Backpedling and Frontpedling

On the agenda today:

  • My latest City of Heroes-based cognitive dissonance.
  • My new PCGamerbike Mini gets an initial test run.

A Long Road Of Alt-A-Holicism

City of Heroes is much of the same old alt-a-holicism for me, but at the same time, I have a feeling of progress having been made.

My recent rekindling of interest in Controllers has may have run its course.   Maybe I’ll consider sticking with a Kinetics-based Controller long enough to snag the magic level 38 that grants access to Fulcrum Shift which boosts my damage enough that I’m finally an all-around offensive and defensive juggernaut of super-heroic proportions.  Aside from that, there’s no point.

Why?  The key phrase remains, “subjective soloing comfort.”  A Pre-38 Controller solos safely, preventing foes from attacking before they defeat them.  Any level Blaster solos quickly, defeating foes rapidly by virtue of their high damage output.   Which is preferable?  It’s subjective.

It only took a brief run with an Assault Rifle/Devices Blaster to realize that my penchant for decent damage output will be met far earlier with a Blaster or Scrapper than it would by trying to jury-rig some other archetype with Kinetics.  I’ve little real need for a Controller’s safety net, a Blaster is a more comfortable choice.   The  main reasons why I chose Controller lately is because it can be useful to screen others on a team and they have a good variety of effects.

This new Blaster is an Assault/Energy Blaster, the “Master of Cones” who has a great deal of cone attacks in Assault Rifle with a Boost Range power in the Energy Manipulation pool that should allow me to do some really nasty damage by boosting both the range and cone of those powers.  This is a choice governed by a long road of firsthand experience with other Blasters.

  • My 33 Assault/Electric Blaster discovered that Full Auto’s cone is so very restrictive that a bit of extra range would be a tremendous godsend.
  • My previous /Devices Blasters demonstrated that the lack of a BuildUp can prevent a really effective alpha strike.
  • Another thing that annoyed me about many /Device powers is they work by pulling the foes towards you especially the later 3, and typically your team will only move forward.

I have taken Assault/Energy Blasters up to the 20s before and given them up because they tend to get beaten rather badly when foes swipe at them in melee before being knocked away with Power Thrust.   However, I have thought of a few solutions of  that.

  • First, Taking Flight/Hover will prevent most foes from being able to get into melee range (though the cones will suffer).
  • Second, if I stick around until I get Boost Range (level 35) there’s a pretty good chance most mobs will be too busy falling down in crumpled heaps to be much of a threat.

Still, there is a certain lack of satisfaction that comes about from being a mere uber cannon.  I might find myself drawn to Controllers even though their rate of advancement is slower.  If I decide to tolerate low soloing damage, I could end up just about everywhere.

PCGamerBike Mini: First Jog

So it is that the first evening of using my new PCGamerBike mini has come and gone.  My impressions thus far: not bad tech, but not an incredibly robust implementation, either.

The central PCGamerBike configurator basically grants three customizable means of game input.  Forward pedaling will generate either pulsed or continuous pressing of one key.  Backwards pedaling will generate either pulsed or continuous pressing of another key.  It can also be rigged up to push mouse buttons instead of keys, but unfortunately no sign of acceleration pedals or any analog control.

The “pulsed” mode hammers the key at a rate based off of the speed you are biking, while “continuous” simply holds down the key while you are moving the pedals in that direction.  You can fine-tune how fast pulsed key hammering works, but I’ve yet to figure out a way to set a minimum speed required to instigate continuous mode.

Finally, you can configure an additional key (a run/walk key) to be held down if you’re pedaling more than, or less than, a speed you set.  (It can also be set to tap (in order to toggle) this additional when speed is reached.)

Interestingly enough, the bike remains active as soon as you boot up the computer, you essentially need to unplug it from the computer to stop it from functioning as an input.  I suppose the bike’s natural magnetic resistance device (which is excellent) does reliably prevent it from going off unless you have your feet on it.

More important than the configurator is your posture when using it and how it will relate to the game you’re playing.  The minibike is best used as a recumbent bike, laying partly backwards and pedaling.  This is quite comfortable when using a game pad.  However, using the keyboard and mouse requires some kind of special table or chair.  Though my hands are free when I’m reclining and pedaling, I can’t reach forward enough to get to the table in front of me to get to my keyboard and mouse without stopping and leaning forward.

Of course, the ability to simultaneously use a game pad (for turning and buttons) and keyboard (for the PCGamerbike Mini input) will vary with the game.

Clearly, City of Heroes was not designed to be a gamepad game.  For starters, there’s some 30 hotkeys to worry about, as well as matters of targetting and communication, and my gamepad “only” has about 14 buttons, 2 analog sticks, and 1 digital pad.   This is yet another reason for me to look forward to Champions Online, which was designed to be a gamepad game.

I suspect I could get a much better workout playing a first person shooter game.   Partly because a gamepad is likely to work well with it, but also because this would encourage me to pedal fast enough for a run toggling key to activate.  However, most FPS I play these days no longer have a run key, the concept has been somewhat streamlined out.

How is the PCGamerBike in terms of health impact?

It’s hard to say from one evening of City of Heroes.  The exercise monitor keeps track of how long you’ve been pedaling (the timer stops when you don’t) and how quickly, it even has a chronological graph function, but it doesn’t seem to know anything about the resistance setting.

Much of CoH involves the character standing in one place and belting out attacks.  Even though I rolled up a melee character (which means I have to walk to every foe in an encounter instead of pick them off at range) in about 2-4 hours of play I only pedaled for about half an hour.

Oh well – 300 calories burnt is much better than none.   That’s pretty much the bottom line with having the PCGamerBike mini hooked up: even if it’s not much, it’s an improvement.

5 Responses

  1. Off topic: I saw that in your “top posts” section the dungeon crawler article is now #1. Does that reflect total posts or just for a period of time? I’m surprised to see it be higher than your Fallout 3 article.

    -The Narcissist

    • I’m surprised you’re still reading this blog after pegging me as such a bitter old waste of flesh the last time you dropped a comment on me. Ah well, I never hold a grudge if I can help it.

      To answer your question, I have had a steady trickle of 15-17 hits a day on that Dungeon Crawler post. Most of these hits are actually from people looking for one of the many games mentioned in that post.

      The Top Post widget seems to operate by taking the order of hits from the day before, judging by how that “backpedaling and frontpedaling” post is about a day old an shows up on there.

      My all-time highest viewed was how Fallout 3’s Ending Sucks, and that one’s at about 3700 views (that’s altogether, not just a day).

  2. Eh, I check your blog quite a few times a day. I donated some cash to you too if you recall.

    It’s interesting to see a blog post start to “feed” hits over time. I imagine in 10 years you’ll start to have quite a following (I mean that as a reasonable time frame to garner a large number of daily hits, not as an insult).

  3. 10 years, eh? Personally, I just pegged this as a place I can talk about the things that interest me, but it’d be interesting if a following actually happened.

  4. So if you burn 300 calories a day (and your weight is constant now), you will lose 2.5 pounds a month.

    That may not seem like a lot, but it adds up over time. 30 pounds a year weight loss just from playing CoH!

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