General

What About Jack?

The fun of Blaugust (even in this early stage) is that I am planning ahead on posts knowing I am trying to do one a day. So at the end of my day I am thinking about what I read, watched, and/or experienced and thinking what fits in a post? And although this has always been a gaming focused blog, I haven’t played a game in 3 days and other content is going to seep into the blog. I think that is ok.

I finally watched the movie Oblivion and while it is easy to pick away plot holes and gaps in the story – I really enjoyed it. There is one part I think no one thinks about at the end of a movie (in general – purposely cryptic) but before I get too far into where this conversation is going I want to share some general thoughts about movies (I don’t think I have spoken about movies here before) but even more importantly:

THERE WILL BE SPOILERS BELOW! IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN OBLIVION, OR WANT TO PRESERVE ANY TWISTS, YOU WILL NOT WANT TO READ BELOW.

Fair warning?

 

 

[extra spacing for spoiler warning]

 

 

[pinch more…]

 

 

[ok – now a few general paragraphs about movies in general then spoilers – fair warnings!!]

 

I am not a movie connoisseur. Some of my favorite movies are easy to love or put on that list.  I don’t follow the Film Festival circuit(s) and most of my “going to the movie” events – pretty much all of them – are enjoying such classics as Thor: The Dark World, Captain America, Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs (1 and 2) and pretty much any other movie a 9 year old would want to see. I am months behind adult based new releases which is why Oblivion was so late.

I enjoyed Battleship and Pacific Rim – the plots were really full of holes, but as blockbuster summer movies they were enjoyable. I think those are good examples of when I get into a movie, the good parts of it (giant robots beating up giant inter-dimensional monsters) and the emotions elicited through obvious plot ploys (father of the love interest finally accepting ) typically trump the bad parts (overused plot elements). Plus, a summer blockbuster is supposed to be all explosions and “big” anyway, and I can enjoy that in that context. I’m not picking Oscar winners or anything.

Ok. That is a huge lead up. SPOILER TIME.

I liked Oblivion. I loved the plot twist that the astronauts sent to examine a giant object in space ended up being the clones that came back to attack and destroy earth. It’s a different twist on exploration. The mindf*uck job that the alien entity played on the existing clones to protect its assets on earth from the existing, underground humans seemed believable. Why not? So the main hero is actually playing the villain as a Drone (that kills humans) tech repairer  he just doesn’t know it.

He is also a clone. Small plot importance there.

At the end of the movie we know that Tech-Jack-49 dies to save the planet, and Tech-Jack-52 finds the original Jack’s wife 3 years later (now with Jack-49’s child) with the rest of the survivors. My question there was:

What happened to Tech-Jack 1 through 48? And Tech-Jack 50/51? Presumably each of those were also responsible for drone repair in different areas of the earth, unbeknownst to each other as the planet was divvied up into self-policing “radiation zones”. While the end was viewer friendly and “satisfying” I was left wondering what happened to all the other clones.

When the Tet(alien entity bent on absorbing the earth’s natural resources) was destroyed, what did the Vika and Jack clones around the planet do? Were they emotionally destroyed by what the non-in-the-know clones thought was their passage to the rest of the human race (who, lied to, were told were relocated to Titan, Saturn’s moon – and the Tet was the launching space station). When they lost contact with Mission Control did they try to go about their jobs (which, since all drones were now inactive, be impossible?) Did they move off of their safe and elevated platforms and re-colonize? Did the “in the know” survivors and clones search them out, exposing the fake radiation zones that acted as barriers so they didn’t run into each other? Did they live peacefully, as lovers, ignorant to why they exist in the first place and the event that took away their “mission control?”

Why do I even care? Not entirely sure.

With no room for a sequel I’ll never know. Perhaps I only even care because I enjoyed the movie as much as I did – but it would have been a nice, two minute explanation at the end of it all to satisfy my curiosity.

Clone, time travel and alternate reality/universe movies always mess with my mind.

 

Celebration of Life – All Things Come to an End

I still click and visit River’s site over at www.highlatencylife.com even though he has passed. Sometimes it’s just out of habit and other times its to see if anyone else has stopped by to say something nice, or share a story. Of course, the site has gone quiet and I was saddened to see this.

Of course life goes on. And of course it wasn’t going to be paid for or kept up for no reason – but it does act as a counter for the last post there. Has it really been 43 days already? Every Friday at minimum I enjoyed reading a post.

Going to the WordPress site has the blog blacked out (really dark) and non-legible and that is perhaps a nice way to remind us it is time to move on.

I officially moved the blog over to the WRIP section of my blogroll (Writers Resting In Paradise) except for once, the acronym actually serves true.

MMO Loyalty

Loyalty (in MMO gaming terms) comes in several forms from consumer to the game. Here are three gamer type examples – there is a lot of in between, and parts of each, but for the most part most gaming is done in and around the three below examples. I am giving them names so we can continue to talk about them throughout the article.

Greg: This is my game, and I am playing it no matter what

Amanda: This is the game me and my friends play, and we are playing it together

Pat: This is my friends’ game and I’m playing it to be with them.

They are ranked in general importance. You could argue Amanda is more valuable than Greg (because of the group of friends involved) but brand evangelists are the most important customer to have. Amanda will leave before Greg does, and Pat already has one foot out the door but is there to spend time with friends.

How does the gaming company treat each of these people? Let’s have a look:

1) Exactly

2) The

3) Same

While loyalty (in MMO gaming terms) comes in several forms from consumer to the game itself, why isn’t their loyalty and appreciation flowing from game to consumer? “Treat” is a pretty big generality. In game, there may tons of different “features” that attract each player and lots of things in game from raiding, to housing, to quests, PVP, role playing (etc.). These are things for gamers.

Why are they treated the same as customers? They aren’t the same. They aren’t motivated by the same things. They may share some motivations (enjoy gaming, MMOs, etc.) but let’s take a closer look.

Greg, it turns out, is a University student and has a lot of free time. He plays 25+ hours a week, is on a hardcore raid team, and is a very active member of the community in forums and blogs and even has a podcast about the game! He has played for 39 months – since launch! He goes to MMOcon every year.

Amanda is an officer in a serious but fun based guild. She knows a lot about the game and helps recruit and get new people into the guild. She has been with the same guild a long time, and plays with the same people all the time. Gaming is all about the people for Amanda! She plays 15 hours a week.

Pat doesn’t love the game but doesn’t hate it either. Pat does have lots of gaming friends who all enjoy it, so Pat plays a few hours each week (around 5) to do the aspects Pat loves in the game but mostly to say hi to Pat’s friends there.

They are all different. They all have different motivations, use the developer and game resources differently. They all have invested differently into the game and differently into the developer.

Yet, they are treated all the same.

Starbucks, who has some of the best customer service in the world, treats their heavy users differently. They also have one of the top loyalty programs in the world. If you go to Starbucks once a week you get a coffee and a great service experience.  Soon as you hit Gold Level status with Starbucks, you start getting free coffees after X number of visits, and instead of add on charges for syrups and what not, you get those for free too. You always get a free drink on your birthday and because they use purchase data and history they know your favorite drink and send you coupons and offers surrounding the type of experience you have shown to enjoy in the past. They also entice you with new and exciting things to try for a change! All of this is because Starbucks recognizes your contribution to their success as an organization and rewards you for your loyalty to their brand.

Why? Because there are how many coffee places in the world? Brands should be very thankful for consumers making the choice to visit them. It’s not the same old marketplace it used to be. It is now about the customer, not the business itself. The business needs the customers more than the customers need the business – because there are so many options in every business.

I had a lot of fun in many subscription games and leaving was typically because hey – something new to try and I’m not getting the same feeling or joy from this game, for this price point. I know for sure I would have stayed longer in games at lower price points and found better justifications for paying and supporting the companies. WoW got 5+ years, two subs out of me – almost $2000 – and none of which funded additional development (had to buy my expansion packs…) and only a fraction of which paid for my bandwidth and resources (never needed CSM help, how much is 10 hours a week of bandwidth cost these days?) – in short, I was a very profitable player for them. I also built and maintained a guild – some of which, you could argue, wouldn’t have played or enjoyed the game as much without my personal effort (and that of my guild team!) – point is, when you do the spinoff affect, I helped contribute  thousands of dollars to that game. It was fun, and some of the best gaming I had done (so I don’t regret the “cost”) but they could have had me longer and made more money off of me if they for once, appreciated the positive contributions I put into their game – both monetary and subsidiary.

Unfortunately MMOs don’t look at their customers as individuals, per se. And this is a shame, because they have some of the best data in the world on their customers. Hell, they have the type of data every major company would pay huge dollars for – and they get it for free!

Starbucks, back to that example, would pay a lot of money to know exactly what their customers did in their stores. What seats were always picked first? (And why?) How long did people sit in them? What ELSE were they doing while sitting in their seats? Were they talking to friends? Working on a laptop? Texting?  What behaviors did they do, and most importantly, why? The reason why Starbucks would love this information in the first place, would be to make the experience better. If no one sits in 4 chairs, they would either make the chairs more comfortable, or but something else there to make everyone’s experience better. It would give Starbucks the opportunity to improve for not only the bigger picture, but for the exact customer that comes in 4x a week. (there are many examples of this. Imagine if that customer went in 4 days a week, and always sat in the same chair? What if a team member recognized that, and one day when that customer went in, there was a sign on the chair saying “reserved for Kathy”. Kathy would feel pretty good about that.)

MMOs are fortunate enough to know exactly what every player is doing at every moment in their game and they should leverage that to provide a more personal and engaging experience for their customers. There are many options in the MMO sphere like in life and what markets are realizing now is that personalization and customization are driving the best brands and most successful consumer markets. MMOs have all the information they need to provide next gen experiences and lead marketplaces in this regard. They just have to sort out how to make that work and how to engage and delight their customers. Not just with in game items and behaviors (although a good start) but also with how customers pay, access, and support (and get support from) the game outside of the game.

And here is a big hint – its not to treat everyone exactly the same.

I know it is challenging because of the scope and nature of number of players versus number of developers, but from my personal experiences in MMO gaming I am not a valued customer – I am just a number on a spreadsheet.

(End note: some community members in WoW have been memorialized for their contributions after death, etc. so kudos for that where it is due. I am talking a more frequent, common level however, to general customers – not just the extraordinary exceptional ones.)

Spammy McSpamertons

Holy bejezzus.

(that PG enough?)

Spent a week working and not playing or blogging, came back to my blog with thousands of spam messages caught by askimet.

Anyone (much smarter than I?) care to explain how the nonesens-ish posts somehow create clickthroughs or traffic?

And how many Michael Kohrs bags need to be spammed anyway?

See, it’s not just the important blogs getting spammed to all heck.

(PG again, see that?)

337 more came in in the time it took me to write this.

The Newbie Blogger Initiative

I am not “officially” participating in the NBI this year and it definitely has nothing to do with not being interested – this year is just bad timing for me with a whirlwind of work and family commitments I’ll barely get around to posting (but am trying!)

All that being said, I think it is a great initiative and even though I am not officially a part of the NBI, I’ll share my thoughts on blogging in case any of it is remotely helpful to anyone reading.

Brief history – this blog is actually pretty old – started way back in 2008. I started off writing around 20 posts a month – and that was a lot to keep up with. I had two extended breaks, one during a major health issue (lymphoma-scare) and one during a near divorce. I wasn’t very good at balancing my life between workaholism, gaming too much (progression raiding in WoW) – the balance was all off. So I quit blogging as I kept viewing blogging as adding to my inability to balance. This, in hindsight, was the wrong choice – I should have cut back on WoW and other things because I had a great deal of joy writing, reading, and thinking about games and gaming. I remember my first Vic-20 and C-64, and I programmed an asteroids type game on the tape drive.  I remember playing Star Control 2 on a 386-sx16 that I paid almost $4000 for (it was cutting edge!) I remember Sierra games at my friends house. I grew up in love with the digital playground and spent a lot of time there.

In short, it is a passion.

My lessons learned since 2008:

  • Write for you and your audience. Both will, and are allowed, to change
  • Don’t stress about who is and isn’t reading, and who is and isn’t commenting
  • Blogging is a community so try to read other blogs and support them. Usually just reading is enough! Comments are also much-loved by most bloggers (erm.. constructive comments and opinions *grin*) so if you read something you enjoyed let them know. Sometimes my comments are just that – “I enjoyed this article – thanks for writing it!” – that’s the best most bloggers get these days!
  • Being a professional writer isn’t important – trying to keep spelling and punctuation errors clean is. I often have to re-edit posts for spelling and punctuation.
  • Don’t edit out your posts after posting – except for the above! If your opinion changes after a nice debate, feel free to add something at the top or bottom – but leave the article intact. Remember, it was the one that started the conversation in the first place!
  • Have fun.

There are more but that is top of mind. My blogging style is conversational – I just write what I am thinking AS I am thinking it. I enjoy being free that way. I re read it a couple times, make minor edits, and then post (and then re-read and find those pesky spelling and punctuation errors…)

Welcome to Blognation. I hope you stay a while =)

Go check out the NBI and participate! I am going to make sure my calendar is cleared so I can be a better community blogger for next year. I am still going to go comment on some newbie sites =)

 

I Must Have Been Trolled =)

I took down my last post – turns out the guys I was running the WildStar dungeons with must have been trolling me. I have read the truth and turns out the medals are grouped base. After the run I asked what everyone else got and they told me differently.

So, I was either trolled or it was a bug. Either way, the post is completely useless now =)

I couldn’t decide if I was going to leave it up and REDACTED it (probably would have been way cooler?) but just took it down instead!

Ruined a post that I liked, but wasn’t based on fact, so buh-bye.

My apologies!

Interwebs Issues

Just a short service announcement – I have been having server issues. My site has been down intermittently. This has caused the Nasdaq to plummet and world oil prices to rise.

My apologies.

Don’t give up on me! Seems to happen randomly and I’m looking for answers.

On a side note – I got access to WILDSTAR beta! For free! I didn’t even have to pre-order. Should be a fun weekend. I’m rolling the troll type guy, for sure.

Have a great Friday, and afterwards, amazing weekend.

EQN:L Closed Beta

Just posting here for anyone interested!

I will be playing on the COURAGE (US) Server (assuming it is still there) and will be hoping to claim land near some friends. With this in mind, if you find a place to claim, please post it here! I am at work today *ahem* so I won’t be able to claim until the evening.

With that in mind, picking an out of the way spot is preferable so there is room for others to claim nearby. If not, with new claim permissions, 60 minute ports to claims (etc.) it won’t be too tough to find one another.

If you claim early please post Server-Area-Tier and Type, and general area. I read there will be a mid-closed beta wipe when they add in caves and water so don’t worry about finding the perfect spot. It will go beta-poof! =)

Isey is my name in game as well, so hopefully they have friends lists working in this iteration. Just read they are extending downtime, so we’ll see how smooth things are.

My Influential 15

One of my favorite blogs to visit is The Ancient Gaming Noob (TAGN) and he recently posted an Influential 15  list – started by another blogger and other sites are also playing along. The parts I read indicated not too many rules, but just do not overthink it – only take 15 minutes, and list them out.

This sounds like fun. I am going in chronological order!

Mario Bros (arcade) (1985)

I spent most of my allowance money playing this game with two of my best friends at the local bowling alley. It was close enough to our school that we could run there at lunch breaks, and always went right after school as well – but just for 20 minutes before racing home. This introduced me to the side scrolling platform [honorable mentions: Ghost and Goblins, Castlevania, Bionic Commando]

Hardball (c64) (1987)

Two teams – the red, power hitting team and the blue, speedy team. That was it in this baseball game. My brother and I played for hours at home – nice to not have to be at the arcade. (I always got stuck with the blue team). [Honorable mention: Madden (I still buy it every few years]

Police Quest (PC) (1987)

My first foray into the Sierra games series (King’s quest, Space Quest, etc.) and it was always a weekend event at one of my friend’s houses who had it. I think it took us 6 months to complete, since we only had limited weekend time (we mostly played outside – kids those days!)[honorable mention – Maniac Mansion]

Street Fighter (Arcade, SNES) (1987)

Another arcade favorite the one on one bragging rights was a blast. Learning the combos, fighting friends (and arcade enemies) for the right to stay on the machine for the next challenger… flipping a coin for the left or right hand side. All sorts of home field advantages. [Honorable mention: Mortal Combat]

Star control 2 (PC) (1992)

Exploration, adventure, discovery. Space. Has anyone come close since? I am avoiding throwing my money at Star Citizen yet watching it closely. That is a completely separate blog post. [Honorable Mention: Wing Commander. If only for the space.]

Doom (PC) (1993)

We had huge contests at university with Doom – inter dorm rivalries. My philosophy class suffered fiercely. I made a philosophical argument about augmented reality to the prof and he BFG’d me. University was so cool. [Honorable mention: Half Life]

NHL 94 (SEGA) (1993)

Oh Sega hockey, with the one move that would score 100% of the time.. that was up to you do defend properly. Both ends of the rink, there was that ONE move. Yet it was still awesome. Plus bleeding heads.

X com (PC) (1994)

Turn based mastery. This is on many ‘best of ever” lists, so not going to explain its full awesome-ness. Many have explained it better than I ever could. Xcom is the perfect example of a game you loved but refuse to play it again. I have it through steam. It sucked to relive it – but awesome the first time around. We are not conditioned to accept failing the first X missions before we have a chance. (see what I did there?) [Honorable mention – Civ 1 – bit of a stretch, but very turn based]

Baldur’s Gate (PC) (1998)

I had played a lot of Pen and Paper games and this one reminded me the most of them. I hadn’t played a lot of D&D at the time  and this was my first real foray and experience into that. I don’t even remember if I won or what happened in the game – I just remember the hours spent hunched in the darkness… in amazement. Just one more encounter. One more.

Rainbow Six (PC) (1998)

The AI could be buggy as hell when you were planning your rescues, but this was an AMAZING shooter – one shot and you are dead, get caught/spotted and the hostages are dead. Great premise and superbly executed at the time. You could do many missions in many different ways and had the choice of your own path. The planning and thinking part was as exciting for me as the executions. And oh yes, permadeath! [Honorable mention: Counter Strike]

Everquest (PC) (1999)

The MMO game changer that has spawned 100 clones, for better or for worse (often better, jaded vets may argue worse. It doesn’t even matter anymore. It was awesome and really kickstarted the genre.) It has ruined MMOs for me since, but that is also because of the testserver play environment (hint: community). The rose colored glasses often adorned!

Sims (PC) (2000)

Sims the original was the first game that I could get my girlfriends to play. And my non-gaming roommates. It was the first time I realized games could be for everyone. Then I invented the Wii. (or should have, at least). All that being said, I am pretty sure the things my girlfriend at the time did to the Sims (or tried to do) made me realize that maybe she wasn’t the one. Sicko. May have saved my life.

Dark Age of Camelot (PC) (2001)

My second MMO I played the heck out of and my first real PVP experience was also amazing. I also played on the testserver (Pendragon) and the strength of the community there really improved the overall experience. Sadly, game developers have learned that test servers make bad for the quick hitting types of testing they want with enough sample size, and they don’t really exist anymore. The lesson they should have learned is that smaller, more dedicated communities make for stronger ties. Another post. DAOC taught me to embrace PVP and how humans always beat AI on experience – always.

World of Warcraft (PC) (2004)

What to say? The most successful MMO ever made took an inaccessible genre and made it easy for everyone to participate. While I have spent my fair share of time arguing WoW has hurt the MMO space in many ways, you cannot argue against its influence. I still go back every expansion, do the theme park rides, /hug and /hi to my friends still playing, and then out again.  I think the next MMO Blizzard makes is going to say a lot about what they have learned from WoW. I’m intrigued.

Battlefield 2142 (PC) (2006)

The multiplayer FPS I judge all other FPSs against. It was great. It was better than great – it was awesome. The kits, the vehicles, everything. COD always felt too twitchy and gamey in comparison (even the DICE successors did) and I started playing more strategic, slower paced shooters afterwards. BF2142 was just the perfect balance for *me*. [Honorable Mention: Project Reality]

That’s It!

There is my list! Crazy, and a *bit* sad that the most recent game launch on my list is 8 years old already, but influence is influence. As I re-read this there were a few I wanted to add (RTS such as Warcraft -or- Command & Conquer) but I decided to keep it pure – the ones that spoke to me first. I’m sure as I read through other’s lists I’ll have many an “aha!” moment. I hope mine brought along some positive smiles and memories!

Askimet Showing Cracks?

Askimet has been a great, free, spam stopper on this blog since I started it in 2008. In fact, it has stopped 62,479 comments from being spam. (which is ~62x the REAL comments I have received!)

Lately I am squashing spam comments that are sneaking through – and I have rarely ever had to do that. Is anyone else noticing this as a trend, or am I just going through a string of bad luck?

I’m very thankful and mostly just curious if there is something else I should be doing.

 

 

Dry Spells and Random Stuffs

This happens to me often with gaming – I hit dry spells.

This occurs when life gets too busy and/or games get a bit dry for me. Thankfully, right now I am in the former – just busy. This, in turn, makes blogging more challenging because if you aren’t playing then there’s not much to talk about. And if you do have time you would rather be playing instead of writing about it.

We call these, “first world problems”.

I’m 25 rubicite away from the final crafting upgrade in EQN:L and its probably a solid 3 hour burn/zengrind. Excitedly, there is a patch on Thursday that promises new biomes – SNOW! I love the outdoors and my favorite backdrop is a lake, but also love winter sports/shenanigans so hey, I’ll take a frozen lake and snow. This raises a couple quick conundrums.

One is that I like my claim, and where I am. There is a ton to do with it and we are only a couple patches away from claim expansions which makes it a whole new world for building. My good friend Mehlan has joined the game and claimed beside me so logging in now I find him there, waddling away, so I can say hi and hang out. So for those two reasons alone, not moving.

The second is hopefully they have meaningful seasons – has any game? I don’t recall. Why can’t I have my lakeside cottage.. and winter wonderland for half the time? Something tells me to add that to the “captain obvious yet awesome” list of what would make the same-old MMO the new-awesome MMO. (See: combat mechanics, leveling mechanics, endgame content, equipment issues . etc.)

Oh, EQN:L tip if you are feeling lonesome, /join general (chat) – people are connecting there and always a stream of chatter. Makes the nights fly by.

I’m starting to wonder if I really am done entirely with World of Warcraft – usually I play out the expansion to the end but the daily grind of the uh, daily grind quests of MoP had me leaving early in the expansion. Now I feel less connected to WoW than ever and I wonder if that slide means the end and no Warlords of Draenor for me. My friends still play and I miss their chatter (and envy their dedication).

I didn’t get far in Diablo III – level 20 I think? Before I realized this game wasn’t as fun as the first two. The potion chugging loot-fest just got boring fast. I heard there have been some nice changes so I may check it out again. I did pay for it, after all. Something tells me I may like the Crusader class but there better be a trial or something – not shelling out more for a game that didn’t capture me in the first place.

Speaking of games I didn’t finish/start, GW2. Level 37 was my breaking point. I read a lot of bloggers who love it but I now feel I am so far behind the story that I missed out on the game. Is that the danger of too many updates?

I was >< that close to becoming a LOTRO blog for a while and even queued up the Warden (after much bitching about it) but alas, right now its EQN:L or bust. And bust it is.

Again, the worries and problems of a modern day adult gamer. Too much to do, not as much time to do it. Somehow manage to blog about it though.

Corporate Governance

This sat in drafts and I never got around to finishing it. Now the info is really outdated, but still – wanted to talk about companies that make games really briefly.

First, we have this nice reminder of EA being voted worst company to work for (again)

Then, we have FUNCOM being raided for suspected wrongdoings

Add in a whole bunch of short-term stock thinking, churn and burn/crunchtime production mentality and man, I can’t help but think:

Is it really a surprise we get crappy games?

Then I read this gem from over at Valve – their awesome employee handbook

And this – the Bteam website

Is Corporate (North) America ready for an epic showdown? Is it all coming to a head as hard working humans reject that they need to be taken advantage of to earn a living?

Can we have purpose AND profits?

(side note: go read Tony Hsieh – Delivering Happiness)

Soft Posts

I have been travelling for work the past couple of weeks (and doing so until this weekend) so I haven’t been working on my masterpiece (*cough cough*) in EQN:Landmark. And I am missing the game.

My travel PC is a Microsoft Surface Pro 2 and as I have mentioned in the recent past, I love the unit. Its awesome on planes, the battery life is amazing, and I have adopted the pen input to take over what I would have used to have used my mouse for. It’s a great machine. Bit pricey, but huge fan.

Problem? Integrated graphics. The stats on a MS Pro 2 are actually pretty beefy:

Surface Pro 2

Technical Specifications

  • Software
  • Windows 8.1 Pro
  • Exterior
  • Dimensions: 10.81 x 6.81 x 0.53 in
  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Casing: VaporMg
  • Color: Dark Titanium
  • Physical buttons: Volume, Power
  • Storage* & Memory
  • 64/128GB     256/512GB
  • ————————–
  • 4GB RAM      8GB RAM
  • Display
  • Screen: 10.6 inch ClearType Full HD Display
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 (widescreen)
  • Touch: 10-point multi-touch
  • Durable display
  • CPU & Wireless
  • 4th generation Intel® Core i5 Processor
  • TPM Chip for enterprise security
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)
  • Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy technology

I am not telling you all of this because I get a cut – I am actually telling you about it because by all accounts, this game should play EQN: Landmark but it doesn’t – some texture issue that everything above ground (props) render nicely, and I get great FPS but the VOXELS textures all come up black – so hard/impossible to build, impossible to mine/collect (anything but trees).

I am SUPER excited for when they fix this (they say they are) because I am looking forward to drawing my building items. The pen input and EQN:L should be a nice match made in heaven.

The building bug has hit me and it reminds me of a story we use in our business discussions.

Three bricklayers are all working on a site. A man walks up and asks the first one:

“What are you doing?”

He answers “laying bricks”

He asks the second man – “What are YOU doing?”

He answers “building a wall”

He approaches the third man, who is working with a big smile on his face – “And what are you doing?”

He responds

“I am building a cathedral”

Go build cathedrals. Its all about perspective.

Measuring The Same Thing Two Ways

Interesting observation as I was travelling through the USA and watching Olympic coverage.

Canada counts good medals as the ultimate qualifier (odd considering their demeanor) for medal standings. Most gold medals is first, if tied use silver as a tie breaker and then bronze as the “rubber match”.

A country with just 15 gold medals is better than a country with 14 gold, 10 silver, 4 bronze.

USA evaluates by number of total medals. Each is worth the same. If you have 40 bronze you are better than a country with 39 gold.

Guess which country had the most of what last Olympics in Vancouver.

They should talk it out and come to a fair compromise – 3 points for a gold, 2 points for a silver, 1 for a bronze. I’m sure whoever would “win” under that setup would agree to that!

Neither will and the debate continues. Canada will claim whoever has the most gold medals  is the Country who won the Olympics and the USA will claim most medals is. That will probably stay the same unless the USA gets the most gold medals (they have used this argument in Summer Olympics) or Canada actually becomes a sporting dominance outside of hockey.

Information is only useful when used properly. That “properly” is hard to define. How about “when used without prejudice or dishonest intent without personal or representative regard”

Think also – anytime a politician uses data/stats.

(hopefully I get to play video games again so my thoughts can stay more focused)

A Dark Room

What a great little text/flash/ascii game.

There is a lot to do and discover once you get past the idle games part, and I was disappointed one of my discoveries led to the end of the game – I felt I had more to learn and discover but I actually “won” (by accident. I thought I was still discovering…). Playing through again to see if I missed anything.

Sometimes the simplicity is in the delivery, and I am glad www.killtenrats.com shared it.

If you haven’t yet, go play it now.

Since we are on the topic: reminder of Gods Will be Watching for other cool games worth playing =)

Hearthstoned

Full disclaimer – I am not big on card games. Actually, to be more clear – fantasy hard games. I didn’t play Magic: The Gathering, or Pokémon, or any of those fine pastimes. Pull my nerd card if you have to. I did play quite a bit of Texas Hold’em and other traditional card games so I understand basic concepts on how cards work. Card tricks are also fun to watch.

When I was invited to the Hearthstone beta I thought it could be a fun way to enter into the fantasy card space. Blizzard has a history of ease of entry and since it is all digitized I wouldn’t have to worry about spilling my beer over any actual cards. This could work!

ss1-med_rd5zbm

The nutshell review: Fun game, but completely pay to win. Saying that, you may say “duh, its a fantasy card game!” and they all revolve around what cards you have and how much you spend. The obligatory analogy here is playing Texas Hold’em but depending on how much your opponents spent, they may have 10 aces available in their deck and you only have 4.

As soon as the playing field isn’t level to start you don’t have a game of skill, you have a game of chance – but one heavily influenced by how much money you have invested in your “chance”. I will agree with you that Poker is also a game of chance but it is one where all players know what cards are in deck.

You can also not spend and still grow your deck but cold hard cash skips over any effort. You might get one pack of cards a day, every day, if you play a couple of hours. Or, you could get 100 packs in 5 seconds. Up to you.

That being said, I am still going to continue to play it in the beta – I am having some fun while learning and because I haven’t anything personal invested in it (except some time) I don’t mind that it is built around the frustrating aspect of most PVP that its 81.93% “blowout” 18.07% “close”. There isn’t a lot of evenly matched because you have several random aspects. 1, the skill/experience of your opponent. 2, how much they have spent on their decks.3, how they have built their decks and 4, what random drawing order of the cards has occurred. I suppose you should add a 5, the random drawing of your own cards (and I will assume at this point your own skill isn’t random.. right?). There are a few extra chance and pay to win elements there that aren’t available in traditional card games.

Perhaps the ‘fantasy cards’ industry is built around this and everyone is accepting and understanding of this. As an outsider just dipping his toe into the space it is a bit of a turnoff.

WRIP

I’ve been doing a bit of housecleaning around here and have tagged some of my blogroll with a new designation -WRIP. Writers Resting In Paradise! It’s over half the list now itself. I spent a lot of time clicking, reading, and commenting on those blogs even though they haven’t updated in 6 months or longer (my random chosen timeframe for the WRIP designation.)

I like to keep them listed there as a sort of homage to my personal voyage in blogging and who knows, maybe they will come back! Even if they don’t I really appreciate the part they have played in my own (in) consistent blogging efforts.

On that note – any recommendations on who else to be reading these days? I try to randomly choose links when I visit other blogs, but sometimes a straight up recommendation is just better.

Enjoy your weekend and don’t worry about the WRIPs – paradise sounds nice.

200 Posts

Not incredibly special considering some of  the other options but the truth is there were a few times were it looked like I would never hit it. 200 posts over 5 years isn’t a ton, but hey, that is my on again off again post style. Trying to fix that – don’t hate!

Maybe if I start playing more interesting games and/or writing more pertinent and/or interesting posts, I’ll make another 200. Just as long as it’s not by 2018 =)

Scarcity and the Canadian Lynx Story

The Canadian Lynx is an interesting predator. It lives almost solely on the snowshoe hare – and is very effective at catching, killing, and eating them. While that is not particularly interesting in itself (a cat predator eating a bunny for dinner) what is fascinating is the lifecycle the Canadian Lynx is doomed to repeat.

Because the Lynx is so effective at catching and killing the snowshoe hare, and as the Lynx breeds and adds more to its family, they end up almost hunting the snowshoe hare to extinction. At this point the Lynx population start dying off because of the scarcity of food. There ends up being a tipping point where the Lynx has almost hunted itself to a dangerous level of near extinction – at which point, the showshoe hare starts repopulating. Rinse repeat. Every 10-14 years or so.

Nature works in such fantastic ways – ideally, if Nature were sensible she would introduce another predator to hunt the Lynx (humans can hunt them, but they are typically in very remote and unseasonable locales) thereby keeping the lynx population fairly consistent, also keeping the snowshoe hare consistent. This does not happen.

In gaming terms I do not believe the population of gamers is growing to the extent to support the companies that make the games, and the excess of titles that are on or coming to market. We are the snowshoe hares and companies are the Lynx. I think we are seeing the result of the nature of the market adjusting for this realization though as games are funded in other ways and the profileration of the indie genre as a viable way of game making once again. This creates different payment and cost styles and overall is healthy for the environment. It is a positive adjustment.

This Lynx metaphor is also a good one for our economy which requires being in a perputal state of growth. Eventually that growth will not be realized and things will reset. Hopefully we are smart enough to not be doomed to repeat like the Lynx.

Les Miserables

No, the headline isn’t even a half ass metaphor for the emotional state of the typical MMO veteran player right now.

It’s about the movie/musical/video game (wait – what?)

Les Miserables is one of those instances where I really am reminded how little I know, and how uncultured I am. The movie is the first experience I had with Les Mis (that’s the trendy short form, right?) and of course was driven by my wife’s desire to see it more than mine. She had participated in the school play when she was a kid.

I just thought Les Mis was a play, and always was. That is certainly what it was to me. Cue instant Wikipedia interest article to learn that:

  • It is a book written in the 1860’s
  • The English version is 1500+ pages
  • Has a really engaging and interesting plot line
  • Is ruined by singing

Maybe that last line isn’t fair, since Les Mis is most famous for that – but after reading the plot summary of the original works – damn, that would make a really deep and disturbing visual feature. The singing part feels like it ruins what could have been completely amazing movie if they focused on the plot and character development.

Due to the time period I am sure the book doesn’t read so smoothly.

Besides being utterly embarrassed I didn’t realize the musical stemmed from one of the great literary works of all time (arguably) is that completely my fault or the fault that modern day society only consumes it from broadway?

Adventures in Tech Support

Chat Script with a recent ‘chat with a representative now’. It was with a bank.

———————————————

Anne M.

Chris, I’m just going to check with our Technical Department.

Anne M.

Can you hold on a moment please?

Chris

ok great – thanks!

Anne M.

thanks for your patience Christ.

Anne M.

Oh my gosh.. I’m so sorry about that Chris!!

Chris

lol!!

Chris

its okay – nice laugh in the morning =)

Anne M.

I can’t believe I just typed that, I’m so sorry!!

Chris

its ok – I get that all the time.

————————————————————

Good times. =)

2008, 184 Posts, 18 months of (mostly) silence, and missing you!

I can’t believe I started this blog in 2008. Yes, it only has 184 (often misguided) posts, and no, I haven’t really checked in in a year and a half. And yes, I do miss you.

‘You’ having two contexts, of course.

One, is writing. I think critically all the time for work, and write all the time for work – rarely for enjoyment. That was what I accomplished here. I had a ton of fun.

Two, is actually you. You who is no longer reading this, but used to. And who would comment, and challenge me, and link posts back.

While I still follow the community for the most part, I stopped participating. Not only, not participating (by not writing), but also, by not commenting. Not supporting the online community I was once part of.  Yes, I am feeling a bit old and tired and once again waxing nostalgia.

When I stumbled upon the news that EA’s CEO was retiring due to revenue issues and remembered that I lead a revolution (ahem) to stop buying EA products. It made me want to post. I thought I remembered making fun of him for being a terrible blogger, but that was some other EA dude. So, like many things that go as you age, I blame it on being a natural loss of general facilities.

So here I am writing, and it feels good. I played a lot of League of Legends on my own, ditched it because of the community. Played GW2 for a while, ditched it for lack of community. And oddly enough, against everything I ever fought for in computer games and posts here, I am a WoW subscriber again (albeit only a handful of hours a week). Why? Community. My friends are still there. Many never left.

Which circles back to blogging – for a few years I was tight with blogging, and regardless why or how I lost my desire to be a part of the community, I assure you it was me (not you). So I am back. I am not changing the title of the blog but the format will cover more about life in general with a gaming slant here and there – I am not on top of the gaming news, trends, or fads anymore. Good thing there is far more to life than gaming (and blogging about it).

Sad to see Wolfshead hasn’t blogged in a while and I think the whole blogging idea  wasn’t about expecting or implementing change in our online universes, but sharing ideas about how those might look someday.

So, going to poke around and say hi to you in your corners of the blog-o-verse, and stop by here once in a while to share stories and thoughts, when the need and if the desire arises. My therapist recommends it.

Nice to see you again.

 

Tuesday Ramblings.

I don’t post nearly as much when I am playing. One of those funny things – when I play a lot, I don’t post. When I’m not playing a lot, I post. With limited gaming/personal time, it just works out that way.

I am in, and there is, a SWTOR beta. That’s all I am allowed to say (NDA wise). No no, not sharing any impressions either way, just sharing what I am allowwed to share. And that’s it.

I have done a lot of beta tests at various stages, and the amusing part always is the disconnect between customer expectations based on released information, and what you see know when you are ‘in the know’ – hands on, so to speak. This observation is completely unrelated to my sentence prior, but is a pretty consistent and common theme in the beta tests (in general) I have participated in.

On a side note, I am somewhat shocked at the lack of World of Pandas/Pokemon rage. When I read the announcement I started going to some of my favourite blogging sites to enjoy reading pages upon pages of hate and anger. Perhaps it was because Blizz’s next step down wasn’t a surprise to anyone (anymore), or that bloggers just tend not to care about WoW anymore. If I missed any good posts on it, please link them.

I actually like the idea of the monk class (a personal favourite in EQ) but everything else is both unsurprising and uninspiring. I will tip my hat to Blizzard for fighting to the end, trying to break the standard-ish MMO growth curve and climb then slow decline. On a somewhat unrelated note, Zynga’s IPO is due soon. Not sure why that popped into my head when writing this section.

Best blogging post I read this week goes to the BBB, and it’s not even game related. JP sure has a way of tackling a polarizing topic in such a way to encourage thoughtfulness on the subject. While many may not agree with him, he hits the nail on the head, and it’s a brave post considering his normal subject matter. (It’s also a sad statement to qualify a post about human rights as being courageous – but you know what I mean. Right?)

Have a few posts I have been plugging away on in the background that I’ll get to this week. Time permitting, of course =)

I did say ramblings, after all.

I Hate Mila!

Mild mannered bloggers over at Are We New At This? and High Latency Life are tackling an important issue in blognation. Why all the hate on WoW? I mean, it has eleventy (.2) billion subscribers! Something must be going right over at ActiBlizzEnron. It is a curious (and good) question in many ways. Chris Cavelle tries to calm the masses and instead suggests we all enjoy some Mila instead.

Thing is, I hate Mila.

I mean, she was talented in that 70’s show, but her newer work in film has just been so much shallower.

I always have preferred red-heds to brunettes

I think she is losing weight, and I prefer curves to stick-women

The kids these days may like her, but I prefer a classier ladies – like Kate Beckinsale

Too much photo-shop

(See what I did there?)

All joking aside (and I really don’t dis-like Mila) and light-fun-poking at the topic – personal tastes leads to criticism – constructive or not. While I prefer to read opinions that are constructive, people are going to write what they feel like. WoW is held as the ‘standard’ in MMO’ing, love it or hate it. Their design decisions, as proven by the whole failed-wow-clone design cycle syndrome, has impacted the direction of the genre for many years. Current and Ex-players like to wax  their opinions on that impact, and the secret desire for every gamer to have every game “made just for me” ™.

Just like everyone critiques every speech, decision, and outfit worn by the POTUS due to the perceived impact it has on people’s lives, they do the same with things that impact their hobbies. Perhaps that isn’t an entirely relevant analogy, but you wouldn’t be able to guess the difference in importance reading some of those constructive criticisms (including some of my own.)

I played WoW for many years through the ups and downs, and had my fun with it. I’ll no doubt pop back in next expansion to see if it’s improved (for my tastes – important qualifier – I know many like it just as it is, even if sub numbers are shrinking). I think personally, I “hate” on WoW because the experience doesn’t work for me like it used to. And because I still secretly want to play it, I complain about it. So I can still be involved in the discussion somehow.

Of course, if you wade through the mass of WoW ‘bashing’, you’ll find some great gems in there that would indeed improve the game – and not just for whomever the author may be. You can see Blizz pushing for some (perhaps) real big changes (dissolving the holy trinity?) and adding features they swore up and down they never would do. Who knows, maybe Blizzard will Transmogrify their development. Will be fun to see. And bitch about. 🙂

Never fear my friends, I predict WoW complaining will drop to an all time low on December 20th.