Saturday, December 29, 2007

Mid-Life Crysis

So I finally got around to playing around with Crysis. It seems all the hype that went into the game surely lived up, graphics-wise. One thing that did disappoint was the immense hardware needed to run the game in full-blast detail. I don't know if the game was simply unoptimized or that the drivers aren't exactly up to speed with the game yet. But even with three video cards working together, it still cannot handle 1920x1200 with all the bells and whistles attached. This could very well be a driver issue, or perhaps a API issue. But that's an entirely different matter here...

The game itself is amazingly detailed. I've managed to tinker around with a few settings and sure enough that documented trick of modifying some configuration files to force the highest detail settings to be accessible worked. Sadly, the toll it took on the system was too much. Choppy framerate and chugging performance made it not worth to use for now. For the single-player gameplay, I cannot find a single thing wrong with it, other than its AI. Never had I have so much fun picking enemies off through sniping in many ways. At first it was through a basic assault sight to assist with the aiming. Then came the assault scope attachment. Lastly, the sniper scope completed the package. It was truly a great run just finding various vantage points, hiding spots, and picking enemies off one by one.

Eventually I continued playing until I actually beat it. For a single-player game, it ain't all that bad. However, the worst part of having the game is very little replay value. Perhaps that is where the multi-player aspect comes in. But like any other FPS out there, you can only do so much. It is the sole reason why certain games being tailored for online play work so well to keep the gamers playing. There were a few sales here and there for Crysis, but none of which was heavily discounted to even lure me in to buying it. US$50 is a lot to ask for considering that the game itself was built well on single-player. And I highly doubt my clanmates would be jumping on to play the game in multi-player. If it was US$25, then maybe I would have picked it up. Well, maybe I'll pick it up when it comes down to that price range. By then, maybe we'll have hardwares truly capable of running the game to its fullest... without the heavy hit on framerate.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Clusterf-cked

So I was playing on a WiC server some time ago with a clanmate of mine. I was playing the Support role to keep the choppers out of the sky. This worked at some parts, as I managed a few kills here and there. Clanmate then asked for something to shoot at. Since I had points to spare, I popped a UAV area scan in the enemy side of town. There I spotted a nice clump of enemies gathering at a point. So I rang up the Tactical Aid Strike for a cluster bomb to be dropped at that location. I then prayed that they won't move out of the way. 15 seconds later, the plane comes flying from the sky and dropped its load. There I witnessed the best cluster bomb strike I have ever issued. Everything within that area was completely wiped out. After the round ended, I immediately saved that Replay so that I can watch it again and make a small movie clip out of it. That video will soon be uploaded.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Self Stupidity

This is an admission of self stupidity of which I should have known better. I'll start with some history of my past Black Friday experiences.

Having such a crappy memory, I can only recall maybe 2 or 3 other times that I have done this -- wake up in the crack of dawn to grab some decent deals. I'm not one to snatch up big things like HDTVs and other electronic gadgets. Nope, I always go for the simplest thing. The first outing was for a Belkin wireless router, to complement the Gateway laptop that I received as a birthday gift. I figure that one router is not much different from the rest. Nope. That old saying that you get what you paid for? It's true here. The Belkin router is so crappy that it cannot last the kind of torture that I would put it through. I gave up and snatched up a Linksys WRT54G (revision 3 hardware) just so I can get rid of it. Useless piece of shit crap that was, but I digress.

Anyway, the process was simple -- get in, grab item, checkout, and head back on home. I did the same when CompUSA advertised a 19" LCD monitor for $200 after rebates. At the time, any LCD monitor of that size with a DVI port would have cost you close to $300 and above. So at the time, it was a good pickup. That one also didn't go all that smoothly, as I later found out that the monitor had 9-10 stuck subpixels of all 3 colors -- red, green, and blue. I was fortunate to be able to get an exchange/replacement for it and ended up with a perfect monitor (no dead or stuck pixels). In the end, not a bad deal.

This year, the targets were movies. A Few Good Men, Rocky Balboa, House of Flying Daggers, and Ray were all tagged to be picked up, as they seem to be well worth the price for the kind of movies they are. The first 3 are at Best Buy, with one being advertised for $2.49 as a doorbuster. Doors open at 5AM. So I figure that I would be punctual and arrive a good 5-10 minutes early to scope out the madness. Little did I know just how mind boggling this would become.

Upon arrival with about 5 minutes to spare, I became witness to a huge crowd gathered at the main door at Best Buy. Those who have clicked on the picture to view on a separate window/tab would notice that I drew a few red lines. The short one would be the start of the line. The other one would be the 2nd and continuation of the first line. The screenshot you see there should also display the distance meter at the bottom left corner of the image. It's measured in 50ft per length. By estimation, the line amounts to about 450ft long, maybe longer. And as barely visible from the thumbnail, the line did curved and extend quite far. When the doors finally opened, the first batch of people were permitted to enter. The rest have to wait a while. I knew better than to walk 450ft in the dead cold air only to slowly creep up to the door. Instead, I just waited across the street until the line shorten up. By then I only stood around for about ... maybe 15 minutes? ... and then walked only a short distance.

Once inside, the plan was simple -- grab the movies and checkout. That's all. The process is easy, simple, and not much of a hassle. Checkout was fairly quick and the line was consistently moving. Even though the line curved around aisles like a maze, it seems I didn't have to wait much. After I got out, it was time to go to Circuit City for the pickup of the last movie. By estimation, I should be able to be there for abotu a half-hour at most.

By the time I arrived at Circuit City, it was about 6AM or so. My attention was focused on finding the nearest parking space. After locking up the car, I looked up to see... a line. What the fuck??? A line? The store's already open, as they opened at 5AM! So why the hell is there a line outside?! I then overheard that the Fire Marshall, with all of his wisdom in stupidity, limited stores to have 500 people inside at once. Uh, fucking hell...

The time I spent outside is probably a good 5-10 minutes. Once inside, I find that their bargain movies are bundled into retarded bins and their DVD section is hardly organized in a way to easily find a fucking movie. I eventually found Ray and the Xmas Classic cartoon shows that I needed to get for my sis. Time to pay for 'em. I browsed around to find a line that is short and doesn't wind a lot. I eventually spotted the video game section having a decently short line so I went with that. I guess I started waiting in line at around 6:30AM to 6:45AM. After standing at the same spot for a good 10 minutes, the line wasn't moving a single inch. One of the workers there said that the system went down. Well that is just fucking perfect. What the fuck were these retards running on? Windows 98?

After the system came back up, the line wasn't moving much still. I later found out that the guy who was at the register is retardedly slow. Even worse is the worthless pile of shit Point of Sale system that they had running there. Those machines look like they were more than 10 years old. Their barcode scanners weren't up to stuff either. Some of the people ahead of me had console systems in tow... be it Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, or *ptooie* PlayStation 3. Scanning the UPC barcode was easy. The system recognized it almost instantaneously as it should. The problem was when the PoS system asks for the console's serial number barcode (most likely to prevent hardware swap fraud). I would see the guy spend half a minute to a minute trying to get the fucking thing to register. And it just wouldn't register at all. I would see the guy hold the scanner gun close to it and slowly back it away in hopes of getting that right height that the system would miraculously register the serial number onto the system. Two ladies ahead of me had a Nintendo DS in tow. So I know I'm going to be waiting for a while.

By now you would probably be saying that it cannot get any worse. Yes, it can. It always can and always will.

The guy behind me is a USPS mailman. He had originally planned on getting his stuff and checking out by 7AM. Not happening. All of us stood there and I was getting quite irritated at all the fucking waiting. So many times I wanted to just throw the movies I had in my hand into the air and just yell out "FUCK THIS WAITING SHIT, I'M GOING HOME!" And personally, I could not care less if people would understood me or laugh at me, because I was angry at how fucked up Circuit City is over their damn system.

Amongst all the stupid waiting, I actually spotted a guy purchasing a PS3 system. That wasn't the bad part. And that isn't to say that I like the system either. Rather, it's how the guy paid for it. And that's right. Cold. Hard. Cash. A $400 system paid for in cold hard cash. 20, 40, 60, 80, 100. 20, 40, 60, 80, 200. Oh for fucks sake, just hand the guy four fucking Benjamins and then some and be fucking done with it!

When I was close to the register to actually lay down my movies, I PURPOSELY arranged them so that the UPC barcodes are facing upright, and arranged in a way that you can do 3 scans in 1.5 seconds. When it was finally my turn, what did the guy do? He picks each one up and scans them. Ugh. So finally I got it all paid for, movie's in the bag and everything. The receipt's timestamp: 8:12AM. I started waiting prior to 7AM. I've been waiting my ass off for over an hour. What. The. Fuck.

This year's Black Friday is shitty. I have been consistent in what I needed to get -- the simplest of things. It's an easy go-in-and-check-out deal. I should not have to spend over a half-hour just to get what I wanted. And I still despise the entire idea of a single day out of the entire fucking year where the stores would put up a fucking sale that causes people to camp out in front of the store's door for hours on end. Why that Friday? Why not on a fucking Wednesday? Or separate the sale into smaller ones on certain days? Or instead, simply make the entire sale a week-long thing. I'm tired of having to get there early just to get the stuff that I wanted when all of the stores don't stock up enough to even last into the fucking afternoon.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Strike at Liberty Island

If you do not know your landmarks, Liberty Island is the island that features the Statue of Liberty. Not only is it a tourist attraction but it is also one of many prominent symbols of America. As a player of the game World in Conflict, one of the maps features Liberty Island, Ellis Island, and Governors Island. One side start out from Ellis Island while the other start out from Liberty. The main battlefield is on Governors' Island, where all of the control points are located.

No matter how you look at it, I always seem to find amusement in watching the utter destruction of surrounding structures, as well as enemy units. I know it sounds strange given today's world of paranoia and cowering in fear. But the way I see it, it's futile to constantly worry over little trivial matters now. What matters the most is making the most out of what little time you have.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Strategic Options

So lately I've been diving into the world of Real-Time Strategy games. Two of which I currently have installed are Company of Heroes and World in Conflict. Both are interesting in their own right but there's a problem. I'm not a RTS player. One of the things that bug me in RTS games is the need to manage resources. Back in Starcraft and Warcraft days, that means having to gather critical resources such as gold and wood. Without these resources, you cannot create more units. And without these units, they cannot build advanced structures to create better units. Company of Heroes try to change that somewhat but it still came back to the same problem... managing your resources. It's a different kind of management but you're still stuck having to ensure you have the necessary fundings in order to create more units.

Perhaps this is the reason why I have continued playing World in Conflict at random for these past several weeks. Instead of having to deal with all of these trivial elements to a typical RTS game, I am just given a predefined amount of spendable points, with some later to be made available, and make as many units as I can within that spendable limit. The units can then be sent out into the field, be destroyed, and the points that was spent on creating that is then refunded back into my pool.

Another thing that kept me coming back was how the multiplayer aspect of these games is arranged. WiC is formatted in such a way that it is easy to find friends, join them on a server, and browse for one. Even setting up a clan is easy. These little things are the stuff that makes a solid game. Alas, a certain other game cannot ever come close to matching the way the interface is laid out. There's even an added bonus to all of this -- widescreen. Yes, as a user of widescreen displays, I am now quite supportive in games that properly and natively support this. No hacks. No modifying files. No screwed up interface. And no unsupportive feeling you get when you post on forums. Everything is all fine and dandy, at least for now.

So as I look at my own profile, I find myself wanting to keep going. But for how long and how far can I go? I still have unfinished business with another title. Yet I do not know if I can take it nowadays. It's time I evaluate my strategic options...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Trick or Treat

So more than a month has past and I had nothing to show for it. Having gotten over the initial surge of playing Guild Wars' Eye of the North expansion, I have since then been playing other games. Namely, titles like World in Conflict, Half-Life 2, Portal, and Team Fortress 2 have all contributed to the lack of postings here. Yet trying to squeeze what little blurb I can spew forth onto this little blog here is proving to be a tad difficult.

In the midst of all the games that I have installed, a few come with extra perks that keep me tuned into the game - awards and achievements. Like before, my affinity to gaining achievements kept me coming back to play some more, even though my dedication is rather spread across several titles now. Both Portal and Team Fortress 2 come with their own series of achievements, with TF2 providing players with player statistics that are both built into the game and hosted by Steam themselves. Their recent debut of the Steam Community made it possible for any player on Steam to create their own profile page using the ID (or nick) of choice. And it should come as no surprise as to what I use as a SteamID.

On the other hand, World in Conflict comes in as a completely different type of game altogether, but not any different by those who have kept up with the gaming scene. World in Conflict is a Real-Time Strategy game akin to the likes of Warcraft and Starcraft. And one of the interesting things about the game is the clean implementation of player profiles, buddy/friend list, server browsing, clan management, and profile browsing. These qualities are something that I had longed for in a multiplayer game. Having one's performance being recorded, tallied, and ranked amongst other players in the world is an added bonus. Sadly, as a first-person shooter type of player, my profile isn't very spectactular compared to the top 10 ranked players in a variety of categories.

On the flip side, some animation titles have come and gone. One of my favorite, Shijou Saikyou no Deshi Kenichi, has recently ended. The well-written story of Seirei no Moribito came to a close. Romance came to a strange end in sola. And a re-encode re-release of Machine Robo Rescue just finished. With all these titles, it becomes imperative that I off-load these large files onto a DVD disc for archival purposes. One or more of these titles will never see the light of day in America. But perhaps someday I will have the grand opportunity of collecting an entire series episodes to keep.

Oh, and before I forget... Red Sox are World Series 2007 champions, yet again! It was unexpected that the Red Sox would blow the Rockies away in a 4-game sweep. But I suppose it goes to show just how bad the match-up was. While it was great seeing the Sox outplay the Rockies in every shape and form, the majority of the insanity was during the ALCS where they faced the Cleveland Indians. Well, now that baseball season is over, all of the focus is on the New England Patriots. After that, the Celtics... Boston? City of sports? It will be when Celtics get the NBA title. Until then, it'll just be a good year for both Patriots and Sox.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Guild Wars Grindfest

Similarly like my BF2142 profile, I seem to have an affinity for getting achievements. When a friend told me of a common spot people use to acquire points, I figure I'd do the same, as getting it the old fashion way is lengthy, tedious, troublesome, and a major pain in the rear. After a couple of trial and test runs, I later found out that I wasn't exploiting the most of what the point farming run has to offer. As I read further into this, I then started to slowly adopt and adapt to the run. Eventually the run began to show its result and reward. The amount of points acquired in such a short timeframe made it worthwhile to use for the bored casual player like myself.

In the course of less than one week, I was able to accrue enough points that it didn't seem all that much of a hassle to get there. Soon I'll have two more titles maxed out. Now I just gotta figure out what title to go for next...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Looking at the Eye

One of the key factors to a game is replay value. Granted, this is crucial in keeping players attached to the game. So it comes as no surprise when a game needs variety in order to support its replay value. In order to keep the game dynamic, something has to change. In the realm of FPS, the replay value is in the random people you meet. In my case, it's the challenges of going up against enemies who are either better or worse than me.

Guild Wars is one of those games that had some decent replay value, in which there are ways in order to enjoy the game without doing the same thing repeatedly, otherwise known as grinding. However, there are some activities that cannot be done without grinding. And there are numerous changes to the way the game work in that it is no longer "fun" for me to run around gathering interesting items. It's not possible to do some of the things alone anymore. My fun was ruined and I was turned away.

When two new chapters to Guild Wars were released, I purchased them immediately. Granted, this added something more to the entire game so that I don't have to play the same thing repeatedly. Yet there remains something that is needed in order to keep players in the game. It needed something to keep those players occupied. So the developers of the game, ArenaNet, added the area that was missing from the original release of Nightfall -- the Domain of Anguish. Sadly, the only way to enter is to beat the game first. Also of note is that there's nothing much else to add to the entire game.

Eventually the fabled Hard Mode became a reality and some changes were made to the way people accrue points to certain titles for Nightfall. Also changed was how some Titles work. The new titles that were introduced along with Hard Mode gave me something new to do... but it grew old quickly. Having been through all of the missions in all three chapters, I know how they work. What drove me away was the fact that some missions require the survival of characters, one of which would take point and rush straight into the battle. This lead to either rushing alongside with this character or leaving that character for dead, thus ending the mission prematurely. There is no control over this and there is no way to keep the character from rushing to its death. It frustrated me to no end and I went into haitus.

ArenaNet made the announcement that their first (and perhaps last and only expansion) to the Guild Wars game, Eye of the North, will be released on August 31, 2007. This completely blindsided many people who were expecting the expansion to be released during the 2007 holiday season (which would put the game around October or November). A Pre-Release pack was sent out to retailers and the pre-order component of the expansion was made available on their in-game online store. People bought it.

So as of now, for this weekend only, those who have made their pre-order are exploring the new areas. They are combatting monsters, participating in small games, exploring, and viewing what will become their monument to their own character. I am one of them. It is something new. And it is something to do. But sadly, all of this, all of the things that I have earned will be locked away for a week. It is only a week but it is understandable that things earned in a preview event should be locked away temporarily.

The world is vast... and it only felt that what I have done thus far only scratched the tip of this giant iceberg that I'm on. And assuming that the map that I have seen is correct, then what I am about to find out is that I'll be able to travel and explore an area that I have remembered so well yet never set foot on. How will this affect my time with Battlefield 2142? Honestly, I don't know. But after trying so hard to earn a particular badge, it is a nice change of pace.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Mission: Possible

This Titan will destruct in 5 seconds. Well, if only it was as simple as that. I do find that it's not a matter of luck but a matter of whether a Titan is lightly defended. If any, a Titan that is lightly defended is ripe for certain awards. One of them is the Titan Destruction Achievement badge. The highest award rank for this requires the destruction of 3 Titan Consoles and a Titan Core, a feat that is more about whether there are greedy teammates than about getting inside.

The problem with Titan-related awards is how the Titan ship was designed. Granted, there are some small and cramped corridors throughout the entire ship. But this invites the notion of people who do nothing but sit in that corner. They do nothing but throw grenades, lay explosives, and resupply themselves. It's akin to the legitimate form of stat-padding, a method by which is against DICE/EA's rules and regulations.

I have tried to sit back and catch these Titan attackers in action. Sadly, it's too much sitting around and not enough action. And I'm often itching for some action. But that's digressing a bit.

With another hurdle out of the way, the next step is to determine the method of getting 30 kills in a round aboard the enemy Titan. I get the feeling this is something I will have a hard time in getting.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Time Was Right

For a while, the Gold Armor Service Badge had been an award that I had already qualified but never bothered to hunt down 35 victims. So for the night, I had the grand opportunity to play with some old friends who had been playing other games. I have mentioned to them that I was like the lonely little kid sitting in the dark corner of the room. But it was their company that brought out the best in me, shooting up a storm and laying waste to every infantry wanderers who crossed my path. The map was Cerbere Landing. I was on the assaulting PAC team with my buddies. After capturing a few flags, I later found out that there's an important piece of equipment that is left unused by the team: the battle walker. So after a quick death, I spawned back at the base and took it for a joyride. I also started my count after each kill. It was then that things seem to be going smoothly at first. There were plenty of tickets left so there's room for more kills and opportunities.

About on the 3rd or 4th run in the walker, I went straight to one of the control point and started shooting at anything that I can recognize as enemy. One by one they fall until I get that nice little message on the screen. I have succeeded in getting 35 kills with armor in a single round. It is not difficult to achieve but it does take some decent effort and perhaps some luck as well. Most of the awards that I have gone after were achieved when the situation was right and ripe. In this case, I was fortunate that the opposing team weren't very adaptive in getting me out of my walker.

But it did not stop there. Even after one additional death that I came back with a battle walker to lay waste to the enemies. The round ended and I took one final screenshot that displayed a summary of my achievements during the round. Mission accomplished. Another award is done and I move on to the next. Does it mean that I step out of armor for good? Nope. There is one final armor-based award that I need to get. But I can now take my time in getting it.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Peace of Mind

It goes without saying that some things are better left earned the slow and old fashion way. It's part of the reason why I did not go on Titan servers to earn several of the awards. Some people believe that it's easier to get them in Titan. That much is obvious, as Titan maps and servers do not have a defined time limit nor do they have a predefined number of tickets (aka lives) for players. This enables people to potentially get 100 kills in a single round, even though I exaggerate that example by a good sum. Some awards are more easily achievable than on Titan... but that's not how I would like to get them.

My standings on getting many achievements through Conquest continues on and it nearly got me that one award that I have been trying to achieve (see here). Sadly, I was short by just 2 points and I was denied of getting it. I was so close but it just eluded me. But I was not to be denied a second chance.

Today, on a random server, I joined a friend and took up the Commander role. Both sides are fairly evenly matched. As the round went on, I took a look at how high my score is. Slowly but surely, it was getting up to that point. In a single round, I must have a Commander score of 45 in order to get the award. And at the rate the game was going, it seem like I'll be able to make it. Just when it seems like all is going to be lost as one of my squads pointlessly went to the enemy Titan, I took one quick glance and see my score is at 45, the amount I need.



One of the hardest journey is over and once again, I look forward to determining what award is next. I am one step closer to my final goal.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

It's a conspiracy!

Just when I was about to finally get the global requirement criteria fulfilled, I run into a problem with EA's statistic servers. It seems at this time the servers are lagging behind in processing the new numbers and awards that I received. Until this is resolved, I remain so close yet so far away from the virtual dream. I still chase it... that War College Ribbon.

On the bright side, I took the transport car for a test drive and drove around like a maniac. I eventually ran over 5 guys (or was it 4?) and received the Silver Transport Badge. That doesn't seem like much but it's a nice little achievement to have while I try to work on other awards. Eventually I'll have to figure out how to get 12 road kills for the gold version. I just know that I'm going to get some painful experiences when I go for it.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Enemy infantry spotted!

It's always amusing to get those random mutiny votes from players who are annoyed with the way I spot enemies as the commander. I've been told a few times to shut up. But it never ceases to amaze me just why they want me to be silent about it. I had one individual tell me via VoIP to tone it down. How can I? Enemies are scattered in various places and the UAV can only cover so much. I think the next time I get a response from someone who's annoyed at it that I'll give the guy an ultimatum -- "Deal with it, or I can do absolutely nothing at all." We can then see how many people like it when they have no commander to do any spotting.

On a different note, one of these days I should do a random recording of a single round. There are times when I wish I had a recording just so I can make a video out of it and post it up online.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

And the beat.... er, beta... goes on

One of the more anticipated team and tactical based games coming out is now in limited public beta. Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is a game based on the Quake2 universe and runs on the Doom3 3D engine. However, its gameplay is fundamentally based on Return to Castle Wolfenstein's free add-on modification called Enemy Territory. As a result, the game is familiar to those who have played the first Enemy Territory. However, there is a group that are coming from the bug-ridden Battlefield series, which includes me. Having tried several rounds of gameplay, I am starting to get the feel as to what this game is intended to be and how it plays. Granted, it took me a while to adjust due to its immense difference in style as well as default key controls. But one of the top priorities of testing is to see how the weapons are designed and how it plays out in real combat.

The key element that changes everything is in the game's speed. It is fast. Maybe too fast. It may be due to my lack of quick reflexes or that they (the other players) are just simply better. Who knows? However, I stand firm on how I view it objectively, so that I can convey the experiences as a player coming from an entirely different franchise.

One of the interesting things about Quake Wars is the common set of weapons present in virtually all of the soldier classes. All but the Sniper class contains a standard-issued assault rifle and a shotgun. The sniper class gets a slightly modified assault rifle and a specialized sniper rifle. Each class has a specific role that can be used to complete a mission objective, which is required in order to advanced further into the round and potentially win it. This means it all boils down to having the right combination of soldier classes and enough skills and determination to get through. And because the entire round is based on completing an objective, getting the most kills won't matter.

A small, yet crucial, feature in Quake Wars is native widescreen support. For a while, I have been advocating and pushing both EA and DICE to implement this feature into the Battlefield games. To this day, I have heard nothing from them -- the silent treatment. I have posted on their forums many times and I have posted numerous times regarding the same issue. All of the responses I have received are either from those who also wish to see it implemented and those who believe that EA will sit back and do nothing about it. Multiple times I have received responses where the reason behind not supporting widescreen is unfair advantage. I have argued otherwise in a calm manner that such a reason is ... well, unreasonable. And multiple times I have pointed out various aspects of the game that would give any individual an unfair advantage in such scenario. Still, the responses have been silent from EA and DICE.

In the end, these are two completely different games with two completely different pacing. I do not know if I'll continue playing both games. Both have some good qualities while both have their faults. Sadly, if one were to tally the faults, EA/DICE's BF2 and 2142 games would come out on top.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Psychothera-wha...?

There's just something missing when it comes to traditional animation produced by American companies or writers. One of the things that has plagued animation for the longest time is its generalization to make it viewable for everyone, including children. In today's day and age of paranoia and protecting our own little ones from the dangers of bad influences, you don't see animations that requires a higher level of understanding. You don't see complex stories, mysteries, or things that reflect real life. That's the biggest problem plaguing Disney today. While they try to write new stories that attract all audiences, none of them push forward to challenge the mind. None of them try to ask the difficult questions that can come up from time to time. None of them touch on the little things that some people go through. Sure, Miyazaki's works are now published and released in America under the Disney brand. But as we all know, Miyazaki doesn't write for Disney nor does he really follow Disney's philosphy of writing.

At first glance, Paprika did not seem much from the trailer. It looked like your typical adventure film. What the trailer lacked was the kind of things that can make or break future sales. Visually, it looks interesting. But there's nothing much else in terms of the story's premise. That's one of the key elements that is needed in order to attract viewers.

It's hard to describe what is Paprika without spoiling. Instead, one should just watch the entire movie. Unfortunately, no date has been set at this time on when this movie will be released on DVD. This is a worthy addition. And if you're one of those people who has adopted Blu-Ray early, snatch up the Blu-Ray copy while you're at it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

To the pain!

One of the great things about fandom is that somewhere out there, an individual has an idea to make a fan-made game based on a different game. Normally this should come as no surprise. Fan-made games and the sort is common in today's day and age of Flash, Java, Shockwave, DirectX, OpenGL, and so forth. However, the game which this one is based off on isn't exactly made for the general public. In fact, those not of a certain age isn't permitted to even view its content. Yes, it's one of those type of games. But this fan-made game isn't like that. It's entirely different, using a 2D fighting theme that reminds us all of the golden days of Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, and, yes, Street Fighter 2.

The game is Big Bang Beat - 1st Impression. To those who have played various other 2D-based games such as Guilty Gear, Eternal Fighter Zero, or Party's Breaker, this may feel familiar. The system is solid and shows so much promise in many ways. One of the character, Zinnai Heita (J-name ordering) didn't show much potential as a character. It wasn't until boosting his ability into "Super Mode" that his abilities begin to shine. He is faster, more powerful, and adds a couple of new techniques. Remember the Raging Demon? Super Heita has one similar. Think it eats up a mere 3 meters of Boost/Super? Nope, it requires 9 -- the whole 9 yards. Yet while this move is particularly devastating to use, it isn't guarantee to completely destroy any opponent. The damage isn't set in stone and it varies in a certain range. Despite that, there are other more useful ways to fully utilize 9 meters worth of special abilities.

video

After some experimenting, I finally came up with the above series of moves. Will there be a chance to ever do this? Maybe. But there are ways to mix things up and create something different. As a footnote, this combo is not strictly corner-only. This combo can be done from one end of the screen to the next and the opponent will still end up in the corner regardless.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Smoking Gun

Today a package arrived via UPS. Inside is something that probably would have easily passed by US Customs, especially for a single order item. However, due to a certain federal law, many of the online stores selling this would opt to have this piece modified to be suitable and guarantee a pass through Customs, or even sell in the first place.

As I made a random check to look up an URL as reference, I found out that my MP-05 preorder is in jeopardy. Being a collector, I am choosing to have Megatron stay in his sealed box state. Knowing that he'll be opened and be touched by people's hands that are not mine disturbs me. I waited a bit, to see if I will get a notice from HLJ about the small change in the order description. What I had originally ordered was Megatron: unchanged, unmodified, untouched. For them to change the description and the condition of which to ship this to USA without telling me in the first place is rather poor business practice. I have ordered many things from them and I have had no problems, until now. Undeniably, they have the best prices compared to other reputable stores. But sadly, I cannot be a customer for them that time.

I eventually canceled the preorder and went elsewhere. That lead me to Ages 3 And Up, a store located in Canada that can deal with American customers as well as ship to American addresses. I placed the preorder and paid up front accordingly to their terms and conditions. The release day came and went. The store would not get their shipment until late April. It would not be until late May that I would receive an email from them informing me of my tracking number for UPS. Finally, it was on its way...

As expected, they delivered as promised that their shipment of Megatrons would be untouched and sealed. Unfortunately, they lack any fancier packaging that would make keeping Megatron in its pristine state easier. Despite that, I am relieved that I do not have to endure waiting for this wonderful masterpiece to arrive at my doorstep.

Friday, June 01, 2007

A Semi-New Beginning

Finally...

It started on November 26, 2006. And on May 30, 2007, I have reached the end of a road. The rank of Brigadier General isn't much. But it shows that I have achieved one particular goal. Yet it doesn't all stop there.

The points don't matter much to me anymore. I have reached the summit of scoring altogether. One road ends. And a new one begins. This time, the road is different. It's rough, with some curves. It's also a long one and I do not know how far it'll take me. This road will put me on a path where the first stop along the way is the War College Ribbon. Things are going fine, with a few bumps here and there. And the only real problem is clocking in the time as Commander.

I do not know what's next after the first stop. In all honesty, I've no idea on what to achieve next, as the scenario constantly changes when I play. But I do know one thing. My win/loss record is still in a manageable state and I am definitely sure I can reach this goal. The only ingredient to the mix... is simply time. "It is inevitable..."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Hacking Musical Melodies

Recently a CD has been released that featured the ending theme to the anime series called sola. What surprised me is the inclusion of the image song that was featured as the opening music in the first episode. One of my favorite style of music is those focusing on piano. But one thing I have heard are some piano melodies that are mixed into the music. When this happens, a couple of things can occur. Either the piano music would clash or contrast with the overall feel of the music or that the piano would be drowned out by other instruments. I have heard a couple of songs that does exactly that so I am not all too thrilled about the composer's and writer's style. It may add a bit of flavor... but things just need to be focused.

When I first heard the song at the start of episode 1, I knew that I must have it. But the more I thought about it, the more it worried me. Knowing that some people will mix in other musical style, I was worried that it may turned out for worse. Yet the CD was released and I finally got to hear the full version of this song in all its glory. I was so relieved to hear the entire song in its entirety and have found the change in tempo and style to be small and minor, which is very good as it does not detract from the song's primary musical instrument, the piano. After that, I had the song repeated. The song's soothing and does nothing more than melt my heart. Hopefully, a kind soul out there will translate the lyrics so that I can enjoy the song even more.

On a different note (no pun intended), I was randomly clocking in some Commander hours in 2142 when I got a kick vote initiated against me. When questioned (not by me, mind you), I was told that I was accused of hacking, which is amusing because if I knew how to hack, I wouldn't be playing this game. It was later deduced that the player was miffed that I have defended my own flag/home 3 times straight. The first encounter was when I saw a lonely sniper running towards the base and I went to meet him up close and personal. A 1-on-1 duel ensued and my Bianchi LMG outscored his Lambert Carbine. From there was when the kick vote started. The second time he came around, he used the same route. Except this time, he laid an APM next to the corner. It was a good tactic except... I crawled around the corner and killed him again. The third time around, he somehow ended up on the 2nd floor but his body was partially exposed due to the fence-like nature of the floor. Because of this, it was fairly easy to shoot upwards from the ground and kill him. What happened afterwards is beyond me... my primary focus was to command, spot enemies, notify my team of incoming, and direct my soldiers appropriately.

It amuses me to no end that some people would be so quick to assume another player is hacking or cheating in some form. Obviously, there are people who do just that. I consider those kind of people to be lower than scum. But there are plenty of instances where I find their accuracy and aim to be questionable. Yet throughout it all, I never deduce any of those incidents to be due to hacking or cheating. I still clearly remember the rare times that I would be accused of using an "aimbot" on TRIBES: Vengeance. Well, perhaps they're right to assume so. I lost count as to how much time I spent practicing with the game's chaingun to be okay with it. And I do mean "okay" as I'm sure there are those who use nothing else.

At the end of the day, I simply look over my 2142 profile, see how far I have to go, and figure out what else I need to clock time on. After all, it won't be long 'till I am at the end of the road.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Chasing The Virtual Dream

Back in the early days of Battlefield 2, there exist an award that is so elusive and difficult to get due to its qualification requirement. The War College Ribbon was considered by most to be one of the more/most difficult award to get. This is due to the global requirement of a 3:1 win/loss ratio. At first, this wasn't much of a big deal. Yet as people play more, and look at their profile, they see that it is perhaps one of the more impossible awards to get, because many would have already logged in the hours and the rounds that would make progressing to even qualify a major and daunting task. Eventually, this criteria would change for the better. In one of the updates to the game, the criteria for getting this award would change so that you only need to log in the Commander hours and the points to qualify.

In 2142, the War College Ribbon would show its face again. However, the criteria would not be as harsh. However, it still remains to be very elusive in how it is set up. The current criteria for qualification is a 2:1 win/loss ratio. For early players, this'll be an easy task to handle. But like before, those who simply want to play would find that their profile will continue to have a missing piece to the puzzle. A lot will not mind this at all. Some will feel that it's like a thorn.

As it stands now, nearing 500 rounds played, I chase the virtual dream. The one single award that continues to elude me, I struggle to keep the numbers up. Granted, this is easier said than done. The task is never easy, as the outcome is never in one's favor nor is it easily controlled. That doesn't stop me from trying anyway. So far away...

The Yellow Brick Road

Due to situations a bit beyond my control, I ended up getting Battlefield 2142. I was reluctant to get it on Day 1. But incidentally, my reluctance favored me in some ways as Best Buy would advertise the game for a paltry US$25. One of the two companies is getting the profit shaft. And frankly, I did not care much for who it was. For nearly half of the MSRP for a relatively new game, I figure it's worth snatching up anyway. But even after I had made the purchase, I was reluctant to really open it up immediately and install it. Then 29th of November, 2006, the Sixshot soldier was enlisted.

At first, everything was different. Running around was rather horrible, as there are several abilities that the player needs are locked at first, giving those early adopters and stat-padding retards the early jump on a variety of soldier abilities. Things such as better stamina recovery, longer sprint time, and even grenades are locked. What kind of idiotic system and moron would lock the most basic equipment for a soldier? It's quite horrendous how the developers crippled the way newbies play the game. It's like giving them a naked soldier with nearly nothing to defend himself with but a simple gun, a knife (or spoon), and a class equipment. It would not surprise me one bit if people who started out left the game early due to how they set up the new recruits.

The only reason I have stayed was due to the clan I am associated with. Started out fairly slow. But I eventually got used to how the system works and learned some of the tricks. And then there are the guns. No matter how I looked at it, there seems to be something unbalanced with these guns. Granted, they are alternatives to the stock weapons they provide. Some are better, and some aren't. Being one who defies the Majority Pack, I opted for the Baur H-AR Assault class unlock. And the more I use it, the more I feel that it's one of the better and well-balanced gun out of them all. It's potent and has accuracy. However, it chews through bullets like popcorn. In a sense, it's like BF2's G3 unlock. Yet when I am chewed apart by the Voss L-AR, I cannot help but wonder just why it can do the things it can do. The gun seems to have the same potency and accuracy as the Baur yet it houses 40 rounds per clip. Why???

Anyway, after a while, I started keeping track of various awards I accrue over time. Eventually I started to hunt each awards in order to make the progression to the next promotion and rank less time consuming. This worked for about 10 ranks or so. And at random times, I would be stricken by the Recruit bug, where I can utilize the weapon unlocks but my rank would show up as a Recruit, the lowest rank. In those cases, I would not get the promotion if I was close to getting it. However, it is advantageous to me as it provides an opportunity to acquire various awards that I have already earned earlier. Due to the new Career Point system, certain awards provide a very good and substantial amount of points. And these bugged points get logged, sent, and added into my profile. Thus the road isn't as long or as rough as originally thought.

As it stands now at this time of writing, I have only 3 more promotions to go before the points do not matter any more. When that happens, all that is left to do is clocking in hours and getting the rest of the awards.

In some forums where image signatures are allowed, I link to my profile in order to provide people easy access to who I am in the game. The image I display (see below) changes every so often, as I manually edit it to reflect my progress. That'll all become mostly static when I reach the end of the road.



I hope by the time I finish playing the game that I'll have all the awards that I can get. However, some awards won't be very possible due to the fact that I am on the ground most of the time. In any case, I do hope to earn them regardless.