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.

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!

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

20130525_121416

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.

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.

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.

Twisteropolis

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?

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.