Leave a comment

Visit our new site, SPUF.org!

As you can probably tell from all the pop ups and things like that, the Daily SPUF has permanently moved to SPUF.org. The reason for this was because back in August last year, blog.spuf.info died a spectacular death, and didn’t come back until December last year, for some strange and magical reason. All our posts, both old and new, are located on SPUF.org. We will no longer be updating blog.spuf.info, but you can see the latest posts on SPUF.org in the widget in the sidebar.

Thank you for sticking around, and we hope to see you over on SPUF.org.

Lots of love, Medic

Leave a comment

Alien Swarm: Reactive Drop – Guess who’s back

Alien Swarm: Reactive Drop – Guess who’s back

I was lazily browsing through the Free To Play section on the Steam catalogues (yes I know I’m a cheapskate) when I found this: After double-checking to make sure that it isn’t the old Alien Swarm, I did some extra digging. Turns out, this actually started off as a ModDB entry. The team behind it submitted it onto Greenlight and it passed. And since it’s on Steam for some time I assume they have Valve’s blessing. Either way, the reviews seem positive, unlike the remakes and extension attempts for one of my favourite games. So I downloaded it and jumped… [Continue Reading]

The post Alien Swarm: Reactive Drop – Guess who’s back appeared first on The Daily SPUF.

Source: Daily SPUF feed

Leave a comment

Prey Demo Impressions

Prey Demo Impressions

With the reboot of Prey on the horizon, I was pleasantly surprised to find out it had a demo available. I was curious about it after spying a trailer or two, but was hesitant seeing that the developer was Arkane Studios as I haven’t been a fan of their previous work, but I could look past that. You begin by waking up in your apartment with your brother telling you to get aboard the helicopter he has waiting for you. After a long-winded cinematic scene that feels like it was lifted from Mirror’s Edge, you finally touch down and can… [Continue Reading]

The post Prey Demo Impressions appeared first on The Daily SPUF.

Source: Daily SPUF feed

Leave a comment

Minigun Jumping

Minigun Jumping

We all know the Heavy: slow, lumbering big Russian guy with a big gun. His slowness and general lack of mobility is pretty much why most of the community think that Heavy has a low skill ceiling. While Heavy does actually require a lot of gamesense, there’s no way around it: the Heavy has a very low mechanical skill ceiling since he’s limited by his low mobility. Many have sought to increase that skill ceiling by giving him more mobility. Foxzet tried replacing the Minigun with the Grappling Hook and had some pretty good results.But at the end of the day,… [Continue Reading]

The post Minigun Jumping appeared first on The Daily SPUF.

Source: Daily SPUF feed

Leave a comment

SMITE Kart – Racy Rumbly

SMITE Kart – Racy Rumbly

Naturally, the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the 3rd-person, action-focused MOBA SMITE is: “My, I sure wish we had a horrible Mario Kart rip-off shoved into it…”. Oh, it ISN’T? Hmm… Seems Hi-Rez thought so at least. “Apollo’s Racer Rumble” is the newest event in the “Adventures” game mode in SMITE. Bluntly put, a never seen mode (in SMITE) is added and sticks around for a month with rewards for those who buy the pass but you can play for free if you’re not bothered about them. Perplexingly, the event is named after the god… [Continue Reading]

The post SMITE Kart – Racy Rumbly appeared first on The Daily SPUF.

Source: Daily SPUF feed

Leave a comment

Ambulas Reborn – Grinding Giant Robot Emus

Ambulas Reborn – Grinding Giant Robot Emus

On Thursday 4th of May, Digital Extremes released Ambulash Reborn, a new Operation (i.e. mini event) for Warframe. Frohd Bek, one of those annoying Corpus guys who likes to make as much as possible, is funding and prototyping a new super beefed up MOA robot to replace the old Ambulas model manufactured on Venus. This new Ambulas is tied to an Animo system, which allows the giant mechanical emus with laser guns on their faces to adapt to their enemies. Frohd Bek promises plenty of Grofit – growth and profit – to anyone who backs his bad 80’s-advert-styled proposals. Well,… [Continue Reading]

The post Ambulas Reborn – Grinding Giant Robot Emus appeared first on The Daily SPUF.

Source: Daily SPUF feed

Leave a comment

The Cities of Skyrim

The Cities of Skyrim

In my eternal struggle to find games that grab me, I find myself playing Skyrim and wandering around in its frozen wastelands, large forests, mammoth-filled plains, more frozen wastelands and a few other nice territories scattered around the place. I’ve gone and talked about the hellhole that is Markarth, but I’ve never got around to really talking about the other major cities. So let’s do that! We start off with Whiterun and its small village Riverwood. This is your first point of safety in the game after escaping Helgen and the scary black dragon. It’s a nice place mostly, with… [Continue Reading]

The post The Cities of Skyrim appeared first on The Daily SPUF.

Source: Daily SPUF feed

Leave a comment

Farming for Credits

Farming for Credits

Even space ninjas need money. Okay, they’re not using their money to buy groceries and things like that. They’re most likely throwing it away buying and leveling up weapons they don’t really need in order to reach their next mastery rank, but still. They use money. They need it. Vast amounts of it. I mean, come on, a single forma costs like 20k credits to build. But where can a space ninja get all this money? Most normal missions only reward up to about 7k credits at a time, and unless you’re a Nekros with Desecrate and a Secura Lecta,… [Continue Reading]

The post Farming for Credits appeared first on The Daily SPUF.

Source: Daily SPUF feed

Leave a comment

7 Ways to Improve the Operator

7 Ways to Improve the Operator

I still hate those damn space kids. Right now, they’re a horrible waste of pixels and I hate them and their stupid, hypocritical observations. Yes, the Corpus are greedy, but we’re space ninja mercenaries killing them to get a stupid barrel for a shiny new gun, so get off your damn high horse. That being said, the Operators could all be improved. Here are some ways we can do that.   Level up Operators the same way you level up Warframes. Operators should start at unranked and get to level 30. By using your Operator, you should level him or… [Continue Reading]

The post 7 Ways to Improve the Operator appeared first on The Daily SPUF.

Source: Daily SPUF feed

Leave a comment

Dissecting a Sentry Gun

Dissecting a Sentry Gun

Before we start, I’ll like to say a few things. Firstly, I’m assuming this is TF2 at 2007: No hats, no unlocks. Reason why is that it makes my job easier, and I’ll explain why later in the article. Secondly, I am making a guess on a video game mechanic. Grab your mountain of salt from a Scout getting walled off by a Sentry Gun and read this post with it. The Sentry Gun. Love it, hate it, we all know what it does. It tracks down enemy team members and shoots them. However, does anyone ever thought of how… [Continue Reading]

The post Dissecting a Sentry Gun appeared first on The Daily SPUF.

Source: Daily SPUF feed

Leave a comment

On the Hell Hole that is the Sortie

On the Hell Hole that is the Sortie

Sorties are daily mini-quests that are super hard. They feature three super hard missions, with enemies ranging from level 50 to level 100. Each mission generally has an extra modifier, like enemies having stronger armour, fires exploding all around the mission, half health or shields, hugely decreased mobility or, if you’re lucky, weapon restrictions, such as Shotgun, Secondary, Sniper or Bow only. I’ve mentioned them before, and only done a handful of them because of their difficulty. Of course, being super hard, I generally avoided them. Despite my love for my Ignis and my Volt, they are simply not strong… [Continue Reading]

The post On the Hell Hole that is the Sortie appeared first on The Daily SPUF.

Source: Daily SPUF feed

Leave a comment

Playing With Other People

It turns out that most of my life, I’ve been a bit of a lone wolf. Yes, I’m a Medic main, but I don’t really play that much with other people, I’m more likely to play a game on my own and maybe invite people round later. It does depend on the game, but games with other people tend to have a lot of different obstacles to jump over, to the point where I just end up playing alone.

Getting the timing right is the big one. There’s people I genuinely enjoy playing with, but they’re never online, or one of us isn’t in the mood or something is going on and it stops or delays us from playing. Generally it’s real life that is to blame, especially as more and more of us are getting older and have full time jobs. I’m a very lucky person to be free for most weekends, but even then, I still have a schedule to keep and gaming with others needs to fit into it. Most of the time though, something pops up and needs to be dealt with before I can actually play. Then something pops up for other people. Then something else happens and so on and so forth. The same thing applies for events, especially when a lot of them are based in US times and not everyone can afford to get up at 1am and still be fit for work the next day.

At least I have siblings to play games with. Sometimes.

At least I have siblings to play games with. Sometimes.

Part of the timing issue is my fault though. I’m a person with very varied moods, and can swing from normal person to raving lunatic to depressed moron within a few minutes. I’d rather not upset friends. It’s better than playing with a grumpy puss like me.

By the time I’ve actually got someone to play with, the hurdles are less physical. The biggest one has always lag and the general connection between players. A lot of my friends live in the US or Canada, and it’s impossible to play a non-laggy game with them. even with closer friends though, connection issues are apparent, from my computer deciding to randomly disconnect from the internet, to power cuts and storms, to in-game connection problems and server issues. There’s always something.

But really, there’s another issue. The skill of the people I am playing with. Most of the time, the people I am playing with are a lot better than me. Especially in coop games. I find myself struggling to even keep up with other people.

Warframe is a prime example. Davjo has wanted me to play Warframe with him for ages, but he’s Mastery Rank 13, I’m Mastery Rank 1. By the time I’ve drawn my bow, he will have killed everyone in the area and moved on to the next room. My accuracy appears really high when playing with Davjo but that’s because I’ll only be able to kill 20% of the total number of enemies and most of those will be ones that Davjo missed. I admit that I play slowly, but come on, I’m playing as a Sniper, with enough energy for 4 abilities at most, and everyone else can kill things in one hit.

Everything's already dead. I only managed to kill one thing.

Everything’s already dead. I only managed to kill one thing. Also, apparently this is Venus.

Playing TF2 is no better, whenever I played with the SPUF EU team, I’d get torn apart by everyone due to my inability to play anything but Medic at the same skill level as everyone else. Heavens forbid we’d get autobalanced while pubbing and Sham would end up on the other team – just leaving the spawn room becomes a challenge.

It’s pretty upsetting really, specially when a trained monkey could probably do some of the things I’m doing in-game.

But on the flip side, the few times where I am the better player at whatever we’re doing, I end up leaving them behind. When playing with some people, they’re too busy messing around finding new ways to blow themselves up that I end up soloing missions and essentially playing on my own, when I played Borderlands 2 with someone who had completed the game before, I spent more time picking them up than shooting things, and it seems as though I’m the only person capable of flying aircraft in Saints Row games.

The best person for me to play with is aabicus, since we seem to float at around the same skill level, no matter what game we play. Even though he’s a pro-ish L4D2 player, I can still keep up and follow his lead. And we’re both equally skilled at Saints Row 3. Failing that, LilSkully is great to play with because again, we’re similarly skilled.

Really though, all this just means I need to get better at video games, or otherwise spend eternity trailing behind everyone else.

Or stop being such a grumpy puss.

Or stop being such a grumpy puss.

Leave a comment

M1014 – The Ubiquitous Shotgun

I’ve written two articles on several guns that make very frequent appearances in games I enjoy playing: The SCAR rifle and the Mac-10 SMG. This almost requires that I write third third article on the final member of the triumvirate: The M1014 shotgun. (We’re not counting the AK47, its popular enough that nobody’s surprised it appears in every game ever).

In most games, the M1014 fills the role of the balanced upper-tier shotgun; there’s nothing wrong with it in particular, but some other gun might trump it in certain stats. In the original Counter-Strike, the XM1014 was one of only two shotguns in the game, and the Leone 12G was simply the cheaper pump-action option for those who couldn’t yet afford the XM1014.

 It fired very fast and reloaded quickly, though it suffered from relatively low ammo reserves.

It fired very fast and reloaded quickly, though it suffered from relatively low ammo reserves.

Left 4 Dead was originally inspired by a Counter-Strike mod, so it’s little surprise that its weapon roles were mostly migrated over. The shotgun setup was identical, with the M1014 serving as the more powerful alternative to a pump shotgun, and with an amazing 128 rounds in reserve, it dominated the crowd-control gameplay and remains the greatest gun in that game. When migrated over to Left 4 Dead 2, the gun saw a slight ammo and damage reduction, meaning that it competes directly with the new SPAS Combat shotgun.

The gun also appears in both editions of the other zombie horde series on Steam. The Killing Floor combat shotgun was added on my birthday 2011, and most people agree that it’s not really worth buying. It’s not sufficiently different from the starter shotgun to warrant wasting dosh on; just save up till you can get the AA12. This philosophy carried over perfectly to the sequel, Killing Floor 2, where once again nobody uses it in favor of the kickass Boomstick. In general, the middle children of that game’s perk trees struggle to establish any meaningful identities.

This mod on the L4D2 Workshop can give you the golden KF shotgun, the classiest iteration of this gun ever.

This mod on the L4D2 Workshop can give you the golden KF shotgun, the classiest iteration of this gun ever.

Speaking of which, the M1014 in Payday 2 was one of the guns added in the Gage Shotgun Pack, and once again it was a decently reliable all-purpose shotgun nobody used because there were other guns that did things better, particularly the Locomotive secondary shotgun or the high-concealment Raven primary. The IZHMA shotgun in particular has almost the same stats but way more modifications, allowing more versatile builds. At least the M1014 got some cool skins.

Everytime I use it, I get annoyed because people die in two shots when other shotguns could have done it in one.

Everytime I use it, I get annoyed because certain cops die in two shots when other shotguns could have done it in one.

Speaking of skins, let’s come around full-circle to the latest CS game, Counter-Strike Global Offensive, where the XM1014 retains its track record of appearing in every iteration of the series. Retaining its decent stats, it nonetheless sees relatively little use due to shotguns not factoring in heavily to the metagame. Its price tag just doesn’t justify the purchase, and if you really want a shotgun go for the MAG-7 or Sawed-off, which will reliably obliterate an opponent in shotgun range.

I genuinely find it fascinating how several relatively-uncommon weapons like the SCAR, Mac-10, and M1014 appear consistently in games across developers, franchises, and generations of gaming. There are so many guns to choose from, what causes developers to keep picking the same ones? I suppose the rationale is different for each gun. For the M1014, I think it’s just how much it looks like the archetypal shotgun. Sleek chrome barrel, efficient and minimalist frame, and a distinguishable folding stock to give the gun identity. I also think the original Counter-Strike might be partially responsible, as every single game in this article takes some inspiration from it. But it’s weird, despite its ubiquity I almost always prefer some other shotgun. I think the problem is that it’s a versatile shotgun, but shotguns themselves are a specialized weapon class when you have assault rifles competing for your loadout slots. So if I’m going for a specialized gun like a shotgun, I want one that excels in a certain category, be it single-shot damage, pellet spread, or firing speed, and I’m going to pick whatever shotgun does that over the M1014 that can do a little of everything.

Leave a comment

Torbjörn – Overwatch’s Engineer

God help me, I’ve been playing and enjoying Torbjörn.

It’s not entirely my fault, the game loves raining Torbjörn loot box rewards on me. He’s the only character I have an emote, highlight intro, victory pose and epic-level skin (the Steampunk gold one). It just felt a shame to waste them, so I’ve taken to testing him out on defense when the team consistency calls for it, and I’m actually very impressed with how Blizzard fixed most of the flaws with TF2 Engineer. For one, the resource management minigame is gone; Torbjörn has only one building to place and it doesn’t require metal to upgrade. This lets Torbjörn play a much more active role on the battlefield because he doesn’t need to micromanage a baseful of buildings, instead he can lay down suppressing fire with his rivetgun and blitz the frontlines to collect scrap to turn into armor for his teammates. The scrap mechanic discourages turtling both in practice (everyone wants an extra +75 hp) and in visual design (by showing the player tantalizing glowing gibs just out of their reach).

Torbjörn is also more fun to play against than Engineer. Since his sentry normally only upgrades to 2, he can only become the ultimate area denial class for a short time and it costs his ult to do so. His lack of a dispenser means focus-firing is a more effective counter strategy than against Engineer, not to mention Overwatch comes with a number of heroes with powerful anti-turret options like Genji’s reflect, half of the DPS ultimates and the medley of shields that give allies a chance to gun the turret down. But beware of the insane range on that sentry; on certain maps it feels downright impossible to position yourself without the turret seeing you and opening fire.

When I first played Overwatch I didn’t understand why Blizzard broke their “no weapon switch” rule for Torbjörn and Mercy. Mercy lacks an E-attack and Torbjörn has his standard melee, why not work their secondaries into the pre-existing control scheme? It was only after talking to Dapper Apple who explained the weapon switch was a penalty, forcing the two to temporarily sacrifice their primary abilities for self-defense. Because Torbjörn is VERY proficient with that rivet gun. The primary fire is a decently-damaging projectile that feels like the Crusader’s Crossbow in arc, and the alt-fire is a respectable shotgun blast, meaning he ca support his team’s DPS in long, mid, or short range. Coupled with his armor-generating mechanic, he is insanely self-sufficient s a character and I understand why somebody reached level 80 in comp without spending a second on another character. In fact, he’s actually quite good on offense if the player actually knows what he’s doing. His sentry builds so quickly that he can constantly place it in new places to cover flanks while doing work as a support fighter with a combat-capable ultimate. It’s not a traditional play, but as the level 80 Torbjörn above me demonstrates, it can work.

Junkrat will always be my favorite defense character, but I think Torbjörn might be more useful and powerful as a choice. The best I’ve learned by playing him is how to kill others when I play against him on offense.

Leave a comment

A Rant About Dawnguard

I don’t suppose many of you remember the Dawnguard Snipin’ series I did a while back, which concluded back in January, but it was pretty clear that 1. I had played through Skyrim’s vampire-based DLC before and 2. that I clearly went with the Dawnguard and didn’t consider the vampire side at all. I’ve actually played both sides, and I’m considering doing a brand new Skyrim playthrough at some point, including Dawnguard and Dragonborn, but it recently occurred to me just how stupid the Dawnguard storyline is. I did go on about it in Dawnguard Snipin’, but most of those complains were Sniper getting angry.

Before I start ranting, there are some AMAZING things in Dawnguard. Both the Forgotten Valve and the Soul Cairn are really awesome places, and everything is inserted really nicely into the already-existing world, to the point that the only thing you’d obviously miss is Castle Volkihar. New weapons, new spells, new perks for werewolves, a new transformation and buffs to vampires are all nice too. The sad thing about Dawnguard is that the plot is the worst thing about it.

The single biggest problem with the entirety of the quest line in Dawnguard is Serana.

This stupid bitch.

This stupid bitch. Of course it was painful, I was nearly eaten by a portal to hell.

Serana is a daughter of Cold Harbor, meaning she got her vampirism from Molag Bal himself. Her voice lines suggest she did put herself up for this, but why would anyone want to willingly be part of a cult of the Prince of Domination and the King of Rape? You want power and all that, why not just worship Talos?

I’m getting sidetracked. Serana was buried in a giant sealed off thing deep in some stupid cave, with an Elder Scroll strapped to her. An Elder Scroll. A FUCKING ELDER SCROLL. She opens her eyes and you obviously see that she’s a vampire, she’s shown the same traits as everyone else you killed on the way here and she’s wearing their damn armour. Of course, you, being a lowly vampire hunter, should probably kill this vampire and take that powerful artifact away from her. Even if it’s your first time playing and you’ve never seen an Elder Scroll before, the thing on her back does look super important and it really shouldn’t be in the hands of your enemy.

But somehow, for some stupid reason, you can’t actually do that. You HAVE to take her to a castle filled with more vampires and take her AND the powerful artifact back to her almost certainly insane father.

This one event affects the entirety of the plot, which involves using arrows dipped in Serana’s blood to block out the sun with Auriel’s Bow. Had you killed Serana and nabbed the scroll, none of Dawnguard would have happened.

Sniper rolled his eyes so hard throughout the whole damn thing.

Sniper rolled his eyes so hard throughout the whole damn thing.

What makes everything worse is how dumb some of the characters are. If you decide to take Serana to Fort Dawnguard (another logical option), Isran will send you to Harkon anyway. WHY? THERE IS NO REASON TO TAKE SERANA DIRECTLY TO HARKON.

On top of this, the story is mostly the same no matter what side you take, the main difference is that the enemies are switched around. There is no option to actually side with Harkon at all, no way to fulfill the prophecy or anything. On the side of the Dawnguard, I can kinda see an idea of “we need to get the artifact before they do!”, akin to Indiana Jones or something, but the side of the Volikhar vampires is basically you betraying Harkon no matter what you do. Really, you’re not siding with vampires or vampire hunters, you’re siding with Serana. Harkon and Isran only seem to check up on you occasionally, but the Dawnguard lot do seem to be a bit nicer. They all know Isran is a dick, but he’s also got good ideas and is pretty damn good at killing vampires. Harkon is a douchebag who thinks he’s better than everyone else, and his court isn’t much better – you can’t even parade in your Vampire Lord form without them talking down to you.

Alright, Serana does say and react to a lot more around her than most followers, but she also complains a lot. She uses idle markers and does her own thing when bored, but really that package can be given to any follower, and I find it sad that a lot of new stuff given to Serana wasn’t given to other major followers in the game.

The aftereffects of the story don’t help either. No matter what side you pick, Serana will still give you her blood to make the horrible nasty sun-breaking arrows (although their effect is only temporary) and a hugely powerful bow made by an almost-aedra is now in the hands of some random guy who will probably lose it to a Draugr using the Disarm shout. The vampire town attacks die down if you’re on the side of the Dawnguard, as will the Dawnguard attacks on you, but if you’re on the vampire side, destroying the Dawnguard is a fucking side-quest after doing a ton of chores for the vampires you supposedly rule over. The rewards are pretty different, but again are still mostly accessible no matter what side you pick, although it is pretty hard getting the new restoration spells off Florentius and the crossbow stuff off whatshername if you join the vampires because they instantly aggro on you.

All this death and destruction could have been avoided so easily…

Seriously, so many things are fixed by killing Serana:

  • If you kill Serana and take the Elder Scroll, Harkon can’t figure out that there’s more to his prophecy.
  • Harkon MUST use the Blood, Sun and Dragon Elder Scrolls, otherwise this won’t work, all three of which can easily be hidden away.
  • Even if Harkon finds her Elder Scroll but you kill Serana, he will never, ever be able to complete his prophecy if Serana is dead, because he lacks the third Elder Scroll with Valerica has.
  • Harkon needs three Elder Scrolls to reveal the location of the Forgotten Vale, so if you never 1. complete the main quest or 2. he never finds you or 3. you get rid of the scroll somehow, he is missing one of the scrolls he needs.
  • Even if Harkon manages to get your Elder Scroll AND Serana’s scroll, he can’t ever get the third scroll, because Valerica is in the Soul Cairn, something he has zero access to because Serana is dead, and the portal requires hers or Valerica’s blood to activate.
  • Even if Harkon somehow managed to get to the Soul Cairn, he needs a Dragonborn to be able to defeat Durnehviir. And your character in the Elder Scrolls series is the Last Dragonborn.
  • Even if he manages that, he still needs a Daughter of Cold Harbor. Valerica would rather die than let Harkon take her blood, and Serana is already dead. Daughters of Cold Harbor are incredibly rare and the prophecy requires their death.

There’s probably more to this but it’s all just so ludicrous.

Oh well, at least the crossbows are fucking awesome.

Leave a comment

Rambling on about Minecraft – My way of playing

I’m genuinely surprised that I haven’t written more Minecraft articles in the past. I used to be an avid Minecraft player, especially back when I started writing for the Daily SPUF, but it’s never really come up. I suppose it’s because everyone has pretty much covered Minecraft elsewhere, plus I wasn’t really doing anything new or innovative like building complex redstone mechanisms or recreating world icons or things like that. I just did what most people were doing, which was survive. That being said, I HAVE recreated CTF_Turbine in Minecraft, on an old creative mode server that no longer exists, but still, most of what I’ve done is small scale.

What I tend to forget though is that I’ve been playing Minecraft since it was in Alpha. I paid €5 for it, all those years ago. My brother Terroxy has been playing Minecraft since InfDev, when Minecraft first became an infinitely generated world, rather than a world of a set size. I’ve played through all sorts of stuff, from the miracle that was beds, through the existence of the Farlands, to the gigantic 1.8 beta update, through the disappearance and reappearance of beaches, via the addition of villages and Nethers and Ends and all sorts. Now I’m playing Minecraft Release 1.9.3 or something like that and it’s weird how much the game has changed, yet still hasn’t.

The original game, around Alpha and Beta times, was pretty sparse. Huge, infinite worlds with not a huge amount of stuff in them, but more on the fly crazy terrain generation. There were no endings, no End, no hunger bar, no experience, nothing like that. For most of Alpha and part of Beta, there were no beds either, meaning no way to change your spawn point (apart from mods). That meant you kinda settled where you spawned. It was a peaceful life.

Then again, Beta and Alpha Minecraft didn't have biomes like this...

Then again, Beta and Alpha Minecraft didn’t have biomes like this…

These days, you need to explore to get the most out of Minecraft. There are some lovely new areas, for example the Mesa and Mushroom biomes, but they’re all very rare, you’ll most often find plains, savannas, forests, oceans, mountains, then more plains, savannas, forests, oceans and mountains. If you want anything more than diamond armour, you need to start brewing potions and getting things for enchanting. The End promises an end-game experience, but it’s tiresome to get there, especially when there’s actually fuck all in the End.

Do you know how to get to the End? It’s a long trip. You’ve got to kill a ton of Endermen, which have a not great chance of dropping an Ender Pearl. Then you’ve got to go to the Nether by building a portal made of obsidian (which requires a diamond pick axe and a long time hitting stuff). Then once you’re in the Nether, you need to find Blazes, in a world where everything sets you on fire and there’s no water to extinguish yourself. You’ll need a ton of Blazes, as you need Blaze Rods to break down into Blaze Powder to make Eyes of Ender. Then you need to get back to the main world and collect all the stuff you need for the fight against the Ender Dragon (including Ender Pearls), then spam Eyes of Ender into the air and follow where they go. Eventually, if you’re lucky, you’ll find a Dungeon (which is always about 500-1000 blocks away from your original spawn point), and you need to have twelve Eyes of Ender left to be able to activate the End Portal. Once that’s open, you can jump in and fight the Ender Dragon, which can only be done once you’ve destroyed all the crystals on top of tall towers that heal it. Finally, the Ender Dragon explodes and you get experience and the rest of the End is unlocked.

Oh, and if you die in the End, unless you’ve set up an easy way to get to the Dungeon, you’ve got to walk back and do it all again. If you fell off the edge, your stuff is gone forever.

That’s great and all, but the End isn’t actually worth exploring. The End worldspace is boring and horrible, with little in it and a fuckton of Endermen, and you have to travel thousands and thousands of blocks before actually finding anything interesting.

If you're VERY lucky, you MIGHT find one of these after ages of searching...

If you’re VERY lucky, you MIGHT find one of these after ages of searching…

Other stuff you really struggle to get without exploring include emeralds, villages, melons, cocoa, cookies, dungeons, potions, breweries, mooshrooms, hardened clay, slimes, slime balls, anything made with slime balls and red sand.

Because of the exploration required these days, the way I play has changed dramatically. I used to be the sort that would travel a little bit, but would settle down and live in a small cobblestone house while I built myself a mansion and made a farm. These days, I’ll travel thousands upon thousands of blocks, collecting as much as I can along the way. Stacks of wood, saplings, seeds and vegetables for planting, a stack of cobblestone, and my trusty bed, among other things. My inventory is normally nearly full as I travel. Most multiplayer servers I play on, I’ll find myself bumping into messages like “you have reached the end of the world!” because I’ve traveled 20,000 blocks away from spawn.

I spend ages looking for the perfect place to settle down. Generally it’s an island in the middle of nowhere, but sometimes, if I’m lucky, I’ll find a mushroom island.

But the traveling part is generally the most fun bit. I’ve managed to streamline it, to make traveling as safe as possible. I sleep at sunset whenever I can, or spend the night inside a tree. My first day is spent making a pickaxe and a wooden sword, before killing as many animals as I can in order to have enough food to start the journey, with the first night spent in a sealed-in cave mining cobblestone, using a furnace and wood as a light source. Coal is easy to find but if you somehow fail to find any, charcoal always helps. After your first day, you should have cobblestone, a set of stone tools, a handful of torches, a stack of wood logs, a furnace and a crafting bench. Bonus points if you manage to make a bed as well, as using beds (in single player or empty servers) means you can skip night time with ease.

Once you’ve upgraded your gear to stone or iron if you find it, you’re pretty much set. Pick a direction and walk, making sure you have enough wood for a boat. Boats don’t break any more in 1.9, so you don’t need to worry about crashing into things and ending up stuck in the middle of an ocean.

That’s basically it. You just survive and walk, walk and run and survive. Weirdly, it’s quite relaxing doing all of this, like surviving in a one-man apocalypse or something.

If you’re the sort of person who doesn’t travel far, try it. Minecraft can be a really nice, survival experience.

Makes it even more rewarding when you settle down...

Makes it even more rewarding when you settle down…

Leave a comment

On Learning How to be a Sniper of Sorts

I’ve never really been someone who picks the Sniper class in any sort of game. My aim isn’t absolutely horrible because I have been practicing and have finally got my mouse working at speeds I like. But I’m still not really Sniper material. The fast-paced, middle of battle headshottery isn’t part of my skill set yet.

I should clarify though. I am not ready to play as a Team Fortress 2 Sniper. TF2’s Sniper is a weirdly weak class when it comes to sniping classes in general, with the inability to score headshots unless scoped in and after a brief delay, but he’s still very powerful within TF2’s world due to his long-range gun play in a short-to-mid-range game, the fact that his weaknesses can somewhat easily be removed with Jarate, the Razorback, the Darwin’s Danger Shield and the Bushwacka and the problem of his sight lines have steadily increased over the years. But playing Sniper effectively in TF2 is incredibly hard because everything is incredibly fast paced and you need to constantly readjust to your settings and move around. It’s all twitch and flick aim, fast-paced insanity that is nothing like what a real sniper would do.

You see, the more realistic sniping stuff is more my cup of tea. If I have the time to line up every shot, I will get a kill (or at least hit my target) most of the time. Even accounting for things like arcing and wind and stuff. With practice of course. The one time I fired a bow, I was pretty accurate. There are a few games where you can actually sit down and plan your kills, and while they look interesting and I’d probably be quite good at them, I’ve never owned such a game and even then, I probably wouldn’t play it.

So, in games where there are no healers, or they are not accessible for a very long time (looking at you, Warframe!) I need to find something else to carry me along, but also something strong enough that I can actually kinda do things on my own as well. Thing is, a lot of the games I play don’t really have all-rounder classes like the Soldier, so I end up doing something weird.

Introducing the Stealth Archer.

Note: This style of gameplay is not at all good in TF2 unless you're playing with incredibly stupid bots.

Note: This style of gameplay is not at all good in TF2 unless you’re playing with incredibly stupid bots.

The Stealth Archer is probably one of the easiest and strongest ways to play, of all things, Skyrim. Both Sneak and Archery are really easy to level up at the start of the game, and using Sneak, you can get a lot of kills on unsuspecting enemies. The hit and miss AI in Skyrim (“Got an arrow stuck in my head, but it must have been my imagination!”) coupled with the double/triple damage on sneak attacks means that you can dispatch enemies one at a time at your own pace. There is of course a downside, as stronger enemies are smarter and WILL find where you are, either by listening for you or by you missing your shots, so this means that you have to make your sneak attacks count – using a bow in close-range combat is a really bad idea.

It’s a nice style, really. There is a form of punishment if you mess up, but it allows me to take my time and line up those shots. I found that the more I played Skyrim, the faster I could aim my bow and the more quickly I could clear areas of enemies. This style of gameplay also helped me greatly in Warframe, where the idiot that I am picked up the shitty starter bow and not the shitty starter shotgun, but at least my flimsy self could carry me through missions by sneaking around and being awesome – especially as one of the very first missions is a solo-only sneaking spy mission.

The Sneak Archer isn’t a play style suited for most people. It’s a slow, tactical approach to playing games, and it is very heavily reliant on timing your shots. Oh, and shit AI. If a real person suddenly saw their friend drop dead from an arrow in their chest, they’d immediately sound an alarm.

Leave a comment

What’s so damn special about Overwatch’s matchmaking?

I see this all the time. “TF2’s matchmaking sucks! I’m going to play Overwatch because it has better matchmaking!” Anyone who says this isn’t thinking straight. There are legitimate reasons why you might want to play Overwatch, or even play it over Team Fortress 2, but if you’re going because TF2’s casual and competitive matchmaking sucks, then you’re not thinking things through.

Here’s a conversation I had with my sister, who is an avid Overwatch fan.

“I hate this map.”

“Why?”

“Too many choke points.”

“Can’t you choose what map you want to play?”

“Uh, no.”

In Overwatch, you can’t choose what map you want. You do get to stick around for more than one match, but you can’t choose what map you want. Nor can you choose what game mode you want. When TF2 players complained they couldn’t choose maps, the TF team caved and added just that. The fact that you can’t choose your map or game mode now, after the game’s official release, blows my mind, and not in a good way.

What else is different about Overwatch’s matchmaking? Not much. The good thing about Overwatch is that you’ll be put into a new game with the people you just played with, while in TF2 you need to queue up again after winning a game. That is rendered moot if you don’t want to play the next map though and have to leave the queue and start again. Overwatch’s matchmaking is faster, but that is probably due to a higher player base. Steamrolls, according to my sister, still happen on a semi-regular basis, at varying speeds, so whether the hidden MMR is working as intended, who knows. Overwatch though had had a lot longer to get its MMR going using a far larger player base so its results will be better.

The whole leveling up thing though is identical. Both levels are for show only, and although in Overwatch you get loot boxes, in TF2 you get random weapon drops and occasionally hats – things you can trade if you don’t like them. Most of the loot you get in Overwatch are images or voice lines anyway. I still find it odd that voice lines are considered loot.

Competitive matchmaking is hit and miss as well. In TF2, everyone starts at the bottom, but it seems very hard to gain momentum. In Overwatch, it seems rather easy to get to your rank then quickly start slipping after only a few losses. And of course in the lower ranks in both games, you still get idiots and trolling and feeling.

Ah, the time-old complaint of people sucking and trolling.

If you start complaining about people “dicking around and not wanting to win”, you know what I hear from my sister all the time? “People are constantly dicking around and not wanting to win.” Yeah, of course they are, people are dicks and they want to have fun and don’t care about winning. Worse, this is a permanent 6v6 environment, so the people dicking around fuck up your team much more easily. You can’t win either way.

No matter what happens, you’re going to be paired with idiots who want to lose the game and have fun. They exist in both games, and if you’re going to one to escape the other, you’re just going to be disappointed.

As for me, I’m still flabbergasted that you can’t pick what map you want to play in Overwatch by default.

Just Syringing Things

Leave a comment

My Favorite Payday 2 Glitches

Payday 2 is built on an outdated engine and has received years upon years of updates, new content, and balance tweaks. Completely divergent mechanics like flamethrowers, explosives, grenades, vehicles, and weapon skins have found their way into the original relatively-simple gameplay, not to mention an ambitious skill system with infinite combinations of dozens of abilities. This is a prime environment for some completely insane glitches!

hy

 

5. When the Arkansas Toothpick granted 230 Concealment. I think Overkill meant to buff it from 27 to 30, but forgot to finish deleting the old value. Maximum armor, RPG, and Flamethrower? No problem, guards will never see you. Fire all the crits from Low Blow. It was an insanely kooky build and I stayed up till 5am that night getting my entertainment’s worth, because they buffed it extremely quickly. Alas.

4. Press Space to Respawn. After Overkill completely redid the skill system, there’ve been more bugs than usual, not all of which have been fixed yet. Thankfully, they did patch the one that allowed anybody to leave custody by simply pressing spacebar. Stockholm Syndrome is supposed to let you do that, but only if you’ve purchased the skill and have hostages. Oops!

3. Infinite skill points! Ever wanted to see what would happen if you bought all the skills? Well, thanks to Overkill making a typo with the skill trees in the open beta for the revamped RPG system, you could! The resulting heister was completely incomprehensible, I tried a few heists and pretty much got sensory overload due to all the random skills conflicting and things automatically triggering. Almost everything had an extra command to interact with it. I don’t know how the script kiddie cheaters deal with that on a regular basis.

 

100% dodge. This isn’t one specific glitch, it’s popped up from time to time, but the time I got to participate was right at the beginning, the 2014 crimefest where Dodge was first turned into a real build option. The Duck and Cover skill granted 50% instead of 5%, meaning that cops had a 100% chance of missing you with full dodge specs.

Super Sonic minigun – Absolutely my favorite on this whole list, no questions asked. The Need4Speed HMG was the best build this game has ever seen and I highly doubt any glitch will catch my fancy as much as it.

What happened was, the Minigun originally had its own classification, with speed penalties and an inability to get new ammo except through ammo bags. When Overkill buffed the minigun by turning it into an LMG, they removed both of these downsides but forgot a mod that buffed the minigun’s movespeed. Add all the speed-boosting skills, and you got the Payday equivalent of that TF2 bug that let you use the Minigun with the Buffalo Steak Sandvich.

I highly doubt this list is over. Considering there’s at least another year of support for Payday 2 with endless possibilities for Starbreeze to extend that license, I’m sure we can look forward to old and new parts of the game breaking in completely unfathomable ways.

Leave a comment

Are constant updates for the best in Minecraft?

Minecraft as a has been around for quite a long time, with me alone having been playing it since December 2010, the same time when I joined SPUF. It’s a slow burner of a game, both in the way you play and how the game gets semi-frequent updates. Each update might not try to be bigger than the last, but they always try to add more stuff. You don’t often see things getting nerfed though, it’s mostly bug fixes and new features.

Minecraft InfDev, when the world really was infinite.

Minecraft InfDev, when the world really was infinite. But also kinda lacking in different trees.

The updates do add more to an otherwise very sparse and often repetitive-looking world. The very early InDev worlds didn’t really have biomes, it was grassy plains, hills, caves and trees, in a world with borders. There were different world types, like the Floating Islands world type and Winter Mode (which just covered everything in snow) but biomes came later on. The early biomes as well weren’t that complicated, you’d have beaches and proper mountains deserts and things like that. Biomes have been getting more and more interesting over time.

The problem with adding new biomes is based on how Minecraft creates its worlds. When new biomes are released in a patch, to be able to see them quickly, you have to either create a new world or travel incredibly far in worlds you already have, forcing the game to create the new terrain in un-generated areas you haven’t explored yet. The former is not so fun if you have long-running worlds you play in on a regular basis, and the latter has the chance to create very strange terrain, with awkward straight lines separating previous patch biomes from newly generated new patch biomes. The same applies to newly added structures. In Release 1.10, villages are going to be more varied, using wood matching their biomes, but that means creating a new world to see these villages. It’s awkward no matter how you look at it.

An example of how new worlds can generate weirdly between patches, when new biomes are involved.

An example of how new worlds can generate weirdly between patches, when new biomes are involved.

Mobs aren’t much better. Whether you’re playing on Alpha 1.7, Beta 1.7 or Release 1.7, most of the time you’ll be seeing pigs, cows, sheep and chickens during the day and creepers, skeletons, spiders and zombies at night. Occasionally you’ll see an Enderman, which were added at the end of Beta. All other mobs are exclusive to particular areas or events, which is fine for the annoying-as-fuck Cave Spiders, but a pain if you need Slime Balls from Slimes, which only appear in one in every 9 chunks under ground and in swamps depending on the cycle of the moon. The Nether does have a lot more new mobs, apart from the original Zombie Pigmen and terrifying Ghasts, but almost all of these are restricted to Nether Dungeons. Wither Skeletons (tall, black skeletons with swords) and Blazes only spawn in Nether Dungeons and Magma Cubes are stupidly rare in general.

New blocks and items are the worst offenders. When emeralds were added, they were added in item form from villagers, or block form in Extreme Hills biomes. This meant that you needed to generate a new world if you wanted villagers. Extreme Hills biomes aren’t that uncommon, but you’d have to go through the whole process of traveling to generate new terrain, and even then, emeralds are so damn rare that you might as well start a new game and find a village.

All that being said, at least Minecraft HAS backwards compatibility. Apart from a few hiccups (like the Farlands disappearing forever when you upgrade from 1.7 Beta to 1.8 Beta and the aforementioned strange biomes), you can still play in most old worlds. The only exceptions are a few cases where worlds need to be updated, but even then, Minecraft mostly does that anyway. Minecraft’s updates almost always bring something new and interesting.

Savannas spice up the otherwise small number of 'warm' biomes.

Savannas spice up the otherwise small number of ‘warm’ biomes.

And even if you don’t want to update, the current version of the Minecraft launcher enables you to play most old versions of Minecraft, right back to the original game featuring nothing but a flat world, grass and cobblestone. You can also get access to ‘Snapshots’, allowing you to play parts of the next upcoming update. Everyone has access to these, in order to find bugs. On top of all that, later Minecraft patches have the ability to create your own world, pretty much how you want it.

There is more stuff I’d like to talk about when it comes to updates, but they’re more personal things. Probably better suited for another article.

Mesa biomes are great as well. Not as good as the super rare Mushroom Biomes, but still cool.

Mesa biomes are great as well. Not as good as the super rare Mushroom Biomes, but still cool.