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Storytime With Mason – Look Ma No Eyebrows

At an early age my parents realized i was a giant magnet for trouble when i was bored. I lacked discipline they always told me. Meaning if i didn’t have anything to do i would make shit up as i go, usually ending with something broken, something bleeding or quite possibly all the above.
When we moved to NJ, my parents immediately sought out after school activities for their kids. My ass landed in the Scouts. Theres a few photos floating around of me in my Cub Scout and Boy Scout uniform somewhere. not sure where, i’ll probably find it in two weeks and tweet it like i did with my pajama photo.
My best friend in NJ was also in the same Boys Scout troop as me, Lamont.
Lamont and i managed to get stuck together in the same.. is the right term Squad? i remember it was called Badger and that fit us pretty well because our squad was a bunch of mean fuckwits. i think they stuck us all together in the hopes we’d kill ourselves off and cull ourselves from the herd.
Anyway, on our third or fourth month in Badger Squad we got assigned morning cooking duties. This mean we were in charge of setting up our fire, doing all the cooking and clean up. Other members of our squad were in charge of dinner and lunch. Well Lamont and i being as competitive as we are decided we wanted to one up our squad mates and cook bacon as well as pancakes. (if you have ever been in the scouts, pancakes quickly becomes a staple of your wilderness diet.)
Lamont and i get the fire going and we’re cooking pancakes and Lamont decides to throw a bunch of bacon on to cook.
Here’s the thing about bacon, its full of grease. Grease is flammable. In about 2 minutes flat we had a major grease fire on our metal cooking plate. A big one.
now i don’t know how they do it now but it used to be they taught us ff you have a fire, use something non flammable like baking soda to put it out. We kept extra boxes of baking soda around just for this reason.
The one thing you don’t do is pour water on it.
So here i am standing over it smacking at it with my spatula trying to get the flaming bacon off the cooking plate and Lamont comes in with a cup of water and pours it all over the cooking pan.
it doesnt work.

The simple little grease fire explodes in my face, i violently leap back trip and land on my back smacking parts of my clothes that are now on fire. Flaming Grease, fire and cotton don’t mesh well together.
Everyone stops and turns to look at this disaster that has occurred over the space of about 10 seconds. *Everyone pauses for a moment to take this all in* Everyone then fly out of the chairs run over and begin stomping on me to put me out. At some point i take a boot to the face so my nose starts bleeding. So now i’m burned, bleeding and worst of all starved.

Finally when they realize i’m not on fire, they pick up my smoking carcass and sit me at the picnic table. My face hurts, my back hurts, frankly everything hurts.

Daniel one of the other members looks at me and starts laughing and pointing, everyone walks back to the table and starts laughing. i’m confused, in pain and starting to get really angry.

“Whats so fucking funny.”
“Dude….. dude…. you’re eyebrows.. you’re eyebrows are gone!” *note the ….. are from him laughing so hard he can’t breathe*.

Everyone immediately comes over to check this out and they all start laughing at me.

Someone finally hands me a mirror and i finally catch a glimpse of myself, busted nose, blood smeared all over my face, my face red with a 1st degree burn like a bad sunburn and no eyebrows.

I was pissed and scared. “How am i going to go home like this? My parents are gonna kill me.”

“Oh we’ll just draw them in, nobody will notice i promise.”

So my ‘friends’ in badger squad used a sharpie to draw fake eyebrows.
I got my revenge though a few months later and broke Lamont’s nose. We were best friends for years after that till i moved to New Mexico.

Size Matters

So recently @manglehaft posted up a photo of his thief standing next to the Charr. I thought i would share what i think are slightly better images  illustrating the size differences between players of different character races.

Norns are Huge

Norns are Huge

Norns are Huge

Norns are Huge

I would be hard pressed to tell you which race is the largest or tallest. Charr or Norn, i think the Norn win out only because Charr are hunched over slightly.

On the Hunt for Pirate Treasure with Thundershrimp


Goonies References for the win!

Jumped into a group with Zerena Hoofs (@zerena_hoofs) and Madthilda (@MadynnMads) and went exploring for Pirates.

Sorry, i only took photos once we were in the actual cave. missed taking photos of the first area with the traps and puzzle gate.

Pictures after the break.  Read more…

Guild Wars 2 Primer – Part 1. Character creation.

Everything you need to know about getting started in Guild Wars 2.
Warning: Not responsible for Giant Wall of Text Crit that may end your life.

So lets start off with what’s Guild Wars 2 about.

Hey Mason, What the hell is Guild Wars 2 about?

Guild Wars 2 is set in the world of Tyria and is set roughly 250 years after events in the first Guild Wars. Everything has gone to shit since the first game with the awakening of Elder Dragons, these Bad ass Mofos who want to basically want to conquer everything. Half the game is your personal story involving fighting off the hordes of these Elder Dragons and assembling a force of good to fight off these forces of evil. The other half is being a Big God Damn Hero and helping out the general populace. (taken from Wikipedia and slightly edited.

Hey Mason, tell me about character creation and whats all involved there so i know what i am getting into.

Character creation is as simple or as complex as you want it to be. It starts off with you selecting a server. This is an important choice as it determines who you fight for in World vs World PVP. Apart from that it makes no difference. You can party and chat with people from other servers.
Ex: i play on the U.S Yaks Butt server in the guild Thundershrimp. Two of our guild members who hang out with us however are located on the Fort Aspenwood server. They can still party and do stuff with us they are just unable to play with us when it comes to WvW pvp.

Once you’ve picked a server you need to pick a slot to start creating your character. this is followed by character race and gender.

Wait Mason. What kind of races are open to me? What the hell is a Charr or Sylvian, what the hell is that Yoda looking race?!

There are five (5) playable races in Guild Wars 2.
Charr – The Charr are a race of large, savage, feline creatures. Originally an enemy race in Guild Wars 1 they’ve formed a tentative truce with the Humans in the wake of all the evil dragon shit going down. They are a largely militant culture which closely resembles the Ancient Greek Spartans.
Humans – The humans like in many MMOs are pretty culturally diverse and follow a Monastic government with religious views being polytheistic (Six (6) gods representing different aspects of their society, war, knowledge, etc)
Asura – The Asurans are a race of  artisans who dwelt in underground cities before they were forced to the surface. They look like a cross between Gnomes and Yoda.  Culturally and government wise they value intelligence and ingeniousness. they are the intellectual Athens Greeks to the Charrs Spartan greeks.
Norns – The Norns are 9 foot tall humans who closely resemble the Ancient Norse. They live for the hunt and for glory. Their society tends to be focused on personal success and glory with loyalty to friends being to the death. Their government style is  pretty decenteralized with small groups gathering together for survival and the leader being the most badass person there. unlike the human who worship the six gods. the norn tend to have a more Shamanistic religion. They follow the ways of the four (4) sprits: Bear, Wolf, Raven and Snow leopard.
Sylvari – The Sylvari are humanoid plant race who spawned from a giant tree known as the ‘Pale Tree’.  They are the newest race and tend to be very inquisitive by nature. Their culture and religion tends to center around worship of the Pale tree who also leads them. The Sylvari strike me as a cross between Elves and Dryads.

So i’ve picked my race, what classes are open to me?

There are Twelve (12) classes or professions available to the player after you select your race and gender. They fall into three types, the soldier type which is the Guardian and Warrior, adventurer type which is Engineer, Ranger and Thief and the scholar type which is Elementalist, Mesmer and Necromancer.
Guardians – The defensive heavy armor class. They focus on self and party protection through the use of Virtues.
Warriors – The offensive heavy armor class. They focus more on damage dealing and have a very agressive play-style.
Engineers – A medium armor class. They are the masters of mayhem using device kits, weapon kits and turrets to mix things up in battle.
Rangers – A medium armor class.  With their pet companions they are excellent damage dealers.
Thieves – A Medium Armor Class. The thieves are all about dishing out quick chains of damage and then slipping away in the shadows. powerful burst damagers capable of stealth.
Elementalists – A Light Armor class. Able to adjust their elemental attunement they sling elemental spells.
Mesmers – A Light Armor Class. mesmers create powerful illusions to fight by their side. They are the masters of harassing enemies with phantoms or misleading with clones. Their illusions can be destroyed to cause status effects on the enemy.
Necromancers – A Light Armor Class. Using life force taken from defeated enemies to fuel their spells. They can also summon undead minions to fight in combat for them.

After you have selected your race and class you can now chose to randomly select everything and skip right to the end and name your character or dive right in and customize up your character up the wazoo.

Before i get any further, be aware that there is no wrong race/class combinations. *i haven’t fully vetted this statement so i may infact be wrong* An Asuran can be just as great a warrior as a Norn or Charr or vice versa with a Norn Elementalist being as great as a Asuran or Sylvian
So what does it mean to pick a Charr verses a Human, verses a Norn?

Basically it affects your personal story which is the main quest line of the game.
Also each race has specific elite and utility racial skills. (all of these open up at level 30 and cost 10 or 30 skill points)
Norn’s can shapeshift into specific Beast-Spirit forms based on their spirit totems.
Asurans can summon Golems
Humans can transform into a Avatar of a god or summon pets
Charr can summon warband members or large weapons
Sylvari can summon monsters or turrets

Okay, so i’ve selected a race and class and have an idea of what my character is going to look like. Now i have quiz? WTF MASON!!

Relax, take a deep breath. the quiz is important despite what you think.
The quiz is only 5 questions, The first question is to determine starting equipment (choice of helms and shoulder piece),  the second is to determine your personality.

Wait.. what’s personality?
Personality is a gameplay mechanic that affects a characters interaction with NPC’s in the world. The three personality aspects are ferocity, dignity, and charm. Personality affects gameplay by offering certain dialogue options only to some types and alterting reactions of certain npcs. This means that if you chose to stay ‘In character’ then you are rewarded with very unique dialogue choices and scenes. sweet!

After the personality question you are then given three race specific questions which affects your overall personal story line arc. Ex: My Norn Warrior chose to have a rival. this resulted in my Norn having to compete in a tournament to regain his honor and prove himself as a Big God Damn Hero.

Finishing the quiz bring you to a quick summary written as a Manifesto where you sign at the bottom by entering your characters name.  Selecting Next after this takes you into a quick cut scene where your choices are given a nice video and voice over. Then your dropped into the starting area.

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer Demo Info

After a conversation this morning with @asros i realized i’ve got a lot of info about the Mass Effect 3 Demo somewhere in my head that i should really write down for other people to see.
Please note this is a draft and thus has no particular formatting

How does the Mass effect Multiplayer Co-Op Demo Work?
You (the player) take control of a character (based upon (1) of (6) classes) and then with (3) others proceed to survive 10 waves of enemies while completing objective based missions. As you complete waves and objectives you earn experience and credits to level up your character and purchase recruit/veteran packs for items and character bonuses.

What classes can i pick from?
There are 6 with each class having roughly 4 (or 5 can’t remember) different races which vary up the playstyle for each. The classes include Adept, Engineer, Infiltrator, Sentinel, Soldier and Vanguard. Each class has its own strengths and weaknesses (i’m not going to go in depth about them. i don’t have all day to write and you don’t have all day to listen.)

What races can i pick from?
Not all races are available from the get go. Generally 1 human character (male or female) is selectable. The others are unlocked from Recruit/veteran packs. The races that are available though are Asari, Drell, Human, Krogan, Salarian and Turian.
All races have their own unique animations, voice work and limitations. The Turians for example have higher health and defense and weapons bonuses (which makes for an awesome soldier class work but they can’t dodge.)

How do i customize my character and what can i customize?
After you have selected your class and race, you can customize your character under the appearance menu selection. initially your limited to only a primary color and a highlight color. As you unlock class/race cards (wow that sounds bad) you get more appearance customization options such as a third color option (the underarmor), armor pattern selection and then suit light coloring.
Sadly, actual facial and skin changes are not available in the demo.

What how do i get new weapons, upgrade weapons and customize weapons, what kind of limitations are there for using guns?
Just about every weapon from ME2 and some new ones are available. just not from the start. Players start off with the same default equipment. The Avenger rifle, Mantis Sniper rifle, pistol, shotgun and submachine gun. New weapons and upgrades are picked up from Recruit and Veteran packs.
Weapons are selected from the weapon selection screen.
A player is allowed 2 weapons at a time. (be aware that weapons detract from your power recharge time. Bigger weapons subtract bigger amounts. So in theory if you are playing a powers based class such as the Adept or Sentinel you will want to use light weapons or a single weapon).
Weapon customization is done in the weapon select screen, with a particular weapon selected hit the customize button (on the xbox this is X) and it’ll bring up a unique looking window showing your gun laying on a bench. Mods are selected by pressing up and down to highlight Mod Slot 1 and Mod slot 2 and then hitting left and right until your mod of choice is shown. hitting the select option installs the mod and adjusts your weapon stats accordingly.
Weapon and Mod upgrades are unlocked through Recruit and Veteran packs and any upgrades are automatically applied. (for instance if you have a Mantis 2 Sniper rifle and unlock an upgrade your weapon is automatically upgraded to Mantis 3 with all stats boosted accordingly. Everything is automatic)

You keep mentioning Recruit/Veteran packs what are those and how do i get them?
One of the things that really sets MAss Effects Co-Op multiplayer apart from other games is that weapons and equipment can only be unlocked from item packs that are purchased from an ingame store. Think of it as like booster packs for the card games we played as a kid. Except half the cards are one time use only items.
Recruit packs generally upgrade your starting equipment and have a few 1 time use only items sprinkled in. very rarely will you have a rare card like a new weapon or a new class card.
Veteran packs include much more rare items such as one time use only equipment cards, weapon cards and class cards. Veteran packs is also much more expensive, costing about 20K credits verses 5K for a recruit pack.

You’re mentioning one time use only items, what are those?
One time use items are what you think, items that can be used only once but that can be stockpiled. there are two types of item cards. ones that provide equipment bonuses and ones that provide immediate bonuses.
Equipment Bonus Items provide a single bonus to either Armor, Weapons and Ammo that lasts an entire game. (1 game is 10 rounds, once you extract or are wiped out the item is used up). You can have up to three bonuses (1 for Ammo, 1 for weapons and 1 towards your Armor or powers at a time.)
Immediate Usage Items are items that provide an immediate affect and are only usable twice per game (although you can stack them past the allocated 2). I don’t know how its oriented in the PC version but the xbox version has them assigned to the DPAD on a controller.
In order – Up – One Time Use Missle that kills everything in its blast radius
Right – Instant Shield/health regen
Down – Instant Revive when you are downed
Left – Instant Ammo resupply.
These items are picked up from Recruit/Veteran packs despite being a limited amount are able to be stockpiled for future games.

When i look at match difficulty what does Bronze, Silver and Gold mean?
Bronze, silver and gold scales the difficulty in that order. Gold is harder then Silver which is harder then Bronze. As you scale up the difficulty you scale up the enemies you fight. However the rewards scale up as well. A typical 10 round bronze match will net you about 90K experience and 15K credits. A silver match will net you 130K experience and 35K credits.
One of the things i pointed out to @Asros that i think is crucial to know is that the difficulty does not scale well between 1-4 people. What i mean is that there seems to be the same amount of enemies when 2 people are playing a match verses 4 people. This can be rough for new players starting out who can’t get 4 people together for a match.

How are matches laid out?
There are 10 waves per match with waves 3, 6 and 10 being a variation on three types of objectives.
Objective 1 – Eliminate 4 Key Targets (this can vary but is generally an elite type for that wave. in the later waves this can mean a Phantom, Atlas or Combat Engineer. in the earlier waves its generally a Commando, Guardian or Nemesis type)
Objective 2 – Hack a central point. In this objective, you are tasked with wireless hacking a terminal. Basically all four (or however many you are playing with) all stay within a circle and wirelessly hack a computer. The Hack goes faster with more people in the circle and more exp is given as well to everyone involved.
Objective 3 – Hack 4 Key targets. 4 items are randomly placed through the zone that need to be hacked.
For Objective 1 and 3, the next targets are randomly selected AFTER the first target is eliminated or hacked. So you can’t jump out of order. You have to kill/hack Target 1 before Target 2 is available.
Also, the faster you complete the objective the more credits you get as a bonus.
Waves do not complete after you complete the objective. You must complete the objective and then kill all remaining enemies to go onto the next wave. However any credits you earned stay with you. (So you could complete the objective and then get wiped out and still get the credits and exp you earned up to that point)

The other 7 Waves are the standard kill all enemies while staying alive waves with the only rewards being experience, experience and more experience.

Random Question Time.

How do i create/setup/join matches?
There is several ways of doing this. The first is to randomly join someone else’s game, this will take you to a lobby where you can change characters, weapons, level up powers, purchase new equipment etc. However the problem with this is that its harder to play with friends since its all random
The other way is to create and host your own match and invite your friends. There is a bug or poor code design, however that prevents random people from joining your game (or it just takes a really long time to get others to join). However the game does support drop in and drop out so friends can drop in while the match is in play.

@kneedough Asks “How do you delete a character? Is it possible? What about unlocking classes? Is there a way to unlock no helmet or toggle it?”
At this time there is currently no way to delete your character, classes are unlocked through the Packs, and there is no way to unlock/toggle a helmet. If i had to take a guess this was to make it easier on the multiplayer system. Also Each class contains two human characters which have the same powers. One could in theory use one for one power layout and a second as an alternative. There is no way to reset powers but i’m sure Bioware has something planned for the future.

@krizhek asks “How long does a me3 co-op usually last?”
Anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes depending on the skill level of the players involved. Generally a bronze match will be between 18-23 minutes. Silver Matches can range upwards of the 30minute mark. Unsure about Gold Matches. As your characters become more powerful and get better upgrades. The time it takes to complete a match drops to about the 18-23 minute mark. The fastest I’ve ever seen was 17 minutes.

Laptop Impact Report

An Example of something i do maybe once or twice a month. Really wish these guys could take better care of their equipment.

I’ve attached a word document with three photos taken showing the laptop damage and showing what I think is the primary impact point.
The damage seems largely contained to the actual Liquid Crystal layer of the screen. This explains why when the laptop is shut off there doesn’t seem to be much damage.

My opinion is that something impacted the screen, in my opinion there are three likely scenarios that I think could have done it and one alternative suggested by Daniel as well
1. Scenario 1 – Someone impacted the screen. – The size of the screen impact and the fact there is only one point of origin appears to negate this scenario. Generally if there was an impact from someone’s fist there would be multiple origin points and more physical damage to the screen itself apart from just the underlying liquid crystal.
2. Scenario 2 – Something impacted against the screen (either by something thrown or something was dropped on the screen) – This is the most likely scenario due to the relative small size of the impact point.
3. Scenario 3 – The lid was closed while there was still something on the keypad like a pen. (This is the least likely of the three scenarios because the impact point in question is too small. If an object like a pen was on the keypad while the lid was closed the impact point would larger and roughly pen shaped.)
4. Alternative Scenario Proposed by Daniel – Someone leaned on the laptop accidently or a large weight was placed on the laptop (Also unlikely due to small impact point. There is also no significant bowing in the laptops lid which would indicate pressure being placed on the lid.)

If you need anything more from me, please let me know.


The Actual photos

Star Wars The Old Republic – Websites that should be bookmarked. – Large database of articles and guides to everything SWTOR related. – Much like wowhead and thotbot, torhead is a massive database of items, quests and user comments which with a little reading skill can provide answers to everything and  – two huge wiki sites covering star wars and star wars the old republic.


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