The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

Important Borderlands 2 correction!

I lied when I said I haven’t laughed at any of the jokes yet. Actually, there was one I chuckled at. Claptrap (of all things) has a gossip text that says "check out my new dubstep song!" And then he just goes "wub wub wub" for about twenty seconds. It’s not the best joke ever, but, come on, it’s kind of cute. I chuckled.

So that’s it, then. One chuckle. But it’s not nothing!

April 5th, 2013 Posted by | Games | no comments

Things that bug me about Borderlands 2

I know the game ain’t precisely brand new, but I’ve had a busy year. So I’m only just now really getting down to it. Long and short is: it’s Borderlands. If you liked the first one, you’ll like the second one. If you didn’t like the first one, don’t waste your time here, because there’s nothing that will change your mind.

Unless of course what you didn’t like about the original Borderlands was the fall damage, because, hey, guess what? It’s gone. Borderlands 2 continues one of my very favourite trends in game design and gets rid of fall damage altogether! Fall damage has never ever been fun, so I’m a huge supporter of this change. On the down side, you now have to pay the respawn fee if you die by falling off the world, which wasn’t the case in the first game. Who wants to bet they added that just to stick it to sly foxes who exploited that little loophole against the first game’s final boss?

Borderlands 2 is way way talkier than the first game, too. People are always calling you on the space phone to make self-consciously wacky Borderlands jokes. They aren’t any funnier than they were in the first game, but there are a whole shitload more of them. Now, don’t get me wrong; the voice acting itself is fine. It’s the dialogue that needs to be fed through a digital mulcher. So far, I don’t think I’ve laughed at a single joke, though I suppose there was one dramatic moment that was fairly effective.

You remember Patricia Tannis, the world’s most least funny NPC, right? Well, she’s back, and she hasn’t gotten less annoying. She’ll seem less annoying once you meet Tiny Tina, though; I honestly don’t even know how to describe this character. Her schtick is that she’s a little girl, but most of her dialogue is Dave Chappelle and Tracy Morgan routines from ten years ago. I’m not even making that up. You have to experience this to appreciate it, but I promise you it’s not worth it.

The game has a lot of defense objectives, which I do not appreciate at all. You’ll find yourself lumped in the middle of an arena, and you have to prevent the mobs from destroying some widget or other. This is pretty annoying, since the core mechanics of moving from cover to cover to outflank your opponents are suddenly unplayable; your only choice, really, is to stand right out in the open and just try to straight-up out-gun everything, since, if you take cover, the mobs will destroy the widget.

Also there are boss battles. They range from “sort of fun” to “is this working right?” The last boss fight I did was against a mob that was as much like a Mass Effect thresher maw as to make no difference, but, for the sake of originality, Gearbox called it… oh, a thresher. Good work, clowns. This fight I’m not completely sure was working properly, as sometimes the boss would simply stand still for a while and not do anything at all while I shot it, and other times it appeared to be able to attack directly through any hard cover I was hiding behind. Then, right as I was about to kill it, a huge shipping crate appeared out of absolutely nowhere and just floated in the air in front of the thing and blocked all my shots. I shit you not. Also: why does a giant moon worm have shields? That makes no sense.

April 4th, 2013 Posted by | Games | no comments

Just a quick note

Pointing out that, once upon a time, I made fun of Steve Henson for posting a list of contracts so bad that they couldn’t possibly be traded. By "once upon a time," I really mean "last season." And how did Steve-o do? Well, of the eleven players he named as completely untradeable albatrosses, two of them (Carl Crawford and #1 pick Vernon Wells) were successfully traded, one (Alfonso Soriano) would have been except that he invoked his no-trade clause to block it, and one of them (Jason Bay) was released and then picked up off of waivers. So good job identifying players who couldn’t possibly be moved, Steve!

April 3rd, 2013 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

State of the Wood

When I was new to the workforce lo these many years since, I was given to significant reliability problems. By which I mean I used to call out of work a lot. Pretty much whenever I didn’t feel like going to work, in fact. Which was all the damn time. I never bothered making convincing excuses, either; I’d do that bit we all learned from Ferris Bueller where you make your voice all feeble and shaky, and I’d tell my boss I have a dire case of Monkey Pox and I’m far too sick to fold boxes on the assembly line, but I’m sure it’ll be better tomorrow so don’t bother finding coverage. Then I’d go back to playing Dragon Warrior 7 like I’d been doing all day.

This changed for two reasons. Reason one is that I finally learned that work is not school. See, I got a job right out of college, and I’d never had a job before except bullshit campus jobs where I worked like three hours a week and nobody cared what I did. So I was thinking of this whole "work" thing like it was the New Game+ mode of school. I never went to school if I had a pressing appointment with the Nintendo, so why go to work? It was a few years before I finally got to grips with the fact that, although skipping school is 100% upside, skipping work carries the nontrivial disadvantage of they don’t pay you. And if they don’t pay you, not only can you not buy any new video games, but you cannot in fact even pay the rent. And if you don’t pay the rent, you’ll quickly find yourself devoid of any place to plug the N64 in. So eventually I realised that, while I could spend more time playing Mischief Makers today, eventually I’d find myself on the street selling pencils out of a cup to raise money for my Game Boy battery fund. The other reason is because I finished Dragon Warrior 7 and sometimes I can’t tell if anything worth playing has come out since then.

By which I mean Bioshock Infinite’s out. You played that? I haven’t. The original Bioshock was way too infinite for me as it was. The world’s most rudimentary shooter mechanics stretched around a completely meatwitted plot. Also there is Pipe Dream. But don’t worry: I hear Bioshock Infinite is about racism! I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to come up with a theoretical reality in which that ends well. As for me, hey, if I wanted to play an utterly derivative, repetitive game with a cutesy visual style while simultaneously being lectured about what out-of-touch game developers consider deep social issues, I still have a copy of Braid.

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is out too. It might be fun. I don’t really know, though; I played about ten minutes of it, after which my wife seized the 3DS and ran off with it. As I write this, she’s huddled up in the corner chanting about it in weird languages. So either she likes it or else the preorder bonus was an actual real ghost. I’ll update this post either way when I figure out this encounter’s gimmick.

April 3rd, 2013 Posted by | Games | no comments

Is it that time already?

Time for ol’ reliable Les Carpenter to write a moody A-Rod article, I mean.

For his first public moment in a Yankees uniform since the playoff disaster, Alex Rodriguez was told to stand in a doorway on Monday morning. He stepped from the Yankees clubhouse less than 1½ hours before his team’s first game and walked not toward the blue backdrop with the team logo attached to the wall for the purpose of impromptu news conferences, but instead to a spot pointed out to him near the clubhouse door.

In all seriousness: is this the first time you’ve seen this? Because it’s not very uncommon.

Perhaps the Yankees were saving him the inglorious symbolism of being pressed against a wall as he was grilled about his bad hip, his disappearance over these past few months while recovering from surgery or why his name showed up on the records of a Miami lab in possible violation of baseball’s rules on performance-enhancing drugs.

Or perhaps they were following the same procedure they always follow when they want an interview to seem "informal."

Or maybe the Yankees wanted to keep him away from anything that identified him as a part of the team, aside from the cap he wore on his head.

Well, sure, aside from that little detail, there’d be nothing to connect him to the team at all! Les Carpenter, you mad idiot genius, you’ve solved all of baseball forever.

And as A-Rod has been for much of his professional baseball life, he tried to smile his way through the questions he didn’t want to answer, speaking in the vague Miss America platitudes that always dodge the more serious subjects at hand.

Can you believe the nerve of this A-Rod asshole? Nobody else does that.

Like when he was asked if he had heard reports the Yankees are looking for ways to void the rest of the $275 million contract he signed in 2007: "I don’t want to focus on that, I want to focus on this glorious opening day."

Asshole. Head-case. Cancer-y clubhouse-cancering cancer man.

Or if he knew what the players’ association was doing on his behalf as the league investigates his linked name in the Miami New Times report about the Biogenesis lab: "Well, I’m not going to comment."

Dammit, Alex! Here are things that do not matter:

  • Your privacy
  • Union rules
  • The fact that anything you say about this — like, literally anything at all — could potentially get you dragged in front of the fucking congress so they can try to gin up some phony excuse to throw you in jail and then fail at it and look like the bunch of useless apes they are

Now sack up and feed the vultures some meat.

Or if he worried that commissioner Bud Selig might suspend him: "No, I’m not going to further discuss this, but at some point it will be all good."

I guess stupid people — such as Les Carpenter — expected A-Rod to start a flame war with the commish on opening goddamn day. A war that wouldn’t do much to improve his chances of not getting suspended.

Also, here’s a funny thing. You know who’s very, very famous for saying absolutely nothing to questions like this? I’ll give you a hint: the first letter of his name is "Derek Jeter." In fact, I have it from a reliable source — this absurd Jeter hagiography — that Jeter’s reaction to the messes A-Rod used to make in the press was "Why can’t you just get this shit right? It’s easy. Don’t say anything. Say what I say, which is nothing." And A-Rod has finally learned this. So take it up with Jeter, Les! He’ll destroy you.

In his 20th season as a major leaguer, Rodriguez is more elusive and more unwanted than ever.

Do you mean "Rodriguez is on the DL?" Since, hey, the Yankees replaced him yesterday with Jayson Nix, who struck out twice in two PA, and then got replaced with Lyle Overbay, who I honestly didn’t know still played baseball, and who flew out twice. That’s the production they got out of the spot A-Rod would be filling, but never mind that. They just don’t want him clogging up the third basepath.

Oh, and the four-run fourth the Red Sox put together? It involved the following things:

  • Line drive to weak 3B, Saltalamacchia to third
  • Ground ball to weak 3B, Saltalamacchia scores, Gomes to 3B, Bradley to 2B
  • Ground ball through SS-3B hole, Bradley scores, Iglesias scores, Ellsbury to 2B

Nobody wants you, A-Rod. Looks like the Yankees are doing just great at 3B! Also, you being hurt forced the Yankees to trade for Vernon Wells, which is goddamn hilarious.

His appearance at the Stadium seemed almost ghostly.

I think we all know which ghost you’re thinking of.

He did not hang out in the clubhouse before batting practice, instead asking a clubhouse attendant to scurry to his locker, pull his uniform off a shelf and take it to him in the trainers room.

Choker. Asshole.

He did not come out to the field while his teammates hit. He did not banter with anybody or make any real show to the fans before the game that he had any connection to a team that seems to be lukewarm, at best, about him.

A-Rod has never, never, never bantered with anybody. The most consistent criticism of A-Rod for his entire career has been that he’s weirdly aloof. Like the one fucking time A-Rod has ever done anything silly or spontaneous was when he photobombed the Derek Jeter interview after the 2009 World Series, and the press gave him zero end of shit for how "disrespectful" that was. The man literally cannot win with you hacks.

When asked if he would be introduced before the game, he snapped: "I don’t need to be introduced to feel a part of this team."

Pressed further, he smiled.

"I’ll tell you what, when I get introduced I want to be on the field [as an active player]," he said.

Well, in all fairness, A-Rod, the Yankees have like six thousand injured players right now, and I’m pretty sure you’re the only one who wasn’t introduced before this game.

He wasn’t the only injured Yankee to not be introduced on Monday. Derek Jeter remains in Tampa as he rehabilitates from surgery on a broken ankle.

Whoops missus! I guess tomorrow Les will write an article about how much the Yankees hate Jeter.

But somehow if Jeter were in Yankee Stadium on Monday he would have been introduced.

We’re doing science now, right?

Mostly A-Rod seems to disappear into a crevice that isn’t really the Yankees and isn’t really not.

I gotta level with you, Les: that doesn’t make any fucking sense. I mean I seriously don’t have clue one what that means. In what way are the Yankees a "crevice?" Are you calling them assholes? Derek Jeter will destroy you. Again, I mean.

He spoke optimistically about his recovery, saying he believes he can come back a level that is "very high." He said he was relieved to learn of the tear in his hip after the season because it explained his drop-off in play. And he suggested that maybe he should have had the hip looked at during last season and not after.

"Hindsight is 20-20," he said. "If I would have, we wouldn’t have had the very tough ending to last season. Live and learn."

Head-case. Why won’t you take responsibility??

He was not clear as to who "we" were. Did he mean himself? Did he mean the organization that appears to be holding him at great distance with a pair of tongs, lest his presence further stain an already challenging spring?

Um. Les? "We," in this context, refers to the New York Yankees, a baseball team you may have heard of. He means that they got erased from the ALCS last year after scoring a grand total of six runs, and that his own performance was so poor — which it was — that his crazy insane manager eventually replaced him with the worn-out moldering corpse of dead infielder Eric Chavez, who did nothing good. What he’s saying is that, perhaps if he were healthy, he’d have been useful in that series, the team wouldn’t have resorted to necromantic rites, and then their names would not have been smudged out of the Book of Life. It would be great if you’d learn to understand words and I didn’t have to explain this to you.

Also, if you learned the English language, perhaps you wouldn’t write paragraphs like that. "Lest his presence further stain an already challenging spring?" Holy shit, Les, purple this down about 80%, would you?

"Just his being here is good for us," reliever Mariano Rivera said before the game.

What? How’d that get in here? Dammit. How can I spin this to sound like a stinging condemnation?

If only it seemed the Yankees felt that way.

Aha! Check and mate, Mariano goddamn Rivera. Cut fastball your way out of this trap… if you can!

Rodriguez spoke for just four minutes on Monday before he disappeared behind the double doors of the clubhouse that is his but in a way not.

Hate to be "that guy," Les, but even if you had enough punctuation in that sentence — and you really, really don’t — it would still be garbage. Or, as they say in Germany: das garbage.

It was likely a one-day appearance, a ceremonial visit to hold a place for some undetermined return to an organization that almost seems to wish he’d never come back.

Yeah, because this organisation really really wants to spend $230 million on player payroll for this year and then send out Jayson Nix for 162 games to hit his career averages of .213 / .284 / .370 while playing replacement-level defense. Stay the fuck away, A-Rod! Fun fact: last year was A-Rod’s very very worst season in his career. He played the whole year with a torn labrum, and was only worth 2.3 WAR. Jayson Nix has been worth 2.7 WAR total in his entire career.

Outside on the field, during the pregame ceremonies A-Rod skipped, Lou Pinella, his first manager in the big leagues, threw out the first pitch. It was a reminder of the early days when Rodriguez was young and hitting more than 40 home runs a year in Seattle. He was loved unconditionally there. And it might have been the best home he ever had, until he left it to chase greater riches.

I seem to recall A-Rod won a few MVPs and a World Series in New York. Am I just making that up? Did that not happen? Seems like it hasn’t been all sad-sackery and Mexican hip rot since he came to the Yankees.

Also, I love the part where you say "it might have been the best home he ever had, until he left it to chase greater riches." Read that real close, Les, and tell me what you’ve done wrong.

Eventually, he came here, to the Yankees, to a team that pays him well but also shrugged when he finally returned so say hello on Monday morning.

Proofread, Les. Honestly. Also, this is the last line of the article. What? That’s not an ending, Les, that’s just a stopping. If you’re going to go with that, you should probably add one more line that says "and that’s what I did on my summer vacation, by Les Carpenter, age 8."

April 2nd, 2013 Posted by | Baseball | no comments