To Boldly Go

I am extra groggy this morning.  Last night was another episode of that familiar Oklahoma… try and sleep while also listening to the weather forecast because you are under a Tornado Warning.  It is a fun game for a large group of players.  The negative side effect is that you either don’t really sleep deeply at all, or you end up dreaming about a tornado hitting your house.


I have to marvel at just how good the weather is here in Oklahoma.  We had been warned about this outbreak of tornados on Friday, and the warnings got steadily more and more dire until yesterday when the show finally began around 5pm.  Additionally it is pretty miraculous that over the course of the evening there were 29 separate tornados and uncountable miles of destruction…  but only one single fatality.  It is just staggering to me that so much destruction could be caused, yet only one life be lost.

Here we live in a culture of constant preparedness for that big tornado, so early in the evening we had prepared our hidey hole, and I was texting people to make sure they were also aware of the imminent danger.  Now like many nights, this ended up much ado about nothing…  but it is because we take it seriously… that there were so few lives lost.  We rolled the dice and lucked out on the path of the twisters, and had the conditions been slightly different they would have hit us for certain. 

The closest tornado spawning super cell passed about 30 minutes to the north of our house.  When that cell was extremely active over the Wellston area, there is footage of it being roughly a mile and a half wide.  Think about that for a moment…  there this is thing destroying literally everything in this mile and a half wide path.  Tornados feel like a giant eraser tool, smudging out everything in its arc.  We fared the night just fine, but this evening is supposed to be worse.  Additionally, todays show is supposed to start at roughly 3pm, just in time for the drive home.

To Boldly Go

We had to do something to take our minds off the impending doom, so we went around noonish to a matinee for Star Trek: Into Darkness.  I have to say I loved every minute of it.  I’ve always been a shirt tail fan of Star Trek, watching whatever series happened to be on the air at the given time.  However I have never really reached the point of ravening fanboy, because I just didn’t buy the “utopian experiment” aspect of the franchise.  Deepspace 9 was my favorite of the series, because they were essentially in a constant state of war and chaos, it felt like it was Star Trek for the Star Wars fan.

J.J. Abrams has taken this very neat and tidy Star Trek universe and messed it up a bit, producing something that is far more enjoyable for me to watch as a whole.  Just like the first one, I loved every single minute of the movie, and cannot wait to see it again.  However as I am sitting there watching the movie, I am getting super excited in the back of my head.  If Abrams can do this for Star Trek, a series I have always felt was a bit too sterile…  it makes me absolutely giddy to think about what he can do to Star Wars.

If you have not seen the film yet, you definitely should.  It was a great rollercoaster ride to go on.  Essentially from the first moments of the film to the last there is nothing but nonstop action.  Additionally it has some truly amazing moments in between that will play on your emotions like a harpsichord.  There are purists that will hate the film, and I have already heard enough negative clamor about it… but it is just plain movie fun.

The Most Inappropriately Named Game Series

With the return of having an Xbox console in my loft, I wanted to play a game on it.  While over the last few days I have played a good deal of my old friend Castle Crashers, I felt like I wanted to play something more substantial.  For whatever reason I never managed to finish Final Fantasy XIII, I just stopped playing it and got out of sync with the storyline… never to return.  I have this love/hate relationship with the series as parts of me are super nostalgic about the Nintendo and super Nintendo era titles… and other parts of me are frustrated with what the series has become overall.

The game as a whole feels extremely rehashed at this point.  Something is causing the world to end, and only your team can stop it… with the help of super unrealistic armor and needlessly intricate weapons.  It will somehow involve god like creatures that you can either summon or will help you in some fashion, and also include insanely unrealistic armor, needlessly intricate weapon designs… and quite possibly take up large amounts of real time to manifest themselves.  The game is just drowning in the same tropes every single time.

The final fantasy trope that just kills me though, is the fact that they give you this one character that they want you to hate.  In FF13 this is Hope… when you use him he is markedly weaker than every single character you have gotten to that point.  He literally has half of the hitpoints of Vanille the character that is introduced to pair with him.  Additionally he wields this goofy boomarang, and seems to do far less damage than Vanille. 

To complete the arc of hatred, he is annoying as shit…  and throws the game into this entire arc of falsetto emotion.  I think we are supposed to feel sorry for him, or identify with him in some way…  but all I see is a kid with goofy hair, crappy weapons, no hit points and no personality.  Final Fantasy as a franchise has a history of setting up completely useless character and intending for us to like them… need I mention Edward the Bard from Final Fantasy IV?

All this bitching aside, I rather enjoyed playing FF13 again last night.  The story is kinda lame, and the characters are overly dramatic…  but I still enjoy it for whatever reason.  I think one of my impediments from enjoying console games in the past is that I always felt rushed when I played one.  Since it was hooked up to our main television, I always felt like I was somehow imposing by playing the game.  Now that I have a television of my own, set up in a gaming area of my own…  I can take as much time to play whatever I like and not have to worry about rushing through the cut scenes to get to the action.  I don’t feel like I have to hurry and get my fill so I can return the television to its intended purpose.

Alucard Again

I find it completely unsurprising that my favorite game right now on the PS3 is the same favorite game I have had ever since first playing it.  Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is that game for me, that is so far ahead of every other game I have played in matter of deep personal enjoyment.  No matter how many times, and on how many different platforms I have access to it… I still return to playing it.  Thanks to the PlayStation network, there is a really great emulated copy of it running inside my PS3.

I had started the game just prior to the whole tornado madness last night, so only made it past the first boss before shutting it down and heading downstairs.  I am sure I will be tag teaming back and forth between this and Final Fantasy 13 for a few weeks.  The funny thing is, that while I can remember large chunks of the game, every time I play it I cannot remember the exact order and locations of items I need to get… so the gameplay never gets stale.  This is for me as close to a perfect game as it gets, and sadly nothing has ever really come close.

Guacamelee! does a really good job of invoking the same feeling.  But for whatever reason I just don’t feel as connected to the Luchador, as I do to Alucard the son of Dracula.  I won’t lie, I love vampires… I always have.  I was a pretty rabid player of Vampire the Masquerade, and did not really get disenfranchised with the genre until the last few years and the whole “vampires are people too” movement.  So the thought of running around in Castlevania as this sword swinging badass that you also played in Castlevania 3… is pretty much the pinnacle of awesome.

I need to hurry up and finish my net top PC so I can also be playing Super Metroid from the loft.  I feel like I am old now, because I would rather play a side scrolling sprite based game, than any of the new shiny 3D titles available for the console.  I think this is ultimately what the process of getting old feels like, mind crushing nostalgia about the things you used to love and still do.  I can remember thinking about consoles like the Gamecube… that no one will feel nostalgic about this…  but sure enough the generation that grew up with Super Smash Brothers is going through the same exact thing.  Oh well I guess we just have to enjoy whatever we can when we can.

Constant Vigilance

I need to wrap up and get on the road.  It looks like we are going to have another beautiful day of thunderstorms ahead of us.  All indications say that today will be far worse and far more likely to hit the Tulsa area.  The thing that freaks me out the most is the fact that the deluge will be hitting as we begin the drive home.  Here is hoping if it ends up looking bad enough, that we can duck out early.  I have so much to do this week, and so many non-work things to try and arrange for.  I hope you all have a great week, and I hope you too can get done all the things you need to do.

Responsible Adult Time

Today is going to shape up to be a stressful one.  My boss overdid it coming back from surgery, and will be out of the office today.  As a result I will be acting as his proxy, attending whatever meetings he would have had to attend.  The beginning of these is having to lead an 8:30 meeting… so I really have to watch the time this morning as I blog.  Once again I am under an NDA as stated last night, so there is not much I can say about what happened last night,  save for as to say that it was an awesome evening.

Instant Ports

Over the years in EQ2 travel has gone from something that took large amounts of real time, to something that mostly involves knowing which travel networks connect in which zones.  For example I tend to use Enchanted Lands as a switching station, since the Druid Ring, Wizard Spire and Travel bells are all very close to each other.  I find traversing zones extremely quick, and so long as you have a base idea of what travel options are available in zones near where you are going you can get there in a matter of a few ports.

Apparently however this was not easy enough.  Based on an article I read yesterday, it looks like they will be offering the ability to teleport to one of the travel network destinations from anywhere in the world for an outlay of station cash.  This will likely replace the portable travel bells that already exist on the station cash store.  The portable travel bells were nice for emergency situations, and this will likely fill the same bill.

I feel like however, this is a change mostly for players without a guild large enough to host the various travel network vendors.  Between my port to home city and port to guild hall, it feels like I always have an option to get back to the travel network rapidly.  What it also does is make it so that players no longer need to memorize the directory of “connecting flights” that get you from one travel network to another.  There are times I cannot remember just which network goes to this expansion zone or that. 

Ultimately it will be interesting to see just how much station cash it costs to port like this.  I am completely fine with new conveniences, so long as they do not remove the existing networks.  Travel after many years arrived at a point where it made quite a bit of sense and that you could pretty much avoid all the boats entirely.  I don’t ever want to return to a time when intra-zone travel is a real-world time sink.

Exploration and Crafting


Yesterday Zenimax released a pretty cool video for the Elder Scrolls Online covering the gathering, crafting and exploration systems.  The fact that you can loot the barrels on the docks for crafting materials seems cool, but the highlight of the video is that they get close to what looks like a Nirnroot… and it makes the Nirnroot sound.  There were so many times I would be wandering across Skyrim, and I hear that sound. and immediately go into find the root mode.  The fact that they have carried that sound effect over… gives me hope that all the other little nuanced things will be there as well.

I am happy to see a lockpicking system in the game as well.  Even though it looks like the Oblivion system, which I was absolutely horrible at…  it is awesome to see it.  I am more aligned to the easy mode lock picking of Skyrim and the Fallout games.  I love chests in games, and even more so I am excited that they may be difficult to find.  I hated that in WoW chests were just thrown out in the middle of nowhere, in places that made no sense to have one.  The chest showing up in the hollowed tree in the video seems about right.  I am all about games rewarding exploration.

Spam Mail Personified


I saw this video and thought it was pretty amazing…  especially when it gets to the point of the fake virus/speed software that takes over your machine.  I have had to rebuild our neighbors laptop at least five times because they managed to get that stupid faux virus malware.  I remember one time my mom called me, after being 3 screens deep into an obvious phishing site… because it finally sounded strange to her.  I told her that if she had already clicked submit a few times, it was all over but the crying.  Maybe this will go viral enough to reach our parents and neighbors…  one can only hope.

Luchador Power!

I mentioned this the other day, but I am massively hooked on the game Guacamelee!, the exclamation point is part of the name… that is just how awesome it is.  Essentially at its core is a Metroid/Castlevania game with Mexican Luchador flair.  This is one of the newer cross buy titles, in that you get it both on PS3 and your Vita.  Up until this point I really had zero interest in a Vita.  Don’t get me wrong I like my PSP, but I rooted it and turned it into a portable emulation machine, since that was a far more compelling use than the games actually were.

Also of note… Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is my favorite game of all time.  The fact that I could be playing Guacamelee! on a portable device has done more to make me lust after the Vita goodness than anything has to this point.  Additionally my little inner circle of friends has been going on and on about Persona 4 Golden…  I will admit I am also curious about that madness. 

Now I will begin my search through craigslist for a used unit…  because I just cannot ever bring myself to pay full price for a new console when there are so many used ones out there in need of good homes.  They totally need to make gaming adoption commercials… with Sarah McLachlan shaming us for even existing and not giving all our money to all the consoles.  I have 3 rescue cats and 3 rescue ferrets… and still I cannot bear to watch those commercials…  just think what it will do for gaming consoles.

Responsible Adult Time

So I need to wrap up this madcap episode of “Bel finds shit to talk about that doesn’t break and NDA!!!”.  Just think you are going to get several more of these since I am under NDA until at least Monday.  I need to go finish getting ready, gather some breakfast, and arrive at the office with enough time to print all the things and mentally prepare myself for the super important meeting.  There are days I hate being a responsible adult, but there comes a time when you are actually though of as a leader in your organization…  which scares me.  I hope you all have a great day…  one that doesn’t involve you being responsible!!!

Thief School Dropout

It’s shaping up to be a rainy and hazy morning here in Oklahoma.  I have an on-site meeting with a printing company today about a joint project, so that is going to prove to be an odd little detour for me.  I am not really a hands on people person, I prefer to communicate over email unless I absolutely have to do otherwise.  So the thought of having to do a face to face with someone is extremely nerve wracking.  However, if this moves the project along I will take one for the team.

Thief School Dropout

As the day went on yesterday, we found out there far more than just ourselves had gotten hit by the car bandit.  Most of the individuals that got hit swore they locked their car, and in the case of one of my neighbors I believe it.  My problem is I don’t really remember if I locked it or not, it is usually just something I do as a reflex.  So essentially we are finding that the thief had some way of unlocking car doors rapidly.  What makes the whole thing even more brazen is the fact that there is a county sheriff directly across the street from me.

But since the thief had hit multiple sites, it meant when he hit our cars he was likely on the way to another home.  I figured he would have noticed that my sunglasses were prescription and tossed them pretty quickly.  Sure enough after retracing his steps I quickly found my sunglasses case, and shortly after my sunglasses laying nestled in the grass.  Basically they got into our cars and found nothing worth keeping.

It really makes me wonder what the thief was looking for in the first place.  If it was just a bored teenager as I originally thought, why go to all the trouble.  Especially since some of the cars appear to have been locked.  What on earth was worth the risk that they went from car to car but essentially found nothing much.  The whole skewed logic behind the whole thing baffles me.  I guess I will likely never understand it since I am a law abiding citizen…  and would never think to break into someone else’s car.

Rift Changes

The more I think about it the more I am looking forward to the changes.  But the more I have seen from the community that they feel this is the end of the world for the game, and that all of the priorities will shift from this point onwards.  I can understand this line of thought, but having lived through the cash shop and free to play conversions inside of Everquest 2 I know that life goes on happily regardless.  Not every cash shop implementation is as egregious as the SWTOR conversation has been.

What I have seen with EQ2 is that the regular big updates continue to happen, but now there is a weekly flow of optional items you can pick up from the store.  Most of these are completely optional and purely flavor based, but all in all make your character more enjoyable to play.  I really hope they exploit this for some really cool looking cosmetic sets.  I am also really hoping that a good deal of the housing stuff makes it to the cash shop as well.

The other big thing that I am looking forward to is REX.  I actively played EQ2 during the transition to Krono, and to me personally this was a huge deal.  No longer did I have to worry about how much platinum I had, or attempt to farm it at all…  which is my least favorite activity ever.  If I ran low, I could just pick up another Krono and fill my coffers again, so I stopped having to worry about such things and just got to play the game.  It allowed me to do all the things I enjoy in the game without ever having to worry about trying to accumulate large amounts of wealth and/or play the auction house.

If you are one of those players that love playing the Auction House… then I apologize because this really is the apocalypse for you.  The best change for me in a post Krono economy is that almost everything on the broker in EQ2 is dirt cheap, making it super easy for players starting out to get the items they need to play the game.  The highest tier of quality at every level range is still commanding a premium, but the basic items that you need to survive all plummeted in price massively after the introduction of the Krono.  This was a huge net positive for me personally, but reeked havoc on the players that loved to piddle around with the broker.

Yesterday they sent out a survey to all subscribers trying to get feedback on the transition.  I took the very short survey, and will be interested to see if they release any of the data.  Essentially it is mostly concerned with how likely you are to stay subscribed to the game.  I said that the big benefit that is missing from the patron rewards is a monthly cash shop stipend.  I have come to expect this playing SOE and Turbine free to play games.  If they managed to cough this up, even a small stipend it would make this literally the best free to play conversion for subscribers.

Going Dark

As of this evening I will pretty much be going dark on my nightly activities again through the weekend.  I will be once more bound by an NDA, as a result I am going to be trying to dig up interesting things to share in the absence of updates about what I am actually doing.  However recently I have been talking a good deal more about myself than my gaming.  Over the last few nights though, I have mostly played PlayStation 3.  The whole cleaning of the loft thing has provided me something I had been missing, a way to play console games without feeling guilty for taking up the television.

Thanks to Playstation Plus I now have this instant library of titles to play, and thanks to a recommendation from a friend I have been playing a good deal of Guacamelee.  If you have not played it you should at least download the demo.  Basically it is this awesome side scrolling fighting game meets metroidvania with an awesome Mexican luchador flair.  Everything about the game screams fun, from the colors to the ability names… instead of wall jump, you get goat jump.  The story is simple, but the cast of characters are colorful and well written.

Right now it and Darksiders are seeing the most playtime, but I have a large stack of games I have grabbed from the Playstation Plus program.  My biggest problem right now is that my internet connection has gone to hell.  I am going to be working on my office this weekend trying to prep it so that I can order the cable installed next week.  It will be so nice to bump up to 50 meg internet.  I am literally going to stream all the things…  ALL OF THEM!!!!

I hope you all have a great day, I am going to try my best to be a civil member of society and deal with this on site visit thingy.  Hopefully nothing horrible happens today, since the last few days have pretty much depleted my ability to care.  Dear weekend… why can’t you be today?