Friday, September 5, 2008

Penniless Arcade: Tower Defense

Hola and welcome to the Penniless Arcade, where all you need to enjoy gaming goodness is an internet connection.

Today we take a look at the simple, yet addictive, web-based game of Desktop Tower Defense.


As far as I can tell, the point of Desktop Tower Defense is to defend your desktop from wave after wave of cutesy bug-monsters who are assaulting it. You accomplish this by obstructing the enemy's path with a variety of "hand-drawn" towers which each have their own special form of attack. The enemy begins on one side and tries to reach the opposite without being destroyed. Once a certain number of monsters reach their goal, the game is over.


DTD is really a very simple game in terms of its mechanics. You select and place towers, paying a specified amount of money for each. If you make a mistake or want to rearrange, then you can buy one back (usually at a loss). And you can select individual towers to upgrade them - an essential part of successful defense.

However, actually winning the game is much more difficult. As time goes on, the monsters become more and more resilient. If you do not keep up with upgrades and new towers, then you will quickly find yourself overwhelmed. Good design takes a great deal of thought, as you want to expose the enemy to as much fire as possible from your defenses. At the same time, you will always find yourself tight on money.


DTD is a wonderfully simple yet fun game. It is a great source of entertainment when you do not have a lot of time to spend or want to relax.

Pax Vobiscum,

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Gaming Discussion: WoW - Are PvP and PvE Too Separate?

Shylah and I play a lot of World of Warcraft together. Indeed, we met in the game. The two of us enjoy PvP (Player versus Player) content, but typically find ourselves most interested in the PvE (Player versus Environment) content which makes up the vast bulk of the game.

My work on my two main characters - Glainead (70 Holy Priest) and Miratxu (70 Feral Druid) - has brought me a fruitful reward of some pretty fine PvE gear for the two of them. Indeed, they are pretty well set with epic lootz.

Yet even so....I get trounced regularly in a PvP environment.

Why is this? Am I a nub?

Well, no. I am not a nub. In fact, I am not that bad at PvP combat.

The fact is that, post-Burning Crusade, even the best PvE gear is simply not that good for PvP. Primarily, this is because of a single stat which Blizzard added for PvP specifically: Resilience. By stacking resilience, a player can significantly reduce the damage they take - especially from critical attacks.

Resilience is a stat which is available almost exclusively on PvP reward gear. There are a few PvE drop or crafted items which have the state, but most of them are very difficult to obtain. As a result, people who have raided, run heroic instances, and worked at crafting to gear themselves with great PvE gear still do not have the resilience required for successful PvP.

Meanwhile, PvP gear does not match up to PvE epics when it comes to raid situations. My Priest, for instance, has more pure +healing and +mp5 than he would if he were in a PvP set. Resilience will not be needed for him until I get to the Black Temple.

The result of all of this is that if you want to PvE and PvP effectively, then you need at least two different sets of gear. This has been a problem for awhile with specs - where certain talent specs were great for PvE but got creamed in PvP. Resilience just adds to the problem.

So we have our panel of "experts" here to discuss the matter. The panel consists of Shylah and I along with our friend Arnobius, who has a 70 Enhancement Shaman named Amaxe.


Even if I had no real-world responsibilities, I would not want to spend all of my time playing WoW. So from my perspective, the game should be designed around the idea that someone who is semi-casual/semi-serious can reasonably enjoy the game's content.

This being so, I think that it is not good for the two major aspects of the game - PvP and PvE - to be separated so deeply as they are by gear requirements. I should not have to spend inordinate amounts of time in WoW so that I can develop not one, but two sets of good gear. If I have put in my time raiding, then I ought to get a reward for that in the PvP world. In fact, since getting gear through raiding is more difficult than through PvP, then good PvE gear should have a slight advantage.

I enjoy doing PvP, but it is not what I want to make my WoW experience about. Yet I feel like, with the resilience-heavy PvP gear out there, I can never hope to have much more than a mediocre PvP game unless I sacrifice much of my PvE time in order to get such gear for myself.

What I would like to see is one of two things: Either give resilience to all PvE gear that is blue or better....or else cut resilience from the game. This would give a reasonable reward to raiders other than just getting to see the endgame.


I hate the PvP grind and use it mainly to achieve epics where I am more likely to become the Pope than to score a run higher than Karazhan. I have some pieces, my weapons, my helm and my shoulders, because I needed better gear I could not afford to buy and could not find a group for instancing, while the rest are either drops from instances or crafted.

Against your casual PvPer, I do all right, and can wreck someone's day using tactics. Using Frost Shock and windfury I can pwn a rogue or another class who needs to move to stay alive. But when I run into someone with a full [Merciless Gladiator] set, my day gets wrecked pretty thoroughly.

My observation is that there are some pieces that serve well in PvE, but I thought the full PvP set was not in the best interests of a Shaman overall. You needed AGI and INT, and this was something the Enhancement Shaman PVP set did not give you. The helm and the shoulders were no problem to replace with PVP gear as they replaced gear without AGI and INT. The 97 DPS weapons were superior to the 65 DPS greens for obvious reasons.

The problem I have is these items are easier to obtain than to get them through Karazhan, and they are superior to Karazhan quality gear. That is exactly the opposite of what it should be. The quality of the gear should be proportionate to how hard it is to get. Any fool can get PvP epics just by patience and being near the main battles to pick up points for kills as well as bonus honor. But to get a Raid drop, it means you were part of a group that worked well together to get that far, used strategy to bring down the boss and were persistant enough to get the drop you wanted.

The reward for that should be greater than the reward for spending 20 hours+ on a AV weekend farming honor, and the value should carry over to all aspects of WoW.

With Resilience, this actually has value for the melee tank or DPSer (Glain will tell you I am a lousy healer). It reduces your chance to be critted. It reduces the effects of DoTs and mana drains, it reduces the damage from crits. So there is value for some PvP gear in the PvE environment.

But as Glainead pointed out, the PvE is inferior to the PvP gear in PvP, when the high end raid gear should be better. The problem is that Resilience is a stat that is needed in both raid and pvp environments, but the only way one can get it is to do PvP. So the game rewards the 12-20 year olds whose total accomplishment is spamming the BG channel saying "You guys all suck." (I usually report them AFK since if they have time to type, they're clearly not fighting). Even the worst PvPer will in time gather enough tokens and honor to buy what they want. A bad PvE player will not get gear unless they improve.

In other words, PvE promotes working together to achieve great things. PvP is basically punching a time clock. The achievements for the former should be rewarded more than for the latter. Maybe that way we can get rid of the professional PvPers and make the BGs more interesting with people with actual interest in the game rather than in getting a 2200 Arena rating.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Fun With Bird Showers

If you do not own a bird, you may not know this, but birds love to get wet. This is especially so, I suspect, with parrot species like lovebirds.

At least once a day, if not more, I take a spray bottle and offer our pair of lovebirds a gentle mist. This activity offers no end of enjoyment for both the birds and we human members of the family. It is funny to watch them react as they stand joyfully in the mist, turning their bodies and moving their heads around so that we don't miss a spot, shaking off the excess. Then when they are good and wet, there is the hilarious spectacle of wet birds. Their plumage becomes puffy, seeming to grow another 50% in bulk by magic, and their head plumage forms a pattern which looks like they have their "hair" gel-spiked. I like to call this the "wet bird hairstyle".

Clean, happy birds and happy humans. It's a good combination.

Pax Vobiscum,

The First Woman VP of the United States - A Conservative?

Republican Presidential candidate John McCain has revealed his choice for a running mate in the 2008 elections and it is Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Here the Lifesite gives us the lowdown:

I have to say that I am extremely pleased by this choice. First, I think that it is politically a very smart move for McCain. Already, Obama's position was weakened by snubbing Hillary Clinton for the VP nomination, choosing the rather bland Joe Biden instead. McCain is making the most of this opening by selecting a strong and competent female running mate. Palin's pro-life views also help solidify the Christian base for McCain. And finally, she is an outspoken proponent of expanded drilling for oil, which touches on one of the hottest topics of this election.

However, I do not think that Sarah Palin's strength as a choice is in her gender. The primary reason that I am happy about her is that she is a very firmly pro-life, pro-family conservative who has proven to be capable and intelligent. She is a person who has spoken with actions, not just words, about her pro-life views. Her son Trig was born with Down Syndrome and, although she was advised to abort him, she staunchly defended her son's right to life. Here is a woman who lives her faith rather than just talking it.

In the times ahead, I do not doubt that the liberals will be attacking Governor Palin with some of the most disgusting hatred which we have ever seen. She is a woman who provides living evidence that the liberal ideology about family is deeply flawed. The liberals try to lay claim to women as theirs. To see a strong, confident, but feminine woman - as compared to a shrill banshee like Hillary Clinton - who supports conservative values without shame just outrages them. Let us all pray for Governor Palin, that she will have strength to remain steady through the storm which is brewing for her.

Pax Vobiscum,

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Agapornis Catholicis

Greetings, readers, and welcome to the first ever posting here at the home of the Catholic Lovebirds.

In considering the idea of beginning a Catholic-themed blog together, my girlfriend and I struck upon the concept of theming it after our pair of peach-faced lovebirds (Agapornis roseicollis). These two little companions live at my apartment and provide joy to our lives through their energetic antics, constant curiosity, and, of course, their affection for each other. We cannot think of a better way to present ourselves for your enjoyment and edification, dear readers. Hence, I have taken on the male's name - Glainead - and my girlfriend shall go by the female's name - Shylah - during our writings at the blog.

Together, the Catholic Lovebirds are on a mission to explore our faith while incorporating the unique and beautiful gifts which God has given to each sex. Just as we are meant to compliment one another in a married life, so we also seek to compliment each other in spiritual understanding.

Last thing - Shylah and I are both avid gamers. On this blog, we will be including features discussing such things as video games, movies, and tv shows from a Catholic perspective as well as a critical one. Feel free to email and ask about a game, movie, or show - we might consider doing a review.

Pax Vobiscum,