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XCOM2 memos — 7 March 2016

XCOM2 memos

So far, I played XCOM 2 around 80 hours. I’m not about to write a review about it: the editor Firaxis followed the recipe that worked for the previous one.

I pointed out that, in XCOM Enemy Unknown/Within, one problem was that the difficulty was decreasing. I finished it in normal difficulty and I’m about to finish it in commander difficulty and I’d say, so far, it is no longer entirely the case,  last mission can be quite difficult even with hardened soldiers.

Instead of a review, I’ll put here just some memos.

First memo : general XCOM tips still valid for XCOM2

  • in general, don’t fire with not a least 55% chance to hit (and even that is extreme), failure to hit is always worse than overwatch;
  • never do the two moves at once, especially in unknown territory, split the movement;
  • don’t play each character one after the other but play all of them simultaneously: ie don’t use all the actions of one character, then of a second, then, while moving the third, to find an enemy that would been best defeated if the it was still an option to actually play the final action of the firsts. Whenever you uncover enemies/territory, it is best to have the other characters still able to use their abilities;
  • same principle: it is nice to ambush the enemy with overwatch (putting all the troops in overwatch and provoke the enemy with the latest soldier). Sometimes it is efficient, for instance when the enemy is grouped in the open, so the overwatch will act before the units find cover. But in many cases it is still best to use soldiers abilities;
  • each soldier gets a random extra ability. In the end, that is likely to determine your best heroes;

Second memo : gears/items in XCOM2

  • non-generic armors are overrated (as of today) as they remove the ability to carry one extra item: spider/wraith armors are convenient for the improved mobility, you need at least one (at least for a sniper, to get to high ground to easily kill). The heavy is not really worth it, the extra weapon that comes along is likely to be less powerful and versatile than grenades;
  • the mimic beacon is a game changer. One is necessary. Two is good. Three is worth it, still. It allows you to seriously distract the enemy from your troops;
  • EMP grenades / bombs are great when facing heavy machinery with still underdeveloped soldiers. After that, a mix of grenades is good: one incendiary, one acid, two emp and some plasma, to be thrown by grenadiers;
  • bluescreen/emp round (more effect on machines and reduce their resistance to hack) and talon round (critical hit bonus) are worth it;

Third memo: soldiers abilities in XCOM2

2016-03-05_00006

Here, we’ll reuse data already on the web: in red the one that I favor; it is obviously a matter of playing style and this reflect what I found effective for now for my playing style. Note also that in this approach, I’m considering that I have one soldier of each class. It could be interesting to actually have two but completly at odds of the same class

As general principle, I tend to prefer the offensive abilities and rather the one based on one firing attempt than multiple (in my demented mind, 3 times chance to hit 65% is not equal to chance to hit 65%, for example).

Ranger:

SCOUT ASSAULT
Ability Description Comment Ability Description
Phantom When the squad is revealed, this soldier remains concealed. Not contextual, hence better Blademaster Deal +2 extra damage on all sword attacks.
Shadowstrike When concealed, gain +25 bonus Aim and +25 bonus critical hit chance when attacking enemies. Massive benefit Shadowstep This soldier does not trigger overwatch or reaction fire.
Conceal Immediately enter concealment once per mission. Overly necessary, as  in previous XCOM Run and Gun Take an action after dashing. 3 turn cooldown.
Implacable If you score one or more kills on your turn, you are granted a single bonus move. Can be used on purpose while getting on the path of enemies and provides very good defense against melee troops Bladestorm Free sword attacks on enemies that enter or attack from melee range.
Deep Cover If you did not attack this turn, hunker down automatically. Can be used on purpose, very useful Untouchable If you score a kill during your turn, the next attack against you during the enemy turn will miss.
Rapid Fire Fire twice in a row at an enemy. Each shot suffers an Aim penalty of -15. There is no cooldown on this ability. Undecided yet. Reapers seems good to clean and remove already injured enmies : but I found, in this situation, that the ranger was often usually still needed to pick off greater threat Reaper A devastating chain melee attack where the first melee attack cannot miss. Each melee kill in Reaper mode grants an extra action, but further melee attacks deal reduced damage. 4 turn cooldown.

 

 Grenadier:

DEMOLITIONS EXPERT HEAVY GUNNER
Ability Description Comment Ability Description
Blast Padding Your gear includes layers of extra padding and blast plates, granting a bonus point of Armor and 66% less damage from explosive attacks. Extra padding could be nice on occasion but destroying enemy armor is always necessary, easy pick Shredder Your cannon attacks shred armor.

Higher rank weapons shred more points of armor. The shredding effect applies before damage.

Demolition Unleash a volley of bullets at your target’s cover, significantly damaging or destroying it. Deals no damage to your target.Uses 2 ammo. 3-turn cooldown. A bit annoying to use ammunition not to do damage, especially with the grenadier that always throw grenades for that effect, with damage being done at the same time… So suppression it is. Suppression Fire a barrage that pins down your target, granting reaction fire against it if it moves, and imposing a -50 penalty to the target’s aim. Suppression is cancelled if the Grenadier takes damage. Suppression penalties stack. Uses 2 ammo. No cooldown.
Heavy Ordnance The grenade in your grenade-only slot gains a bonus use. Affects support grenades, not just offensive ones. Hard pick. One support the specific benefit of the grenadier (firing grenades), the second give benefit each times if fires. Undecided yet. Holo Targeting Any directed cannon shot, hit or miss, will mark the target, increasing your squad’s aim by +15 against this target. Applies to standard attacks and single-target abilities, including suppression.
Volatile Mix Grenades gain +1 tile to their radius and deal +2 damage. Does not increase environment damage. Undecided. Volatile mix is good in general. Chain shot can help destroy massive units. Chain Shot Fires a shot with a penalty of 15 to aim. If it hits, immediately fire another shot at the target. Uses 2 ammo. 3-turn cooldown.
Salvo Using the grenade launcher or a heavy weapon as your first action does not end the turn Firing twice? Can’t be beat. Hail of Bullets Fire a shot that is guaranteed to hit. Uses 3 ammo. 5 turn cool down.
Saturation Fire Fire a hail of bullets in a cone damaging every enemy and all cover within. Uses 3 ammo, 5 turn cool down. Rupture is massively efficient to destroy massive units. Required. Rupture Fires a shot that deals critical damage. The target, if hit, will also take 3 additional damage from all sources. Uses 3 ammo. 3-turn cooldown.

Specialist:

BATTLE MEDIC COMBAT HACKER
Ability Description Comment Ability Description
Medical Protocol The GREMLIN can perform healing actions remotely: GREMLIN Heal and GREMLIN Stabilize. The GREMLIN has a single charge. If a medkit is equipped, the GREMLIN will gain an additional charge. Required. There are not many ways to heal. Combat Protocol Send the GREMLIN to an enemy to jolt them, dealing guaranteed damage, which is increased against robotic enemies. Twice per mission.
Revival Protocol Send the GREMLIN to an ally to remove any negative mental status effects. Disoriented, Stunned, Panicked, or Unconscious. Best to attack instead of dealing with failure. Haywire Protocol You may target robotic and mechanical enemies with your GREMLIN, attempting to hack them and seize control.
Field Medic Equipped medikits have 2 extra charges. Required, not to many ways to heal. Scanning Protocol The GREMLIN can trigger an instant scan of the area, increasing the Specialist’s sight radius substantially for one turn and revealing any hidden enemies.
Covering Fire Overwatch shots can now be triggered by enemy actions, not just movement. Undecided. Both are good. Threat assement can be used to have a troop attack and get overwatch. Threat Assessment Aid Protocol now grants the target a Covering Fire Overwatch shot, but the Aid Protocol cooldown is increased by 1 turn.
Ever Vigilant If you spend all of your actions on moves, you are granted an automatic overwatch shot at the end of the turn. This is massive. Often result it 3 or more overwatch shot, making the specialist a killer. Could even be best with Covering Fire. Guardian Grants 50% chance during Overwatch to perform an additional shot if the previous Overwatch shot hits. There’s no limit as to how many times Guardian can trigger.
Restoration The GREMLIN flies to each squad member, healing or reviving them as needed. Once per mission. Best to attack instead of dealing with failure. Capacitor Discharge Send the GREMLIN to a location where it emits a substantial electric discharge, damaging and potentially stunning all nearby units. Robotic units take more damage. Once per mission.

Sharpshooter:

SNIPER GUNSLINGER
Ability Description Comment Ability Description
Long Watch Allow Overwatch to trigger with Squadsight. Otherwise it is no sniper at all. Return Fire When targeted by enemy fire, automatically fire back with your pistol once per turn.
Deadeye Take a shot with a small aim penalty for a significant damage boost. 2 turn cooldown. First, I was using deadeye. The aim penalty is often a problem tough, while lightning hands allows to often tenderize the meat of pick of an injured enemy. Lightning Hands Fire your pistol at a target. This attack does not cost an action. 3 turn cooldown.
Death From Above Killing an enemy at a lower elevation with your sniper rifle costs only a single action and does not end your turn. Not entitely sure. I was using Death From Above but found it is actually not that often used. Sniper making big damage, it is generally used on enemies with lot of health, the kill not being obvious. Undecided. Quickdraw Firing your pistol with your first action no longer ends your turn.
Kill Zone Take a reaction shot against any enemy that moves or attacks within a cone of fire. 3 turn cooldown. Kill Zone seemed great. I found that actually it very often miss to hit in this cone. Faceoff, on the other hand, allows to empty the area of already injured enemies like a charm. Faceoff Fire once at every visible enemy with your pistol. 3 turn cooldown.
Steady Hands If you didn’t move last turn, gain +10 aim and +10 critical chance. No real opinion. Tend to go with Steady Hands, since I’m not often using Hunker Down. Aim Hunker Down now confers +20 aim to the first shot on the following turn.
Serial Each kill made with your sniper rifle completely restores your actions. With each consecutive kill you get a critical chance penalty.4 turn cooldown. Still to be determined. Fan Fire Fire the pistol 3 consecutive times at a single target. 3 turn cooldown

 

Fourth memo: useful mods

2016-03-07_00001

Many mods are already available. You can install the following without second thoughts:

  • ShowMeTheSkills (show units abilities when selecting them before missions, as on screenshot above);
  • Always Show Shot Breakdowns (give all relevant date before firing, as on screenshots above);
  • XCom International Voices Pack (it should have been included in the game, since it was there in the previous XCOM);
  • Evac All (it should have been included in the game);
  • More Maps Pack;

 

I also use the following but they might be not for everyone:

  • Revised Ranks for Immersion;
  • Nicknames Extended;
  • New Countries;
  • Numeric Health Display (more readable with big numbers);
  • Uniforms Manager (perfect to set uniforms/colors per class, overly convenient to identify units deployed);

That’s all.

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Standing desk does not have to be complicated (ie expensive) — 13 January 2016

Standing desk does not have to be complicated (ie expensive)

I started using standing desk since more than a year now, a few month after reading an article about it.

I wanted to give it try: which meant I was not prepared to spend cash to get a specific desk that might be useless soon enough.

Moreover, why would I need something complicate? I’m using computers since decades and found, over years, what matter most are:

  • the position of the screen by comparison to the head: alignment of the top 1/3 of the screen to the eye level ;
  • the position of the elbow to some sort of 90° angle that allow hands to rest on the desk while typing/moving the mouse.

This does not require specific hardware, just the ability to set the height of planks as desired.

Now, a new article on the site I got the idea from promotes some circa $1000 standing desk.

IMG_20160113_124825

Here’s mine, less than 100 €, simple kit shelves based along with a proper mat. It is not adjustable on the fly but my height is quite stable since around 20 years so I manage ok. The foam roller in a bonus to relax the foot on the fly.

(the picture is blurry/ugly but I considered it was ok privacy-wise)

With this simple cheap set, I can follow the magic principles (eyes/screen height, elbow angle and resting hands) with no effort. And I enjoy the desk which I use somedays for a considerable amount of hours.

Paradox about to do board games? — 30 November 2015

Paradox about to do board games?

It looks like Paradox Interactive (CK, EU, etc) is planning to do board games. They posted a survey.

To the question how important is the element of luck, I did not know what to reply: I’d hope for a game to have the least of it possible. So I guess that makes it important: it makes its absence important.

They also ask which of the following computer games would you like to see as a board game. As much as I like Europa Universalis IV, I cannot picture it in a game played for sixty minutes, or even four hours. Sure, Europa Universalis was a game at start, but game duration was evaluated to 15 days, wasn’it? Not that it is terrible thing per se, just that a game you find no one to play to with you is no game, in the end.

The Witcher 3: VOST — 29 November 2015

The Witcher 3: VOST

I started Witcher 3’s Heart of Stones. only to find myself surrounded by cossacks speaking with a cockney accent.

I understand that’s probably the best translation option. Making brit-cossackish accents, that’d probably sound like germans in Hogan’s Heroes.

tumblr_ndvvfrurrt1rusn89o1_1280

Anyway. I always watch movies in VOST: even if a voiceover is good, could it be better than the original voice? Worse, if a culture is to be depicted, how could that be deprived of the main feature of any culture, the language?

The most reliable way to get the Witcher 3 in VOST (polaki voices, english subtitles and interface – this assumes that you installed the game with the polish data) is simply to edit (somewhere in Documents) The Witcher 3/user.settings with a text editor as follows:

[Localization]
RequestedSpeechLanguage=PL
SpeechLanguage=PL
RequestedTextLanguage=EN
TextLanguage=EN

Today video games support, from Sega scripted replies to Telltale and GOG hidden won’t fix — 27 October 2015

Today video games support, from Sega scripted replies to Telltale and GOG hidden won’t fix

Since years, I believe the proprietary software model development is broken. The fact that games can be obtained easily over the net sweaten a bit the deal. But it’s fundamentally non-working. Paying for artistic works (images, sounds, story) is fine. Paying for the code to be actually developed is fine. But depending completely on one company to give proper support afterwards, because only one company can actually legally provide support, it is fucked up. Random picks:

I wrote to Sega support about a bug in Total War: Rome 2 not addressed in 2 years (Reinforcement from a coop player not working). Their support was like a hotline from any random company (shoe wholesale, whatever), with scripted replies. They asked for DxDiag results. Ok, that is completely unrelated to the bug at hand – which cannot be hardware/driver related. Whatever. With these, then, they asked me to update some sound driver. Completely off-topic – it is really not a crash we were talking about. Not to mention the device they mentioned is actually unused during gameplay, since I’m using the soundcard that comes with my headset to play. Then they asked to clean steam cache, check for file integrity. Whatever. Then, they wrote:

Dear customer,

Thank you for sending the information.

Please delete the Rome 2 file you will find at the following location:

– Windows Vista or Windows 7:

C:\Users\<Username>\AppData\Roaming\The Creative Assembly\Rome2

That was the most hilarious part. They actually suggest that I remove my savegames – that would be so convenient to actually then reproduce the bug without the incriminated savegame. I reply them that I think it is time for them to actually reproduce the bug, mark it as confirm, assign someone to fix it, then check the fix, then release a patch. What would any average software developer would, or should do. I got no reply. Basically: bug not fixed in two years despite numerous reports; not a single attempt to actually reproduce the bug (that can be easily done with the provided savegame). Way to triage bug! Some people would say: useless bunch of amateurs.

Less annoying, but annoyingly coming from a company with a better rep, Telltale decided, for at least two recent games (A Game of Thrones, Tales from the Bordelands) not to provide cloud support for savegames. It was in previous games (TWD and I think The Wolf Among Us). You got the picture, I had to reinstall the system to play these, I obviously lost the savegames. With no serious hope, I wrote to their support to ask to implement cloud save and, since the game allows already to start at whatever episode with random choices,  also to make possible to select past choices as alternative to making them random. Their unimaginative reply was:

I apologize for the inconvenience.

Your save data would have been stored in C:\Users\%USERNAME%\Documents\Telltale Games\. If you backed up this folder before reinstalling Windows, or if your old files were moved into C:\Windows.old during reinstalling, then you can copy your Tales from the Borderlands folder back into C:\Users\%USERNAME%\Documents\Telltale Games\.

Unfortunately, if you did not back up your folders, your saves would have been lost, and we do not support cloud saving or rebuilding saves for this game at this time. Again, I apologize for the difficulties this may cause.

Yeah. To sum up, had I not needed their support, I would not have needed their support. Makes sense. Tiens, tu vois, si j’avais eu du lard, j’t’aurais fait une omelette au lard. Malheureusement, j’ai pas d’oeufs ! But is that really support per se?

Same style of issue, GOG depends from CD Projekt, The Witcher series are from CD Projekt, though, if you get The Witcher 3 from Steam, you cannot register it on GOG. But you can register on GOG The Witcher 2 that you got from Steam, so it’s not some completely extravagant. And if you want to play the Witcher 3 extension, you need to get it from the same provider. I asked them to consider doing for The Witcher 3 like they do for The Witcher 2. That would be in their interest – since many players that got it on anywhere but GOG could then decide to give them direct benefit when buying extensions. But no. They replied, like Telltale, that it is not possible to do so. I think I knew that already. Great. You ask them to make something possible, but you just get a won’t fix reply not even branded as such.

Please, consider voting on gog so we can activate already owned (e. g. on Steam) games on GOG. And don’t miss on this thread the smart comments of some people like “Learn to live with your choices, and stop trying to take the easy way” (why, exactly, wouldn’t we get the easy way?), “I think this won’t be possible. Especially because GOG won’t earn any money with it” (what does it changes, exactly, especially when we talk about CD Projekt games?); it looks like people still think duplicating 0 and 1 is hard expensive work.

Total Multiplayer Reinforcements Bug: Rome 2 — 20 October 2015

Total Multiplayer Reinforcements Bug: Rome 2

Already reported in may 2013, june 2013, february 2014, etc: with Total War Rome 2, from time to time, the artificial intelligence player manages to get an army deprived of the reinforcements from other armies standing a few meters away. There is no explanation why it happens – the relevant armies are not using any specific stance, it does not seems it is the result of any spy work. Since multiplayer is turn-based (not to mention you cannot decide who would get a region after a siege held by two players), it is really a game killer,  since most sieges gives the artificial intelligence the opportunity to easily kick two armies with just one by taking them apart.

Altis Life: My Ridealong With Arma 3 — 19 October 2015

Altis Life: My Ridealong With Arma 3

Some article  made me try once again an Arma 3-based mod. The launcher is too big for my 1080p screen and forces usage of TeamSpeak that by default (loudly) messages you whenever a guy enter or exit the channel your are in.  Then Arma 3 randomly saves or do not save changes on the keyboard config. And when it works, you are still dealing with the clunkiest 3d engine on the market: I, once again, un-installed Arma 3 after getting severely injured by walking near a wall (clipping bugs in 2015!) in less than 3 minutes. This note must serve as reminder: do not waste time trying another mod for this game.