Single-City Games


I fell victim to the office plague this past week and ended up spending a beautiful weekend indoors; So, this post as well as half of my Netflix queue was the result. I kind of wanted to do a series of posts on both world building as well a case study of several of the games cited in this entry as well as several others: Return to Krondor, Baldur’s Gate II and a couple of others are also single city games widely regarded as pretty decent. But I don’t think I have the time or interest to play through some of those games again, since it has been so long. Anyway, I think that city settings have been a fairly popular tabletop RPG setting; Either as a part of a larger campaign or some sort of one off story. But how well do they translate into video game narratives and what is needed in order to craft a good city?

Video games RPGs, unlike their pen and paper brethren obviously do not have the luxury of an imaginative game master to make up new and interesting things throughout the course of the campaign. The game engine must fulfill that roll; Often with many limitations. One of which is the challenge of creating diversity within a smaller environment. Typically, most large game cities only have about 4 or 5 “zones”, perhaps up to 10 if you include surrounding areas and stuff like that. Fewer areas should in theory mean that more effort needs to be placed into making each area feel unique.

I think what most games do is create a microcosm of a normal sized game world, offering tastes of the same kind of experiences, but laid out in a compact manner. So instead of exploring a small town to break a tense moment, perhaps you settle into a quiet inn. Instead of a lush forest, a large city park or garden might do. The city sewers can and well, frequently do in just about every game, serve as a dungeon crawl or a means of connecting various zones. Above all else: A small map isn’t an excuse for grossly reusing layouts and artwork, that’s just rushing the game or lazy art direction. If reuse shows in a standard RPG, it REALLY shows in a game with effectively only one major city. I really like it when different areas utilize a different lighting scheme, different color pallet, different architecture to create a different atmosphere from one area to another.

Even greater attention to detail needs to be put into creating the game environment. For example, where is the city located? Is it located in a moist area? Then perhaps lots of mold and damp wood rot may make sense within poorer sectors. But for a city located within an extremely sandy arid  environment, probably not. Also, for what it’s worth: Windy confusing paths look great on paper but often end up being a huge pain in the ass. If I have to repeatedly visit a zone, please don’t make it a pain in the ass to navigate. Along similar lines, ginormous cities need some kind of travel system (as in GTA sized cities or cities with MANY loading zones).

The player doesn’t have to be a city native, but s/he should feel strongly tied to it and greatly involved in city life. One means of achieving that is to actually have a city life. As in, make the city as believable as possible within the world’s boundaries. Obviously, a magical flying city from another dimension might operate on a few different rules but nonetheless, a players will connect better with a city that makes sense. Alien environments are very distancing (which in itself can be apart of the game). Most cities, real or fake have the following elements:

  • Basic needs: Fake cities without sufficient housing feel even more fake. Everyone needs a place to live and that place often tells you a lot about both the city and that NPC (again, details are good!) Generally speaking, poorer areas tend to be more densely populated.
  • Government and social strata: Who rules the city and what social class systems are in place? A king, a warlord, a council and an archbishop are all possible leaders, each having different motivation and a different nemesis. Political atmosphere!
  • Factions: Pretty similar to the item above. What groups are present within the city and how does that affect the player and story as a whole? I guess it’s kind of a trope at this point within certain types of games but, a popular game mechanic seems to be, to force the player to choose one faction over another. Who you side with offers a very specific point of view and will often offer different quest options, even to the point of significantly changing the game.
  • Law: Is there a criminal system? If you commit a crime in open daylight, will the guards react and how? I mean, they better do something if you run up and punch someone…What level of violence is tolerated within the city? Within each zone? Is magic tolerated?

RPG Cities need lots of NPCs. Lots and lots of NPCs. Not only that, but NPCs that interact with each other and react to player actions. NPCs need dynamic daily and nightly routines other than standing in one spot all day or pacing between two buildings. Characters should interact with each other. As much as I loved the Dragon Age series, I don’t feel that Kirkwall was a very good example of a lively city. There are a couple of NPCs wandering around aimlessly who never seem to speak at all. But for the most part, most of the NPCs within Kirkwall are planted in a single spot. That’s not something that I would expect from a new release.

I like the dynamic crowd handling in the Assassin’s Creed series. If there is a large group of people, I kind of expect at least some of them to react for a short period of time if a person next to them gets stabbed in the face. Bonus points if there is a chain panic reaction. The ability to bump into people and to have that animation play through appropriately is grossly underrepresented (versus having NPCs slide like cardboard boxes). It made the Assassin’s Creed locations feel like bustling cities even though every single one of those NPCs was an AI clone with a limited set of canned responses. The NPC types were also placed in their appropriate zones; Poor zones would have impoverished looking folks and so forth.

This was the part where I kind of wanted to compare similar areas from various different games of varying different ages. But for the time being, The Witcher 2 and Dragon Age: II will have to do. I know that it isn’t all valid of a comparison given that TW2 isn’t a “one city game”, but it’s close enough. Also to be honest, I was too lazy to load more games to take more screenshots. Anyway, I don’t know exactly how to describe it, but for a city that you spend most of the game in, Kirkwall looks and feels amazingly sterile. Consider the following somewhat random set of screenshots from Dragon Age: II.

2011-03-08_00005 2011-06-28_00002 2011-06-28_00005

And then even more random screenshots from The Witcher II. Sorry, these were the only “decent and on-topic” screenshots within my Steam directory.

2011-06-03_00005 2011-06-04_00014

Look at the difference in environment design, particularly the texturing and object density. Why is low town so plain? I want to be able to taste the stink and sick dripping off of every slimy piece of stone and every rotting piece of wood. Dragon Age II is very nice looking, but it feels plain, if not somewhat barren. Actually, I think what bugs me the most is that most of the areas feel awkwardly large with awkwardly wide avenues and awkwardly large areas of almost nothing. I feel as if more NPCs with actual crowd mechanics would have filled some of the empty spots. I’m not sure if for example, Assassin’s Creed is all that “varied” in terms of number of textures used in certain areas, object density, etc, but the crowd mechanics really make a difference.

Happy 8th Birthday Linode

Sweet! I had missed this bit of news somehow.

Celebrating our success includes you, our customer.  In honor of our birthday we are increasing disk space on all plans by +25%.  This is available now to both new and existing Linodes.

I’ve been hosted on handful of services and so far, Linode is the only one that I have been almost 100% satisfied with in terms of both product delivered and support received. Though to be fair, I think my needs had outgrown a shared hosting environment when I had switched over. But still, no retarded billing issues, no outages other than one or two issues with the datacenter isn’t too shabby. Keep up the excellent work! Also, I have more disk space on this account than I know what to do with at the moment. Suggestions?

Impression: World of Tanks

Not really a review, but just a blurb on something that I have been playing on-and off lately. World of Tanks has been brought up in casual conversation every so often over the past couple of months or so, but I have always dismissed or forgotten about it. I finally had a chance to take a closer look at it while I was on vacation last month. So for those who don’t already know what it is, World of Tanks is a fun free-to-play (freemium) PvP MMO about well, tanks.

You start with a small selection of WWII tanks (3 total: US, USSR and German). Choose one and fight in a team of 15 against another team of 15 tanks. If you die, you can exit the battle and start another match with another tank while the other match finishes. Each match yields a certain amount of experience and credits depending on how well you do. Experience points can be used to unlock different tank upgrades in which you use credits to buy. Each upgrade is specific to that particular tank. It’s a bit grindy to say the least. The catch, at least from what I can tell is that the later upgrades take a fuckton of time to grind out, less-so if you purchase some of the premium content with real-life cash. But, it’s something that I can easily pick up and set down with very little investment.

The UI and controls are fairly straightforward. There’s not that much of a learning curve; I mean for the most part, you move around, shoot things and/or die. Dying seems to be something that you end up doing a lot early in the game. Graphically, it is fairly nice looking. I mean, it’s not Crysis, but I was impressed with how polished and nice looking it was. For some reason, I was under the impression that WoT was some schlocky looking freebie game. I’m not sure if it’s really my thing, but it’s free and something that I can play with friends.

Oh, the starter tanks suck. The game is more fun once you get a tank that can actually aim and move more efficiently than a potato.

On Books and Such

So I have been in the mood lately to participate in activities other than gaming and sitting in front of the computer; Thus the lower than average WoW and gaming activity (other than my short Witcher binge). I don’t know if it’s because of the lack of AAA titles, the return of longer days, or just being a grown-up :P. Probably a combination of all three. I haven’t actually raided in several months. I suspect that I will get the ‘itch’ sooner or later but for the time being, I’m enjoying doing other things on certain evenings.

Anyway, Game of Thrones is an exceptional television program and you should all watch it if you don’t already. TV series and books based off of fantasy novels usually trigger my cheese-radar, but I really am quite pleased with the way this series has turned out. It follows the book closely and the casting, production value, etc are so far above anything else from that genre. The downside though is that, every single other fantasy television series looks like absolute junk in comparison. There’s only one episode left, what the hell am I going to fix on next?

It’s fantasy for people who are not normally into fantasy in a similar-ish way to how Battlestar Galactica is science-fiction for people who are not normally into science-fiction. The overall story focuses on social and political intrigue rather than the fantasy elements (dragons and magic). It’s not quite hard fantasy, but it’s pretty  fantastic. The book and show compliment each other rather well; if you haven’t seen/read one, I highly recommend doing so. It’s an excellent novel. I’ve actually only read the first book in the Song of Ice and Fire series. I think I will start on A Clash of Kings since I just finished the series that I have been reading.

Speaking of which, I have greatly enjoyed both the Farseer and the Tawny Man trilogies by Robin Hobb. I recommend her books if you enjoy epic fantasy and that sort of thing. Oh and, eReaders are pretty great. They solve every single problem that I have had with traditional printed media.

Post Response: The “Japanese Game Decline”

This post was interesting and spurred some interesting conversation on Kotaku, Destructoid, etc:

Because we merged with Eidos and had games like Tomb Raider, Deus [Ex], and Hitman, as a company we were able to keep face. But the decline in Japanese titles was almost humiliating. This has been a week where I worried daily about how we can fix this.

Ironically, Japanese titles were what attracted me to video gaming back in the late 80’s and early 90’s (look, I just dated myself, hah). We had a Nintendo before we had a personal computer. Much fun was had playing Mario, Final Fantasy, Mega Man, etc. Good times.

His post seems like a fair concern, though perhaps a bit of an exaggeration. We can probably though, all safely say that Square Enix’s slice of the market is in decline based on the quality of their latest releases but the entire gaming industry? Eh maybe so maybe not. I have a sneaky feeling that the Japanese titles that are decent aren’t being localized over here because they are either deemed too niche or just didn’t sell well enough in Japan to justify the expense. Square Enix’s problems more-or-less seems to be a problem with the way Square Enix handles things.

Then again, for every clever JRPg and clever Japanese puzzle/attorney game, there are at least a dozen crap-ass filler titles. I really wish that certain Japanese game developers would stop catering to fanboys and weeaboos. Please cut it with the games pandering to Western audiences, but made by developers who do not understand what Western audiences want and what the current trends are. Also, especially stop the moe shit; It’s creepy and borderline pedophilia.I really love games that retain the Japanese aesthetics and culture but aren’t afraid to push gameplay boundaries. Worry about the writing, gameplay and art direction, not if a game is going to be too “Japanese-y”. Besides, I am of an opinion that a legitimately good game story surpasses cultural boundaries.

I just don’t feel that the Japanese gaming industry as a whole have met the maturing tastes of gamers as a whole. The average age of the American video gamer is 37 years old, having played for 12 years according to fairly recent statistics (side thought: what does that study consider gaming? If stuff like FarmVille is included, that stat is bullshit). That statistic is actually up from an average age of 33 in 2006 (also from an ESA study). Teenagers with super powers saving the world have a very limited appeal to that demographic. If anyone has a similar study for the Japanese gaming market, please link it. Very interested in reading that.

Though to be fair, a similar argument can be made of the Call of Duty series or any number of popular shooters. I love them all to death, but even I am getting a little bit tired of nitty-gritty, gray area morality shooters done in a brown color pallet. To be even more honest, I am thinking that the BioWare style choice RPG system is starting to wear a little thin (I love love love your games but they are kind of all the same). Gaming fads come and gaming fads go; Move with them or fall into obscurity. Who knows, 12 year old bishounen pony superheroes could be next year’s thing…or not. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

The Witcher series feels a bit like an unpolished jewel. There is just so much that I like about it; The setting, the mythology, the story, the characters, the atmosphere, the art direction – but at the same time, there is so much that can be improved in terms of gameplay and design.  For what it is worth, you don’t really have to play the first game in order to enjoy the Witcher 2 (per se), though I would definitely recommend doing so. The prologue does a fair job at introducing the characters and overall setting, but not being familiar with the world and its players will put you at a disadvantage, especially since your saved data from The Witcher can be imported.

Even so, my only real complaint about The Witcher 2’s overall story is that, I get the distinct feeling that I am missing out on something by not having read and really, not being at all familiar with the book series (sadly, not all of them have been translated into English *extreme sad face*). There are more than a couple of name drops and “who is that” moments that I am pretty sure were explained in the novels. It’s such a shame because from what I understand, the books are exceptional and describe a richly detailed world.

[SPOILER BEGIN] By the way, this is just my speculation. Yennefer is a good example main example: She was strongly alluded to but never explained in the first game. In the second game, she is an important character that was never introduced and inadequately explained. It’s like, who the hell is Yennefer? Ooooh she’s only one of the most important figures from Geralt’s past life. That would have been good to know. She adds an entirely new perspective to Geralt and Geralt’s sexual relationships: The implied sexual tension between Triss and Geralt’s past lover. [SPOILER END]


Knowing and not knowing Geralt’s past creates almost creates two different games. On one hand, for people who have read the books, much if the story seems to play on the contrast between what the audience knows and what Gerald does not. On the other, for people like me, it’s about both the audience and the main character discovering who he is as the game progresses. I suppose the latter is more conducive to player immersion, but I still feel as if I am missing out on a significant amount of depth by not having already been familiar with the world as a whole; and apparently I am.

Like The Witcher, major game decisions are completely up to you. This time, they are all on a short timer of about 10 seconds, forcing you to choose on the stop (otherwise the game will choose for you). Nothing destroys immersion quite like being able to tab out and read the wiki page in the middle of a turning point in the plot. It adds a healthy level of tension to plot decisions, especially since like its predecessor, the consequences of your actions are not immediately apparent. In fact, your choices impact the game to the point where the story will completely diverge after the first chapter. I mean, even Geralt’s personal goals are up to you. Is this a story about personal vengeance? Is it about loyalty? Is it a story about self discovery? That choice is yours. Geralt is a well-defined character that is crafted by the player. It’s a balance seldom found in any game.


The voice acting has significantly improved in The Witcher 2 and the dialogue is well-delivered and well-articulated as a whole. The English translation is solid, though as a couple of people have pointed out, still retains a flavor of awkwardness and unnaturalness found in virtually every single translated piece. I mean, it’s not bad in any sense it’s just hard to place my finger on. The dialogue doesn’t feel butchered in any way (like I swear, 80% of all JRPGs), but it does feel like it was translated.

Also just a a fair warning, the dialogue at times is vulgar to an eye-rolling degree. I do not know exactly how many “whoresons” were “ploughed” during the course of Geralt’s adventures, but I am sure that the number hovers around many. For what its worth, The sex has been toned down. If you want to be a perv, you have to work at it a bit and the scenes are more rewarding than the silly YAR YAR HUMP HUMP *card flash* bit from the first game.

The Witcher 2’s combat system is fun once you get used to it. The gameplay tutorial in the prologue is to be honest crap-ass and insufficient, especially given that not too many of The Witcher’s game mechanics carry over; the combat system is fairly different. I recommend actually reading the manual or at least skimming a basic FAQ outlining combat and the interface to get started. It just seems like adding a couple of more tooltips and popup notifications would trivially make the tutorial adequate. But, oh well. So here you all go: A game that refuses to coddle and handhold its players (if you are from that camp of gamers). On the other hand, I am of the opinion that a good “hardcore” game should be difficult to master but not difficult to get into. Including a fairly non-standard combat system and then doing dick to introduce it is kind of lame.


That rant aside: Just remember that though Geralt can easily take anyone in a 1v1 fight, he is squishy against multiple opponents, which will be the bulk of your fighting experience. His greatest strength in this game seems to be speed rather than strength. Take advantage of that and learn to dodge, parry etc. You will be doing that a lot. Witchers are clever fighters with many resources to pull from; bombs, traps, spells, potions, etc. Use everything at your disposal to distract enemies and separate pulls. Saving items is fairly pointless since consumables aren’t that expensive to make and are designed to be used. Once you learn how to utilize all that Geralt has at hand, it is not an incredibly difficult game on normal, it just has a steep self-inflicted learning curve. The control responses though are unacceptably slow to respond without making a couple of tweaks. You will also find yourself waiting for relatively long dodge and attack animations to complete. Frustrating.

Loading times have drastically improved as has the level of tedium. There is still quite a bit of running about between interest points, but effectively not having any loading screens makes questing much much much much more of an enjoyable experience. The interface visually looks a lot nicer, but it is still clunky and somewhat inadequate in respect to being able to manage your inventory. I can honestly say that inventory management is notably bad. Also, it would have been nice to be able to view and change keybindings within the game client. In fact, the ability to change the keybindings was only JUST added in patch 1.2. Before that, you had to edit the .ini file. You do however, at least have the option to toggle irritating quick time events on and off. Gee I wish all QTE games had this option.


I liked The Witcher 1’s alchemy and potion system a lot better. I really wish that the toxicity side effects and combat drinking were included in TW2. Alchemy feels dumbed down and because I could only drink while meditating, I ended up almost never drinking any potions at all. The only thing that toxicity does is limit the number of potions that you are allowed to consume. Potion duration also vanishes upon meditation. So effectively, you can only have about 3 or 4 potions active at any one time and cannot drink again until you meditate toxicity off. Which is fine I guess, but it doesn’t feel nearly as useful. Besides, I liked running around mid-fight chugging potions and weighing dying at the blade of my foe or by potion poisoning.

Oh also: This game is damn nice looking both in terms of graphics and level design. So pretty. Such a nice presentation. I hope that you all have decent computers lol. As was the case with the first game, the soundtrack is awesome. Some will enjoy this game and some won’t. General internet opinions seem to be rather polar. If the drawbacks don’t annoy you too much, The Witcher 2 is worth picking up.

Witcher 2: Draug Fight Video

Here’s another random Witcher 2 video from this past weekend. I even added a cheesy logo! I apologize for the random-ass song by the way;  For some reason, YouTube didn’t like way I encoded the sound in VirtualDub for whatever reason and distorted most of the audio post-upload. I’d rather not re-encode and re-upload the video so I AudioSwapped it. There has to be a free or “free” video editing out there in Internet land that’s less irritating to use than VirtualDub and Windows Movie Maker (while also not requiring the time investment to learn like most of the professional tools). Video processing isn’t one of my geek areas of expertise, but I think I may make it one of my “side projects.”

The Draug fight is not all that hard of an encounter on normal difficulty. In fact, I’m not sure that there’s any particular strategy other than rolling around and whacking him with your strong attack. I’m sure that it’s faster to use Yrden or something to attempt to trap him but whatever. I wasn’t really expecting a one shot so I started screwing around to see what he would do.

System specs & settings: Windows 7 64-bit, core i7-860, 8GB RAM, 1GB ATI Radeon HD 6870, 1920×1080 resolution (recorded at half-size). UltraSampling and vignette are disabled and both shadowing options are at high. I turned on the bloom setting this time.

The Witcher

The Witcher is just one of those games that I have heard of but more-or-less ignored and never bothered playing up until this point. I really don’t know why that is, given my massive soft spot for any fantasy RPG. I suspect that the named had originally turned it off; I must have figured that it was a dumb game about witches or something. Anyways, I was wrong: The Witcher is an absolutely gripping, though flawed dark fantasy action RPG.  Despite interface and gameplay flaws that were quite frankly, more than a little irritating, I really really enjoyed this game and played it at an almost obsessive level (sorry for vanishing off of the internet guildies, real-life friends, etc lol).

The Witcher is based off of a popular Polish book series of the same name by Andrzej Sapkowski. Atmospherically, I think that one of the elements that sets The Witcher aside from most other fantasy games is that it is not set in a stereotypical happy cheerful fantasy world. The game world is a wonderfully detailed land riddled with despair, plague, religious fanaticism and bleakness. It is actually a more contemporary story than you would expect from a fantasy game, which gives it a little bit more of a unique flavor. At heart, it is very much a tale about racism, greed, terrorism and gray shades of morality instead of the standard heroic deeds and good vs evil fantasy fair.


It reminds of me the Dragon Age and Song of Ice and Fire series in that respect: Dark fantasy with threaded with political and social conflict. Also, like Dragon Age and most other BioWare games, story progression in The Witcher is based off of a choice and morality system. Most of the time, choosing which path isn’t a matter of saint, neutral or asshole. There’s no visible karma system and the weight of your decisions isn’t immediately apparent, giving the game a more realistic feel (versus quicksaving and repeatedly reloading after seeing the results of every single conversation). The game’s dialogue is generally well written though peppered with cheesy quips and some points of not so great translation. Voice acting though, seems to be inconsistent.

I really enjoyed how alive Vizima felt. Citizens walk the streets, mingle with each other and go about their daily routines. But even so, there’s a surprisingly limited number of NPC models available in the game, even among many plot relevant named characters. Literally every single merchant and old man looks exactly the same as every other merchant and old man, which broke immersion and was a little confusing to say the least.

This is a tedious game, so much running back and forth; which would not be as bad if there weren’t so many loading screens. At one point, a quest had Geralt shuttling between a location out in a field and a ma in and Inn: Exit inn, load screen, exit zone, load screen, run through field, get sent back to an even further zone or back to the inn, repeat. Painfully tedious.

The interface is pretty awkward and to top it off, not all of the interface elements are accessible in some of the camera views. For example, I would usually play in F3 (controls are similar to an FPS). In order to find out how much time I had left on a potion, I would have to toggle to the F2 view, mouse over the potion, then toggle back. There’s also no Journal hotkey, which was annoying since it was used so much to track various quests. The inventory system is fairly clunky and micromanage heavy. So all of this in combination with the many many loading screens made The Witcher even more of a tedious experience. It’s not too bad of a game mechanically though. I found myself liking the combat system a lot more once I got used to it. It’s actually pretty fun, though the combat timing bit feels a little stupid. I wish that combat operated a little bit more on the tactical side and less on the “randomly click on shit” side.


There are three aspects to the combat system: Melee, alchemy and signs. The signs are castable spells. Melee works as follows: You have two weapons: A silvers sword that is effective against monsters and a steel sword that is effective against humanoids. Each weapon has three difference attack stances: Fast, strong and group for different situations and enemy types. You attack with your mouse and can chain attacks by clicking when your cursor changes to a flaming sword icon. Switching between multiple weapons and multiple stances is cumbersome, but it works, even though at times it feels like an ultra dumbed down version of click DDR. I wonder if The Witcher would play better with a controller.

I really liked the alchemy system and wish that the toxicity effects as well as the ability to drink potions in combat carried through in The Witcher 2 (but that’s for another post). Basically, you can collect herbs and ingredients from various sources in the game. These ingredients in combination with recipes (bought or found) are used to brew potions which can be used both in and out of combat to heal, increase stats, see in the dark, etc. There were a couple of things that felt unbalanced: The Igni sign for example, at higher levels pretty much overpowered all but 2 enemies. It was also trivial to drink a crapton of potions, meditate your toxicity level away before a difficult encounter.  I am also glad that setting people on fire and then kiting them around repeatedly is still a staple of third person RPG combat. It never fails.

Despite the drawbacks, the fact that I fawned over this game at the exclusion of most other things as much as I did is a testament in itself to how much I enjoyed it. If a game bores me I’ll just set it down into my stack of half-finished games. I don’t though, really blame anyone for giving this game a low score. As mentioned above it is pretty tedious; The game’s pacing and overall flow could have been better to ay the least. If you can look past and tolerate The Witchers flaws, and there are quite a few, it’s well worth playing. It has a rich story, Geralt is a great character and the fights are reasonably fun.

PS: For a game with a surprisingly mature narrative, The Witcher has some awesomely perverted sex humor. I mean, what’s with all of the sex cards, lmao? Being a witcher apparently gets you more pussy than your local city cat shelter. Damn. It’s like Pokemon I guess, gotta catch ’em all?

PPS: Save a lot. This game has a tendency to crash every so often….

My Desktop: June 2011 Edition


This post is totally not related to any gaming topic but, I am for once quite pleased with my desktop wallpaper. Though, I am not really sure how much I care about that sort of thing anymore, given that I almost never see my desktop nowadays (game/video in one screen, Firefox/working on something in the other). I really wish that a higher resolution image of the Star Wars painting existed somewhere. It looks fuzzy because I had to scale it up in size to fit my resolution.

Desktop_3_14_04You know, I used to rotate wallpapers fairly often back in the day; In fact I found an old ass screenshot from 2004 (posted on the right) while picking through stuff on an ancient Deviant Art account that I forgot had existed. If anyone bothers to find it, there are a couple of odd things posted on that account that I don’t think I bothered uploading anywhere else. I wish I had more old desktop screenshots; They are a snapshot of anything that I was interested in from that point in time.

Witcher 2: Kayran Fight Video

I was playing with FRAPS again so I figured that I would upload a video to YouTube for once. The Kayran fight (on normal difficulty that is) isn’t too hard once you figure out what to do. If anyone is having trouble, here you go: Immediately roll to the left and cast Yrden on the ground below where the smaller side tentacles hit the ground. Taunt the Kayran a bit, roll out of the when when he tries to bitch slap you and then whack on the node on the center of tentacle once it’s pinned to the ground. Stay back immediately afterwards and stay away from his mouth, he kind of freaks out for a couple of seconds after the tentacle is cut. Ignore the large tentacles in the center, you they are untrappable.

Repeat for the other small tentacle on the left side then repeat the same series of actions on the right side small tentacles. At some point he will try to sweep you with one of the larger tentacles, leading to a series of quick time events. Click your right mouse button to grab on, then spam the left mouse button. Immediately after that start spamming your space bar. The QTE event for that bit flashes off really quickly. Once you hit the ground, head leftwards and climb the bit of fallen wall. Keep Quen up if you think that you will get hit.

By the way, for those who like this sort of thing, here are my system specs: Windows 7 64-bit, core i7-860, 8GB RAM, 1GB ATI Radeon HD 6870, 1920×1080. When FRAPS isn’t recording, my average FPS is at around 40 to 45ish or so. Sometimes more, sometimes less depending on the environment and situation. My GPU temperature hovers at around 70 degrees Celsius, 100% usage, 39% fanspeed.

Settings wise, everything is maxed out at Ultra in this video except for the following: UltraSampling, vignette (I dislike the effect) and bloom are disabled. Both shadowing options are set to “high”. I didn’t see much of a difference between high and ultra. I am still up in the air about bloom; I like it when the sun is filtering through the trees in Chapter 1 and during many of the outdoors areas but it seems way overdone indoors and on characters. Also, setting smoothness to 0 in the .ini config file helped to reduce mouse lag.