Mass Effect™: Andromeda
It’s a nice feeling, seeing my name at the top of the extraction panel. I really don’t worry too much about it, though, as long as we make it to the extraction and everyone has fun. Even when we don’t make it to the extraction, it can be a lot of fun. That’s what is important to me, that the team has fun and we all enjoy playing the game. So far the multiplayer in Mass Effect Andromeda has been a lot of fun and a lot of that is thanks to the awesome players I have met in the matches. I have seen a case where someone was voted to be kicked by two of my fellow team mates. The guy had a level one character and I think that was the reason for the votes. Shame, but every community will have such things happen. I must admit, I took the cowards way out of that situation and left the team. I was not going to kick someone for having a level 1, or even for messing up. I got into a few other matches, one of which saw me giving more revives to team-mates than kills on enemies, and I had a lot of fun. Winning is nice, but… it is not the only thing in this game and bronze level is for people to relax and learn the fights. I’ve also learned a lot more about the lay of the maps and that is helping a lot on both having fun and staying alive.
Dove back into the multiplayer today and got myself a new rifle to play with out of an N7 crate (purchased with 100,000 mission credits). The LANAT – I is a nice little piece of hardware that reminds me of the Kishock Harpoon Gun from Mass Effect 3. When you are going to fire it you hold the trigger to charge the round, making the gun vibrate in your arms, then unleash a devastating hit to your enemy that can shred through shields and life both to take out an enemy with a single shot. Slow to fire, holds just two shots at a time and slow to reload, but devastating when used right from across the battlefield by a skilled infiltrator. Add in a well timed tactical cloak and a bit of incinerate skill and you have a nightmare for enemy armor.
I’m getting more used to the maps as well. I can now find my way around on a few and know where the ammo resupply drops are on some of them, now I just need to get back into the rhythm of keeping my distance and moving in fast when needed I should be doing okay soon.
Mass Effect™: Andromeda LANAT – I sniper rifle
I’ve been playing the multiplayer for Mass Effect Andromeda and am having a lot of fun with it. It helps that one of the first items I got in one of my pre-order crates was the Widow Sniper Rifle. This is one of the nicer sniper rifles in my opinion, and in the hands of a skilled infiltrator can do major damage across the battlefield. I’m get the feeling the game knows me to have given me this right off the bat in Multiplayer. Now I just need to learn the layout for some of the firebases (multiplayer maps).
Mass Effect™: Andromeda Widow-I sniper rifle
First impressions are vital. This is true whether you are meeting someone for the first time, making a new business contact, writing the first paragraph of a novel, or even writing the first sentence of an article. For video games the first impression many have is in the previews, and I was very impressed with the previews I saw for Mass Effect Andromeda. Watching the videos on the Playstation store I was excited to see the game in action, and yet… my first impression after having got to play Mass Effect Andromeda was slightly less than a happy one.
Part of that is personal preferences, however, so I can not fault the game makers entirely for it. I say entirely because it would have been an easy thing for them to have implemented in the game. You see, the first thing I noticed was that I could not find a 5 o’clock shadow on any of the custom character types. As a woman gamer I have a couple of quirks, one of those being I like to play scruffy men. I suppose we could blame Han Solo for that, we could probably blame Han for a lot of things I have quirks about, but let’s stick with the scruffy rogue type for now. A bit of unkempt hair, a 5 o’clock shadow, a leather coat, and a sidearm strapped low on the leg are my thing. If I wanted that stubbled chin in Mass Effect Andromeda, however, I had to go with the default Ryder, who has oddly perfectly groomed military style hair for a man with a 5 o’clock shadow. I think I restarted the game 5 times before I finally sighed and gave up with a custom built Ryder that has unkempt hair and a clean shave. I blame the guys that pulled him out of stasis for the clean shave.
After a few runs through the character builder I had a character that looked pretty good, even looked a bit older. (I know, they are supposed to be damn near kids lost in space, but I’m nearly 50, I prefer my protagonists to have a few years under their belts as well.) This is when the next point about the game hit me. If you play a male Ryder then your twin is going to be female, and vice versa. Disappointing, since I had my heart set on having a pair of twin guys. In Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer I had the Project Phoenix Adept and the Project Phoenix Vanguard, which I saw in my mind as being brothers that had switched sides as a team when things with the Reapers got bad. The only one I liked to play more than one of those two was the Talon Mercenary, and I am still hoping I will find an Omni-bow and a Kishock Harpoon Gun in Andromeda.
Back to Andromeda, having my oddly clean-shaven lead and his slightly older sister all set up and ready to go, I dove into a bit of gameplay and… was disappointed again. I have to say, I expected more from the look of the characters. The characters seem a bit cartoony in how they look, which is a bit of a disappointment after being introduced to PS4 graphics on games such as Uncharted 4, The Division, and Bloodborne. I had been hoping for a more realistic look to the characters in Mass Effect Andromeda than what I got, which is characters very similar to the level of the ones I had seen on the PS3 console in Mass Effect 2. Now, this is not terrible for me, since I also know that making highly detailed and realistic looking characters is far easier said than done. I’ve tried my hand at 3D modeling, and I have a high respect for any company that pulls together a full scale game. The characters look awesome, don’t get me wrong there, I just… set my own bar a bit high on what I think I was hoping for on them. EA might have let me down a little on the graphics, but I still have faith that the story will make up for it. Besides, EA has always seemed to be a bit more about the story than the graphics anyway, at least that is how it has seemed to me. I can not say a lot on the story yet, I’ve barely made it off the starting planet so far with all of my restarting to make a better looking character (Probably does not help my speed any that I play on Insanity mode… I should back down onto normal if I am going to be writing reviews as I go.) Anyway… so far the story seems pretty good, I am aiming to have my lead distanced from his father and kind of close to his sister, who I am hoping I can tweak to be a Daddy’s favorite, we’ll see how that works out. I know, I am asking a LOT of the game’s character profiling software, but if I don’t have a goal how can I put it to the test?
The point I have had issues with is in the controls. I’m not nitpicking here though, since I am fairly certain that is all on me. I had trouble recalling how to swap weapons in multiplayer to use my sniper rifle or assault rifle, have jet-packed my way into a concussion on more than one rock wall, and keep jetpacking forward when I am trying to do a casual climb up onto a ledge using the O button. Cover moves seem to work great though, and the times I have died it has been because I was not watching my health. Controls seem responsive and well done, I just need to coordinate myself to them.
All in all… I am so far enjoying the game and still holding out hope that I will get my money’s worth out of Mass Effect Andromeda. The game has a lot more to it still, and I had a lot of fun with the earlier Mass Effect games. The Multiplayer seems very similar to Mass Effect 3’s so far, but I only played two matches in that so far. As I said, I had some gun issues, and am still getting used to the way the controls work. I’ll be playing more multiplayer to see how that works out, I was not terrible in Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer, so should pick this one up as soon as I find a character I love the way I loved the Talon Mercenary and learn the layout of some maps. For now I am going to go play a bit more multiplayer, then some Insanity mode, maybe remake my character yet again if I can’t stand the clean shaven look, and will catch up again when I find that Pyjeck I paid an extra $10 to see. I’m hoping for some fun interactions with the different crew members based on owning that beastie.
My current wish list for additions to the game: Please, PLEASE, please, add in a way to change the character’s appearance and give us a real 5 o’clock shadow look and a more scruffy hairstyle. I’m using, I think, option 4 with the finger-flicked bangs as only decent hair for now. And Omni-bow, please, give me a Talon Mercenary in multiplayer (private game would be nice too, just saying) and an Omni-bow. Thank you.
I started using Blender many many years ago, long enough ago that to get an accurate date range I would have to dig through things a lot, but let’s just settle on I have been using it since before Elephant’s Dream was made, shall we? I think anyone familiar with the program can agree that’s been a while. I started dabbling with the program as an alternative to Poser, which was the preferred 3D program for both of my older brothers and my father. It was not that Poser was a bad program, I just wanted to do things that I was not sure Poser allowed like make money off of my 3D efforts via making movies. I had, unfortunately, barely began to learn how to make things with Blender before life caused me to step away from learning how to make 3D models and steered me in another direction entirely. It was a long time before I got the chance to get back into 3D modeling and for a time I used 3DS Max. It was easy to use and there were a lot of models that I could get to make things, and yet there was one aspect of it that I felt a little lost in and knew there had to be a better way – manipulating the models and creating my own. Add on that I was not sure what rights I actually had with any of the models I had got with 3DS Max and I was left looking for something… better.
My search lead me back to Blender and a large part of me could not believe I had not gone to Blender to begin with. There was a lot of opposition, talk online about how bad Blender was, my brothers advising me to go to Poser not Blender because Poser was “so much better”, but I could feel that Blender was better than anything else I had used. I had run my fingertips along the programs surface and could feel the power locked within – if I could only learn how to tap into that power.
I am still learning. Blender is still evolving and keeping up with the latest advances in 3D modeling and all of the myriad of applications for the program. I have come to discover that learning Blender is an ongoing process that I am not sure anyone can master because of the complexity of the program and the need for change to keep up with the industry. And that is good… and… bad. It is this constant learning process that makes people dislike the program. Someone will use a user friendly program such as Poser or 3DS and learn how to make the models and scenes they want, then they open a program like Blender and there is an overwhelming amount of options. Things that other programs streamline and make user friendly are still broken into their base aspects in Blender, making it more complex, but also (in my opinion) more adaptive to the needs of the user.
Blender is hard and requires a lot of work to learn, then to relearn when new versions come along, but I think it is better because it does not try to dumb itself down for me. Blender demands that I give my best effort, that I strive to discover how to do the things I want to be able to do, and that is an aspect of the program I have not embraced in far too long. So, why Blender? Because as hard as it is to learn, as complex as the program’s interface is to master, I feel more comfortable with Blender than I do with any other 3D creation program. I feel more a part of the process and in control of what I want to create than I feel with other programs. For me, Blender is the perfect tool to keep me moving forward with my skills and always learning new ways to improve my work.
I have got my UVs all done on LaVellen Engineering and have been toying a little with textures to see what I want to use on the shops. The model is nowhere near finished, even the modeling is not finished yet. At 15,282 I feel there are far to many tris on this model, most of those I think are in the molding strips under and around the windows, so should be easily fixed when I work more on that.
Even with it not being fine-tuned, I have been hopping about in my work and today I took a look at what I might want to do with the lower shops on the building. I rather like how the shop windows look here, even if I am not entirely sure I like the brick and board look.
This also gave me an idea of making the downstairs shop into a bookstore, since that is a cover from an old book I used for the backdrops on the window cases. Maybe the spaces under the porch have been rented out to other shops? I’ll see how it progresses as I work more on it.
I’ve been working for a little while on a new model that I have dubbed LaVellen Engineering. this is to be an old building that has been added onto over the decades to create an old shop with more modernized additions. The finished building is planned to have a sort of grunge steampunk feel to it, a bit of magical fantasy world colliding with industrial steampunk to create what I hope will be a unique feeling.
Most of this is created just going by what seemed to work, but the shop face was based off of old pictures of Cross and Rows in Cheshire England. I had actually found the pictures of Cross and Rows and wanted to try to work with them before I decided that this would be LaVellen Engineering.
I’ve been getting through Uncharted 4 at a rather good pace, until now. I do not want to give any spoilers here, just to say that I might be at this point in the game for a while. I am determined to get past this area without changing the difficulty setting, which I have on Crushing, but oh man the chaos. I think my problem here is I need to take out some baddies faster than I usually do. Normally I will hold back and play it a little safe, wait for my shots, but I think these guys might be spawning on a timer, not on how many have been killed. Which means my efforts to just wait on my health to regenerate between kills is hurting my speed and thus my ability to get past this phase of the game. That is all just speculation, but it seems like what is happening so far.
The pain of getting killed over and over and over aside, I am loving this as much as I have loved all the rest of the Uncharted games. I have seen both comments on how this is the last Uncharted game and how it is not going to be the last, personally, I hope to see more of this style if it is the last. I think that Uncharted has been my favorite series and Nathan has been a wonderful character to get into the mind and life of.
For now, I have more work to get done so I can try again after dinner to get past this area.
I’ve not got much work done lately because of the cold here making it hard to get much work done on the computer, add to that a hit and run when I am at my desk that has left it buried under a mound of junk. Last night my brother got me a slightly better heater, however, so the place is a little warmer. I can at least sit at the computer without risking frostbite while I type. I still have poor insulation, but that is not within my finances to fix at the moment. Hopefully I can get the stuff I need before things actually get cold here. It is currently hitting -8 F at night according to the app on my phone that checks a weather station in a nearby town. I know it is usually a bit colder there than there, but I do not have a thermometer here.
For the moment things are at least warm enough with the new heater I can do some work, so I am going to take advantage of that to try to catch up and get my work area cleaned up enough I can get back to work until the temperatures drop again.
I tried not to give in to the stress, to wait until Christmas to open A Thief’s End, but today the stress overwhelmed me and I had to do something to relax. What better for relaxing than to play Uncharted 4 on Chrushing difficulty? I was concerned for a moment when I saw it was grayed out, but selecting it was possible, at which time a popup asked if I was certain. Confirmation on that allowed Crushing to become a selectable difficulty option and I am now working my way through the game.