Monday, June 30, 2008

Diablo 3 officially announced!


From Ars Technica: Eight years in the making: Blizzard unveils Diablo III

An excerpt:

So far, two player classes have been revealed: the Barbarian and the Witch Doctor. As in Diablo 2, the Barbarian fills the role of basher, using weapons and might over spells to wade through hordes of enemies. The first new class, Witch Doctor, brings to the table a collection of fire spells, curses, mind-control spells, life-draining abilities, and controllable pets. Though speculation is running wild about which other classes will make the cut, many are looking back at Diablo 2 for hints. The original starting line-up for Diablo II was Amazon, Barbarian, Sorceress, Necromancer, and Paladin.

In addition to a brand-new story and as-yet-unrevealed new player classes, known improvements for Diablo III so far confirmed include a Havok-powered physics engine for object and cloth dynamics, as well as water and ragdoll, more side quests including class-specific quests, improved random dungeon creation, class-specific gear with class-unique art, gendered versions of each class, ...

(emphasis added)

I know it's a little thing, but reading that there'd be gendered versions of each class made me really happy. The Witch Doctor sounds like a cross between the necromancer and the druid. The ability to make a female barbarian makes the amazon -- the token female warrior -- a little less "necessary". However, she was the ranged fighter; I assume that gameplay element will be represented. I also assume they will have some kind of elemental spellcaster.

I love story-driven RPGs, I sometimes roll my eyes at "action" RPGs, and I prefer 3D games. But Diablo 2 has a crack-like quality to it. Mr. Entity and I still play it from time to time. I hope they don't screw up the formula.

The official site has a rather extensive gameplay demo.

Friday, June 27, 2008

How much do I hate Outlook? Let me count the ways.

Hatred #1: CTRL+ENTER: If you press this while editing a message, the message is immediately sent. It appears, based on a Google search, that the only way to get rid of this behavior is through (drumroll please) a registry hack. Srsly?? You know, in Thunderbird, there is an option to disable that. I found other workarounds, some more useful than others, such as setting a 1-2 minute delay on sending messages (so you have time to abort the send), a VB macro prompting you if you're really sure you want to send, and the most helpful one of all, not pressing CTRL+ENTER. Wow! If you don't like the way something works, don't do it? You don't say! I have an even better solution: Don't use Outlook at all! (I'm getting massive eye strain from rolling my eyes.)

Hatred #2: The reading pane. When I first started using Outlook at work, I was extremely irritated that when I would click on a message to read it, it would still be flagged as unread; I had to click on another message to mark it as read (or, right-click on it and select "Mark as Read"). I'm used to Thunderbird's behavior of marking an item as read immediately when I click on it. I finally found an option, buried DEEP in the maze-like settings:

Tools > Options > Other > Reading pane...
Reading pane options:
[ ] Mark items as read when viewed in the Reading Pane
Wait [ ] seconds before marking item as read
[x] Mark item as read when selection changes

"Awesome!", I thought. If I select Mark items as read when viewed in the Reading Pane, then all I have to do is click on a message, and it will (after a few seconds, depending on the Wait # seconds... setting) be marked as read.

Then I found that if I was quickly skimming messages I was uninterested in, I wasn't "viewing" the message long enough for them to being flagged as read. No problem, I thought. I'll enable both reading pane options.

How naïve of me!

Despite the fact that the reading pane options are implemented as checkboxes, they behave like radio buttons: if you select one, the other one is immediately unselected. So, I can't select both "Mark items as read when viewed..." and "Wait # seconds before marking..."!! I mean, if it's too difficult for the code to allow both options (more eye strain), the options should at least be radio buttons.

Speaking of the reading pane, that reminds me of another irritation. (This isn't bad enough to warrent a Hatred, since it's a feature I never use.) If you right-click on an unread message, you see that "Mark as Read" is mapped to 'k'. Yet if you right-click on a read message, "Mark as Unread" is mapped to 'n'. So you can't simply remember that 'k' is a read/unread toggle. I wonder why they did that. My assumption is that they are implemented as separate menu items that are made visible or invisible depending on the message's status (read/unread), rather than a single item that's dynamically renamed depending on the message's status. And if they're separate items, then they can't be mapped to the same key. (I mean, it depends on the toolkit they used to develop Outlook, of course, but in my (admittedly limited) GUI experience, something like that could be changed with a callback/event function.)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Belated thoughts: Indy 4

I should've written this when the movie was fresh in my mind, but alas, I didn't. However, I did find an IM convo I had with someone the day I saw the movie, so I dug up the log. ;)

In a nutshell: Too much Lucas, not enough Spielberg.

There are minor spoilers in this review, so I've stuck it in the first comment.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Storm of Zehir!

Storm of Zehir, the next NWN2 expansion pack has been announced! YaaaaaAaaaaAAaaay!

RPGWatch linked to three interviews about Storm of Zehir: those at Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Strategy Informer, and Action Trip.

I'm interested to find out what story elements they will use to tie in with 4th edition D&D. I have mixed feelings about the new party system. On the one hand, it'll be nice to be able to make a full party yourself: I rather enjoyed making my "Wheel of Time" party in IWD1. ;) (Although character creation did get a bit tedious in the IWD games: by the time I got to the 4th character, I was getting really tired of going through stats). On the other hand, one of the things I enjoyed about the BG and NWN games was not only what adventures my character would have, but whom he/she would meet along the way. The interviews indicate that there will be some NPCs who can join your party, but that they won't be as fleshed out as the MotB companions.

(I was going to say "the OC and MotB companions", but really, were the OC's companions very well developed?? No, I don't think so. ;) With the exception of Sand, of course.)