Best Fantasy Ever

This morning I just said “fuck it” and hit the snooze button.  This is not a practice I normally do, since I usually end up feeling far more tired after doing so…  but today is Friday…  and last night was another one of our Oklahoma “watch the skies” nights.  I feel like as a whole today may just be a “fuck it” day in general.  I feel like I don’t have much of anything to really talk about, but by god I am going to do it anyway.

Chaos Reigns

Last night I started the evening attempting to play some Star Wars the Old Republic.  However ultimately the constant distraction of the tornado cells coming through our area lead to nothing but me getting killed over and over by afking in the wrong place.  Basically I needed to play something with a pause button last night, and that ruled out all of my MMOs.  Last week a discussion with Syl about Jesters ended up bringing up one of my favorite video game villains of all time… Kefka.  She mentioned that her favorite rendition was in the game Dissidia… and I thought to myself…  man I wonder why I never played that?

Sometimes you see a game so often, that you develop this picture in your head of what the game will be like to play.  For the case of Dissidia, I had built up this image in my head of a this massive fan service JRPG that comes up with a loose excuse to involve all your favorite characters from vastly different final fantasy games.  So while the fan service part was definitely correct, the rest of the game resembles almost nothing of a traditional Japanese RPG game.

The game as a whole is about Chaos over throwing Order… and that is precisely what playing it felt like to me.  It works absolutely nothing like I expected.  Essentially you pick one of the cast of characters, the engage in a series of game boards…  that you have to move across by clearing obstacles in your way.  When you encounter an obstacle… you have to fight them in this truly bizarre behind the back view fighting game.  All of the fights so far have been repetitive and essentially a time waster, but I have this feeling that when I actually encounter a boss fight it will be like the floor dropping out from under me.

Essentially it feels like an extremely flimsy excuse to pack a game with a bunch of cinematic of characters you know and love interacting together.  Each time you clear one of these game board, you are treated to a 3D cut scene of your character doing whatever they do best… usually brooding.  Along the way you pick up gear that slightly improves your ability to knock down these straw men villains that get put in your path.  I am sure on the boss fights you will have to have the best of all possible gear to make it through them. 

There is some kind of weird mini-game involving a chocobo and carrots that I have not quite figured out what is going on with it.  I am sure it is important, but I have yet to notice anything happening other than every so often a pixelated chocobo shows up on screen and eats a carrot.  Additionally there is an absolutely insane unlock system that allows you to play as other characters, unlock other costumes and even character voices.  The most confusing of these is what looks almost like a cash shop…  but I don’t see any RMT hooks in the game at all.

Basically after playing Dissidia for 2 hours… I am still not really sure if I like the game or not.  There is so much of it that is the epitome of repetitive gameplay, however I found myself continuing to play it in spite of this.  I made it through the tutorial… that didn’t really teach me anything…  and a few game boards into the Cloud storyline before I decided to give up.  This is definitely going to be a game I return to, because it is like this super confusing puzzle that is going to annoy me until I solve it.  There is so much going on in this game, and it has such a devoted following that I feel like I have to figure out why.

Best Fantasy Ever

Another title I had dug up for the PSP was the Super Nintendo turned Gameboy Advance turned Playstation turned PSP remake of my favorite of all JRPGs…  Final Fantasy VI…  or as I played it originally Final Fantasy III.  I was really late getting turned onto this game, it was not until Christmas break that I ended up giving this game a spin.  I rented it from the local video store…  and then when it came time to turn it in… tried valiantly to purchase the cart from them so I could maintain my game saves.  I gathered up all the cash I had gotten over Christmas, and picked up the game at Toys R Us…  then spent what felt like the next 4 months playing it.

There was just so much going on in this game.  It had a great cast of characters, awesome steampunk meets magic theme… and for the time the graphics were truly amazing.  This to me is the pinnacle of the Final Fantasy experience, and everything since has been a downhill ride for me.  Much like me being able to replay Symphony of the Night over and over… this is on the same list…  but I have never really done so.  I’ve never been that big into the various mobile gaming systems post green and black gameboy.  So I have essentially be relegated to playing this title on emulators for the last decade.

Now that I have it on the PSP, I am really looking forward to a proper play through again.  I started it back up last night, but only really made it towards the end of Narshe before sleep claimed me.  Previously I had been taking my laptop into work, and going upstairs and gaming over my lunch hour.  Right now my plan is to just bring my psp in with me, and play it while everyone else is on their laptops.  I just wish I had a proper way to take screenshots from my psp… because I would love to be able to chronicle my journey through the game.  I might have to research that…  since I have custom firmware…  wondering if something like that exists.

Wrapping Up

A friend of mine finally got around to using the free game and expansion codes I gave him over in Rift.  I told him that he needed to do so soon, because anyone with Storm Legion would get grandfathered into a bunch of stuff when the F2P conversion hits.  He said he might be around tonight, so I will be breaking out of of my lowbie characters and hanging out with him.  Looking forward to listening to him discover that game as we play together over mumble.  Already there have been a bunch of excited IMs traded back and forth… and he has only played the game for about 20 minutes.

This weekend we have a double whammy of my mothers birthday on Saturday, and my wife’s mothers birthday on Sunday.  I am sure that will ultimately dictate what our weekend is like.  Additionally tonight is supposed to be another bad tornado night… and potentially worse than last.  So we will be watching the skies and hoping for the best.  I hope you all have much better days than what mine sounds like it is going to be.

Crash of the Titan

I am going to try and move quickly through my post this morning, just not sure how successful I will be.  I have a super busy day ahead of me.  At 8 am I am supposed to be at a development conference here in town, and after the first section… I need to head back to work to try and work out the kinks in a program that has to go live on June 1st.  Needless to say I am stressing more than a little bit at the rushed schedule.

Brand Loyalty

To make matters worse I have decided to pick a topic that I have been wanting to write about for a few days, but not really found the time to sit down and put pen to paper… or in my case keyboard to words?  On 5/28 it was revealed in a Venture Beat article, that the infamous Project Titan would be delayed until at least 2016.  This announcement of course has caused various ripples in the blogosphere and twitterland, most of which relatively negative.  This is going to be my attempt to wrap my head around the issue.

WoW is back in a state of decline based on an early May report that they were down another 1.3 million players.  I myself have done the resub and cancel dance a few times since the release of Pandaria.  Ultimately people play wow not out of a sense of loyalty to the content anymore… people play wow because people play wow.  The best thing about wow is also likely the most fleeting.  It is the only MMO that has been able to accumulate that many subscribers in one place at one time.

Players need cycling back to WoW in most part as a way to hang out with their WoW friends.  For those who are relatively new to the blog I will give a quick bio.  In 2004 on launch day I founded a little guild called House Stalwart.  At that point we had roughly 50-60 players and over the course of the ebb and flow of expansions, we reached our pinnacle at the launch of Cataclysm… with roughly 800 characters in the guild, divided up by a completely indeterminate number of accounts.  At this time we had 4 active raid teams, and more than enough players to do anything with at any time.  We have never reached the Alea Iacta Est levels of having 13+ guilds melded together through the use of an addon… but we were fairly large.

The Shedding

Since that time I have seen two things happen over and over.  Firstly players got tired of the gameplay and when something they liked better came along… they moved over to that.  There were pretty massive exodus points with the launch of Rift and Star Wars the Old Republic… but there have been smaller little conversions going on as well.  Secondly I have seen a good number of players simply leaving because of life.  They no longer wished to devote the amount of time they were spending on wow to the game, and instead chose to divert that effort into family, careers or other hobbies.

The end result is that we have lost roughly half of the active members that we once had.  Instead of four raid teams, they now barely have two… one of which struggles constantly trying to fill any given raid night.  On a good night there are around 20 people on at any given time, but there are also large stretches where that number is in the 3-5 range.  Essentially our guild has dropped significantly, and this is the tale I have heard over and over from other guild leaders from the early days of WoW.

This is not to say that there have not been an influx of new players coming in to fill the gaps, but in our case and the case of many vanilla guilds… they are shells of what they once were.  Remember my statement about “people play wow, because people play wow”… ultimately this attrition will reach a point where there is no longer enough of a critical mass of players people remember… or want to play with… to act as a magnetic core to keep pulling people back.  I know in my own case, the number of players that I really want to see dwindles each time I return to the game on one of my “wow whims”.

Crash of the Titan

One of the things that has universally been held off in the distance as a beacon of hope by the true believers, is that Blizzard was working on a new MMO…  that this would be the one to cure all the ills.  The problem is right now they have been given the knowledge that this promised land will not be coming for at least another three years.  That means three more years of the status quo.  Sure there will be another expansion in there, that will raise the level cap and provide another dose of very similar raid encounters…  but ultimately there will be nothing truly new for three long years.

As a former dedicated warrior blogger, I still have a ton of friends and online acquaintances that actively play World of Warcraft.  The problem is, on any given day… I can watch my twitter feed for thirty minutes and see several posts of subtle frustration about the game.  Maybe I just notice these more than most people, since I am been in a not so subtle state of disappointment with the game for a long time.  I still find it extremely fun at times, so long as I “don’t think about it”.  It has become the ultimate junk food gaming experience, that I can really enjoy so long as I don’t think about what I just consumed.

Ultimately I know that sooner or later WoW will suffer the same fate that all aging MMOs have to this point.  Players will abandon it for the new shiny on the horizon.  Warcraft has had a longer than normal shelf life, but when I have had my little whims, the game play experience and client already feel extremely dated.  Essentially there will be a point, and I am not sure what that number is… where there is just not enough of a critical mass of players to glue the other players together.  Because a large chunk of the players still actively playing wow, are the ones that derive their gaming enjoyment from playing with other players.

Tomorrrow-morrow-land

The big thing that the Titan announcement has done is said to those players that there is no real future in this game.  When Everquest was declining in numbers, leading to the launch of World of Warcraft… they had a new and shiny game in Everquest 2 waiting in the wings and currently fairly publicly beta testing.  Blizzard has come out and said that they essentially has nothing up their sleeves.  Once that has happened, there is no “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”…  we all know the wizard doesn’t actually exist.

Granted I get the reboot, and I get the reluctance to announce anything at all.  Essentially Blizzard hit one out of the park on a fluke swing, and based on the way they have mismanaged World of Warcraft over the years… I know for certain they have no clue what magic they cast to get the initial success.  They know that whatever they come out with has to be bigger and better than WoW…  or it will likely be not just the end of the franchise…  but also potentially the end of their company.  They have also seen that anyone who has come up against their own monster creation has fallen grossly short of all possible sales and subscribership goals.

I sincerely think they have no clue at all right now of how to create a new IP that players will love as much as their very fabled Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo product families.  All of which were allowed to start with extremely humble roots… and were allowed to be grown up through the very supportive and nurturing PC gaming cocoon of the 90s.  They basically have to birth a fully formed and ready to run adult franchise, with all the characters and branding that we the consumer will immediately latch onto and love like no other.

Screwed

In a word, they are screwed.  Building new IP is not the strong point of the juggernaut that is Blizzard.  I remember when they were talking about World of Warcraft… being completely shocked.  Up until Warcraft 3… the games basically had just enough storyline to keep the gameplay from absolutely falling on their face.  I had no clue how they would build a fully fleshed out and three dimensional world out of that type of writing.  But they managed to do so, but did it by drawing upon characters and settings that had already been created.

I have no idea how they are going to create this fully fleshed out reality that is deep enough for us to care about it immediately.  Especially when it has to be amazing enough to keep players from getting drawn into other truly epic IP that it will be competing with.  Namely I am talking about Elder Scrolls Online, and the mouth watering prospect of being able to play through all of Tamriel in the same game.  You have to realize we have never seen more than a small corner of that world in any of the modern games, and each of them is just mind numbingly huge.

How can Blizzard come up with anything that will trump a world that has been built over the course of almost 20 years and 5 blockbuster games set in the same world.  While I have friends that work for Blizzard, and I wish them the absolute best… I question as to whether or not they can roll out this new IP and hit the ground running with enough momentum to trump a setting like that.  I feel like ESO is the first game to come along that really has a chance in hell of toppling the WoW Juggernaut, only because of the landmark success of its previous incarnations.  Skyrim for example sold seven million units in the very first week and in my Raptr users group, a large number of those players have put in 300-500 hours playing this “single player” game.

The Paradox

Ultimately… people play wow because people play wow.  The only thing that will pull players away from wow permanently, is enough of a mass of players playing something else.  I feel that both Wildstar and Elder Scrolls Online have the potential to do this over the coming year.  Combine this with the fact that there is nothing coming down the pipe from Blizzard to compete with this… and you have a recipe for change.  This is going to happen sooner or later, this is a certainty…  WoW will wither…  all MMO titles wither given time.  It is exceedingly hard to actually kill an MMO, as evidenced by the fact that both Everquest and Dark Age of Camelot are themselves going relatively strong… just in a greatly diminished capacity.

I realize that players have predicted the doom of Warcraft, over and over… and each of them… myself included have been wrong.  It feels like this announcement about Titan is the beginning of something…  what that something is quite honestly is undetermined yet.  Blizzard may retreat into its juggernaut and produce a golden age of content…  or they may devote seasoned resources away from it to build their new planned kingdom.  But in either case, I think Titan being pushed back and rebooted entirely has been a massive blow to player confidence.  I think it is this blow that will ultimately have major repercussions.

Wrapping Up

I need to wrap this up, I could rattle on at length about this for a few more pages… but I feel like I have essentially said what I set out to say.  I need to print off my ticket for the dev conference… go get some breakfast and get on my way.  I hope you all have a great day… and this little doom and gloom treatise has not diminished that.  I still like World of Warcraft as a concept, I have just been very disappointed in the overall experience for several years now.

Fatman Blues

Another morning, another day closer to the weekend.  Yesterday I was just absolutely struggling to exist in the world.  I felt like I was walking around in a daze all day long, and nothing ever quite snapped me out of it.  I took that long nap on Sunday afternoon, and ever since my schedule had been somewhat out of whack.  I am convinced my body and mind goes to shit if I get too much sleep.  So long as I get 4-6 hours I seem to be able to functional like a normal human being, but when I get over that…  my body goes haywire.

Restless Gaming

As a result of this haze, I was super restless last night.  I flitted from activity to activity never really finding much traction in any of them.  I managed to hook up with my friend Del over in SWTOR at one point in the evening, and he made me a bunch of moddables so that I could outfit a set of orange gear I had my eyes on.  I am hoping that if I now start always choosing commendations… I will be able to keep up with keeping the suit of armor outfitted.

I am now on the last section of Dromund Kaas on my Sith Warrior, and I pushed through a good chunk of it…  but seemed to lack the focus to actually finish.  When I would attempt to quest, I would find myself super sleepy and almost unable to keep my eyes open.  Unfortunately last night my wife washed the bed sheets, so we had to wait for the current load to finish drying, and then for them to finish as well.  This gave me no real option of just going to bed early.  So I wandered about the house like a zombie, looking for something to occupy my time.

Fatman Blues

I finally settled back down in my office upstairs, and set to trying to unravel a mystery.  The goal of this search was to be able to find a way to upgrade my PSP to firmware 6.60… aka the latest revision and the one required to couple your device with your ps3.  There is more to the tale than this however, as there always is in a mystery.  It is a tale of intrigue and suspense… stay awhile and listen!

Back in 2007 I picked up a used PSP 1000 model, aka the “Fat” design as the modding community calls it.  It was just the latest device in my eternal search for  way to play retro console emulators on a mobile device.  Turns out through a truly arcane process, you could install a custom firmware, that would allow you to boot emulators from the memory stick.  When I say arcane, I am not being facetious…  you literally had to have just this one right version of the original release of the grand theft auto UMD to be able to execute the firmware loader.

I jumped through all the hoops with the constant fear of “bricking” my device all for the glory of being able to play all my favorite Nintendo, Super Nintendo and Genesis games on the go.  Thing is it worked, and worked amazingly well.  I could boot into an emulator, but also be able to play just about any UMD based game I came across.  Additionally through dark science, I was able to take my Castlevania Symphony of the Night playstation disc and rip it into a format capable of running on the device.  So quickly this became my favorite toy.  Not only could I play Super Metroid, but I could also play SOTN… my favorite game of all time.

The only problem with this notion is that the world evolved around me… and I was essentially stuck on this custom flavor of firmware 3.01.  I can remember that the Final Fantasy II remake was the first game I purchased, but was unable to play on my psp.  With the realization that I was stuck on this firmware, with no real upgrade path… and no real time to research said upgrade path…  my device became something I only really broke out on road trips.  Since I tend to be the one driving… it didn’t even make it off the shelf that often.

Resurrection Game

With my resurgence in console gaming, I had noticed there were all these games I had sitting on my PS3 harddrive that claimed to be capable of copying to the psp.  I had a renewed fire to try and figure out a way to get my 3.01 OE-A firmware device up to 6.60 the latest revision and the one required to connect to the playstation network.  While waiting on the cable guy last Thursday I had nothing better to do than research how to fix the problem.  The problem with an underground community…  most of the information listed is speculation and mythos. 

After following down several rabbit trails to find nothing, I finally found a tool that would supposedly allow me to restore my firmware back to a stable version.  The highest I could get with the tool was 6.20, which was technically high enough to run almost anything…  just not enough to connect to the PSN.  I executed the process and sure enough it worked restoring my device back to 6.20.  The only problem is… it worked with an Asterisk.

Apparently in the process of restoring the device it somehow corrupted something known as “IDStorage”.  Anytime I attempted to patch up to 6.60 from there I got a pretty arcane error message with an error code of “drnffffffd7”.  Seems as though the root of it is, that my physical hardware and my firmware version do not match exactly based on this region code chart.  The latest versions of the official firmware check this before applying the update, and as a result I am pretty much hung once more on an older version of the firmware.

Pandorica Opens

There is a fix, but it involves something called a Pandora Battery.  The further and further I get into this process, the more and more it sounds like an episode of Doctor Who. Turns out “Pandora Battery” is just the publicly traded name for a special device called a “Service Mode” battery.  Apparently this was  device that was handed out to PSP service centers, that allows the technicians to essentially flip your device into a kind of debug mode so that they can fix various bits of software and load new firmwares without software protections.

This is apparently paired with something called a “Magic Memory Stick” which also seems to tie its roots back to the official service centers.  Both of which are apparently created through using a certain tool on your device.  Ironically… in order to run that tool… I have to apply a custom firmware patch again.  So last night I went through the process to turn my 6.20 official into 6.20PRO-C2.  Unfortunately the aftermarket batteries that I picked up do not have the required eprom needed to convert them into pandora batteries.

After some digging online I found a place that sells the Pandora battery for roughly 10 bucks after shipping.  The only problem… it is coming from china, and as a result will take between 17 and 24 days to get here based on Amazon estimates.  So for the time being I have a custom firmware psp that can run pretty much any game on the market, but just not be able to connect to the playstation network… and let me copy games from my ps3 to it.  I guess while I wait I will enjoy the concept of playing emulators on a mobile device again.

The Takeaway

The moral of the story is…  do not venture down the custom firmware path unless you want it to forever dominate your future.  From what I understand… I would have had issues going from 3.01 official to 6.60 official anyway.  But that would have just meant downloading a bunch of intermediary firmware’s and stepping through the process.  However these firmware are only really available on the mod community sites, so I would have been traipsing down a lot of the same alleyways.  From my understanding, a good chunk of what made my transition so hard is the fact that I applied a custom firmware back when they had not quite figured out how the device worked.

Anyways…  I thought someone might at least find the tale entertaining.  I have a Pandora Battery on the way, have made a Magic Memory Stick… and in a months time when it finally arrives I will attempt the IDStorage fix and see if I can go all the way to 6.60.  Basically throughout this entire process you walk a super fine line of trying not to “brick” your device.  I hope you all have a great day… and don’t venture down any trails that lead to dead ends.  Each day brings us closer to the weekend!

The Cat Sith

This morning is the first workday morning of summer break, and as a result everything in the world feels completely “off”.  I am very much a slave to routine, which is likely why I have been able to keep posting every morning.  The routine is that my wife gets up first and the noise of her getting ready wakes me up enough to be ready to hop into the shower as soon as she gets out.  But with her being a teacher and now no longer reporting every day due to summer vacation…  the whole world feels wrong.

Is This Working?

The only good thing is that now I no longer have to make two coffees and start her vehicle before heading upstairs.  Not that this was really much of a times saving…  also somehow I managed to take just as long as normal… even though I got about a 15 minute head start.  I blame the fact that I am juggling a herd of angry acts, that are wanting food and water.  My wife is taking one of the cats into the vet this morning, so as a result we had to pull both food and water at midnight last night.  It is hard to reason with a cat as to why their bowl is empty.

So please indulge me in my need for validation, but one of the things I have been wondering is whether or not this morning posting thing is actually providing material that people are interesting in reading.  This morning will be the 32nd of these daily posts, and while I continue to still find material to ramble on about…  I wonder if any of my rambling is actually worth reading.  They have strayed pretty wildly from the initial design of… blog about what happened game wise last night.  Over time they have become more and more personal, and it is this part that I am the most self conscious about.  Do people really care about what is happening to me in real life?

I might just be going through a needlessly introspective spell, but I have wondered if this was a worthy endeavor to undertake each morning.  Maybe it just seems questionable of late since my busy schedule has left me with less and less gaming material to report on.  I keep hoping that life will stabilize a bit, and that I will be able to get back into a routine.  As much as I might have rebelled against raiding on a schedule, I really miss that kind of group based activity.  Right now I feel like I can never commit to doing something, for fear I will be needed elsewhere… or something will interrupt my playtime.

Many Faces of Lux

One of my good friends has over time become completely obsessed with League of Legends.  This may or may not be my fault, because I was the one that showed the game to her.  I totally blame Tam though, because I never would have played this game were it not for his constant nudging.  As a result, ever since this started Rae has been madly sketching Chibi League characters in the corner of her notepad.  I suggested she work up a few of them and post them, because ultimately the folks who do artwork for League started off as fans.

One of Rae’s favorite characters is Lux, and as a result she has been creating various versions of her re-imagined through different skins.  Above are her renditions of “Pep Squad Lux” and “Changeling Lux”, with the later existing because she wanted to try and do a “dark” skin for that character.  I think they both turned out pretty well.  To connect the dots, Rae is also the creator of the wonderful Belghast Chibi that adorns the header of this website.  She has started accumulating some of this material with backstories on her new blog.

The Cat Sith

swtor.exe 2013-5-28-6-23-6-552

I spent a good deal of yesterday relaxing on the sofa playing some SWTOR.  I continued the adventures of my Thundercat Sith… Belgrenth, and at this point am almost through with Dromund Kaas.  I have to give a huge thank you to my friend Del.  He read my footnote in my blog yesterday about potentially only using vibroblades with this character… and in my mailbox was sitting a moddable vibroblade that is usable at level 20.  I am loving this concept of the cat sith that chooses to only use vibroswords.

I really like the Korriban and Dromund Kaas quests, but I am ultimately fearing when I transition into Balmorra.  That planet is what kills almost all of my Sith characters.  For whatever reason I do not mind Taris at all, but Balmorra just feels like a complete drag.  My hope is that since I am enjoying this kitty sith trope so much that I will be able to push through relatively easily.  If not I can always flip over and play my Chiss Scoundrel that I never managed to make it off Coruscant with.

I am by no means done with Rift, or am I ever really done with any game…  but right now this current whim has been rather enjoyable.  There are a lot of things that Star Wars the Old Republic does really well.  The questing and story are superb, and the combat is extremely fun.  Where the game failed me is the whole “things I want to do at level 50” area, but I am so far from hitting that wall that everything feels fresh and new.  I am actually looking forward to getting off Balmorra with some character, because I have never seen anything past there Imperial side.

A Hollow Community

Free to play has been both good and bad for this game.  The huge negative is that public chat channels are worse than the worst barrens chat.  Most nights feel like I am wading through a sea of 13 year olds amped on sugar and caffeine.  Additionally there is another disturbing trend…  the Subscribers treat free to play characters like complete and total crap.  I have seen more haughty elitism than I care to recall in the last few days of playing.  I literally saw someone say “lets all pick on the free to play trash” when finding out a player was restricted from sending tells… and it isn’t that they just said that, but players literally did start to belittle the target player.

The funny thing is, I never saw this in the extreme that I have in SWTOR playing other Free to Play conversions.  Over in Lord of the Rings Online, players generally treat each other pretty equitably it feels.  While I tiptoe back and forth on the concept that if you are not paying for a game you are actively hurting it…  I don’t ever want to single out a player and make them feel bad.  I feel like turning off general chat is the wrong answer to these issues, and I have found myself trying to help the players that are getting picked on and not allowed to “join in any Reindeer Games”.

Wrapping Up

Well I have spent another morning drinking coffee and blogging to you all.  Like I said above I would be interested in knowing how well you guys are enjoying these posts.  I am sure I will have a busy week ahead of me, since starting the week on a Tuesday… tends to just mean you have both Monday and Tuesday compressed into one mega painful day.  I hope you all survive the day and have a good one.  I hope it is not a bad omen that I have not made it to work, and am already looking forward to leaving it for the day.

Thundercats Ho!

This morning I am really struggling to boot my mind into something even vaguely functional.  I had a weird night, and with it came an extremely odd dream.  Basically I was back in High School and in some kind of engineering competition, where we had to do something interesting with an old broken phone.  I was on a team of three, and as the dream is already fading… I forget who exactly was on my team.  I do however remember that we went to a bunch of flea markets, found this 60s area payphone and with the assistance of an arduino made it work so it would be able to receive text messages.  The text message had a special kind of ring, and when you picked up… Microsoft SAM voice would read back the text.  I am pretty sure we won the competition, but at this point that is fading from my mind as well.

School Daze

Granted I don’t really know how to do any of the things I just described… but it worked well in the dream.  I blame the High School related dream on the fact that all yesterday I essentially hung out in the High School where my wife teaches.  The school year is over, but due to some changes in the schedule and a class she will be tag teaming with a science teacher… she is having to move rooms.  Normally this would be something we could wait to deal with until August, however they are needing her room for summer school.  As a result we had to go up and move her into the new room yesterday.

According to my pedometer app, I walked roughly 2.5 miles over the course of the day while moving roughly 200 textbooks, 25 legal sized boxes and miscellaneous items that didn’t fit in them.  35 pounds ago there would have been no way in hell I could handle this, let alone get it done in an hour and a half.  So I am feeling pretty damned proud of myself, and while I am sore today I am not absolutely dead to the world.  That is a pretty huge distinction, I guess it means my muscles are actually getting used to the activity.

During the first hour and a half I brute forced moving all the items from one classroom to the next, then left her to unpack and move things into their proper locations.  I give my wife crap for this, but she does an amazing job of labeling exactly where something came from…  so since the class rooms are essentially the same she was able to take entire boxes and know exactly which shelf they came from.  After doing my volley of movement, I went off and ran a few errands and gathered lunch while she worked.

We ate the lunch of champions…  Doritos Tacos from Taco Bell…  which are surprisingly not that bad for you, and one of the better choices you can make from a fast food restaurant.  After coming back I started assisting with piddly little things to help the process along.  It became my job to break down boxes, and anything else that needed done as not to interrupt the flow of emptying boxes.  We got up there at roughly 11:30 and ended up leaving around 4.  It took considerably longer than I had anticipated, but I also was not aware of the gravity of the situation.  “A Few” boxes turned out to be considerably more than I was initially expecting.

The Hobbit

I know this is geek sacrilege, but I watched The Hobbit for the first time yesterday.  After the morning activity, when we finally got home I wanted to do something stationary for awhile.  So I decided to fire up The Hobbit.  I had picked it up awhile back, but never actually got around to watching it.  Now you are thinking to yourself… why did you not watch it in the Theatre?  Well honestly…  crowds freak me the hell out.  It takes a lot to get me to go to the theatre, and since this is not a movie my wife would enjoy…  it is even harder to get me to justify going by myself.

As far as not watching it until now…  well quite honestly until we got this sofa, hanging out downstairs and watching a movie was not really that enjoyable of an experience for me.  My previous recliner was broken down and made sitting for any length of time fairly painful on my back.  So I figured watching the movie was a good way to christen the sofa.  The only negative is that about halfway through watching the movie, we had neighbors come down so I had to turn down the sound…  and divert attention to them as well.

All of this said I found the movie enjoyable, but for whatever reason it felt like it was lacking something.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, and honestly still cannot.  I realize that The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy are two vastly different styles of storytelling, and have vastly different moods to the books.  It is lacking the atmosphere that Lord of the Rings had in spades, while the world was gorgeous…  it just felt off.  I am sure this is one of those movies that I learn to love on repeated viewings… but it was not the immediate moving experience that Lord of the Rings was.

The highlight of the movie for me were of course the dwarves… because I have an irrational attachment to dwarven characters.  I cannot play a game without playing a dwarf sooner or later.  My first Everquest character was a Dwarf, and it has colored my tastes ever since.  I think that since I am 6’4” in real life, and end up banging my head on everything… I secretly long to be shorter.  Overall the movie was good, and like I said I think I will fall more in love with it on repeated viewings.  Just on the first watching it felt like there was something off about it.

Thundercats Ho!

swtor.exe 2013-5-27-9-31-7-799

On a whim last night I decided to spend a bit more of my accrued Cartel Points and unlock the Caithar race.  Immediately I decided to create a Thundercat Sith Juggernaut… because at the end of the day that is exactly what the newly christened Belgrenth looks like.  All I am lacking is the sword of omens, and a weird gauntlet sheath.  Actually that might be a fun trope for this guy… use only vibroblades… that is as soon as I can get a moddable vibroblade.  A Thundercat totally needs a real sword, not a lightsaber!

I’ve done the Korriban starting zone so many times I could likely quest through it in my sleep, however I still found it enjoyable to be doing it on a Caithar.  Overall the experience is not really any different, but I really like the appearance of the character.  I have chosen to go full light side, as though a thundercat just accidentally happened to get stuck in the Star Wars universe.  To be truthful, since Thundercats is really a science fiction story… and the magic in their world is almost purely technology…. it is not that far fetched if you think about it.  Maybe the Caithar ARE the thundercats… in that case would the Emperor be Mum’Ra the Ever Living?

The other big highlight of the night is I finally caught up with Delevax and got my army of unguilded Sith alts in the House Stalwart sith guild over on Ebon Hawk.  It is not super active, but it will be nice to see the occasional “green spam” as I play.  I know him and a handful of friends play on a regular basis, I might try and get something up to their level range and hang out with them.  I warned him as I warn everyone anymore, that pretty much I am not intending to really settle down in a game until the release of Elder Scrolls Online.  At that point I am going to try desperately to “get the band back together” as it were.

Happy Memorial Day

My one request all weekend has been that we pretty much have Memorial Day to rest.  For the most part it looks like this is going to happen.  We have to drive out to a friend house and deliver the spare table from our livingroom, but overall it doesn’t appear that there is going to be much that is strenuous going on.  I hope to be able to game most of the day and just chill out on our comfy new furniture.  We had our requisite cookout on Friday night, so at least that memorial day tradition has been honored.  I hope you all do whatever your family considers a tradition today… or at least find it relaxing.  Happy Memorial Day to you all.

Sith Happens

This morning is a slow starter.  Yesterday we made the mistake of laying down for a nap around 4pm… which ended up with us getting up around 7pm…  and not being able to get to sleep again until 1:30.  Essentially everything is happening in slow motion this morning as I finally woke up around 9.  On top of that all the days of cleaning have compounded in this massive “sinus event” with my allergies attacking from all sides.  So I have eaten my breakfast, taken an allegra for the allergies and some ibuprophen for the drums in my head.

The New Normal

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Luckily we finally have a comfortable livingroom to show for all the work.  Yesterday we moved out the old sofa, put together the cubicles you see on the far side of the room with the beige cloth baskets, and made a trip to garden ridge to purchase green cloth baskets for our entertainment center.  Everything as a whole feels more  cozy and tidy than it ever has in the almost 15 years we have lived here.  I currently am sitting here writing this blogpost in the recliner that is in the lower left-hand corner of the  picture.

It has been a pain in the ass to go through this transition, but we have two really comfortable living spaces to show for it right now.  The living room is awesome, but so is the loft that I posted about a week or so back.  I now have it rigged for ps3, xbox 360 and cable… and with the whole home dvr I can sneak up there to watch  doctor who or any of the other shows my wife does not really care for.  We still have a lot more to do, but most of it now is just cleaning and organization.

I really cannot pinpoint what sparked all these changes.  At first it seemed like spring cleaning combined with a little nesting instinct, but I think there is something more there.  At this point I have lost over 35 pounds, and my wife is well over 20 pounds.  So I think as we feel better about our selves, we are wanting to make our surroundings match that.  It is almost as if the weight loss has given us the courage to tackle other things in our life that had also been bothering us.

We have this big long list of things we would like to do, but most of them involve getting rid of this item and swapping it for something else.  For the time being we are pressing the pause button, as we have already spent beyond the threshold of what we are comfortable with.  Getting the two of us to spend large amounts of money is a really difficult thing.  When you have spent years sitting on it, it is hard to finally part with those dollars even if it is for a very positive change.

Sith Happens

swtor.exe 2013-5-25-23-51-40-16

I wrote a few days ago about patching up Star Wars the Old Republic on a whim, since it was a game I knew I had a large patch waiting on me.  I wanted to test just how fast the new internet could patch it up… and it did so remarkably fast.  I was receiving the patches at roughly 1.5 meg per second, which is in completely a different league from the 300 kbps I was used to.  The funny thing is that ever since patching it up, I have had a nagging desire to play.  I have been so freakin sore and tired from all the moving of furniture and cleaning that I have not really been able to play much of anything for long periods of time.

Oddly enough once I solved some really jacked up mouse turn issues… I have been enjoying myself in SWTOR.  About 6 months ago I started a new Sith Sorceror named Belgarotte over on Ebon Hawk, so I decided to continue on his journey.  Previously it was Imperial Balmorra that halted me, because really… Balmorra, especially Imperial side is boring as shit.  This time however I have been able to get in the groove of playing a sorc and have reveled in shocking the shit out of things.  You might guess by the name, that I did in fact originally intend to play a Sith Assassin, but already having a Jedi Shadow I decided to go down a slightly different path.

It is so bizarre to me to be enjoying a caster class.  Traditionally I hate “finger wigglers” as I call them, but something about shocking the hell out of things with force lightning… while Khem Val tanks for me is enjoyable.  The combo is really formidable, and I would say it is likely the best match up of class and first companion I have played.  I suppose if you were playing a Scoundrel, and the thought of Corso Riggs did not want to make you stab things…  it might be an equally good combination.

Darth Egregious

Screenshot_2013-05-25_23_26_14_420420

The biggest take away for me is that given time… returning to the game is still really enjoyable.  Especially if you have subscribed at some point, the game is completely playable on their free to play model.  There are so many egregious money grabs, and I am trying my hardest to look past them.  But that said, it is making them money and helping keep the doors open… enough to start funding new development…  so I can’t complain that badly.  What helps a game survive is usually a good thing by me, and for the most part the things they are charging for are purely optional perks.

Over time I have accumulated a good chunk of cartel coins, and have gathered up a few nifty things.  The gear I am wearing is mostly from a new cosmetic set that I am completely forgetting the name of.  But it feels extremely Sith Inquisitor to me.  I am a huge proponent of cosmetic gear, if your character looks cool you feel better about playing them.  Right now I have a full set of moddable items, and likely I will keep those as I level.  This has been extremely helped by the fact that planetary commendations are one one generic currency, rather than one per planet.

The game feels so much better coming at it from a purely casual standpoint.  Previously I was in a rush to burn through content and get up to 50 so we could do fun group things together.  Now that I am piddling my way through the game, it feels so much less shallow than it did before.  I realize I will ultimately level out of the content, and at that point it will be time to play something else.  I honestly am not sure I will even make it to cap before the wanderlust hits me, but I am enjoying myself for the time being.

Moving Classrooms

I need to start wrapping up for the day.  We have a relatively short list of things that need to accomplish today… but one of those is pretty massive.  Essentially my wife is having to change classrooms in order to tag team teach a forensics class with a science teacher.  As a result we are going to have to transplant her not insignificant amount of “stuff” from one classroom to another.  Additionally even though the school year is out, we are going to have to set everything back up like a functional classroom… because summer school.

So as a result I will be even more sore after the end of today, and cursing life.  Hopefully though nothing much is going to happen Monday.  That way I can sit around and enjoy Memorial day chilling out on our new sofa.  I will probably stab someone if that doesn’t happen.  At this point I just need some normality in my life for awhile, I have long ago passed my threshold for comfortable change.  I need things to stay the same for a bit, so I can just relax.  Anyways… I hope you all have a great day, and you choose to do something far less strenuous than we are choosing to do.

Reselling Goods

This will be the first blog post I type up from my new sectional.  While we have had it since thursday night, life has been pretty crazy and not allowed me much time to just chill out with the laptop and get used to it.  It is definitely comfortable, but I also sit at a much different angle which is taking some getting used to.  Right now I am trying to wake up while recovering from the allergy overload that was last night.

Chain Smokers

My allergies are going haywire because we attended a “welcome to summer” cookout held by some of my wife’s teacher friends.  They have this super peaceful plot of land… but it is what feels like hundreds of miles from civilization.  Okay in reality it is only like 10 miles, but when you are going there you have to drive through a whole lot of nothing.  There are times I think I would enjoy living in the middle of nowhere, but then I realize that I like not having to travel more than a few minutes to get to things.

Hanging out in nature always has serious adverse effects on my sinuses, but overall it was a good time.  I am always conflicted with gatherings.  Leading up to actually going I start to dread having to interact with people, but when I actually get there I warm up and enjoy myself.  I spent most of the night trading quips back and forth with two of the hostesses college aged children.

That was the only really odd thing about the evening.  Overall there were more college kids there than teachers, as I am guessing the cookout was also doubling as the sons birthday party of sorts.  The food was excellent and I have completely gone off my diet for the day.  The madness of Thursday probably made up for it, I am sure I burned a ton of calories as I am pretty sure I climbed upstairs and downstairs a good 50 times.

We purposefully sat up wind of the fire, but due to all the rain the wood was smoking horribly.  As the evening went on, my eyes were burning and my lungs started to feel a bit icky even though I had not actually been in the stream of the smoke at all.  I feel sorry for the people who were on the other end of the fire, because I am sure they were hurting.  All in all though the cookout was enjoyable, but we stayed far later than I had expected.

Reselling Goods

So this is going to get into some pretty controversial territory here, but I am a huge proponent of used game sales.  That said I hate Game Stop with deep seething passion and would do almost anything to see them wiped off the face of the planet.  I refuse to go into the stores anymore, because I just think everything about the company is underhanded.  I would rather wait the two days it takes for me to get an item from Amazon Prime than give them my business.  But I fully support the notion of second hand games.

In fact yesterday over lunch I picked up Blazblue, Casltevania Lords of Shadow, and Halo 3 at a local pawn shop for $7 each.  I buy most of my console games second hand, but I do so through what feels like more equitable places, namely… pawnshops, goodwill, thrift stores, flea markets and a couple of local chains…  Game Xchange and Vintage Stock.  Quite honestly most console titles are just not worth the $60 dollar new price for me, so I wait until I can pick them up in the $8-$15 dollar range.

The industry will cry fowl and complain that they are not getting their cut of the second sale… and I say… yes that is exactly how reselling goods works.  You do not deserve a second dip into the pot of game sales, you got your money the FIRST time the item changed hands.  Buying a used video  game is no different than buying a used car, or used furniture.  You do not see furniture companies getting a cut of the money when someone buys a sofa from a second hand shop, and neither should the game industry.

The issue is fundamentally that players do not want to pay what you are charging for the games.  For whatever reason most gamers do not feel that the games they are playing are worth the full price.  How does the industry fix this?  I really don’t know, but it is unfair to expect players to finance their failure to connect with the consumer and prove the value of their product.  Ultimately the game industry has to place some special value in the new purchase of their titles. 

One of the tactics I am completely fine with is offering bonus features that do not transfer with the disc when resold.  Essentially that you get a few nifty DLC items that are actually meaningful to the players… like extra levels or playable characters…  that do not transfer after the initial unlock.  Then allow players you have purchased your game second hand, to pay $10/$15 to unlock those features as well.  The game industry in no way deserves a cut of selling that physical game disc a second time, however I have no problem with them making a bit of money from the dlc unlocks.

The big thing regardless of the strategy is that these companies need to stop coming across as an evil empire.  Right now it feels like they are plotting nefariously to deprive us of content, so that they can line their pockets.  I realize that this is an attempt at survive, to keep funding the big development budgets that are required to produce AAA titles.  However they need to be honest and transparent about it.  I would care a lot more about the process if they just came out and said, look you get this stuff for free but we have to charge you if you buy the game used so that they can fund the next game.  Consumers do not like feeling like they are being fleeced, and based on the fact that gamers voted EA the worst company ever…  they feel like they are being fleeced.

Wrapping Up

Going to wrap up, I have rattled on about the issue long enough.  I normally don’t engage in controversial titles on the weekend, but because of how busy we have been I just have not really spent much time gaming.  I don’t foresee that changing much this weekend as we have a bunch of other things to do.  We need to move the old sofa out into the junk pile, clean the house, and maybe move my wife out of her classroom today.  All I really want to do is collapse, but I am sure I will soldier on.  I hope you all have a great day and can actually relax a bit and enjoy the weekend.

Real Live Internet

Yesterday was quite the ordeal, but I survived more or less and everything got accomplished that had to.  I completed almost none of my bonus missions, but the main tasks got way more involved that I had originally planned.  There were a lot of ups and downs and the whole thing was a ton more stressful than I realized.  I am guessing that is why both of my posts yesterday were more than a little ranty.

Juggling Sofas

Basically when I got up yesterday morning, I crawled upstairs and blogged as normal… then at roughly 7 am I started in on the various tasks that needed to get accomplished.  I started by picking up each of the rooms that the cable guy would have to visit, and making sure he had a path clear of debris.  The actual sequence of events is a bit hazy at the moment, but I proceeded a long until about 8:30… then took a break to go get a sausage roll from QuikTrip.

I tore down the ferret playpen downstairs, and dumped anything that was cloth in the washing machine.  I removed the water bottle and feed cup from the panels, and folded them completely for the first time since we originally set the pen up years ago.  After cleaning the area and sweeping up the left over food and other “bits”… these are animals after all… I cleared a big swath of the living room floor that would eventually be used as swap space.

Where we left it the previous night is that when the furniture movers called and were on their way I would move the slate table up against the TV and swing the old sofa over towards the wall where the ferret pen was set up, trying to leave a walkway.   All of this sounded fairly reasonable since the schedule was that the cable would be here between 10 and 12 and that the furniture folks would be here between 2 and 4.  I thought I had this all planned out nicely so that we would not run into any issues.

Mister Late meet Mister Punctual

So I don’t want this to come off like I am in bitching in any way, but around 11:30 I got a call from Cox stating that their installer was running behind at a previous location, and that they wanted to make sure that it was okay that he would not likely be there until 12:15.  I said it was fine since I had taken the day off to do multiple things.  Turns out he didn’t actually make it until closer to 1.  Still fine, because I expected the furniture movers would not be here at 2 on the dot.

Turns out that our cable was in worse shape than we realize.  The coax we have is a little over 10 years old, and as a result his install call turned quickly into a repair call.  He went above and beyond the call of duty and essentially re-ran cable to all the rooms that already had a pop.  Additionally he did new pops in my office and in the loft… initially we were only going to have it run to the loft, but he said since he was running to one room in a row it was just as easy to run to the other.

This of course took a long time, and as he was starting to wrap up… just getting to the “mess with cable boxes to make them talk” phase I get a call from the furniture movers.  They are running on schedule and will be there shortly after 2.  I went through a mad rush, trying to do a bunch of things at once.  I moved the table in the livingrooom closer to the tv, but still tried to leave the nice guy room to fiddle with our cable box.  I moved swung the couch around and moved it to the wall basically creating an interesting new seating area.

The Missing Tabby

The next task was the corral the cats in the bedroom.  The problem is… I could not find any of them… ANYWHERE.  Apparently the banging and movement of this strange man through our house freaked them all out.  I found a couple of them up under the bed, so I went ahead and shut off the bedroom hoping that the third was also hiding.  I asked the cable guy and he said he saw the tabby run into the bedroom and duck under the bed when he went in there to hook up the cable box.  Fitting the MO of a cat freaked out… I was fairly confident she would still be in there…  but all the while worried that someone had ducked out the door or up into the attic.

The furniture movers arrive and thank us for all the prep work and clearing… because they rarely if ever have a blank space to move the furniture into.  They proceed to bring in all these giant furniture Lego blocks, attempting to set them in the order we had wanted to place them.  After doing so… they linked each one to the next via these weird metal tabs and slots along the base of each unit.  When all was said and done, we had one big piece of furniture cobbled together out of the little blocks.

The funny thing is, that they were so efficient that they were long gone by the time that the cable guy and I were doing the rundown of the new features of our whole home DVR.  I really considered trying to pay them extra to haul the old sofa into the backyard and throw it on the junk pile… but I just could not bring myself to do it.  For whatever reason it felt a little shifty to me, to be offering them money on the side to do something not originally in the game plan.

After the furniture guys had left, and I verified with the cable guy that he would not be needing the front door open for long periods of time… I went ahead and opened back up the bathroom and bedroom.  Sure enough the various cats started making their way out of their temporary cage, but this time they made a beeline upstairs and hid there.  However it did allow me to start breathing again, since I saw each of them as they whizzed by.

The Toner Collection

In all the recent cleaning we have amassed this huge collection of spent toner cartridges.  The two of us greatly prefer the speed and efficiency of laser printers, and as a result we have owned a bunch of different models over the years.  So in cleaning we have accumulated a pile of toner cartridges belonging to four different printers…  only one of which we actually still own.  We traditionally get our toner from Cartridge World, so I was hoping to work out some kind of swap. 

I packed up the house, verified that the cats were still okay and in hiding and went on the mission to unload toner cartridges and drop another small load off at goodwill.  I made it to Cartridge World as it began to rain.  I went inside and talked to the little man for a bit, finding out that unfortunately they were not willing to play ball… and that they considered their program an exchange, and that technically they still own the cartridges…  based on the fact that I had 10 in my car I begged to differ.  I did not want to lug them somewhere else however, so he said they would definitely recycle them… which was good enough for me.

I started on my way to Goodwill, and had gotten to the corner to turn down towards our house when I noticed blue and red flashing lights in my rearview window.  One of my tasks for the day was to renew my expired tag.  However my neighbor who is a tag agent, stopped by as she was heading to work…and chastised me for not just giving my insurance to her and letting her take care of it.  So I was super relieved of not having to weave a trip to the Tag Agency into my already busy day…. but thought nothing about it.

For weeks I have not wanted to drive my jeep on the weekends, because my theory has been that with an expired tag, so long as it was during rush hour… I would not likely get stopped.  But I knew the moment I drove my jeep around town at any period OTHER than rush hour… I would get busted.  Sure enough, today was the first time I had driven my jeep other than rush hour situations… and sure enough I got pulled over and handed a ticket for an expired tag.  The good of it is, that since I really have already renewed my tag at this point… I just have to go down to the court clerk and show proof of my tag.

The bad news is that they work Monday through Friday 9 am to 5 pm.  So getting there will be a juggling act, but the alternative is to wait until June 27th and have to show up in traffic court.  I would rather keep from having to go to court, so I will figure out a way even if it is to take a weirdly offset lunch hour and come deal with it.  Unfortunately I have not been able to hook up with my neighbor again since yesterday…  and I still have no 2014 sticker on my tag.  I am carrying around the tag citation, hoping that if another officer pulls me over they will take pity on the fact that I have already been busted for it once.

Real Live Internet

It is roughly 3:30 when I drop off the load at Goodwill and make it home.  At this point I have not eaten anything since about 8:30 and am ravenous.  So I hit the fridge and cobble together a feast of leftover spanish rice and chicken alfredo.  While I am sure this frustrated my wife, the very first thing I wanted to do is go up to my office and play around with the internet.  While I love all of the changes, this is the one that will impact me the most from this point on.

While those numbers may not look special to some of you, you have to understand that previously on our best day we had 3 meg down and 256 kbits up.  We were constantly stomping all over each other as we tried to use the web.  If my wife was uploading photos to her blog, then my ping in a game went to absolute shit.  If I was patching one of my games, she couldn’t surf the web.  Forget the concept of using netflix AND the web or a game at the same time.  Now we have enough bandwidth to comfortably do multiple things at the same time.

It is amazing how much faster games patch with this new connection.  As a test, I fired up SWTOR… since I had not played it since before the Rise of the Hutts release.  It took about 30 minutes to download the patch, whereas in the past that literally would have been something I had to fire up when I went to bed and let it run all day while I was at work.  I feel like we have just left the dark ages and entered the renaissance.  When I finally filtered downstairs and set my laptop up… the first thing I did was fire up something in netflix, just to see how well it worked.  Sure enough I was able to stream netflix, while patching the secret world and eventually logging in and playing it… all the while maintaining a sub 100 ping.  So much happy about this change.

Wrapping Up

I need to wrap up, since I have almost run out of time.  Basically the long and short is… I am really happy with the internet change.  I am so far happy with the whole home dvr…  just going to take some getting used to and learning where all the buttons are.  I am happy with the new sofa, but it feels extremely weird, and I am going to have to live with it a bit to find the most optimal way to use my laptop.  Last night I was too damned tired and sore to really use anything optimally, as I felt like I was just going through the motions.

We ended up in bed around 9… maybe earlier… because when my wife said she was ready for bed, there was absolutely no hesitation in me joining her.  I am still sore as hell from all the juggling of things, and still more than a little freaked about all the changes.  I do not handle change of any kind very well…  even if it is really good change.  I feel like the cats are in the same boat as me, considering they all seem a little freaked out.  I hope you guys have a great day, and if I can’t say it before then… I hope you have a great memorial day weekend.  May you be able to embrace the change in your life easier than I can.

Open Letter to Neverwinter

Okay today you guys are getting a bonus post, because I am at home waiting on the cable to install internet, and for furniture to be delivered.  I was reading my twitter feed and came across something so absolutely ludicrous that I had to comment about it.

2013-05-23 09_59_20-Twitter _ NeverwinterGame_ .@FightinFins #Neverwinter ...

So this is something I had honestly not realized that apparently Neverwinter claims not to be live yet, and that any mistakes they are making are “necessary changes and improvements” before they go live.  Dear Perfect World, you completely fail at the concept of what is an open beta means.

If you…

  1. Have the servers live 24/7
  2. Have stated that there will be no character wipes from this point out
  3. Are actively taking money hand over fist from customers

Then you have a live game. 

You can call it whatever you like, but you are running a live game.  It is not open beta, it is just half launched.  This whole redefinition of what Alpha and Beta means has stuck in my craw lately.  They have stopped meaning anything at all and just been a way for the marketing department to presell the game and get a steady influx of money from curious gamers.  However launching the game and actively taking money from customers… yet still calling it a beta passes some line that has never been crossed.

Anyways, it is still a decent game, and I still stand by my statement that it is probably the best completely free option.  However Perfect World needs to be honest with its verbiage and quit calling it a beta.  This is in no way an open beta, you just soft launched your game.  All that said, I still have not played it again since that opening weekend.  It just lacks the draw to pull me in and make me care about it.  I wish them the best of luck though, I just want them to be honest.

Xbox None

I am trying my best to wake up and get amped for the day.  This is going to be an extremely busy one.  We are getting our new shiny faster internet, whole home DVR, and the new furniture delivered.  However each one of these is going to involve quite a bit of prep work from me to make happen.  So while I took a day off to accomplish all of this, it will most definitely be a working day off.

Working Vacation

I am working on finishing my coffee at the moment, and I might end up having a second before too much longer.  I need that caffieney goodness to make it through the various sundry things on the radar this morning.  First I need to go to the three rooms they are installing the DVRs in, and pick up the area surrounding the television/cable boxes.  Next I need to prepare my wireless router to accept the new information… disconnect it and move it to the loft where it will be as soon as they run a cable jack out there.

After the cable is installed and I have interwebs again…  I need to start working on prepwork for the furniture movers.  I need to take a load of stuff we gathered up to goodwill, and this load of old printer toner cartridges somewhere.  Most of them are for printers we no longer own.  My hope is to be able to wheel and deal and trade all the resalable cartridges for one new full backup for our current printer.  I have no clue if this will actually work.

Finally when I get home I need to load a metal table that we used beside our current sofa into the back of my jeep, as we are delivering it to someone on Sunday.  This will free up that corner of the room and keep it out of the way of the movers.  Next I need to break down the ferret playpen, and stowe them in their main cage for the day.  Then I will move the current sofa over against the wall the playpen was up against… and finally hopefully…  after locking the cats up in our bedroom…  move in the new sectional.

Then tonight when my wife gets home, we will move the sofa out to the pile in the back yard…  call the Junkman and have them haul it all away.  This is the plan…  but right now it feels completely daunting.  I know I will make it work, but it is going to end up being a pretty stressful day overall.  I hope everything goes smoothly in the process.  My goal is not to disconnect my current internet until everything is really ready to go.

Additionally I have a few “bonus missions” should I be able to do them as well.  We really need to change out the toilet tank apparatus in the upstairs bathroom, because it is taking forever to fill up after flushing.  I also have a shelf unit that my dad made in shop class, that I intend to hang above the media cabinet in the loft to store nifty things like assembled LEGO sets.  But quite honestly… when I was thinking about these things I was not feeling quite as stressed as I am now.  I do not thing this will be a leisurely day by any definition of the word.

Xbox None

 

So I feel like with my recent console resurgence… I would not be a proper blogger if I did not at least talk about the super exciting reveal of the Xbox One.  I am saying super and exciting with as much sarcasm as I can possibly muster… I think I had to go down to the store and buy an extra sarcasm booster to be able to reach these levels properly.  Everyone essentially expected the next generation of console gaming… and what we got instead is “Microsoft TV” in the form of a voice and motion activated media pc.

The big problem I have with the release is that I really do not care about broadcast television, nor do I care about sports in any fashion.  I feel like everything shown in that video was direct marketed at someone other than me…  someone apparently with silly amounts of money to spend on a glorified cable box.  I realize that I am not the key demographic for console gaming… but based on the presentation it seems that neither are gamers.

The funny thing is that I am not extremely surprised.  Right now in my newly christened gaming loft, I have a ps3 and a newer Xbox 360 250 gig model.  While I like playing the games on the Xbox, and I like the controller so much better…  the overall gaming experience is much better on the ps3.  Primarily PlayStation Plus is playing on a completely different level than Xbox Live Gold.  The two are not even comparable…  the plus program gives you an instant collection of 12 games, and then new games added regularly as old ones roll out of the package.  The Xbox gives you the ability to play games online… which the ps3 already had by default.

I doubt I will be getting either console system at launch, but right now I am far more interested in the PlayStation 4 than I am in this voice automated channel switcher.  The biggest breakthrough that they announced is group Skype calls from your living room.  I have to say this is a really cool feature…  that I would never actually use.  I had the concept of video chat, hell simply calling someone on the phone causes more social anxiety to well up in me than I can imagine.  The thought of willfully video chatting with someone is just beyond me.

Additionally… I find it creepy as shit that the Xbox One is essentially a remote surveillance box… that will more than likely cost us $600 to be monitored by.  The fact that the kinect camera is always on, even when the unit is off… waiting for the command to turn it on…  kind of freaks me out a bit.  I seriously wonder how long it will be before someone figures out how to hijack that feed and spy on people.  I am trying not to tiptoe too deeply into tinfoil hat territory… but Microsoft isn’t really known for their digression… especially in the post Bill Gates era.

Anyways long story and a lot of rambling short… this really is not a device for me at this moment.  They debuted a gaming console, but didn’t really talk much about gaming.  It does some interesting things, but I am bored already with broadcast television, and somehow gamifying it is not going to make it suddenly interesting.  I am allergic to watching sports, so the D&D for jocks angle… aka Fantasy Football is not going to do anything for me at all.  As stated above, neither is the video conferencing option…  which I find creepy.  The only killer feature possibly would be to postage stamp my game, and continue playing while my wife watches a show.  However they never actually showed that, and I question if you can minimize the game window instead of a video stream/internet browser.

Wrapping Up

I need to get up and start moving again.  I have a long list of things to accomplish and a finite time window to do it in.  I hope I survive the day, and this evening I have wonderfully fast internet with a decent ping time.  Additionally I hope I do not die from allergies, as I keep going into massive sneezing fits.  I hope you all have an awesome day, and that you also get accomplished everything on your list.