Archive for November, 2008

Mordor: The Depths of De’jenol

On the surface, Mordor doesn’t seem like much, with little in the way of things to do and without many graphical effects, but the wealth of options in the game is undoubtedly the draw of the game.

You begin by creating your character (or four) from many different races, choosing its gender and alignment, and it’s stats. Everything but the gender governs what guilds it can join from the off. Every character can join the Nomad’s guild, which gives the least bonuses but gives them a decent fighting ability if levelled up. Other than that, there are many guilds to choose from – you can create a pure fighter, sorceror, thief, or cleric or mage (which excels in getting monsters to join you). Or, if those aren’t up your street, how about a Ninja/Scavenger hybrid, or a Barbarian/Mage/Villain?

If your stats aren’t up to the levels the guild wants, you can find potions and tomes in the dungeon to up your stats. And once you’re in, you can level up to 999. You can do this for every guild you’re in. There is a penalty for every guild past the second one, in that you need to pay a lot of money to get in, and the experience you need for a level is increased. However, once you’ve sold a few identified tomes, it’s not much of an issue.

Which brings me to the meat of the game. The dungeon. The aim of the game is to get to the bottom of the dungeon to kill the boss. This sounds easy, but is rather more difficult than you might expect. There are many floors, and whilst they aren’t randomly generated, they are filled with traps and monsters that get increasingly difficult as the game progresses. If that wasn’t all, you don’t level up automatically. Once you have the required experience, you have to return to the guild to level up, and if you gain enough after that, you become Pinned, which means you can’t gain any more until you level up. (Although once levelled up after being Pinned, you only have to gain 1 exp to gain another level.)

There is also age to consider. If you spend the entire time levelling your character, you may get to the point where you can’t get to the bottom of the dungeon without dying of old age. Every race has a different lifespan, which governs how difficult they are to level up. After all, it doesn’t make sense that a human that lives for 100 years would take the same amount as an elf that lives 350 years. This needs to be taken into account when creating your character and traversing through the dungeons. There are potions that reduce your age, however they are very rare, so you can’t bet on getting any.

Characters can team up in parties of four to make fighting easier, although you can’t team Good characters with Evil ones, so you can’t have your Paladin teaming up with your Villain. It makes life a lot easier, however it does mean that you have 4 characters to keep track of instead of one. Unfortunately, there is no way to play over an internet connection or even over LAN so it’s a bit of a lonely experience sometimes.

In the town there are many shops, including your basic equipment/items one, a creature one where you can buy creatures to help you fight, the undertaker which revives you, your party and any creatures for gold, and a Seer, which points you in the general direction of the monster or item you’re looking for to finish a guild quest for a fee. The equipment shop and the creatures shop keep track of what you sell to them, so if you sell them a Sword of the Winds or a Pseudo-Dragon, it’ll still be there when you come back with another character 30 levels on to buy it.

The graphics and sound are definitely nothing to write home about. The graphics do their job and nothing more, and take a back seat to the gameplay. The sound, however, starts to grate on your nerves quickly, so it might be best to turn it off in favour of your own music.

For the people who are stuck, or who want to know more about the intricacies of the game, or who want to know the story behind Mordor, there is an extremely comprehensive help system. From the backstory (which is pretty good if not overly inspired), to the lifespans and natural stats of races, to the statgains and requirements of every guild, to what every single spell in the game does, to an early game guide, there is enough material in it to satisfy the vast majority of questions you might have.

There is a shareware version you can download to try it for yourself which includes everything up to the third floor of the dungeon, and if you’re even remotely interested in Mordor it is worth downloading, so you can see for yourself. If you then buy the full version it keeps all your data, too.

Mordor is not a game for the casual gamer, or indeed even the regular gamer. It can take months to finish and years to find everything, so expect to be in it for the long haul. However, the rewards you get from it more than make up for the time investment. Personally, this is the only game this gamer still plays regularly after 10 years of owning it.


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Bad Days

And not the kind where a lot of bad things happen.

Have you ever had a day where all you want to do is alternate between curling up in a ball under your duvet and sobbing all day and rage and throw things?

A day where everything just seems too much for your frail shoulders?

Yeah, I had one of those days yesterday.

They come completely out of nowhere. One day I’m normal and stable, even. Then the next I have an overwhelming sense of dread and fear and I can’t cope with anything no matter how small. Then the next I’m normal again. It’s odd.

Yesterday, I felt overwhelmingly lonely and cried for a while when my boyfriend went to work (he works nights and went home after work last night).

The one thing I’ve noticed is that always, always, on a day like that is my hatred of living with my family always comes to the forefront. Every time, I vow I can’t live with them for much longer. He always points out that if I can do it until now I can do it for longer.

He says that I’m a lot stronger than I give myself credit for. But how does he know? He’s not in my head. He doesn’t feel the same things I do. I’m just a weak little girl who’s trying miserably to keep going despite the chains. Or at least it feels like chains. Maybe it’s a black hole reaching it’s tendrils for me.

I am in control of nothing in my life and it’s driving me to the edge. The constant noise of my house, the lack of food, the contant running out of basic things like washing powder, shampoo and toilet roll – they’re all taking their toll. I want to be able to take control of my life but how can I? The only job that I was offered in 7 months (and was also the only one that wanted to interview me) is a temporary christmas position.

I wanted to take control at 18. I’m 20 in a month.

Why do I keep being denied the one thing I want? It’s one simple thing. I don’t care what I have to give up, really. When am I going to get the opportunity?

No wonder I’m fucking depressed. How destructive is it to want something you can’t have again?

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Choice and gaming

Recently, I acquired an R4 for my DS at a computer fair. You would think that with the sheer amount of games that are now at my fingertips I would be gaming far more than I used to, but actually, I’m not.

Instead of 8 games to choose from, I have 30. And the amount of choice is daunting. Instead of playing one games for a few hours then going onto another, I’ve devoted almost no time at all to each individual one. The one I’ve played most over the past week is Animal Crossing, and have only played that one for just long enough to play off the first mortgage. Which is perhaps two or three hours play.

I propose that with the amount of consoles there are, and the sheer volume of games released for each, that gaming is being damaged. And not just quality of games-wise. Because the gamer has so much to choose from, instead they go for something different entirely.

I see this all the time at work. Mr 360 gamer is looking at the new releases section and asks me what I recommend. I say something along the lines ‘most of these games are sweet and you can’t go wrong with them’ and Mr 360 gamer can’t decide which one to pick so he goes to the pre-owned section and gets two decent-looking games for the same price as one of the new ones.

Obviously, gaming is not doing too badly and new games are almost universally selling well. But if there were less consoles, then developers wouldn’t have to stretch themselves to put games on them all and the quality might improve. There’d be fewer people who forgo the new games entirely.

And also there might be room to move on a busy day in the shop.

And I wouldn’t have to go out and buy an expensive PS3 just so I could have the lot.

My DS games want to be completed but because there are so many I just can’t bring myself to do so. Daunting task is daunting.

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NaNo and work

My question is, how do you juggle NaNo with your job? I had work yesterday, and even though it was a slightly shorter day than usual, being Sunday, I still found it difficult to get the energy to write.

Granted, part of this might have been that I was already a day behind, and I had just a few hours before going to bed, as I have a weird sleeping pattern at the moment. But the question remains.

How do you manage to get your allotted words a day and not compromise your work?

I do have a job that requires me to interact with customers for the entire day, so taking a notebook and writing during a bit of downtime is out. I just couldn’t get away with it, being on the shop floor all day.


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NaNoWriMo Mk 2

Thanks to a lovely commenter on the last post (who unfortunately does not have something for me to link to) I have a nice little word processor to use. Which hasn’t crashed so far.

So NaNo is back on. Woo. Hopefully I’ll be able to catch up on the writing I missed today and yesterday. It means a lot more writing than I intended, at least for the next few days, but it’s not as if I have anything better to do, really.

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Critical Failures and NaNoWriMo

I haven’t got any writing done today, and I’m not even sure it’s my fault. Ever since I got up this morning the great DnD player in the sky has been rolling critical failure after critical failure.

I woke up around 6am, which is the norm for me, aiming to write until everywhere opens at half 8. Which would have been easy. Had things not gone wrong from the very beginning.

My mother woke up at the same time and threatened me about going in the front room because she was going to sleep in the back room. My computer is in the front room. I got angry and went back to my room and ended up falling asleep again, waking at half 8. When I was supposed to finish writing.

And then I went to download Open Office. The installer took an hour and a half to download. It then turned out to be corrupted.

I then went looking for a lightweight word processor, which I found and downloaded the installer for. Which also turned out to be corrupt.

Opening Notepad turned out to be fruitless as well. The laptop crashed as soon as my fingers touched the keys.

Sometimes I genuinely think that there’s something out there that wants to make my life as frustrating as possible.

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Motion Sickness

Well, we got Fallout 3. He bought it regardless of my qualms, so there’s no harm done, I suppose. However…

I can’t play it.

This is the first time my motion sickness has gotten in the way of a game that I actually want to play. It would be fine, if, say, it was the kind which appeared after a while, and I could ignore for a while and went away not long after coming off the game. But it’s not. It’s the kind that rears it’s ugly head after I’ve been playing for 5 minutes, and kicks me to the floor with severe nausea and headaches and dizzy spells. Which doesn’t go away until I’ve slept it off.

I still don’t know what causes it. As of today, there are three games that cause my motion sickness to go severe: Fallout 3, Duke Nukem 3D, and any 3D Spyro game. Oh, and two-player on Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise. The only thing these games have in common are that they’re 3D. That’s it. It’s highly frustrating.

As far as I can tell, there is no real solution to motion sickness; that it can only be ‘managed’, and to be honest, that upsets me greatly. It means I will never be able to play a game I’ve been anticipating for a long time.

I can only see it getting worse, to be honest. As games get more advanced, the less I will be able to play of them. I could miss out on what could be the greatest game of all time because it makes me sick. I’m already missing out on Fallout. I already refuse to play Mario Galaxy because I know from experience with Sonic Adventure 2 it will make me sick. What else will I not be able to play?

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