Dragon Age: technical difficulties edition

Okay so Dragon Age: Inquisition. As I have mentioned more than once, I was previously playing this game like it was my second job and loving the heck out of it. Yesterday though I didn’t play it at all. Today I’m worried if I’ll even finish it.

The part of the game that gives my computer the most trouble are the (great looking) cut scenes. If I play through too many of them in a row my video card has a hissy fit and reboots itself, crashing the game completely to the point where I have to close it from the task manager. So far this hasn’t been a huge problem — occasionally I have to enter the War Council room a second time after restarting — but I’m currently in the middle of a large story area with a ton of set pieces, and it’s been crash city. (It’s the Winter Palace for those in the know.) While the auto-saves help, twice now I’ve crashed at a point where the game correctly auto-saved me, but the conversation triggers are now bugged so I still have to backtrack and play from a previous save.

Now I feel a little weird saying this with any sincerity, but the backtracking really messes with my immersion. I find it almost irredeemably frustrating to replay conversations that I just had 5 minutes ago. It pulls me out of the idea that this is my Inquisitor’s story, and replaces it with the feeling that this is just a game with programmed choices. I go from being a player captivated by plot and dialogue to an impatient “ESC” button-masher in about two seconds.

Last night I sat down to play, but then remembered that I crashed last time and would have to redo some story segments while praying that my video card didn’t barf again. So instead I sighed, made a face, and watched goofy YouTube videos. It’s my computer’s fault as much as anything so I’m not Angry At Video Games exactly, but it’s just amazing how even what one may consider the best game of the year can be so quickly derailed by bugs and having to repeat sections.

Cat Context 65: Star Wars Teaser, Marvel Movies, Dragon Age
Dec03

Cat Context 65: Star Wars Teaser, Marvel Movies, Dragon Age

cat context vertical Cat Context 65: Star Wars Teaser, Marvel Movies, Dragon Age

Like Cat Context? Check out the The Gaming and Entertainment Network for more great shows!

This week Liore, Ellyndrial, and Arolaide mostly put aside games to talk about the new teaser for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and many more genre television shows and movies.

Last week we all got our first look at The Force Awakens. The teaser was only 88 seconds, but it inspired endless nerd rage and theory all over the internet, including Cat Context. We talk about whether J.J. Abrams can be trusted to take the beloved franchise in a good direction, explain how yes, internet, black stormtroopers could totally be a thing, and of course dissect that weird new t-bar light saber hilt. Liore speaks out in favor of the old school gritty 70s space aesthetic, while Aro thinks that wouldn’t fit in at all with the timeline of the series.

Of course Star Wars isn’t the only great genre franchise out there. Just ask Marvel! Aro and Elly try to convince Liore to watch the Captain America movies, while in turn she mildly defends the Agents of SHIELD television show.. and how pretty Thor is.

Also, Aro literally lights things on fire trying to play Dragon Age! Liore shares a sparkly, sparkly Christmas tradition! Elly hates Jedis!

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* The Star Wars 88-second teaser
* Free Music Archive page for our theme, in THE crowd by The Years

2013 Steam Holiday Sale Report Card

It’s December already?!

I managed to negotiate the Steam Fall Sale without buying anything, mostly due to the fact that I’ve already put 60+ hours into Dragon Age: Inquisition and I still have about a third of the game left to complete. Of course the Fall Sale is really the smaller sibling of the behemoth of game sales, that horrible monster known as the Steam Holiday Sale. It usually occurs around the end of December, and for the last couple of years anyway I’ve been trying to minimize my game purchases during the other 11 months so I can splurge guilt-free. The games are cheap! So cheap!

But while I’m probably saving a bit of money this way, is it helping me manage my luxurious and extensive collection of games that I own but have never played? Last year I spent $50 during the Holiday Sale on a combination of deeply discounted AAAs and even cheaper indies. So now, one year later, let’s see how I did with getting value from my purchases.

2013 Holiday Sale Summary

Gunpoint – I haven’t played this! But I kind of don’t care too much because the developer, Tom Francis, co-hosts the totally stellar Crate and Crowbar podcast so my purchase was in support of that as much as the game itself.
Dominique Pamplemousse – I haven’t played this! This is one of those arty games that makes the kids on Reddit so mad, and I guess I just never found myself in the mood.
System Shock 2 – I haven’t played this! Well, that’s not entirely true — I bought this game on Green Man Gaming ages ago but I wanted a copy in my Steam library. Note that I’ve only played maybe 6 hours of the GMG version, so basically I’ve bought System Shock 2 twice and still never really played it.
Organ Trail: Director’s Cut – I.. sort of played this! However, when I played the game it was years ago as a free trial Flash doohickey. I’m not totally sure why I bought it last year? Steam Madness + generally liking the developers? Smooth move, Liore.
Banished – I haven’t played this! I think this was the most expensive game I bought last year and I was super excited to play it at the time. Then I heard an episode of now-defunct How To Murder Time podcast where they talked about how frustrating Banished was and then I guess my brain wandered off.
Transistor – I haven’t played this! WHY HAVEN’T I PLAYED THIS oh my god Liore you are the worst. I think I got too lazy to find my USB controller? So shameful.
Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons – I haven’t played this! To be fair I sort of bought this knowing that it would end up low on my priorities. I hear the game is wonderful and the story is sweet and a little sad… and I just don’t wanna be sad, man. Yes, this is a personal failing.
Tomb Raider – I haven’t played this! As with Gunpoint I bought this somewhat strategically (for a great price of $5) as much to throw money at a AAA game with a female protagonist as to play it.
Cook, Serve, Delicious – I haven– no wait, I have! I have played this! And it’s super fun!

So there we have it: out of the 9 games I bought last year during the Steam Holiday Sale, I’ve played.. one.

Amount spent: $50. Cost of games I actually played: About $6. Report card grade: D. Sigh.

Cat Context 64: Warlords of Draenor, Overwatch, Dragon Age: Inquisition
Nov24

Cat Context 64: Warlords of Draenor, Overwatch, Dragon Age: Inquisition

cat context vertical Cat Context 64: Warlords of Draenor, Overwatch, Dragon Age: Inquisition

This week Liore, Ellyndrial, and Arolaide got together for a quick mini-episode!

Blizzcon 2014 happened a few weeks ago, and with that was the official announcement that the sly company had a new IP up their sleeve: Overwatch! We talk about what this could indicate for Blizzard’s long term plans, whether Overwatch is just remnants of Project Titan, and whether we’d play the game. Of course shortly after Blizzcon the much-anticipated Warlords of Draenor finally launched, and Elly is already back in the game. He reports from the trenches of launch-week madness, and Aro and Liore tease him for getting right back into it.

Instead of WoW, Liore and Aro have fallen in love all over again with Dragon Age: Inquisition. We have a little spoiler-free chat about what is so great about the game, and also about a few things we’d change if we could. (Mostly how poorly it runs on our older computers.)

Like to watch? This podcast has a livestreamed video version:

If you enjoyed this podcast, please “Like” or “Favorite” it in your media consumption method of choice! It makes us feel nice.

* Free Music Archive page for our theme, in THE crowd by The Years

5 Pet Peeves about Dragon Age: Inquisition

I’ve been playing Dragon Age: Inquisition pretty much every waking moment that isn’t already taken with work or maintaining basic life functions. The record shows that I totally love it, but of course it’s not perfect. So in the interest of not completely fangirling over the game, here are a few of my pet peeves.

1) It makes my computer feel old.

I have a solid but unspectacular computer. It was pretty good when I got it, but that was over two years ago. Dragon Age makes my computer weep tears of silicone. My graphics drivers crash at least once a night, and occasionally the game decides to resize itself in the middle of play. My non-SSD hard drive takes what feels like forever to load between scenes. It has reminded me of one of the benefits of playing mostly older and indie games: low resolution graphics. (Bioware, please remake DA:I with retro pixels, thanks.)

2) RPG inventory management is still wack.

Let’s be clear: inventory management in Bioware RPGs has come a long way from the “just omnigel everything forever” system from way back in Mass Effect 1. And I’m glad that they put companion armor customization back in the series after the “streamlined” system in 2. But it’s still time consuming to stand there after a few hours of mission running and figure out who needs what. I equip gear I obtained, craft gear as available and needed, remember to strip out upgrade components, put the components back into the new stuff, and repeat all of the above with weapons. Then I get bored and just start sticking rings, belts, and amulets on whomever comes up first in the character list because WHATEVER people, I have elfroot to pick.

3) The map doesn’t indicate when I’ve cleared something.

A number of people have complained about the minimalist mini-map in the game, whereas I think it supports actually looking around the environment and I quite like it. My complaint is with the more detailed zone map. It would be nice if the map updated to show that you’ve explored a cave or used an astralari-doohickey, just like when landmarks disappear from the map after you claim them. I’ve spent more than a little time backtracking to check a cave that I’ve already cleared out.

4) I like all of the companions.

That probably seems like a weird pet peeve, but I want to hang out with all of them! DA:I introduces a new “camp” system that lets you change your party members frequently while out in the open world, and every time I pass one I feel compelled to switch my group around. When I do a big story quest I almost immediately want to rerun it with other companions to see how they’d react. (I should have saved my game before the mage quest, sigh.) The only person I don’t have in my party very often is Sera. She’s okay if a little hyper, but she has to compete with the great Varric for my rogue party spot and that just ain’t on.

5) Iron Bull won’t be my special friend.

This is how conversations go with Iron Bull the giant Qunari and my cutie kickbutt warrior.

Warrior: “So, why do they call you the Iron Bull? Hmmmm? Any secrets you want to share?” *eyebrow waggle*
IB: “I carry a sword and I have horns like a bull.”
Warrior: “Oh. Well.. that’s… I think I hear the War Council bell, gotta go.”

BONUS: Needs more dwarves.

Duh.

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