Archive for the ‘General’ Category
Posted by Stropp on
December 10, 2013
It’s been a while, so I thought I might let you guys know what I’ve been up to.
Aside from working, busy there, I’ve been getting a little gaming time in over the last few months.
I have pretty much cooled off on this one. Still occasionally get the urge to play but it doesn’t last long once I’ve logged in.
I’ve been playing more Terraria than anything else. Mostly just digging and exploring and getting nuked by the imps once I’ve reached the Hell layer. I probably need to set a few goals to gear up before those layers.
I’ve done a little bit of Neverwinter. I have run into a snag with one of my characters by having completed all the quests up to level 15/16 by level 14 and now can’t effectively beat the L16 bosses in a quest. And I’m not sure how to level without just grinding.
It doesn’t really capture me either. It just feels too linear.
World of Warcraft
I resubbed to WoW the other day, just out of boredom, and from reading Wilhelm Arcturus’ account of his return to Warcraft. I started the patching process and got to playing but ran into driver problems. After updating the video drivers I found WoW started crashing my ADSL, probably due to the updating process. It crashed when updating when not playing, and also while playing.
I’ve had this happen once or twice before with other games updating or downloading, but with WoW it seems a lot more persistent.
I’m thinking seriously of a new computer, mine is six years old and no longer effectively plays newer games. (Bioshock Infinite crawls like a snail.) I’ll probably update the modem at the same time.
I’ve spent a little on Steam sales over the last few months too. Bought a few early access games: Godus, some of the Zombie survival ones, and some others. The good ones seemed to also require a better PC, some didn’t catch my attention, and others were perhaps too early access for me. Those look like they’ll be good but not yet.
I started Wizardry Online when it first came out. Didn’t really care much for it back then, but I was curious to see if it had improved.
The worst thing was the slow typing quest text. It wouldn’t have been so bad if there had been little of it, but it went on, and on, and on. So much so that the devs had a in-game joke with one character repeatedly interrupting for more text. Ugh.
It’s also very very empty.
Other than that, I’ve been doing a little reading. Slowly getting through A Dance With Dragons. About a third to go. It was hard getting into this one, but I’m hooked now and progressing faster. I like that some of the earlier characters are getting some time again. I was feeling like I missed Arry. Tyrion just keeps getting in deeper and deeper. But no expectations. Red Wedding anyone?
It’s been a tough year business wise. Really hard getting new clients. It feels at times nothing is working, but now it appears some of my efforts are paying off. I spent $4K on a marketing program for tech businesses which has been brilliant and I feel like things are happening because of it. Still just got to keep at it. And looking forward to the Christmas break. I’ll still be available for work but I might leave the alarm off in the morning.
As I mentioned, I’m strongly considering a new PC. I just have to decide if the budget will cope with it, and how much to spend. The place I’ll be buying from has a number of models, but I’m deciding between a hex core with 16GB RAM and a hex core with 32GB. Frankly the 32 is very tempting, but budget might dictate the 16Meg instead. And of course, if I want 32 later it’s just an upgrade (maybe just a couple of extra sticks.)
Anyway, enjoy your holiday break and always remember: Winter is coming.
Posted by Stropp on
December 10, 2013
It really comes as no surprise to read that the NSA has been infiltrating online games looking for information and to recruit ‘agents.’ Spy agencies have been going where people hang out for decades in order to reach their recruiting goals. It’s just that a recent Snowden revelation has exposed the truth that everyone has known for ages, or at least suspected: that spy agencies have been recruiting through World of Warcraft.
Still, I wonder if Blizzard could help them out a little. Be patriotic and all that.
With the upcoming expansion, good ol’ Blizz have been fiddling with the looking for group tool again, to make it easier for group leaders to filter out players they don’t want.
Could they include a “Looking For Spook” option and give the NSA players the ability to filter on people willing to spy on other players?
But on the other hand, I wonder how the NSA folks have the time to spy and recruit anyway, what with all the raiding going on.
Posted by Stropp on
July 18, 2013
I wasn’t too impressed when I heard the XBox One announcement earlier this year. A lot of people weren’t, especially about the DRM, always online, needs to connect one a day ‘features’ that Microsoft were promising.
Well, the inevitable backlash that followed caused MS to backdown on a bunch of this stuff, but there were a few features that concerned me that are still there.
The Kinect requirement in particular.
It turns out the XBox One won’t work without a Kinect. I think it’s part of Microsoft’s agenda to force the entire world to wave their arms about like demented Macaulay Culkins that is in play here, but to me, I think this is completely unnecessary. I’ve been happy to turn on my 360 for 7 years now (wow, has it been that long?) using the remote, or by simply pressing the button. Have these options been removed now? Is this the Windows8ification of the XBox, removing useful features to force a new paradigm?
For me, where I live there’s not much space. It’s pretty cramped. My furniture currently obscures some of the Xbox, and there’s no room to get up and wiggle for the Kinect, let alone workout to the Prancercise game. (Sorry for inflicting that on you.) I’ll just be leaning back on the couch with the controller thank you very much.
Apparently, the Kinect option also listens for the users voice commands even when the console is turned off. Game Politics wonders if the Guv will use it to spy on XBox users even when the console is switched off. NSA paranoia is everywhere these days. For good reason. Lord, protect us from those who think they know what is best for us.
Luckily, I always turn my XBox off at the switch when it’s not in use. Need to save all the power I can these days, the bills are getting ridiculous. Sorry NSA boffins, no video of me prancercising in the nuddy, or audio of me musing on the meaning of life, or cussing out the utility companies.
Still with all these downsides, I’m very tempted to get one. Maybe not at launch, that will depend on budget and time, but perhaps sometime in the near future after release.
When the 360 was released, there was one game that was the seller for me, the main reason to buy the console. That was Oblivion. This time Forza 5 is the bait in the trap.
And maybe I’ll experiment with the Kinect. Try sticking some Bluetack over the microphone. Duct tape the camera. Then waiting to see how long it takes the secret police to turn up on my doorstep.
I wonder what the weather is like in Guantanamo this time of year?
Posted by Stropp on
July 16, 2013
Wilhelm has a post up at TAGN where he makes the following observation:
MMOs have become pizza. They vary a bit from vendor to vendor. You might not like the ingredients from one, and another might not keep their place very clean. But they are all round and share about the same set of toppings and what not. And if you like pizza, you will probably find a place that suits you.
The purpose of Wilhelms post is to share his past ideas about Pizza, err, MMOs; but tangentially my brain works. And it provides a nice little stepping point for an idea that’s been circulating around that confused maze of neural pathways that is my head for a little while now.
I like Pizza. Quite a lot actually. A good pizza is something to behold, and it’s probably one of the most popular takeaways/deliveries here in Australia and has been for years.
But, I don’t want Pizza every night. I like variety. I love Indian food too. Add to that Thai, Chinese, Italian, Greek, Sushi, BBQ Chicken & Chips, and all sorts of cuisines. I have wide tastes in nearly everything. But I find if I indulge in anything too much I get sick of it, and sometimes simply can’t stand the thought of it anymore. That’s only temporary of course, and I find myself coming back and ordering Pizza again, but usually months later.
So, what’s the point of all this? As Wilhelm says, MMORPGs these days are Pizza. Nearly every MMORPG running today operates off the same principles, and has the same features.
It kind of reminds me when I was growing up. Adelaide during the 70′s and early 80′s didn’t have much variety in fast food. There were the Pizza places, Chinese restaurants were popular, and the standard fast food joints (fish and chip shops that specialized in fried food, and some Yiros places.) It wasn’t until the mid to late 80′s that we started to see the cafe culture arise, and other styles of food become popular enough to support a restaurant culture. We’re still slow. Up until a couple of years ago, there were only a few sushi places around, but now they’re popping up everywhere.
The MMORPG scene started off at the opposite end of the spectrum. Every early MMORPG was different. Sure the basic principles were the same, but look at games like UO, Asheron’s Call, Everquest, Anarchy Online, Dark Age of Camelot, Star Wars: Galaxies… Same principles, but different games, different styles.
Look at what is popular now. Everquest 2, World of Warcraft, Rift, Guild Wars 2. Same principles, yes, but mostly the same features, same styles, almost the same games. There are some outliers here, I think the Secret World is one of those. It’s style and progression system are different, but the game itself doesn’t vary that much from what has come before.
So here we are. The MMORPG genre has homogenized into a collection of games that are essentially variations of World of Warcraft. Rather than each of the early MMO games branching out and developing their own sub-genres, they instead merged, publishers and developers driven by desire to emulate the massive success of World of Warcraft; but none of them near as successful. Simply because, to stretch the analogy, WoW is still the most popular Pizza place, despite reaching for the lowest common denominator to gain the biggest possible market share. Don’t forget Pizza Hut and Dominoes make terrible pizza, but they’re still extremely popular.
Another thing Wilhelm noted was that there aren’t any MMORPGs scheduled for release, or update this year. Too be honest, I haven’t been following the up and comers, but I don’t remember the last time a year went by without at least one major release. Is the MMO bubble bursting? Are developers finally realizing that there are too many Pizza places now in the market?
I do hope so. I’m sick of Pizza. I’m in the mood for Mexican.
Posted by Stropp on
May 29, 2013
I finished my holiday road trip last Friday with 6750km and four major Aussie cities covered over 21 day period. The last couple days were fairly long, Friday was 10.5 hours on the road. So I need a vacation to recover! I haven’t really looked at the game news much over that time, and over the last few days either.
But todays news, that Blizzard is retooling their unannounced mystery MMO codenamed Titan; moving 70 of the 100 developers off the project and into other projects while the core team rethink the whole thing really got my attention.
How long has Titan been under development now? I’m not really sure, and can’t be bothered at the moment to look it up, but it must be somewhere in the vicinity of 5 years.
My first thought was to wonder if Blizzard was trying to break the vaporware record set by 3DRealms ill-fated Duke Nukem Forever. Not only did DNF change direction several times, it failed to take into account changing attitudes towards women in games, as well as the way that FPS games have changed over the years.
At this stage Blizzard’s Titan can quite clearly be called vaporware.
After five years of development we haven’t seen one screenshot, one hint about the genre, or anything else substantive about the game. Even by this stage Duke Nukem Forever had teased us with screenshots, art, and a basic idea of what the game was about.
Now with Titan making a big ol’ U-turn it may be another few years before we get any information. There’s no way we’ll see anything at the next Blizzcon, and probably the Blizzcon after that.
Those who are worried that Titan will be a WoW-Killer needn’t be concerned. The WoW servers will be long shut down before this game sees the light of day.
Posted by Stropp on
May 2, 2013
It’s been a while since I had a break, three and a half actually. So I decided to take a short drive.
The route is in blue, and runs counter-clockwise from Adelaide to Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, all the way up to Rockhampton and then inland back to home.
The main purpose is to destressify, but also to catch up with friends in Sydney and Brisbane.
As I said, it’s been over three years since I had a real break. There have been a few times when business has slowed down, but that tended to be a worry not a holiday. I leave on Saturday morning and get back three weeks later. If everything goes to plan that is.
Posted by Stropp on
April 7, 2013
My search for a feed reader to replace the soon to be retired Google reader may be at an end. As I’ve previously posted, finding a decent cloud based feed reader has been a bit of a trial. Readers such as Feedly which has gained a lot of users since Google’s announcement are desktop or browser plugin based, and the cloud options such as Netvibes have been completely unsatisfactory. I guess the Google Reader spoiled me a bit.
I am now trialing The Old Reader. This is a cloud/web based reader which is what I want, and it is based on the original Google Reader. It was put together by a couple of guys who didn’t like the changes Google made to Reader a few years ago. They basically rebuilt the original reader. While I don’t actually remember how Reader originally worked and felt, this is close enough to what I am used to with Google Reader as it is today.
The only issue I can relate is that it takes a long, long time to import feeds.
I found The Old Reader a couple of weeks ago, just after I made the original search for a feedreader post, downloaded the subscriptions.xml file from Google, and started the import process to The Old Reader.
That’s right. It took two weeks to import 128 feeds. Though it probably didn’t matter how many feeds I was subscribed to, it just took that long to get to my import.
Now the reason for this is the monster exodus from Google at the time of the announcement. Don’t forget this is a small scale site created and operated by a couple of guys with limited resources. There were over 28,000 imports ahead of mine when I started. I’d love to see what their database looks like right now. It must be huge.
But, despite the queue, everything is now working at a good speed. Updates to feeds are being processed quickly, and I’m not having any issues at all. I can read the posts oldest first, and they have a setting to hide the post once it is read. Marvelous.
So I think The Old Reader is my recommendation to replace Google Reader. Still got to spend some time with it, but it is looking good. My recommendation though is to changeover as soon as you can before Google’s shut down date of the 1st of July. Don’t leave it too late because you might have to wait a couple of weeks while your feed list imports. That way you can keep using GReader and transition when your feeds are in.
So, all is right again in the world. All except North Korea, global warming, poverty, simcity, politicians, bird flu… okay dammit the world still sucks. But at least I can read about it on a decent feed reader!
Posted by Stropp on
April 5, 2013
The last game I preordered was Age of Conan. At least that’s the last game I remember preordering.
I haven’t done so since, not because of any issues with preordering games, or the games themselves but simply because I haven’t felt the need to do so. Although I have felt a tinge of jealousy from time to time with players getting into the head start periods just before a game officially opens to the masses. Especially when I read blog posts from other bloggers who are all having a fine old time.
I guess the other factor holding me back from the preorder purchase is the old adage never play on launch (or patch) day. That was strongly reinforced with the recent Simcity debacle, but has been a part of playing MMORPGs since the early days. That initial influx of tens of thousands of players hitting the servers for the first time really tests how well a developer has put together their code. While recent years that has got better, memories remain of disastrous launches that finally settled down after some weeks or months.
At one time I figured that since MMO development was a really new field, that developers would eventually develop the tools and knowledge to ensure smooth launches, and for the most part I think they have, even if one of those tools is putting players in massive queues. But game software network development on large scales is still somewhat inexact, and the bigger companies capable of developing and marketing AAA games appear to want the best of both worlds: low initial spending on server hardware, but still grabbing as many players as they can as early as they can.
It all boils down to the fact that you can’t be guaranteed a bug-free gaming session, or even getting past the queue, on launch day.
How about you, do you preorder, or do you prefer to wait?
Posted by Stropp on
April 5, 2013
Just received this from Aventurine.
Darkfall Unholy Wars Launch – April 16
Thu, 04/04/2013 – 13:09
Darkfall Unholy Wars will launch on April 16th after 5 months in beta. During beta, we addressed many issues through 8 major updates, did a lot of work on game balance and game polish, increased game performance on all levels, added new features like salvaging, changed the way character progression works through Prowess Points, -effectively eliminating macroing gains and ensuring that characters progress only by playing the game- added a new role, the Primalist and completed the integration with the Steam platform.
The Darkfall community who participated in the beta provided the development team with invaluable feedback a lot of which led to additions and changes to the game, and will lead to many more in the near future. We believe the game has benefited greatly through the Beta process, and we are excited about what lies ahead. We know we have a lot of work to do and we will never be satisfied as we strive to make Darkfall Unholy Wars the best PvP MMORPG experience. .
Recognizing the importance of the community’s contribution during beta, we will work to continuously improve the community-developer interaction level by daily updates and on many different levels to ensure that the high level of cooperation between developers and players is meaningful and continues to benefit the evolution of Darkfall Unholy Wars throughout its’ lifecycle.
We will be posting more information in the next few days, updating the community daily on all developments.
As you might be aware, Darkfall Unholy Wars was originally due to be released much earlier this year, January or February I think, and Aventurine intended to shut down the original game and transition to the new one. Despite the delay, Aventurine shut down Darkfall as originally scheduled, leaving them with no running game. Hopefully, come April 16, Darkfall fans jonesing for their hardcore PvP MMO will be able to get in and play.
Posted by Stropp on
April 4, 2013
I just read this morning that one of my favorite authors, Iain (M) Banks has terminal cancer. Iain announced it here on his website, you can read his message there.
I started reading his Culture novels a few years ago. I bought Excession a few years before I really got into the Culture, but at the time found it very difficult to follow. I then bought Matter, enjoyed it thoroughly, and went back to Excession and finally got it. Since then I’ve bought a few more of his novels, lately the newest Culture book, The Hydrogen Sonata. Sadly to be the last Culture novel.
Perhaps one of the saddest, or is it ironic, things is that in these books Banks envisioned a universe of plenty, one where such vile things as cancer no longer existed. And hopefully that will one day be the case here on Earth. Cancer isn’t the bogeyman it was less than twenty years ago and the survival rate is much better now, despite cases like Iain’s that still occur all to frequently.
With the rapidly advancing state of science and medicine, I expect and hope that sometime in the near future Cancer will end up no scarier than a case of the Flu.
I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I’ll also let you know that I made a small donation to the Australian Cancer Research Foundation. I’d like to encourage you to do the same, not necessarily to the Aussie foundation if you live in another country, but take the time to look up a cancer research foundation in your own country. Just do a little due diligence to make sure that the bulk of donations actually do go to research. (The ACRF claims 100% goes to cancer research.)
This stuff does take money, lots of it, and the more cash and the sooner it is available to research, the sooner we’ll see the end of this scourge.