How To: Remove a pinned Diablo III taskbar icon (without uninstalling)

I’m not sure WHY this is the case, but the Diablo III icons that Blizzard installs by default, to desktop and start menu, are really weird in Windows 7.

If you use one of them to “pin to taskbar” like you would (nearly) any other application, you can’t right-click on them, for example to remove them (they also don’t have ANY jump list).  But you can move it around the taskbar.  It won’t even show up in the AppData folder C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch\User Pinned\TaskBar with all the others which is even weirder.

The solution is: let Windows do the work for you.

  1. Find the original shortcut you pinned to the taskbar.  (Skip to 3 if you already deleted it, like with the desktop icon.)
  2. Send it to the recycle bin.
  3. Click on the taskbar icon.  Prompt will pop up asking if you want to delete the shortcut.  Do so.
  4. Restore the original shortcut back to wherever it was if you want.

Okay, so now that the crazy witchcraft shortcut is gone, you can make a new one.  Head over to your D3 install directory (C:\Program Files (x86)\Diablo III), right-click on the Diablo III Launcher, create a shortcut, and then drag that shortcut to the taskbar.  You can delete the one in the install directory if you like.

Now you have a perfectly normal taskbar icon that launches the D3 launcher.  Yay.

Hat Tip: http://windows7forums.com/windows-7-support/79868-tiny-issue-but-irritating-none-less.html for the back-half of the solution.

Thoughts: ESPN on Xbox Live

Just spent some time with the ESPN app they added with the latest Xbox Live update if you have a Gold account.

To start off, it’s mix of both ESPN3 and ESPN Video.  Overall video quality was poor, a good deal poorer than what I get watching either site on my computer.  That is already on top of ESPN’s video quality being worse than what I get from Netflix or MLB.TV over the same connection.  I’m not sure if this is to do with Xbox Live today, when it was appallingly slow, or in general, so we’ll have to see how it shapes up in the long run.  The avatar-populated initial start is just a needlessly overdone way to show you “Top 3 things and a link to everything else”.  Once you’re into the menu structure though, it’s a solid NXE interface, if again, a bit slow on loading the thumbnail pictures.  The video interface itself is your standard Xbox video layout.

On the content side, the ESPN Video stuff is what you’d expect: mostly SportsCenter highlights.  I didn’t find any of their more off-beat stuff like Mayne Street or Sports Science although you can’t find that stuff half the time on the site anyway.  Upside here is that I haven’t run into any ads moving between clips which is quite welcome.

For me, ESPN3 is mostly about live events, and that’s where it tends to have problems.  It can never seem to decide how much bandwidth to use and so the quality changes constantly, and unlike Netflix on Xbox Live, the quality changes mean buffering pauses.  Those are awful at any time, but between pitches it makes me want to drown something.  I’ll see about watching the Lakers game Wednesday night and report back then.

If its a better live experience than the site, even with lower quality, it should be enough to keep my Gold subscription active.

Thoughts: Mass Effect 2 Kasumi DLC

So, to get the TL;DR-type stuff out of the way: $7 US for a new character, her loyalty mission, and some loot (an SMG, a new casual outfit, a +Tech Damage upgrade).

Worth it?

  • If you’re starting up a new game, definitely.  Kasumi is a pretty neat companion both in dialogue and combat, her mission is fun, and the new weapon quickly found a firm place in my Infiltrator’s kit.
  • If you’re looking to play this on your Post-Game Save and then go back to something else, I might pass on it until you revisit ME2 or there’s a sale.

Now, onwards in a relatively spoiler-free way.

Kasumi, Legion, and Shepard enter the Citadel.

Yes, that's Legion (I <3 Gibbed's Save Editor)

Kasumi, the character, is quite good.  Even taking her through just an initial visit to the Citadel and Mordin’s recruitment mission I found her incidental dialogue to be some of my favorite so far.  There’s a triggered piece of dialogue on Omega about the use of light that reminded me a lot of my, now, other favorite character to take around, Jack.  Both characters’ statements are from the “bottom”.  They’re not the usual expository lines you might get from fancy-pants characters and also not the “Ooooooooh, so shiny” crap from callow characters (who may or may not be space hicks).  Both Kasumi and Jack give perspectives that usually aren’t given about places and even less often done well in my experience.

In combat her trademark ability is Shadow Strike… which is basically Shadowstep.  It makes her into a very mobile, stealthy, Shotgun-type character (without the Shotgun) able to ruin people’s day down range.  Her loyal power is a flashbang grenade which has seemed useful but I haven’t put much time into it (and I’m too in love with Geth Shield Boost to take it myself).

Kasumi and (Female) Shepard at the beginning of her loyalty mission.

Meeting the mark.

I was pretty excited by the mission concept when they announced this DLC and my head filled with Leverage and Alias “party heist” episodes.  For the most part it delivered.  There wasn’t nearly as much conversation and subterfuge as I might have hoped for, but that’s been my complaint about Mass Effect 2 all along.  The prerequisite “Get him to talk so we can forge his voice print” conversation was way too short, even compared to the similarly short sequence at the end of Garrus’s loyalty mission.  (I did go for the Renegade dialogue option so maybe I missed out on a longer sequence.)  Without spoiling anything else, the final sequence is a touch disappointing mechanically aside from an awesome cutscene with Kasumi going all Ninja Gaiden. (YouTube video if you have no plans of picking this up.  The first 40 seconds is all you need.)

As for the loot: the SMG is nasty if you’re looking for a mid-range option, likely to replace the has-no-ammo-capacity heavy pistol for my Shepard.  The new casual outfit will only be used occasionally, but it’s a nice touch.

Shepard in her new Casual outfit.

Why yes, I do make this look good.

All in all, a fine excuse to start a new canonical sort-of Renegade Female Shepard that slept with Liara playthrough I’ve had on the backburner since I first finished Mass Effect 2.

(Screenshots taken with Xfire.  All my ME2 screenshots can be found at my profile.)

How Virtua Fighter 4 ruined fighting games for me.

Specifically Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution, but that difference isn’t important.

To get something out of the way quickly: I’ve never been good at fighting games.  My ascent up the playstyle ladder usually stops around “find a couple moves that work and stick to them”.  This isn’t through lack of desire to be “good” at fighters.  Before the advent of Internet video though (and honestly now as well), learning about fighting games involved reading ASCII hieroglyphs or knowing someone who could teach you.

(Admittedly, I can talk shop about MMO mechanics with the slightly-less-than-best of them, but the physical act of inputting commands is much less important in WoW than in Street Fighter IV.  MMO play is more about the decisions made before the fight and in-fight decisions measured in seconds versus the fractions-of-a-second scale for a fighting game.)

VF4 had this “Training Mode” that Wikipedia describes best:

The mode consisted of an encyclopedia of fighting game terms, complete character command list walkthroughs, tips on all of the games mechanics, recommended character combos, alternative options for failed combos, detailed command input timings, slow motion for frame counting and timing, and other useful training tips.

The Command Training was really what made it awesome.  You could go through a character’s list move-by-move and learn them by seeing your inputs in real-time and what the move actually was timing-wise.  You could also have the game do the move so you can see what you’re missing.

I’m sure a real person could beat me senseless, but I actually had a lot of fun going through the Quest Mode (going to different arcades, playing in tournaments, and getting customization stuff).  If I ever got stuck, I’d go into the training mode, learn a few new tricks, and get back out and win a couple tournaments.  It was by far the most fun I’ve had with a fighting game which is surprising because the Virtua Fighter series is on the technical-side of the spectrum and I am not technically-proficient in the least.

Now, the lack of such a mode in the next-gen fighters I’ve played hasn’t been a huge deal.  Dead of Alive 4 wasn’t very good and Soulcalibur IV‘s combination of character creation and the Tower mode were a blast to play with.

Enter Street Fighter IV (literally, in the mail today via GameFly).  SFIV’s move list is tiny compared to VF4′s but it is nearly unapproachable.  Its “Training Mode” that I entered into full of hope was just the usual “beat on this turned-off-AI”.  When I go the command list, I get icons that look nothing like the “QCB + K” that the fine folks at Shoryuken tell me is what I need to do C. Viper’s Burning Kick.

Screenshot of C. Viper's Burning Kick

(via Kotaku)

Now, it would be awesome if SFIV could tell me what’s wrong with my “QCB + K” action: am I too slow or am I not actually making a quarter-circle-back?  But, instead, I just have a turned-off-AI Ken to beat on hoping that I’ll get it eventually.

Of course, all this time spent raving about VF4′s amazing training mode (that wasn’t carried over to VF5 apparently) could have been spent learning C. Viper or any other character, but SFIV really doesn’t provide the tools that I’ve now come to expect if I can’t just learn-as-I-hit-things.

I have no problem going to Shoryuken or Calibur Forum to figure out what kind of fighter might suit my playstyle best or to learn some advanced techniques or to get down into the nitty-gritty of frame counting, but that isn’t what I’m talking about.

SFIV seems to expect that I know everything as soon as I put the disc in, which along with VF5 not continuing VF4 in having an awesome, robust training mode, is a real bummer.

Hexic, I’m leaving you.

Puzzle Quest is on Steam.

With that one faithful post, schild may very well have ruined my life. So, I load up Steam and it sounds pretty awesome off the bat: dinglewtsgrats + a puzzle game? I’m weak for either, but just like Mass Effect combined shooter + RPG (more spam Techs + hold down Right Trigger for great justice than an actual shooter, but the point stands…) the combination is a vice grip on my brain.

It’s good, oh so good. I also imagine it’s a lot better on the PC (versus 360 via Live Arcade or PS2) just by virtue of it having a mouse instead of thumb-aiming for pieces which would make me very sad with this game.

Essentially, you have a standard “line up 3-5 pieces in a row/column and they disappear” puzzle game (plus special pieces of course), but when you take out pieces… you get that color of mana for your spells. Clear 4 red and yellow mana and you chuck a fireball at your opponent’s health bar. Or, my current favorite, use my trained rat mount’s ability to bite them. Yes, I captured a rat and I’m riding it around. What did I tell you about it being good? Sure, there are quests, with it being Puzzle Quest and all, as the world map expands out ala FFT and you go around doing feats of daring do… with puzzles… and spells… and rat mounts!

I have a final in two days… all is indeed lost.