Friday, May 31. 2013 | Comments (3)
Today's video and music theme is Texas Rangers walk-up songs:
1st up, Lance Berkman uses "God's Gonna Cut You Down" by Johnny Cash.
A thing that won't trigger nostalgia: Blockbuster Video.
Top 25 Epoch-Making Anime
The Lord of the Rings Family Tree project. Ambitious, and still not the easiest thing to follow.
7 Pictures of Tom Cruise being tall.
Brad Johnson: The Price of an NFL career.
The much-hated A.J. Pierzynski uses "Bullets" by Creed, "Set It Off" by Audioslave, and included below because it's the most interesting, "AJ Scratch" by Kurtis Blow:
MLB's State-of-the-art Replay System
The Giant Rubber Duck in Hong Kong; coming soon to a major city near you.
Political: The Brickmuppet sums up all of the scandals of the current governmental administration that started breaking the past few weeks.
Political/Cultural: The Part of the World That Shoots Back
And finally (for now) Adrian Beltre's song is "Pa Que Retozen" by Tego Calderon:
A video I really wanted to find, or a recording even, is George Chandler's cover of Del Shannon's "Runaway". Chandler performed the cover for an episode of The Benny Hill Show, and apparently never recorded the song otherwise. Which is a shame, because it was probably the best version of the song ever performed. I have video from the show, but I am somewhat reticent to upload, as Benny Hill related videos seem to be taken down regularly.
My current video game project, since hitting the level cap in Scarlet Blade (it's been upped since, and a new area added) is to use the free trial of World of Warcraft to level every class with every race to level 20, and to make judgements thereon. So far I've leveled a Warrior for Human, Dwarf, Gnome and Night Elf, and I'm working on Draenei. I won't do Pandas until the end. One thing I can tell you is that the Draenei starting area hasn't been optimized for the free trial. At least one quest chain requires access to mail, which is blocked in the demo. The four original races have all been streamlined to make the level experience to 20 quick and rewarding. In fact, it's probably a little "too" quick, and it's clear (especially in areas that I had previously visited with older characters) that a lot of quests had been cut, even though their resources where sometimes still in the game. This is an improvement in some cases; e.g. a hunting quest chain in Loch Modan has been cut in half at least. Originally you had to "kill 8 xxxxxx's" for four different low-level animals, then four different medium level animals, then four different high-level animals, then a boss animal for each. Each group was located in a different area; the entire quest chain could have you running over the entire area (pre-mount if you're doing it at the appropriate level) and can take hours and hours of work (days for a casual player). However, in some cases Blizzard cut off a quest chain half-way through, leaving a story half-finished, or cut out a quest chain that uses unique resources. A good example is in the human starting area, which cut out the quest chain involving one of the kobold-infested mines, even though the kobolds and mine are still there. Most of the quest chain involving the human bandits is gone, leaving this group of bandits that everyone talks about, but that you never really do anything about. But more about all of this later.
Tuesday, December 11. 2012 | Comments (0)
Music for the week...yes and no...
This guy (the guy who makes these videos) has apparently been around a while...in fact when I showed some of these to my wife, she explained to me that she had seen most of them a long time ago. So shoot me. It helps if you're familiar with World of Warcraft; there is a lot of material that references the game as much as the contents of the songs.
An essay on John Kennedy and the Cold War. There isn't much in there new if you study history beyond your high school or college textbooks, but if you don't...
Is green energy a fad that has run it's course? (In the long run, no...but the artificial stimulation of the green energy market may be in trouble.)
Sarah Hoyt on "Ungovernable" Americans.
The book of moe dictators.
Animated gif of the refit of the Enterprise from the TV series version to the movie version. The article the gif is taken from, about whether the Enterprise was updated, or was in fact an entirely new starship.
Everything you ever wanted to know about the Kennedy Assassination. (Cynics view, although plenty of time is given to discussing conspiracy.)
Are you worried about all of the horrible things that can happen if you take a cruise? If you aren't, you will be.
I had mentioned when I built my current computer that the namesake, Saya, was from Blood: The Last Vampire. Although, technically, it was the version of Saya from Blood +. Because it's a dual-processor system, you see. In Blood +, Saya is a twin of Diva. Clever? Maybe not. I'm now working on the next computer, which will be named Sena. Because I'm using a 90-degree-rotated case, everything's up top. And while it won't be dual-processor, I will be Crossfiring two Radeon 6870's, so the computer will still have two big ones.
Ok, I'm done being childish. The character is cute, I like the color scheme, and while the...attributes...stack (snerk) up nicely, how can you resist this smile?
Saturday, September 29. 2012 | Comment (1)
My schedule is currently thrown off because it's been raining for the last three days. Yesterday it rained all day.
Samuel Silva's Incredible Realistic Ball-Point Drawings hat-tip Anthony Luke's Photography Blog
When 1099 felons vote in a race won by 312 votes. (Spoiler: They all voted for one candidate)
Mike Rowe, the guy behind Dirty Jobs and an advocate for trade professions and labor-intensive work, wrote to President Obama in 2008, and Mitt Romney in 2012. One of them wrote back.
In the history of the modern MMORPG, who leads the pack has always been clear. Every new MMORPG that came along had reviews filled with "XXXXX, like/unlike World of Warcraft...", which indicates to everyone that WoW has been the Gold Standard. For online multiplayer. However, as this Kotaku article indicates, I've started seeing a change in that attitude. And, for the record, as much as I am a long-time Guild Wars fanboy, many of the GW2 innovations are shared by other recent MMORPGS. Champions Online has(had, IMO) dynamic beat-em-up combat; Rift has a similar event system and other MMORGS, including WoW are stressing instancing. The biggest thing GW2 innovates on is the shared world. As others have written, creating a multi-player game that doesn't make me dread strangers is quite an accomplishment.
Hey remember Julie Brown? No, this Julie Brown:
Mass gains in Antarctic ice sheet exceed losses - Which is good news.
Why did I bring up Julie Brown?
I think she might be making fun of Ke$ha. Maybe.
Of, course, I had forgotten she did this bit of Satire as well.
And lastly, how could I go a week without a link to bullying in Japan? Principal asks parents of boy who committed suicide to avoid bullying to "call it an unforseen accident."
Sunday, May 13. 2012 | Comments (2)
First, some music:
If you were ever in band in high school, you're probably familiar with James Swearingen. He has composed dozens (if not hundreds) of low to moderate difficulty overtures for wind band (the kind that only uses horns, bells and percussion; no strings). His credits are much broader than these simple but delightful pieces, but the beginning band compositions make him the closest thing to a household name among band geeks as you can get.
If you don't like that, try this:
Last August, Gamesutra documented Blizzard's shift in strategy with World of Warcraft. All of the evidence cited is anecdotal, but some of it is still compelling. A significant portion of WoW's recent player losses are attributed to Blizzard making more high-level and end-game content accessible to more players. As silly as that sounds at first, you may have noticed that more and more "casual" sources; i.e. webcomics, semi-related news stories, have included references to former WoW players who quit because they didn't feel "special" anymore. On the other hand, I certainly understand how one would feel under the circumstances. As mediocre a Guild Wars-player as I am; I worked pretty hard to complete (so far) the original Prophecies campaign solo. I know it's easier for better players than it was for me, but it was still an accomplishment. If Arenanet went back to Guild Wars and, for example, added mercenaries into the Prophecies story, I wouldn't be mad per se; but I would certainly feel as if anyone who came after that point didn't overcome the same challenge that I did. Apparently, though, many WoW players now feel that Blizzard has finally cheapened the game too much. As they say, it's ok for YOU to buy a Mercedes just like your neighbor Bob Jones, but if your other neighbor Phil Smith buys one as well, then it's garbage. It's not special anymore. The point being, there's room at the top for one, and the guy reaching for his ankle. If a third person shows up, they all fall down.
I never finished a series of articles about DC Comics and gender relations. Why? No point. You may remember I mentioned a survey that I took part in a month or two after the New 52 launch. Well, DC released the results of the survey earlier this year.
There really isn't much to say about it. DC had already raised eyebrows prior to the relaunch when they announced that their target demographic was young males (ostensibly because DC's primarily-male customer base has been shifting up the age brackets). Females and other comic-customer minorities were upset that DC wasn't using this opportunity to target different demographic groups. Unfortunately, the survey results indicate that The New 52 absolutely failed to capture a new audience of any kind. The most significant acheivement was compelling lapsed readers to try out the new comics. And I will put money on those readers not lasting (I didn't. Even Geoff Johns and Aquaman can only go so far.) Here's an interesting thread on the failure. FWIW, the first reply nails a lot of the problem dead on: DC was trying to fix a problem that didn't exist. Or rather, my own take is that the continuity problem DOES exist for some people, but DC didn't address the issue properly. DC didn't actually start ANYTHING over from scratch, they did a standard reboot/relaunch but called the new issues "#1's" and claimed it was for new readers. Which is the same thing as painting your car and claiming it's new, just like the last half-dozen or more times DC rebooted something.
And the second point; DC didn't actually do anything NEW or DIFFERENT. At all. They launched some good titles, but they're still created and run the same as they always were. Editorially, DC is still a huge mess. The only lingering question is whether DC intended The New 52 to be revenue-generating publicity stunt, or DC honestly thought they were relaunching these books in a way that would attract new readers. The point-of-view that hindsight offers is very damning; I don't see how everyone as DC "missed" the obvious; that they weren't doing anything new or different.
Anyway, I've said my piece now. Regardless of how good some of the new title are (Aquaman, Batgirl, All Star Western, Green Lantern Corps), I am NOT DC's target audience. I'm one of the guys they assume are fans anyway, when I buy at all. Sadly, they're more right than wrong; obviously this marketing scam prompted me to buy a bunch of comics from them. I won't KEEP buying comics...I don't how that fits into their plans. Instead, I think I'll go finish catching up on Gold Digger.
Thursday, August 25. 2011 | Comments (0)
I'm currently playing two characters: This is Karina Von Braun, a Mesmer/Monk. I have just completed the Prophecies campaign with this 'toon. I started this alt for fun...I never really intended to keep going. The motivation was frustration with my Warrior/Necromancer. I was in the later areas of Kryta and felt that I wasn't doing very well. Mesmer/Monks were considered to be one of the best solo characters, so I built this one. I also built a Ranger/Monk, which I still have sitting in Kryta. I love that alt, but I was able to do more with Karina. Mesmers can really dish out the damage.
Can't really say too much about the ending of Prophecies. Didn't really care for the final area of the game, which takes place on a series of volcanic islands. A lot like Post-Searing Ascalon, except black instead of brown. I missed one bonus mission; the Guild Wars Wiki says to leave the bonus mission until the path for the mission is cleared. Normally this means to not talk to the Mission Giver until the path is cleared. Unfortunately, in this case, they mean don't even go NEAR the Mission Giver until you're ready. I was just following normal procedure and killing everything in the area, and when I entered agro range for the Mission Giver, (it's an escort mission) the NPC took off running. Well, I hadn't "cleared the path" yet. The NPC died in the first battle. It's a long mission; I haven't bothered to repeat it. I still have a bonus in the Southern Shiverpeaks to get, and three in the Crystal Desert (the Ascension Missions. I didn't even try for the bonus.) So, I still have to get those five bonuses for the Protector of Tyria Title. I still have I think 8.7% to explore, so I still have to get the Tyrian Master and Tyrian Grandmaster Cartographer Titles.
The current plan is to play through Factions (the first expansion) now, then Nightfall (the second expansion) and Eye of the North (the third expansion). After that is the Guild Wars Beyond content, which starts laying the foundation for Guild Wars 2. I probably should jump to Nightfall or Eye of the North instead and start earning heroes (a gameplay mechanic to replace the game's henchmen with customizable, more powerful henchman)...but part of my brain is stuck on doing it in order. I don't know. Cantha (the continent that Factions is set on) hasn't gone great so far; heroes might help. NOTE: technically Factions and Nightfall are side-games rather than expansions of the original Guild Wars game (now called Prophecies). They expand on the gameplay of the original, but take place in different settings and tell separate stories from Prophecies (still set on the same world, and connected via Lore). Guild Wars: Eye of the North is a story sequel to Prophecies.
This is the toon I'm using for my Let's Play Guild Wars series. Krys Anethe is a Ranger/Necromancer. The original idea was a pet/minion master; basically taking my own army along. I haven't spent too much time with that kind of build yet, as an effective pet/minion master needs a pretty good amount of skill points. I imagine once I reach Kryta and get near level twenty I'll start messing around in that direction. So far the Let's Play has gone smoothly. I've only died (I think) three times. Krys is moving through the Northern Shiverpeaks right now; I'm getting three or four hours of gameplay a month in.
On a related note, I'm reading the first Guild Wars novel Ghosts of Ascalon. Guild Wars 2 takes place approximately 250 years after the events of the Guild Wars games. A series of novels is being released to help "set the table" for the game; explaining the differences in the world. I'm not intimately familiar with the authors, Forbeck and Grubb, but the writing (in general) is only passable at best. They're lucky I'm hooked on the setting and am such a huge Guild Wars fanboy. But, the novel so far is doing what it set out to do, which is inform Guild Wars fans on the setting of Guild Wars 2.
And that's just about it. Really been enjoying the Guild Wars lately, can't wait to see GW2 (in case you couldn't tell). Coming up soon I'll post an update on World of Warcraft, as I haven't really talked about it too much since I started. Odd that, considering my Warlock main is about to hit level 70. Been soloing original content dungeons. Damn, this game is huge.
I also need to post about several upcoming games; for the first time in quite a while there are several titles coming out soon that I'm interested in.
And I'll try to keep this blog thing going.
Oh, and Happy 40th Birthday to Shamus Young!
Monday, August 22. 2011 | Comments (3)
This was apparently announced at E3; here's a short article at GameInformer covering the related statements: Star Wars: The Old Republic Launch Copies Limited For Retail And Digital.
I personally don't have much interest in The Old Republic right now, but I didn't have much interest in World of Warcraft until relatively recently either. The Old Republic looks interesting enough, but I haven't seen anything yet that really scratches an itch.
EA stated that they are limiting all presales so that they can control the starting experience for new players when the servers go live for everyone. This is certainly plausible; MMO's have a long history of rough launches. If EA launches a great game and manages the first few weeks well this will all be a moot point. However, I don't necessarily buy the reasoning.
From the perspective of keeping servers from crashing on opening day, there are dozens of ways to do this without limiting sales. There is exactly one way cutting presales off improves the first day; keeping people from seeing "unable to logon" messages. If EA has a legitimate concern that this problem, or problems in general would be so bad as to impact long term sales, I would say that EA has some problems they're not telling anyone about yet. Opening Day problems always lead to headlines and a lot of bitching, but I've never seen any numerical evidence that launch failures caused a more widespread problem getting and keeping subscribers. World of Warcraft has had several spectacular launch failures and is still waaaaay ahead of the pack in subscribers. So could the flip-side be true? EA is counting on a well-run launch drawing and keeping subscribers? I really don't see how. My argument in that case would be that you gain and keep players with the game, not the back-end.
From the perspective of identifying problems, that basically means that the first few weeks after launch are going to be an expanded beta test. Arguably a smart move, but I wonder why they don't do it they way several other MMO's have: open the beta up. Guild Wars for example, ran several "beta weekends" that were open to players who pre-ordered, players who got access keys from the pre-orderers, and also published access keys on several fansites. The only reason I can think of for EA to NOT do this is that they would lose enforceable NDA's with open beta's.
So, in my opinion, the best reasons for EA doing what they are could be accomplished in better ways. The question then becomes, why ARE they doing it this way? In my opinion, there's one VERY OBVIOUS answer. By letting out that presales will be limited for quality control (they're not announcing what the cap is) and stating that they don't know how long the QC process could take, you hopefully create a RUSH for pre-sales. Especially sales on Origin, EA's new online store thingy. Which EA is desperately trying to launch into a top-tier distribution system as quickly as possible.
It's also somewhat odd that presales began in July; EA announced that sales had exceeded 200,000 units in the first five days, but haven't updated that number since. And then a month later they announce that the presales will be capped. Obviously, one way to read that information is that presales have been SO big, EA realized they couldn't support the launch. This far out from launch. The biggest entertainment software company in the business just can't get enough servers online. And on top of that, if the presales were that good WHY AREN'T THEY SCREAMING THE NUMBERS AT EVERY CHANCE THEY GET???
I'm left with two possible conclusions. 1) EA is trying to boost sales. 2) This is, very simply, throw-away CYA PR. EA is expecting traffic problems at launch and is getting the message out they're trying to limit damage. Although I would argue even then that they could just come out and SAY, "we can't predict exactly what will happen when we stress the system at launch. We're doing the best we can, but there will probably be problems." I think customers would be accepting of that.
And so, in the end, I really have to go with the idea that this presale thing is all about increasing sales. I could be wrong. But I think that's it.
Me? I'm still trying to get into the Guild Wars 2 beta program. Or even get a pre-order.