPUs can reach in ONE hour. Thanks, DAZ. -.- I cancelled it, restarted DAZ Studio and tried rendering again, and it started using the GPUs. Probably a dumb memory leak. Jeeesus, I mean, if the scene doesn’t fit in GPU memory, why can’t it do something intelligent for once? Like, if “CPU” isn’t checked in the Advanced tab of Render settings, throw up a dialog saying “oh there’s not enough GPU memory to do this with the GPUs”, then STOP rendering? I think that’s better than silently attempting to complete a render that will take the CPU about 143 hours. Not exaggerating. 😛

UPDATE 2!!
I’ve added a link to the 1080p version. For some reason, it still took more than five hours to render, even though it’s a fair bit smaller than 2K. Shrug. 😛

UPDATE 3!!
MAN, I wish I’d spend more time looking into stuff that inspires me.

Nearly half a year after this render, I learned after literally two minutes of research that Aaveratsastajat is effectively a translation. It’s probably not a direct translation, but Aaveratsastajat is the Finnish version of a seemingly ridiculously well-known country and western song from 1948 called “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend”. “Aaveet taivahan” is where “Ghost riders in the sky” appears in the original song, so I assume that’s what it’s supposed to mean. Or maybe the Finnish swapped it for ghosts?

Well, whether it’s ghost riders or just ghosts, BOOM! The post title turned out to be at least mostly accurate, despite the fact I don’t understand a word of Finnish. 😀

Show me your LOOOOOOVE!

So hey, after getting a burfday e-mail from Nintendo containing 300 Platinum Points which are POINTless ehehehergh, I saw that Super Mario Run was 50% off for a limited time, bringing it down to a price which, y’know, seems kinda sane.

I hate mobile games. The core game is rarely good, and usually it’s just designed to get the player addicted before slowly pissing them off with a scripted economy and annoying gameplay mechanics, and eventually it reaches a point where players feel the need to spend money on one of the game’s billion in-app purchases which are obscenely overpriced. But for some reason, it works, and I don’t get how, because I’ve never spent any amount of money on a mobile game before. A mobile game’s lucky if it manages to stay installed on my device for more than a week, to be honest. 😛

Despite this, I thought I’d give Super Mario Run a try, since it was on deal and it’s Mario. And… well. It’s much better than I was expecting. It’s so polished, and so friggin’ smooth to play. And it was made in Unity! After realising that, I felt even more embarrassed that I was part of a team that shipped a Unity game that ran like an unpolished dog shit. I’m not sure of the state of the codebase of Super Mario Run, but I would be shocked if it was any worse than the bollocks I had to work on.

It’s definitely the best game I’ve played on mobile so far, and the first mobile game I’ve ever bought, BUT… I probably wouldn’t have bought it if it wasn’t on sale, and would’ve hesitated for a while if I didn’t have £3 of Google Play credit lying around. I got that in an M&M’s promotion and was supposed to use it on a film, but WHY would I want to watch a film on a friggin’ 5″ screen durrrrrrrr. 😛 Besides, I very rarely watch films anyway. So the game cost me like £2. Definitely worth that. £5 is sensible. £10, no. Most of the game’s content is an infinite loop; you play Toad Rally to try and get more Toads so you can get more decorations and characters, you play Remix 10 so you can get more decorations and a new character, and you replay courses in Tour so you can get all the coloured coins to unlock a few special courses. The core objective of completing World 6 in Tour only takes about 1-4 hours depending on skill. I tend to be a completionist when it comes to games I actually like, so I’ll play it way more than that (especially since I’m being paid to do almost nothing at work right now :P), but even so, £10 sounds pretty steep to me. I imagine that price might sound insane to non-completionists. 😛

Anyway, did I mention the game’s soundtrack? No? Well, it’s pretty good. And now that I’ve said that, let me move onto the point of this post: Remix 10, the new mode. 😛

I’m not really sure whether the mode’s name is a reference to Rhythm Paradise, or whether it’s just a coincidence, but in each run of Remix 10, you play 10 really short courses back-to-back. The more runs you do, the closer you get to rescuing Daisy, who then becomes playable after you reach her. I reckon it’s the most entertaining mode of the game, partly because it’s more varied and exciting than the other modes, partly because you get more and better kewl lewtz, and partly because of the soundtrack. The music is pretty nostalgic; it’s a minimix of classic tracks from previous Mario games. But the first part of it makes me giggle like a schoolgirl, because VOCALS. Just like some game music from the good old days. It might be really dumb, but it’s memorable and makes me laugh. 😀 Check it:


I like it so much that I went through the faff of ripping it. I don’t know how to rip assets out of Unity games because they’re all packaged up and obfuscated, so I did it in the less intelligent way: by plugging the phone’s headphone jack into my PC’s microphone jack, finding a Remix 10 stage with a pause block in it, and staying still for the duration of the music loop while recording. Heeah, have it if ya want it. I also love the Starman music in Remix 10; it’s like an upbeat techno version of the Wing Hat from SM64. 😀 Since the Super Star has a time limit and there’s way too much going on when you pick one up, it’d be near impossible for me to rip the music in the same way as the normal BGM. :/ Ah well.

Anyway, Super Mario Run is good. If I wasn’t lazy and slow, I would’ve said “it’s still on offer, so go ahead and give it a try and buy it if you enjoy it, before the price goes up again”, but the offer’s already over. Sorry! 😛

Temporarily not working is niiiice!

Hiyaaaaa! How’s it going? 😀 Ooh, what’s this featured image thingy? Ah, I see. That’s kinda fun. 🙂 It probably only has an effect if you click on the post title, though.

Anyway ya, it’s been a li’l while since I last sharted tons of words onto this website. Although, well… I have some drafts somewhere around here. Yes, I did it again, I wrote loads of crap that I didn’t get around to posting. 😛 Partially because the posts got a bit long, partially because they happened quite a while ago and therefore it’s kinda late to post them, but mainly because I am a lazy shite. 😛 As I’ve been demonstrating over the past two weeks by not working!

Yes, I booked some time off because I was going to die otherwise. 😛 I haven’t actually had time off for myself in over a year. I’ve had time off, sure, but that’s because I had to take it off to go visit/have people visit me. Fun, but not really relaxing. I was going to spend some of my holiday doing productive things, but I pretty much just ended up sleeping a lot and playing games a lot, with a bit of eating and washing up in-between. So yes, lazy shite. 😛

I think the main cause of the lack of productivity was RimWorld. I won’t explain it too much, but it’s a colony simulation game kinda like Dwarf Fortress, not that I’d know cuz I “played” about 30 seconds of Dwarf Fortress before saying “fuck this, I literally can’t play”. 😛 Someone I know’s been playing RimWorld, so I thought I’d give it a try. And… well, I think the best word to describe it is “dangerous”. It’s insanely addictive. Like really insanely. I don’t think I’ve played a game that’s been this addictive before. But the annoying thing is, regardless of its addictiveness, I don’t actually think it’s that good. It’s frustratingly luck-based. I mean, Jesus, the friggin’ hit chances. I’m pretty damn sure what it says is total bullshit, because when some guy with a 4% hit chance hits you 3 times in 9 shots when your guy with a 10% hit chance hits ZERO times in 9 shots, that’s totally unbelievable. If I’d been playing it normally and didn’t reload when I felt bullshitted, I would’ve probably lost half my colony in one pathetic raid where the only reason I was struggling was cuz no-one on my team could fucking hit anything because of luck, then I would’ve probably lost the rest to stupid mental breakdowns where people usually end up wandering around doing nothing for about a day before complaining that they’re half-dead from starvation when they suddenly get over everything.

And it’s not only the luck-based crap, but the more you play it, the more idiocy you see. The AI is fucking stupid for one thing; you have to micromanage until you’re on the brink of an aneurysm. Then there’s some really dumbass design choices, like… by default you can only have one colony (multiple colonies work absolutely fine, they make the game more interesting and there is no real reason why this is disabled by default), the dumbass AI doesn’t give a shit about friendly fire and they can shoot friendlies directly next to them even though the learning helper effectively says that they can’t, everyone hates anyone who slaughters colony animals even though it was my direct order and they would have all died if they didn’t have the food it gave them, and if you capture a downed enemy who attacked you but failed to land a single hit on anyone, they’re not classed as guilty for some reason, so if they die through any means (such as “oh shit I didn’t realise that guy was going to die in two hours and it takes an hour and a half to get them to a bed because these fucks are so slow”), your whole colony gets a massive mood penalty because “omg a harmless prisoner died that’s so barbaric”. Oh, and you can’t harvest the organs of a dead person, but you can harvest organs from a live person (but you get mood and social penalties if you do so there’s no point). The fuck?

And I said I wouldn’t explain it too much and now look at that, for God’s sake damn it stop. 😛

Anyway, I got around to doing something kinda productive today. I made a RENDAR! Yez. 😀 It’s related to this game I’ve been slaving over for the past two years or so, although it feels more like three or even four. Not any of my games, no no no, that wouldn’t be “slaving over” it because I want to make ULSG V14, but I just never have the time. And when I do, I’m too friggin’ focused on sleeping and being lazy. 😛

It’s a game called “Race Kings”, sexist, which we made for another company. Another company who then has the audacity to say it was developed by them when it really wasn’t. I guess they paid the company I work for to do it, so maybe legally that’s correct, but… logically, it just isn’t. 😛 It’s probably best if I try not to say exactly what I think about it. But I’d like to encourage you not to play it at all, please, k thx! 😀

Anyway, the render. It was just a quick, simple-ish idea based upon one of the game’s completely idiotic understandable if you’re fucking stupid design choices. A design choice so dumb it annoys the designers that some people in the office complained about endlessly a few times. If you set off between two and zero seconds before the light goes green, you immediately lose, and forfeit all the money you wagered on the race. but if you don’t start within about a frame of the light going green you’ll lose because that’s basically the whole point of the game and 95% of the time you’ll finish last if you start last unless you pay to win

So, now that the rant explanation is out of the way, here is a dragon getting a false start!

False Start (1080p)(Available in these great flavours: 1080p, WUXGAQHDUHD)

Taken a few moments before he gets a bit more violent. No, he doesn’t break his HLE Infinity smartphone; he likes it way too much to damage it over this. He just burns a very specific part of London down instead. 😛

Anyhoo, I used Iray for this render again! I’ve been practicing a li’l bit, and I’ve gotten more used to it now, sort of. You just need to ignore the fact that it’s trying to be realistic and use whatever numbers make things look nice. When it asks for things like the candle wattage/lumen of a light, just smile, pat it on the head and input a value about 200,000x more than what is realistic. 😛

I don’t really understand light, but I know Iray is full of crap when it comes to it. 😛 The lights in this scene came with the environment, and they already had unrealistic values. By default, Iray uses candelas/m² to measure luminance, and it was set to 250,000cd/m². I had no idea what I was doing, but I did some rough measurements and found that the lights had a surface area of about 0.812m², meaning their luminance was about 203,000cd, and apparently 1cd = 1 lumen. That’s makes the light twice as powerful as full daylight, and there’s seven of the damn things! And guess what? That’s NOT ENOUGH!! I had to increase their luminance to 17,500,000cd/m², which is about 14 MILLION LUMEN! PER LIGHT! WHAT!

If I turn off the Sun-Sky lighting and just use the already insane default values, the render looks like this:

Iray

COOL, HUH?!? (Oh, ignore the noise, I only let it render for about two minutes. :P)

I tested to see if I wasn’t going crazy by switching the material’s luminance units to lumen and entering 14,000,000, and amazingly, it looks like I’m actually right. The light is pretty similar to when I enter 17,500,000cd/m²; it looks just a little bit brighter. So… yeah! I rest my case! This renderer is trippin’ balls and needs ridiculously inflated values! Maybe not quite 200,000 times more. Just 20,000 times more. 😛

Also, Iray doesn’t seem to be able to produce a render which isn’t grainy as fuck, no matter how high you put the render quality (pro tip: no higher than 4 because that’s about as good as you’re gonna get 😛 ). But I have found that you can get rid of most of it (most of the time) with a couple of quick Photoshop filters. Just add a 0.6-radius Gaussian Blur followed by a 0.6-radius Smart Sharpen. Tends to do the trick, kinda. YMMV. 🙂

So, for the 1080p version at rendering quality 3, it took… 1 hour 56 minutes 48.7 seconds, and it only reached 91% convergence before hitting the iteration limit. That was on two GTX 970s, so… speedy, Iray is not. 😛 I guess it can be prettier and more realistic, though. As for posing, that actually took about the same amount of time, but might’ve taken less if I wasn’t such a moronic perfectionist. I posed his feet and tail, even though you can’t see them. 😛

I listened to the Daytona USA soundtrack while posing, because this game kinda reminds me of it, apart from that it’s not NASCAR, or touring cars, and the courses only have 1-2 laps and last 30-60 seconds and is generally nothing like Daytona USA. 😛 and there’s next to no skill involved and it doesn’t have an awesome soundtrack and it isn’t fun or cool Maybe it’s because you go around in circles. Or maybe it’s just because the second half of Pounding Pavement cracks me right up, and Mitsuyoshi-san is a legend. 😀

Anyway, hope you like the render. 😀 I’ll get the QHD and 4K versions done overnight. QHD and 4K versions are doooone. 🙂 I’ll also go through those drafts I did and see if I can fix them up enough to post them. And by “fix up” I mean “holy crap cut them down that one’s about 10,000 words long”. 😛

Buh-bye! 😀

(Also LMFAO)

 

UPDATE!!

Added the QHD and 4K versions. 4K would’ve taken more than 6 hours to reach the 95% convergence target… if it didn’t run out of time. 😛 QHD took 3 hours 56 minutes 5.8 seconds. THE SPEEEEEEEED! 😛

UPDATE 2!!

I found out that my work monitor, like my work SpackBook, also has a stupid uncommon resolution, 1920×1200, also known as WUXGA, Wide Ultra eXtended Graphics Array! It’s like 1080p, but with 120 more pixels of height, and I didn’t even notice. Literally the only reason this resolution seems to exist is because someone said they could use it to fit two full pages of text on-screen at once. I wonder if they realised that instead of making an entirely new resolution and entirely new class of monitor they could just… zoom out to 80%? 😛

Anyway who cares. I re-rendered it in WUXGA so it fits my work monitor, so I figured I’d add it here, too. 🙂

This post contains a BIG COCK!

Ohayo gozaimasu! Or konnichiwa! Or konbanwa! Depending on your current time zone and the current rotation of the Earth! Monmasuta no Warudo shacho no Monmasuta desu! Dunno why I’m using Japanese words and a broken Japanese sentence in a post about a Chinese celebration, but hey, that’s just how I ROLL! Just like BOWLING! BOOM, STRIKE! TUBE STRIKE! SOUTHERN RAIL STRIKE!

ANYHOO, Happy Lunar New Year! 😀 Feels like it happened kinda early this year. I mean, the last few’ve happened in February, although I think Year of the Dragon was in January too but I CAN’T REMEMBER STUFF LIKE THAT FROM FIVE YEARS AGO! 😛 On that note, sheesh, five years… it feels way longer than that since I started my Chinese Zodiac series of renders. I’m kinda surprised I’ve managed to keep it going this long. I mean, the first two, Dragon and Snake, went really well, even though I remember being rather ill when doing Snake. Every year after those, though, I’ve been worried about whether the render was doable or not. Horse wasn’t so bad apart from the model featured le foal-creation toolset, which wasn’t detailed or anything, but it was still awkwardly visible. Thankfully, I discovered the Mare morph. 😛 Goat was difficult, because it wasn’t easy to get hold of a decent goat model. That, and it took several re-poses before I had something that looked alright. And DAZ Studio was crashing the PC during renders. And it was being completely insane, as I demonstrated. As for Monkey last year, I didn’t even realise what day the Lunar New Year was happening that year, and the only decent monkey models I could find were all supermorphs for Genesis figures, so they looked way too human-like. And it took me ages to get my friggin’ act together and make a good pose. And DAZ Studio was crashing the PC during renders. 😛

So what about this year? What about Rooster?!

It went pretty smoothly, actually. Heheh. 😛 Way smoother than I was expecting.

My main worry was the model. There were like… two models to choose from. One of them was an extremely low-poly chicken which almost certainly had no morphs, but luckily, the other was a somewhat detailed cockerel with more morphs than I was expecting. 2K textures, too, which was… eh, not bad, really, could’ve been worse… although about 40% of the pixels of the textures are just friggin’ unused because the UVs are crazy. 😛 But yeah, through some miracle, the model hunt turned out fairly well!

Posing wasn’t too difficult, either, nor was adjusting the texture settings. Creating the background was simple-ish too, thanks to my past self leaving detailed notes. And DAZ Studio didn’t crash! At all! Kinda expected that, though, since I’ve already fixed the cause of the crashing. 😛

Right anyway yeah yeah yeah yeay yeay, yeay heay hey, I said hey what’s going on. Prepare your anus, for here is A BIG COCK FOR YOU TO ENJOY, WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT:

2017: Year of the Rooster - DracoIndomita
(Available in these flavours: 1080p, 1080p Dark, QHD, QHD Dark, UHD, UHD Dark)

Wahey! I mean, he’s not as fat or as fluffy as I was expecting him to be, but I think it turned out fairly well; way better than I was expecting! I just wish the texture quality was more better. And like hell can I texture a model, let alone retexture someone else’s model. 😛

Anyway, who wants render stats?! No-one? Well, I don’t care, here they are anyway. 😛 In 4K with DoF, UberEnvironment on High, a shading rate of 0.2 and 32 pixel samples, the render time was 32 minutes 37.1 seconds. Not Bad. Postwork includes the background, touching up the highlights on the eyes and adding a bit of Epic Motion Blur(tm) behind the turkey. Uh, rooster. 😛

So, this is the halfway point for the Chinese Zodiac series; just six renders to go until I’ve made the set! YEAH! 😀 Next year’s pic should be much easier to get a model for, too. But for nao, I’m off. Catch ya laterz!

The return to Paradise! And other stuff.

Hey hey hey, how’s it going? Did ya have a good Chrissamas? Great!/Oh no! (delete as appropriate) Look, wow! A lame snow effect! (please disregard if you’re reading this outside of December)

Sooo, I’ve been in this mode for a while where I write some stuff down, save it to drafts, and theeeen… totally forget about it. 😛 I remembered I wanted to write about Rhythm Paradise Megamix, so I came back here and found I’d already written a bunch of stuff down. Then I also found a draft for Super Mystery Dungeon which’s been here for about 2,000 years. Oops! So, let’s take ’em out of drafts, finish ’em off and actually post ’em! 😛 I’ll start with Rhythm Paradise Megamix, since that’s more recent. 🙂

Oh, by the way, I might throw some spoilers, but I’ve blanked out any major ones by making text the same colour as the background. If the background isn’t near-black for you for some reason, then my spoiler-hiding won’t work, yay! 😛 If it does work, though, you should be able to read them if you highlight the text. Here, try it: Well done, you successfully highlighted some text but just lost The Game. I would use a bit of JavaScript and HTML so certain bits of text are only shown when you click on a link, like a “spoiler” tag on forums, but WordPress removes any useful HTML automatically because it SUCKS!!

Rhythm Paradise Megamix

It’s been a few many many weeks since Rhythm Paradise Megamix was released in the European Union and the UK. 😛 Japan had it ages ago, of course; it was released over there as Rhythm Tengoku: The Best+, and I was much jealous. Then it was released digital-only in America as Rhythm Heaven Megamix, and I was even more much jealous. By the way, I never really got why it’s called “Heaven” over there and “Paradise” over here. Must be a copyright issue or something. ANYHOO, yes, it was finally released in Europe in October. 🙂 We also got a physical release for some reason. YA JELLY?! 😛

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I’m a huge fan of Rhythm Paradise. I’ve never played the first game (because Japan only) but I have the DS game and the awfully-named “Beat The Beat: Rhythm Paradise” for Wii (it has a much better title in America, “Rhythm Heaven Fever”). I love the zaniness of all the games; how they came up with some of their ideas, I’ll never know. 😀 I also love how it’s challenging, but really fun at the same time. In the run-up to Megamix’s release in Europe, I made an effort to get 100% completion in Rhythm Paradise, and a few days before release, I finally managed it:

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I was rewarded with the barista’s immense praise and the ability to listen to every BGM in the game. Getting all 50 Perfects wasn’t easy, so it felt like a pretty big accomplishment. Rhythm Rally 2, man… I found it harder than Remix 10.

A few days later, Megamix was delivered to me, and I was like EEEEEEEEEEEE! 😛 Of course, I didn’t have huge expectations of it or anything. It was basically a compilation game after all, with a few bonuses added on. However, one of the first things I noticed when I started playing was that Megamix did something… weird. It has a story. No other Rhythm Paradise game has a story; it’s just a bunch of musical minigames. I don’t believe it needed a story, since each game tends to have a micro-story behind it anyway, but they decided to add a game-wide story anyway. Hmm. Okay.

The next thing I noticed was that it appeared they’d changed the progression. Normally, each “stage” consists of 4 games revealed one at a time, and then a Remix consisting of those four games mixed together with different music. Then, after a certain Remix, you get the credits game, and from then on, each stage contains 4 games which are harder versions of previous games, followed by a Remix that contains an assortment of previous games. The game culminates in Remix 10, which contains every game, and sometimes things you might not expect, like the credits game and the rhythm game you played in the tutorial. Megamix, though? At first… there are four games, and no remix. Clear all four games and you get to advance to the next stage, where there are four more games… and no remix. After every second stage, there’s a Gate, guarded by three gatekeepers who challenge you to get a certain score in an Endless Game. Each gatekeeper sets a challenge of a different difficulty; the harder the difficulty, the less coins it costs to try. Beat any of them and you can advance to the next stage. Hmmmm. No remixes… okay…

Another thing… the difficulty. The lack of it, that is. At first, I thought I was the problem, because excluding the ones from Rhythm Tengoku (GBA) and the games exclusive to Megamix, I’ve played all of these rhythm games before. But no… it wasn’t that. Many early games were familiar, but they were set to new music, and they were so easy you could probably clear them with no sound. I got 15 straight Superb ratings before finally getting an OK on Tongue Lashing, one of the new games (which is actually kinda tricky). For comparison, on my first attempt of the first game on Rhythm Paradise DS, “Built To Scale”, I got a Try Again. On my first attempt of the first game on Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise (BtB from now on 🙂 ), “Hole In One”, I got an OK. Hmmmmmmmm…

So far, so… not good. The story was shaping up as pretty much throwaway, and it was weird in a not-really-charming way (Donut Land, Jesus fucking Christ I can’t facepalm hard enough regarding that character). There didn’t seem to be any remixes, and loads of the rhythm games from previous games were set to new, worse music, and were much easier. On the plus side, a few of the new games were good. First Contact, LumBEARjack, Tongue Lashing and Super Samurai Slice were all fun to play, even though I got Superb and “No Miss” in three of them on my first attempt. 😛  (No Miss is basically a Perfect, but not really a Perfect, because to get a Perfect, “Go for Perfect!” has to be active on that game when you play it. 😛 )

When you reach Lush Woods, the final area of Earth World, things look up a little bit. In this area, there’s a tower containing four games and a remix, just like the previous games. The remix was pretty decent (the highlight of the five games was definitely Sumo Brothers, though; it was hilarious. :D). But then you get the ending! WHAT?! Of course, anyone with a brain would realise that there’s no way this is the end of the game, because there’s supposed to be 100+ games and you’ve only played 32 at this point. 😛

After the first “ending”, the game starts to pick up the pace. Six more towers show up, which contain both harder versions of previous games, and new games which are more challenging. Rhythm games from previous Paradise games return with their original soundtracks and difficulty. The legendary Ringside returns. And each tower has a remix. One of them even has vocals! When you clear those 30 games, you get the ending… to the Earth World arc of the “story”. Tibby goes home to Heaven World, that’s pretty much it. Nothing surprising. It’s not the end of the game, of course, because there’s supposed to be 100+ games and you’ve only played 62 at this point. 😛

No, Heaven World comes next, with 12 more games, followed by an endless game challenge, followed by another 12 games and two remixes, and then the epic Final Remix, nearly four minutes of awesomeness which I’d say is better than the awesome Remix 10 from BtB. 😀 No, it doesn’t end in this brilliant way, where the developers just screw with you. I’m glad, since that was kind of a one-shot gag. 😛 Instead, Final Remix mixes in each of the themes of the Rhythm Paradise games, which is such an awesome tribute if you’re a fan of the series. If they were going for a good sense of closure to the series, they did a great job there. Then comes the ending to Heaven World. You find out Heaven World is all messed up is because Tibby’s mum (who is a palace, yes you read that correctly, she’s literally a palace), was holding her breath to get rid of her hiccups. So yeah, the story was a totally throwaway, unnecessary waste of time and money. Some of the dialogue was funny, I suppose. 😛

Speaking of money… I think they lacked some of that. I was disappointed to find there was a huge lack of new vocal tracks. They tend to be the highlights of Paradise games for me, because they’re often really good. 😀 I mean, there’re so many I remember and love… Struck by the Rain, Young Love Rock ‘n’ Roll and That’s Paradise from Paradise DS, and Tonight, Lonely Storm, Beautiful One Day and Dreams of Our Generation from BtB. All awesome! 😀

If you exclude the strangely hilarious track from Karate Man Returns which isn’t explicitly marked as a vocal track (HEY BABY, HOW’S IT GOING?! THIS. BEAT. IS NON. STOP!), Megamix has… one new vocal track, “I’m a Lady Now”. That’s it. It’s decent, wasn’t super-keen the first time I heard it, but it kinda grew on me. But still, that’s it. We’re lucky we even got that. Why? Because any English vocals you hear are actually from the Japanese soundtrack. You can prove it by changing to the Japanese soundtrack in the café (which is a really nice feature, by the way). Their soundtrack actually has three new vocal tracks (in Lush Remix (which is really good with vocals!), Honeybee Remix and Machine Remix), but the non-English ones weren’t translated and re-recorded for the English soundtrack, which is a massive shame. No, wait, they have four, cuz the ending theme has vocals on the Japanese soundtrack! Gah, what a waste! One upside, though: the Machine Remix’s Japanese vocal track is terrible. 😛 I prefer the instrumental for that one.

Oh, and if you like to sing along to what vocal tracks we have, they’ve added the lyrics as subtitles into some of the games! Well, not all of them. Only a few. For some reason. Shrug.

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As for stuff on the side, Megamix has a lot more than previous Paradise games… but also a lot less. The biggest thing is the Challenge Train, and I’d say it’s the best part of the game. It’s basically survival mode. You can play multiplayer, but no-one owns this game, so you’ll have to wait until partway through the game before you can play solo. 😛 Each course on the challenge train consists of several rhythm games, each of which has a goal: “Score”, “Life” or “Monster”. Score goals challenge you to clear the song and attain a certain score (basically an accuracy percentage, which is shown on all results screens in Megamix along with the traditional, coarse rating scale of “Try Again”, “OK” and “Superb”; it’s kinda nice). Life goals challenge you to clear the game within a certain number of lives; you lose lives by missing cues. Monster goals are strange; the rhythm game appears in a window which begins shrinking, revealing a monster in the background. If you hit a cue perfectly (known as an “Ace”), the window grows. If the window shrinks too much, the monster will eat it and you’ll fail. Rhythm games on a Challenge Train course may have their tempos increased, too. Passing a goal lets you move to the next game. Failing a goal costs a life. Clear all the goals within three lives to clear the course and earn one to three Flow Balls depending on the course difficulty (Flow Balls are special currency used for unlocking new rhythm games). Courses on the Challenge Train eventually get stupidly difficult, mainly thanks to the Tempo Up modifier. It has varying levels of “tempo upness”… er, what’s another way of saying that which isn’t retarded…? Varying levels… yeah, Tempo Up has varying levels, but it doesn’t tell you how much it increases the original tempo. Sometimes it’s about 10% more, but other times I swear it’s about 50%. Frog Hop with Tempo Up nearly crippled my thumb, and I lost seven lives to the same stage in a certain course (Air Rally 2 with at least 30% Tempo Up in two lives, wtf). It’s an awesome addition, though, because it’s even a challenge for people who’ve played all the previous games. Paprika almost craps himself when you clear them all. “Maybe we can be friends.” Haha.

Next to the Challenge Train, there’s the Perfect Campaign, which isn’t really anything new, it’s just a central location for going for Perfects, because the map is a pain in the arse to navigate. 😛 Also, when going for Perfect, Megamix ends the rhythm game the moment you miss a cue, which is nice. Oh, and you can skip the intros to rhythm games now, after you’ve played them once. 🙂 Getting a Perfect in Megamix only gets you a Flow Ball, not a gift. Gifts in this game are Rhythm Items, which are unlocked in the shop with coins, so you don’t need to perfect everything to get every gift and read the funny descriptions. 😀 What else… oh, yes, there’s a long-term Pachinko metagame which involves some turnips and a goat that lays golden eggs. Shrug. 😛 It has absolutely nothing to do with rhythm and unlocks nothing meaningful, but does generate lots of anger past Level 90 or so. 😛 Oh, there’s also a StreetPass game, which is a kind of “versus” mode of Rhythm Fighter. Again, no-one has this game (no-one even has a friggin’ 3DS in this city apparently; I’m lucky if I get a StreetPass once a week), but it gives you a fake opponent at least every day. It can be absolutely hilarious. GO GO GOOOOO! AND ONE TWO! ONE TWO! AND GO GO GOOOOO!! 😀

There’re no Rhythm Toys like the previous games, which is a slight shame, but as for Endless Games, there are… four. That’s it. You unlock them by beating all three of the gatekeepers at a gate. The best one is “Sick Beats” originally in Rhythm Tengoku (GBA), but… it doesn’t feel particularly “endless”. You have one life, and after the third wave, the tempo increases every wave. Once you reach 128 points, the tempo of the wave that follows is so high (around 225BPM) that it becomes nearly impossible to keep the beat, so there’s no point trying to break your record. I tried to demonstrate the insane BPM using my right hand to hold a phone and my left hand to press the D-Pad, and nearly succeeded on my fifth try. I was one wave short of my record. But the vid gives you an idea of how impossibly fast it gets. 😛 The other three Endless Games are Coin Toss (from Rhythm Paradise DS, and it was never particularly notable), Clap Trap (from BtB, I don’t think I played it back then cuz I don’t remember it, but it’s barely a rhythm game) and Charging Chicken (new, but not really since it’s based on a Rhythm Toy from Rhythm Paradise DS, but it’s pretty good nonetheless). It’s a shame. No Tunnel, Shoot-‘Em-Up or Glass Tappers from Rhythm Paradise DS? I know Tunnel was basic, but hitting a cowbell repeatedly in front of someone trying to drive a car is strangely hilarious, even more so because she only gets mad if you do it wrong. 😛 Shoot-‘Em-Up was a good Endless Game, and Glass Tappers was epic. And no Wake-Up Caller or Munchy Monk from BtB? Wake-Up Caller was kinda slow but it was a great rhythm-keeping test, and Munchy Monk was absolutely friggin’ hilarious! ONE EGG! ONE EGG! ONE EGG! HANDFUL’A PEEZ!! What’s with the weak selection? Did they pick the most popular or their favourites, or did they pick the easiest ones to develop? Probably the latter. Sigh.

So… all in all, I think Rhythm Paradise Megamix is… a decent compilation. It could have been an amazing compilation, but I have a feeling they didn’t have enough resources. Or they did a half-arsed job. Not sure which one. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh, cuz I don’t regret getting it or anything; it’s been a lot of fun to play through and I’ve got a fair bit of playtime out of it, but I can’t help but feel like it wasn’t as good as it could’ve been, y’know? Maybe it’s my fault for playing too much Project Mirai, but the difficulty of Megamix just wasn’t enough for me. Yes, even though I mentioned that the Challenge Train gets stupidly difficult, it didn’t feel stupidly difficult enough. 😛 I mean, I cleared all the courses but I only failed about 5 times in total. Then, when I perfected the Final Remix after my 9th attempt (failures mainly consisted of blunders and one particular part of the song: Cosmic Rhythm Rally to Jumpin’ Jazz, followed by the three cues in Clap Trap), it felt good, but I realised that I’d just beaten the last big challenge the game had to offer. All the other Perfects won’t be as hard to get as that one.

As for recommending it… hmm. It’s difficult. I’d carefully recommend it to fans of the series. If you really liked the previous games, there’s a good chance you’ll like this. Actually, I might recommend it more to people who’ve never played a Rhythm Paradise game before, since there’s way more to discover and the chances of you getting Superb on everything on your first try is much lower. As long as you like rhythm games, that is, and you’re not expecting something intensely difficult like Beatmania or Project Mirai, and as long as you like a bit of crazy humour. So yeah, a fair few conditions for recommendation, there. 😛

Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon

I wrote about this way back when I was more than halfway through the game, but never followed it up with a “I’ve finished the game now!” post.

My thoughts on the game haven’t really changed much since then. 😛 It’s… probably the second best game in the series… although I’m kinda torn between making it second or third best, actually.

The worst game for me was the original, Red/Blue Rescue Team. I played Blue, not like there’s a difference in the story or anything. 😛 It was just… lacking. And the story was completely fucked. There was literally no purpose for anything you did until about half an hour from the end when you suddenly find out a meteorite is heading for the planet, which is also the part you find out that the reason you were brought to the Pokémon world was to stop said meteorite. But then the one who actually saves the world is Rayquaza; he busts the piss out of the meteorite with Hyper Beam while you stand around and watch. All you did was ask him to do it. Of course, when you did, he was all like “FUCK YOUUUUU I’M A DRAGON type” so you had to beat him up before he realised and said “OH SHIT LOOK A METEORITE THAT’LL KILL US ALL”. Of course that’s not exactly how it went down. Effectively the same, though. 😛 After Rayquaza saves the world, with your role fulfilled, you disappear and your partner loses it. This would be sad, as it is in the sequels, but the dialogue was quite sparse and the story was so short I didn’t have time to connect with any of the characters. I finished it in less than 16 hours, which is crazy. RPGs generally last way longer than that, I mean… Explorers of Sky lasted me around 60 hours, Gates to Infinity was about 50, and Super Mystery Dungeon about 40. Sure, there’s a bit more to do after the main story, but it’s not obvious, or very interesting. You just go around into harder dungeons and meet Legendary Pokémon who don’t join you the first time, and only join you the second time if you have the correct “Friend Area”, a retarded system that makes it stupidly painful to get members or set up the team you want to use in a dungeon. Besides, after the main storyline, the game disconnects you from your partner pretty much entirely; they no longer follow you around and their character becomes generic. Guh. I’m glad I didn’t play this one first, because I reckon it would have killed my interest in the subsequent games. Oh, now that I think about it, there was one good bit in Blue. Hehe. 😛

That leaves either Gates to Infinity or Super Mystery Dungeon to rank as number 3… naw, what am I saying. Super Mystery Dungeon has to be number 2. 😛

Gates to Infinity was great. The gameplay was a little bit dumbed down due to the removal of the hunger system and the addition of the Team Attack, which was essentially a rechargeable Get Out Of Jail Free card. If you stumbled into a Monster House with the Team Attack charged, the Monster House might as well not be there. 😛 I also didn’t really like building up Paradise. You could only take one quest at a time, and there was no guarantee that the rewards for any of the available quests were materials you needed. It was really annoying. But the story was awesome, as were most of the characters. I especially liked Victini, Hydreigon and Rampardos (even though Rampardos and Victini were basically shopkeepers 😛 ). Virizion was cool, too, as was Espeon and Umbreon (always a great pair), and Emolga, and the partner Pokémon, and Quagsire, hmm? 😀 If I can fondly remember nine characters, I’m pretty sure they’ve done it right.

Although… I said the story was awesome, but honestly, when the Bittercold came into play, the story suddenly became… odd. I don’t remember a great deal after the major twist in the last half of the story, where it turns out the antagonist was actually Munna; she’d been manipulating your dreams to make it seem like Hydreigon was evil, but in actual fact, Hydreigon was the one who called you to the Pokémon World. WHAT A TWEEST! No, seriously, what a fucking tweest. I never saw it coming. It blew my head open. 😛

Super Mystery Dungeon had a good story, but it did take a while to get going. When you leave the village to join the Expedition Society (god fucking damn it that part is so sweet), that’s when the story starts to pick up the pace, and it begins feeling like it has a bit more of a purpose. Then the ending, where the writers turned everything upside down from the previous games and decided that your partner is the one that disappears this time? MIND EXPLODE. Didn’t see it coming. Didn’t see ANY part of the story coming, if I’m honest! The story might’ve been a bit “out there”, way more wild than Explorers of Sky, but if they can keep me guessing for the entire length of the story, then they’ve totally won.

I remember the very beginning of Super being presented in a really cool fashion, actually. Traditionally, there’s been an intro video followed by menus, but this time it feels like they’re trying to suck you into the world almost as soon as you press Start on the title screen.

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The return of the personality test was a nice surprise, too. 🙂 In Time/Darkness/Sky and Red/Blue, you were asked a series of questions before the story began, mainly situational and personality-based. Asking you how you’d respond to a friend who made you a meal that tastes terrible, how you feel when something you bought yesterday for full price is marked down to half price today, whether you’ve ever accidentally called a teacher “Mum” or “Dad”, things like that. 😛 Based on your answers, the game guessed your personality and assigned you a Pokémon. After that, you could select your partner from the remaining Pokémon, with the restriction that they can’t be the same type as you (can’t pick Squirtle (water) if you get Totodile (water), for example). I think it was a great idea, and it somehow really got me hyped up when I first played it. The problem with it, though, was that… well, the game’s decision was absolute. Sometimes you got a Pokémon you really didn’t want to play as. If this happened, you could restart the game and try the test again to see if you got a different Pokémon (the questions you got were randomly selected from a pool). But it was a pain, and that’s probably why they removed the test in Gates to Infinity and allowed you to choose. In Super, though, they brought it back and made it the best of both worlds. You take the test, but the game only recommends a Pokémon to you. If you disagree with its choice, you can change it.

Super also had some great gameplay, the best in the series, I think. The Looplet/Emera system was really good… um… no, well… not entirely good, actually. I found one huge issue with it. Seriously, huge. One day, while playing through the endgame, I found an Emera called Ally Reviver. It’s literally the most overpowered thing since The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion’s 100% Chameleon bullshit and I seriously hope it can’t appear during the story. When you have Ally Reviver in the leader’s Looplet, your teammates are effectively invincible. When they reach 0 HP, they’re automatically revived with full HP and PP. It doesn’t revive the leader, but there’s no limit to the amount of times it can revive your teammates. Seriously. I told them to wander around on their own and the amount of times they fainted was ludicrous, but it didn’t matter because they just got right back up again, like they were using friggin’ cheat codes or something. 😛 When you have Ally Reviver, the only thing you have to worry about then is the leader, making the rest of the dungeon trivial, unless you run into a Monster House like a moron, or if some twat with a room-wide move enters your room and you have no way of escaping or fighting back. Hell, if you find two Ally Revivers, you can put another one in a teammate’s Looplet, then when the leader is looking like he’s gonna get owned, change the leader, let the old leader faint and revive for free, then switch back. Practical example of how overpowered it is? I played a dungeon that ends in three boss battles with Dialga, Palkia and Rayquaza, back-to-back. My teammates must have fainted at least 15 times. If I didn’t have Ally Reviver, I’d’ve lost to Dialga within the first four or five turns, mainly because Dialga has a dumbass overpowered move called Roar of Time which hits everyone, and it always one-shots my teammates and can one-shot me if he gets a critical. But because I had Ally Reviver, I beat all three of them. RETARDED! It’s more overpowered than Awakening, which is supposed to be the über-ultimate mega-Emera, since that triggers Mega Evolution in Pokémon that can do so, and blocks all attacks from the front. But Awakening has a turn limit. Ally Reviver doesn’t. What’s more, if you have a Trap Immunity Emera at the same time, the last thing that you have to worry about (Emera Swap and Emera Crush traps) just… totally vanishes.

Oh, by the way, this plays during the boss battle with Dialga in Super. You might recognise it if you’ve played Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky. It’s that game’s final boss battle music, against Dialga at the top of Temporal Tower. I nearly blew up. You also get this one against Rayquaza; it’s the Legendary Pokémon battle music originally from Red/Blue, played during that game’s final boss battle against Rayquaza. Great throwbacks. 😀

But maybe those throwbacks show a bit of a problem. I’ve noticed that Super just refuses to let go of the previous games. When you meet a Pokémon that was in a previous game, there’s an extremely high chance that they’ll act like the same character. Kangaskhan’s not in charge of storage any more, but she speaks in pretty much the same way as in Red/Blue and Time/Darkness/Sky. Duskull says he used to run a bank; I think Persian mentions something like that, too. Chansey says she used to work as an Egg caretaker. Rampardos says he used to run a business called Box Buster, and wonders how Cinccino is doing. Victini says he didn’t bring the V-Wheel. Swanna specifically mentions that she’s from Post Town, even though you can’t go there. Hydreigon acts as if you’ve already met him, exclaiming “You don’t remember me? Oh no!”. Munna says she did horrible things in the past. Quagsire has his verbal tic, hmm? Pokémon that were part of teams from Time/Darkness/Sky (AWD, Skull, Charm, etc.) either mention this, or act in basically the same way (Eg: Zubat, Koffing and Skuntank still have their unique ways of laughing: “Heh-heh-heh!”, “Whoa-ho-ho!” and “Chaw-haw-haw!”). I don’t even want to meet Grovyle. And I bet Celebi will mention Grovyle and how she feels about him, even though she won’t be a shiny like the Celebi from Time/Darkness/Sky. I finally met Grovyle and Celebi. The Celebi is a shiny. Grovyle’s mission was to help him rescue Celebi from a really easy dungeon. She fainted there on purpose so that Grovyle would come and rescue her. It was pretty fun. 😀 But still… why can’t they just let them be new characters? It feels like they’re hopelessly stuck in the past. The only thing that appears to be different is that Wobbuffet doesn’t just say “That’s right!”; all he says now is “Wooobbbufffeeeettttt!!!” 😛 Or was that a reference to Red/Blue? No, of course… the Wobbuffet in Sky was female, and this one’s male…

Bah, I think I’m reading too much into this. 😛 They’re just some harmless references, and they’re great for fans of the previous games, but I can’t help but feel like they might’ve been too attached to the old games to concentrate on making a new one. I mean, the gameplay of Super is definitely the best in the series, I really enjoyed the story, and the endgame is pretty good, too, but that balance… sheesh. It’s like they weren’t paying attention. Oh, and the team system was annoying; sometimes you couldn’t use team members because of reasons. Also, some Pokémon (Rayquaza, for example) were marked as “Gigantic”. This was already a somewhat quiet feature in Sky; each Pokémon had a fixed “Body Size” stat, and the total Body Size of your team had to be 6 or lower, so this effectively meant you could only have a three-Pokémon team if you wanted to take most Legendaries with you. However, that was fine, because in Sky they didn’t take up four tiles instead of one! I want to use Rayquaza. I want to use Dialga. And if I find that Yveltal is playable, I’m damn sure I’ll want to use him. But I can’t bring myself to put up with it, because playing with them in the team makes everything a pain in the dick. Regardless of whether they’re the leader or not, gigantic Pokémon just get in the friggin’ way all the time, especially around the corners of corridors, and this causes the other team member to lose line of sight of their allies, which puts them into “I’m lost” mode and makes them start wandering around randomly, which is hyper dangerous! (Uh, well, unless you have Ally Reviver, heh. 😛 ) And it isn’t like gigantic Pokémon are immensely powerful or anything.

I’m pretty sure that this game is a send-off, too. Given the surprising success of the series, it might not be, and I really don’t want it to be, but since it’s touted as the “definitive” Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game, that makes me believe that it’s the end. But all these issues I’ve found with Super just make me feel like the series could’ve ended on a higher note than this. Rgh, I dunno. Maybe it’s Explorers of Sky’s fault. 😛

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky

“Um you’ve already played this twice why are you”

SHAHTAAAP!

Explorers of Sky was retardedly good. It’s one of my favourite RPGs. It has awesome characters everywhere, good yet admittedly repetitive dungeon-crawling, an epic soundtrack, and fuck ME, it has a masterfully-written story. The only thing wrong with the story is that it foreshadows events too obviously. When the player Pokémon exclaims (in his head, because he only speaks at the very end of the story) that he saw Dusknoir smile a little when he said he hadn’t heard of the player Pokémon, that, and the way the dialogue was presented, completely gave away that he was the bad guy. Things like that. Unlike the newer games, in Sky, you can see some things coming a mile away. But in my opinion, the story was about as close to perfect as you can make something. Interesting, mostly unpredictable, surprisingly mature, sometimes fun, sometimes moving, and it has a great ending. Honestly, when the ending theme began playing, I’d been so enthralled with the story that I actually cheered. And the attention to detail is so fine, it’s nearly impossible to notice. For example… like every game in the series, you pick a partner Pokémon. The difference in Sky? There are several slightly different sets of dialogue for your partner. Seriously. For example, when your partner sees the Krabby blowing bubbles near the start of the story, Torchic exclaims that it’s a “beautiful” sight. Bulbasaur exclaims that it’s a “pretty” sight. Totodile exclaims that it’s an “impressive” sight. And no, it isn’t just a one-off thing at the start; it continues throughout the entire story. I shit you not. It’s absolutely psycho! Almost no-one is going to notice this, and yet they did it anyway! Holy shit!

That… pretty much sums up Explorers of Sky. Probably Time/Darkness, too. That attention to detail, taking that much care over the dialogue to give some partners a slightly different voice even though most people will never notice, it shows that a hell of a lot of love and thought has been put into it. That’s why it’s so special. And that’s probably why I couldn’t find Sky for less than £18 second hand.

Yep, I bought it for realsies, and I’m playing through it for the third time. 🙂 I’m even experiencing things I didn’t before. Like… what the hell’s with my storage? I’m playing through like I normally do, or at least I think I am… but I had a massive issue with storage space. I was completely full for quite a long time. I kept recycling stuff I didn’t really need, then after a couple of adventures I was full again, then I recycled, and eventually reached this point where I couldn’t really bring myself to recycle anything, but I had to, because I had a full storage and a full bag. It was suffocating! I’m at the part just before Temporal Tower and I had to backtrack to town and rank up to Gold just to increase my storage space. Yes, even though the world’s basically about to end, I’m doing some missions to increase rank. 😛 I never had to do that in my previous two playthroughs!

But the game is as joyful as ever. I love it, I want to hug it, and I want Chunsoft to announce like 600 expansion packs for it. 😛 But you know what the fun thing about second hand games is? Seeing the previous owner’s data!

Before I wiped it for all eternity, I decided to compare it with the save I have on my emulator. If I hadn’t played this before, I would have just wiped it without looking to avoid spoilers, and besides, I probably wouldn’t have been able to judge because I wouldn’t have understood very much. 😛 Glad I’ve played it before, because this time I was… honestly, bewildered. Completely brainfucked. 😛 Why? Well, um… let me explain with some pictures:

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The one on the left is the physical copy before I wiped it, ie: the previous owner’s data. The one on the right is my data from the emulator. I believe the most interesting statistic there is “Fainted in dungeons”. I fainted once throughout the entire game, probably because I quit and reloaded my last save whenever I fainted, rather than saving my progress with all my money and most of my items gone, so it was never logged because it never technically happened. But this guy fainted 178 times. 178?!? WHAT THE CRAP?! That’s insane! It’s like he never thought “oh, shit, I lost loads of important items there, I’d better just reload and try again”. Christ, he’s fainted in more dungeons than he’s cleared! And he’s cleared more dungeons that me, yet he’s got less than half the Pokémon I do and has acquired 111 less types of items! What is this?!

(Next screenshot has a spoiler, and my Ultimate Text Blackening Strategy won’t work for obvious reasons; avert your virgin gaze if you haven’t played this but plan to play it in the future! 😛 ) (OH MY GOD MY SPOILER WARNING CONTAINS AN INOBVIOUS SPOILER)

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And it’s not like he didn’t clear the game, either! This doesn’t show it, but he finished the whole story. But finishing the whole story and only recycling ten times?! Maybe he didn’t get that selling items is kinda pointless unless it’s equipment or TMs, because you usually get 1p for it (literally)? Or, er… maybe he didn’t have many items? That sounds likely. 😛

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Here’s where shit gets really really odd. Check his stats. Now check mine. Mine’re better, yeah? Now check level. He’s ten levels ahead, yet he has worse stats in every area. WHAAAAAAAAAT! HOW YOU DO DIS?! And it’s not like he hasn’t been eating Gummis! Gummis give you IQ, sometimes stat boosts, and always stat boosts if you give it to Spinda and make it into a drink. But look at his IQ! It’s friggin’ two stars higher than mine, which is significant, but his stats are worse! HOW?!

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“Okay, let’s check the bank.” I said. I opened it and just started laughing in disbelief. You’ve finished the game and only have 1,077P?! Seriously?! How the hell do you even do that?! And one other thing I noticed from this pic? He’s playing as Blaziken. As far as I know… that’s impossible! Ignore that! I thought that it was impossible that he was playing Blaziken because… well, one: the personality test it gives you ends by asking if you’re male or female, and depending on your choice, this prevents you from being assigned certain Pokémon, and the borders of your chat windows are permanently coloured blue or pink for the duration of the game. And two: Torchic is marked as female in partner selection, and Torchic evolves to Combusken, who then evolves into Blaziken. Therefore, I assumed that he couldn’t have ever been a Blaziken because his chat windows are blue. I was totally wrong, though; Torchic can be assigned to either gender, but she’s always female if chosen to be the partner. As for player Pokémon, I looked it up and found that you can’t be Eevee, Skitty or Vulpix if you’re male, and you can’t be Riolu, Phanpy or Shinx if you’re female. Anyway no matter. The main point was that this guy had 0.6% of the money I had. 😛

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This one solidifies my thoughts that he may have had a bit of trouble playing this game. Well, more than a bit. 😛 He had a total of nine items in storage. Uh… the key’s useful, I guess? But no Exclusive Items… no equipment… not even any Reviver Seeds. His bag had more items, but most of it was utility stuff like seeds and semi-useful orbs. I think there was some equipment, but it wasn’t equipped. I don’t have a clue how he got through the story in this state. Massive respect to his tenacity! 😛

What makes his state even more difficult to comprehend is his rank. He can store 320 items, which means he’s Gold rank. In my current state (not the emulator), I’m Gold rank, and I haven’t even finished the primary story yet. He’s finished both parts of the story. How did he end with such a relatively low rank?! On my emulator state there, at the end of the story plus a bit of endgame, I’m Master 3 Star rank. I’d’ve expected him to be at least somewhat close to that! This is why second hand games are so fun! 😛 (In contrast, the data on my second hand copy of Advance Wars: Dual Strike was impressive. They nearly had half the medals!)

Also, why do I have a Gold Ribbon in storage? Well, this is a fun fact! If you take a bunch of Gold Ribbons into a dungeon, along with either a Pure Seed or a Trawl Orb… when you find a Kecleon shop, what you do first is sell all your Gold Ribbons and any other high value items in your bag. Then, if you have a Pure Seed, you tell your team members to wait a distance from the shop (for safety reasons), then pick up all the items in the shop and use the Pure Seed. You’ll warp to the stairs, and the Hyper Fast Kecleon Army will then move to annihilate you because you stole from the shop. Simply walk onto the stairs, go to the next floor and poof. You’ve just generated several thousand Poké. 😀 Alternatively, with the Trawl Orb, walk to the stairs with your team, then use the Trawl Orb. It’ll attract all the items on the floor, including the ones in Kecleon’s shop. This is classed as stealing, so the Hyper Fast Kecleon Army will assemble. Pick up everything and get to the stairs before they reach your room and rape you. Poof, several thousand Poké. Terrible exploit! Probably why you can’t do it in Gates to Infinity and Super! 😛

I don’t have a picture of it, but his team was quite… interesting, too. Several of his team members were named after characters from Mortal Kombat. No idea why. None of the Pokémon he named had any particular resemblance to the character he named them after. 😛 He didn’t name his partner. The player Pokémon’s name (or at least the controllable Pokémon) was called “JACK”. All caps. Speaking to the partner Pokémon was entertaining for a second. “Let’s do our best as always, JACK!” 😛

UPDATE: Going back to what I said earlier, about the slightly different dialogue… I remember taking a screenshot on the emulator after selecting the negative option in one of the game’s many pointless choices, when your partner asks “Should we go into the nightmare?”. My partner was Totodile. This time, my partner is Bulbasaur. When I reached the same point in the game, I took a picture of the same bit of dialogue. Here’s the comparison:

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I know it’s such a minor thing, but that’s the point. This attention to detail was completely unnecessary. The vast majority of players would never notice, but they still did it. The only reason they did so was because they cared. If only more devs cared as much nowadays. Sigh.

Anyway… that’s that, methinks. 🙂 Speaking of second hand games, though…

Fire Emblem: Awakening

So, after playing Project X Zone 2 (still haven’t finished that, actually) and Advance Wars: Dual Strike, I remembered that other turn-based strategy game I hadn’t played yet: Fire Emblem. I dunno why, but it never really appealed to me. Maybe I was under the impression that it was too slow or too serious or too annoying. By “too annoying” I mean that if one of your characters dies in Fire Emblem, they’re gone for good. Unless it’s the main character. Then you just get Game Over. 😛 Maybe “annoying” is the wrong word. “Stressful” is slightly more appropriate. 😛

Anyway, I went through a bunch of demos recently. Most of them were junk (fucking Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Edition, fuck me, what is that bullshit, and what were Nintendo smoking to let that no-name fail mobile company shit all over the place and combine two IPs that had absolutely nothing in common, okay I’m done now), but Fire Emblem: Awakening was among them. I was… very impressed. The whole thing stank of quality. “Stank of quality”? Kind of a shit way to put it, but yeah, it felt like a quality game. There wasn’t much to the demo, some dialogue, a couple of maps and some stupidly good FMVs with some surprisingly good English voice acting. But I was impressed, so I had a look online to see if I could still get it second hand. It’s quite an old game, so I thought it was either gonna be unavailable or quite cheap.

Oh, it was available. But on Amazon at least, it was nearly as expensive as friggin’ Pokémon Sun and Moon! Even on eBay it was expensive. Not like I really buy anything off eBay auctions anyway because they’re always sniped and tend to go for way more than you can get the item elsewhere.

So I turned to Cex (heheheh cex shop), the place I bought Explorers of Sky from. No stock in any store near me, but I could get it delivered for £24.50, and that was pretty much the cheapest I could find. I bought it because I think it’ll be worth that, but Jesus, that’s really steep for a nearly three-year-old game. Rhythm Paradise Megamix cost about that when it was brand new. I figure it’s so expensive because Awakening was so well-received. After reading about it, it feels like this game’s a bit of a legend. It was basically the developers’ last shot at keeping the Fire Emblem series going. Nintendo told Intelligent Systems that if it didn’t sell 250,000 units, that was it; Fire Emblem would be cancelled. In the face of this pressure, they absolutely nailed it, got 90+ on Metacritic and sold like nearly a million copies in total. Awakening’s the only reason Fire Emblem still exists, so maybe that’s why it’s so expensive.

I haven’t got it yet; I only ordered it today (I only got back home from my parents’ yesterday 😛 ) but I’ll probably write about it. As a draft. Then find it again several months later and post it. 😛

Anyhoo, I think that’s all for now… okaaaay yes, that’s now 7407 words excluding the “word” “7407”, so let’s leave it there. 😛 Buh-byyyye!

ow my fingers