Half Sleeping

AggroChat 57 – Preparing for Heavensward

Tonight we have Belghast, Ashgar, Tamrielo, Kodra and Thalen and once again we felt like we didn’t have much to talk about.  However once we dug in a little bit I noticed a trend.  Each of us was busy working on this item or that in relationship to Final Fantasy XIV each with our own goals that we have been trying to finish before the expansion.  Ashgar just finished his Nexus weapon after the length grind, and talks about how it compared up against other grinds he has completed.  Kodra talks about working on Turn 9 with two different raid groups and how he hopes we can get through it within the coming weeks.  I talk about my own quest which involves me descending into the dark madness that is crafting and slowly stair stepping each and every crafting class five levels at a time.

In addition to this there is some more Shadowrun talk as we each continue our play throughs.  Kodra goes into yet another dark place by playing some Demon Souls and talks about those experiences.  He and Tam spent a good deal of time this week watching the first season of Sword Art Online and we get into a discussion about that as well.  I talk about my experiences working on the Blackhand encounter in World of Warcraft, and we talk a bit about the lackluster numbers released by NCSoft regarding Wildstar sales.  Yet another night of varied topics here on AggroChat.

Automotive Struggles

It is now officially “weather season” here in Oklahoma and over the last few weeks we have been deluged in rain storms.  In fact we skipped Mother’s Day last weekend due to the fact that there was rampant flooding in the area of the state that our Mothers live in.  This meant this weekend we had to make up for that fact and venture out to see all three mothers.  Friday night we met my folks for dinner and chatted with them for a good while, and then Saturday we ventured to the northern part of the state to see my wife’s mothers.  The only problem with this notion is that there was the constant fear of bad weather hanging over the day.  The national weather service had used the term “life threatening” and “super cell” in relation to the storm that was supposed to be arriving that night.  To make matters more tense we opted to drive my wife’s Pontiac Torrent because it is more comfortable on long trips.  That said it has also been having some issues lately.

There is a point between second and third gear where it “chugs” for lack of a better term, or as my wife calls it “hiccups” while trying to change gears.  This seems to hit most often on inclines but over time it has gotten worse.  While driving north on the turnpike it happened again around 75 mph and this time had a corresponding check engine light.  I pulled over to the side of the turnpike and shut down completely, and upon powering back on everything seemed happy.  We were just outside of town, so we popped off and went to the local GMC dealer.  While the service department was not open, the shop foreman just happened to be working on his mothers car and was able to at least hook up the Torrent to the computer and tell us what was happening.  Turns out that the engine was misfiring and after some research there is a factory recall that we were never notified about.  He promised that our vehicle would not strand us, but instead it would just get horrible gas mileage until we got it taken care of.  Nonetheless with impending weather issues it made the rest of the day feel far more tense than it normally would have.

Half Sleeping

The national weather service originally predicted that a huge batch of Tornados would be hitting the Oklahoma City area around 3pm CST.  The storm however stalled out over the state and by the time we started up the podcast last night it still had not fully hit us.  The problem with a late night storm is that it pretty much destroys any semblance of sleep.  Today I am completely dragging ass because we did not get the “All Clear” until about 4:30 in the morning.  This means it was yet another night of sleeping with the television blaring the weather so that if something went horribly wrong over night we would hopefully hear it.  Sleeping while half paying attention to the television means you don’t actually get much rest.  I have a feeling I will be taking a nap at some point because right now I am struggling to get through my morning blogging routine, let alone do anything more productive.  The good news is that for the most part we made it through the storm unscathed.  The bad news is, that not every suburb in the Tulsa area can say the same thing.

The Broken Arrow area seems to have gotten hit the hardest from last night.  Earlier on the news they showed footage of what like the remains of a trailer part strewn along the country roads.  At that point the reporter was uncertain where exactly the debris was coming from, but there was a lot of it.  My hope is that everyone made it out alive.  It is always surreal to talk about Tornados because they are equal parts commonplace and revered here in Oklahoma.  Everyone knows someone who has been effected by one in the past, but at the same time… when you spend every spring dealing with the warnings it also seems “commonplace”.  For years I used to wonder how the folks on the west coast dealt with Earthquakes, but since we also have those…  I am guessing it is much the same.  When you are used to a natural disaster, it just becomes a bit less scary.  Right now it seems like most of the issues happening today are just massive flooding.  After years of drought, I had almost forgotten what “real” rain was like.  At this point all of the rivers are well over flood stage, but fortunately I don’t live in an area that actually floods.  Expect normal gaming blog posts to resume this week I hope, but today…  was all about the weather.

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.