Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Doing What's Right

One of the joy of playing FPS games is making progress, whether that's improving one's skill online or seeing your progression through ranks and achievements.  Several games offer a way of keeping track of one's progression while playing online against and with other people.  Perhaps the first official system in place that track people's performance was through DICE/EA's Battlefield 2 game.  Its system employs a closed method by which people can earn points through a variety of methods.  However, because the system is closed, the only way to host a server by which the information is then sent to the master stats server is to rent from a licensed provider.  This is sometimes an unnecessary expense for those who wish to play around with the server software and configuration.  As a way to protect the system itself, certain properties of the server software itself remains closed and inaccessible to the public.

Other games that employ a centralized database of players' performance statistics utilize the same concept of a closed system.  After all, why jeopardize the one feature that helps build the playerbase and keeps the players in?

In Call of Duty 4, all the numbers are stored locally on the player's hard drive.  This is the biggest and dumbest mistake Infinity Ward ever made when they developed the game.  Because of this, it opens up a way for people to modify one's profile to inflate their score and numbers in order to rise up in their ranks.  There is no way to officially check against this and there is no method to safeguard the profile's integrity when a system becomes corrupted or unstable.  If an error occurs, the profile is zeroed out and the numbers reset.  You start back from scratch and one needs to go through the process of earning your points all over again.  This is all because your profile is stored locally.  When the one file that houses it becomes corrupt, you lose whatever achievements and performance numbers you earned on it.

Of course, when the next game in the Call of Duty series arrived, named World at War, Treyarch, the developers behind the current game, decided to utilize the same engine that powered Call of Duty 4.  While this is fine for the most part, they did next to nothing to address many of the issues that plagued Call of Duty 4.  Again and like before, World at War stores your progressions and numbers locally on your hard drive.  However, instead of a utility that was able to modify the profile directly, there is a new method that enables people to rise up in ranks effortlessly without utilizing the player's true skill.

It was discovered that due to a loophole in the Quality Assurance (QA) process the server software did not lock out certain variables from being set.  This resulted in modifying the server's defaults on earning points to values much higher and beyond any reasonable limit.  This introduces a number of servers called "Power" servers.  These servers provide substantially more points than one get, which enables people to effortlessly rise in ranks.  Because of this, many of the players who sought to earn the highest level of Prestige (seen here) can get there faster than a person can earn the highest rank (Level 65: Commander) through normal means.

For the playerbase, this ought to be considered a serious issue that require immediate fixing and a prompt release.  However, the issue is lumped together with other issues and bugs that the developers themselves have set aside to deal with after the holidays.  In other words, an update may not be released until the start of the new year.  Well shit...

Screw the holidays.  I'd rather forsake the holiday vacation to address that issue as a top priority than to hand myself an early vacation so I don't have to worry about it.  What utter bullshit that was... but I digress.

Having experimented around in order to gather data and information, I found that it took me less than an hour to go from Level 1 to Level 65, regardless of which level of Prestige I am at.  It became clear that those with the 10th Prestige level got that using the aforementioned servers.  It then became clear that those who did got the 10th Prestige did not earn it at all but rather took a shortcut to get it.  It's pathetic that they would resort to using such a method just to get a fancier icon.  Yet for what?  To say "I'm higher rank than you?"  Or to get what benefits Prestige also bestows upon people -- additional custom class slots?  A random player innocently asks on what the point is in going Prestige.  As one who is honest in answering such questions, I gave the person 3 points on why:

  1. Boredom.  When you're bored, and you want to put all those extra points you earn to good use, then going Prestige will help in making sure that no earned points will go to waste.
  2. You have serious management issues.  By default and once you've unlocked them, you are given 5 custom class slots.  They are enough for you to utilize whatever weapon that you are comfortable with and there is room to set a class for a particular role, such as a power-sniper, a grunt, or anti-tank.
  3. No life.  Grinding away to get to the next Prestige level first is by no means an achievement.  It just shows you got no life in playing the game.  There are other things besides playing the game 24/7 and trying to become the best.  If you must become the best, then you're better off in trying to be a professional gamer instead.

I have no respect to those who took the shortcut to achieve such a rank.  Those who did it legitimately, I have nothing to say for.  If they have earned it through countless hours of playing on the server, day and night, night and day, then they earned it fair and square.  And for that, I have nothing to say against them.  It's by their choice to achieve this level of Prestige in such short time using legitimate means.  So there's nothing for me to argue against that for those who also have Prestige 10.  Yet when you are faced with those who potentially got far using a Power server, you are left to wonder if they suck or if they don't have the balls to do it the old fashioned way.

But why blabber on about this here?  It's because I've been to those servers before.  I've seen it.  I've played on it.  And I've gathered data on it.  But while I didn't completely blow my Prestige level over to the maximum possible, I only wish to see on how fast and how far.  After a few days of being Prestige 5, I have given this a second thought.  I could have gone all the way to get all the custom slots unlocked.  But where would the fun be in doing that without any effort?  Instead, I opted for doing the right thing instead.  I took my profile and wiped it.  No numbers remain and I start back from square one.  It's no easy decision, as I could easily have the upper advantage in being able to use whatever kit that is needed and appropriate for the given situation.  It means I lose all the numbers of kills I've had, the score, the deaths I've had, and my highest kill streak.  Everything would be wiped.  I would start back being an infantry all over again and earning everything all over again.

But what would I have to gain by doing that?  Easy.  There are times when I want to play just one more round just to get to the next level and potentially that next weapon unlock.  There are also times when I'd take the time to learn the weapons and find out its advantages and disadvantages.  The road is long and winding, yet the scenery along the way is nice.  The shortcut is plain, and nothing seems to be there.  I felt that by doing the right thing that I would redeem myself in making my profile truly prestigious.  By wiping my profile, I then set a goal: Prestige 5 or for however long my tolerance can take me.  Perhaps there is hope in really achieving that yet.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Living up to the name

Little by little I proliferate myself into a variety of places: this blog, in forums, at Guild Wars wiki, and in online gaming.  Since I do not strive to become the best, all I want to do is to see where I stand, how far I can go, and what my limits are.

In Battlefield 2, it got me as far enough to gather everything needed to have all the weapons to choose from.  In Battlefield 2142, it got me as far as your plain ol' Brigadier General, the final destination for everyone who gathers points via normal progression.  Some other games do not track a person's profile and progression for the world to see.  Sadly this is the case for both Call of Duty 4 and Call of Duty: World at War.  Both of these games have similar progression systems found in BF2 and 2142.  However, the numbers and data are all stored locally.  Due to this, it is easy for others to manipulate their numbers to gain the highest tiered rank possible for the game.  It's deplorable that some of these people would do this just to be on top of others... whereas there are many who are still struggling to get themselves up to the next rank/level.

There are times when the situation just turn out to be so good that hardly anything can go wrong.  As a player who has experiences in using tactics to one's advantage, I find myself having a blast without realizing just how high my score is compared to others.  And when the round is finally over, the game displays how much points I have gained as well as some other information.  The numbers I really wanted to see was how many points I scored before all the bonus and extras, how many kills I got, and how many times I've died.  A spread that large is not too surprising even for those with higher skill caliber than my own.  But I personally call it a good achievement given that I run recklessly around finding unsuspecting victims to shoot and slay.

I doubt I'll ever achieve something like this again.  I just do not have that kind of consistency nor am I all that motivated to maintain such a thing.  I guess for that one brief moment, I lived up to the namesake that I have chosen for my online identity.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Plugging In

As I rack up the points, or at least try to, in the latest Call of Duty series called World at War, I find myself wondering if I'll be able to tolerate going through the entire leveling process all over again. Granted, this is only for those who wanted to play around with the extra custom class slot that's available. Sadly, you don't simply gain the rest in one shot. Each slot is unlocked at a particular "Prestige" level. Once a Prestige level is achieved, you start back at basic Level 1 in order to begin the level-up process all over again. This is fine for those who consistently play the game. But for the casual, this won't be the case. However, everyone has their style of play. Eventually it'll become natural to have a set of custom classes in order to maximize the flexibility of one's profile to accommodate a variety of situations, be it to take out a tank or to set up a sniper profile. That's why custom classes are needed.

Only recently have I finally surpassed the old Level 40 mark which was the limit of the beta that was released earlier. I am finding that getting to the next level is getting longer and longer, as the point gap between each level gets bigger. This isn't so great when it comes to the casual player. At least there's Headquarters where the points are usually plentiful there.

In other news, a long-time buddy of mine has recently published a review I submitted. I figure I'd plug his stuff on here since the review would eventually link back to here, where one will find a lot of foul language being used. So go ahead, read up and see what I was raving about, and maybe make a purchase to get one of your own. Well, that's if you got the cash for it.

For the time being, I have to regretfully halt any future purchases from Japan. This is due to the really dismal economy that's also affecting the dollar/yen exchange rate. And because of the rate going the wrong way, it means that getting any future items will end up being so much more expensive than before (I pay out more dollar per yen). Instead of something I'm determined to get, it has now become an item that I wish I could get. Yes, it is that bad now even with my picky selection of import figures. But that's the reality of it. And I blame damn GW Bush for it. Fuck you, Bush. Thanks for making all of our lives miserable for 8 fucking years.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Boot Camp: Part 2

Having played Call of Duty 4, I wasn't all too thrilled to be playing the new one (World at War).  However, things have surprisingly changed for once.  For starters, the weapons are nearly like night and day.  The map design appear to be considerably better and much more balanced out.

Granted, the weapons are designed around the World War II era, ammo is a bit of a major factor to how people take their shots.  As for me, I can't aim worth jack squat.

One of the major banes for me in CoD4 was this so-called Hardcore mode, where the game increases the power of the weapon such that you die much more quickly than before.  And because of this drastic change, trying to run across a mere street is impossible.  And if it's not possible, then it's not great to really try to run around and mount an offense.  This is especially true when you're down or pinned down and want to at least help turn the tide over for your team.  It frustrates me so much that I quit the game.  It's ridiculous that I cannot have a fighting chance.  And it is not due to not being a bad player.  I know when I suck if I cannot hit the side of a barn with a mere gun with 100% accuracy.  But not being able to go from cover to cover?  Hell fucking no.

Anyway, World at War was released.  And it didn't take me long to break down and get it.  I originally wanted to wait until there is some sort of hot sale to save a few bucks.  But that impulse took over and I grabbed it.  Well, even if there's no decent sale by December, at least I know I got an extra out of my purchase to make it a bit worth the money.

I'm not entirely sure if, after all of us get to the max level and stay there or worse yet start over in Prestige, it'll keep us entertained.  CoD4 didn't keep me in there because nobody wanted to play Normal mode in it.  And I sure hope that World at War will at least keep some things sane and not end up being the same pile of shit (but with different shit) that CoD4 was.  I guess I'll know in a few months...

Thursday, November 06, 2008

First Time for Everything

Many years have I not opted to vote personally on a presidential election.  That's usually because I am not much of a voter.  However, I looked up information and gathered what was necessary.  The information was there.  And I just happen to be in the neighborhood in the morning.  I figure I'd stop by and see how the process work and what type of ballot system my state was using at the time.  Yes, I was curious to see if the votes will be counted or be flawed by design.

Because of the "hanging chad" incident in Florida in the 2000 election, it has left a foul mark on how to proceed with improving the ballot system.  Since then, the people wanted an improved ballot and voting system that would soon make it easier to place votes and be reliably counted.  Electronic voting is what can be defined as that.  My state wasn't using it, thankfully.  In the years to come, there would be plentiful of news regarding the electronic voting system that were deployed.  Many of the news range in horror stories from cracking the system to votes gone missing.

So far, there have been no voting horror stories aside from the long lines waiting to cast.  And in the end, I find some propositions were passed and some denied.

Moving on, having played the Call of Duty 4 game, I was not all that optimistic nor enthusiastic to play the World at War beta.  But considering that I am willing to give the game a try to see how it holds up, I find myself participating in the beta to determine its worth.

From what I've gathered, several of the flaws inherited from CoD4 is present in the game.  That includes the shitty retarded server browser and the worthless and retarded spawning system in place for Domination gameplay.  However, the game seem to perform well and I have not seen any outstanding issues yet.  The weapons seem balanced and I do not find any one weapon to be overly powerful.  The perks look interesting despite inheriting most from the CoD4 game.  And the maps look to be designed well.  Unfortunately, this doesn't guarantee that I will buy the game on release day (Nov 11).  A different game takes priority.  But things can change...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Another Year, Another Day

I'm not one to celebrate birthdays.  I just find it as just another day like any other day of the week.  As Guild Wars ramps up the Halloween theme to their game, other online games seem to be doing the same in their own way.  Grand Theft Auto IV turns your character into a zombie.  And other intellectual properties run by NCSoft are also decorated or celebrating the spooky holiday.  I, though, do not really like to really celebrate the occasion.  I just find it too troublesome having to answer the door just to hand a few kids some candies and treats.  Sure they're just doing it for fun.  I just think it's bothersome.

So with only days away from the 2008 US Election, it won't be long until I am finally rid of these pathetic political bullshit ads.  I'm pulling for Obama as he and his running mate appear to be more of the complete package than McCain and his dimwitted pick of a VP.  Granted, whoever is elected is going to inherit a lot of shitty fucked up mess that G.W. Bush left behind.  That fucking prick...

On a lighter note, man years ago, Budweiser unveiled to the world the biggest catchphrase on the Super Bowl.  8 years later, the folks responsible for making this commercial are back in this little clip.

True.  True.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

You hereby agree to ...

You've seen them.  Those agreements that you have to click "Yes" to in order to install a program, use a program, or use an online service.  Sometimes they're dubbed as EULA but that's not really what all of them are called.  Some are just some sort of service usage agreement where they have certain rules set up so you cannot sue the living shit off of the company or provider.  Yeah, it's pretty lame on how it's has infiltrated our daily lives now.  These days we just simply ignore what the bunch of useless bullshitting legalese text say and click on the "Yes" or "Agree" button/checkbox.  All it was is a bunch of annoying shit that we cannot be bothered to read from top to bottom as half the time we cannot even begin to translate what their stuff says.

So when I install applications and programs, I usually click through all that just so I don't have to deal with all that.  It's just an unnecessary step that I have to hop over just so I can get to using something I know has been working so far.  The least thing the software developers could have done is to simply warn users that using said program may do odd things and that they are not responsible to what happens to your data should something really really bad happen.

Then today as I do my daily scan of various news sites or to check on what's news since seeing the site has updated, I came across this article with regards to the recent release of Disney's Sleeping Beauty on Blu-Ray disc.  What bewilders me is how much legal bullshit text is in there.  Just what kind of asshole sat at the desk for hours just to write up a bunch of useless legal bullshit for a movie that is... *ahem* to be viewed by children?  Even more absurd is why such a thing exist?  Sure there may be something interactive but can't we leave all the really interactive shit on devices that does the job better?  Like a Wii?  Or 360?  Or PS3?  Or PC?  Or Mac?  Seriously, whoever's in charge of producing and managing the Blu-Ray department at Disney ought to be brought out and shot, along with the prick who wrote up that shit.

So by reading this post, you hereby agree that you don't give a rats ass on what I say and go on your merry way.  But hey, who reads License Agreement these days?  Nobody, I tell you.  Nobody.

Friday, October 03, 2008

More Ramblings

Way back then, I posted on how I was quitting Call of Duty 4 due to how the game was set up when a particular flag was set.  One of those reasons end up being how I cannot dash across a street without dying.  This is often reckless.  But sometimes it is necessary.  Sometimes it is needed in order to mount an offense up, to potentially turn the tide.  This is perhaps one of the more interesting part of playing the game, that I was able to be that daring in hopes of helping the team win in the end.  This isn't the case when you flip the switch.

When Hardcore mode is in play, you die in a couple of shots.  Sure, this enhances the realism.  But it's also the bane of my style of play: run-n-gun.  Even if I am to be careful on where I go, I cannot get by.  It gets worse when you cannot move out of your spawn point.  What's the point in playing if you cannot stand a single chance against a force that has all the vantage point?

Recently my clan has been defeated by a team that is well beyond their abilities.  It was a complete loss and I am at a loss for words as to how it could happen.  But preliminary report suggest that they were proclaimed as rookies who have never seen nor been in an organized match.  I call bullshit on that one.  I don't know how they are able to go that far in winning the match but this is not normal and they are no damn rookies.

It's not that my clan is that bad.  It's just that the clan has different views on how to spend their time.  What good is spending their extra time to be some cannon fodder to another team?  The idea was to have fun and be competitive at the same time.  No good will come with beating down an opposing team without giving them some enjoyment for their efforts.  I have also played the exact same way when facing other opponents when there are not enough people on to support certain tactics.  I want to extend the round further, to give others a fighting chance, to enable those getting a beating to have what fun that they can get from it.  I'd rather retain players than to drive them away after being beat down badly.

So now the question is whether or not such a team should remain in the league.  That's up to the higher-ups to decide.  Frankly, I don't care either way.  But that one particular team needs to know how to control their advantage.  There's a difference in keeping in control of the match in your favor and simply rubbing it in.  They obviously did not know how to control themselves.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Like popcorn

Something is definitely afoot here. Some time ago, I had issues with trying to get the GeForce 7900GT to run without any problem. That issue still exist today as I tried to use it as a backup video card. What happened? The GeForce 8800GTS (the 640MB version) decided to die on me, right there, as I was about to reboot to do some driver updates. I dunno how it happened but as soon as the system finished the shutdown procedure and rebooted, I was greeted with a long beep plus two short additional beeps. That's not a good sign. A quick google revealed that the error code means the a VGA/display problem. I tried the usual method to get it to work again. I reseated the card, complete shutdown, and checked the fan is running. Nothing.

I do not know how many video cards I have gone through but this is ridiculous. The last solidly built card that I have purchased happens to be the GeForce 7800GT. But it has never been put through the harsh operating conditions like other cards before it. And that means having to operate nearly 24/7. The system is almost always on and can sometimes get really heated during the summer days. The 7900GT has given me nothing but problems and I thought I had rid the card of any problem. Sadly, it turns out to be false.

For the time being, I am running things from the laptop. That means limited operations such as audio management, file management, movie viewing, RSS feeds, and gaming, of course. The laptop does not have the greatest of all 3D abilities and can barely run Guild Wars, albeit at sub-15fps speed. At the very least, that is enough to let my guildmates know of the current problem at hand, for now.

I estimate the gaming rig will be out of comission for about two weeks, give or take a few days. This is estimating that the mailing slip will be sent to me by tomorrow with packing and sending occuring on the same day. With USPS's Priority Mail, it'll be 3 days transit until it arrives at the RMA department's doorstep. From there it's a 1 to 2 day turn-around and shipping time of about 5-6 days (because of slow-ass UPS). I suppose I should be glad that my card is manufactured by EVGA. They have one of the best warranty service out of all the video card companies out there. I just wish they're more generous with their shipping, as UPS ground is just so goddamn slow.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Questioning The System

Here's another one. Eventually there's going to be a bunch of them all centered around the loonies that I come in contact with. The topic of the conversation turns out to be in regards to schools. Preference is one thing but downright banishing a type of school is plain stupid. The way I see schools are that each and every one of them offer something for kids and adults to learn. I do not question its method. I don't question its orientation. And I don't question their rules.

A particular guildmate has the right idea. Sometimes it takes trust to determine a kid's ability to do the right thing. You can only teach a child so much on the dangers of the things one learns when encountering other people. If such a matter is that big of an issue, a private school is always an option. But given that the alliance that I have to put up with, I have to hear all the bullshit from them on how they will rather send their kids to a religious school than to let them ever step foot on a public school. Sure some public schools have problems. But that comes with the territory. A public school is funded by the citizens of the town or city that it is in. That school can only do so much in terms of handling behavior, the number of teachers to employ, the textbooks needed to cover the subject materials, as well as extra-curricular activities. The problem to balance the school budget is always a topic every year. But needless to say, this is an obvious problem due to how the system works. And when the school system does work, it works as they should. Kids learn. They get good grades. And they do extra-curricular activities. Sure, other schools can do the same. But that's the point. A public school can be as good, better, or worse than any other school system, private or religious. Yet that's probably what some of these alliance retards can't get into their head. "Oh I've been through the public school system. And I know I won't put my kid through that." Bullshit. Pure bullshit.

I know that each school has a different level of teaching. Each school has a different method of teaching. It doesn't matter if it's public, private, or religious. Schools are schools. They differ. And all of them can suffer the same kind of problem that other schools can face. I just cannot stand idiots who judges an entire school system based on a single experience when there are millions of schools across the country.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I can see clearly now

So recently I acquired glasses that can help me see and read things far. The original intent is to enable me to properly renew my driver's license. However, my poor eyesight has finally caught up to me and they rejected my renewal request, at first. After getting a quick checkup and an order put in to produce new lens, I waited a week for it to arrive. I was called up and notified on the glass's arrival. Picked them up and realized just how much of a difference it was.

While I am well aware of how to discern moving objects, cars, people, and other things, I'm careful enough to ensure that I am able to tell things apart. Sure I may not be able to read signs very far. But the places I needed to go are all familiar to me. And as the opportunity arise, I'll utilize two lanes just to cut corners and turn at high (but not dangerous) speeds.

So after a few runs here and there with the new glasses, I find that it's a bit more comforting being able to read things that I wasn't able to easily read before. Here's to hoping my eyes won't give out on me early.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Click click click BOOM!

To start things off, I am not a person who is affiliated with any kind of religion. I am a person without such views who see things as they are, believe what they are, and formulate opinions on my own free will. I say what I wish to say. I do what I wish to do. I believe what I want to believe. If there are people visiting this blog of mine who are Catholic, Christian, Jewish, or whatever, and know who I am in the game of Guild Wars, you are about to read and hear my personal opinion and crituque of a variety of things that have transpired during my time of playing the game.

The guild I am in happens to be a Christian-themed guild. Now, the people in the guild already acknowledges that I am one who has no affiliation with any religion. They know well enough that I do not argue for or against their views. My view is different from them and I will not spark hot debate about their ways and methods. I leave that alone. And they respect that.

Recently the guild and the original alliance have merged with another alliance. The alliance will then be controlled by them, as the guild will be invited into it. That means the rules will have changed. How much, I did not know. I was not made aware of any such major rules prior to the merge taking place. And information about such thing was not known as there is no centralized place to relay such message and information.

So as time passed, there are some things that pop up that would have me wondering. But it was a minor issue and I let it pass as it was nothing. These issues normally center around language use. Take a deep breath and breathe out. Ready for this? Okay.

Their supposed language use prohibits some of the most basic verbal terms in existance. Now, I personally know how foul-mouthed I can be when it comes to saying such things. Yes, I can lash out and say so-and-so is one mother-fucking shit-eating asshole. But I know control and I can control how I speak. After all, I had time to learn to adapt to control my verbal usage everywhere else. However, in the age of the Internet, we have plenty of acronyms to go around, from LOL to ROFL to OMG and LMAO. I cannot use the common phrase "Oh my God!" as they would have beef with it. So they're going to do what? Bitch to me about it? And bitched they did when I used it.

I went to a Catholic school when I was a kid. I knew well enough of some of the supposed "Ten Commandments" that was taught to kids there. But that is not enough to change me into some religious nutcase who take everything into consideration and obey it all down to the letter. I am not that stupid to fall for that kind of shit. I will point out that... if your God and Lord Jesus Christ is always so forgiving, why the fuck are you going to bug the shit out of me on abusing its name?! The name has been thrown around left and right in every shape, way, and form. Don't bitch to me on my usage of God's name. If I want to say OMG, I WILL say it. Don't complain or whine to me on how I should not take the name in vain. Otherwise, I say bullshit to you and your stubborn mind.

Another case involving language is the usage of the word "hell." Yeah, we've heard about it. We've known about it. People joke and say "We're all going to hell for this." And movies coined the phrase "I'll see you IN HELL!" And I use it like it was a normal word, not a care in the world. And what do I get for using such a word? More bitching, whining, and complaining.

(takes a deep breath) What the FUCK is wrong with you fucktards?! I cannot use the word hell?! What the HELL is up with that? What the HELL kind of a rule is that? What the HELL do you expect me to do? Use a different term? If you wanna ban the use of the word hell, I'll retort to you assholes and say that you ban the use of the word HEAVEN. Why? Because I believe in equal-opportunity. Hell has been in use for years. I do not see anything wrong with using it freely like I have.

The latest bitching now comes in the form of my usage of a software application that is used to automate mouse clicking. Now, before anyone say anything, I am full aware on the technical rulings on the use of automation tools as well as macros. I am full aware of what happens when ArenaNet find my use/activity to be unacceptable. But I will argue this: Are you going to sit on your fat ass watching the progress meter go up minute by minute? And why was I using such a tool? Simple, an achievement title in the game calls for the consumption of alcoholic beverages where its effect wears off and its time logged and tallied. The effect wears off in 60 seconds and to achieve the first and second tier, you must spend (respectively) 1,000 and 10,000 minutes drunk. Again I argue: Are you going to sit on your fat ass watching every single minute of your progress meter? Most are going to answer: HELL NO.

Then I was accused of cheating in the game. Cheating? Are they fucking serious? Cheating? What the fuck am I cheating at? AT TIME?! FUCKTARDS, all of them! FUCK them. Fuck their views. Fuck their diety. They can praise all they want but it ain't going to save their fucking ass one single fucking bit. Shit happens. That's life. If something good happens, they'll spout bullshit saying it's "His work" and that it's a "miracle." Get with the fucking program. Time to grow up and start thinking on your own for a change. Think outside the box and think differently.

It irritates me to no end on how they "praise God" and all that shit. They don't sound religious. They sound like cheerleading zealots to me. So if you somehow, in some way, stumbled upon this, and know who I am, and know who I am affiliated with, don't start bitching at me in-game about my blog. Don't start whining about it. Don't start crying about it. And don't bother trying to oust me out either. I have a deep personal beef in how things are run and the only reason I have stuck around is because a buddy of mine is in the very guild which I am in. And that individual is one I know and remember for a few years. Don't like my words or my views? Tough luck. Go deal with it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Where's the pole?!

There are a lot of shit on TV these days. But once a while, there comes a little gem that makes watching a bit more enjoyable. Still, that doesn't mean it'll drag me back to watching TV on a regular basis.

ABC started advertising a new show called Wipeout during the NBA playoffs. Essentially the show is nothing more than a small game show where contestants go through a series of obstacles in an obstacle course for a shot at $50,000. This ought to sound familiar to those who have flipped through SpikeTV channel, where there's a show called MXC which is more or less the same. But due to the difference in target audience, Wipeout is more toned down in how the course is set up and what can be said on TV. After a single showing, the show stuck and I started catching the show each week it comes on. There are plenty of hilarious moments. But this one perhaps stood out the most. It needs no introduction. Simply watch the video and laugh.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Action Figures, Not Dolls

Kaiyodo's RevolTech series of figures are simply the best thing around. Ever since picking up their first batches of releases which include the Eva-01 from Neon Genesis Evangelion, I've been looking forward to seeing other figures that will eventually make its way into the market. Their latest relases include the popular character Gurren Lagann from the series Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. After having it for only a couple of days, I find that the figure is perhaps the most articulated figure out of the ones that I have now.

As if that wasn't enough, I have set up orders for two more figures, one of which is out now but I anxiously await for its arrival. At this time, my monitors have several figures sitting atop, all posed in some way or another to give them that "cool" look. Soon the problem will be where and how to place the next one.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hearing Heavenly Stars

I'm usually out of touch to some of the latest craze. But eventually they make their way to get my attention. And when that happens, it becomes my current hit of the moment. Usually this is a good thing, as I always needed something different to keep things interesting. It could not have come at a better time when things seem too bland in certain areas which I will not mention. It came to my attention when I was idling and sitting on IRC and pretty much fell in love in the upbeat popsy melody that had such an uplifting style and rhythm. With lyrics to complement it, I then see that it is the music that was featured in the Wii game "No More Heroes." But its real first appearance was in the game Lumines. Yet while the music will catch your ears, its music video complements so well that it goes hand in hand. So for this blog post, I share with those who stumble upon this page to view what has become my current spur-of-the-moment hit.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Not-So-Final Fantasy

What seem like an eternity for the day to arrive, the title that I had looked forward to for so long is finally here. Back in the SNES days, a game by the name of Final Fantasy II came out. That game was labeled as the second game only due to it being the only second game to come out in America. However, it was actually the 4th Final Fantasy game ever released for the franchise.

Two ports later, one on Playstation 1 and one Game Boy Advance, the folks at Square-Enix decided to do something different for a change. Out with the old, in with something new. Like Final Fantasy III for the DS, the game was given a 3D treatment. In one of the handful of Final Fantasy games that I have ever played, I knew that this is one title that I wish to get.

Due to strange timings on behalf of both Circuit City and Best Buy, I had to wait until Wednesday to get my copy of the game. Using what resource I have and saving up from past gifts, I only ended up paying $11.50. But wait, I never had a Nintendo DS before. It was early July that I picked one up in order to make use of Best Buy's "RewardZone" program. With the DS in place, all I had to do is wait for it. And wait I did.

Final Fantasy IV DS is just like before. It looks different, feels different, yet still has the moments that I remembered before. While I am far from finishing it after getting it only yesterday, I find that I am actually struggling. The gameplay, while should remain mostly the same, is harder. And with it comes the challenge of trying to overcome such hurdles.

The music is just as I had remembered. Then again, it's the same as I had listened to before. I already listened through the entire FF4DS soundtrack which I picked up a couple of months ago. Since there are new cinematics along with some voice acting, I was skeptic as to how good the English dub will be. Having watched anime titles in Japanese with English subtitles, I've grown accustomed to hearing the original voice as it was recorded. So far, the English audio seems okay. I haven't come across anything obnoxious or out of place just yet.

Hopefully I'll be able to get past all the obstacles in the game and finally beat it. Well, that may take a while since I haven't played Final Fantasy IV in years.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Giga-Wallet Breaker!

Kaiyodo, you are one evil bastard. Recently I acquired two new RevolTech figures from Hobby Link Japan. They're the YF-19 and YF-21 from the Macross Plus series. I got both in order to complement each other as getting one means having to get the other. For a bit now, I have been contemplating on ordering Gurren Lagann, from the Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann series. The first simply comes with Gurren Lagann itself. By itself, it is a nice figure overall. However, when the two Macross Plus figures were released, Lazengann, the mech piloted by Lord Genome himself, came with an additional piece that doesn't belong. It actually attaches to Gurren Lagann and is the base pack for which it will eventually form the flight wing upgrade, as seen from the series. However, these parts are going to be separate and that the only way to get the full upgrade is to collect all the figures that come with them. That means potentially getting Gurren Lagann, Lazengann, and eventually Enki, which is slated for a September release.

These information bits have been posted on Kaiyodo's site and now I am in a major pinch. Originally, I had planned only to get the Macross Plus figures and the future Full Metal Panic! figure that's coming in August. Adding all that changes the overall equation. Do we go all out? Or do we make compromises? The bad thing about Hobby Link Japan is they do not stock items for long. Once they are gone, they are often gone (unless there is enough supply in order to meet the demand). This goes against the idea of letting the items sit there and waiting until the right time to pick up an entire bunch in one go. Since the stock quantities can be limited, it all comes down to immediate decision making.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Blast From the Past

Perhaps it's a sign of one's age or proof that a company will milk the franchise down to the very bone. I was alerted of this news by a local buddy of mine. Square Enix, or as I'd like to call it, SquEnix, put up a countdown site. As if the URL did not gave it away, the sound that plays in the background also proves it more. Chrono Trigger is coming. Whether or not this will be a remake or a sequel remains to be seen. However, given the current track record of SquEnix as of late, I suspect that it'll be a remake. I can only hope that some additional content will be added as well as having new artwork or models to go with this. Seeinng Chrono (no I do not call him "Crono.") again will be a treat as well as Kaeru. Sadly, there will be little detail as to what we will be seeing as time passes.

This news, along with anxiously waiting for Final Fantasy IV DS, is starting to drive me up the wall. I have not heard of this news at all and this pretty much hit me hard from the blindside. But I guess in the end, I'll be happy to get this game once it arrives. I only hope that the arrival will be quite some time off into the future.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The 17 Conspiracy

After a close but rough game 5 in the Celtics vs Lakers in the NBA Finals, the game shifts back to Boston for a crucial and deciding game 6. The game took place on June 17, 2008, the day of my nephew's birthday. But I suppose that's stretching it when it comes to things related to the number 17.

Celebrity spotting at the Garden was extremely disappointing. The only one who was mentioned was Bill Belichick. Of course, ol' Bill Russell was there along with John Havlicek. Game 6, let the game begins...

By half-time, the score was 58-35 in Celtics' favor. Both teams are known to have major scoring surges. So I expected Lakers to start something soon. It never came. The gap kept getting bigger. Eventually it wasn't a game. It was a blowout. A rout. The Lakers were beaten so bad, it was beyond humiliating. And finally the game ended. The Celtics are champions. In total, this will be the 17th time. There's the number again. But wait, let's go back a bit.

John Havlicek was at the Garden that night. He's a Celtics great and his jersey number was retired. Yep, it was number 17.

So if we take 17 and add 17, what do we get? 34. Celtic's own Paul Pierce wears the number 34 jersey.

All in all, the number 17 seem quite special that day. But I finally get to see Celtics back on top of the world once again. Woohoo!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Quad Damage

After a week off from the 'net, I come back lagging behind in a lot of things. Several of my RSS feeds that I subscribe to don't keep track of entries that are more tha a week old or beyond a certain number of entries. In that respect, I ended up going to Google Reader to catch up. A few of them were handy while I had to manually backtrack at the site itself just to see what I missed.

After all it's said and done, it was time to check on what email I got. One of them is a notification from ZipZoomFly telling me that a product I was looking at is now in stock. After a quick check, I placed an order with them, as they had the parts I wanted for a tad less than what I would be paying for over at Newegg. On its way are an Intel Core2 Quad Q9450 processor and a Gigabyte GA-EP35-DS3R motherboard. At long last I will finally be able to make the transition to a 45nm Intel-based platform.

I have waited for months for this to finally come to fruition. Ever since seeing the early benchmark numbers, I find that it would be the best CPU architecture for the time being, at least until Intel's next generation of processors (Nehalem) are released.

At the moment, I am moving files around and making backups. The RAID-0 drive that was originally set up to be a game drive ended up being filled too easily by a variety of items, some of which needed to be deleted or offloaded somewhere and somehow. Soon, when the parts arrive, I will be able to make the transition and be on my way. In the mean time, I debate and contemplate on how to name the "My Computer" icon. I had it set to "Sonic Convoy" after the combined Galaxy Convoy and Sonic Bomber characters in Transformers: Galaxy Force. But I wonder if naming it "Quad Damage" will be appropriate when the time comes...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Rebuilding the Library

Recently I opted to purchase a new iPod in anticipation for a trip. Originally I intended to take the old iPod (3rd generation) in for a battery replacement. I kept pushing it off until I later figure that the cost may not be worth it. So currently I am a proud owner of an iPod Classic, 80GB in capacity size. The choice in size is obvious as there is absolutely no way I am able to fill it entirely, especially with 320kbit/s mp3s. Besides, the smaller size is actually better as it's a bit lighter and the iPod itself is slimmer by a good margin than the 3rd generation.

Expecting that I would have brought the old iPod in for a battery replacement, I backed up the files and had it stored away. This would make it easy for me to copy the files back and rebuild the iPod's internal library, theoretically speaking. That never came to be. Instead, I found myself having to sort through several files, many of which are encoded into 4 letter filenames. This caused so much pain and confusion for me, since I have no idea what audio track is what. The only way to determine this is to add it into a mp3 player and let it fetch the ID3 metadata information from the file itself. Even then it's troublesome having to go through all these 4-letter files. Using whatever tools I have at hand, I started from the very top, the letter A, and worked my way down one letter at a time. Flushing them out is easy, as Windows' search function provided me a simple way to do a limited search within the backup.

After several days of loading a file up on foobar, moving the file over, and renaming them appropriately, I made it to the end. The result is the reconstruction of my Final Fantasy IX Original Soundtrack, Final Fantasy VII Advant Children Soundtrack, 3 Trans-Siberian Orchestra albums, deleting several files of which an original copy already exists, a new set of ID3 tags for the Indigo's album Blue, and some loose files that were hand selected for listening purposes.

The library is only partially rebuilt, as there are still loose files and songs that I haven't dragged out of its folder structure. This also includes some of my purchased freebies that I have collected over the years. Eventually the new library will feature some new tunes as well as some old ones put back in. I need to seek out my old Bubblegum Crisis Vocal Collection that is perhaps buried in that backup. And then there's the Final Fantasy IV Original Soundtrack that is waiting to be transferred to the iPod. All that means is I still have a long while to go before the new iPod is brought back to "normal."

Friday, May 09, 2008

The Keymaker

Sometimes I ponder just what some of these people are thinking. Those are usually left a mystery to the rest of the world since they never come forth. It has been speculated since late April that a certain new title is in the work. There are numerous guesses and speculation as to what it entails. Eventually the debut of the title came.

In Guild Wars, the Zaishen title is a title that are awarded to those who use a Zaishen Key to open a Zaishen Chest. Each use awards 5 points to the title. The only way to acquire a Zaishen Key is to participate in PvP or in their Xunlai Tournament House, where anyone can make predictions as to where certain guilds or individuals will stand at the top 8. But the problem does not seem to lie within its acquisition but rather how it's designed.

Unfortunately the Zaishen title is not based on any other viable method that long time players have been using. Fame points can only be acquired through the battle at Hero's Ascent. Gladiator points can only be earned on a 5-game win streak. Champion points can only be earned through participation and winning Guild vs Guild battles. And finally, Commander points can only be earned through participation in Hero Battles. The use of Zaishen Chest seem to matter very little to those who strictly participate in PvP activities. Perhaps this continues to hold true as there are no incentives to use these keys to get anything. After all, what good is an item, rare or not, if most of these items are already usable through PvP equipment creation?

A good idea was to base Zaishen off of the total amount of Balthazar factions earned in the account's entire lifetime. But that can raise a bit of a problem. How high is the limit? How high is too high? Long-time PvP players will find that they've earned enough Balthazar factions to instantly rank fairly high on the title regardless of how each title rank is set up. Still, how high is too high? And is it high enough that it'll still take the players a while to get to? Even today there has been no known individual who has reached the highest rank in Hero.

Originally, I thought that the idea of a Zaishen title would be neat. But I later found it to be rather disappointing. Having kept hold of several Zaishen Keys won from predictions, I lucked out, as I originally wanted to stock up on keys prior to using them at all, in the hope that when I do use a bunch, I will be greatly rewarded for my patience in getting highly exclusive items and perhaps some extremely rare items in the process. Sadly, as I am not a PvP type of individual, I cannot easily obtain these keys in order to hasten the progression to each individual rank.

In either case, there were some interesting and notable changes that are perhaps welcomed. The introduction of monthly rotated tonics as well as the increase of Tournament Reward Points to tournament winners should provide people a bit of additional incentives to buy keys or use them to open the chests. I wonder how far I'll go...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Guild Wars: Year 3

As time slowly rolls by, Guild Wars currently celebrates 3 years of retail time. Since then, a lot has happened from the beginning of it all. There were new content. There were new items. There were new features. There were new lands. Yet despite the limiting capacity of the original game itself, it has fared quite well given the kind of things added to the game itself. Yet who would have thought the players would then receive news that an expansion to the game, not a new campaign, is in the works. It was unheard of at the time, since ArenaNet, the developers behind Guild Wars, was set on the notion of a new campaign every 6 months. Or at least that was what they originally envisioned. The business model was correct. But execution wasn't easy to make that model work.

So on the 3rd anniversary, another feature was added that was the finishing touch to all 3 campaigns plus the expansion. In Factions, the game featured a special item that was traded to one of several NPCs that carried items specific to a profession in the game. This idea continued on in Nightfall and again in Eye of the North. Yet despite the later games having this feature, nothing was done to add that kind of touch to the original game, dubbed Prophecies.

Deldrimor items became the main theme for the end-game items for Prophecies players. While it seem as though it is now a bit too late for adding more items to the game, it seems that the artists and designers for these items pulled off a nice surprise on all of us. After taking a sneak peek at these new items, I found that they are designed surprisingly well and add a very nice touch to almost every profession around. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, I am unable to wield these items for my characters.

During the course of the weekend until Tuesday noon Pacific, a special area is open to those with appropriate access to the Factions campaign. They are able to participate in mini-games that help with the progression of a couple of titles. While it is one of the more expensive approach, it is also the most effortless. With enough game cash on hand, one is able to sit on a single spot and let the game mechanics do its work, if the server let you stay on for that long. Still, what little time that the celebration allows for is time anyone would take the most advantage of.

As it stands now, I am unable to participate more. I feel trapped. Hopefully by the time this all ends, it'll be well worth it. Who knows? Maybe the wait will reward my 1st generation of characters something unique and interesting. Then again, with my luck, I won't be able to get the ones I wanted.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Are you kidding me?

In a not-so-celebratory style, April Fool's Day came and went. And with it, all the jokes are done with and we get back to normal routines, or at least as routine and normal as it can get.

As Guild Wars approach its 3rd year, many are speculating on what will be year 3's set of miniatures. I still have a few characters that have yet to be deleted and I am wanting to see what kind of miniatures I am going to get this time around. But before that day comes, a small party is being held in-game in honor of Gaile Gray, who has been one of the most active contact from ArenaNet, and serves as a link between the online community and the developers. It seems that because of this small event that some special items will be made available, along with opportunities to hasten certain title progression. It will be interesting to see what this party have in store for the players. Until the event starts, I am rushing to stock up on certain items which I am hoping will be one of the things needed to trade in for festival items. Yet either way, it will not bother me one bit. Should my stock turn out to be not the one, then it's as easy and simple as selling it to the game's merchant for cash.

I never did mention it here but I will do so now. Some time ago a package arrived and inside it is the soundtrack that I have been waiting for -- Final Fantasy IV Original Soundtrack. I had it preordered through CD Japan and had it shipped via SAL, the cheapest but has the slowest shipping speed. It took a few weeks for it to arrive and when it arrived, it was packed nicely, as to be expected of them with a very good reputation for handling their goods for international shipment. After carefully unpacking the CDs, I immedately set forth to rip the audio and have it encoded into 2 formats: MP3 and FLAC. FLAC will be used to archive while MP3 will go into my iPod (which needs to be replaced, sadly).

The FF4 OST I mentioned is by no means the soundtrack to the old game, which was called "Original Sound Version." This soundtrack is for the Nintendo DS remake of Final Fantasy IV. In order to bring the game up to date with the new hardware, the music was rearranged by Junya Nakano and Kenichiro Fukui while keeping the original composition by Nobuo Uematsu. As expected, much of the new version is a vast improvement over the old, which had the SNES (Super Famicom) synthesized quality to it. I was quite satisfied with the purchase, and can only hope that the game will be brought out to America. I also hope that Final Fantasy VI will receive the same kind of remake treatment, as I cannot imagine how it can be improved beyond what it stood before.

While on the topic, my search for two elusive tracks came to an end, as I was able to get a hold of two particular musical melodies that have haunted me for weeks. The first is a joint production between BT and Nick Phoenix: Iron Fisted Mutha. Yes, that is the track name and the album that it is found on cannot be purchase by normal means. It is a special audio track that is intended for use in various theatrical trailers and promotional video. Yet it has been used here and there, most recently in the live-action Speed Racer movie trailer. Finally, I was able to secure a mp3 copy of the track and got it downloaded. The other track is from the online game called Mabinogi. The track, named "Hold My Hand" is used in the introduction video which sports a nice popsy fantasy style theme. Finding it is just as difficult, as no web site has a clean copy of the track. Eventually I tracked down a single package that contained the soundtrack to the game and proceeded to give it a test. Sure enough, after the download and unpacking, the track is real and I can finally listen to the song without the hindrance of sound effects from the movie video.

This next piece has me shaking my head in disgust. Having owned several Creative audio cards from the Sound Blaster 16 to the AWE64 to Live!, Audigy, and lastly the current X-Fi, I have tolerated whatever crap that has spewed forth from Creative themselves. Granted, I jumped to get a X-Fi in order to hear the sound effects in Battlefield 2 and 2142 better. And it did made a difference. However, over the time, things just doesn't seem to feel right when it comes to hardware support. When Vista was released, I tracked the progress of various hardwares that I currently use to see if support is there or will be there. Sure enough, Creative says that they are going to support Windows Vista for their X-Fi series of product. What little did I know is that older products are getting the shaft, intentionally.

Modifying drivers is nothing new, as it has been done on nVIDIA and ATi/AMD drivers. Distribution of the modified drivers is also nothing new. Yet neither companies have ever bothered to say anything in regards to this. That left me with the impression that they are okay with the modification and distribution of their own drivers, even if it means that the hackers themselves are adding features or improving it to perform better. So on the Creative side of things, a hacker going by the forum name Daniel_K took the Creative drivers and started modifying them, which he later found that these modifications enabled the sound card he owns to do everything that it was designed to do, only now it can be done in Vista. Features that were missing were added back in and bugs were fixed, and later found to be bugs implemented by Creative themselves. All this caught the eyes of Creative...

So while all of that was being done without my knowledge, a new article surfaced at Slashdot, mentioning how Creative is going after driver modder, it caught my attention and I started reading the details. "You have got to be kidding me..." The forum thread exploded into a fury of complete anger and outlashes at the company and at a particular individual. The sheer wrath of these users who relied on Creative to provide proper driver support for their hardware were posted and the news spread like wildfire across the internet, garnering attention from gaming sites to tech sites. Added to the fact that there are so many visitors to Slashdot, what started out as a statement from a Creative PR exec turned into a complete disaster and breakdown of trust.

I was appalled. Knowing that eventually the thread will be closed or somehow modified, I started composing a reply. There were so much hate and anger now that it's unbelievable. I was severely disappointed in the company. It was known beforehand that the company was in hard times due to declining sales and profits. But they cannot seem to keep up due to intense competition. Hardly anyone needed a sound card for their system when most motherboards provide audio support. MP3 players have flooded the market and Apple has a strong hold on that segment. Poor driver support does not help the company either. How can they make such a huge mistake in letting such a post be published, and in public?

At this time, Creative is trying to quiet things down and remedy the situation. But there still seem to be a lot of anger and hate towards them at this time. Many share the same sentiment that drastic changes are needed, and fast. A lot are calling for that one individual to be removed from the company. And those who simply want Creative to turn to ashes. I support the idea that changes are needed. And there are those who have big visions, such as the immediate support of Linux and/or open source. All I want are better quality drivers. I just want the drivers to be lean, robust, and stable. The features can always be added on in some shape, form, or method. But unfortunately, I fear that nothing will be done and that ultimately, we will continue to see the same thing happening as before, with drivers becoming less and less supportive and the hardware phased out in order to force people to purchase new ones. If that's the case, then all I can do is simply watch from the sidelines. And when the time comes to get new audio hardware, I will simply look elsewhere and never consider a Creative product again.

To leave on a lighter note, I found this amazing video, which lead me to reading the story, and the follow-ups. Hell has no fury like the Internet's wrath.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Finding Me Lucky Charms

Having not done solo farming in ages, I set out to do a trial run to see how much I am able to get. Using an ancient build with a couple of modifications to the skills, I managed to rake in a lot of gold and specialty items. The intent was to gather as much of these special items as they are being dropped for the weekend in celebration of St. Patrick's Day. Finding rare items along the way and raking in the dough are just an added bonus to the whole process.

Suddenly I find myself enjoying the farm process, albeit boring at times when nothing interesting are dropping for me. Still, when the rares are dropping, they get transferred over to my other characters for identifications. As a result, progress on the Wisdom title accelerated. Using this method in conjunction with the solo farm, I should be able to attain the higher ranks quicker. I hope I won't get too bored of the entire process. The old days of being able to traverse part of a high-end area is long over and funding of certain high-end crafting materials came to a screeching halt. Well, it doesn't matter any more, as I have no need for them for the time being.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Sounds Like A Plan

Over the weekend, I never got the chance to take advantage of a particular bonus for completing certain tasks in Guild Wars' Eye of the North expansion. But over the course of the weekend, I worked up a plan in order to maximize and attain the highest rank tier for a player title. This may eventually lead to some boring grinding and repetitions in order to get there. But I think in the end and overall, it is the most effective given the insanity involved with the game's Hard Mode setting.

Attaining the highest rank in anything is, of course, no easy task. Some does not take much to get there and others involved careful travel. But there are now several titles that requires traversing and defeating foes via Hard Mode, a mode that sometimes is entertaining but is mostly infuriating. It isn't because that it's hard. It's due to how the enemies are not only made "smarter" but also run faster, attack faster, and uses skills faster. That, in many cases, is plain overboard. Added to the fact that in HM, enemies will take out careless players effectively this time around. This is especially true in any missions where the death of a crucial NPC equate to a complete loss.

Sadly, I'm usually a loner trying to accomplish these tasks with just my Heroes and henchmen. Some areas can be cleared out with just these alone. But I am certain that there are plenty of others where getting past that is seemingly impossible. So for now, it seems that doing whatever I can do and can accomplish alone is enough for now.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Hanging Up the Guns

In what seem like one of the shortest time I've faithfully spent on a game, I have resigned from Call of Duty 4. The game, while executed fairly well, suffers from a few problems, one of which is personal and opinionated. I have already posted before on these flaws. But there is one aspect that I loathe the most -- hardcore mode. Granted, this enables players to become better at aiming rather than usign one's crosshair and HUD to assist. But other than that, what comes with it is the fact that players die a lot more easily. And because of this, there are scenarios and situations that completely abuses this particular feature. Spawning in and only taking a second to simply look around is the most you could do before dying by another player's gunshot. Even dashing across the street in an urban setting is impossible because people take up vantage points and do nothing other than make potshots at people who run.

Having played so many rounds and easily got to the highest level, there's little incentive to play other than to burn time. Even worse is that there is hardly anyone else to play with on servers that is not set to hardcore. Saturday night was the last straw, having been trapped with nowhere to run and nowhere to hide because they wouldn't let us out. There was no chance in finding cover. There was no chance in getting into a different building or house. The only thing that happened was spawning in only to die seconds later.

That isn't fun.

Despite that I am with a group of people who do play to have fun and to enjoy each other's company in the game, it isn't fun for me.

As a result, I hanged up the guns for CoD4. In other words: I'm tired of the bullshit and retarded fucked up situations that come with the game. Spawning in to die moments later is not hardcore. That's bullshit. It's a waste of time and I would rather burn that time on a different game that at least is balanced towards giving people a shot at a win.

That is my rant. And that's why February has been postless.

What is next? That remains to be seen. There's hype behind this so-called Battlefield Heroes. But ever since the shitbomb that is BF2 and 2142, I'm skeptical on anything from DICE/EA now. Even the rumored BF3 I have no interest in. The fucktards at DICE/EA needs to pull their heads out of their asses and start ensuring that the games that they make are actually supported and fixed for balanced play. Oh, and they need to make sure that they support widescreen too.. bunch of fucking dumbasses...

Until "the next big thing" comes around, whatever it may be... it's back to either Guild Wars or World in Conflict. At least in those games, you can play to have a shot at winning... instead of being kicked while you're down.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Call of Duty Boot Camp

While I did not choose to do this, my gaming style has changed yet again. I hope that this won't ruin the run I have in World in Conflict to the rank of Brigadier General.

So what title has pulled me away? Call of Duty 4. I was given a copy of this as an additional push to get me to trying out the game. I've been on the fence about getting this for a while and I still was during that time. Usually I'll try any game that I can get my hands on. But it was unexpected that I would be given this. Many of the clanmates have already shifted over to playing this game and it seems that I'll be joining them too.

Call of Duty 4 is a team-based tactical first person shooter game. People who have played other Call of Duty games or the Battlefield series would know how this is played. While both franchises have their own way of playing, CoD4 is different in a few more ways than what BF2 presented. Instead of being shot and having a medic to come over to revive you in BF2, you are simply shot. You get shot and you respawn. So the pace of playing the game is a lot faster.

From what I can gather, the 3D engine for CoD4 is nothing new. It's been said that it uses the same engine as CoD2 but enhanced graphically to give us more details. Perhaps this is why the game loads so quickly. I am not one to criticize how developers utilize their 3D engines... but at least I am able to play the game in widescreen, which is always a great bonus since I use a couple of Dell 2007FPW monitors.

Like any games, it's not without flaws. As of time of posting, the latest game version is 1.4. The game's server browser is a complete mess, with no easy way to simply search for a name or to easily add favorites. There is no "buddy" system, which probably would half-work anyway if there was one. Server favorites are saved to the same file as the file used for caching server list. If something ever happens to that file, the favorites are likely to be wiped out too. Profiles are done in the most incorrect way possible -- stored locally. Meaning, all of your effort, unlocks, and other personal features of your multi-player profile is stored in a single file. And if that file becomes corrupt, all that disappears. You start again from scratch. As if it doesn't get any worse, storing the profile locally opens up the possibility for abuse: having everything unlocked and available for use without having to play a single game online.

In other games such as BF2 or World in Conflict, player performance and data are stored on a statistic server and a person's player name is static once registered. That is not the case for CoD4, where anyone can potentially connect and impersonate another individual online. The only way to check is to memorize the player's GUID which is used by the anti-cheating system called PunkBuster. Sadly, it's not easy to recognize one GUID from the next, so that's also out of the question.

Because of these flaws, I question whether or not the developers, Infinity Ward, spent all of their time ensuring a good gameplay while forgetting or ignoring how to protect a player's identity and implementing a proper server browser. Granted, they did well in making the game play well. But you'd think in today's world of online gaming and GUI for joining a game that they'd consider more thoroughly in how to properly implement a browser. Perhaps that is why the interface in World in Conflict is so well designed that it's hard to find a fault with that. It is, what I believed, to be a gamer's interface done right, in virtually every possible way.

Well, as time progresses, I'll see how my playing performance turn out as I play the game more. Hopefully Infinity Ward will properly implement a server browser that people can comfortably use without pulling their hair out.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

One person to guide them...

In one of my usual daily session of WiC, I came across a team that didn't exactly have the teamwork necessary to hold out against an assaulting force. As I mentioned it, I was told to speak up. Well, why not? Maybe it'll bring about something interesting about the people who play on the server.

Farmland, I chose the side of US. A quick glance of the scoreboard and the people who opted for what side showed that there are plenty of high-ranking officers on the other side. I may not be of much help. Granted, the ranks don't mean a single thing but it's still an indication of how much time was spent playing. And those time spent playing usually end up being playing experiences, of which the players will take into consideration and refine their tactical skills and knowledge. Time's up, the round starts.

I started the talk, walking the people over that the contested area is likely to be at the bridge control point. Preventing the enemy from capturing that will ensure that we have dominance favor. After a quick capture on the Airstrip, I rushed over to help my fellow armor player. We held out well, preventing the capture for a good amount of time. As the round progresses, the attack became rougher and tougher. The bridge crossing the small stream was destroyed, preventing either side from gaining a capture. This actually proved to be most advantageous to my team, as we held more control points in order to keep the dominance in our favor. And then there was silence. I sent an air-dropped light tank to the other side of the bridge for the capture while I was notified of a heavy convoy of enemy vehicles coming straight for the Airstrip. Sending as many of the heavy armored tanks over to fend them off, I the air support was provided with was superb and I did the only thing I can do, destroy what is keeping the air support from coming in. The action was good and I continued to guide the team as I keep them up to date as to where the majority of the forces are located.

Time is running out, but we're still in the lead. The bridge was repaired and the enemies started to spill over. Bridge was cut and the standoff at that control point resumes. A player mentions of having a good amount of points and inquires the Tactical Nuclear Strike option. I glanced up and see that we're on the verge of winning with the dominance meter standing still. "Not enough time. Best we use 'em for other things." He acknowledges and we proceeded to hold the line. Eventually we were able to break their hold on the Bridge and minutes later, the round was ours.

In all of my playing time in WiC, never had I had to become so involved in providing vocal intel and support to the players. The teamwork clicked in. It worked. And even against what seemed like a daunting odds of experience against the possibly inexperienced, we held on together for a well-fought win. It felt good being able to lead a team like that. And I was surprised that people actually cooperated well with the leadership that I provided. Granted, much of the experience I had came from playing BF2 and 2142, where I clocked in many hours of commanding just to get certain awards. But it cannot compare to what one has to do in WiC.

That round, I scored fairly well (anything over 1,000 is good to me). Yet as I left the server for the night, a quick glance at my profile indicate that the server didn't send my scores to the Massgate servers. Eventually I will have to submit the server to Massive to check up on as it's getting tiresome that some of my scores are not tallied into my profile. Well, some other time...

Monday, January 07, 2008

Criticisms vs Useful Tips

In the online gaming world, there are always those who start out new and unfamiliar with the controls, the mechanics, and equipments. I'm sure that many have come to accept that there will always be newcomers who'll jump into the game to see how it is like. What's often disturbing is how these newcomers are treated when they start out. Often they'll be ignored. Other times they'll be criticized. And rarely will they get useful tips on how to play the game.

During the playing run I had on Guild Wars, I ran out of patience on helping out newcomers. I became the type of people who ignore the new players. Once a while, there is a player that I will lend a hand to, just for no reason at all. And there are times when I felt generous enough to give away things, my recent give-away is a Miniature Destroyer access key I had laying around. Granted, there are plenty of opportunities to exploit this and make some money off of it, real or not. Still, I just... gave it away. There was no catch... except for being told that the key worked in the end. I just had the item laying around. Does that make me a saint? Not really. But any reader should realize by now that I'm just simply a nice guy.

As I play World in Conflict more and more, I encounter the different types of people. But any of these people who start out with a low rank can potentially be a smurf, a player who uses a different profile to hide their true identity. This isn't new, as it has been around since the days of online multi-player. But the ones who play with their first profile, they vary in many ways. Their ranks often indicate just how much effort was put in to getting to that point. Yet one has to wonder...

I'm the type who plays for enjoyment. There are times when the rounds get ugly, either for my team or for their team. I don't question it. I don't criticize the players for it. I just play. After all, I am not one to tell these players how they should play. And if there are players that needed to be guided, I'll take the time to speak up, and tell them calmly on what is needed at the moment. Some listen to that, some don't. But who knows how well these people react to my suggestions.

Eventually I will encounter people who take the game much too seriously. Unfortunately, I have crossed paths with one particular individual twice already... At first I did not bother to say anything. But it was the 2nd encounter when I heard the person criticized a player for their choice of units. Criticisms aren't usually needed, especially coming from a person whose tone and attitude is that of a lesser human being. Yet when I spoke to confront the individual, he took it personally and with such hostility that it's mind boggling. Not that I would strain my mind for trying to argue against him, it's just upsetting to know that despite the person's time and effort that went into making that glorified profile of his, that he'd know better than to be criticizing people for how they play.

If a Player A has a problem with Player B, all that is needed is to simply point out what the problem and make some calm suggestion. What good will spewing vulgar nonsense do?

If that person is so set on winning games that the person has to criticize everything, why is that person even playing in public games anyway? Needless to say, several people didn't like the guy's tone.