Tuesday, April 29, 2008

CoH - Ice / Mace build

A couple days ago I posted the current build of my Kinetic / Electric defender, so now it's my Ice / Mace tanks turn to be on display.

The concept behind the ice tank is that they are the status effect and aggro tank. The status effect comes from two of the AOE powers, one of which drastically slows enemies down, and the other which removes enemies endurance. The aggro affect is built on the ice tank having two constant AOE powers, where-as other tanks only have one constant AOE power.

I wish I could say that I went with Mace because it combo'd well with the slowness of ice, which is does... but my ice / mace was the second tank I ever created... and um... lemme put it this way. This picture was taken back on Wed, 2005-12-28 14:18 when my Ice / Mace was still under level 5.

.. And, oh, by the way? My Ice / Mace isn't even 50 yet. The current build itself was originally a test platform for a respec on my Fire / Fire Tank. I've commented that my Fire / Fire tank was an awesome Issue 8 tank, although a not so good Issue 9 tank. So some of the slotting choices that I would use on my Fire / Fire are first being tested on my Ice / Mace.

So far, the build has worked. My Ice / Mace is capable of soloing a 7-spawn Citadel task force, and has once received a complaint from a scrapper that she kills too quickly. At level 44 my ice tank was able to taunt a Rikti Magus during a mothership raid... and my mentor had time to die, respawn at the hospital, and get all the way back to the ship before I had to use Hibernate. At level 46 and 47, I was taunting, and holding level 52 Praetorian WarWolves and Praetorian Spectres... Amazingly enough, at 46 going INTO 47, my Ice Mace was taunting and holding level 52 CoT Demons... The ego trip was promptly ruined though by a couple of con orange Vanguard Swords put my Ice / Mace 6 feet under.

So, lets get started.

Okay, since I didn't do this on my Kin / Elec, a clear shot of the basic power sets. The first thing that might be noticed is that 7 of the visible slots aren't full. No, this build ain't done either. However, the goal of the build should be visible. Basically each power has an IO slotting that improves regeneration, or recovery, or both at once.

Remember the point of a Tank is to take damage, not give it out. As such, my primary power set has almost every available power, and it can be seen that I've taken from the Fighting pool. It's also at this point that I've realized that the shots are taken from before I hit 47 and got another power.

Frozen Armor: I decided to try something a little different with my defense powers. Two Luck of the Gambler IOs offer a 10% regeneration boost, while two Gift of the Ancients IOs offer a 2% recovery boost. So I tried a Defense + Defense / Endurance IO Set from Luck of the Gambler, and a Defense + Defense / Endurance IO Set from Gift of the Ancients. The result is that as I was slotting the final Defense / Endurance IO, my collective Defense was only being boosted by 2.2%. I had successfully slammed my Defense straight into ED.

Hoarfrost: As a power, Hoarfrost isn't so much of a heal as it is a buff. With the current slotting Hoarfrost adds over 1000 hit points to my Ice / Mace's health, putting the health count on the other side of 3000 hit points. The power behind Hoarfrost is delivered from Numina's Convalescence IO set with Healing / Recharge + Healing / Recharge Endurance combined with the Miracle IO set
Healing / Recharge + Healing / Recharge / Endurance. Both of the healing sets adding to the base regeneration and recovery of the entire build.

Chilling Embrace: The IO sets for slow powers are a little annoying for constant AOE slow powers such as Chilling Embrace or Snow Storm, since there are a ton of added enhancement values that are useless, such as buffs for accuracy and range. The level 25 IO in the Pacing of the Turtle IO set is the Chance for Recharge Slow. With the lack of endurance reduction in other slow sets, it's coupled against another Pacing of the Turtle IO, Slow / Recharge / Endurance. The other IO set, Tempered Readiness, couples together a Slow / Recharge / Endurance with an Accuracy / Slow to get the 1.5% boost to recovery.

Wet Ice
: As the status protection Buff, Wet Ice has a limited number of slotting options. This is one of the powers that will be scaled back in an eventual respec so it will only have one Endurance reduction power. That will free up a slot to fill out Hibernate.

Icicles: The second AOE taunt after Chilling Embrace, Icicles is the constant AOE damage aura for Ice Armor. It will eventually be slotted with Scirocco's Dervish for a Regeneration and Accuracy Buff.

Glacial Armor: The current slotting is identical to Frozen Armor, which means that the Defense is slammed straight into ED, with the same buffs to Regeneration and Recovery.

Energy Absorption: Possibly one of the most potent weapons in the Ice Armor arsenal, Energy Absorption is capable of removing over half a con-red Boss's Endurance in one shot. By the time a player gets to 6 slots on Efficacy Adapter, the benefits are almost evil. Buffs to Maximum health, regeneration, recovery, damage, and recharge rate.

Hibernate: Like Energy Absorption before it, Hibernate will eventually be slotted with 6 Efficacy Adapater IO's.

Alright, that's it for the defensive side of things. Now lets go over the offensive side. While a Tank is supposed to take damage, that doesn't mean they are helpless when it comes to dealing damage. While a defender is a helpless kitten compared to a Blaster, with anywhere from 1/2 to 1/3 of the same damage at the same level with the same slotting with the same, Tanks are a bit more realistic in their damage output, with damage rates around 3/4ths to 4/5ths that a scrappers damage output.

The advantage to the Mace Power set is that it has a high single strike damage with each hit, equaling some of the single strikes that scrappers can produce. The disadvantage is that the Mace power set is slow. The animation and recharge times are a little on the obnoxious side, hence the focus on a full 6 slotted Efficacy Adapter, and some of the slotting choices yet to be seen. However, the slowness of the Mace set combos well with the inherent slow down of Chilling Embrace. In addition, the Mace set has a number of stun, knockdown, and knockback attacks.

Bash: Providing the 96% damage boost to Bash, and the nice 5% overall recharge boost, and the nice 7% accuracy boost, is the Crushing Impact IO set. This is one of the cases where the developers pretty much blew the slotting choices. Crushing Impact is a non-rare IO set... but because the rare IO set, Mako's Bite, doesn't have an accuracy boost, Crushing Impact is the most desired out of the melee damage IO's.

You seriously do not want to know how much getting this set cost me.

Jawbreaker: The same slotting as Bash.

Taunt: A tank without the Taunt power is a tank you don't want to play with. Taunt is one of the powers that is used to hold aggro, and pull attacking enemies off friendly forces. In my case Taunt will eventually be 5 slotted with Perfect Zinger to add another 2.5% to base damage. One of the Zingers is the Chance for Psionic Damage IO, which makes it interesting to have even the taunt do damage.

Whirling Mace: All of the tank powers eventually get an AOE power of some sort. The Mace's AOE attack is the Whirling Mace, which hits everything in a circle. Since the power has a bit of a stun attached to it, two Stupify IO enhancements offer punch to the stun effect, and a recovery boost. With 2 slots open, an eventual 4 slotting of Scirocco's Dervish will bring the damage boost up, as well as adding a base accuracy boost to the base regeneration boost already in place.

Shatter: Not finished yet. Eventually will be four slotted with Scirocco's Dervish for... you guessed it, Accuracy and Regeneration.

Crowd Control:
Not finished yet. Eventually will be four slotted with Scirocco's Dervish for... you guessed it, Accuracy and Regeneration.

Before we finish, a quick shot at everything Scirocco's Dervish will bring when I can afford it:

As can be seen, there still is a lot of damage to be unlocked on my current Ice / Mace build. Either way, lets go into the Pool Powers and see how the character has been fleshed out.

For convience, a shot of the first set of the non-IO slotted Pool Powers.

Hasten - Super Speed
: I went with the hasten power because the Mace set is fairly slow to begin with. To keep the pool power count down, and the useful power count up, Hasten was followed with Super Speed, which isn't bad as CoH is fairly flat. On a side note... if you ever see a tank with more than one travel power... RUN AWAY. They will not be able to tank, end of story, no argument.

Fitness: the Fitness pool is sort of a no brainer with ED maxed slotting on both Health and Stamina.

Now for a convenient shot of the IO Pool powers.

: This is one of the reasons I snicker out loud at anybody who tries to use pool attack powers to make up on damage. Two Rope-A-Dope IO's give a bonus regen and a nice boost, about the only thing this power is worth. Trust me on this, even if you ED it on damage, it's no stronger than the basic Brawl attack every hero gets.

Long story short, Pool attack powers are worthless on damage, No matter how you slot them. If you have to take a pool attack power to unlock a power you might actually need or use, make sure you get a good IO effect buff out of it.

Tough: The reason I had to take Boxing. the major problem with Ice Armor is that it is all Defense. In City of Heroes the Defense rating is how hard it is for an enemy to hit you. Damage Resistance is how much damage you take once you are hit. Ice Tanks have next to no native Damage Resistance, so anything with a high enough accuracy rating will do full damage against an Ice Tank.

Tough helps offset smashing and lethal damage. The slotting on this power isn't finished because... well... no other way to put this. The developers messed up on the Damage Resistance IO sets. As shown with the Frozen Armor and Glacial Armor powers, the Defense IO sets offer a high regeneration and recovery IO buff.

The Damage Resistance sets though... do not offer any regeneration buffs. Only one of the sets offers a high recovery bonus, with Impervium Armor featuring a 2.5% recovery buff. However, the Impervium Armor IO set stops at level 40. The other Damage Resistance IO set that offers a recovery boost is SteadFast Protection IO set, of which I have two. Steadfast protection is an interesting IO set since it features an IO that prevents knockback, and an IO that boosts Defense and Resistance at the same time. It shares the same underlying problem as Impervium Armor... it stops at level 40.

I'll probably wind up slotting tough with either Aegis or Titanium IOs, which do go to lvl 50. I won't get any decent IO buffs, but the power itself will be set for endurance and resistance.

Now, for the first Epic Power I took. Focused Accuracy. Slight problem with this power... it drains endurance faster than any other power I've ever had. Super Speed with no endurance reduction uses less power than Focused Accuracy.

I went back into the game to grab a screen of the power I picked up between these shots and the current power. That power is Weave. It boosts the overall defense of all powers, and as shown, is not slotted at all. It will eventually be slotted like Frozen Armor and Glacial Armor.

I'll have one more power to take to finish the build out. I can already tell you that my final power will be Conserve Power, and it will be taken to offset Focused Accuracy. I may wind up respeccing to take Conserve Power first at 41, Focused accuracy at 44, Tough at 47, and Weave at 49.

There we go. My current Ice Tank build.

Diamond Multimedia not being truthful about drivers?

From this thread on MepisLovers : http://mepislovers.org/forums/showthread.php?t=15379

It seems I caught Diamond Multimedia playing fast with their downloadable drivers. As far as I'm aware ATi never wrote support for RadeonHD cards in Windows 2000. Part of the problem is that Microsoft held back Win2K Service Pack 5 to keep Windows 2000 out of synch with Windows Xp, and force those using 2k Pro to upgrade to Xp to continue to use the latest hardware... annoying considering that as of 2k pro Service Pack 4, the OS was synched to Xp Service Pack 1.

Anyways, one of the posters on Mepislovers stated he saw Diamond Multimedia offering RadeonHD support on Windows 2000. So... I went to check it out. It is possible some vendors to modify their drivers to support a particular hardware platform. Case in point for me is the Asus F3K I have. Asus provided a version of the 8.40 driver for use with the laptop. Newer drivers from AMD/ATi won't recognize the chipset. So there is a precedent for vendors offering support for products that the original Vendor isn't supporting... and lets face it... nobody wants to support Vista. (Sorry Ballmer, but you are wrong).

So, upon downloading the driver provided by Diamond Multimedia... the first thing I noticed is that Diamond hadn't actually compiled the driver on their own... it wasn't a special vendor release. It was the forth release candidate for the 8.43 driver.

Upon digging down to the driver install file itself in the AMD driver package...

It turns out that the download Diamond was offering isn't for Windows 2000 at all... it's not even for Windows Xp. It's the 64bit driver.

Diamond's been in hot water before with consumers, and there's no telling how many consumers bought RadeonHD cards thinking the cards would work under Windows 2000.

On the other hand, Diamond hasn't technically done anything wrong. The disclaimer about the driver pretty much removes Diamond from any responsibility about the contents.

Either way... it's made me a lot less likely to even consider Diamond Multimedia as a source for computer parts.

Has Reiser is convicted... so?

If you haven't heard the news yet, Hans Reiser has been convicted on charges of first degree murder against his missing wife. Her body still hasn't been located, a key factor in the case against Hans Reiser. Some news results for the case paint a picture of the open-source communities taking an emotional blow from the conviction. I don't think so Zdnet.

The problem for ReiserFS is that the damage to the file system itself was already done. The situation seems to be similar to the SCO case... Here's what I said on the partial summery judgment against SCO:
What the ruling will mean for Linux on the desktop is uncertain. The original lawsuit against IBM did not do anything to slow down or stop Linux development. If anything, it forced a review of existing documentation procedures, and also clarified ownership of the code in use. In some aspects, Current SCO's lawsuit assisted in promoting Linux as several proprietary Unix clients with no reason to move products would have heard about the lawsuit and done their own investigations. Getting tangled up with AutoZone only served to promote Linux to car repair personal who maybe would have never been introduced any other way. Going up against IBM and Novell only ensured that the lawsuit would be read about in most tech press oriented outlets.

For the most part then, the benefit of the lawsuit has already been realized during the lawsuit. Very few tech companies were waiting on an official ruling to pursue the development of Linux or implementation of Linux in their products, exampling Dell.

The key point to the SCO case is that by the time the case started to wrap up and it became obvious to the legal system that SCO's charges had no basis in reality, the potential damage caused by SCO's charges had already been accomplished.

The same holds true with Hans Reiser. Here's a sampling of what I wrote on the subject of the murder charges on this blog:
So, why didn't we publish our results like good little academic researchers? Note the OSs we were using. Mepis 6.0 and Fedora Core 6. yeah, we were wrapping up our research just as Hans Reiser was being hauled off on murder charges. We made the choice to not publish our results because A: REISERFS was going to be as good as dead with Reiser gone, and B: we felt that publishing our results, even using our casual blogs, would be seen as a hack job against the guy. We've seen it before, the claims of people with an Axe to grind. So we junked it.
So, even back in 2006, when we were running the tests of a modified Mepis 6 and modified Fedora Core installations on various hard-drives, we already knew that ReiserFS was toast, even if Hans Reiser was acquitted on the charges. We chose to downplay our results and not publish them because there already was enough bad press going around at the time.

Nobody liked Hans Reiser. He had an awful reputation with the Linux Kernel Maintainers, and his email flames were as legendary as Theo de Raadt's. Everybody "knew" he was an arrogant programmer who refused to comply with even small requests... a point made obvious on KernelNewbie's wiki.

By the time September rolled around in 2007, the fallout had already mostly occured. ReiserFS was disappearing as an option on most major Linux distributions. Distributions that had been shipping with a default ReiserFS format were going to EXT formats.

Now? There's no emotional impact to be had. ReiserFS was already completely out the door, or being shoved out the door, and the Open-Source communities had well over a year and a half to get used to the idea. Some of the news reports indicate that the court case was drama filled... but most open-source followers wouldn't know that. I read a lot of pro, and anti, Open-Source websites, and Hans Reiser hasn't made the news blurbs for months. Those involved... simply didn't care.

It is very possible that many involved with Open-Source work who had encountered Hans Reiser, either in email or in person, already believed he was responsible for the missing Nina Reiser in some way. I'm one of those. There are some posts on MepisLovers, such as this post in this thread, where I indicated I already believed he was guilty, or mentally deranged.

The case of Hans Reiser does indicate a strong difference between the Open-Source Communities and one of the strongest competitors available, as well as a difference between political parties.

Locally, where I live, there used to be a prominent Republican leader by the name of Linda Schrenko. Linda used to be actively involved with school system in such an extent she was voted into the office of School Superintendent. Linda Schrenko also held the honor of being the first women to hold statewide office in Georgia. She also happened to be a crook, and was found guilty of embezzlement. The fallout of her conviction means that Linda Schrenko will never hold office in the Republican party... ever. The fallout also affected her friends and families, as associates who were never proven to have done any wrong-doing have found themselves out of job opportunities, or having hit glass ceilings in their existing jobs. When somebody commits a crime in the Republican party... you never hear from them again.

Locally, where I live, there is a prominent Democrat leader by the name of Charles Walker. Note the difference in terms that I use: is instead of used to be. Charles Walker is currently in jail, and will be there until 2014. He was found guilty on charges of Tax Evasion, mail fraud, and conspiracy... on 127 separate charges. The Democrat party though treats him no differently. When Charles Walker gets out of Jail, there is a spot for him in the local Democrat leadership, and it's well known that many local democrats are convinced that Charles Walker did nothing wrong. Or if he did do something wrong, that's perfectly forgivable, he can have his old job back.

Take it to the national level, and the pattern holds true. If a person is a minority, or a women, they get power and position in the Republican party. Condoleezza Rice and General Colin Powell come to mind. However, if somebody commits a crime or does something wrong in the Republican party, their political careers are over.

By the same token, to the party in which race and sex matter, commit a crime while in office? Say, commit perjury while President? Completely forgivable, have a position in our leadership. That's the Democrats way of doing things. Their absolute focus on sexism and racism has already cost them any chance for a presidential seat in the 2008 elections. No matter who the Democrat's nominate to run, the damage has already been done and there is a massive split in the Democrat party.

Now... compare that to say, Open-Source... and Microsoft.

Commit a crime in the Open Source communities... and that's it. SCO, Via, Intel, Nvidia, Microsoft, and many others are all examples of those who have done something wrong in the open-source communities, and have tarnished reputations because of their actions. Intel and Via are still scrambling to find some credibility in the open-source markets, but isn't happening. Anybody who is seriously interested in Open-Source is going to buy AMD. End of story. End of argument.

Commit a crime in Microsoft... and you get a promotion. Okay, I don't know if that's actually true. Microsoft does have the distinct honor of being a convicted criminal at the level of a government on the continents of North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. The only continents in which I'm not aware of convictions occurring are Australia and Antartica. The point is that Microsoft has been known to commit various crimes by law in the past, breaking rules and regulations. The behavior hasn't stopped either, it will take years for ISO to repair the damage done to its system by Microsoft.

Actually, it wouldn't take years, but 2 minutes if the ISO would simply reject all Microsoft held standards from the ISO registers, and ban Microsoft from submitting any standards... ever.. again.

See the comparison? Do something wrong in, or against, the Open-Source communities, and you are hung out to dry. Do something wrong while employed by Microsoft, and just sit back.

If anything, the conviction of Hans Reiser serves more as a lesson in who people are... and in what they do... than as an emotional hit point.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Webcomics : writing - wthcomics

Okay, before I start, this post isn't exactly about the most, ahem, mature of subjects. So fair warning, if your kid is reading over your shoulder, you probably do not want to have to explain this post to them...

Back when I first mentioned WTH Comics, I said this:
Wthcomics was also one of the few webcomics I've read that was funny from two different perspectives. Joshua continually referenced various anime shows and movies in almost every story arc. Most comics that do such references typically aren't that good unless you know the source material.
One of the recent comics serves to illustrate the point behind Joshua Jericho's writing skills. It's this one : http://wthcomics.com/wth0338.html The basis of the storyline have gone to a Dave and Busters. The previous comics have outlined some of the characteristics of the Dave and Busters franchise, so you have a good idea of what Dave and Busters is like. Then comes this comic. Joshua and Blaine are playing some sort of shooting game.

On first glance the comic's joke is a simple strippers pole joke. If you've been reading the comic story you probably have a good idea of what Dave and Busters is like, so for the most part, the joke is turning the place into a pole-dancing club.

Then... there is the artwork. The visual gag of Blaine holding two pistols while Joshua holds one. Avid gamers would automatically know that most arcade shooters of the type only have two weapons. So there's a joke in the number of pistols, and then an additional joke on the name of the game... Final Death 3. The visual gags continue with Joshua stopping to think in the second panel while Blaine blasts away, then the kicker in the 3rd panel when Joshua pans his eyes over the place and concludes that the only thing missing is a strippers pole. The visual gag is padded out by Blaine looking sorta stunned... as he's thinking something to the effect "that's not a bad idea."

The joke is further padded by the reference to Chuck E Cheese's, which is famous for it's tagline of Where a Kid can be a Kid. Others might known Chuck E. Cheese's as a Show Biz Pizza Parlor.

However, to get the main joke, you don't have to know about Dave and Busters. You don't have to know about Chuck E Cheeses. You don't have to care about what game is being played, or the gag in the number of pistols Blaine and Joshua are holding. On it's own, as a singular comic, there is a contained joke, then a joke built on by the continuity of the comic, and then the visual gags on top of that. So, for me, the comic is funny from several different viewpoints, whether or not you have direct knowledge of all the subjects involved.

And yes, I am directly missing knowledge on the direct subject of the joke itself... and there is no reason to introduce me to the joke's subject matter directly.

AMD : RS600 / Crossfire

Following on the heels of yesterday's post about textured video support, somebody popped in with a question about support for the RS600. The RS690 chipset is the better known support chip for the AMD processor platform, and the one named explicitly on AMD's own development page : http://ati.amd.com/developer/open_gpu_documentation.html The RS600 is the lesser known, and lesser sold, Intel processor compatible chipset, and a sore point with Novell devs. It seems that ATi marketing didn't remember selling the RS600 chipset... and who could blame them... and were a bit confused when the first tests of the RadeonHD driver weren't working on a supported platform.

So, that brought up a question of my own. At one point Intel produced chipsets and motherboards that carried official support for ATi crossfire. I know this because I actually have one of those boards thanks to a generous donation. Ergo, I posed this question:
Saist: drat... Bridgman left... oh well : since he'll probably get it anyways : question about Multi-GPU support, e.g. : Crossfire : Some of the official Intel chips and motherboards support Crossfire rendering, e.g. the D975Xbx :: http://www.intel.com/products/motherboard/D975XBX/index.htm :: although multi-gpu support is probably far off down the RadeonHD roadmap, will those who have the intel chipsets be able to use multi-gpu support? Or "not enough information at this time" ?

The answer... was a bit surprising:
bridgman: Saist: too soon to tell. If we need to use information obtained from Intel under NDA in order to make Crossfire work on an Intel chipset then we would need Intel's permission to release the info in open source form. That said, if we can make a single card work on the chipset then there's a decent chance we can make two cards work

Next question though... why is this important? Well, one of the questions that has been posed before is why do Open-Source drivers matter? If a particular vendor such as Creative, ATi, and Nvidia release quality proprietary drivers on a regular basis... why should users care if the driver is opened up?

I might be reading between the lines here, but from the way Mr. Bridgman phrased his eventual response, it would seem that CrossFire support under RadeonHD would work on any platform that could recognize two GPU's. Taken out of context, it might be possible that the Open-Source driver could deliver CrossFire support where AMD legally cannot... on chipsets like the Nforce SLI series.

That is one of the direct benefits of an Open-Licensed driver... you can support platforms that the original vendor may not be able to support.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

AMD : Bridgman clarifies "textured video" support

Another update from the #radeonhd channel. AMD's John Bridgman went over the state of textured video support across the drivers.
bridgman: coolix/Goga: for GPUs before R5xx there was enough video processing in the overlay block that you could support xv without using the 3d engine. Starting with R520 and RS6xx we removed the overlay video proc and do the colour space conversion and scaling using shaders. Adding textured video support will be more work for 6xx than for 5xx since the texture blocks don't support YUV format directly, so we'll need to do some more shader coding.

We did the initial 3xx-5xx textured video work in the -ati driver rather than radeonhd
since the DRI support was still being added to radeonhd, but the DRI work is making good progress so we should be able to do 6xx texvid support directly in radeonhd rather than developing in radeon and porting across to radeonhd like we did for 5xx.

dennisb: in the ati driver when I tried textured xv I got a lot of tearing lines (just a comment about it, not a complain really)

bridgman: the texvid code is pretty new so it's still being worked on. It's probably weakest on 5xx right now. The other remaining issue is that I don't think there is any mechanism to sync the video playback up to monitor vsync right now so you probably would see tearing when there is a lot of motion on the screen

bridgman: dennisb: if you are still seeing problems with recent git code pls let us know, since we'll be using essentially the same code in radeonhd as well. I haven't checked to see if there is a bugzilla ticket open. WIsh I had a better way to differentiate between "really bad tearing" (something we should fix) vs "mild tearing" (which will need vsync support and more buffering to address)

yes... I did edit the text lines some more to make it easier to read.

CoH - Kin / Elec Build

Going back to City of Heroes for a bit. One of my larger, and more common, complaints about some of the players is those who try to play one class as another. I've droned on multiple times about blappers not existing, and detailed basic changes made to the way blasters play in order to eliminate blapper play from the game. I've gone off about Fire / Kinetics that simply don't qualify as a kinetics class. One of the things I haven't done though is show my own power sets and my own builds... so... here we go.

The first build here is a Kinetics Electric Defender. The Kin / Elec build is popular because of it's huge amount of endurance drain, and a decent targeted AOE nuke. My build, however, is not yet complete. I simply ran out of money for IO's, and I made a mistake on one of my epic powers. So I'll go over what I've done with the build, and where I'm going with the build.

The kinetics primary power is Transfusion. This is a multi-purpose power as it heals friendly forces, debuffs an enemies regeneration rate, and drains enemy endurance. The downside to transfusion is that it is a targeted attack, and thus is reliant on the accuracy check.

Because I didn't have the money for Numina's Convalescence, mine is currently 4 slotted with Doctored Wounds. Because most of the healing sets are low on +accuracy I have two accuracy boosts attached.

Siphon Power boosts the damage rate of friendly forces around the -kin while decreasing the damage of the targeted enemy. However, it has a limited number of allowed enhancements, and there isn't much reason to slot Siphon Power. I have just an accuracy boost and an endurance reduction on it.

Siphon Speed is the next IO slottable power. As with other Kin powers it is multipurpose. Some players will slot Siphon Speed with travel enhancements, but the real beauty of the power is the slow debuff it can put on opponents. I've got it 4 slotted with Pacing of the Turtle io's for the 9% accuracy boost, and a single Tempered Readiness IO to make up some points on endurance, recharge rate, and slow boost.

Increase Density is another power I've written about before. It's one of the best short term buffs, and with the recent addition of real numbers, easily matches the Empaths Clear Mind for hold protection.

The reason why ID is slotted with Aegis IO's is that one of them is the Aegis unique, which offers a 3% psionic resistance, and a 20% reduction to all status effect timings.

Speed Boost is the next power in line. Not really a case where I ran out of money, although it is. This character hit 50 before the endurance modifications where introduced. By the time Endurance modifications were available, most of my influence had been spent on the secondary attack powers, or was going to my Willpower / Dualblades scrapper.

A lot of players slot Speed Boost with speed enhancements, which is a bad idea. The beauty of cracknip is that it boosts both endurance recovery, and recharge rate. I've already got one of the IO's that is just about perfect for this power set, Efficacy Adapter. As can be seen in the pop-up the Efficacy Adapter IO set has plenty of recharges and endurance recovery options.

Transference is another power that Efficacy Adapter seems to be built for. As shown, it's currently slotted with accuracy and endurance modifications.

Fulcrum Shift is the ultimate power for a kinetics as it massively shifts the damage from an enemy mob to a friendly mob. Mine is currently 3 slotted with recharges and 2 slotted with accuracy to make sure i don't miss, and that it comes back up in time the power to stack. After two doses of Fulcrum Shift, most team-mates are maxed on their damage output.

Inertial Reduction is one of the throw-away powers for Kinetics, along with repel. I took IR as my level 49 power to assist with Issue 8 hamidon raids. It's still useful in the Lady Grey Task Force, but that's about it.


Onto the attack powers, and where I spent money like there was no tomorrow... which was a mistake, as I'll clarify with each power.

Charged Bolts is the attack power that has to be taken, no way around it. I have Charged Bolts 5 slotted with ThunderStrike IO's for the 7% accuracy boost at pump 4, and a damage rate that is pushing straight into ED.

Now, I'm going to say this as plain as I can... even though I have a near maxed attack boost for my Charged Bolts, that does not make this a blaster power. To put this in perspective, against a level 45 minion, Charged Bolts only does 110 points of damage. Even with a full blown Fulcrum Shift Charge, this just isn't a blaster power. So, rule #1 of Defenders, they are not blasters, and do not have damage.

Ball Lightning was the next attack power I took... and you seriously don't want to know how much I spent to 5 slot this power with Positrons Blast. Yes, the damage is once again pushing straight into ED, and there is the accuracy boost and recharge boost... Long story short? I should have spent the money on my primary powers.

Voltaic Sentinel was the next attack power. It's a great power because it creates an untargetable pet that fires out with about the same strength as the basic first attack. As a pet, Voltaic Sentinel will continue to fire even if the player is status effected. This is great for Defenders who are weak against such as effects as sleep, hold, stun, immobilize, and hold.

On the other hand... it's still a secondary attack power... which means it's weak compared to the Blaster equivelent.

Thunderous Blast is the only decent damage power available to the Defender with electric secondary. It's also a full blown nuke, and a targetable AOE attack. Basically this means the Kin / Elec can throw Thunderous Blast from a good distance away, and have time to get to cover as the endurance is drained away.

Coupled with Fulcrum shift, a mob of oranage minions can just about be cleared. It's also about the only time you'll see a defender with electric secondary kill anything. Again, you seriously do not want to know how much I spent to get 5 Positron Blast IO's.

The last power in my attack set is Zapp, which is the sniper power. I've got it 5 slotted with Calibrated Accuracy IOs for the Accuracy and recharge boost. A single level 50 crafted damage IO adds in some of the punch that the Calibrated Accuracy IO set lacks. This is the power that's hit Paragon Protectors in full elude or MoG... Slight problem... it does next to no damage... at all. The animation is pretty cool, and your expecting Armageddon... but what you get is slightly less powerful than Charged Bolts...


Okay, so I don't think much of my attacks. I spent large amounts of influence to boost my damage rating up to levels hitting ED, only to find that soloing con-yellows is a bit of a problem. That's okay. Defenders are not blasters, and the secondary attacks are intentionally meant to be 1/3-1/2 the power of their blaster counterparts. Personally, I'd rather Defenders not be so weak, but the difference is designed to force players to concentrate on their primary power sets... or pool powers as I'll go into now.

Pool powers are meant to round your character out, providing travel capabilities, and allowing some ground to be made up where an archtype might be a little weak.

Now, I hold that IR is a throw-away power. I say this because IR can only be gotten well after the player has passed level 25, and Siphon Speed is reliant on Accuracy. I'd rather have a travel power that I know I can trust to be there... I'd also like to shore up some of the weak points in the Defender build... in my specific case the lack of knockback, hold, or immobilize protection. So, I went with the Leaping power pool.

Combat Jumping, or as I've called it, Combat Prancing, is 4 slotted with Serendipity for the +accuracy boost... this could actually be improved... Another defense set offers a higher boost, but I couldn't afford it due to the attack powers that I was trying to add damage to.

Not much to say on Super Jump, other than it has a +stealth IO.

One of the downsides of the Kinetic path is that there is no native revive power, nor any direct heal. In order to shore up my lack of healing, I took the med power pool for Aid Self, Aid Other, and Resuscitate.

Aid Other was a power where i spent some money to get the Numina IO's. A Quick glance at the benefits, and it's hard to ignore a +12% to regen rate, and a +6% buff to all healing powers.


Okay... now to the Epic Powers, which is where I did mess up, big time. Stuff like my IO choices on my primary powers can be fixed by earning inf... But in order to try and prevent the end-drain from my nuke, I took the Epic Power Conserve Power... which turned out to do nothing when my nuke was fired... and I was better off waiting for enough endurance to fire off Transference. A respec will change my choice to the Epic Power Build Up.

As of now, what won't change is my other Epic Power, the Temp Invulnerability. It'll get IO slotted though.


Okay, that's it. That's my current Kinetics / Electric build. It's far from perfect, with several weaker IO sets, and some powers that could be IO'd that are not... but it works.

The key to defenders is that they don't attack, at all. As shown, I spent tons of money maxing out my damage... and yes, I could drop and re-arrange a few powers to get a couple more attacks. However, that would be pointless... since most of the time a Kinetics is busy with the primary power set.

As a buffer, healer, and debuffer, I'm far more powerful, and useful, than I would be trying to attack.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Since when did the 9th Circuit clue in?

Considering I don't live on the West Coast, I hear about the 9th Circuit of Appeal's court a lot. The 9th circuit has traditionally been a hotbed of Liberal Democrat activity, with a long history of making laws, rather than simply interpreting law. A quick search of CitizenLink.org for 9th Circuit gives a quick idea of how often the 9th Circuit makes the news.

So, I find it a bit startling to read that the 9th Circuit seems to be making some good decisions, one example being a ruling in favor of Pro-Life license plates, another being a positive ruling over the Christian Bible being used by Jury's, and yet another positive ruling on the 10 Commandments. Then I catch on the Register that the 9th Circuit of Appeals has opened up the floodgates for massive class-action lawsuit on Microsoft for the "Vista Capable" promotion.

These events are extremely surprising for a court system that was supposed to be made up of the Bad Guys. The 9th Circuit is part of the court system where a Federal Judge halted oil drilling off the coast of California in lieu of an unlimited multi-year Wildlife Study. The list of bone-headed decisions to come out of the California courts is longer than my arm if printed on 8''x11'' paper with 8pt font and no margins.

The end result is that I'm a little mixed on one of their latest rulings, which The Register reported on. Essentially, the 9th Circuit has allowed Customs agents to search laptops by judging laptops to be personal property, and there-for liable to be searched alongside stuff like your pants and shaving cream.

On one hand, I find myself in favor of the ruling. Sometimes when going through the air-port I was wishing that some security officer would make me turn my laptops on, just so I could have a reasonable excuse to show off Linux and explain why using Windows was bad. On the other hand, I'm not really sure that I agree with the idea that Federal agents can simply open up my laptop and start poking around.

It's almost like a decision made by Atlanta some months back. Atlanta's city governmenbt decided to try and cleanup the downtown area by authorizing police to detain people dressed in a certain manner. Nice idea, Atlanta is a beautiful city, but the type of person who wanders the streets downtown is, unnerving to say the least. So speaking for myself, I applauded the desire of Atlanta to clean up their city. On the other hand, the last thing any city needs is real fashion police. The cops, laywers, wardens, and court system might have ample proof that somebody dressed in a certain way means trouble... But I'm not comfortable with the idea of government having that much authority.

The problems themselves are sort of complex to work out, and there are not easy solutions to problems like gangs or people bringing in Child-porn on un-searched laptops.

The quick-shot hip answer I would have is to move the job of searching off to a private party.

To use the example I came up with for Atlanta's Image problem... I don't want the city itself to mandate what people can or cannot wear. I don't want the city to mandate detaining people for wearing certain items of clothing... well... unless it's a nazi swastika on a black armband... then detain away...

While I don't want the city to have that power, I do want the private business owners to have that power. It's entirely possible, and legal, for a business to decline to serve a person based on how they are dressed or look. It's entirely possible for a store owner, manager, or employee to decline service to anybody they like. If Atlanta want's to clean up the downtown area? Simply stop servicing people who are wearing certain types of clothing.

In the same manner, while I don't want Federal agents to have the authority to search my laptop at any time they want... the Airlines themselves could easily write into their terms of service for flight that they CAN search any equipment brought on board the aircraft... or that if you fly with a particular airline, you waive your right to certain privacies, which could include allowing Federal Agents to search your electronic equipment.

The onus of security then is moved to the airline itself, into the private sector, while the government sector is still available for the actual enforcement.

Again, that's just my hip shot reaction to how such a matter could be dealt with, so whether or not it's possible or feasible... I just don't know.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Warsow updated in Debian packages

While taking a look through the Debian repositories stumbled across a 3D shooter built on ID's Qfusion engine called Warsow. For those who don't know, Qfusion is the open-sourced code base to Quake 2. Warsow itself is a cell-shaded arena game, which is fairly decent, but the packages in the Debian repositories were extremely out of date.

Now it seems that Andres Mejia of the Debian Games Team is responsible for pushing out the latest Warsow update, 0.42, to the Unstable repository : http://packages.debian.org/warsow

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Why an American "Top Gear" will fail

I'm a fan of Top Gear, a British car show presented by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May. I haven't mentioned the show that often, it's only appeared once on this blog in a post covering Wikipedia's lack of accuracy. I love the show for several reasons, some being that I like fast cars, even if I'll probably never buy one. I love the antics of the Top Gear presenters as they take on wild tasks such as crossing Africa on used cars, or being the first people to drive to the magnetic north pole. So you'd think that I'd be thrilled that NBC is looking to bring Top Gear to the US. No, I'm not. In fact, the program will fail.

There are a couple of clarifications to be made here. Top Gear has been in the US before, both on the Speed Channel, and on BBC America. However these appearances have been pale copies of the original show as Top Gear runs a full hour on the BBC, an impossible time slot to fill on US networks with commercial breaks. Both Jeremy Clarkson and Andy Wilman, the executive producer of Top Gear, seem to be aware that many of their US fans get the show through Bit-torrent, which is being honest here, how I wind up watching it.

Other factors to be aware of is that the planned NBC show won't be Top Gear. As of now, it will simply be called Gear. The NBC show also will not be starring the Top Gear presenters. Instead the show will be staffed by American hosts such as Adam Carolla and Tanner Foust.

The first, and common, argument made against the American Top Gear, hereafter referred to as Gear, is that Top Gear is Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May. I've watched the first season of Top Gear that featured Big Jason, the used car salesman, so I've seen a Top Gear without James May. I cannot tell you how glad I am that Big Jason was sacked from the program. It's not that he was a bad presenter, I liked him... after all it's not like I'm any less rotund... or any less named Jason... but his leaving opened up for James May, who has in my opinion, been brilliant. I've also seen episodes of Tiff Needell's Top Gear without Jeremy Clarkson, and I know that's why the old Top Gear crashed. People watched the show for Jeremy, not Tiff.
A lot of the charm, charisma, or whatever you want to call it, of Top Gear, is the personality clashs of James, Richard, and Jeremy. No matter how good the American hosts are, they'll never be able to replicate the experience and emotion that James, Richard, and Jeremy deliver.

However, that argument is something of a mug's game. I'm no fan of Adam Carolla, but NBC isn't pitching the new show towards the veteran Top Gear Audience. The new show, in order to survive on network TV, would have to be pitched towards an audience used to commercial breaks and in-show sponsoring.

I probably should clarify that I don't watch TV. I don't even have a TV hooked up in my own room. Yes, there's a cable coming in, but the spot that used to be hooked up to a TV currently has a 23" monitor with a PS3 and Wii connected. I don't watch TV for several reasons. For starters, network studios cannot produce good content.

The fact is, NBC, ABC, and CBS all have strict policies in place about their shows. Their shows cannot be conservative, cannot show conservatives in a good light, and cannot be anti-politically correct. Any shows that have characters who are anti-politically correct must paint those characters in a bad light. As far as I'm a aware from what I read through the likes of Plugged In, in network television only Fox and whatever WB / UPN has become (don't know, don't care) have historys of positive content. Recent example from Fox being the show 24, and on CW the show 7th Heaven.

The fact is, and this not up for debate, is that ABC, NBC, and CBS have declared war on good television, and have declared war on conservatives and those who do not agree with the liberal democrats.

Now consider that Jeremy Clarkson is the guy who once made a joke about a quintessential German car only having sat-nav that goes to Poland. Jeremy Clarkson is the guy who took an AK47 Assault Rifle on a camping trip. Richard Hammond and James May raced a bunch of cards around quarry... and wrecked them... not to mention playing darts with cars. When it comes down to being politically correct, Top Gear has never been close, and I'm not even going to touch on the topics of when Clarkson made the environmentalists look as dumb as they normally are.

As a matter of principle then, Top Gear itself is in direct violation of NBC's policies. An American Version could never follow the same format. The humor itself, the basic writing, the basic concept of the show would have to change to fit NBC policy.

It doesn't matter how good of a comedian Adam Carolla is, and it doesn't matter how good of a driver Tanner Foust is. It doesn't matter if NBC gets Damon Hill to play the part of the Stig. It doesn't matter how closely Adam and the Top Gear staff want the American Version to be the BBC Version... NBC policy will shut that down.

So, even if Gear gets off the ground as a show, the show itself will have to fight studio policy at every turn to remain true to the BBC model. That is going to affect items like writing, and what can be shown on television.

Does that mean that Jeremy Clarkson and the Top Gear team should not keep trying to break into the US market? Nope. I think there is a market for Top Gear, but it's not on network television. I'm not even sure it's on Cable Television.

It's my opinion that the best market for Top Gear in the US, is the Playstation 3 and Wii platforms. Nintendo has made headlines in the UK markets with the recent addition of the BBC Iplayer to the Wii platform. There's no way around it, the Wii is the dominant platform of this generation of consoles. Putting the real Top Gear in the US, on the Wii, through the Iplayer would allow the BBC to retain the original formatting. No commercial breaks, no sponsorship problems, no issues with US network televisions war on good TV.

The Playstation 3 is also a good choice because Top Gear is already on the PS3... through Gran Tourismo. Just as there is no way around the Wii being the hottest platform to develop for and buy, there's noway around the near completely domination of Gran Tourismo in console racing. If you like racing at all as a video game, Gran Tourismo is probably in your collection. The Gran Tourismo audience is Top Gear audience.

Again, going through consoles would enable the BBC and the Top Gear staff to avoid the problems with the US television market. Here's hoping Jeremy Clarkson and the rest of the Top Gear staff figure that out before NBC becomes yet another failure in the long list of attempts to bring Top Gear to the US.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

SSBB: Maps update

Might have to turn this into a regular update or something... but an extended collection of the Brawl maps already listed. I decided to try a different approach as well with this update and include a text file introducing each of the maps and how the maps are designed. So here goes.


Metal : Live and Learn

Metal was the first map I created. It's not as hazardous as one might think at first glance. While it is a large map with plenty of space on the side for major launches and little room for recovery, the ground isn't as harsh as one expects. For those who are experts at the double jumps and "up+b" maneuvers, travel between the 3 main levels is fairly easy. For those who aren't so good at vertical movement, a couple of vertical lifts provide access to the top and middle layers.

The major trap of Metal is the metal box in the upper left hand corner. Getting into the box is fairly easy from the right hand or left hand sides, but with no vertical release, high damage counts are to be expected for those who face off inside the box.

Cautious players might be better served to stick to the lowest level and away from the box as the wide open sides offer plenty of recovery room.

Blocky : Seven Rings in Hand

Blocky was the second map created in the editor, built with the idea of creating less synchronous maps. The left side and top are completely open, but recovery isn't hopeless. The two ladders above the pillars are great for vertern jumpers getting an aerial advantage over their opponents. The moving and stable platforms along the left side of the map make for some interesting hold points, and offer recovery options to those sent flying.

The trap of Blocky is the lower right hand corner. The two pillars atop the enclosed sections give those sent flying a chance at not leaving the map, but it's vicious at the bottom. The middle lower portion of the map is almost entirely enclosed with blocks with only one exit. The idea is to create a high damage zone where players can't get away, but at the same time can't be smashed out.

Aggressive players will want to push the outside of Blocky and the left hand side. The tall vertical wall on the right hand side of blocky makes some smashes less likely to succeed. Cautious players will want to try and hang around the area under the pillars, where they have options to move, as well as retaining recovery chances.

Aery : Main Theme (Star Fox 64)

If Aery looks dangerous, that's because it is. There are no solid blocks to count on for recovery on this small map. Aery's main trick feature is the line of falling blocks along the upper side of the map. Underneath the falling blocks are 3 horizontal moving platforms that intersect with a vertical platform which can return players above the falling blocks. The very top of the map is comprised of the horizontal jump-through flooring, as well as the entire lower portion of the map.

Aggressive players will be all over Aery, pressing horizontal smash attacks to push other players outside of recovery. Cautious players will be in for a bit of trouble. The safest place to be is underneath the falling blocks, where there can be limited recovery for vertical smashes. The best advice for the cautious player is to keep moving.

BCAR4L : Ashley's Song

Be Careful is built on the same model as Aery. However the massive amounts of horizontal "jump-through" flooring pieces are swapped for diagonal pieces. The Falling blocks give way to a vertical corner and tunnel created by ice blocks. Inside the tunnel is a single vertical moving platform, and to the right of the tunnel is a ladder.

Be Careful is tough to play for those with heavy damage attacks. The multiple diagonal segments on the lower side of the map prevent all but the strongest smash attacks from succeeding. At the same time though, the only solid flooring being comprised of ice blocks presents a problem for those trying to make a stand atop the map. The best approach will probably be to hit and run, and aggressive players will work to push opponents to the edge or rack up enough damage to smash out. Cautious players will probably find the middle of the map under the ice blocks to be the best place to hang out.

Prison_1 : Ashely's Song (jp)

Truth be told, this map was modeled after numerous MegaMan games. Specifically the final zone where MegaMan has to go after all of the normal bosses... again. However, just 9 of the tech cages didn't seem like enough. One large map, 3 more cages inter-spaced at the top, and vertical platforms, and it seemed like a good idea.

Prison_1 is a challenge in vertical attacks. There simply is no place to make a stand or to take damage. Aggressive players will hate the large amount of space to traverse and few obtainable item drops. It's hard to press a constant attack anywhere, so low damage counts seem to be normal. Cautious players will hate the open space, but probably love being able to play keep away.

Aery_2 : Encounter

I can describe what I was thinking in one movie. Big Trouble in Little China.

The whole idea of this map is to keep jumping and sniping away at opponents in mid-air. Slight problem... that really doesn't work for a Smash Map. The concept would probably work better if there were more spots for players to gain recovery opportunities.

Trap : Vs Ridley

I love this map. The Trap maps are designed to be explicitly that... traps. The Outside of the map is marked with plenty of diagonal solid blocks on the upper left and right hand sides, topped by jump-through platforms. Inside the center of the map, the trap begins. Conveyor belts... encourage... players to step deeper inside. Falling blocks at the end of the conveyors help block the openings to the top of the map, so fighting can get heavy as the blocks come and go. The lower left and right hand sides are marked by two recovery opportunities. Players knocked off the top might be able to get to the pillars on the bottom... if they try.

The real trap though, is contained in the lower middle. A solid blocked segment only has access from the top by falling blocks... and from below? Nothing but air. Players can risk entering the trap and the platform inside, forcing those who want a kill to come down... But there's only one way out. If the falling blocks show back up? Players become locked down below with no other option but death. It's not so bad in Last Man Standing Matches... but torture when a kill count is on the line.

Cautious players will love this map. There's plenty of space on the inside to take a punch without going flying, and standing inside the trap itself is a perfectly acceptable option. Aggressive players will curse the map as they fight to keep themselves... and others... out of the trap.

Trap_2 : Underground Theme (Super Mario Bros.)

Trap_2 is a fairly open small map. The top portion contains a few jump-through platforms, and a couple of vertical moving platforms from the middle level, as well as some jump-through segments in the middle.

The fun starts as players move down the map. Conveyor belts... encourage... players to fall off the sides, and if that weren't bad enough, below the conveyor belts are 6 falling blocks, with 2 ice blocks, and only two open spaces.

The worst part? Below the Ice and falling blocks are nothing but spikes.

Falling down on this map can easily be lethal. Yes, it is possible to get back up to the mid level, but opposing players are not going to make that an easy occurrence. Cautious players are probably best served by hanging around the middle and trying to trap more aggressive players on the spikes below.

Ice Tunnel : Space Armada

Ice Tunnel is a basic map. One large square with 4 levels. There's a straight path down through the square, and the right and left sides share identical 3 block tunnels. The bottom of the Square is open on both sides, and the only way back up the top is either some creative jumping up the middle, or catching a ride on the vertical moving platforms. To make the cramped map worse, the flooring is filled with ice blocks, so good luck getting a grip on things.

Ice Tunnel is a choice map. Players can either take the fight into the square itself, risking high damage counts at the expensive of relative smash protection... or players can duke it out atop the square where there is more room to maneuver.

Layered Cake : Mario Circuit

At first glance Layered Cake is a standard Brawl map. A top level of jump-through flooring, a mid layer of solid blocks, and a relatively open area down below with diagonals and tech cages. Recover options abound for players flung off to the side, and vertical smashes are almost unheard of on the lower levels.

There is a catch though. The lower mid of the map features an ice flooring topped by solid and jump-through blocks. Those feeling adventurous or aggressive can try to lure opponents inside for high damage counts.

Otherwise, this map is fairly normal. It's cake.

QCQ : Battle for Storm Hill

QCQ falls in with Prison_1 as a map I'm not too particularly happy with. The Concept was to focus on building better small maps. The only special action item in the map is a falling block over some spikes, which are easy to get out of.

No_Safe_Place : MGS4 ~ Theme of Love ~ Smash Bros. Bawl Version

This is one nasty map, no way around it. The middle of the map features along drop tube down to a solid rounded chamber. The only way out is by two ladders extending 2/3 the length of the map. Outside the tub a sparse collection of platforms and conveyor belts discourage the adventurous sort. The spike filled bottom of the map offers some hope of recover for those outside the tube... at a price.

This map does have some problems. For starters, characters with un-interruptible "up+b" attacks, such as Ike, will find themselves trapped in the lower part of the tube. Characters with relatively horizontal "up+b" attacks, such as Donkey Kong, will also find themselves stuck. AI characters also have problems dismounting the ladders from inside the tube, and entering the tube from the outside.

The concept of this map is to focus attention on the tube itself. Damage counts of 500%+ were not uncommon as attempts to vertically smash opponents out of the tube and off the map waged into areas best described as ludicrous. The long sides of the tube and rounded bottom made all but the most perfect vertical launches unlikely to succeed, even at damage counts over 900%. yeah... I made a button masher map.

No_Safe_Place_2 : MGS4 ~ Theme of Love ~ Smash Bros. Bawl Version

No Safe Place 2 takes the tube concept and splits it, with tubes on both the left and right hand sides. Recovery options abound, with smash attacks from inside the tubes unlikely to generate an off the map launch, even at max damage of 999%. The outside edges of the maps are lined with spikes, and the lower portion is dangerously open.

However, vertical platforms down the middle of the map, and cages along the mid top offer cover options, as well as blocks and horizontal moving platforms along the bottom of the map.

This map does have a problem because of the ladders used to exit the tubes. AI characters may not properly dismount the ladders. Most AI characters also display a tendency to gravitate to the inside ledges.

No Safe Place 2 lives up to it's name. It's a knock down drag out fight, which I like.

Trap_3 : Climb Up! And Get The Last Chance!

Trap_3 is a continuation on the theme of Trap. As in the first Trap the top of the map features some solid and jump-through platforms.

The very middle of the map, however, is a filled with a trapezoid with two falling blocks on top, solid lined sides, and one falling block set into a near solid bottom. This is actually the second version of Trap_3. The first version was completely locked in, which didn't play test well. The falling block in the bottom was added so that players couldn't actually be locked in to the trapezoid. It was possible in a two person fight for both players to be inside the trapezoid when the upper blocks respawned, preventing either player from being able to smash out.

The outer sides of the Trapezoid are fitted with conveyors with pass useful items or players down below... where they'll find ice blocks and spikes inter-spaced along the lower side of the map. Those making use of the falling block from the Trapezoid will find that it exits right atop an ice block... surrounded by spikes.

Trap_3 is a fast action map where players can take their chances outside of the trapezoid... inside though, damage counts will go up in short order.

Trap_4 : Climb Up! And Get The Last Chance!

Trap_4 is a modification of the Trap_3 design. The conveyor belts on the sides of the map have been replaced by Ice Blocks, and the inter-spaced ice blocks and spikes below have given way to more spikes and falling blocks. The trapezoid has been modified to have an inside floor entirely made of falling blocks, all dropping onto spikes. The upper platforms also received modifications, the solid brick blocks changing to ice.

Simply put, this was to put Trap_3 into Challenge mode. This map is for aggressive players only. Stopping even for a moment can be a bad idea. It's best to work the outside edges with ranged characters and snipe in on melee characters who can, and probably will, make use of recovery options provided by the ice blocks around the trapezoid.

Mepis_Linux : Mute City

The first map where I attempted to spell something out inside the map itself. For those with jumping problems two vertical moving platforms provide access between the two layers.

Hey, I like it...

Je.Saist : Seven Rings in Hand

I think I crossed some line here spelling out my own self in a Brawl map. Which line I crossed, I don't know. When I find out, I'll let you know.

Attempting to give this map some playable value, the period in Je.Saist was provided by a recently unlocked pinwheel. Jump-Through Platforms abound, giving players options on places to run to, although the letters provide plenty of recovery options on their own.

Gamenikki : Marionation Gear

Almost all of the usable blocks for the map went into spelling out Gamenikki alone. Ergo the single gameplay-aid is a Jump-through platform helping vertically challenged jumpers move between the two levels. The G in Game provided a surprisingly nasty damage trap, the i, k, k, and i below offered some surprisingly effective recovery options from smash attacks. Overall the map turned out to play better than I thought it would.

Zeria : Ocarina of Time Medley

Another adventure to see what would fit on a Brawl map. Zerias wouldn't fit... but Zeria would. To spice up gameplay options the lower part of the map features four pinwheels, and 3 jump-through platforms help action head back into the letters.

No_Safe_Place_3 :
MGS4 ~ Theme of Love ~ Smash Bros. Bawl Version

The third No_Safe_Place map is really a... bugfixed... version of the first No_Safe_Place map. The ladders into the tube have been extended down a block, and the bottom of the tube has been shortened by a block. The ledges of the tube at the top were sheared off, and two of the bottom spikes taken out.

The removed blocks where used to provide another set of ledges along each side of the map, and distances were re-adjusted so that even vertically challenged characters like Donkey Kong could reliably make the jumps around the map.

The changes have improved AI interaction, and play testing yielded more smashes out of the tube itself. It's still a challenge... don't get that wrong.

Wheely_Bin_1 : Main Theme (Star Fox)

Wheely_Bin_1 was a return to working on open-air maps with few recovery opportunities available. The map gets its name from the four large pinwheels at each corner of the map. The middle of the map features 5 jump-through flooring levels 4 blocks wide.

The best way to approach this map is to be aggressive. There are no places to take cover, and even moderate horizontal smashes can put players at the mercy of the pinwheel timing.

Wheely_Bin_2 : Snake Eater (instrumental)

Wheely Bin 2 is an inverse of the first Wheely Bin map. The pinwheels are moved to the inside middle, and the platforms are split along the outside. The split outside platforms meant less foot room, and making up the lost foot room with the available parts meant taking the former 5 level flooring scheme and turning into a 4 level scheme with less floor panels per level.

Again, testing shows this map to best be handled by constant pressure on opponents.

Boxy : The Dark World

The Boxy maps were sort of inspired by something named llearch. with a solid outside frame, and pinwheels for eyes, the map is supposed to look like a somewhat smiling box going bald.

I don't know if I actually accomplished that. Anyways, high damage counts, but be wary of the vertical smashes.

Boxy_2 : King R.Rool / Ship Deck 2

Boxy 2 wound up looking more like Mike the TV than anything else... The solid side walls of Boxy 2 give way to a lower flooring comprised of nothing but falling blocks hanging right over a long line of spikes. Players then have a choice, if they get knocked down to the spikes and trapped... do they wait for somebody else to open up a block and use the open spot to get back up... or is it better to just take the fall?

Either way it goes, Boxy 2 is for those who are light on their feet and quick with the jumps.

Boxy_3 : King R.Rool / Ship Deck 2

Boxy 3 is just a deep box filled with 6 pinwheels. Nothing fancy. Just some solid sides, a solid bottom, an open top, and no place to recover if smashed over the left or right wall.

There are several ways to play this map. The walls at the bottom are great for piling on the damage and controlling other players with horizontal smashes. The pinwheels give options for getting above, and away, from the fray, useful in neutralizing those with heavy vertical attacks.

Half_N_Half_1 : Skyworld

I, and the AI, hate this map. The intent was to put the fighting on most diagonal surfaces, backed by pinwheels in two corners and platforms on the other two corners for recovery. The reality is that the AI had difficulty navigating the diagonal surfaces, and human opponents got lost in a hurry.

Only included because somebody else might like this.

Half_N_Half_2 : Ending (Yoshi's Story)

An attempt to inverse the first Half_N_Half by reversing the direction of the diagonals, putting the pinwheels in the platform backed corners, and thus hopefully giving players a less chaotic experience.

That didn't work out so well. Horizontal smashes to the left of the map are a cheap way to get through the map quickly. Horizontal smashes to the right invite chaos against the numerous diagonals, and AI opponents have trouble navigating the map.

Only included because somebody else might like this.

Rave Kitty : Clu Clu Land

Another play with the letter writing, and because I've been playing John Joseco and Jamie MacKenzie's character in CoH for a long time, I went with trying to spell out Rave Kitty.

The gameplay turned out better than I expected, although vertical movement needed to be aided with 3 vertical moving platforms, and a handful of jump-through flooring pieces.

Boxy_4 : Tunnel Scene (X)

A return to the box format. The upper 2/3 of the map are dominated by a nearly enclosed space filled with 2 pinwheels and 4 conveyors. Two jump-through platforms on the top edges of the box allow for vertical smashes out, which lead to utter chaos.

The lower 1/3 of the map is opened up with a relatively safe bottom, only tricked up by some jump-through platforms right in the middle for those who get careless dropping out of the box.

Aggressive players are in for a bit of trouble as the best place to rack up damage counts is inside the box itself, which is also a tough place to smash out of. Cautious players hold a small advantage since there are multiple hit and run options available, and plenty of enviroment items in the box itself to shut down opponents with ranged attacks.

Boxy_5 : Tunnel Scene (X)

Boxy 5 is boxy 4 thrown into an ice blender. Gone is the relatively safe bottom set of long diagonal bricks, replaced by ice blocks with a couple of conveyor feeds on the outside edges.

The inside of the box has been inversed, with the pinwheels, conveyors, and slots at the top swapping spots. Instead of being able to aim along the edge, Boxy 5 features a vertical smash window almost as tight as No_Safe_Place. Combat on the lower part of the box has been spiced up with a couple of ice blocks, so players can't always count on having a firm grip on the ground.

In play testing our cautious guys didn't like this version as much since the ice blocks removed some of the mobility from the map. As an aggressive player hitting the vertical smash window feels more challenging than in No_Safe_Place. The window is larger to hit since there are more spots to launch from, but it feels harder since there is more room for targets to run.


Alright, that's the current map count so far, as well as explanations and tips behind each one.