Review | 2023.06.09

Grand Theft Auto Online satellite dishes armored Kuruma

Lots of games in this one, notably the old (but new to me) titles Grand Theft Auto Online and FTL. Also some progress on a smattering of games from the library, including 'daddy games' (ones I let the little one watch for short periods).
New games: GTA Online

Grand Theft Auto Online tank helicopters crash police

I've been a fan of the GTA series since II but never got around to playing V. Since the PUBG squad was looking to introduce a little variety, we decided to try GTAO.

Based on my vague recollection of the game's reception, it was no surprise that GTAO delivers the driving and gunplay experience the series is known for - that sweet middle of the road between simluation and arcade action. Missions are, likewise, challenging but doable with the occasional rage-inducing mission objective.

The game

The single player GTA games are about progressing a well-written plot to its finale with ample distractions along the way. GTA Online has serial missions from a few questgivers, but if there's an overarching story I am not yet aware of it. So the overarching objectives seem to be leveling your character, growing your arsenal/garage, and increasing your stacks.

Grand Theft Auto Online asteroid armored car
GTA Online: where you're just driving through town and come across an asteroid in the middle of the road and a unicorn driving an armored car.

Unless you're going from questgiver to questgiver and hosting, the missions and activities (races, PvP modes) are pretty disjoint (open your phone, find a rando squad, complete the mission, bounce). And it only really feels like you're in an MMO when you are going from, say, your house to Los Santos Customs, and suddenly there are helicopters and explosions. But the helicopters and explosions are for someone else, because you have zero stars.

Getting started

Grand Theft Auto Online Omnis rally car night

The game's interface is unwieldy and heavy on load screens. While there isn't a ton of value in a startup guide for a decade-old game, in case someone else in the gaming crew picks up GTAO, here are my notes:

Most missions are multiplayer, so if you're skittish about your skill level you can start with, well, grand thefts auto. If the car you steal is on Simeon's (random criminal contact) list, you can drive them to his warehouse at the docks for a 10-20k payout, otherwise just drop them off at a Los Santos Customs garage for 5-10k.

When you do want to run missions, check your phone's jobs list. The phone list includes invites from friends and is sometimes the only way to join their game because the 'social' menu often is bugged and show they're playing GTA V.

Buy/steal snacks from convenience stores to restore health when you need it.

Grand Theft Auto Online garage mod shop Grand Theft Auto Online warstock cache and carry web site Grand Theft Auto Online maze bank foreclosure map Grand Theft Auto Online garage Audi rally car Obey Omnis

The (bundled?) DLC provides a number of properties and vehicles for free, you just have to go to the (in-game) website and purchase them. So a good place to start is buying a house with a garage so you can then then add a personal vehicle that will spawn on each mission.

Since Jon has an armored Kuruma and Shane has a Firebird, I followed my heart and looked into rally cars. It's important to have offroad-capable vehicles, after all.

King of Los Santos

Grand Theft Auto Online hideout apartment pipe

As I said, (maybe) in lieu of a primary storyline, GTA Online is about growing your criminal enterprise. Player levels are necessary to unlock weapons and gear, missions, and mods for your personal vehicles. A high rise apartment with a heist planning room is required to, well, plan heists (a la Payday 2).

Prison break

Grand Theft Auto Online helicopter prison

Jon started us off with a challenging five-part heist:
  1. Steal a plane.
  2. Steal a prison bus.
  3. Steal the prison bus schedule from a police station and a car from a cargo ship.
  4. Kill assistant district attorneys and the client's business partner.
  5. Break the client out of prison using the stolen bus and plane.
The last part has been challenging. The prison yard gunfight isn't easy, they send an F-35 after your stolen plane, and the player disposing of the switcherooed bus often gets bored and finds a way to lose the mission. But from the squad that spent six straight hours trying to beat Hoxton's Revenge, it's only a matter of time.

Grand Theft Auto Online prison break heist squad Grand Theft Auto Online prison break snipe prosecutors Grand Theft Auto Online prison break Rashkovsky

Bowling with Roman

Grand Theft Auto Online minigame Mad Max

Niko and Roman had bowling, Big Smoke had Cluckin' Bell, and GTAO has a wide variety of side activities that leverage the sandbox world. My heist crew took a break from the challenging final stage of the prison break to play Tron and Mad Max-inspired PvP games.

Grand Theft Auto Online open wheel race setup Declasse DR1 Grand Theft Auto Online minigame Tron lightcycles Grand Theft Auto Online strip club Grand Theft Auto Online minigame runner helicopters


Grand Theft Auto Online hacker duplicates

GTAO has been out for a long time so I'd expect it to be both empty of players and technically stable. Imagine my surprise when a griefer somehow managed to spawn a bunch of clones of me in order to kill me in no-combat 'passive mode'.

What did you do to piss off that hacker? Rob
I think griefing is just his thing. First I saw him he backed his car into a door to the ammo store. It would have trapped me in but I could crack the door open a little bit. I lit him up and he didn't die after two mags, I initially assumed it was an extreme level difference.
Then he killed me.
I respawned and he ran me over again. The griefer prompt popped up, letting me go into ghost mode with him.
I also enabled passive mode (global no pvp) and he started glitching all my shit. Like spawning clones that could attack me and bouncing me into the air.
I expect hackers to cheat to win, but cheating just to grief is a whole new level of virginity.
Griefer mode, neat
How... how does the game stay online?
Afaik pvp isn't a big part of it.
It's basically an mmo with co-op missions.
I'd heard of cheating in GTA Online but wow Rob
Oh man, I hadn't heard of it.
I'm used to aimbots and wall hacks where you use memory scanners for an edge, but those are working against the security of your local memory. This was fucking with the server.
I wonder how one starts with this, mitm the packets from your machine?
Yeah, probably some weird corner cases that Rockstar doesn't handle like the 'take control of an RC car' command also accepts a user ID or something.
I wonder if that's griefer logic, "looking like this person will be annoying" or if it's a consequence of the exploit
If I had to guess (based on general cyber knowledge), he uses the NPC/RC car control interface but with a real user ID (mine). There are maybe local checks for this that he has patched out.
So his machine tells the server he is taking control of a character with an ID collision and so it spawns a new one.
That bypasses ghost and passive mode since I can do damage to myself in these modes (falling, shooting an RPG into a wall, etc.).
Ghost and passive are separate? One is targeted at the griefer and one is general? Rob
And then he hits you with lightning and fireworks, likely effects from elsewhere in the game?
Yeah those gotta be something else.
The lightning might just be some weapon (splash) damage that doesn't get checked against passive mode. Or maybe a debug/admin ability with poor access control.
Thor mode seems like quite an edge case
Haha I mean it's potentially simpler than taking control of an existing player('s clone). It might just be a matter of finding direct or splash damage that doesn't have a user ID associated with it (for the grief checks), like chaff from an aircraft or a submarine EMP or something.
Yeah the YouTube video I watched on it said something about exiting a vehicle before it hits a player to injure them from passive mode. The check is momentary.

Grand Theft Auto Online hacker ghost mode Grand Theft Auto Online hacker duplicate Grand Theft Auto Online hacker sparks attack passive Grand Theft Auto Online hacker shock attack passive


Grand Theft Auto Online Dax

GTA Online is easy to get into, even a full decade after its release. The combat and driving mechanics are fantastic, the progression system is good, and the density of interesting areas, film references, and sophomoric brand names/advertisements makes it a joy to play. Like a franchise I've more recently played, Far Cry, GTA's latest installment adds more vehicles, weapons, and customization options to an already extensive catalogue. Most importantly, it adds a well-developed co-op mode with fun, Payday 2-like heists.

thumbnail Grand Theft Auto Online intro driving snow thumbnail Grand Theft Auto Online helicopter river armored Karuma thumbnail Grand Theft Auto Online Feltzer ambulance police
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New games: FTL

FTL dead spaceship combat lost

J sent me a bunch of games for my bday, so one stormy night I gave FTL a try. Games Mass Effect, Barotrauma, and Valheim have had me lusting after a sci-fi exploration game with a customizable spacecraft - something like what Star Citizen has promised to be. Rebel Galaxy and Crying Suns were mediocre hints at such a game, and unfortunately I have a job and family so I can't play Eve.

FTL feels like Barotrauma in space - ship management in an unforgiving galaxy.
FTL unstable killer dead crewmate

FTL is known to be rather difficult. Indeed, my very first encounter was with a mentally unstable man marooned on a planet. I rescued him and he killed one of my three crew. It didn't take long to lose that run.

FTL sector map FTL combat rebel rigger FTL vendor systems items crew

The game's objective is to make a successful run through several sectors without losing your hull, fuel, or crew. Along the way you replenish assets, repair damage, and buy upgrades. Like Crying Suns and the various deckbuilder roguelikes, each node on the star chart is most often a narrative encounter or combat.
Daddy games: Astro's Playroom

Astros Playroom memory card stairs

A few months ago I gave Astro's Playroom try, hoping the dark media room and looping music would lull Dani to sleep. It succeeded that one time but was followed by the occasional request to play a 'daddy game'. So after a few sessions we've conquered each of the four main areas and the dino bosses.

thumbnail Astros Playroom look at the light lyrics thumbnail Astros Playroom boss dinosaur chomp thumbnail Astros Playroom boss fireworks dancing
thumbnail Astros Playroom GPU fan Solid State box Metal Gear
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Daddy games: Goat Simulator

Goat Simulator flying theme park

The next potential daddy game was Goat Simulator. I expected a weirdly-addictive sim game but quickly learned that it's Tony Hawk Pro Skater but you're a goat. The controls are bad and there isn't a ton to do, but the game's style and humor are awesome.

thumbnail Goat Simulator title screen thumbnail Goat Simulator satanic symbol thumbnail Goat Simulator skateboard halfpipe
thumbnail Goat Simulator achievement like Zlatan
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thumbnail Goat Simulator giraffe tall goat thumbnail Goat Simulator mouse mask
Progress: Fallout 76

Fallout 76 fortress airplane fuselage view

I think me and J are pretty far along the main quest in Fallout. We cured the, errr, fallout disease and now just have to spread the cure. I think. Vague plot aside, as much as I enjoy the beauty of Horizon maps and humor of GTA maps, Bethesda maps are the most rewarding to explore. Even when you're not pursing any particular objective and even when it's in West Virginia.

Fallout 76 early shelter

I spruced up my shelter, because that was a fun part of Fallout 4 and theoretically would be more useful in this game. I'm not sure it's useful at all in this game though.

thumbnail Fallout 76 load screen creek thumbnail Fallout 76 Backwoodsman magazine thumbnail Fallout 76 scout ropes course revolver
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Progress: Gunfire

Gunfire Reborn hyperborean jokul woodpecker

We finally beat that annoying ship at the end for Gunfire's easy mode. This unlocked the ice level where we've twice been killed by the polar bear final boss. Also I think Dani now thinks J is an actual bunny.
Progress: I Was A Teenage Exocolonist

I Was A Teenage Excolonist tentacle monster

On our recent Napa trip I picked up IWATE again. To recap: the battle/skill check mechanic is pretty unremarkable, leveling and perks are run-of-the-mill, but the writing is fairly unique, in the vein of Firewatch and The Last of Us. The story starts unambitiously; your character is a kid on a colony planet that has some docile life, some hostile life, and some mysterious life. As the plot progresses, the planets mysteries deepen and the colony leadership struggles become less straightforward.

I Was a Teenage Excolonist manticore egg I Was a Teenage Excolonist thumper I Was a Teenage Excolonist Dys stars I Was a Teenage Excolonist Dys observatory Convergent Domain
Progress: PUBG

PUBG Battlegrounds air collision parachute package
I think the boys were testing if you could clip a parachute with the glider mid-air. For science.

Cattle bagged an open-field C4 squad wipe:

Progress: Gloomhaven

Gloomhaven totem bird summon beast tyrant golems

Still getting a weekly quest in with Ted and Jon. That wind totem is pretty excellent.
Progress: Slay the Spire

Slay the Spire Silent deck ascension 4 poison
Ascension 4 Silent deck.

My go-to sick game is Slay the Spire. The daily climbs are fun and I've been trying ascension levels.
Progress: XCOM Chimera Squad

XCOM Chimera Squad disorient breach XCOM Chimera Squad Progeny boss

I need to push through the final act of XCOM but, like, see above.

Related - internal

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Related - external

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A Leftfield Solution To An XCOM Disaster - a post on Tom Francis' blog


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28 | September | 2017 | The Ancient Gaming Noob

1 post published by Wilhelm Arcturus on September 28, 2017

Created 2024.06 from an index of 271,867 pages.