Wednesday, November 28, 2007


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.