almost 3 years ago

Here, take this, it is all I have. I have to find my family!

Off to save my family!

Then the dude sits down, and stays there. So much for this guy's family!

I know last post I complained that these staged NPC save situations involved the person just running off as if the zombie apocolypse wasn't going on. But this dude said he had to go find his family and then sat down and stayed there. What?

Oh he gave me like $3700. With a wad like that in your pocket, you could probably have bludgeoned a zombie with the money in a sock, no? I realize this isn't something worth complaining about in a video game but heck, I'm on a roll here. Let's complain about everything...

This game keeps doing things to make me doubt my sanity in continuing to play it. I put my game session into single player mode to avoid the player killing but all that did was let me experience the poor build quality instead of player hacking.

After getting a main quest update I made my way towards the waypoint and then cleared out a "dead zone". When transitioning out of that area DI:R locked my 360 and after restarting I lost all of that progress. As such tonight's session was shorter than it might have been.

almost 3 years ago

So I decided to switch to Logan in DI:R by importing my original DI character. I actually am having a lot more fun with this character so maybe melee just isn't my style? I dunno, I also started using my XIM3 instead of the controller.

The quests are still ridiculous, and for instance apparently there is only one "brudda" on the entire island that knows the other way to get to Hendersen. You know, except that road with a bridge that didnt even point in the right direction (from my previous post).

Seriously, I am working through this game and enjoying it despite it's numerous and sometimes infuriating faults. One thing that keeps pissing me off is this:

Dead Island Riptide hacker join kill on Xbox Live

What you see here is some kind of player killing hack on the XBOX 360 version of this game. The player joins and immediately casts some kind of attack that looks like a bunch of water and sounds like a bunch of lightning that instantly kills you and then freezes your console. That my friends, is steaming donkey poop.

Now, I started playing this game WAAAAAY after it was released. How is this not fixed? What is going on with Techland? Oh wait, that is totally obvious. What is going on with Techland is this: "We want more of your money and we really could care less if what you buy is garbage".

For the record this player join hack that freezes the console has happened to me twice. It is also the third time I've been player killed in a game that I am fairly certain does not allow friendly fire. Top quality, Techland.

almost 3 years ago

I really loved the first Dead Island game. It had more than it's fair share of bugs and the story lost momentum after the second chapter but it was still fun. I beat it with each of the characters and enjoyed each one. I even beat it with a friend in a day and a half rush completion on a hungover weekend in Seattle.

So naturally I preordered Dead Island: Riptide. I was busy with some other games when it was shipped so I haven't opened it until a couple days ago. At this point I think I may have a bit of buyer's remorse.

I knew that this game was going to be more of the same when I preordered it. The game was announced way too quickly after Dead Island's release and at a time when Dead Island still had plenty of bugs. In many ways I would love more of the same. In fact I've seen more than a couple games release a sequel that improves upon the first so dramatically that the second one is the one to start with if you pick them up later. Sadly, DI: R has none of those refinements. Sure they've lifted concepts from other games and wedged them into this game but it doesn't make what was already there any better.

So, what do I not like? First off, this game seems even more buggy than the original. The harmless stuff like zombies getting stuck in building/car models and sometimes being able to lunge through walls and other impassible areas I can live with. I've already had two sessions end with someone coming into my XBox Live game and player kill me. I am pretty sure that isn't even supposed to be possible, so hax. I had another player summon some kind of lightning storm on me and I never found out the results of that because it froze the game. I also cannot stand how when you're playing coop alone (no one joins your game yet) and you die, any weapon you've thrown vanishes. This sucks for Logan especially hard and I'm playing with that character currently.

The analog combat still is a love hate thing. I love how it feels and I love the control but it is slower than digital and becomes very difficult to wield effectively in hordes. This game has a tendancy to throw boatloads of zombies at you from behind.

The thing that gets to me the most is not the fundamental failure by Deep Silver and Techland to make this game better than the original but its the shoddy production values they've foisted onto us. Sure it is $20 less but I'd argue even with a AAA follow up they probably owe the discount to their customers based on the problems Dead Island had (lets be honest, no one liked chapters 3 or 4).

So what do I think is wrong with the production values? I am glad you asked. Most reviews will let you know that the animations and sounds are not well done. The character models in general lack the quality of most newer games. There are dull faces and blank stares that make the NPCs seem less human than the zombies.

My biggest problem with this game is the quality of the quests and subsequent story arc. The quests in this game are so bad, they're an insult. Nested fetch quests are bad enough (and there are TONS).
Slight spoilers here I got a quest that made me go ask about available boats in some other area. Get there, of course there are no boats but apparently there should be one near a marina.

So I go there (die and lose ALL of my weapons), come back to life, fight my way to the boat, but... no motor is on it? You got it, FETCH A MOTOR!

I do that and drive through the "lagoon" which is really a swamp and am introduced to a totally new monster type. A zombie that can apparently run faster than a boat and easily pull you out of it. Lovely. Die some more, go the wrong way, look at the map and realize I'm just taking this stupid boat to some spot further inland. The whole point was to find a way off the island, but whatever.

So I go to this spot and guess what is sitting there on the sand? Yes lots of zombies but there is also another boat with a motor. So now none of this is making any sense to me. I look at the map and it is so obvious I could have driven to this stupid spot without a boat.

I go to the quest marker spot and its just a busted bridge that doesn't even get me near to the other island we want to go to.

The follow up quest is the biggest hunk of crap quest ever and is what prompted me to write this blog. "Go back to the fishing village and ask again". Ask again? Seriously? This quality of quest design marks the developers of this game as people with no care for their craft. It is a disappointment and makes their already problematic game a displeasure to play. I think good story lines are hard to come up with but non-infuriating quest layering is not. Also clearly driving the player to a spot that obvious does not go to where the story suggests it should is horrible design. These guys should be ashamed.

I'm still playing but this game is making it hard for me to like it.

almost 3 years ago

Today marks my last day as a loyal Sigma customer. Back in May one of the mode dials flew off my SD15 and hit me in the face while I was taking pictures. I sent it to their repair place and because it was out of warranty I would have to pay to have it fixed. No problem, I think, how much can it cost to repair a plastic dial? $250 as it happens, or 1/3rd of the cost of the camera new. That seemed like way too much money for a camera that is 3 years old.

I had it shipped back to me and began the process of repairing it myself. Using their parts supplier I was able to order the mode dial for $5 plus $12 for shipping. I was amazed to receive what looked like the entire top of the camera in the mail. Including the flash unit! All of that for $5, wow! The flash unit requires hard wiring to the capacitor that holds the charge inbetween firing. This means soldering so I had to pick up a soldering station and associated supplies. All together I was out about $75, obviously way less than $250.

I had relatively little problem removing the top to my SD15 but I didn't notice that some glue held on an infrared sensor. The cable perforated and was ruined. No problem right? I am replacing the entire top now, right?

WRONG - I got the top to an SD14 instead!

SD15 in pieces

After getting everything back together the camera functioned almost perfectly. The back color LCD screen worked, autofocus was dead on, saving to memory card was fine and the flash worked (soldering job well done). However, the top monochrome LCD was totally garbled. I rechecked my connections and determined I had reattached everything correctly. What gives?

Here is a test photo taking with a SD15 using the SD14 top sub-assembly

One of the test photos taken with an SD15 using the top of an SD14

Upon closer inspection I realized ONE of the many buttons on the back was labeled differently than my original part. Turns out, Sigma corporate had mailed me the top to the previous model (SD14) because it contained the part I needed. This nearly identical part was obviously not 100% compatible, yet they did not indicate what they had done in the packing information. So now I have a ruined original top and an incompatible replacement. Thanks a lot! Below is a closeup of how the parts differ.

SD15 (top) vs SD14 (bottom)

E-mailing the parts supplier eventually turns up that the top to an SD15 costs thirty-three times more than the $5 replacement I just received. What? Yes, Sigma wanted to charge me $165 for the top to an SD15 which I only need because I had no idea that wasn't what I already had received.

I'm not happy, as you may have guessed. As irrational as it sounds, I almost feel like Sigma would rather I didn't fix this camera myself. I mean, why send me the part in the fashion that they did? I get that its a lot of work to extract a mode dial from the top. Why not include a note with the item stating "SD14 top is not compatible with SD15, remove mode dial included". That seems like a relatively minor compromise, right? At least it wouldn't confuse the customer with an incompatible part that is almost indistinguishable from their existing unit's parts. If nothing else how about a hint that the part I ordered is freaking buried inside this top sub-assembly?!

Alternatively if an SD14 top is so cheap, why not just mail me a refurbished SD14 for like $25? I mean if a replacement SD15 top is about 1/5th the cost of a new camera, the math works out to about $25 for an entire SD14 from them.

In the near future I'll be putting my SA mount lenses up for sale. I've got a 70-200mm F2.8 HSM and a 18-50mm F2.8 HSM. My misfortune with Sigma can be your gain! I'll make a post when the auction is up and running.

almost 3 years ago

Welcome to LOG DOWN

Since Posterous is no longer online, I needed to find a new place to "BLOG". Well you're looking at said place. What do you think? Also, here is a picture of me with a friend.