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taterchimp's blog

Wii U Storage Solutions
9:19 PM on 07.21.2014
Raging Chart On: The Vocal Minority (Sort of VGR)
11:01 AM on 07.15.2014
10 Things About Taterchimp
11:42 AM on 05.03.2014
5 Drinks Worth Drinking (NVGR)
9:18 PM on 04.17.2014
Blindly Exploring La Mulana
5:51 PM on 02.18.2014
Shortblog: Dark Souls Preorder Changes Nothing
9:43 PM on 02.12.2014





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About
My Belmont Run for Dark Souls can be seen

HERE
HERE
HERE
HERE
AND HERE

I also did a blind run of the DLC, which you can view

Here
Here
And here

I also covered the progress of building my own gaming PC. I had no experience, and overall, it wasn't all bad! If you are on the fence about it, I suggest you read about my efforts

Here
And here

The series never had a part 3, because I was having waaaaay too much fun playing it. Suffice to say that it does alright these days.

Thanks for stopping by my blawg!
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taterchimp
9:19 PM on 07.21.2014

Hey there, champ, hows it going?  Are you enjoying that fresh Wii U?  Have it all loaded up with games and their save files, got your free promotional game from Club Nintendo annual rewards and from the Mario Kart promotion?  You aren't, you say?  Because you purchased the basic Wii U mode?

CUE HORRIBLE DEMEANING LAUGHTER

Its alright - we all make mistakes.  But I’m here to tell you that it is more than possible to fix those mistakes, without paying out the nose for it!



...Love you Sony!

It is a well known fact that Nintendo has no idea what it is doing with technology beyond making games, and this applies to how they decided to do storage for the Wii U.  Remember how the Wii has an SD slot?  Same as your 3ds?  Ok, so see that SD slot on the front of your Wii U?  Worthless.  You can use it for Wii stuff...not Wii U.  Yeah.  No, you have to get an external hard drive in order to store extra data on your Wii U.  And not just any external hard drive, you need a powered hard drive.

Not a problem!  Thats totally a product that exists.  So you check out Best Buy to find out that they only exist in denominations of Terabytes, also known as literally 100 times more than you will ever need, at a low low cost of at least 100 dollars.  So you check out Target to see if they have a better deal, realize they have 3 hard drives, and drive back to Best Buy and really, really, make sure that they don’t have anything smaller.  Nope.  1TB or bust.  Now if you have a computer, you could use that drive to back up files on it, so maybe it isn't that bad!  Except you have to format it for the Wii U to use it, so you can either use it for your computer or for your Wii U, and if your Steam library is anything like mine, that choice is made.


Every "x" is a game defeated

Instead, you can solve the problem much cheaper, with greater versatility.  You just need an HDD Docking station and a SATA HDD (hard disc drive...not High Definition squared).  Obviously, those two links are suggestions, but for the love of all things techy, do not gloss over what kind of dock you buy and what kind of hard drive you buy.  Notice how I said SATA above?  Yeah, first time around, I bought one that used a Molex connection, or something equally as stupid.  This is pretty easy, because you just have to make sure both say SATA somewhere.  Waiting on a good deal, getting a refurb, you should be able to get at least 160 GB of storage for about 40 dollars, give or take shipping and handling.  Plus, you can now dick around with your new docking bay!  Yay!

From here, the battle is almost won!  You just have to plug in the drive to the bay, and the bay to the console, then format it.  So on the front of the Wii U, there is a handy dandy access port flap.  Behind that flap are two USB plugs and an SD card slot, so it seems pretty logical to plug in your data next to the data slot, yeah?  Nah, you can’t use those USB ports.  Won’t recognize it, because Nintendo.  Instead, plug that sucker in the backside.  Then, fire up the Wii U, and go to the settings.  Under data management is an option to move data or format a drive.  Format the drive, and you are good to go!  Finally you can enjoy your Wii U!

Or, if you were around in the days of the Basic Model, you could have just need been a cheap ass and gotten more memory that way.  But where’s the fun in that?
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This Raging Chart On actually doesn’t have much in the way of math, or charts.  Depending on how you look at it, it either has the least data or the most data for any of the series.  In any event, this focuses on the vocal minority.  The vocal minority is the idea that on any forum of discussion, the comments you read are from the most vocal members, whereas sitting in the background is the silent majority.  

How does this affect gaming?  The best example off the cuff would probably be all of EA.  Its almost paradoxical, really - one of the largest and most successful gaming companies is also the most reviled by gamers.  How can this be possible?  Simply put, the people who enjoy EA games don’t go out of their way to say “I love EA!  Origin is OK!  The ending of Mass Effect 3 satisfied me!  Hitler did nothing wrong!”  Wait, that last one is a bad example...It gets very tricky to tell which side the majority actually is on sometimes.

So to quantify this, I went to the greatest free market of discussion the internet has available: YouTube comments!  It actually has a few really good stats that can be used for collecting data, but it also has some obvious flaws.  For each video I looked at, I considered one view to be one person watching - this is obviously false.  The number of views is actually the maximum possible unique views, but it could be just one really, really dedicated fan who watched Justin Bieber’s video Baby over and over again on repeat.  (Actually, it couldn’t be - the video has been out for 4 years - feel old yet? - and is 3:45 in length.  At most, one person could contribute 1.4 million out of the video’s staggering 1.06 billion views).  The first set of metrics I used were the likes and dislikes.  All you have to do to leave one of those behind is click a button.  Super simple data to gather.  The other metric used is how many people left behind a comment.  This is clearly an enormous dedication as you have to 1.) have something to say, 2.) have to actually type out that thought, 3.) have a Google Plus account, and 4.) be educated and have good grammar…a man can dream, right?



So I started with Game Grumps.  The hiighest like to view ratio for their videos is just about 2.7% of viewers.  The highest dislike to view ratio is a staggering .14%.  Not the period in there.  Finally, the most commented video is .87%. So, to put that another way, 97% of the people who watched the videos (all with above 200,000 viewers) decided to leave zero feedback.  And the comments and dislikes represent, at worst, 1% of the total fanbase.

So lets talk about the highs and lows.  The most liked video (of the ones I looked at) - 3.5%, on a PewDiePie video.  Oddly enough, the lowest was Lady GaGa at .154%.  The most disliked was Justin Bieber - of course.  Who wouldn’t hate this guy?  Afterall, he is Canadian, has a bowl cut, and throws eggs at people’s house.  No wonder his most hated video has...oh… 0.38% dislikes to views.  Lonely Island, meanwhile, comes in at 0.012%, like a boss.  Finally, the comments range between 0.053% (Poor Johnny Cash) and 0.87 (the lovelies are quite the vocal fanbase, apparently).

Now, when looking at this data I only chose about 20 videos on YouTube.  I focused on Game Grumps because I was going to go more into detail, but realized collecting the data was annoying.  Then I went to a smattering of pop songs, more obscure songs, and YouTube celebrities like Markiplier and RoosterTeeth.  20 videos may not sound like a lot, but the sample size is actually quite staggering - 1.89 billion people (or views...whichever).  

Quality YouTubin' right here.

There are a lot of things you can take away from the data.  From a self esteem perspective, no matter what you put online, you can sit back thinking that the majority of people who read it or watched it sat back smiling and nodding.  I know that as far as I go, I will read most of the cblogs, or at least skim through.  The majority of times though, I leave no trace - I fap the ones that I really like, and I add a comment if I have something to say, but otherwise it is a hidden page view.  And if someone does leave a crappy comment on your work, realize that they could potentially be outnumbered 99 to 1, at least if it is on YouTube.  Please note:  this is not a free pass to be an asshat.

From the perspective of a gaming community though, I think there is something to be said here.  There are some strong opinions on many companies and developers (looking at you, Gearbox) that exist in the articles, and on the comments.  But these only represent the gamers who care enough to visit a gaming site, open the article, read it, and leave a comment.  That is a lot of commitment in a digital age.  At least in my experience, the gamers that I encounter at work or out at bars just aren’t that dedicated.  Instead of taking the time to read up on why they should be boycotting the next game made by Chair Studios, they play what entertains them.  

As always, if you want to view the data, you can see it here.
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Hey, I actually had the motivation to get in on one of these while they were pseudo-relevant!

1.  I have probably been on DToid longer than you

People like it when you gloat right off the bat, right?  Well, I am figuring its probably true, given how many people I recognize from my early days.  I learned about the site through my roommate freshman year of college in 2006, so I have been a member at least 7 years.  I remember Retroforce Go, Rev Rants, Rose Tinted, 2 reviewers reviewing one games, and drunken developers melting in the comments section after receiving a 1 out of 10 from 2 reviewers.  It was good times, and for a while it really did feel like the soul of Destructoid has left.  I do want to say that after the real talk moment from Dale, I have been enjoying the site a lot more.  DToid has gotten me through many a boring day at work, school, and home!  I have apparently written about 130 blogs, with my first being on 7/21/2008 (and it is currently hidden, due to my deep shame of my earlier works).  I stuck around because there is a fantastic community, especially off the front page.  I’m not super active in any part of it, as I live too far away from civilization for NARPs, Cons, and other such events, and I am too shy to get involved in the forums.

2.  I worked in a Chinese Restaurant in High School

This is just because I like to talk about this job - it was pretty insane.  The owner paid all staff under the table, so the job was 100% cash.  Most of the reason why the other wait staff were around is because they owed money to the boss.  Why did they owe money?  One of the regulars was their drug dealer.  I saw a lot of drugs in that freezer.  I also learned a few casual phrases in Chinese to yell at the chefs, including “you don’t know me” and “I own you” as well as picking up some conversational Spanish from the other chefs - “your mother is a whore”, etc.  We were constantly understaffed, even on critical days.  One year for Valentine’s Day we had 2 waiters staffed for 50 or so tables, so 25 each.  Eventually it stopped being service and started being triage.  Oh yeah, the other waiter spent some time panicking in the bathroom while shooting up heroin.  But at the end of the day, a good paying job and free Chinese food were well worth the cost of admittance, and I actually had a good time overall.  If you want a link to videogames, the owner has an obsession with the band ABBA and would play it all the time.  I would be forced to listen to it over break while playing the manager’s copy of...Ghosts and Goblins.  It was two kinds of hell.

3.  I voluntarily live in Des Moines (and its pretty great)


A picture of a small portion of the farmers market.


I went to school out in Des Moines and stayed because I found a job.  At first, I was kind of sad because I didn’t get to know the town while on campus, but once you know the cool places to go it is really great.  Small enough to not have gangs and crimes, and large enough to still have everything you need.  We now have 2 barcades open, enough bars to drown an Irishman, and foods ranging from Italian Beef style street food to upscale cornfed Iowa Beef Steak and Cigar joints.  Every Saturday in Summer they close down a section of downtown for a farmers market that is probably about 6 blocks wide and 2 blocks deep, and it is glorious.  They have food vendors representing America, China, India, Ecuador, Mexico, Thailand...all of them delicious.  It takes place on our stretch of bar streets, so most of the bars open up to serve early morning food and booze.  There are a variety of bands, from piano players, to blues guitar, saxophones, acapella groups...and oh yeah, I guess there’s produce, too.  Its in the middle of nowhere, but I actually really love the city and am glad that I have settled down in my house here.

4.  I tried getting into stand up comedy

Airline food, am I right?


There is actually a bustling stand up scene in Des Moines, with an open mic night about 4 days of the week, I think.  I tried getting into it, and you learn a lot about comedy and yourself while doing that.  I wasn’t nervous at all about getting up on stage and talking to a group of strangers, and I didn’t even mind if no one laughed.  Of course, I wanted my jokes to do well, and when I got any kind of boo or disapproval, I felt really bad and went over the joke in my head over and over to figure out what went wrong.  At the end of the day, there is drama in the scene though, and a lot of large personalities and voices that wind up conflicting, so I didn’t want to deal with some of that.  But they do have 1.50 beers….

5.  I have been programming games my whole life

Maybe not since I was out of the womb, but for a long time I have been typing code in front a computer.  I actually started in QBasic transcribing code that my older brother got from who the hell knows where.  Sometimes it would produce a super simple game, sometimes it would make an animation with different colored geometric shapes, and sometimes it just wouldn’t work at all.  In high school, I learned another Basic language so that I could reprogram my calculator games more to my liking...adjusting variables to make the game easier/harder, changing strings so that instead of dealing drugs, you were fighting zombies, that kind of thing.  In college, I studied to be an actuary, but took a course in programming my freshman year to fill some elective requirement.  I realized soon into the year that being an actuary is pretty much impossible, so I switched over to IT and took more programming and database courses, and kind of fell in love.  In a COBOL class of 12 with an average in the 70’s, I was the kid at the top of the curve with a solid mid 90 average.  Suck it, classmates.  Even today at work, I spend time writing up code to automate processes, or when boredom strikes, making my own games.  Our computers don’t have Minesweeper installed, but you would be surprised what you can do with Excel and Visual Basic.  I think this helped me appreciate games more, because of all the times I messed up while writing something as simple as Pong.  Coding is complicated, and modern games are very, very complicated.

6.  I built my own PC with no knowledge of what I was doing (and so can you!)

They grow up so fast!


Speaking of computer magic talk, I build my own PC last year and much my surprise, it hasn’t caught on fire yet!  I started looking at getting a gaming PC two years ago, but I kept getting annoyed at the cost and the specs.  I decided to be really diligent about the research at stores like Best Buy.  I learned about the metrics that were important (MHz, Visual memory, RAM).  I didn’t know what any of it meant, but I could tell you which pre built had more of one than another pre built, thats for sure!  Eventually, I found a benchmark site that I would use to compare the specs.  But I realized they all sucked, and I could build it for cheaper myself, if only I knew how.  Protip?  Real talk?  YouTube is the best.  There are thousands of experts at our fingertips for the most insignificant of all problems.  Newegg had a series on how to build a computer, so I watched that multiple times.  I settled on a build.  As they shipped, I took apart an old laptop to get a feel for what a processor looks like, how it goes into the slot.  Then I put together my entire rig with my laptop on instructions on my left, South Park on the Wii U on my right, and Seagrams 7 in front of me.  It wasn’t easy, but I really think with enough research anyone can do it!

7.  I know a joke for almost any occasion

I think over my life I have memorized thousands of jokes, but any time I get put ‘on the spot’ to say something funny, nothing comes to mind.  However, if people are talking about almost any subject matter, I think I know a joke that is related to it.  Recently in the comments there was a demand for a vampire/menstruation joke, and I actually know of one!  As long as you can deliver jokes properly, it doesn’t matter how nerdy or awkward you are, you have something that you can do at parties.  Some of my favorite memories from events in college were when we just had a group of us outside, sipping on beers, taking turns trying to outjoke one another.  And yet is always amazes me when I hear a new one!  I think my go to favorite is usually “a man walks into the doctor’s office.  Can’t stop singing the Green Green Grass of Home.  Doc says ‘well that sounds like Tom Jones Syndrome’  Man asks:  Is that rare?  Doc:  Well, Its Not Unusual’.  Its so esoteric.  I love it.  

8.  I have a youtube channel.


Most of the video views are me


You can watch it if you want.  I don’t like to advertise too much with it, but Ill probably throw more stuff up there if there’s love for it.  I played through all of EDF: IA, most of Dark Souls (lost the passion in two separate runs right at the end), Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army 1 and 2.  I think in my mind I want to be a ‘someone’ on the internet.  There are a lot of big names, even on Destrucoid alone, and I just want to feel like I am one of them.  But, as I said, I don’t like to advertise much because it feels pushy, so for now Ill just post the videos to all the twelve people who want to see them.  Love you guys, forever and always!  I also have a twitch, but that is really awkward.  With youtube you know that someone will be watching, and wants to hear you talking.  With twitch, it feels like you have to be ‘on’ the whole time, but you know that people aren’t watching and you are just talking to yourself.  With momentum it could be good.  I would like to get together with one of my friends to commentate scrub tier level DotA matches for fun, and I also would like to have a Destructoid radio game show going...but those require motivation and scheduling and man, that is a hassle!

9.  I’m a Dane (ish)

A lot of people, myself included, think its pretty silly to be proud of your heritage, but I figured this would be something interesting to talk about here.  My great grandfather, and I think my grandfather, moved over from Denmark and brought a lot of traditions with them.  There was a lot of odd Danish phrases thrown around in my youth, but mostly its just down to using it for silly arguments.  We still carry over a lot of strange traditions, especially around the holidays.  There is a cucumber dish that is basically pickles, but not quite pickle-y enough to be real.  And plenty of stink fish that no one really eats.  Overall though, it has gotten me into a few tasty foods (pumpernickel bread), a few fun words (frikadillers), and some tasty alcohol (kijafa), so I’m pretty content with it.

10.  I used to swordfight in High School

In choir, nonetheless.  We had a medieval dinner kind of thing for choir, so we included all kinds of juggling and swordfighting things to amuse the people who showed up.  We had the bamboo swords to go over what it would look like with real steel swords later, so it was really common to good off with those.  We played a game where if you got hit in a limb, you couldn’t use it for the rest of the fight, and you were dead if you were hit in the chest.  It was super fun.  We also had some foils, so we did a smaller amount of fencing as well, but not in any kind of professional manner.  That kind of one on one fighting has really made me appreciate tournament fighters, because it reminds me of those days.  The biggest similarity that I see between the two is that the technical execution is significantly less important than the mental aspect of it...reading your opponents, knowing the right counter at the right time, being one step ahead.  Although, I never could get past the technical aspect of those games, so I mostly like to sit on the sidelines and pretend like I’m knowledgeable.
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So recently I was put on some medications that made it so I couldn’t drink, so I decided to do the next best thing and fantasize about drinking!  I like to be a thorn in some bartender’s sides by asking for some kind of strange drinks, or asking for normal drinks in a strange way - i.e. Ordering a Cuba Libre...the bartender wasn’t too happy after he looked that up in his little black book, but that is like bartending 101.  I got some advice from a family member that you shouldn’t drink to get drunk, you should drink for the flavor of the drinks.  While I don’t always agree with that mindset, I do think it is kind of sad the state of some bars...bars where you can only get a drink if the ingredients are in the name.  So I did some research over the past 5 years of old school drinks that still hold up today, and I figured I would share a few of my favorites with everyone.  


Manhattan




Preparation:  5:2 parts Bourbon to Vermouth, dash of bitters.  Cherry garnish.  This is non negotiable.  Chilled, and served up.

Why you should drink it:  I’m going to start this one out with why I started drinking them.  The first one I had was when I turned 21, with drink tickets from a hotel.  It was the worst thing I ever had, but I kept drinking it because darnit, it was cool.  Eventually I started introducing myself to the wonderful world of whiskey and realized that there is a drink where you water down whiskey with fortified wine.  More importantly though, I sought out the advice of my elders, and would ask anyone that I met who was over the age of 50 what they used to drink when they were young.  My grandfather said he drank Manhattans and my dad drank 7 & 7’s.  I know its probably stupid, but I like to honor them with my drinks when I am out, so I usually think of them when I get one.

As for the drink itself, it is really potent, and if made well with good ingredients it can actually mask the taste of the alcohol quite well.  That isn’t to say it won't taste like bourbon...it will.  Quite a bit.  But it won’t taste like burning.  As much.  Some places add some cherry juice to the drink, and it usually makes it a slightly different, but still good, drink. Of all the drinks I will list, this one is the best one to spend more money on the main ingredient.  Maker’s Mark or Crown Royal are the preferred brands for me, leaning towards Maker’s.  I will also throw out that most places will make this drink ‘up’ (served in a martini glass), but I really prefer it to be served ‘on the rocks’ (with ice) and ‘short’ (10-14 oz glass instead of a 20 oz...I did once get a tall Manhattan at a full pint, and wound up pretty well smashed after that.  Only got charged for one drink, too!) If you can find a place that knows how to make this, and makes it well, you can probably be confident they can make most classical drinks.

Tom Collins



Preparation:  Gin, citrus, soda.  Served in a collins glass - yes, they are related!  Cherry, orange, lime, or lemon garnish.

Why you should drink it:  I once dated a girl who was raised by her farmer dad, who was probably in his mid 60’s.  Again, I asked what he liked to drink and he told me a Tom Collins.  After a trip to wikipedia to figure out what it was, I ordered it at the next bar I was at and had the best one I ever had in my life.  This is a drink that can be made several different ways.  The ideal method is squeezing a lemon or lime into the glass, muddling some sugar or adding syrup, then pouring in gin, adding ice, then adding soda.  You can’t beat fresh with this.  If you can’t get fresh, it is usually just sweetened lime juice, gin, and soda.  Some places put grenadine in there, which makes the drink a frilly pink, so I advise you request it without if they prepare it that way.  The drink itself, if done right, winds up tasting like a soda shop Sprite.  If they mess it up, you can usually taste the herby flavor of the Gin more than the citrus, but that isn’t a huge problem.  You can also omit the soda and wind up with a gimlet.  You can then sub out gin for vodka, and have a gimlet.  And gimlets are pretty great.

Negroni



Preparation:  equal parts Gin, Sweet Vermouth, Campari.  My personal taste is for a little bit more Campari.  Chilled and served up.  Orange rind garnish.

Why you should drink it:  I would be a liar if I said I didn’t just like the color of Campari.  It winds up being a neat shade of red.  This is definitely a drink to be enjoyed on its own...after a meal has finished, before a meal has started, or as the last drink of the night.  The campari has a very odd flavor to it - at no point do you not taste an herby bitterness to it, but as soon as you look past that you get a super sweet fruity taste.  It offers a lot of complexity, or at least enough to finish a glass.  Plus, if you already have the Campari it goes really well with soda on its own.  Overall, there isn’t much you can do with the drink except buy better gin, but it will be overpowered by the Campari no matter what.  This is a good test of a bar’s knowledge and ingredients.  If they stock campari, and if they know why they stock campari (its used for all of 2 drinks) then they are probably reputable.  


White Russian (AKA: caucasian)



Preparation:  2 parts vodka, 1 part cream, 1 part Kahlua.  

Why you should drink it:  Because the dude abides, man.  I actually held off on having one of these for a while just because I never thought to order one at a bar.  Then we had a company outing to a bowling alley where drinks were free flowing, so I figured I would go with my bowling instincts and grab one.  These are a drink that is really easy going...I haven’t met many people who don’t like it, and it is difficult to taste the alcohol through the cream.  When I first started going out to bars to drink, this was my chaser for well whiskey shots, and it is really easy to remember the guy who starts off his drinks with a shot and a white russian.  There are a few variations that work really well:  first, you can replace the vodka with chocolate or vanilla vodka to give it a little bit more character.  My favorite though is replacing the cream with Rumchata, thus making it Cinnamon Toast Vodka.  Kid’s cannot see why it is so delicious.  Also, if a bartender serves it to you stirred (cream already distributed thoroughly) feel free to judge them.


Rusty Nail




Preparation:  2 parts scotch, 1 part Drambuie.  Cherry garnish.

Why you should drink it:  To preemptively answer your question of “Drambuie..what is it?”, Drambuie is whiskey mixed with honey, herbs, and spices.  It is cloyingly sweet on its own, with an almost cinnamon like taste.  Oh, and its 80 proof.  So you take scotch.  Add honey and herbs to it.  And mix it with scotch.  This whole cocktail is 80 proof.  And that is beautiful.  And you would not believe how good it tasted for that.  Normal scotch on its own has a musty quality that some (like me) enjoy, but the Drambuie overpowers most of the scotch taste with how darn sweet it is, while the scotch cuts down the sweetness of the Drambuie.  I won’t say that you can’t taste the alcohol, because you can, but you would be surprised at how easily drinkable this stuff can be.  It feels a bit thicker than a normal drink, and it gets a lot of the honey and spice taste more than the whiskey taste.  This drink isn’t complex.  It isn’t subtle.  It isn’t polite.  You can be a girl, and this one will still put hair on your chest.  It is 80 proof, though, and it is darn tasty.  

Honorable mentions:  Harvey Wallbanger (screwdriver with Galliano), Moscow Mule, Dark and Stormy, Sazerac, and the Corpse Reviver #2.


So Dtoid...what are you drinking?
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During one of the Steam sales, I decided to pick up a game that had some good buzz, but I knew almost nothing about:  La Mulana.  I know it is supposed to be a hard as nails, oldschool experience, and I am totally down for that.  The only experience I had with the game was watching a Let’s Play episode or two of the game years back, and it seemed alright enough for me.  So what is La Mulana?  Well, its Spanish for “The Mulana” if that helps.



In all seriousness, I started the game this weekend and found myself rather liking it.  It is an SNES game, but it just feels a bit bigger or more modern.  You play as some dude with a whip in a world where everything can kill you.  After Dark Souls, this sounds right up my alley!  I wandered around for the first fifteen minutes, unable to find which way was forward.  I tried to memorize patterns of very simple enemies, as to minimize my odds of death.  I failed.  I died.  A lot.  Then I started to get the hang of things, and explored all around the starting camp.  There were birds and trees and rocks and things, and I had learned how to kill most of them, except the condors.  Then I fall off a waterfall and drowned.  I decided to explore to the left, where I found a healing spring and snakes, and a giant about twenty times my height who can kill me in two hits.  Man.  This game reeks of Dark Souls!  A confusing beginning with no direction, minimal narrative, and a world that hates the protagonist?  Check, check, and check.  

Turns out, I missed a very important feature...going into buildings.  In my defense I tried and failed, so this wasn’t all on me!  After I learned how to do that, I finally got a quest, and more importantly, opened up the Hidden Temple, which I had heard many legends about.  Then the game started becoming….obtuse.  There are signs and stones that you can’t actually read.  You need an item that lets you read.  Fair enough.  Then, they are in a language you don’t know. So you need to buy an item that lets you read them.   Ugh, alright.  You also need to buy an item that lets you use the map, which you have to find in a chest anyway.  So its a little confusing, but I managed several trips in and out of the temple getting money enough to buy all these things.  I was finally ready to explore!

As I mentioned above, I was given no direction, just ‘go for it!’, so I wandered wherever the game would let me progress.  Until I couldn’t wander back.  See, the game has weights as a consumable item.  You need weights to trigger certain pedestals, and they are often placed in areas that are gates to other levels, or hell, even where you came from.  So I got myself stuck in a pyramid, in a tomb, in a waterfall, and generally had a poor time.  I tried really hard to make progress, but with minimal health and no way to restore it, I was a little bit annoyed.  So I had to revert back to a previous save, grind out money, and buy stones.  Now I was ready!  Then I still would get lost, forget the way back, and die in the cold depths of the temple.  I felt like I was missing something.  I was.

I decided to take a turn for the archaic and find the games Wii release manual and do some research.  There were a few interesting tidbits in there, but the most important one was the White Whale.  Er...Holy Grail.  Not figuratively, either, it is actually The Holy Grail,  and the manual said you should encounter it early, and that it lets you warp around the map.  Wow.  Such utility.  Much useful.  Very want.  Must have.  Using my map.exe program, I found a room in the temple called something like “Holy Grail Room” and began solving puzzles.  After some rather cleverly put together puzzles, I finally found the Holy Grail, which lets you warp between almost any save point, including the one at the surface, with the shop and healing area.  Now we were in business!  I found a smattering of odds and ends, including more health, a grappling claw, The Reverend Stabby McShankerton (my knife), and some other trinkets.  Now I was making progress!



So I have been exploring the caves, slowly but surely, trying to solve the mystery of what the hell I’m doing here.  I have the holy grail.  I am a very rich man.  But apparently I want more.  Most notably, I solved the entire pyramid level, revealing an enormous monster boss, which I have yet to best.  I have discovered many chambers with their own treasures, secrets, and monsters, and I can’t wait to keep exploring!

I also wanted to follow my friend’s advice, and use La Mulana as an experiment in some software dabbling.  He told me I should try out streaming, so I figured I could give that a shot.  I have the software set up now, along with an account, and a classical rock playlist to serve as the background noise.  I am going to try to start streaming most of what I play when I play because what the hell, why not, basically.  I will probably be streaming after 7:00 pm Central on Weekdays, and pretty much whenever I feel like it on Weekends at twitch as taterchimp_twitch (http://www.twitch.tv/taterchimp_twitch).  Feel free to stop by if you want!








In a sentence that will surprise no one, I absolutely love Dark Souls.  It is my most played game of...ever.  On PC alone, I have put in 120 hours, after putting in nearly 200 on XBox.  I know that doesn’t sound like a lot compared to people who really like games like Civ 5 or Skyrim, but for me, that is some serious dedication.  So basically, I know a thing or two about the game, and hold it near and dear.  With that, I wanted to talk about the preorder bonuses that everyone has been ranting and raving about, and why they don’t matter.  At all.

1.  The Game Isn’t About Your Gear


This isn't my accomplishment.  I am not that masochistic


There are a lot of ways that you can prove this point to yourself.  Consider level one runs where the character doesn’t have the stats to wield anything too strong, yet they can still beat the game.  I know I have imposed many a challenge run on myself for the game, including using only a whip, only a fist, uppercutting bosses to death, only using a crossbow to kill bosses, and outside of that I have used a vast majority of the weapons during a normal playthrough.  The only weapon I don’t think would be relatively easy to beat the game with is the broken sword.  After the first sword you pick up, anything can take you from T to G.  Taurus….to Gwyn….it sounded cooler in my head, OK? The reason for this is because Dark Souls isn’t about how good your character is, its about how good your player is.  Everything is about how you play.

Think about what made Blighttown hard on your first playthrough.  Assholes with poisoned clubs.  Assholes with poison darts.  Assholes that jump on to you.  Assholes that shoot fire at you.  A single asshole with tentacles. Also, the fact that you don’t know where you are going, and a single misstep can send you back twenty minutes of progress.  And at the bottom of Blighttown, what do you find?  Some asshole poisoned the entire bloody swamp, and you have to crawl through it.  So now you have to wander by assholes with teeth, assholes with rocks, assholes with clubs, while on a timer, searching for a bonfire (assuming you thought it was there...you could just try and rush the boss).  So what does your super awesome weapon do?  Let you stab the swamp?  Slash the poison out of your system?  Just like you will slash the boulder trap in Sen’s?  All in all, the design, the placement, and the war of attrition will bring down an idiot with a good sword in no time flat.  

Finally, the bosses.  I spent a run just trying to build the highest damage I could.  The strongest weapon, crystal magic weapon, and power within.  There was a lot of sequence breaking and grinding to get that going.  And yeah, it helps a lot to have a weapon that can do 900 damage in a single hit to a boss.  But do you know what I knew?  Every single bosses animation, the relative timing to swing my weapon, and how long I have before they will counter.  The strength would do me nothing fighting against a tough boss.  A lesson I learned my tenth time fighting Kalameet.

2. Weapons Are (kind of) Balanced



Quick, name the best weapon in Dark Souls!  Is it the low durability lightning katana?  The long animation Avelyn?  Slow as balls Dragon Tooth?  The ‘30 seconds is all I need’ Ricard’s Rapier?  As I mentioned above, every weapon is viable.  In order for this to be possible, they all have to be within the same power curve, offering the same DPS, plus or minus a few.  Why do I say ‘kind of’ above?  Novelty weapons.  The whip sucks something fierce.  The shotel is cute.  The bleed on the LIfehunt Scythe is symmetrical.  

3.  Invaders Will Always be Dicks


Never forget


I saw a lot of people say things along the lines of ‘but then people who pre ordered will have better gear to invade people with’.  Have you never played Dark Souls online? So many times I would make it to the Parish to be invaded by a player in full dragon form with a +5 lightning weapon.  The only time where this is a valid argument is if you played the game on the midnight release for the first four hours.  After that, you are going to have low level players with high level gear griefing those who know less about the game.  The speculation is that the pre order weapons will have less scalability into the mid game, which means that you should replace them after maybe four or five hours.  The good weapons will probably be maybe twelve hours in before someone figures it out?  After a week, there will be a guide on how to rush to the most overpowered weapon at level one, just to invade people at the start of the game.  There will be videos.  There will be indictments.  There will be Dark Souls.

4.Accessibility Doesn’t Suck and There is Some Custom Difficulty

I’ll go ahead and say it.  I believe it.  The first Dark Souls could have used some improvement.  Especially to make it more accessible.  You can’t play at the highest level until you understand equipment burdens, poise, and stability.  It could have stood to teach you more about kindling and reinforcing weapons.  Trying to beat the gargoyles with a +0 halberd and 5 estus was not fun for me.  The game was torture.  But it was pretty, and it was different, so I wanted to keep going with it.  If items like the pre order ones let people get a little bit further in than they would otherwise, if it lets them get hooked into the game, then so much the better.  On top of that, this in no way affects how you get to play the game.  If you want to start with a slightly worse weapon and impose some more strict guidelines, you have that ability!  I have been doing it since about playthrough 3, because otherwise the game is too easy, and too much the same.  Or you could go Diablo on it and beat the ‘too easy’ version and go straight to NG+.  Or run and get yourself cursed early.  Turn off the HUD.  The game doesn’t hurt for challenge if you look for it.
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