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Malik (2/1/10)

The delayed DLC for Dragon Age Origins, Return to Ostagar, is finally available. It was made available this weekend. In fact, I knew the instant it was updated (in game) to show the DLC as available. How did I know the exact second it was ready? Because it crashed my game. I was in the menu a short bit earlier (about ten minutes prior) and saw no new DLC as I went to click on a few mods I downloaded. Then I started to play...and then, after ten minutes, my game crashed with a nice memory fault message box from windows. So, I rebooted, and when I made sure my mods were all still active, I saw the new DLC there.   I believe this crash came when I was supposed to get a notice of new DLC being present.

I don't know if this is a common issue or not, but since I must remain logged in to play the game (since I have the deluxe edition DLC and that requires being logged in to use), I don't want this new DLC situation to happen again. Especially I say this since I started to play the game again after the crash and had some nastly problems come up, probably due to how and when my game crashed.

The first problem I had was that Alistair was naked. This was due to the game deciding to cancel my Blood Dragon armor DLC pack (part of the deluxe edition). Alistair was fully decked out in this armor set, and no longer was. I checked my inventory, and none of this set was there, so I was left with one option; to exit the game and click that mod off then mod to return the armor set to play. Of course, this meant I'd have to buy all but the main piece of armor from a vendor again, but I'd deal with that annoyance to get back to my game. However, when I loaded my save again, the main piece of armor was in my inventory (as it should be), and I left the tavern I was in to return to camp to buy the rest. Of course, my problems couldn't end after that one issue.

Upon entering an exterior location, I saw a world of white. My textures had gone away. After a lot of playing around, I eventually solved the texture issue. I was actually going to play with this really annoying problem, since I had put 45 hours into the game. It's not like I wanted to risk losing my saves after a reinstall. However, an hour of this state left me enraged and I spent the next hour and a half looking for solutions. Eventually I saw, online, that sometimes the 8800 GTS (my graphics card) will have texture issues unless anti-aliasing is turned off or played with. So, I tried that and finally got my game looking right again. Well, it was looking good until I talked to Shale (the extra party member from The Stone Prisoner DLC), and the game freaked out by acting like Shale was not yet a part of my party.

I tried to reload a very early save in my camp and talk to Shale, and the problem traveled back in time. I then tried to toggle the related DLC on and off to force the whole Stone Prisoner DLC to restart, but the quest flags couldn't be cleared, so the problem remained. At least, if I chose, I could have Shale in my party...but I needed to remember to never talk to him/her. I now was left with the question; do I just give up on talking to Shale (who is a funny character) for the rest of the game, or do I keep trying to fix this damned problem until I literally lost all interest in DAO? I chose to keep trying to fix the problem.

For some reason, one of my ~150 save files actually worked correctly when I loaded it and tried to talk to Shale. Only one, however, worked. Luckily, this was a save that only had one hour less progress on it than my latest (glitched) save. In the end, I just resumed this save and all was finally good.

Why did I ramble about this? Simple; I don't like games requiring you to be logged in to play, when it isn't really needed.

Yes, I can see requiring that for DLC to ensure pirating doesn't occur. However, pirating still does occur. We all know this, and if you try a simple google search, you'll definitely know every damned detail of getting around the DLC/logged-in check. Also, I haven't bought any DLC yet. I am using "DLC" from the deluxe edition. I shouldn't need to log in to use the deluxe edition. In fact, by buying the deluxe edition, I shouldn't have had to download the "DLC" included with the game separately, like I did. It should have all been streamlined together. I mean if you don't buy the DLC, you'll get messages in game about needing you real world money (to buy the DLC) to help some poor sap. The DLC is integrated into the normal edition of the game that much, so the deluxe edition DLC should be as well.

I mean the game is entirely offline, so if Comcast was to f$#@ up (which they are known to do) and my internet went down, then I wouldn't be able to play this game that I rightfully own and play entirely offline. Plus, I was to buy this game for a friend, who is without internet (these people do exist), then this friend could never play the deluxe edition, unless he/she received the PS3 or 360 version (which are just bastardizations of the PC version).

Blah. It's just another example of the problems that still need to be solved with piracy and digital distribution. It's a great way to get a product to a consumer in the rapidly expanding digital world we live in...but the problems are still there when you consider that the internet is still not a "guarantee", but is rather an "expectation". At least it's still better than any anti-piracy method that is about the equivalent of malware when it takes over your PC.


Malik (2/3/10)

I think my impression of Dragon Age Origins is going up since I downloaded Return to Ostagar. I mean the DLC didn't help my impressions, since it was not that great. For $5, it's nothing too bad, but it's a bit short and a bit light on everything that is not combat. However, for $5, I cannot complain all that much. However, RtO requires DAO to be at version 1.02. This is what's helping my impressions.

1.02 doesn't exactly change the game too much. The only noticeable changes are with spells being rebalanced (like with Crushing Prison now being less over-powered), in game. Meta-gaming, the update is awesome since it seems to help a lot with the memory leak issue. It's still there, but I can now play for about an hour more before the game becomes too lag filled to enjoy. I call this a very important fix, since I was having memory leak issues within 45 minutes of loading the game and now I get nearly two hours of smooth running.

On a different subject, I will not go into Lost too much. I watched the final season premier last night and I can't say too much. I think it's one (or two) of those episodes that requires a following episode to say all that much. However, I can say that the premier felt light in content. I don't mean nothing happened. I mean a normal hour of broadcast TV contains about 42 minutes of show and 18 minutes of commercial. Maybe the show just flew by since it was enjoyable or something, but I can swear that this was closer to an ever split of ads and show. Maybe about 40-60 would be a better guess.

Also, being a scientist, I can't help but notice some problems. I watch Lost for fun, but I also analyze things a bit like Adam Savage (of Mythbusters) has done on the Popular Mechanics web site. I don't look too much at any of the more fantasy related elements (like surviving an atomic blast since time travel made the scenario beyond normal science). I do look at the parts beyond fantasy. For example, one scene (avoiding spoilers) has Jack performing CPR. Did anyone on the set ever take a CPR class? Someone should have noticed how bad this looked...especially for a character that's supposed to be a brilliant doctor. The chest compressions were too damned shallow (that looked like what would get a normal Red Cross CPR trainer pissed off in a CPR class) for one thing. For another, the rescue breathing should involve looking towards the chest of the victim to ensure the chest cavity rises with each breath. Lastly, I'd hope Jack would have received CPR training when he returned to LA at the start of last season while he was resuming his medical career (even if it ended with him being a crazy bearded druggy). If he had training, then he would not follow the old CPR protocol (involving the necessity of rescue breaths and all that).

Maybe that's just me nit-picking, but that type of simple error really stands out when it's so anti-character. Then again, I'd also consider how the CPR requiring person (no spoilers) had drowned, and the scene was acted out more according to a person having a heart attack, in both the scripted parts and the visual effects.

Yes, I am just being anal about this. It's not all that important, but it just seems like a show with such a finely controlled set of rules could at least obey simple normal rules when applicable.

Anyway, I really can't say much. The show didn't blow me away, but it didn't annoy me either. It was one of those episodes that just cannot be judged on its own. It needs the following episode(s) to make it more worthy or relevant to a grading. At least it's nice to see that Hurley can be happy and lucky in some reality.


Malik (2/5/10)

I find it weird that Rock Band is now getting another album from Megadeth. First it was Peace Sells...But Who's Buying, and now it's Rust in Peace. I don't mind more music for RB, and I'll put up with metal being the genre of the week. I mean while I do love metal (for listening), I don't like it at all for RB playing. Still, that's all fine with me. However, with so many bands still not on RB, I'd love to see more variety before bands get too many packs or albums. I like Nirvana and love the Foo Fighters, but I'm not wanting anymore for RB.

Also, on Sunday, after the Super Bowl, RB is getting a special mashup type thing for The Who. It sounds like it's basically a big mixing of the current DLC tracks, and the RB1 and RB2 Who songs, into some super single track. The details, however, are a bit vague. I'm wondering if this is some normal mashup scenario (some of each song is played), or more like the Abbey Road mashup from Beatles Rock Band in which you play all the songs back to back as one super long single track. If it's the giant single track idea, I hate to think of trying to survive all of that on expert without having your hands die (or leg die on drums or voice go out on vocals).

On a short side note, I'm glad to see that Sega is finally giving Sonic the treatment he deserves. I was a long time Sonic fan, ever since I bought a Genesis with Sonic 2. I would say ever since I first got my Game Gear (which was before I got a Genesis...what can I say...I was once a Nintendo kid before seeing that all consoles can be great), but the GG Sonic games were shit.

Over the years, Sega has just made me feel pity for the poor little red-headed-spiky-blue-stepchild that was once such a potent mascot. I mean when Sonic entered 3D, it lost a good deal of the charm. Then Sonic started to become annoying "hip" with ideas like Shadow and the Werehog. All the while, Sonic was pimped out like his name was "Guitar Hero", into whatever lame crap Sega could try to convince ignorant gamers to shell $50-$60 for.

Even when he was treated correctly, he was still treated so poorly. I mean in Sonic's Mega Collection, you cannot play Sonic 3 and Knuckles together. However, now he will finally be treated properly by being given what all great 2D gaming icons are most deserving of; going back for another round in their style (2D) of choice...on a real console (read: not a DS or PSP). It's what Metroid needs (as Shadow Complex showed, since it's so much Metroid that it hurts), it's what Castlevania should have (instead of these horrible 3D abominations), and it's what Mario was able take advantage of. Now if only Konami and Nintendo could follow suit and give us some of the classic franchises in their glorious intended genres.

Anyway, I don't have much else to say for today. I'm going to give a bit of a rest to Dragon Age Origins this weekend as I play some RB on Saturday and watch the Super Bowl on Sunday. It's probably for the better to take a break from DAO since I'm near the end and I have no other games lined up for when I finish this massive journey. Delaying the ending is a good thought when you have nothing else to steal your free time when it's done.


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