Monday, December 30, 2013

Guild Wars 2 - How To Complete The Winter Wonderland Snowflake Jumping Puzzle of Wintersday (Tips with Video)

If there were an award for Most Frustrating Event of 'winter-timey' events of this season, the Winter Wonderland snowflake-jumping puzzle in Guild Wars 2 could arguably win the snowflake-shaped trophy. I'm all for getting presents to the eager kiddies, but I can only fall to my death so many times before I am reaching for the Scotch and caring less and less whether I get their gift-wrapped socks to them or not anymore. In fact, I'm doing this for ME now, for the Achievement... oh sorry, Tips and such, yes, here we go...

In Lion's Arch, near the display of presents and candy canes, speak with the Festive Youth (the map will have a red/white mint on it that says Winter Wonderland) and choose to brave the freezing peaks.

[The auto-kicker is set very low in this region - take care not to spend much more than a miunute standing still/away from keyboard or you will be 'disconnected due to inactivity']

Inside, there are three paths to choose to jump to your death get the kiddies their presents by: a path marked by two Quaggan, a path with two Snowmen and a path with Gingerbread Men. They are all similar and all three will eventually converge into a center point marked my giant mints as platforms and Toymaker Trixx warming himself by a fire. Warming yourself is what you'll need to do - and fast - as the more time you spend jumping around on the snowflake platforms, the more damage you will take from the exceedingly-cold environment. Once you get past the questions of why they just didn't build a causeway lined with intermittent fireplaces or just teleported you past this area, you can start to jump your way up the snowflakes into the white beyond, hurdling candy cane rungs on the way.

The Winter Wonderland area of Wintersday in Guild Wars 2 as it appears in Winter 2013,
feel free to use it as a winter wallpaper!
(Click to see Full Size)

Since each path is similar and eventually end up in the same spot (the fire with Trixx to talk to), choose whichever one you feel is the easiest (or get used to the quickest). After a few hundred falls, I settled on the far right one, the one with two Quaggan. There are a few large jump gaps and two sets of candy cane rungs to navigate, but I found once I got the hang of jumping the flakes and canes, I could get to the gifts [the second half] almost every time. Here are some jumping tips, but first, one that is most important in my opinion: disable your dodge/evade in the Options.

Opening the Options Menu, in the Winter Wonderland area of Guild Wars 2
[Quote from 'Forceome': "agh this is so hard can't get past the first part"]
(Click to see Full Size)
To disable the Double-Tap-To-Evade, hit Escape or click on the Gear icon in the upper left, then in the Game Menu that pops up, click on the Gear icon again for the Options. In the first window that opens, there should be checkboxes at the bottom. Simply uncheck (if there is one) the Double-Tap to Evade option to disable it, for now.
In the Options Menu, adjusting the Double-Tap to Evade setting in the Winter Wonderland area of Guild Wars 2
(Click to see Full Size)

This is important for this jumping puzzle because, as you correct your character's position on the platforms, or hit a key twice in excitement as you move around, disabling this will stop you from hurtling yourself off of snowflakes and mints or into oncoming snowboulders later (that's right not snowballs, snowBOULDERS).

After disabling that option, the rest of the game is mostly getting used to the jumping:

  • I suggest zooming out a little, to see the flakes ahead of you a bit easier. Also, I suggest having a viewing angle of about 45degrees or sharper down towards your character. It is easier to gauge distance this way, instead of seeing 2+ snowflakes ahead of you in a flatter, more restrictive view that doesn't show you just how far you have to jump or where the next snowflake is, as clearly
  • Get your hands in a comfortable position and have lots of room to move your mouse (if you do not have your sensitivity up high). As there is a time-limit involved, you will be spinning your mouse around quickly to navigate the turning angles and giving your mouse more room to move around may help in not bumping into anything and stopping it from being able to turn your character
  • Jump as late as possible for the larger gaps. Start to move towards the edge of the snowflake in the direction you want to go and press AND HOLD the spacebar to leap as far as you can
  • Find out which way of stopping your forward travel while in the air is easiest for you. You may find that letting go of the spacebar is easier (when you need to just drop down or drop quicker so you don't overshoot a platform). For me, I found that while holding forward and jump to leap through the air, letting go of the W (forward) was easier for me, so that's how I'll explain it in the following tips
  • For smaller platforms (snowflakes, mints, gifts, etc), I hold my spacebar down as I leap towards it, and as I come over top of the platform, I let go of W when centered over it, so that I basically drop down onto it perfectly, without overshooting or getting too close to the edge. This also leaves a little bit of a run-way to build up a jump to the next platform, whatever it may be
  • Although it might feel good to get a long chain of jumps together in a row, I suggest not getting into this habit too much, as the twisting paths and changes in gap spaces make it harder the longer you try to keep your hands in the same position and not 'resetting' your hands on the keyboard/mouse. I found it was easier to get past the snowflake portion [the entire first half of the game] if I let my hands reset often, even if I did not feel rushed or could keep going in one long jumping chain. It gives you a second to breathe and reset your hands and refocus
  • Speaking of focus, when you find your eyes starting to wonder a bit (there is a lot of nice stuff to look at and your health going down is unnerving and distracting of course), try not to look at your health. This takes your eyes away from the platforms and stutters your concentration. Yes, your health is going down slowly and it will, as long as you are not by a fire, so just let it do so - and if it is getting close to the end (it will as you get close to the Mints middle part) try not to look at it, as it will take precious seconds away from your forward movement and focus. You will eventually die from the cold, if you do, just let yourself die and you'll get a chance to start over, don't look at anything on your HUD if you can
  • I found navigating the candy cane rungs easiest by doing this technique: I would hold the space bar down and I jumped straight up and then I would tap the forward key (W by default), holding them both for one second, then letting both of them go. This would launch me up, then forward a bit, then drop down, right on the next rung/cane. [Hopefully, this old-school 'hold-a-then-b' style of jumping will help you past those treacherous treats]
In the middle, once you pass the ungodly snowflakes, there is the toymaker Trixx, awaiting your decision as to whether you want to try for extra prizes or take a consolation prize at this point. There is also the choice to give up a chance for bonus prizes by starting at this spot again if you fall when jumping from here to the end. Note that this does not allow you to ALWAYS start from here, it only gives you TWO chances to fall and start from this mid-point. Once those are used up, you will get forcefully placed back at the start of this Wonderful Wonderland of Woe.

In the second half of the puzzle, there are a scattering of gift boxes to jump on, then some mountain paths with snowBOULDERS rolling towards you. If that isn't enough pressure, there are also gusts of wind from large "friendly" snowmen and icicle missiles that drop down on you, all while you try to climb up the mountain pathway. Some tips for this section are:

  • Although noone really knows how the gift-boxes work and what triggers them (some have said they are a fixed pattern, but they do not seem so and some have said it's if others touch them first, but I have seen boxes pop and disappear without anyone touching them), it does appear that if one person goes, you can go next over the ones that did not explode; but if a group of people go, the gifts go explode-crazy and I suggest waiting until they reset
  • Don't just frantically tap spacebar and think it will work all the time on getting past these gifts. There are gaps between some of them and some will explode in front of you - so you must then adjust and hold the spacebar to get over the new gap. [I could have sworn wildly tapping the spacebar worked far better closer to the start of this event, but it seems it does not do so anymore]
  • Once past the gifts, watch out for a gust of wind as you cross a large mint and hop down onto a candy cane bridge. Then, move onto the large mints on the side of the mountain paths, as snowBOULDERS will be coming down at you Indiana-Jones-style
  • As you avoid the boulders and get onto the side mints, watch out also for glowing rings of fire on the ground, signalling an Area-Of-Effect incoming and stay out of the rings [It seems as though it is a giant icicle that drops down on the spot, but I have not paid enough attention to it to see exactly what it is yet]

Finally, at the end (watch out for one last snowBOULDER), are a pile of spilled gifts to the right that you must jump across to leap into the exit (a huge glowing gift box portal). The way that I prefer to do this last portion is shown in this animated GIF:

Once you jump into the huge glow and come out the other side, enjoy the rewards that await you and settle gently into the idea that you only have to do all of this 19 more times to get the Achievement!

Don't worry, it can be done... Along with some of the tips covered above, here is a full Playthrough [with embedded tip reminders] of The Winter Wonderland Jumping Puzzle of Wintersday:

Good Luck with it - hopefully these techniques will help you out a bit - and See You In The Game!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Quick Tip: Medieval II Total War - 'Fatal Graphics Error' [Possible Fix]

I first bought this great game as a DVD Retail Box and then later on purchased it through Direct2Drive [when Direct2Drive was around, then that service became GameFly (2015 Edit: and now it's D2D again)]. I also have it on Steam as a backup digital download source - it's too hard to resist those really cheap Steam Sales! Recently, I was Re-Installing M2TW, to begin conquering the world once again... However, I was surprised to see nothing but an error message (on Windows7):

The "Fatal Graphics Error" message, when starting MTW2

I personally found this error humorous, as it complained about Graphic Settings - and I couldn't even start/get into the game to change or even set them in the first place! So, I started Troubleshooting....

Apparently, a lot of people, on many forums, have been getting and asking about this error - and still are - so here is a great chance to share this Quick Tip on a simple 'fix' for it I eventually found, simply by playing with the Shortcut Properties:

Right-Clicking on the Shortcut for the game and editing the Compatibility Tab to match these settings,
is how I fixed the Fatal Graphics Error problem when I played M2TW recently. Try it out!
Click image to see Full Size

After making these changes to the Shortcut that runs the game (adding two quick checkmarks in the checkboxes shown above), after launching it should show a black screen [detecting settings?] momentarily and then load up the game properly (you may have to click on the icon in the Taskbar [Windows] to bring it up a second time) but that's it!
Hopefully that works for you all, as it did for me.

See You In The Games!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Planetside 2 - How To Find Snowmen (Winter Event) Known Facts, Tips and Suggestions

[Update: Note that although these Tips And Tricks noted herein have been noted to be of note during the first year of note in this notable noting, they have been tested to be valid for successive Winter Events, meaning that these Tips are still viable and applicable and other terms that end in -able for following Winter Event years. Enjoy!]

 Merry Auraximas!

For those playing Planetside 2 at this time of year, there is a Winter Event from SOE going on, that involves hunting snowmen in the blowing snowdrifts of the continent, Esamir. Killing 10 of these somewhat-rare snowman spawns earns you a new Title for your Soldier. Killing the far-more-rare Golden Snowman unlocks a Golden Hood Ornament instantly! This post is a collection of tips, strategies and ideas to help you do these very things this winter season. But first, an introductory video to the Winter Events, from the Official Planetside 2 Channel:

Known facts about the Snowmen:

  • The elusive Snowmen are not quite as tall as a human/soldier, but they are definitely not "small" - the main problem is that they are...white - on a continent of snow. [They are about 2/3 the height of a player/soldier] 
  • To help with spotting them, they have NC gloves stuck in the sides of them, a TR hat put on them and a VS stylish scarf draped around their necks knife as a nose 
  • The snowmen cannot be run over, spotted, or their visibility increased by using thermal vision, as they are snowmen and do not have souls are cold [they did appear stark white on night vision however, in my tests] 
  • They do not take many bullets to kill, they seem to take about the same damage as a regular player/soldier. For instance, in one test, a snowman was done in by two knife/melee hits [they are not excessively hard to kill] 
  • They are somewhat-random spawns. They seem to appear at the same locations, but the spawn timers are unknown
  • They can be found in groves of trees, near rock formations and even in the nooks and crannies of building structures, but only on the Esamir continent [there may be a queue in your region/server primetime playtime]
  • There are two types of Snowmen: Regular Snowmen and Golden Snowmen. They both seem to be able to appear on the same spots (share spawn points), as some have even reported that one type of snowman was 'inside' another type of snowman (they were 'on top' of each other/shared a spawn point)
  • The main difference between the two types of snowmen is that Golden Snowmen are far more eXPerience, reward a Hood Ornament upon "killing", and it seems that there can only be one Golden Snowman on the continent in existence at one time - all of this making the Golden Snowman a much more rare (but rewarding!) find

Snowman found in grove of trees, not far from a road, with some rocks around

Tips and Suggestions:

  • Although a Flash is fast and versatile, I suggest trying a Harasser, due to the difference of having a 360° rotating camera, while still being fast and relatively easy to steer/handle (and it can 'power' over some hills that the Flash cannot). You can also switch to the 2nd seat (hit the F2 key on your keyboard by default) and use the mounted weapon, even if you did not (or cannot) purchase any vehicle upgrades or add any weapons at all [the Flash would require a weapon-add upgrade] to kill found Snowmen (and contesting enemies)
  • You can use an empire-specific fighter (jet), but it has been reported that the snowmen cannot be seen from very far away (and some are under overhangs, etc) so this makes it somewhat more difficult if it is true, even with the difference in travel time.. [I have not tested this bit of info at this time]. You'll have to make that decision for yourself. Many people have reported flying around (low to the ground) has been fruitful for them
  • All classes have their strengths with this event [no doubt thought of by the developers]: Infiltrators can scan a wide area with their scopes, sniping the snowmen from a distance and can cloak if threatened (or fight). Engineers can refill their own ammo and repair their transport vehicle if it becomes damaged. Light Assaults can utilize their Adrenaline Pump ability to sprint faster to their destinations, as well as jump-jet up to higher points and over rocks [I prefer the Light Assault for these reasons, but the choice is up to you] - however this is just an example of some of the benefits of some of the classes for hunting
  • They appear at the sides of roads a lot [I ran into most of my snowmen this way, driving down roads and veering off when I saw a grove of trees or an isolated rock grouping]. Rocks seemed to have far less snowmen [for me], but there have been reports of people finding them in rock formations and on mountains [I found a couple, in rock formations; but since many of them seem to be easily found from the road, just driving around on roads and keeping a sharp eye open may be the 'fastest' way, in my personal opinion, at least, when starting out hunting, at first]
  • As you can see from the maps in the next section below, they are spread out pretty well - there are lots of places to at least have the chance to find one. Of course, it will help [be easier] if your faction controls the area you are hunting in; but even if not, it's a chance to engage the enemy for fun (or if you are less inclined to battle, you are allowed to create a soldier of a different faction on the same server, so you can choose one that 'owns' the territory you wish to go hunting in)
Snowman found by the edge of a road [I personally ran into most of my Snowmen this way, finding them along the sides of roads]
Snowman found near edge of road, while driving around in Harasser

Community-Created Maps:

Here are a couple of maps that were posted on the Official Planetside 2 forums (shared with cartographers' permission):

[This map has been added to since this version by many helpful people at the SOE Planetside 2 Forum here: ]
Esamir Snowmen Locations, map by Slaudog
All markers can be either Snowmen or Golden Snowmen, circles mean more than one was found close to another
[Later versions of this map have more contributors, see the thread for updates]
(Click to see Full Size)
Esamir Snowmen Locations, map by MaxDamage
(Click to see Full Size)

Snowman somewhat-hidden by brush within a grove of trees, not far from a road
Snowman found near base structure, alongside a road
Snowman "kill", showing eXPerience gained. With the Double XP Weekend plus a 10% bonus, it seems that a Normal Snowman will give 500XP

With the great eXPerience that the Snowmen give, if you are a lower level (Battle Rank) you can literally rank up just from popping these party piles of pudgy powder [This one was found right next to the road]

I have already achieved the custom soldier Titles for a couple of my Soldiers since this event began and have started to help others find them and wanted to collect everything I've learned so far together in one post. Hopefully, you will find this information helpful in seeking out these little fellas, especially if you are just starting out - now get out there, start hunting, good luck - and See You In The Game!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Quick Tip: Team Fortress 2 - What To Do With Those Naughty and Nice Winter Crates (Winter 2013)

By now, most of you have seen these Random Drops, Crates that are either "Nice" or "Naughty" - but, "How do you open them..", you may have asked? Well, this post is just a quick note to answer this question I have already started seeing on game forums and Question/Answer websites. Answer: You Can't Open Them (Yet)...

Soon hopefully, keys should be available for purchase at the Mann Company Store (Steam/Valve/TF2), most likely for $2.49 USD, if keys and dropped crates combinations of the past are anything to go by [I assume they are dropping them now, to allow people to collect some before the keys go on sale - to sell more keys]. So, if you get these [I have already started getting them when playing, hence the screencaps], just wait a little bit longer, until the keys themselves go on sale. Then, if you want to open them, just purchase keys and unlock them! Soon™... (Remember, you will need one key for each crate)

See You In The Games!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

And More: Deals and Sales - Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics - All 3 Games Completely Free Until The End Of December 13th at Good Old Games (

Pardon me, I got so excited seeing this great deal, I forgot that they aren't called Good Old Games anymore (since sometime last year..). Don't let that stop you from taking advantage of this absolutely Free Gift from Fallout 1, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics are all wrapped up with a bow for the Holidays and waiting for you to add to your DRM-free collection at their website - see the full details there:

I hope you catch'em in time and See You In The Games!