Thursday, October 28, 2010


A while back, I bought a domain, because I thought it would be cool to have a domain, and also because I thought the domain name was clever:

I didn't have any plans for it, but I figured, why not? It was only ten bucks a year.

Then I recently noticed that Blogger will allow you to set up a blog on a domain of your choice for free! I figured, hey, I use Blogger, and I have a domain, so why not? I set up a new blog with Blogger and put it on my domain.

Those of you who are familiar with Blogger may be wondering why I didn't just change this existing blog to use the new URL. I have two answers to that:

1. This way, I can keep using both blogs. So far, Lord Admiral has been a weird mix of personal notes that are only of interest to my friends and family, and reviews that are meant for a larger audience (though probably still only read by my friends and family). Going forward, I will use Lord Admiral for the personal stuff, and post the more general (and more interesting) stuff on Supervillainous.

2. I didn't notice that I could have kept this blog until it was too late.

I also took this opportunity to change my Google screen name from Lord Admiral to Baron von Chop. I was never happy with Lord Admiral, because for one thing it sounds far too high-fallutin', and for another, it's not really a name, just a rank. Baron von Chop may include a rank, but somehow I don't think that anyone will get the impression that I'm full of myself from a name like that.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mike Mignola Writes and Draws Hellboy Again

About time I posted the link to the new Mignola-written, Mignola-illustrated Hellboy story, The Whittier Legacy.

I'll leave this entry short so that you don't waste time reading it, but go read Hellboy instead!

Friday, October 22, 2010

The DIY Dragon

Over the past weekend, my dear lady and I flew down to LA to attend the wedding of two very cool people. The bride looked lovely, the groom was dapper, the ceremony was heartfelt and the banquet afterward was staggering, including an estimated 11 courses of awesome Chinese food and a truly epic cake.

It was my first time in LA, so I also got to see some of the landmarks and tourist spots, such as the Hollywood sign, the Walk of Fame and Mann's Chinese Theater.

To celebrate the happy couple, I thought I'd write them a silly little story. Here goes.

The DIY Dragon
For the Eyeball Burpers

In a far-off kingdom there lived a kindly king and queen. They had a single daughter, the apple of their eye. As she grew older, all of the young men of the realm began to compete for her attention, and foremost among them was the king's youngest and bravest knight.

To prove his love, the knight sorted out a misunderstanding surrounding a black knight and a bridge, and he helped some farmers with an incursion of manticores. He was pretty badass.

The princess, meanwhile, sewed a tapestry. The subject of the tapestry was ogre wrestling, so the princess went out and wrestled the biggest ogres in the kingdom as research for her tapestry. When she ran out of ogres, she chopped up some gorgons, for the design on the tapestry's border. She was pretty badass, too.

The king looked with favor on the knight, knowing that the young man was a match for his formidable daughter. The king was something of a traditionalist, however, and he waited for a dragon to swing by and kidnap his daughter, so that he could offer her hand in marriage to whoever saved her. The king was sure the knight was more than up to the task, and he wasn't the slightest bit worried about his daughter, who could handle any dragon.

The knight and princess waited patiently. The princess even resolved to avoid suplexing the dragon before the knight arrived so that he could rescue her the old-fashioned way (though she reserved the right to soften the dragon up a bit). There was only one problem: no dragon appeared.

The king and his councilors were puzzled. The latest survey of the dragon population indicated that there were plenty of dragons about. What they had not realized was that the dragons had gotten wise to the situation and learned to steer clear of the knight, and no dragon in the kingdom was foolish enough to try to kidnap such a princess.

The lamentable lack of draconic abduction may have caused another couple to despair, but these two were undaunted. They found the royal engineer with the wispiest beard and the most cluttered workplace, and they commissioned a mighty work to their specifications. The knight visited a scheming alchemist with chemical-stained fingers, while the princess sought out an experienced ranger with eyes like a hawk. When these two creative souls set their minds to a task, nothing could stop them, and there was nothing they loved more than working on a project together.

On Saturday, October 16, the royal court was in an uproar. Courtiers ran hither and thither while ladies gossiped and men shouted. A great crowd gathered in the courtyard, and all faces looked up to the princess's tower, where a great wood-and-paper dragon beat its enormous wings slowly as it perched on the balcony. The dragon's eyes glowed red with the heat of its furnace as smoke poured from its smokestack nostrils.

The knight sad astride the clattering, puffing beast. He worked a complex control panel full of levers and knobs and beamed at his princess as she emerged from her room. She somersaulted into the empty chair next to the knight's and cranked a steering wheel, sending the dragon flapping mightily from the tower.

The beast roared and spat flame into the air as it flew over the courtyard, so low that the onlookers tumbled to the ground in surprise and delight. The dragon sped off, carrying the princess and the knight to their next adventure.

The king watched them go with a smile on his face. "Works for me," he said, and dabbed at his eye with a handkerchief.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Computer Game Review Supplement: Mass Effect Combat Supplement

Since my Mass Effect review was such a success (cricket cricket), I decided to post some more thoughts on the game. I'd like to talk some more about the combat system, because even though it's not the best thing about the game (the characters, story, and setting are what really make this game shine), it's still really fun, but it has some down sides you may want to know about before deciding about whether or not you'd like to play.

Combat will feel very familiar to gamers. You can hold the spacebar to pause the game and open up the squad command/special attack screen, above, which allows you to change weapons, change the squad AI's behavior, or use special attacks.

You will always have two squad members on your team. No more, no less. You can pick them at the start of each mission, or whenever you leave the Normandy.

Healing is very simple: press F to use a health pack. It will heal you and your squad. How much each health pack heals and how often you can use one depends on your squad's total First Aid skill.

You also have grenades, which you throw with R and detonate with another press of R. These can be very useful in certain situations and all but useless in others.

Combat is cover-based, meaning your character will hide behind cover if you walk up against it. You can pop up from behind cover by clicking the aim button (right clicking), which is very easy to get used to. Unfortunately, cover does not protect you from explosive attacks.

Mass Effect features very cool-looking bad guys rendered very well, but for all that, most of the time you're going to be shooting at the aiming reticles on your screen. These are drawn over all of your enemies, so you'll be watching for the red triangles rather than the cool-looking bad guy models. Also, when your enemies die, they disappear, so you can't even go inspect the fallen enemies to see how cool they look (or to finish the kill).

The squad AI is okay, but you'll have to get used to your squad mates spending a lot of time shooting at intervening terrain while trying to hit an enemy on the other side.

One great thing about the combat system is the way looting happens, or rather, they way it doesn't happen. Rather than having to end each fight by running around gathering up items from the fallen bad guys, you receive a notification every time you killed a bad guy and got an item, and the next time you open your inventory, it tells you all the items you found since the last time you opened your inventory.

As I mentioned in my main review, it's also nice that you don't have to worry about ammo, or about repairing the condition of your items. Your items heat up while firing, but you only have to let the heat dissipate before you keep firing again.

Biotic powers look really cool, and tech powers are interesting, too (though not as showy as biotic powers). Guns look like, well, guns, though one time I saw an NPC with a cold upgrade in his weapon shooting an enemy, and frost crystals formed on the enemy with each bullet hitting him. That was rad.

The combat system isn't the best thing about Mass Effect, but it's more than serviceable. The most important part of any combat system is that it makes sense and is easy to use, and in my book, Mass Effect succeeds.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Team Fortress 2 Got Better

I don't spend a lot of time talking about Team Fortress 2 on this blog, though it remains far and away one of my biggest hobbies. I love the game, the videos of the characters, the fan-made video of the characters dancing, some/most of the fan art... and I may or may not be working on a cosplay costume. If I were, and I'm not confirming anything, it might be of the RED Sniper.

Well, recently Valve took their already nearly pitch-perfect game and made it even better through a long-awaited update that finally allowed players to trade items between each other. I celebrated by giving my lovely wife some Jarate.

The update also allows players to buy items with real-life money, which I'm usually against, but in this case there aren't any items that can only be bought with money, which makes me feel better. After all, TF2 is such a great game, why shouldn't Valve make some more money off it? And why shouldn't the community members who contribute items to the game see some return on their investment of time and energy? If this encourages more people to create items, I'm for it.

 The one thing that I'm not so hot on is the crates. Apparently people can now randomly find crates while playing, but can only access them by buying keys for money. I realize that there's nothing forcing the player to buy the key, but creating an item that can only be accessed if you pay for it seems dubious to me. It's like when someone says, "You know, I had this really weird conversation with one of your friends today, but I probably shouldn't tell you about it."

I won't go into what makes TF2 such a great game. If you love team-based shooters with a cartoony style and near-perfect class and map balance, you already play it. If you can't stand playing games with spazzy adolescents and consistently stacked teams, I probably can't convince you to change your mind.

But if you already like the game, then this update will probably make you love it more. And if you haven't played in a while, maybe this will help change your mind. Let me know if you have any items you'd like. I'll check in the back. We might have just what you need.