Dam Impressive

Last night was another of my infamous “you no can has sleep” nights as my brain absolutely refused to shut down.  I really need to get some melatonin and give it a shot when that sort of thing happens.  I was extremely tired, but my brain was spinning on some completely useless project, and like the software you have to manually close when restarting your machine…  it kept gumming up the process.  As a result I am borderline catatonic, and find myself getting sidetracked by the simplest of things this morning.  It is going to be a not so enjoyable day.

General Celes

I spent most of the morning playing the Gameboy Advance version of Final Fantasy 6 on my PSP in an attempt to catch up to where I had gotten previously with the native PSN version.  Taking screenshots is a bit more of a pain in the ass… so I did not take very many.  As a result you get something I found from Google image search of the same basic spot I am at currently.  Apparently the above example chose to rename their General Celes to Moghan…  for whatever reason I have never really renamed my characters.  I prefer to just accept the name they are given by default, since that tends to be how they are referred to out of game.

Yesterday I had encountered an odd glitch, where I was unable to talk to Kekfa and start the “Figaro Submerge” sequence.  I had a previous save luckily, so I could load that back up and sure enough the second time it worked just fine.  The big negative so far of playing the GBA version, is that you only have 3 save files.  As a result you keep having to round robin your way manually through the saves.  I pretty much save every time it is possible, and hate saving over whatever my latest game is, so this process just becomes more cumbersome.

I made my way back to the Mog screen that allows you to pick which batch of adventurers you will follow.  As a result I picked Locke first, as he is generally my favorite character in FF6.  It took me a bit to remember how this whole sequence worked, but after some trial and error I managed to get into the underground passage, rescue Celes and make my way out of South Figaro.  When we needed to shower and get ready yesterday, I was standing just ouside South Figaro on the world map.  So I will head my way back to Narshe and that should be the end of that sequence.  I will likely play the river journey next…  for whatever reason I tend to save the Sabin for last always.

Dam Impressive

Yesterday we had plans to eat dinner with my wife’s mother at 4 pm in Grove Oklahoma…  which is on the edge of the Grand Lake of the Cherokees about an hour and a half from Tulsa.  There are multiple ways to get there, none of which extremely straight…  and some of them way more contorted than others.  Since we had not really been out on one of our photo jaunts in awhile my wife suggested we take one of the extremely contorted ways so we could look for interesting scenery.  As a result we took this hour and a half trip and extended it to be a little over three hours long.

The weatherman said that the day would be clear and sunny..  but the end result lead us to constantly check the weather on our phones as the sky was pretty much filled with rain clouds the entire trip.  As a result the lighting was less than favorable, and especially so as we travelled past places we would normally stop.  To the weathermans credit, it never did rain… just looked like it was going to at any moment.  While we had been along the route at various segments of our planned trip, we had never actually been the totality before.

I am hoping this actually works… because I have never really attempted to create a linkable Google map for something.  But this is the route that we ended up taking to get from 169 to Grove via Highway 20.  When we got in the Spavinaw hills we encountered the extremely cool Spavinaw lake dam.  Basically Spavinaw lake is where the bulk of the water for the City of Tulsa comes from.  In the 1920s the City realized it would need to draw water from outside of the immediate area and as a result created this massive waterworks that spans from Lake Spavinaw, through other smaller lakes and ultimately ends of at the water treatment facilities inside of Tulsa.  As we drove along the road it took us right beside the extremely cool looking spillway pictured above.

Luckily the sky had cleared a bit by the time we got there, so we pulled off into the parking lot and roamed around.  Normally I have a no trespassing rule when taking photos…  I will not cross any fences or barriers… however if there is a way around said fences that do not involve actually crossing one… I am game.  As a result I ended up walking around a fence that was locked over at the power station near the spillway… and this allowed me to get some interesting shots close up to the water flow.

When I go out and take photos I end up uploading them all in bulk to Google+ albums, then create what I call a keepers album for sharing.  I had not dumped my memory card in awhile, so I had photos from mothers day, the house work, and then these of Spavinaw… so the end result was that I uploaded 182 photos.  After I did my culling and singling out the ones I really liked the most… that became whittled down to the 42 keepers you can see in this album.  I think there are some pretty good shots in there, and it has honestly been awhile since I have felt like uploading what I shot…  so I think this is a good thing.

Gaming Restlessness

When we got home from our little jaunt, I had to fight with the Google+ photos system for a good deal of time.  They have changed something, so that it does not work nearly as well for bulk uploads.  As a result I was pretty pissed by the time I finally finished with that mess.  I ended up flitting back and forth between several different MMOs… never quite finding the fit for my mood.  I played my Melee Mage in Rift for a bit, but ended up getting frustrated because I had not kept up my butchering… and was going to have to go back into Silverwood and grind wolves until I raised it enough to do Gloamwood.  This is the negative side effect about leveling through the instant adventures system…  you end up in a bad place skill wise.

After logging out frustrated, I went over into SWTOR and tried to play my Sith Warrior.  Right now I am knee deep into Imperial Balmorra yet again…  and that kind of frustration just made things worse.  I managed to complete three or four quests before ultimately logging out again.  I patched up Guild Wars 2, because for whatever reason… the fact that I have real internet and can patch things quickly. that would have taken me leaving a game running over night…  still amuses me.  That more than any other change has meant the most to me…  the fact that we have real internet finally!  There have been some negative side effects however…  I used to host a small web server out of the house, and with Cox blocking port 80… we have lost access to most of that content.

I played GW2 for all of ten minutes before remembering why I don’t really play the game much.  The gameplay choices they have made just are not that enjoyable to me.  No matter how much I have tried to play it… I still find the lack of quests off putting.  So I feel like I am running around aimlessly with nothing of any importance to do.  Once that sets in, everything I do feels extremely grindy…  since very little of it actually matters other than your world completion score.  I wandered around in the 40-50 zone near Hoelbrak but quickly logged as the game almost immediately bored me.

I would have gone upstairs to the loft and played some PS3 or XBOX, but I fear that they would have had the same result.  I was just in a restless and frustrated frame of mind… that was only made worse when I actually attempted to go to sleep.  For whatever reason my mind latched onto the nettop computer I am building for the loft.  I started going over all the things I would need to do, evaluating what the best emulator and video front ends would be…  all of which were not at all important.  Especially since I have yet to even move the computer out to the loft from my office.  I was just restless in every sense of the word… and as a result am paying the price today as I struggle to keep my eyes open.

Wrapping Up

I am hoping that I survive the day as one of the sleep deprived masses.  I will be mainlining five hour energy shots in a vague attempt to be alert and responsive.  Right now I am honestly not sure what has to get accomplished today, but I am hoping by the end of my web service staff meeting I will be able to determine that.  I hope you all have a productive start of the work week…  and that you are not going into it nearly as tired as I am right now.  Hope you all have great days.

Four Job Fiesta

Oh Sunday… that morning in which you think to yourself…  crap I have to go to work tomorrow.  Today will be pretty much dominated by my wife’s mothers birthday.  We are going to drive to grove later this afternoon to meet her for dinner, and are talking about potentially meandering our way there with cameras.  So as a result I have no clue when we will actually leave, but there will not be much gaming at all today.  Right now I am just trying to barrel through my morning blog post without losing focus.


rift.exe 2013-6-1-13-57-33-514

I still need to return to my Sith ways, but for whatever reason yesterday I was distracted once more by the lure of rift and my melee mage.  I hit level 22 yesterday while still wandering around Silverwood.  I ended up getting caught up in a buzz of completionism…  something that I am not normally afflicted with.  The problem is… I had left a lot of the quests involving the court of Prince Hylas unfinished.  One constant for me regardless of the game… is that I love slaughtering elves.  So I got caught up in the carnage, and ended up completing all the quests for the zone.

I have since moved on to Gloamwood and am busy killing Barghests and Bats.  Gloamwood is the only zone that ever made me question my choice of Defiant.  I just love the feel of it, so much atmosphere and if they traded the goblins for skeletons… it would have been my perfect zone.  Gloamwood Pines so deserves to be the guardian capitol city, it is better in every way than Sanctum.  It actually looks like a real town, with plenty of houses to actually support people living there.  Whereas Sanctum is a capitol city with no housing at all.  This has always been one of the problems I had with the Rift old world… it doesn’t look like people could actually live in it.

The funny thing about my recent venture into melee magery, is that it was intended to be able to play with my friend Rylacus.  The only problem with that notion is he has not logged in since late night Friday.  Oh well… this game has the best mentoring system I have seen, so I can always drop my level back down to hang out with him.  I am purposefully not doing the dungeon finder so I can run the dungeons for the first time on this character with him and hopefully Thalen as well.  I love Rift, it is a great game… but the problem has always been that it is pure hell to get other friends to play it.  I really hope the free to play conversion makes that problem a bit easier.

Four Job Fiesta

For a few years now, my friend JJ has been trying to get me and some other friends to join in on the Final Fantasy V Four Job Fiesta charity play-a-thon.  While I do not fully understand the process… from what I do get the goal is for all of us to try and beat Final Fantasy V and raise money for the Childs Play charity in the process.  There are multiple ways to sign up to play but the basic concept is that there are 22 jobs (26 in the Advance version), and at the start of the game… you will be assigned 4 random jobs.  Then you have to complete the game using only those jobs you were assigned.

Since it has been years since I have played FFV, and I have never beaten it… I am playing with the least number of possible restrictions.  I am praying I get a fairly balanced team, otherwise I will be pretty much screwed.  My friend Drathis got a pretty rough combo last year from what I can remember and struggled with it.  I will be relying on JJ a lot as this goes forward since he is pretty much the FFV master.  I think he can play the game in his sleep, so I am sure he will be a good source of information.  Right now my intent is to play the Gameboy Advance variety on my PSP.

I blasted this out over social media, and it got picked up and reshared… so hopefully this helps get the word out.  Everyone is welcome to participate, to sign up all you need is a twitter account… as the sign up process involves that.  I am assuming that will also be how we get assigned our four jobs on 6/17.  The festivities begin the day before my birthday, so I guess I know what I will be doing for my birthday.  I have a feeling it is going to take me a long time to beat the game.  You guys should all sign up and join in the madness.

Six Advance

Final Fantasy VI Advance_2013_06_01_08_19_32_751

Yesterdays post spawned comments from a few friends, namely JJ and Stop that I should really be playing the Gameboy Advance version of Final Fantasy 6.  Apparently the PSP native copy is globally considered the worst possible port of the game, and has known lag issues.  So I took the advice… found the latest version of gpSP I could for the PSP… and restarted the game on the Advance version.  I have a Gameboy Advance SP somewhere… but I have no clue where it is right now.  So my best option was to play the game on my PSP via emulator, and the game runs beautifully.

All of the issues I had that I thought I just misremembered…  were really issues with the PSP/PSOne native version.  The Advance copy plays super fast, and is actually scaled to fit a modern aspect ratio beautifully.  The only problem I encountered was a pretty massive bug when Kefka first visits Figaro.  I could talk to everyone BUT Kefka… then zoned out to see if it would fix the bug… and now Kefka is no longer there.  I am going to have to reload from a previous safe and see if I can fix the bug.  I would hate to think it is going to be game breaking.

The one awesome thing about this, is that basically it proves out the theory that I can play Advance games just fine on my PSP, so this will likely be how I end up playing FFV during the Four Job Fiesta event.  The PSP battery life is always an annoyance, but I have a spare battery for this reason.  I just want something I can play it on that is portable so I can play over lunch etc.  I will be trying to dig up actual copies of the GBA carts, so that I don’t feel too dirty emulating them.

Wrapping Up

Okay time to start getting ready to confront the day.  Time to leave will be coming sooner than I want it to, and I still need to shower etc.  I hope you all have a great Sunday, and a great start of the week.  I have no clue what I will be doing today other than the visiting my mom-in-law part.  I might try and fix the bug on the FF6 play through so I can keep going, or I might dive back into Rift.  In any case I hope you all enjoy your day.

Kyclops Kombat

I am getting a later than normal start this Saturday morning.  Quite honestly I am pretty groggy because it was another “watch the skies” night.  I really did not sleep well at all, for the most part I kept getting woken up by a new round of tornado warnings from about 11pm onwards.  At some point during the night the danger passed and it shifted to infomercials.  I know this because I dreamt about some magical drug that can cook food in only minutes…  I feel as though I maybe got a few things mixed up.

Tornado Alley

For the most part last night was one big near miss.  The storms hit all around the Tulsa area where I live, and instead gave the areas where both of our parents live pure havoc.  Most of the night was watching concerned while texting back and forth with my dad about what was coming towards them.  At one point there were two tornados, on either side of highway 169 roughly 10 miles from my parents house.  But other than a bunch of rain both all three of our sets of parents made it through the night safe.

I feel as though I have to explain something to folks who are not from “Tornado Alley” and even more so not from Oklahoma.  From the time I got home around 4pm until after the time I went to bed around 11:30pm no normal programming was shown at all.  All of that time we have literally the best meteorologists in the country tracking the storms and some of the best storm chasers in the country following them.  The station we watch for example has not one but two helicopters at their disposal, and they are also chasing the storms by the air.

So when storms are a brewing, it becomes this surreal showplace of watching as these giant green, red and yellow blobs inch towards your home and family.  All the while we are seeing live in car video, and tower cam video showing just how bad the storms are.  There were several points during the night when a normally calm broadcast would be interrupted by an excited storm chaser yelling over the weatherman that a tornado was on the ground and this place or that place.  At which point all focus would shift to whatever that crisis was, and putting the other crisii that had not quite happened on the back burner.

Oklahomans have a pervese sense of attraction to Tornados…  it is that whole moth too the flame thing.  Anything that destructive has to be respected and almost admired with a certain kind of majesty.  You can hear this in the storm chasers voice and choice of wording… you know they are out there for a totally different purpose than you the viewer is.  While we are huddled in our homes scared shitless about what might be barreling down on us… they are excited as they see the “best activity all night” while describing a wall cloud.  You can’t take offense to these adrenaline junkies reveling in the fact that they are chasing a storm that spawned a massive tornado.  It is a symbiotic relationship…  without them we would not have nearly the warning that we do.

The biggest take away for the rest of the country is that you should fear and respect tornados.  We Oklahomans have literally grown up with this our entire lives, we have the best possible weather and storm chasers on our side…  yet still as evidenced by last night… people die because they were either caught unaware, or did not respect the fury of the storm.  All of the deaths that happened last night along I-40 were in essence preventable… it is drilled in from our first days in school, that the worst place to be in the case of a tornado is your car on the road.  Yet when the sirens went off, for whatever reason people took to the highways to avoid it…  and instead placing themselves right in the path.  The most tragic of these deaths is the mother and child that were… according to the highway patrol…  sucked out of their car by the storm.

Kyclops Kombat

rift.exe 2013-6-1-10-0-33-45

Before all hell broke loose, early in the evening… I was looking forward to being able to play some Rift.  One of my good friends, Rylacus was planning on playing last night, and as a result I decided to break out my one remaining lowbie while waiting on him to show up.  I have made several attempts at rolling a mage in Rift, and none of them make it terribly far.  The long and short is… that I just do not enjoy “finger wigglers” as I call them.  I need to be smashing into things with a weapon to get that visceral feedback I crave in a combat system.  If forced to, I can usually play a Necromancer type because pet class caster is kind of that hazy middle ground that I can find some enjoyment in… but I had never actually made one past level 20.

When Storm Legion was announced, and they mentioned having a Melee mage… I knew I was all about that.  The Harbinger really is a fun class to play, and for the most part it is essentially the battlemage archetype from other games.  You have a series of spells that essentially summon armor or weapons to suit whatever situation you are in.  Right now I have a sword that procs a dot, axe that procs a heal, physical resist armor and magic resist armor…  all of which are useful in certain situations.  Right now I am mostly playing with the 2 handed healing axe and the physical resist armor, because against quest mobs that seems to be the power combo.

I had only been on playing my mage about thirty minutes or so when another good friend of mine shows up in mumble.  Thalen has been working on his cleric and managed to get him up to level 48.  One of the things you have to know about Thalen, is that he is a rabid completionist.  As a result when he logged in, he was wandering around the droughtlands looking for 5 quests he had missed, that would count towards the droughtland completion achievement.  He mentioned that there were a series of elite quests that he could not quite solo…  so I quickly found myself logging over to Belghast and heading that way.

One of the subplots in the zone is that there is a group of Cyclops that you can earn the respect of by proving your strength.  Thalen had apparently made it all the way to the end of this series and had two quests unfinished.  The first of which was to engage the cyclops in a massive 4 way brawl, and the other was to track down and kill several named cyclops.  I mentored down to 48 and we headed out to the arena.  We started up the battle and I was shocked at just how much damage I was taking.  Moments later I realized that yet again I had rushed off into combat… without throwing any buffs up.

After buffing the combat was pretty easy overall.  While tracking down the various named cyclops my Raredar plugin threw this big green alert over the top of my screen that I have not entirely familiar with seeing.  It seems that it had found a rare named spider, so I tried to keep it busy until Thalen could get back to me.  It dropped a piece of epic currency and a piece of blue armor, which would have been good… were we actually doing this content on level.  We wrapped up the quests and I bowed out of the group, as things were starting to get crazy weather wise.

The sad part is…  Rylacus never showed up during the couple of hours I was playing.  Later on I ended up getting a text about 11 pm from him…  just when the shit was hitting the fan here… saying he was able to log in now.  I texted back saying that unfortunately we were under the gun weather wise, and answered a few of his questions.  I am sure the third text came off extra grumpy, as he seemed to have a way of texting just as I was trying to fall back asleep.  Hopefully we can get meet up another night and run around together.  Would be nice if we could some how engineer both myself, Ry and Thalen being on at the same time.  If that ever happens… we will have to find something epic to do.

Enter the Returners


As things got more dicey outside with the weather, I decided it was time for me to disconnect from anything online involving other people… and switch back to something I could pause.  I picked up my psp and continued on my adventure through Final Fantasy VI.  I have to say I still have a solid dose of nostalgia about this game, but there are little things that annoy me.  For example it feels like it takes far longer between rounds of combat than I remember.  Granted this could just be my impatient self, used to non-turnbased combat…  but it feels like those action bars take for freaking ever to fill.

There will probably be spoilers in the lines ahead… so if you have not played this game you should probably stop reading.  Essentially last night I finally completed the Mog minigame… and escaped Narshe.  The combat there is far rougher than I remember it being before.  It might be that I just suck at final fantasy games nowadays, but it felt like the final guard battle did way more damage than he should have.  It took me a few tries to get past him, one of them involving loading an earlier save… since when you rez back you have 1 hp… and I had next to no potions at that point.

After that I ventured forward to to Figaro, had my first real renin with Kefka…  and still thought it was cool to watch Figaro castle submerge.  I remember back in the 90s, I was not at all expecting that turn of events.  Because of the engine room… and mecha look… I thought maybe it would turn into a robot or an airship…  but submerge was not one of the things I was thinking.  So after thumbing our noses at Kefka we wandered across the desert and went through the cave to South Figaro.

At this point I had enough money to pretty much optimize everyone’s gear… since this is the very first occasion that you have to actually purchase anything.  While I don’t remember thinking this at the time… that is a really really long time to go surviving only on drops and chests.  Nowadays it feels extremely cruel, but at the time I guess it was just par for the course.  After spending some time in town… I couldn’t really remember exactly what I was supposed to do next… and there was not a clear call to action.  This Final Fantasy game seems to do a far worse job at messaging what you are supposed to do than I remember.

Essentially I fell back on my “wander aimlessly” skill and found Sabin’s cabin… at which point we get the “Edgar realizes his brother is still alive and nearby” cut scene.  So now it jogs my memory… that we have to go up Mount Kolts to get to Banon at the returners base.  Bingo! We have a plan now.  So I ascend Mount Kolts, see the spooky shadowy figure following me… remember that it leads in a boss fight.  Sure enough it is Vargas the son of Duncan… who killed his father because he thought Sabin was the chosen one.  We fight Vargas, Sabin jumps in… the game teaches us how to use his freaky Blitz ability… and boom we win the day because pummel apparently is just THAT good.

After that I find my way to the Returners base…  Terra gets all emo because she doesn’t know which path to choose.  You walk around the base talking to people, and finally meet Banon outside.  Does anyone NOT choose to join the Returners?  I mean what happens if you say no… do you just stay there and the game is over?  Far as I know there is not an entire second side of the game where you rejoin the empire and kick returner ass…  so if you say no it essentially has to be a non-choice.  Based on a google search, apparently if you say no… she still agrees to follow them to talk to the Esper in Narshe.  So yeah… sounds like pretty much a non choice… but you have the opportunity to be a dick about it.

Basically I reached the point where my eyes could no longer stay open when we had run away from the Returner base and the game forks.  I figured that was a good time to stop playing, so I had Mog save in the split decision room.  I feel like I will probably pick up and play Locke’s story, as he is probably my favorite character in FFVI.  He is kind of the rogue I judge all other rogues by.  Did I mention that FFVI had a massive impact on me growing up?

Happy Birthday Mom

So I need to wrap up, because well it is 10:30 and I need to call my Mom to figure out what we are doing today.  Today is her Birthday, and while she doesn’t actually read my blog… I figured the sub section title was fitting.  It sounds like we are basically free of Tornados until at least next Tuesday.  I am exhausted from the previous night, so not sure how much oomph I am going to have as the day goes on.  I hope you all have a super enjoyable day, and one that is likely to be more productive than mine.  I may end up having to take a nap before the day is over.

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


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.

To Boldly Go

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


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

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

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

To Boldly Go

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

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

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

The Most Inappropriately Named Game Series

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

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

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

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

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

Alucard Again

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

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

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

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

Constant Vigilance

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