Sunday, July 19, 2015

What comes after you save the world from evil?

Finally kicked Thaos butt

So I finally finished playing Pillars of Eternity. It's been a fun ride.

I even had to restart after getting an earlier character build stuck inside the Endless Paths. That place is insane. My encounter with the Master Below didn't go with a bang but at least I completed it. Something to think about for the next time, perhaps.

The world of Eora is vividly imagined. Too bad my tendency to attempt to complete everything in one go turned against me. While taking my time to enjoy the game, it also turned out there were so many quests in this game I couldn't complete them all.

In particular, I hadn't explored Twin Elms extensively. More specifically, I just didn't bother with the side quests at all. After going through so many quests I was starting to feel burnt out. I'll explore this place in detail later.

And that's a good thing. It means the game is replayable and that's a part of what makes the game awesome! After completing the game once, you get to start a completely new character and attempt a different set of quests. Nice!

But it's probably better to let it rest for a while. The first expansion pack is coming soon anyway so that's gonna be my excuse for replaying this game. Or, more likely when the White March is complete since it's being labelled as "Part 1".

For now I'll be playing Deponia. It's been laying around for a while and I don't play point and click games often.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Cinnamon Desktop on Ubuntu 15.04 is just a simple install away

So the default Ubuntu Unity desktop experience isn't for everybody. But the awesome thing about open source is you get to change the things you don't like with something more to your tastes.

Just install a different desktop environment. Let's give Cinnamon a shot.

Installing Cinnamon from Terminal
~$ sudo apt-get install cinnamon-desktop-environment

Just wait for the install to complete then you're ready to go.

Not comfortable with the terminal? No problem. Head over to the Ubuntu Apps directory and click the big orange button.

Reboot once install is complete and choose to use Cinnamon for your desktop session.

A nice new desktop ready to go.

You may need to log off first if you've setup your Ubuntu to auto-login.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Create a bootable USB stick in 3 easy steps

You'll need a USB key with at least 2GB storage to make a bootable Ubuntu USB stick. You can download the latest release from the Ubuntu website.

From Ubuntu Unity Dash search for Startup Disk Creator.

Ubuntu Startup Disk Creator comes with the default Ubuntu installation.

Click on Other... to search for the Ubuntu ISO you've downloaded.

Click on Make Startup Disk and wait for the process to complete.

Startup Disk complete.
Your USB stick is ready to boot.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

How to fix HP Laserjet P1102 loud noise

Power on your HP Laserjet P1102 printer and it makes a really loud grinding noise. While it could be that something is broken, there could be a much simpler explanation.

HP Laserjet P1102 paper tray front view

Try taking a look at the paper tray (pictured above). You may notice the tray's not even. One side is slightly higher than the other. Here's a view from the access door after you remove the toner.

View from printer toner area
Try pushing on the paper tray on either side (indicated with red circles) and you'll find that one side has some give while the other is stuck in place.

A small object managed to get stuck under the tray and that's causing the loud noise. The printer's trying to push down the tray but the object is preventing that hence the gears make a loud grinding noise.

What you need to do in this case is to slowly turn the metal shaft the pickup roller is attached to backwards so that the white tabs on either side aren't pressing the tray. Be careful when doing this because you may twist the metal shaft in the process and that can cause other problems.

Once you manage to give the tray some space to lift upwards, you can try shaking the printer so that the object goes to one side.

Here's a sample of what you might find under the tray.

Hmm... how did that coin get stuck there?
After removing the object and successfully printing, here's how your tray should look in idle state.

Nice and flat paper tray. As it should be.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Lessons from the Endless Path

A scene from Pillars of Eternity

I completely underestimated the Endless Paths of Od Nua.

The result? My Moon Godlike Monk is now stuck in limbo at level 13 of the Endless Paths.

I could probably make my way out if I sacrificed my companions. Unfortunately, that's not the role I had in mind for this character.

So now I find myself starting over in Pillars of Eternity.

But wait. There has to be a lesson in here somewhere, right? If we don't learn from our mistakes we're bound to repeat it. So here's my thoughts on the matter.

Beware of traps

In ancient dungeons, you can expect traps aplenty. This wasn't the case in old games like Baldur's Gate or Icewind Dale. Oh, there were traps but they were few and far between. The fact that you can rest almost anywhere made them easier to deal with too. Just trigger them and so long as everybody's alive you can just rest to recover HP.

In the Endless Paths, traps are everywhere. The further down you go the more abundant they become. You'll want a healthy Mechanics skill level to detect and disarm them. I made the mistake of not investing in Mechanics early on. It was a painful experience.

Secure your supply line

As I said, in Baldur's Gate or Icewind Dale you basically could rest anywhere. There were areas that disallowed resting but those were pretty rare. In Pillars of Eternity you needed camping supplies to rest at all. The higher the difficulty the fewer you could stock up on. Case in point, Path of the Damned allows only 2 camping supplies! So, be sure to secure a safe path to the nearest merchant at all times.

I made the mistake of using one too many shortcuts and exhausting my camping supplies. With no clear path back to the surface I couldn't return to resupply hence my current predicament.

Save often

I got lots of save games for my character. Unfortunately, the most recent save I had from before I got stuck was pretty far back. Just thinking of redoing all those fights was a bit demoralizing. I'd much rather start a new character built with what I now know about the game.

It's a good idea to not just keep a lot of saves but to keep saves with small time gaps between each other too. In case you get stuck somewhere you'll have less things to redo. Don't rely on autosave to have your back.

You can always come back later

From sizeable groups of Animats to Crystal Eaters to Spectres, you definitely don't want to underestimate the monsters you'll encounter while exploring the Endless Paths. Even with a well equipped party plus a detailed attack plan, you're going to suffer through quite a number of fights.

If the going gets tough, choose to strategically retreat, replenish supplies, then come back for a rematch. There's no way you'll finish this massive dungeon swiftly. Slow and steady wins the race here.


The ideas I present here certainly aren't new. But it's still a good idea to remind ourselves every now and then on the basic strategies that help us beat a game. I know I forget them all the time and get stung as a result.

But that just means I get to start with a new build with clearer ideas of what I need to clear various parts of the game.

Keep these ideas in mind as you play and the game should be more manageable. Particularly combat. As for the rest, just enjoy the nice sceneries and lore of the game.

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Why Pillars of Eternity is awesome