Gardmore Abbey 5E rerun – Session 4

This session started with an interesting fight in a wizard’s tower. It turned out the wizard was both undead and quite mad, wanting to preserve everything for eternity by freezing it. So the group was hit with a lot of ice magic which hindered their movement, while battling the wizard and his 4 icy mummies. But the group prevailed and scored another card from the deck of many things, which had been frozen in a block of ice together with a Barlgura demon. That caused quite some concern on how to get to the card without being attacked by the demon, however it turned out that the demon didn’t wake up at all and just got banished back to the abyss by defrosting him.

So the group moved on to the garrison, having found both possible ways to open the door there, a scroll from the wizard’s tower and the sword of the lost paladin. But there was another Barlgura demon in the garrison, together with some specters, and this time the demon was alive. I had the demon use his disguise spell to assume the same form as the specters, so the group didn’t immediately know where the main threat was. But otherwise the combat went without major events, and the group found the brazier, one of the three objects they were searching for Sir Oakley.

So they returned to Sir Oakley and rested in the temple. Then they decided to take the stairs in the temple leading down to a dungeon, where they encountered a band of gnolls. The group attacked immediately, while the gnolls tried to retreat. Most of the gnolls made it to the next room and barred the door, but the barbarian just crashed through that door with an exceptional strength check. So the group fought the gnolls from both rooms at once, which was a tough fight. After the fight we decided to stop for this session.

The best Total War?

I have played a few of the games in the Total War series, but I am not a big fan. Now I’m playing Total War: Arena, which isn’t a real Total War game at all, and like it much better. I’ve already played over 300 battles in the closed beta, in spite of knowing that my progress will be reset. So, why would I prefer this one?

I tend to think of games as having a core game, which in the case of Total War would be a battle, and a shell game, which is the rest of the game outside of battle. Now in the classic Total War games I feel that the core and the shell are at counter-purpose to each other. For maximum success in the shell game, the strategic map, you will always want to have battles in which your troops outnumber the enemy. You don’t want pitched battles, because even if you win, the losses will set you back in the strategic game. But if you consider the core game, the battles in which you are clearly superior in numbers and quality just aren’t any fun. The pitched battles are more fun, because they are more balanced and have a less certain outcome.

Total War: Arena gets rid of the strategic map, and thus resolves that conflict. And the matchmaking makes every battle balanced. I don’t really need to care about losses, because they are automatically bought back with silver, and playing aggressively earns you more silver than your losses cost you. The shell game around the battles is a game of simple progression of units and commanders. And as I said, I don’t even care much about that, as it will be reset at the end of the closed beta anyway.

Of course I can see how the battles in Total War: Arena might not be for everyone. You only control 3 units, and the action is mostly tactical. Due to the usual lack of coordination when playing with random strangers, the strategic positioning on the battle map is mostly non-existing. In fact the game appears to be designed to aggravate the kind of player that doesn’t suffer fools lightly, because there is friendly fire: Ranged units are not very accurate, and artillery is very slow and might fire on a spot where the enemy has moved away from and an ally moved into, so even with the best of intentions it is nearly impossible to completely avoid causing friendly fire when playing ranged. You can even suffer friendly fire from spearmen or pikemen in phalanx formation. Some players are extremely sensitive to losing units to friendly fire, or losing a battle due to allies playing badly or without coordination. I wouldn’t recommend Total War: Arena to them. Me, I’m having a lot of fun and even bought a founder pack.

Tobold’s Game of the Year

This year my prestigious (that is to say totally unknown) game of the year award goes to, *drumroll*, The Legend of Zelda – Breath of the Wild on the Nintendo Switch. None of the other games I played on various platforms this year comes even close to the level of craftsmanship of Zelda. It is an explorer’s paradise: Huge is both quantity and quality of handcrafted features in the landscape, the next discovery feels always right around the next corner. No procedurally generated landscapes here! There is a great mix of different challenges, from fights to puzzles to riddles to crafting, which always keeps you entertained.

This game really is a “system seller”: if you can afford to spend $400 on a game, buying a Switch to play Zelda is totally worth it. And because it is hundreds of hours of gameplay you do get your money’s worth back in entertainment (some people tried to finish the game as fast as possible and the fastest speedrun of 100% completion took already 49 hours). And inversely I’m not sure buying a Switch without Zelda is worth it, unless you are a fan of Mario (I like Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battles). The non-exclusive games on the Switch tend to be older and overpriced. And the Switch’s famous “mobile” mode is somewhat hampered by low battery life.

What makes Zelda such a great exploration game is the absence of any invisible walls. If you see something ahead of you, you can get there. It might need a bunch of stamina food to get to the top of the highest mountain or building, but you can get there. And there is probably a reward too for getting there. The terrain isn’t just there to walk or climb on it, it often has tricks to deal with the local monster population: You can roll down a boulder into the bokoblin camp to crush them, or explode their camp by throwing a bomb barrel in their camp fire or set grass on fire. You can open a drawbridge by shooting the ropes that hold it up with fire arrows.

The landscape never feels empty. Besides finding major stuff like the 120 shrines, you can also discover the 900 locations of Korok seeds, or the countless resources from mushrooms to ore. Interaction with your environment is fun because the game always goes a step beyond what you’d expect from other games: My niece tried to feed her horse a carrot and I was surprised to see that it worked! I was equally surprised to see that while I couldn’t kill chickens by hitting them with a sword, they did lay eggs when I did. Or got angry and called all their rooster friends that attacked me. 🙂

Another feature that makes Zelda a great game is how it handles difficulty. Don’t be fooled by the game’s colorful look, it can be quite challenging. You will die. Many times. But fortunately the game isn’t punishing death all that much. Which means that you’ll be back in the action and trying again in no time. And sometimes again. And again. Until you finally manage that challenging fight or puzzle, or you give up and decide to do something else first. And the game also constantly challenges your intelligence: Unless you look everything up on the internet, you need to figure out quite a lot of how the game works by yourself. Ultimately you end up having quite a lot of control over the level of challenge: Different zones have different monster difficulties, so you can go the easy way and do them in the right order or skip ahead to farm harder monsters for better weapons. You control the difficulty of puzzles by deciding how much help you want to get from sources like YouTube. And if the normal mode of the game is too easy for you, you can switch to the much harder master mode, which makes Dark Souls look like a game for wimps. If you want the game easier, you could also use Amiibos (haven’t tried those yet) to get various gear, or a horse, or a wolf pet.

In summary, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a great game. It fully deserves its 97% Metacritic rating. The game doesn’t just play well, it also has far more handcrafted content than other open world games. Recommended!

Basic Understanding of RMI : JaVa – is not MaVa

RMI logo

The Remote Method Invocation(RMI) is an API that provides a mechanism to create distributed application in Java. RMI allows a Java object to invoke method on an object running on another machine. RMI provides remote communication between java programs.

—Watch the Video to understand “Why we need RMI ?”—-



Concept of RMI application

A RMI application can be divided into two parts,
1. Client  program
2. Server program.
Server program creates some remote object, make their references available for the client to invoke method on it. A Client program make request for remote objects on server and invoke method on them. Stub and Skeleton are two important objects used for communication with remote object.

Stub and Skeleton

components of RMI

Stub acts as a gateway for Client program. It resides on Client side and communicates with Skeleton object. It establishes the connection between remote object and transmit request to it. Skeleton object resides on the Server side.

Stub Operation:

  • Acts as proxy for remote object.
  • Marshall parameters (converting the data or the objects in-to a byte-stream).
  • Send request and parameters to server skeleton.
Skeleton operation:
  • UN-Marshall parameters(converting the byte-stream back to their original data or object).
  • Perform computation
  • Marshall method return.
  • Send return object to client stub
RMI Registry
RMI registry is a server where :
  • Servers can register their object.
  • Clients can find server objects and obtain a remote references. Using the remote reference we can then invoke the required method.
                             
Watch this video to understand basic Implementation of RMI


RMI IMPLEMENTATION

    RMI Architecture

    Creating simple RMI application involves following steps:

    • Define a remote interface.
    • Implementing remote interface.
    • create and start remote application
    • create and start client application

    Define a remote interface

    A remote interface specifies the methods that can be invoked remotely by a client. Clients program communicate to remote interfaces, not to classes implementing it. To be a remote interface, a interface must extend the Remote interface of java.rmi package.
    import java.rmi.*;
    public interface AddServerInterface extends Remote
    {
    public int sum(int a,int b);
    }

    Implementation of remote interface

    For implementation of remote interface, a class must either extend UnicastRemoteObject or use exportObject() method of UnicastRemoteObject class.
    import java.rmi.*;
    import java.rmi.server.*;
    public class Adder extends UnicastRemoteObject implements AddServerInterface
    {
    Adder()throws RemoteException{
    super();
    }
    public int sum(int a,int b) throws RemoteException
    {
    return a+b;
    }
    }

    Create Server and host rmi service

    You need to create a server application and host rmi service Adder in it. This is done using rebind() method of java.rmi.Naming class. rebind() method takes two arguments, first represent the name of the object reference and second argument is reference to instance of Adder
    import java.rmi.*;
    import java.rmi.registry.*;
    public class Server{
    public static void main(String args[]){
    try{
    AddServerInterface addService=new Adder();
    Naming.rebind("Sum",addService);
    //addService object is hosted with name Sum

    }catch(Exception e){System.out.println(e);}
    }
    }

    Create client application

    Client application contains a java program that invokes the lookup() method of the Naming class. This method accepts one argument, the rmi URL and returns a reference to an object of type AddServerInterface. All remote method invocation is done on this object.
    import java.rmi.*;
    public class Client{
    public static void main(String args[]){
    try{
    AddServerInterface st=(AddServerInterface)Naming.lookup("rmi://localhost/Sum");
    System.out.println(st.Sum(25,8));
    }catch(Exception e){System.out.println(e);}
    }
    }

    Steps to run this RMI application

    • compile all the java files
      javac *.java
    • Start RMI registry
      start rmiregistry
    • Run Server file
      java Server
    • Run Client file in another command prompt pass localhost at run time
      java Client localhost
    Goals of RMI
    • To minimize the complexity of applications.
    • Minimize the difference between working with local and remote objects
    • Make writing reliable distributed applications as simple as possible

    Would you like learn Java and get Certified from Oracle ?

    Multiplayer today

    In the movie Full Metal Jacket one character says that he wants to go to interesting places, meet interesting people, and kill them. When I look at the list of Steam’s best selling games in 2017, it appears that this is what most people want: Multiplayer gaming today appears to be nearly exclusively about going to interesting virtual places, meeting interesting people online, and then killing them. In games that have some form of collaboration (to kill other players), collaboration is often the weakest point of the game, leading to much toxicity and hate. Hate towards your team mates, not the opponents, mind you. I’m a bit depressed about what our gaming behavior says about us as the human race.

    Where are the massively multiplayer online city building games? Multiplayer online survival games in which people cooperate instead of torturing each other? Why did MMORPGs basically die out as a genre on Steam? How did humanity evolve and create civilization in real life, but fail to do so in virtual worlds? I really think that game designers missed something big here: In real life the incentives obviously favor collaboration over bashing each others head in; how great could a video game be if it could manage to reproduce those incentives and create virtual worlds in which people want to cooperate?

    Elemental Evil: Sessions 17

    In the previous session the group entered the Temple of Howling Hatred, trying to stop the prophets of elemental evil from summoning their princes. This session started with a long discussion on the merits of retreating to safety, which I tried to hurry along to stop wasting time. After resting the group returned to the Temple, where I had put 8 fresh Kenku at the gate. On the first run, played as written, the Kenku were just making noises to scare the adventurers; this time they use the defense mechanism of the gate house, firing at the group through arrow slits. Although the Kenku were rather low level, that occupied the group for quite a while.

    Finally they made it back to the step pyramid where they were before. Inside they found a bunch of cultists and stairs up. After killing the cultists they went up the stairs and met the prophetess of elemental evil air, Aerisi Kalinoth. Despite being a level 12 spellcaster, the prophetess was a pushover. She relied on concentration spells like Fly or Cloudkill, and that just doesn’t work. The group just ignored her henchmen and broke her concentration immediately after she cast anything, making her not very effective. I find the 5th edition D&D spell system rather boring, as it really encourages you to use only instant damage spells, because anything a bit more interesting is based on concentration and has little effect. For example Cloudkill used to be a very powerful spell in previous editions, but now it affected only the first character starting his turn in the cloud, who then broke the concentration of Aerisi and dispelled the cloud before it damaged anybody else.

    The bard who was with Aerisi was even weaker, also due to concentration spells, and so the only serious monster in the encounter was an invisible stalker, who had more health than the other two together, was much harder to damage, and didn’t use concentration spells. Having finally killed that one as well, the group found a lot of monetary treasure and Windvane, the magical spear of Aerisi. However I had had to nerf that one on the request of the future DM of our group, in whose campaign the original wouldn’t have fit. So now it was just a +2 lance that opened the magical portals to the temples of elemental evil. At that point we stopped the session.

    An alternative explanation for Harvey

    As a scientist I do believe in man-made global warming. So do the governments and the majority of citizens of every country in the world, except for Syria, Nicaragua, and the USA. The science says that global warming is likely to increase the occurrence and effect of catastrophic weather events. In particular an increase in the power of hurricanes and the amount of rain they carry has been predicted by the models years ago. Nobody is saying that hurricane Harvey is man-made, as hurricanes already existed long before man burning fossil fuel. But the fact that Harvey brought more rain than ever before observed on the American continent (the National Weather Service needed to add new colors to an expanded rain scale to map it) fits rather well with the predictions. So of course the US climate change deniers, first and foremost the Trump administration, react somewhat miffed if asked about climate change right now.

    So I was thinking that one should keep an open mind and respect the believes of those who do not trust science. And I came up with an alternative explanation for Harvey which doesn’t rely on science or an assumption of man-made climate change: Hurricane Harvey was an act of God, or more precisely the wrath of God. God sent Harvey to express his displeasure with the vain and godless Trump administration. Which is why he sent the hurricane to deeply Republican Texas, and not to Democratic California. In his mercy, God intended Harvey as a stern warning. If the USA doesn’t get rid of Trump he will send further punishment, like heavenly fire (in the form of North Korean nukes). Repent now and kick Trump out, before it is too late!

    I hope this inclusive multi-cultural approach makes my less scientific and more religious readers happy. 🙂

    Trump Reportedly Considered Rescinding Neil Gorsuch Nomination Because He Wasn’t ‘Loyal’

    The president was allegedly placated by a complimentary note from the judge.

    President Donald Trump privately discussed his frustrations with Neil Gorsuch, his Supreme Court nominee, earlier this year amid worries that he wasn’t “loyal” enough to the president.

    As The Washington Post reported Monday night, Trump “was upset that [then-nominee] Gorsuch had pointedly distanced himself from the president in a private February meeting with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT),” claiming he was “worried that Gorsuch would not be ‘loyal.’”

    In the private meeting with the Connecticut Democrat, Gorsuch called Trump’s first travel ban “demoralizing” and “disheartening.”

    According to several Post sources familiar with the conversations, Trump floated the idea of rescinding Gorsuch’s nomination over the slight, though it’s unclear his “explosion” was mere venting or was discussed as a genuine prospect.

    Nevertheless, “at the time, some in the White House and on Capitol Hill feared that Gorsuch’s confirmation — which had been shaping up to be one of the clearest triumph’s of Trump’s tumultuous young presidency — was on the verge of going awry,” the report continued.

    Gorsuch’s confirmation and short tenure in the Supreme Court has been touted by the president as one of his greatest achievements since taking office in January.

    According to 11 sources within the White House or familiar with the discussion, “Trump was especially upset by what he viewed as Gorsuch’s insufficient gratitude for a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court.” Shortly after his interview with Blumenthal, Gorsuch sent the president a handwritten note thanking him.

    “Your address to Congress was magnificent,” Gorsuch wrote to the president in a note obtained by the Post. “And you were so kind to recognize Mrs. [Maureen] Scalia [widow of the late Justice Antonin Scalia], remember the justice, and mention me. My teenage daughters were cheering the TV!”

    Upon receiving the note, the president was placated, the report continued.

    “As head of legislative affairs, our team was in charge of his nomination, and never did I view his nomination in jeopardy, nor did the president ever suggest to me that he wanted to pull him,” Marc Short, the White House’s director of legislative affairs and assistant to the president, told the Post. “The process obviously caused frustration, but that frustration was compounded by the fact that Gorsuch had sent him a personal letter that he never received.”

    As Bloomberg’s Steven Dennis noted on Twitter after the Post published their story, Trump’s concerns that Gorsuch would not be “loyal” to him are misplaced given that judges and other federal law enforcement officials take oaths to uphold the constitution rather than the presidency. The story, Dennis continued, is reminiscent of Trump’s request that former FBI Director James Comey swear loyalty to him — the denial of which led to his firing.

     

    Related Stories

    • Former CIA Official Suggests Trump Campaign Team May Have ‘Welcomed’ Russian Election Interference
    • Trump Judicial Nominee Withdraws After GOP Senator Publicly Embarrasses Him
    • If Trump Fires Mueller, Is a Watergate Rerun Coming?

    New Wall Street Journal Report Might Totally Destroy Republicans’ Favorite Anti-FBI Talking Point

    The GOP still won’t shut up about a “Deep State” conspiracy though.

    A new report from the Wall Street Journal adds some needed context to FBI Agent Peter Strzok’s text message about the Russia investigation being an “insurance policy” in the event that Donald Trump won last year’s presidential election.

    According to the Journal’s sources, Strzok’s talk of an “insurance policy” against Trump’s electoral victory “was meant to convey that the bureau needed to aggressively investigate allegations of collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia,” and was not intended to “suggest a secret plan to harm the candidate but rather address a colleague who believed the [FBI] could take its time because Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was certain to win the election.”

    In the original text message, which was sent to FBI lawyer Lisa Page, Strzok wrote of Trump that, “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

    The text message had been seized upon by Republicans who suggested it revealed an agency-wide conspiracy to bring down Trump in the event of his election. According to the Journal’s account, however, it seems that Strzok was sincerely concerned about contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian agents, and wanted to pursue an investigation regardless of who won the 2016 presidential election.

    Strzok was originally part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team, but he was removed by Mueller this past summer after the special counsel discovered that the FBI agent had disparaged Trump as an “idiot” in text messages.

     

    Related Stories

    • If Trump Fires Mueller, Is a Watergate Rerun Coming?
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    • The One Scenario in Which Trump Would Risk Impeachment and Fire Robert Mueller

    The T-Mobile HTC U11 Life is getting Android 8.0 Oreo (updated)

    Update (12/18/17): Just about three weeks ago, the unlocked HTC U11 Life was upgraded to Android 8.0 Oreo. Now, the T-Mobile variant is receiving the update as well. T-Mobile is the only carrier in the United States to carry the HTC U11 Life so between it and the unlocked versions, pretty much everyone should be updated to Oreo at this point.

    HTC warns that this is a pretty large download so you’ll need to connect to Wi-Fi before you start. As a reminder, Oreo brings background limits on apps that help to save power, smart text selection, grouped notifications, and picture-in-picture mode, among other features. To read more about Oreo, check out our review here.

    Original article (11/30/17): The HTC U11 Life was introduced earlier this month, arriving on the Android One program in global markets (with almost stock Android), while those in the US received a variant with HTC’s Sense UI. The device launched with Android Oreo outside of the US, meaning those residing in the States were left waiting for the latest Google software, but HTC assured that it wouldn’t be far off.

    Today, I bring good news as the US unlocked U11 Life is now said to be receiving Oreo. HTC Vice President of Product Manager Mo Versi delivered the news via a Tweet published a couple of hours ago. Versi said that the update would be available “starting today,” but we don’t know how long it could take to hit individual devices.

    HTC has been on a roll with its rollouts this week, having upgraded the regular HTC U11 flagship to Oreo just a couple of days ago. Here’s hoping the speedy updates continue for the rest of its smartphone lineup.

    Check out our full HTC U11 Life review at the link and visit our dedicated Android 8.0 Oreo update page to find out more about HTC’s schedule.