Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Updates, Downtime

I opted into the beta test of Tomb Raider 2013 at Steam. The first update I put in made the saved games slots visible. It also cleared up the need to toggle V-Synch every time I started the game. However, it also seems to have removed the option to turn off motion blur, and because of that, or just because that level has all sorts of wind effects including animation and camera over-rides, I got killed several times on the final level when I couldn't turn fast enough to line up a shot or make a dodge properly.

Also tried out the "Go back to the island after finishing the story and try to collect the remaining GPS locators and so forth" mode. Oddly, there are still pockets of Solarii around, but as much as I've been hanging around eavesdropping, I haven't heard any of them commenting on the fact that the magic rain has stopped and there's sunlight all over the island now. Although I also haven't explored enough to see if this is true! It is another nice aspect of the game, that the environments change over play. They change due to game events (such as getting set on fire) and they even remember which crates you busted open.

Worked the usual four performances over the weekend. The drummer is getting steadily louder again, and the frequency at which the Music Director needs to rap on his cage and glare at him is also going up. He's trying, though. He's pulled together a much more even sound across his various tools, and for 70% of the show he is seated in a good place where I can get a nice mix. And then he gets excited, or tired, or deaf after playing a matinee, and he goes crazy on the remaining numbers. Still, I'm managing to keep the dB's in the mid-80's at the FOH position, with only a few excursions over 92-93.

And for some reason finished Sunday's show completely exhausted. It is an early show, and it was still light out, but I went to bed within an hour of getting home, and slept for fourteen.

Needless to say, Monday I wanted nothing to do with driving or operating heavy machinery. But I think I might get a little lathing in today. And the fourth chapter to my Tomb Raider/SG1 cross-over is going well -- finally got through the Valley of Kings sequence. Next exotic location will be Prague Castle, to which I'm adding such varied bits of esoterica as the Voynich Manuscript, Silphium, and the Tribute of the Falcon.

(Yes...I've been spending a wee bit of time reading up on random things.)

And tried the most recent beta build. Regression in graphics; the flicker is back and the save slots are invisible again. Not only that, they seem to have decided the final boss battle is too easy. No, not the Oni. Mathias. Which is entirely a QTE. What puree-brained spavined excrescence of an incompetent designer thought they could improve this game by making one of the QTE's even more arbitrarily unwinnable? 

Especially annoying because, if this wasn't a QTE, you'd just dodge back, then give him a few incendiary shotgun rounds to that bare chest. Instead the damned game wants you to guess whether to hit "F" when the red circle hits the red dot, or after it hits. And, no, the damned thing never turns yellow (the usual sign that this is now the right time to press the button.) So I watched Lara die a dozen times in a row with no input from me having damn-all to do with it, then quit the game in disgust.

Thanks a lot, Crystal Dynamics. I'm not buying your next game until it also goes on $1.75 sale.

Just to put the final laugh to the lamentable QTE that litter an otherwise wonderfully playable game, it turns out that many of them, including the wolf, Mathias, the teleporting Solarii on the bridge and the not-a-rape early in the game, can all be solved by ignoring the stupid distracting unhelpful graphic completely. Apparently there's no actual code sensing if you hit the button too early -- so just start mashing it right at the top and keep mashing until the damned QTE is over with.

I've now made it through the stronghold on "role playing" mode, where I plunge ahead to each new plot point instead of hunting for salvage crates and random experience points. The early fights were rather tough without the axe, or dodge counter! I also made it a point of walking into ambushes, and otherwise letting the Solarii get all their forces in place. Perhaps because of that, experience points begin to accrue very quickly by the middle of the game -- you have all the essential combat skills long before you make it to the Tramway of Fitzcaraldo.

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