Saturday, August 9, 2014


Yesterday was the worst. Today I'm almost normal again.

Just in time, too. Started a little cleaning around the apartment. Will never get that brand of biodegradable trash bags again. I don't know about "bio," but they degraded real good. All over the floor. I was cleaning up from that when I noticed the sink sounded "funny." Right. Water everywhere, and I couldn't mop up properly because, you know, sink. Repaired that, then cleaned up. And repaired some outside lights. And that was enough for me.

I've been trying to "break" Tomb Raider now. It turns out to be almost impossible to get your first advanced combat skill before meeting your first "boss" (just one of the guys with the shields, but a great introduction for him.) However, if you hunt out all the areas you can fast-travel to, and pick up everything, and get as many extra points as you can from head shots and finishers...and if you also do the DLC tomb back in the woods before you rejoin Whitman...then you can just barely have axe strikes by the time you hit the big fight before the tower.

Of course you could also purchase a couple of skills via DLC. But that feels even more like cheating.

And, no, you can't grind on deer, or respawns. The Solarii don't seem to respawn, and regions that are hunted out take longer to recover than the time it takes to get to the tower. I was even potting rats (and crows) in the more sparse levels, and you just can't pick up enough experience points to skill up any faster.

As several reviewers have pointed out, the game really loves the bow. In a number of places, a quicktime movie dumps you into a fight -- and pre-selects the bow for you even when it isn't the optimal weapon. Now, I do love the fire arrows, as I mentioned before. But I've been finding my go-to weapon is the pistol. I prefer to work at medium range, and if I stay calm I can get head shots in. If they close, a shot to the body to slow them down, then axe strike. The bow is still superior for long distance work, of course. However, relying on the pistol so much has revealed that pistol ammunition is in very short supply. Particularly later in the game, when it seems to expect you to use the rifle almost exclusively -- cans of rifle ammo are everywhere.

Speaking of..  I got through the rolling boulder bit in Legend. Most annoying gameplay ever. Almost as bad as the QTE's. Here's the problem; Legend insist on showing you the boulder from a nice cinematic angle. It releases control back to you -- and does a snap-cut to your camera angle -- about a millisecond before the boulder hits. So you've got to re-orient to where the camera is now, and get her running in the right direction. Actually, you can't even do that. The boulder is too fast to allow you to rotate. The only way through turned out to be to hold down two movement keys through the quicktime movie. The moment control was restored, wait a split second then release one movement key. At that point you are finally where you can make the first jump. Of course the next move is behind scenery, and at an angle to the camera. And you can't even look for the gap before the scene; the moment you are close enough to study the trap, the movie triggers.

I think I died forty times before I finally got through it.

My circuit is also going as frustrating. There are very nice regulators in chip form. But they fall into two general styles; current-regulated LED drivers that require higher input voltages than I can get from the batteries I want, or boost circuits that aren't designed for PWM.

I've got a couple compromise versions, though; regulators that will run on as low as a pair of AA batteries, with PWM. The limitation being the biggest of them is only a 400ma. Which means I can't swing more than a 1-watt RGB (or RGBA) out of them. I was really hoping to get a 5-watt design out of this.

Do you know the lightsabre builders are now up to 15 watts?

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