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


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


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.

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.

Sympathy for the Devil

Last night we got a much needed reprieve from the onslaught of tornado spawning super cells.  As a result I tried my best just to chill out and relax.  So much is going on right now relating to the tornado effort in Moore, but other than the links I posted yesterday I am not really going to dwell much on it.  It is still pretty much the only thing we are thinking about, but I just needed to relax last night.

Now I Remember

The other day I was talking about restarting Final Fantasy 13 on a whim, and not really being able to remember why I stopped playing it in the first place.  Last night I continued my journey into the game, and reached a point where now I know exactly why I stopped playing.  Basically FF13 is this super relaxing game, that does most of the work for you by managing your abilities based on what “stance” you are currently in.  This is does a great job of taking the tedium out of a JRPG and letting you just sit back, relax and watch the events unfold before you.

This all goes extremely great until you encounter your first Eidolon fight.  Basically all the gaming vocabulary you have learned to that point becomes completely useless for the encounter.  You have to do one specific gimmick, over and over… and do so with flawless timing or you die.  Basically the Eidolon fight goes against everything you have experienced in the game to that point.  On top of this, usually the gimmick you have to perform is something you would never do in another fight after this one. 

Ultimately the Eidolon fights become these cruel precision mini games, that are forced upon the otherwise very casual experience.  You cannot avoid them, and they usually occur at key times in the storyline that are unavoidable.  The Shiva sisters fight shown above for example occurs after a minion battle and two cut scenes.  So each time you attempt the fight you have to slog through those to get back to the boss fight.  If the numbers over snows head tick down to zero, the fight is over.

I remember the last time I played the game I managed to slog through several of these fights, but ultimately it was one near the end of disc two that got the best of me.  I simply did not care enough about continuing the game to learn whatever pattern needed to executed flawlessly to get through the fight.  I don’t mind the concept of battles like this, I just mind them greatly when they are so drastically in contrast with the super causal gaming experience as a whole.  It feels like the game does exactly zero training to this point in the skills needed to succeed at these egregiously gimmicky fights.

Sympathy for the Devil

After attempting the Shiva sisters a few times, I decided that I needed to retreat into something warm and familiar…  and thanks to the wonders of the PlayStation Network, that happy place was Symphony of the Night.  I am not sure if I can quantify it, but this is as close as I think I will ever find to my perfect game.  It has awesome side scrolling exploration, fun fast paced sword melee combat, the ability to collect gear and level your character up, interesting abilities to unlock, and non-linear progression.  This is literally everything I want in a game wrapped up in one gorgeous package with an amazing hard rock inspired soundtrack.

I think more than anything the soundtrack is what sells the experience for me.  I own an original copy of the Japanese soundtrack that was released, and have listened to it over and over.  For ages this was my defacto coding soundtrack, and was not really replaced until the Tron Legacy soundtrack.  Interestingly enough, Tron Legacy has now been trumped and The Secret World has become my default background music at work.  Everything about this game screams a level of attention to detail that you just don’t see much in games.

I can happily fall back into this game at any time, after playing any other game.  Last night I continued onwards with my game, trying to remember where things were in relation to other things and start gathering up the relics needed to progress further.  I completely surprised myself last night… with my ability to keep from taking damage.  I was going through an area of the castle I remembered, but completely forgot the fact that I was about to get trapped in a room with a shadowy clone of myself.  I only had 15 hit points going into the fight, and somehow managed to make it through defeating the boss with 5 to spare.

My favorite version of the game so far is the PS3 Emulated one.  I just wish that it supported the digital stick, rather than gamepad only for movement.  Someday I will hook back up my Saturn and play the Japanese import version again.  It has the unique features of being able to play as the default Alucard, but also Maria and Richter from the start of the game.  My only problem with the Saturn version is that while it has all these extra features, the controls are nowhere near as responsible as the PSX rendition.  Also when you get a large number of creatures on screen at a time, there is a bit of slowdown and hitching.  This combined with the fact that there was never an english version released…  definitely put the PlayStation version on the top of the heap.

MMO Vacation

Other than the game that must not be named due to a super strict NDA, I have not really been playing a lot of MMOs over the last week or so.  This is really a combination of two factors…  firstly that I now have this awesome apartment like game loft, that I can go up to and chill out in without feeling like I am taking the television from anyone else.  Also thanks to the quirks of acoustics, my wife can be sitting downstairs on the sofa, and we can hold a conversation at normal volume.  So it doesn’t really feel like I am that far away from her when I am playing.

Secondly, and this is the big one…  I wrote awhile back that my ISP is discontinuing residential internet access.  I have a feeling that they have begun throttling users to try and get them to switch faster.  Essentially my ping times have been horrific in any game I play, and this has lead to more than one extremely frustrating death.  This has caused me to completely swear off League of Legends until this has changed, and even in Rift doing daily quests has become annoying with lots of mob warping.

Luckily this will be remedied tomorrow.  I have them scheduled to run a new line to the loft, which will then host the wireless router for the house.  It is a good centralized location, and the limited obstacles will make it prime for internet access from the living room downstairs.  So as of tomorrow I will be going from roughly 4 meg internet to 25 meg, and going from single room dvr to whole house dvr.  I am extremely pumped, and ready for not having to worry about streaming slowing down everything else on the network.  We are starting with 25, but may at a later date bump up to the full 50 meg connection.

I imagine that once this goes in, I will be having a renaissance of online gaming… as I can not only download patches much faster but not have to worry so much about my ping going to shit.  I know this will not be the be all end all cure for bad ping, but it will certainly take a step in the right direction.  Also the ability to watch anything we have recorded on the DVR from the livingroom, loft and bedroom is a huge boon.  There are a ton of shows that I like to watch… that my wife has zero interest in.  I can pop up to the loft and watch the show til my heart is content, while she is watching whatever she wants to watch.

Wrapping Up

On top of the new internet, we will be getting our sectional delivered tomorrow.  So it is going to be a super exciting day, when a lot of realities change around our house.  However, it is also going to mean a super busy night of prep work to get ready for the furniture movers and the cable installer.  Additionally right now I have a cat trying to tell me that I should stop typing and pet her.  So I am going to do just that. I hope you all have awesome days, and that you get accomplished everything you need to.

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?

Robots Made Me Keys

Good morning you happy people.  I know it’s a bit of an odd greeting, but it feels like my brain is struggling to boot this morning.  Here is hoping that the coffee in my cup with help along the process.  I may have to wiggle the power cord or something, but I can’t seem to find it…  Last night I finally successfully completed a server move, so that is a huge weight off my shoulders.  Maybe this grogginess is just the afterglow of that success.

Adventures in Locksmithing

So far this morning is going a bit better than yesterday.  After writing up my blog I went downstairs to get ready, and attempted to leave the house.  The door would not lock, neither by the pushbutton on the back of the door or by the key.  I texted my boss to let him know I would be late, and that I would likely have to call a locksmith.  I just did not feel comfortable leaving my house without a lock on the door.

Then I remembered… once upon a time…  when we first moved into our house back in 1999… the real estate agent had given us a new set of locks as a house warming present.  Lazy happened… and we never actually installed them, but they should be around the house somewhere.  After rifling through the laundry room cabinets…  that tend to be the catch all for that sort of thing…  I found the package.  Inside were in fact two nice bronze colored keyed doorknobs.

I scurried around to gather up the necessary tools, and changed the front door lock as quickly as I could.  Unfortunately in the process I got grease all over my shirt… so I had to go change that.  But all in all I rapidly changed out the front door lock and was on my way in not much time at all.  I purposefully left the back door the old lock, just in case for whatever reason my wife needed to get in before I had a chance to get her keys.  I managed to make it into work only thirty minutes behind my normal schedule.

Robots Made Me Keys

At lunch I decided that I should probably go make some keys, since both myself and my wife need one, and our neighbor down the street as we care for each others animals when either goes out of town.  Normally I tend to just go to Wal-mart to get keys made, but I needed to run a few more errands and Lowes was in the shopping center I was going to.  I thought I had remembered in the back of my head seeing one of those little grinder stations, so I charged ahead assuming surely I could get keys made there.

Upon entering Lowes, I was pointed towards a little automated Kiosk.  The system prompted me to put my key in the slot, in a specific orientation.  I could hear servos whirring as it clamped down on my key and evaluated the shape.  On the touch screen I was able to place an order for what kind of key blanks I wanted, and the quantity.  I started off only planning to make 2 keys, but the third was free… and the fourth was half off…  so I ended up putting in an order for 4 keys for $7.

The machine sprang to life, going through a process of grinding the key, polishing it… and then spitting it out into a little receiver tray with a very satisfying ka-thunk.  All the while there was a little progress bar telling me what key I was on, and how long an individual key was likely to take.  The whole process was pretty amazing, but I may or may not be old… and just not used to this concept.  I collected my keys and went on my way, overly amused by the entire process.

Always in the past I had made way more keys than I ever needed, because when you got them made at Wal-mart… at least half of them didn’t actually work.  I am guessing robots trump some random kid with some random machine in some random store… that maybe had a 5 minute talk on how to use the thing… because all four keys work perfectly, no scraping or anything of the sort.  I hail our new robot overlords…  the future will be amazing.

Gorilla in the Room

So the big news of yesterday was that Rift would be going “completely free” in their words, and involve “no trials, no tricks, no traps”.  I am of mixed emotions myself about the news, but overall the community seems to be taking it very badly.  Personally I like the subscription model, it feels just and equitable and provides support for the company.  Whereas the free to play model tends to involve “going whaling”, and looking for some mega consumer to subsidize the gameplay for a bunch of folks who will likely never actually spend money on the game.

My opinion is that if you are not actively supporting a game, you are actively harming it.  Additionally my brain makes a sort of calculus of…  if a game is not worth paying for… is it really worth your time?  But that ultimately gets into the equation of why these games work.  For me personally, my time is worth more than my money to me.  As a result I am willing to spend extra to avoid having to spend time doing boring things.  This is what the free to play model counts on, is that someone will buy extra stuff to make up for the fact that a large number of players are spending nothing.

My big hope is that it will make it more likely for players to try the game.  Right now it is extremely hard to get anyone to try Rift, because a good chunk of my friends have WoW inertia.  Hell during the Raptr promotion, I got a free copy of the game, free expansion, and 30 days of free playtime… gave it to a friend of mine who is interested in Rift…  and after a couple of weeks he has yet to even create an account.  If knowing that it won’t cost them anything ever, helps players try the game…  I am all for whatever actions cause that.

On top of that, I continue to still subscribe, which means I will begin to get premium “Patron” access to the game.   Usually games paywall off features, but Rift in their infinite wisdom seems to be giving Patrons some huge and very tangible benefits to keeping their subscription active.  The two big ones for me are that all of my mounts will travel a base 10% faster, and that all money drops will increase by 15%.  Those alone would be enough to get me to keep subscribed.  However they are also adding in all sorts of xp bonuses, and token bonuses that just sweeten the deal.  The whole thing begins June 12th, so in less than a months time we will just have to see what it ends up being like.

Another Shitty Morning

So this morning has turned out to be far worse than yesterday, but it a totally different way.  Roughly halfway through writing about Rift, my wife yelled up and told me to “get outside now”.  I of course am freaking out, wondering what has happened…  turns out that once again we forgot and left our cars unlocked, and once again someone had rifled through them.  We live in a pretty decent part of town, in a super quiet neighborhood, but this has happened to us 3 times since 1999.  This is why I did not want to leave the house yesterday with the door unlocked.

Essentially we have nothing of any value in our vehicles, we have stock radios and keep no electronics in them.  There is nothing of value that can be gained by them rifling through our stuff, but it feels so damned violating.  This time they look to have taken one thing…  my prescription sunglasses.  You have to be pretty damned dumb to steal prescription sunglasses.  They didn’t even get the current set of sunglasses out of my jeep, they got my old set out of my wife’s vehicle.  I mean my eyes are complete shit, so they are thick as the bottom of a pop bottle… so it is completely obvious even looking at them that they are not normal sunglasses.

I am not really sure what they were looking for, but they obviously didn’t find much.  But the frustrating part is having to stuff everything back in their cubbies that were tore out.  In my jeep this means gathering up a bunch of wow tcg cards from my habit of picking them up every now and then, and stuffing the paperwork back in my glove box.  If I had to guess they were likely looking for prescription drugs, money or electronics.  They didn’t grab anything from the back of either vehicle, and in my wifes there were a few items neatly boxed up.

Anyways. this makes another shitty start of the day.  I sincerely hope yours goes much better.  Hard for me to muster my attempt at a cheery greeting right now.  Need to be finishing this up and getting on to work.

Late to the Dance

Yesterday for whatever reason was extremely rough.  I felt like I spent the entire day sleep walking, so when I finally got off work I came home and took a nap.  Naps are such glorious things at times, I wish I had known that back as a child when I tried to actively evade them.  When I got up I cooked dinner and while still extremely groggy settled in for a bit.

Elite Ready

One of the things I have been attempting to accomplish over my lunch time gaming break is to finish all of the Ashora and Steppes daily quests in Rift.  Usually I manage to chew through Ashora, but rarely do I make a significant dent in Steppes.  However yesterday for whatever reason I seemed to be able to do both without much issue.  This put me fairly high on the daily infinity stone count, and creeping close to that piece of gear that would tip me over 300 hit. 

After all was said and done, I was sitting at 2 stones away from the gauntlets.  Last night I went back out to the Steppes and wandered down along the coastline.  I knew I had left a carnage quest partially finished down there, and as a result I pushed through those last few stones rather quickly.  Still feeling pretty worn out, I decided to go ahead and port back to Tempest Bay and purchase my upgrade.  While I knew I did not have the juice to do any random elites last night, I at least was Elite ready for the grouping tonight.

Late to the Dance

Since redoing the loft I have found myself playing around on my PlayStation 3 a good deal more.  Quite honestly, the loss of my gaming loft as viable space pretty much marks the end of me regularly playing console games.  I simply did not have a TV that was dedicated to gaming, and I never wanted to monopolize the tv downstairs in case my wife wanted to watch something.  So as a result I have essentially been a non-console gamer during this current generation of systems.

As a way to catch up, I went ahead and signed up for a years subscription to PlayStation Plus, as this gives me around a dozen games immediately to play around with.  Namely there were a bunch of titles that I had wanted, but never really had picked or played… namely Sleeping Dogs, Darksiders, The Cave, Ratchet and Clank All 4 One, and Little Big Planet 2.  Since they release new titles for free over the network on a regular basis, I figured it would be an excellent way to passively acquire titles.


I knew this game would be right down my alley, but for whatever reason over the years since its release I have never actually played it.  Big dude, in bigger armor, carrying an even bigger sword really is my ideal game archetype… and this game does not disappoint.  Everything controls extremely well, and it feels a lot like a modern golden axe at times.  I had heard this in the past compared to Legend of Zelda, and I can kind of see the similarities but to me it feels more in line with the old school final fight style fighting games.  I played this for quite awhile last night before my ADD kicked in, but I am sure I will be devoting many hours to running around as a badass horseman of the apocalypse.

Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One

Since I was pretty tired still, my gaming wanderlust was in full effect… also I had a whole stack of games I was wanting to try.  The next on the list was Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One.  I remember being a big fan of the Ratchet and Clank games on the PS2, so this was pretty much a no brainer for me to try out.  I went into it knowing that this was basically a streamlined experience designed to be played with four players.  I was okay with this, and while the world was not nearly as intricate as the ones I was used to from the PS2, it still retained all of the enjoyment of the earlier titles. 

My only takeaway is that the game seemed really easy with Ratchet and Clank as an AI controlled bot.  Clank seemed to always be targeting and taking out the mob types that were difficult for me to get with my wrench.  All of the controls were essentially the same as before, so I regained my ability to play the game rather quickly.  I did not play terribly far but I thought the “driving a space taxi” sequence was extremely fun, with me steering by moving to one side of the taxi platform or another.  Should be a great game to return to and give it more time.

The Cave

The last game I went on a tour of last night was The Cave, and I did so on a very cursory level.  I fired it up, and selected a team of the Knight, the Monk, and the Twins.  Each character feels extremely interesting and has some special ability… that I have yet to really figure out what it is for.  Right now the game seems like it is going to be a puzzle and exploration game.  Essentially you have three characters to control, and various puzzles will require one or more characters to solve.  It has the interesting and humorous writing that is trademark of Double Fine games, so given the time I am sure I will get into it.  Having not played it terribly long, all I can really say is that the world is gorgeous and full of interesting visuals.


At this point I was past going, so I decided I needed to head to bed.  I still have Sleeping Dogs downloading as well as a couple others.  Having access to a fresh font of games will definitely make the ps3 feel more useful.  Also having access to a place to set it up, on a dedicated tv… with a comfy love seat to sit on will make it that more likely to get used on a regular basis.  It was absolutely glorious sitting up there with a fan on me happily playing away in our newly renovated loft.  I am going to have to try and resurrect my long red-ringed xbox 360 and get started back playing those games as well.

I have a ton of things to deal with, and today is trash day… so I bid you all goodbye.  I hope you have a great day, and that you survive the rest of the week.  I will be heading downstairs myself to take out the trash, and try and deal with the front door that appears to not be wanting to lock.  It is always something…

Almost Elite

This morning has already started off to be super amazing…  and I am trying to say that with as much sarcasm as I can muster.  In my gathering of breakfast, I had to go to three QuikTrips to find 2 jalepeno sausage rolls.  On top of that I had another wonderful night of NDA restricted activities, so there is not a whole lot that I can really talk about today.  However in keeping with my promise to myself I am going to make something happen anyways.

Almost Elite

I did manage to play a little Rift over lunch yesterday afternoon.  Essentially there are three of us at work that bring our lunch, and laptops and go find a quiet conference room in which to relax and play games over the noon hour.  I think it’s a pretty awesome plan, and it gives us all that mental break we need during the day.  Since our work wifi is laggy as shit, I try my best to do something pretty relaxing.  Traditionally this is some EQ2, but since I have most recently reignited the fires of Telara…  it was some Rift.

While I am loathe to do them for long, I have been focused on getting as many daily quests as I can both of the adventuring and crafting variety.  They are good money, and also give me the sweet sweet infinity stones that I crave.  Yesterday it feels like I made real progress, as between crafting three new items and obtaining another infinity stone item I have replaced all of my greens and pre-60 blues.

Essentially by swapping out two items with infinity stone items, I will be able to get my hit rating up to the suggested 300 for doing elite dungeons.  I am really looking forward to doing some random elites.  As much as I dislike pugs, that reaction seems to be reserved for when I am tanking.  If I am playing a DPS, like I am right now… I seem to be able to just blend into the background and watch the events of the pug unfold around me in a completely stress free fashion. 

I guess when I am dpsing, I no longer feel responsible for the success or failure of the instance.  I am hoping over the next week I can get in enough adventure dailies to be able to start running the instances.  Our little four man team I believe is getting close to being elite dungeon ready as well.  The more gear I can get before that point, the easier it will be for us to break into elites as a team.

Double Fine Bundle

Every so often Humble bundle comes out with an unbelievably good deal.  This time around it is all of the double fine games in one neat and price what you want package.  Essentially they are offering Psychonauts, Costume Quest, Stacking, Brutal Legend and contributor access to Broken Age their kickstarter game.  The kickstarter game requires a $35 dollar donation to unlock, and brutal legend $8 but for 10 bucks you can easily walk away with four really good story driven games.  Definitely worth checking out if you are so inclined.

Backyard Blues

Over the week we managed to get really good deals on two televisions.  One is now hooked up in the bedroom and the other is awaiting us to finish setting back up my game loft.  As a result we will be focusing on that today… since tomorrow will be entangled with mothers day madness.  We are starting out in the backyard first to clear a space to start piling up the old furniture.  Since my wife is now pacing back and forth, I need to cut this short for the day.  I hope you all have a great morning and afternoon and if so inclined an awesome Mothers Day.

Player Taxonomy

This is the sixteenth post in my experimental “post every morning” scheme, and it represents the first true roadblock.  Up to this point, I had been posting about whatever was happening in my life, and namely whatever games I played the previous night.  The problem I have right now is that while I have plenty of awesome things to talk about from last night, I can’t speak a word about any of it.  I may or may not be under a pretty sizeable NDA.  So as a result I will be trying to find interesting things to talk about otherwise.

Player Taxonomy

I was having a discussion the other day with a good friend and we got into the whole dividing players into groups concept.  We often times have this notion that players are either hardcore or casual, and depending on which side of the divide you are on that other term becomes a slur against what you don’t enjoy.  He presented an interesting take on the divide, in that players are made up of multiple parts of different drives.  He broke things into 3 drives, but I have since expanded it into 4.

  • Casual – These players tend to play games on a very peripheral level.  They may play multiple titles, but not really get heavily involved in any one game.  They do not perform large amounts of research, even if it is a game they play very often.
  • Core – These players tend to get extremely invested in one or more games.  They may play multiple titles, but are more likely to dig into the theory and gameplay of one specific game.  They are likely to do large amounts of research on technique and related information.
  • Social – These players tend to be focused on the social aspect of gaming.  They are in games because their friends are playing them.  Their gaming experience revolves around interaction with their friends, and if enough of a critical mass of their community leaves the game they are likely to do so as well.
  • Solo – These players tend to prefer to do things alone, and while they may associate with communities they do so mostly for the benefits that being a member provides.  They will participate in group activities if there is a large benefit to doing so, but afterwards they often wander back off to doing solo content.

Essentially the theory is that we are all made up of these building blocks.  For example I tend to be Social-Core by nature in online games, but I will have large periods of being Solo-Core depending on if I am playing a game with a preformed community or not.  I crave the social connection of a community in an online game, however in the absence of it I tend to withdraw and not reach out to strangers.  I have tried to be Casual about games in the past but it rarely works, as I almost always end up digging deep into the minutia, figuring out mob spawn patterns, what the best drops are, and which areas I should be hunting.

There is a line of thinking that says that labels in gaming are a bad thing.  I agree to some extent, because the old social versus hardcore debate only really tells part of the story.  However the truth is that different kinds of players are motivated by different forces.  We need some kind of judgment free taxonomy to help understand what kind of a player someone is, and what they are looking for out of the online gaming experience.  I cannot claim the above is a new idea, as I got it from a conversation with a friend… and he cannot claim his ideas are new either because this is something that has been kicking around in the marketing side of the industry for several years.

I feel these building blocks do a pretty good job of modeling opposing forces, namely social tendencies versus solo tendencies, and casual tendencies versus core tendencies.  All that said I feel it is totally viable for someone to be social-casual-core striking a balance between really digging into a game and playing them on a superficial level.  The thing I have noticed over the years, is that most of the players that claim to be casual… myself included really dig deep into whatever game they happen to be playing.  They just may play lots and lots of games at the same time or serially.  I think it is an interesting discussion at least, and as a guild leader I have always tried to understand the drives of the people that I am trying to mold towards a specific goal.

Journey to Coldharbour


With all my personal posts and game log type posting, I have not had a chance to really mention this.  At the beginning of the month Zenimax released this video about Coldharbour the domain of Molag Bal.  I have to say right off the bat the footage from the video looks amazing.  I think it is awesome just how vastly different Coldhabour looks and feels from Deadlands the Oblivion plane belonging to Mehunes Dagon we experienced in Elder Scrolls VI: Oblivion.  It seems like the Dark Anchors that are mentioned are going to be similar to the Mehunes Oblivion gates.

I really look forward to seeing how all of this will really work in game play.  It seems like the anchors drop down from the sky, so I am wondering if they will be “Rift like” events that occur around the map, or static spawns.  The Elder Scrolls games have always had a certain measure of dynamic content, so it would be cool if the Anchors were this games answer to “Rifts”.  There really isn’t enough in the video to really make a call one way or another, but it is a super cool concept.  Every time they release one of these videos, I just want to play ANY Elder Scrolls game I can get my hands on.  Why hullo there Skyrim!

Wildstar: Devspeak Movement


So I am still on the fence about whether or not I care about Wildstar.  Firstly I have not had a great track record with me trying to get deeply involved in any Science Fiction based MMO.  They are awesome for awhile, but they seem to lack the stickiness with me that fantasy MMOs have had.  Secondly no matter how hard I try, I cannot seem to view this as anything other than a much higher resolution World of Warcraft.  There is a moment in this video that I immediately thought the guy was falling into Area 52 out in Netherstorm.  All of that said, the game does look much nicer in every department than WoW.

Range of motion in a video game is a huge thing.  If the combat animations feel clunky, the combat itself will feel clunky… as goes with the jumps, rolls, running animations etc.  This is a beautifully animated game, and the video really showcases that.  The big take away I always have from one of these videos however is just how amazing their Marketing and Communities are at engaging the public.  They do a phenomenal picture of painting a picture of the game and setting up an attitude that makes you want to play it.  I feel like this is going to be one of those titles that I will need to play before I can decide if I am going to look into it very seriously.

Aatrox, The Darkin Blade

Another nifty tidbit of information from yesterday, is that Riot games announced their next champion for League of Legends.  Basically it looks to be a badass AD melee character with life draining abilities.  Similar to Mordekaiser he uses a health spending mechanic to cast abilities.  You can click the picture, or this link to see a full breakdown of his abilities.  At first glance he kind of feels like a fusion of Mordekaiser and Zac, so will be interesting to see how he plays.

Initially I thought… hell yeah, badass demon dude with a molten sword and wings!  But ultimately I am really not sure if this is a “Bel” character or not.  So far I have not really enjoyed playing Mordekaiser, because his mechanic feels super “fiddly”.  I don’t really like champions that are very “do this one thing, so you can do this other thing or you die” in their ability set up.  I admit it, I am totally a barbarian and like simple gameplay…  think Garen, Wukong and Darius.  When I play a game, I am about as subtle as dropping a piano on someone.  I feel like even though he looks awesome, and I like his abilities (other than the health spending mechanic) he will definitely be a “try before I buy” character.

Adventures in Legally Viable Posting

So I have managed to weave together a post this morning after all, and this makes me happy.  I was afraid that my certain restrictions would dry up the well of rambling, but I have managed to grab a few things I thought was cool out of the air and cram them into a single posting.  Not that my nightly rundown posts are all that exciting in the first place, but hopefully folks won’t mind these posts every now and then when I am bound not to talk about the previous night.  I hope you guys have a great Friday, and that it is the gateway to a really amazing weekend.  We are going to be super busy this weekend finishing up the game loft, so wish me luck!

Forever Downwards

It’s a rainy Thursday morning here in Oklahoma, and it took everything I had to pull myself away from the covers.  The constant rhythm of the rain was absolutely intoxicating, and was calling me to stay in bed and sleep.  Unfortunately with my boss still out, I am thrust into the role of his proxy and end up having to attend all the meetings he was supposed to attend.  The biggest positive however is that since it is Thursday, there is only one more day in the week.

Rewarding Exploration

rift.exe 2013-5-8-17-30-41-624

One of the things that the Elder Scrolls games have taught me is to explore every corner of the map.  You never know where something extremely cool is hiding.  I’ve always appreciated it when a game likewise rewards players for getting “off the path”.  When Rift launched, it quickly became known for all the explorer moments that occurred on the tops of mountains, bottoms of the ocean and forgotten dungeons.  There were a number of things that could only be found by straying from the path.

I can still remember the first time I stumbled onto a puzzle, or a cairn and remembering how cool that felt to have found something in the game on my own.  It also reinforced the gameplay style of wandering all over the map looking for possible Easter eggs.  From that point onwards I was traipsing across the tops of mountains, just because I could and just to see if there might be something to be gained from doing so.  I have been glad to see that Storm Legion if anything has ramped this instinct up.

Forever Downwards


Yesterday I stumbled onto a hidden path and experienced one of the coolest of these “Explorer Moments”.  I had been doing a few quests in what appeared to be a partially submerged Brevanic ruins.  Leading off to the side of the entrance tunnel was a non-descript path that truncated in a flooded room.  This just screamed to be explored, so I started swimming downwards into the abyss.  The tunnel continued to wind downwards through bend after bend, with no sign of stopping.

I had been through what felt like a dozen of these turns when I reached the point of no return.  My breath meter was at the halfway point, and I decided to push on ahead…  because surely there had to be a reason for the tunnel to exist even if it was just an instance zone in.  At roughly the 1/4 of my breath bar mark, I noticed the tunnel straightening out and a break in the water leading up into a chamber.

The Patient Sentinel


Upon breaking out of the water and entertaining the chamber, I was rewarded with an achievement: Deep Learning.  Across the room waiting on me, was a holographic construct with a quest, and a lever that appeared to enable a teleport to the surface.  The quest was actually part of a chain, and ultimately lead to some pretty cool storyline.  To me however, the coolest piece of this whole experience is that now I apparently have permanent teleport access back down into the bowels of the Storm Legion base.

It is little moments like this that make games worth playing.  This type of stuff is why the Elder Scrolls and Fallout games are so much like crack for me.  There is always something cool off on the horizon, that I know I can go over to and explore.  Rift does a really good job of lacing the gameplay with little discoveries that you can only find if you deviate off the path. 


Originally I had plans to run dungeons with the Alea Iacta Est folks, but as the night wore on my friend Plasmodia to to feeling woozy.  Seems as though her supervisor had brought back some form of the “convention crud” and she was beginning to run a decent fever.  We all agreed that she should be ushered off to bed, but with that we had lost our tank but more importantly our 4th member.  I have not minded our instance runs where we pugged a single person in, but the more you add the more unpredictable the process becomes.

Throughout the week my friends have been diligently playing League of Legends matches every night, and I’ve felt bad for not joining them.  In large part I had been coaxed into playing the game, so that I could be a stable fifth player for them.  With my resurgence of Rift, I have been anything but that.  I think part of the issue is that I just do not like the game nearly as much as they all seem to.  I have fun, and it is enjoyable when I am playing with a full group of friends, but I am often times thinking about other games.

Not Competitive Enough

This shows badly in my game play, and my lack of improvement.  I am not super competitive, and I just don’t seem to get the adrenaline rush they all do from killing other players.  When we have scrimmaged against each other, I have enjoyed beating someone I know far more than I have enjoyed beating any of the random players.  I have learned to assimilate a lot of the language and phrasing that has come with the game, but it rarely if ever is the thing I am looking to discuss as a group.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the game and I enjoy playing with my friends when we play the game together.  However I just find myself lacking caring about things like build order, and last hitting, and all the other trappings that come along with the game.  I have watched a friend go from not knowing the game exists, to super hardcore about it, and all the while I am just struggling to understand why anyone would play the game if not for others.

The prime example of this difference really came up last night.  We had managed to pull out a “back door” victory in the ARAM gameplay mode.  What this means is a player hides in the bushes from the other team, and then when they are charging down the lane, sneaks back and takes out their nexus ending the match.  It essentially catches the other team with their pants down, and steals a win.  It is extremely cool when it happens for your side, and extremely defeating when you have it happen to you.

A Difference in Motivation

After this whole chain of events, while I thought it was cool… she was talking about how pumped she was and that she would not be able to sleep after that.  I seem to lack that adrenaline rush entirely, because while it was nifty that we had won, and I was proud of her for her maneuvering…  it was just another match to me.  The problem is, because of this lack of adrenaline and craving for victory… I still make the same bad decisions and still fall for the same traps.  Winning the map just doesn’t mean that much to me.

This is my problem in every game I have tried to do any player versus player gameplay.  I just don’t care about the outcome as much as other players do.  When there is not a direct correlation between money and loot on the line, winning over another player for sheer bragging rights doesn’t mean much of anything to me.  Now on the other hand, I have always had the drive to push to kill that raid boss, or clear that raid instance… because I knew there was a chance at tangible goodies awaiting me.

While I try my best not to be, I am very loot driven.  If you lay out three paths before me…  one gives tokens, one gives nice gear, and the other lots of experience…  I will always go for the one that gives the nice gear.  One of the reasons why I have so much bloodlust in these games and literally kill everything walking, is I know that any single mob could have the chance of dropping something really cool.  When you remove loot from the equation, you remove a ton of my motivation to achieve.

Since I am very focused on improving my character through gear… League of Legends feels like rerolling a new character, getting it to level 10, and then rerolling something else… over and over and over.  You never reach that point that you can do amazing things, because you’ve built up your character in the process.  I think the methodology of the game works and levels the playing field for all players.  But the fact that I start over at square one in each match really drops my enjoyment whether or not I want it to.

Rambled Long Enough

Well I’ve rambled on at length about League of Legends, and how generally ill suited I am for the game.  The tail end of this post feels like me thinking through things on paper.  I enjoy League still when we have a voice server full of people playing together, but if given a choice I will always choose to play an MMO.  I just feel extremely bad for abandoning my friends, when they really have needed a stable fifth person.  Looking at my calendar, it looks like today is going to be super busy with my boss being out of the office.  I hope all of you out there have great days that are far less stressful than mine looks to be.