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After finishing Diablo 3 Story Mode so I could unlock Adventure Mode and do all the fun stuff that comes with it… I’d had enough of Diablo 3. I did poke my nose into the Diablo 1 rebuild and decided you can’t go home again. It’s cool that they did it but I can’t see spending a lot of time playing a deliberately janky (even if that’s authentic) game.

So after my nightly Let It Die run I fired up Shadow of Mordor. Took me a while to get the feel of the controls back and I’m still a little rusty, but after a while I was back to killing warchiefs.

I’ve talked before about the weird difficulty system in SoM. When you die (so when you fail) orc warchiefs grow in power (so the game gets harder). Well now I’m finding the converse is true to some extent. When you kill warchiefs they get replaced, often by lower level orcs. I was taking out random warchiefs pretty easily, though the “story mission” elite guys still gave me some issues.

I’m so glad I re-discovered this game a while back. I’ve gotten much farther than I ever have before and I’m really enjoying it. I’m playing on the PS4 Pro in the “4K” mode (which has a dynamic resolution that varies between 1728p to 2160p dynamic) and the game looks gorgeous in a dark, dismal kind of way.

(These images were shared via Twitter so have been down scaled because I forgot to copy them off the PS4.)

I can’t believe I bought the Game of the Year edition for $10. I’d almost feel guilty about it if I hadn’t already bought the GotY Edition for Xbox One (also for $10) and the standard edition at full price when it came out!

We (the company I work for) have a suite of sites that have been having performance issues. We’ve done a few optimization passes and they’ve helped, but not enough and we were seeing diminishing returns. Finally I got approval to beef up hosting for them. I was over-joyed because for once here was a solution to the problem that wasn’t going to be a big headache.

Boy was I wrong. I didn’t factor in that the newer hosting plan was running more recent versions of Ubuntu, PHP and MySQL. The ISP moved the sites for us…and they blew up. *sigh* Fortunately they were able to roll things back, but now it’s up to me to figure out how to get these sites running on newer software.

I didn’t want to update my dev server and potentially blow up a bunch of other sites, so I turned to Vagrant. I’ve been looking for a good reason to use it and this seemed like the ideal situation. I know the cool kids all use Docker now but I still haven’t really wrapped my head around Docker yet. Vagrant feels reasonably intuitive to me.

Soon enough I was off to a good start. I pulled down the ‘official’ (Canonical-supplied) Ubuntu 16 Vagrantbox, installed Apache, PHP and MySQL. Everything was looking good; it was serving pages through a forwarded port. The next step was to create a custom box from the server as it was running. The idea is that you create this Vagrant box with all the software configured the way you want it, then you can spin up identical virtual machines really easily. You can give a less tech-savvy co-worker (yes, they do exist even though I’m a NOOB) a copy of the box and with a minimum of instruction they can spin up an identical setup.

So I did that…and something went wrong. When I spun up a Vagrant VM from my box, I couldn’t SSH to it. Seemed to be an issue with the SSH keys or something. It wasn’t a complete train wreck…Apache was still serving pages via a directory shared between Windows and the VM, so I could have forged ahead but I knew that sooner or later I was going to want to SSH into the virtual machine for something.

Off to Google to find out what I’d done wrong. And oy, did I find a lot of info. I wasn’t the first one to have this issue, but some of the bug report threads started in 2014 and ran up to last week. I found a dozen or more fixes, none of which seemed to work for everyone. Most of the fixes involved SSHing into the VM using a username and password, which, I read time and time again, is vagrant/vagrant (obviously these aren’t production boxes). But try as I might I couldn’t log in with username and password. I could connect to the port so I knew SSH was running but I couldn’t authenticate.

I went further and further down the rabbit hole, eventually uninstalling Vagrant and VirtualBox and starting from scratch, all to no avail.

About 5 hours into this process, I found a new post about it. Apparently the official Ubuntu 16 boxes don’t use vagrant/vagrant as the username and password, even though they are ‘supposed’ to according to Vagrant’s guidelines. Instead they use ubuntu as a username and no one seems to know what the password is.

To say I was frustrated to learn this would be quite an understatement. The fix for the bug is apparently to use the v0rtex/xenial box which is set up with a vagrant/vagrant account. You can read more about the bug here.

So now I’m back to square one and tomorrow I’ll install a LAMP stack on the vortex/xenial box, then try packaging it again. Still think I’m doing something wrong with my packaging, unfortunately. Today was wasted by a bug that was preventing me from fixing a different problem, more or less. That’s going to look great on my weekly productivity report. /sigh

Maybe I should’ve tried Docker after all…

[Update: SOLVED (I hope)]

OK I finally got a working box, here’s what I did, based on the info in this thread.

You start in your existing VM — the one you’re going to build from.

Add
config.ssh.insert_key = false
to the Vagrant file

vagrant up
to start the machine.

vagrant ssh
to SSH in.

Run these commands:

wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/mitchellh/vagrant/master/keys/vagrant.pub -O .ssh/authorized_keys
chmod 700 .ssh
chmod 600 .ssh/authorized_keys
chown -R vagrant:vagrant .ssh

Exit your SSH session.

Now create your new box. I followed these instructions

For me the command was

vagrant package --base arcus_default_1484688088638_34762 --output ../arcusv2.box

where “arcus_default_1484688088638_34762” is the name of the VM I wanted to base the box off of..you get this from VirtualBox. And I was naming my new box arcusv2.box and putting it one level up in my directory tree.

Then create a new directory, move into it.

Do something like this to add the new box
vagrant box add arcusv2 ../arcusv2.box

Then
vagrant init
to create the initial vagrantfile. Add
config.vm.box = "arcusv2"
config.ssh.insert_key = false

(obviously substitute whatever you named your new box for ‘arcusv2’)

And finally

vagrant up

And if you’re lucky like I was, the box will start up without authentication errors.

I’m old enough to remember the first moon landing. What a time that was. Every kid wanted to be an astronaut. We drank Tang and ate Space Sticks and anything that was freeze dried. We built plastic models of the lunar module. It was the start of a bold new world of human exploration of space.

And then it all stopped.

Now there are just a handful of humans who’ve set foot on a chunk of rock other than earth. On Monday we lost one of those few, Gene Cernan. Here’s NASA’s profile of him. Rest In Peace.

There are now six people who’ve walked on two worlds:

Buzz Aldrin
Alan Bean
David Scott
John Young
Charles Duke
Harrison Schmitt

A sad day.

One of my gaming goals for this month is to finish the story mode of Diablo 3. I’m trying but my god is it a terrible game.

Now before my Diablo 3 loving readers come gunning for me, I’m talking specifically about the story mode that you have to clear before you can start doing Adventure Mode and Rifts and Seasons and stuff. In other words, all the stuff my friends love about the game is locked behind the requirement to finish story mode. I also am talking about playing single player mode today, long after launch. It may have been different when you played through it.

The issue here is mostly about balance. I guess this happened when they pulled the Auction House stuff out of the game and re-did the loot tables? In my game, played on Hard (and I realize in retrospect I should’ve turned up the difficulty) there has been virtually no challenge in the game because there’s so much good loot.

I haven’t made an effort to grind or anything (though I am something of a completionist) and when I got to the fight against Diablo in Act IV, just as an example, I literally just sat there with my thumb on the X button, talking to Angela while my character whittled down Diablo. The only ‘challenge’ was I had to keep in range of him. My gear gives me so much health regen that Diablo couldn’t hurt me.

When I first started playing my policy was to sell regular gear, salvage blue gear and stash yellow gear. Then I switched to selling regular and blue and salvaging yellow and stashing Legendary. By the time I got to Act V I’d stopped picking up anything that isn’t Legendary. My blacksmith has a ton of materials and I’ve never really had to use him. I have more gold than I know what to do with. Meanwhile sometimes a quest will give you a reward. The rewards are blue level items…that’s what was intended to be good loot at this stage, back at launch (I’m assuming). I’m so over-powered compared to these quest rewards.

Then there’re the NPCs. You get blacksmith, enchanter and jeweler well before you “meet” them in the story. I was totally confused when I met the enchanter in Act V after I’d been chatting with her since at least Act 3 in town.

The problem is that Diablo 3 combat is so simple that when it’s easy it becomes really tedious. Sometimes the screen will fill with a ton of enemies and it’ll be amusing just to watch stuff die, but running down hallways killing 3-5 enemies at a time is started to feel like work. I finally got to where I just run past things until I get a huge crowd then stop to kill everything.

I spent most of my gaming time this past weekend trying to finish Story Mode. I thought there were only IV acts and I was SO happy to kill Diablo. When Act V started, I almost sobbed. Even Angela was disappointed and she isn’t playing!!! Hopefully Act V is the end of it.

Now for all this griping, I do have hope. First of all, I’ve had fights in Act V that were an actual challenge. Times where I had to think and avoid attacks and even back off to heal. MUCH more fun than Acts I-IV were. And once I had character level 60 the loot seemed to kind of reboot. Now I’m getting gear as low quality as Blue stuff that is better than some of the legendary items I’m using. And I discovered there’s Green loot too. Who knew?

I really hope Adventure Mode is as fun as everyone says it is (and as fun as Act V is suggesting it might be) because Diablo 3 story mode is one of the worst games I’ve played in quite a long time. Mindless, tedious, boring… I can’t wait for it to be over. I see Trophies about completing Bounties. What’s a bounty? Maybe I’ll find out soon.

The thing I like best about Diablo 3 is its subtle, nuanced combat system. This isn’t even a boss fight! (And yes, that is sarcasm.)

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition
http://ift.tt/1baPWha

Created a new meat puppet and started leveling him. In this fight I was trying to get the Screamers (particularly the one with the fireworks launcher) to damage each other. Sorta worked.

LET IT DIE
http://ift.tt/2i0lATd

I had to work last night, and before work I was messing around with a laptop, so very little gaming to speak of. When my frustration peaked I did play a little Diablo 3 which felt pretty cathartic, honestly.

So I’m vexed by Linux and this laptop. I have an old Lenovo V570 that was cheap when I bought it a long time ago (it came with Windows 7 pre-installed, that’s how old it is). I had it set up to dual-boot into Linux Mint and Windows 10 Preview. Since Win10 Preview isn’t a thing any longer, the other day I decided to reformat everything and make the laptop a dedicated Linux machine.

I’ve tried two distributions, Ubuntu and Linux Mint and they both have the same problem: the laptop won’t wake up from Suspend. (Granted Mint is based on Ubuntu so I shouldn’t be surprised they have the same issue.) So I close the laptop, then open it and I just get a black screen. Fans might be running but there’s nothing I can interact with. I have to cut power and restart. For all I know maybe the screen just isn’t waking up…it’s hard to say.

If this was a desktop machine I’d probably just roll with it but for a laptop it’s an issue. I looked at /var/log/pm-suspend.log and I don’t see any errors, so I think the problem isn’t the suspend itself, but waking from suspension. I’ve Googled and tried lots of things but it seems like Linux Suspend issues have been with us a long time and it’s tough to get current info. I’ve checked the size of the swap partition, put esoteric scripts in /etc/pm/sleep.d/, tried installing various kernels… so far nothing works.

Currently I have Mint 18.1 installed. Before wiping the laptop I think I had Mint 16.something and it had no issues with Suspend. Now I wish I’d just re-sized the partition rather than wiping everything.

At one point I did see a tip to add something to grub to force it to wake the keyboard. The theory was that when you opened the laptop when it was suspended, the keyboard didn’t ‘wake up’ so it was effectively dead so there was no way to wake the machine. I lost that page in a reboot though and haven’t found it again yet!

I’m not averse to just trying a different distro, if someone can recommend a good distro for noobs that isn’t based on Ubuntu.

Or if anyone has any suggestions on how to fix this issue I’d appreciate that too. In truth I can only work on it so long before frustration mounts since everything I try has to be tested by Suspending the machine, finding that the fix didn’t work, then killing the power, then booting everything up again. It’s pretty time consuming.

With the holidays (and short work weeks) over, I decided to move Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force night back to Mondays. Having Tuesday and Thursday marked off for scheduled game nights felt a little constricting when I was hot on some other game.

Anyway last night culminated in a great battle. I guess the downside of turn-based JRPGs is that you can go a long time just grinding out rote battles where you’re more focused on being efficient than worried about any danger. Then all of a sudden, things change.

In this fight last night 5 of my 6 characters got KO’d very early. It happened so suddenly that my first thought was it was one of those unwinnable battles that JRPGs sometimes spring on you. But nope. My last man standing managed to get Tiara, who is my primary healer, back on her feet. The two of them went into defensive mode, chewing through supplies while they got themselves outside of the ‘1 hit until death’ zone, then Fang (my main DPS and as close to a tank as I have) battled the baddie while one by one Tiara got the rest back on their feet. I had to make sure everyone stayed spread out as much as possible because the boss had a potent AOE. I also learned the hard way that my AOE heals will HEAL THE BOSS if it is in range. I did that once and learned a hard lesson…then did it a second time through carelessness! Argh!

Harley was the last one back on her feet and I think it was fitting that she got in the killing blow. When the dust settled out packs were empty of potions, our magic was depleted and… the game didn’t offer up a save point or an easy way home. In fact it expected us to push on. Luckily I had a “Return Wing” that warps you out of and dungeon. We headed back to town, re-supplied and now we’re almost broke. I think we’ll have to do some grinding to replenish our wallets before we push on with the story.

But it was a really fun battle and re-ignited my enjoyment of the game. Apparently I’ve put about 20 hours into it so far. It’ll be months before I beat it at this rate!

In case you’re really bored, here’s the last few minutes of the battle. We were already on the rebound here, but I have the PS4 set to only record 5 minutes and even then it felt too long so I trimmed off some of the footage. Oh and yes, I do have a couple characters fighting in bath towels. Very practical, plenty of freedom of movement (and it’s appearance armor, only).

I’ve FINALLY started playing Let It Die, and it’s thanks to the marketing team at GungHu and/or Grasshopper. Here’s why.

This weekend they had some kind of event celebrating a million deaths or something. I don’t even know WHY, but I knew that logging in this weekend got you some awards. FREE STUFF? I’m in. But you didn’t just have to log in. You had to log in and enter the tower (ie actually play the game). When you returned to the Waiting Room, this little golden cart would come careening into your waiting room. Inside was something amazing! (Maybe.) But you couldn’t open it for 19 hours. That meant you had to log in again the next day to find out what you got, and as long as you were there why not head into the tower and then another golden cart shows up!

Hey it worked for me, I logged in every day this weekend.

This game is so gory and so gross. Normally not my thing at all, but the gameplay is fun enough that I could look past it. Mostly. The blood is so over-the-top that it doesn’t really bother me that much, but it’s stuff like my character chowing down on a live frog that is kind of off-putting. And then there are the looks I get from Angela when she walks past and sees my female character running around in what she calls the bootiest of booty shorts (characters start wearing almost nothing). I guess I should pick a male body next time.

I’m really glad its a free game as I never would have purchased it, but now I’m feeling like I should spend some money just to support the game. In the process of learning to play I’ve been doing some research on the game and I was really encouraged to see a good number of people saying the same thing: that they’ve been pleasantly surprised and have spent money not because they felt like they needed to, but because they wanted to support the developer.

I’m never going to be great at this game and I’m never going to get far into it. I got a character to level 12 before a gang caught and killed her. Luckily I’d seen somewhere that you should have a few fighters going at the same time so you don’t have to start from scratch. I pulled my level 8 fighter out the freezer and went in hunt of myself. I took an explosive mushroom that weakened my former self, so it was a pretty easy fight.

Apparently (I learned this after the fact) that means my level 12 body should be back in the freezer. I hope so! I’m still trying to learn the death system. When you die you can use an item you (mostly) buy with real money to resurrect. Or you can return to the Waiting Room and spend in-game currency to “Salvage” your body. I’m not sure what that does…I think it gets your items back but I’m not sure if it gets your body back. Or you can go find your former-self and kill it and get the body, but not the items, back that way.

Anyway, I’m having fun puttering in the game. I’ve only been as far as the 2nd floor! Who knows how far I’ll get. Possibly no farther than I’ve been. What keeps me going is that weapon mastery persists between bodies. So if I die and have to start again, I’m now kind of a badass with my fists thanks to the work prior bodies did. I also am finding blueprints that, once researched, lets me purchase gear which is a huge boost over running around in my undies with the new body.

Of course typical me, no screenshots, but here’s a super-short clip I saved for a friend after I encountered his character in my game:

One of my gaming goals for this month is to finish the campaign in Diablo 3.

This morning I was playing and… I died! It has been SO LONG since I died in Diablo 3 that I didn’t really understand what was happening for a few seconds.

Then I felt a moment of euphoria… was Diablo 3 going to turn into an actual game instead of the mind-numbing busy-work it has been? You hold down a button and move around and collect loot until you have to go back and sell or smash it, then return for more. Seriously it has been incredibly tedious so far. I should have pushed the difficulty up I guess. I’m playing on Hard, I can’t imagine how mindless Normal must be.

Unfortunately the euphoria was short-lived as I realized that death really has no consequences. You can revive right where you died and aside from having to spend a handful of coins to repair your gear, there’s no harm done.

I’m not really hardcore enough for hardcore but I wish there were some setting in between. Something that give death some sting but not the pain of having to start fresh. I really miss the old Diablo games where you’d drop your gear and have to try to get it back. You’d have to have backup gear to help you recover from a death…it was really interesting.

Later I died a second time, but then res’d on the spot and kept going. What’s weird is that right now I seem to have two states: Full health and dead. In both cases it seemed like I was 1-shotted by a powerful enemy or something. It happened so fast I never really saw my health dropping.

But meh, push a button and stand up and keep grinding through mobs… YAWN.

I know the conventional wisdom here is to play MP and I’m sure that makes the game much different. For for solo players, Diablo 3 is a real snooze-fest so far. I’m hoping once I unlock Adventure Mode it’ll get more interesting.