Loadout – Review

Friends and I have considered it closely related to TF2. It’s difficult to not want to compare the two games. It’s only natural, especially when they’re both on Steam. The former has always been free to play, while Loadout is inching its way towards that goal. For now it’s in beta still and you can access it early for ten dollars. They give quite a bit for you to start out like that. Most gamers would benefit from giving it a try.

In what ways can the two be compared but in what ways are they different?

                Gore –

                They both contain gore. Although, there’s nothing too intense that those with easily upset stomachs could be bothered with. Both are made in the image of cartoons. This means that death and dying isn’t too big of a deal. Loadout’s gore is mildly worse. They contain much more explosions that can cause limbs to become lost or thrown in several directions. A perfect example is when an enemy is tossing a grenade. Within seconds, you’re left with a stump of a leg and you’ve gone to limp to your death.

Customization –

                Team Fortress 2 has the making of customization. Their loadouts can be goofy in what you’re wearing although hardcore players find themselves going for things that benefit them in the moment, not just looking good. Loadout’s player customization can go on the end of what they want to look like. Some articles of clothing and other attire costs money which some can see as worth it (to show off), or others can use those for weapons and what ammo.

Weapons and ammo come into play as well. While TF2 sticks to having classes doing specific things (spy, engineer, medic, etc.), Loadout allows their players to create a gun of their own choosing. An assault rifle that heals, or it can send out electric bullets. A heavy rail-gun that fires a wave of ammo that sets enemies to fire, or regular bullets. It’s up to the player. They choose their own play style. As you level up they give you the ability to create more load outs that can be switched up in any type of game. It’s as easier to switch classes in TF2 as it is in Loadout.

Gameplay –

                Loadout provides a few games that players can partake in. One of them includes granting a certain player on one team the ability to grab crystals that are found throughout the map. Their teammates are tasked with taking out the team’s gatherer, while protecting their own. Someone could be healing that person, or going straight in the fray and providing a distraction. Loadout has a total of four game types so far. They’re fun and are an excellent introduction to their game for those just starting out.

The game’s currency, spacebux, give players a slow crawl to their goals for new things to buy for their character or new weapons to use in fights. You’re given an objective for each level that you gain and are provided a chance for bonus XP or spacebux at the end of each round. It’s a wheel that spins quickly and luck lies heavy on this point in the game. While some are superior bonuses to others, they benefit you regardless. There are no bad spins.

Out-Played –

                One thing I did notice is that once you’re past level eight, you’re thrown into a much wider range of multiplayer games where other players can severely out-level you. These players usually have superior skills, tactics, and weapons at their disposal. When I entered this part of the game, players are pushed to really know their stuff by this point. It does take a bit of time to level that high. It gives most enough time to discover their favorite play type and who they like to be on the team. Once you discover that, you’ll be able to apply more of a supportive role in the team as that position.

Loadout is an excellent game. Did I mention it’s an indie game? Make sure to check their main page here along with on Steam.

You’ll have a fun time. Bring some friends!

Focusing Inspiration

Originally I wanted to share about how to discover inspiration. Before doing so I misunderstood what exactly inspiration is. It’s everywhere. You could get it from a spoon hanging at a certain direction. From the way your fingers sound as they type away at the keyboard. Running water that you happen to hear when you’re driving nearby a river in your car. Inspiration is everywhere, that all depends on you. What’s the next step? Using it. Focusing that inspiration is something some writers have trouble with. They have an idea of what they want, but what next?

Here are a few things that you could do to help use it properly -

Find a sticky note:

Sticky notes are extremely useful if you have a break down of ideas. If you want to build off it later, you can create a tree like brainstorming session. Have the main idea in the middle, branch off into smaller details about it and then other details about those details. The sticky notes can be placed on a wall or a whiteboard. Easy to take off you want to change something or put it somewhere else. Also, they’re small. Harder to have an excuse on why you wouldn’t have them on you. Writers are good at creating excuses – don’t give yourself that chance.

Tape recorder:

Those are not too difficult to come by these days. If you want a handy one, get a slim model that can fit into a pocket or hide away in a backpack / bag. Better yet look on your phone for an app. Test it out first to get the feel of how the product handles. As you establish that, take it for a spin and go around your local area. Find five or so things that could be inspiring for your writing. After you’ve finished the test run, return home and see how things worked out. If you can create a page that came directly from what you’ve said on the recorder keep on using it, if it works for you.

Notebook:

The classic notebook. Several writers that I speak to or read blogs of talk about how they’ve written in a journal. It’s an excellent way of being out in public and writing whatever they’re thinking down. We writers have this horrible tendency to have quite a few things running through our heads. We’re all prone to forget instantly. Always have something you consider to be a journal on you at all times.

Ten random objects:

This is an odd one a friend turned on to me. Write down ten things in the room you’re in that stick out you. List them in any particular order you choose. Immediately, remove three of them. The other seven, write a sentence that involves that object. Remove two. The last five, write a paragraph about each one. Remove two you don’t like. From there, intersect the last three into your characters, or a scene that focuses on that as a high light. It’s a good way to give certain things in the homes, or residences, of your characters or even things they can be carrying. The key is to make them stand out. Make them different. While this isn’t focusing inspiration, and more of discovering it, I had wanted to include this. I thought it was tons of fun.

While these are only starting places, always consider a way for you to make your walks around the park an advantage to your writing. Inspiration is everywhere. Be prepared when it strikes you.

Countering Writer’s Block

I know that as a fiction writer I have problems thinking about where to go with things some days. It’s either a character that I haven’t fully fleshed out, or even a scene that feels bland to me. Something could be happening, but I’m not happy with it. It could be the dialogue or even the way the characters are interacting. That can be a frustrating situation for any writer to go through. Luckily, I seem to have found something that appears to help with that. At least parts where I could be stuck.

The website is called – Writing-Workout.

What it will is through the writer into random scenarios, or something specific, and give you a random even that pertains to a subject. You’ll be given a quick 300 second time limit and have to react to it. You either have to fill in blanks, or write a quite scene to summarize what would happen. I’ve already found that locations and actions exercises can really help cement ideas that you want to lead up to or are currently having trouble with.

I highly recommend it to any writer who’s having a little trouble currently. It all happens to us. When it does, it’s better to know what to do and seek a way to remove yourself from that rut. As you do you’ll find yourself back on that writing track.

It’s also an excellent way to help exercise your mind as a writer. Because we’re sometimes forced to be focused in one area, or we’re stuck on one story this can be a perfect way to break away from things that are becoming stagnant. A way to remove yourself from your current project and get a quick workout. Writing Workouts should be as often as possible on a daily basis. They help influence your mind to see different ideas, and perhaps expand your abilities. Writers need their workouts as well. Never neglect a chance to practice something new.

Total War: Rome 2 – Review

Big fan of the Total War series. I think what they do is rather excellent, and the tactics features is fun as hell. That being said, I’d rather start off on some sour notes of the Rome 2. I’ll be saving the good stuff last. Don’t judge the game on first comments, the good comments will roll out during the end when I’ll be sharing my verdict.

Too Many Nations 

This has created a problem that I saw within the first turn. The game introduced itself well. As soon as I finished my first turn, the game went through the motions of all of the other Nations doing their turns. I never counted how many there were. If I were to guess, there would be upwards to about thirty, maybe even forty different ones playing on the same giant map. The more you discover, the longer their turns will take because they’ll start moving on the map. This can definitely eat up a lot of time. They certainly immerse you in the fact that it’s Rome during the 250’s BC, however the take away is that there is also dozens of Nations going turn by turn by turn. Excellent immersion factor, horribly long waiting periods.

Graphic Errors

From time to time you’ll get the usual graphic area on the map. Maybe something will be missing or you’ll find a patch of land looking odd. There were the rare times that when I went down into “Movie” mode, I’d see a set of helmets floating a few inches away from where their soldier’s bodies were. That had been one of the annoying factors when I wanted to watch two armies beat the hell out of each other. I once also had a set of archers aiming directly at the ground below them. Perhaps a new tactic to delay the soldiers and prick their feet? All-in-all, small graphic based errors that they’ll eventually sort out over the next few weeks.

Simple AI

The AI seem to have a trend of not being the best sports. They’re either clumsy negotiators, or their tactics seem as if they allowed their five-year old heir to run the armada for a few days. They’ll either drive their forces into the ground with useless tactics or not enforce an obviously open area that I can have my army take advantage of. I was hoping for a larger challenge as I progressed through the game, although it seems how they went about correcting that was by making the enemy’s forces better than yours in every way each time the difficulty went up. I was hoping that the computers would become smarter, but that has yet to be addressed.

Time for the positive thoughts!

Amazing Graphics

While a few errors are minor, and rarely happen, the environment and the fight scenes are absolutely beautiful. Arrows fly fast, fire acts like fire, and soldiers trample the ground with powerful force as they run to attack one another. The mountains and vast scenery is quite a bit to take in as you explore the overly large map of Eastern Europe. If you have a rig that has the capabilities to go all the way up to Ultra, do so. It’s a beautiful scene you’re not going to want to miss.

Historical Accuracy

The Total War team really went to town when they decided to go down to the core level of the game and went into the lore of the time. The soldiers fight as they should, the forces are massive creating the choice of giving you a wide range of armies to have. It gives you, the leader, the chance to truly customize your armies as you see fit. Letting you choose from a wide array of soldiers whose stats differ from one another. If you want an army to not lack in a certain area, you can definitely have that as well.

Gameplay

The team wanted you, the player, to have quite a few choices when fighting. Having trouble in a section of the Empire that needs addressing? You can change the stance of an army and have them march over to that part in a matter of turns, quickly and effectively. Other times, you can have them block a pass that you know for certain an enemy force is about to enter. You can cut them off and have them meet with a stronger defense force that you have set up strictly to be a meat shield while you rally other armies. The stance change in this game is significant. As you learn to change them, you’ll adapt to the game so you can get the most out of each of your armies that you’re creating. You can also have sea forces supporting your land ones, becoming the ultimate commander of both Sea and Land.

Developer Support

Most fans would know that as the game had been released, some concerns rose to parts of the game feeling unfinished. To help correct that, the development team announced that they would be giving weekly updates (starting last Friday, and continuing from there) to help improve and adjust any bugs that were found or commonly reported. Their next update is scheduled for this Friday. Even through there are a few bugs in the game, they stand by what they’ve given to the fans and continue to throw their support for those who ask for it.

Verdict:

I am a fan of the game. I am a fan of the series. I found that while there minor errors, they can be overlooked by even the newest of players because of how well the other key features are presented. Although, it is warned to be careful if this is your first Total War game. There are some features that are offered that are vaguely more familiar to those who’ve played games such as Total War: Shogun 2. Because of that, it’s easier to pick up. Nonetheless, the developers introduced an excellent prologue to the game so that all newcomers may feel welcomed and are free to start off a pace of their choice.

Total War: Rome 2 – 9 / 10

Incognita: Turn Based Strategy Game

Over the past year, turn based strategy seems to become to an all-time high. Thanks to the success of X-Com Enemy Unknown, everyone has become hooked on trying out these games. Is it the motivation for players to want to think more, or have the strategic programmers come out of hiding and entering more companies? Regardless of the reason, or how it happened I’m excited about all of these new games popping up. The next one that I’m most looking forward goes by the name of Incognita – developed by Klei Entertainment.

Gamers who know the name Klei Entertainment may make a connection to one of their previously successful games, Mark of the Ninja or even, Don’t Starve. An expertly made stealth game, with a good degree of strategy. Incognita is Klei’s attempt at doing a complete strategy in the way that X-Com had been made, however, with a heavy focus on stealth. Why stop doing what you’re good at?

How, you must be asking, would they be able to create a stealth game with X-Com’s strategy model? Check it out for yourself – Klei’s microsite is listed here.incognita_wallpaper1280x720

They’re offering a chance for you see what they’ve done so far. Pre-Purchasing the game now (at a 15% discount) will allow you access to the Alpha. In the Alpha, you’ll be given a random assignment with a random assortment of agents. You’ll be forced to finish the task with your team.

Over the next few months as they continue to develop the game, you’ll be receiving new updates that further develop the game. They’re attempting to set the community up so that the hardcore fans become their testers and they can remove any chance of things being messed up in the beginning. I know I’ll be one of those testers in the next few days.

Be sure to check it out soon. Also, if you haven’t check out their other games on their main website here.

What Does Drake Think About When He Wakes Up?

I am not the man that you want the hero to be.

I am no lord. No savior. My heart is not filled with gold.

I am not the one that believes in black and white. In good and evil.

I am not filled with peace, harmony, or positive feelings.

I do not turn my eyes away from the evil. I do not punish sinners.

I do not want the helpless. I do not want the pitied. I do not want the little people.

I do give in to my anger, my rage, my desires. I am the bright light of hot outrage that everyone can connect with.

I will do what I must to get my job done. I work for those who are in the right, not because of either personal gain or because they are the lesser. If they are in the right, regardless of it being for good or evil I will be there to side with them. 

I am a drunk. I feel, I give in to common human nature. I crave it. Like a crumbling wall, I fall to my knees to satisfy my basic animal needs.

I am not a man of a law. I am not a man of justice. I am not a man of hope.

My name is Drake Williams.

I am the man in Black.