Derf Reviews: Grim Dawn

September 19, 2016 at 9:57 pm | Posted in Article, gaming, Personal | Leave a comment

For the past few weeks, I’ve been playing through Grim Dawn, a PC ARPG by Crate Entertainment. Set in a dark, gritty, Victorian era-inspired atmosphere, Grim Dawn is notable for being a PC game backed by fans via Kickstarter. The game launched in 2014, and has been updated with new content and upgrades ever since, with the first piece of DLC being released just this past August.


I would sum up Grim Dawn as a shallower, more visually dynamic, loot-happy version of Path of Exile. Grim Dawn’s endgame is not nearly as deep, but the physics engine makes combat feel fluid and powerful, and there are a multitude of character builds to try. Your character chooses two of the six Masteries available, accessing skills and attributes from each of the two skill trees you’ve chosen. Respeccing points doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, allowing for a generous degree of experimentation.

The loot system also offers some very cool pre-generated epic and legendary items – and while any ARPG becomes a loot grind in the end, Grim Dawn tries its best to make the effort fresh and entertaining. Various kinds of treasure chests exist throughout the game world – some which guarantee you an epic/legendary item or recipe, rewarding those who take the time to explore each map. The crafting system is deep and involving, almost to the point of Path of Exile (minus the mind-boggling item economy).


Like its granddaddy Diablo 2, there are three difficulties to play through, but other than grinding dungeons for your BiS gear, there isn’t much left to do once you’ve conquered Ultimate difficulty (not that this is easy). It resembles Path of Exile in this instance, where you’re encouraged to try building new characters for different gameplay experiences. Maybe you’re discovered the perfect combination of Masteries and skills to wreck face, or maybe you just want a character to use those Soiled Trousers you found from a previous playthrough.


If you’re an ARPG fan, I’d highly recommend Grim Dawn, especially at its current price point ($25). When it goes on sale via Steam, the game becomes a steal. Crate staff are active on forums and receptive to fan feedback, so you really should just pick up Grim Dawn to reward a good bunch of devs.

Photo blog: Derf’s PC Build

May 26, 2016 at 8:03 pm | Posted in Article, Personal | Leave a comment

If you’ve caught my Twitter feed or follow #Makcast, you probably know that I’ve spent the past couple months building a new PC. This is the first time I’ve built my own computer, from researching and buying the parts to sitting down and plugging the whole thing together.

Now that my computer has been assembled and running for the past week or so without any catastrophic malfunctions, I thought it’d be cool to post some photos of the building process and hopefully encourage others to build their own machines.

My PC also has a name: Tsabo!

Although I had a few knowledgeable friends and family members to help with parts suggestions and troubleshooting, it’s easier than ever to learn how to build your own PC. If a dunce like me can do it, so can you. I won’t lie: the process got stressful at a couple points, but booting up a computer you built yourself is a reward in itself.

Check out the r/buildapc subreddit to get started, the Partpicker website to plan your build, and YouTube for helpful build walkthrough videos.

Now the juicy part: machine porn photos!



Everything still boxed; the calm before the storm


The motherboard comes first!


Installing the CPU; zero force = ur doin it rite


Mounting the CPU heat sink; this guy was a little awkward to install


Readying the POST (Power On Self-Test)…



…And we have liftoff! Actually, this was after two days of troubleshooting only to realize I misread the power supply’s on/off switch. DURRRRR


Fully assembled! The cables could be cleaner but Tsabo is ready to roll!


Appendix A: The final parts list:

Type Item
CPU Cooler Cooler Master Hyper T4 70.0 CFM Rifle Bearing CPU Cooler
Motherboard MSI B150 Gaming M3 ATX LGA1151 Motherboard
Memory Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 Memory
Storage Samsung 850 EVO-Series 500GB 2.5″ Solid State Drive
Video Card Gigabyte GeForce GTX 970 4GB WINDFORCE 3X Video Card
Case Corsair C70 Military Green (Green) ATX Mid Tower Case
Power Supply EVGA SuperNOVA G2 650W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply
Optical Drive Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer
CPU Intel i5 6600k (secondhand)


Heroes Remembered

February 11, 2016 at 4:16 pm | Posted in Art post, Article, mtg, Personal | Leave a comment

I started playing Magic when I was 11. I don’t remember a whole lot from those days, but I do remember drawing a lot of fantasy-themed scribbles based on Magic artwork. In particular, I loved drawing faraway castles and armoured knights.

Ruins-of-Trokair                    phant


It doesn’t really feel like it, but Magic artists like Mark Poole helped turn me into a fantasy geek.

It’s not like any of these artists are close friends of mine. It’s only recently that I started making an effort to visit their tables at GPs. GP Las Vegas in 2015 was amazing for meeting the first generation of Magic artists. I got to meet and talk to Bryon Wackwitz, Jeff Menges and Ken Meyer Jr. I could sit and listen to their stories all day.

There were a couple of the old guard I didn’t get a chance to meet, though. One was Richard Kane Ferguson; the other was Christopher Rush.

My good friend Mike was able to help me pick up one of Chris’s signed playmats. It feels weird to think that a physical object is the closest I will ever get to meeting the man. I imagine many also feel the same about Wayne England.

I get a little defensive about artists sometimes. It annoys me when people drop a stack of 40 cards on their table to sign, without so much as a tip. It annoys me when people don’t even make an effort to start a conversation with the artist. Maybe I’m just an art nerd, but there’s such an opportunity to delve into the mind of an artist. And it could just start with “Which of your cards do you like the most?”

As someone who draws but hesitates to claim being an “artist”, I have two main motivations. The first is the joy of creating something. The second is the hope that my creations will outlive me – that when I am gone, my work will be remembered by someone.

Time will go on and it is sadly inevitable that more of the artists who shaped my childhood will leave this world. I owe it to them to pay tribute, because I very well may not be drawing today otherwise. I will gladly, in my own amateurish way, do so for each and every one.


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