It’s been a while since the last post. Most of you who followed me through that time via Twitter and Facebook know that it’s been a pretty stressful stretch, but the worst of it is over now. I’m working on a bunch of things behind the scenes– which I’ve previously used as an excuse for not updating or sharing information, but in this case it’s the honest truth.
In the time since I last posted, I’ve:
- Finished painting 1850 points of Imperial Guard.
- Assembled four warjacks for Warmachine, and am ready to paint them up soon.
- Started a dedicated gaming blog– it’s going to pre-launch on Friday and full launch on Monday.
- Made ready a Paranioa one-shot that’s happening this Wednesday.
- Actively made strides towards improving my job performance and happiness.
- Been away from home for a week on business. (I handled this better than I thought I would, actually.)
- Continued preparations for the Tekkoshocon video game room, including getting ready to order arcade sticks.
And that’s just the stuff I can talk about. I’m not kidding you all when I say I’m a very busy person!
Anyway, with the new blog starting up, I’m not going to promise frequent posts here. I am, however, going to redouble my efforts to keep on top of the more life-changing stuff as it happens; there may not be a set schedule but I’m going to try to avoid missing whole months in a row this time.
I’ll be back later this week with the pre-launch of the new blog and a bit more information on my current state. Everything’s fine… I’ve just been really, really busy.
By the end of the 30 Days project, I was starting to get significantly burned out on interactions on the internet. This may have shown through a little bit as I got, well, testy in certain circles. This wasn’t something that had snuck up on me, either– I had needed to take a day off of being connected for a good long while, but I simply didn’t have the opportunity to. That, fortunately, was fixed this past weekend.
Back in 2007, when I first participated in the worldwide Shutdown Day project, there was a lot of interest in how I managed it, and to tell you the truth the only thing I really remember about it was that I spent a lot of time reading manga. In the years since then, the worldwide project lost steam and eventually wasn’t ever really repeated. However, I really liked the idea behind it and decided to keep it in the back of my mind for future days when I’d be stressed.
Of course, that was five years ago, and I didn’t repeat the project until just this past weekend, long after the point when I could be considered “overdue” for it. The other problem was that in that time I had somehow “flanderized” the concept into being a day where I don’t use any advanced technology at all. If I had taken a look at the post I wrote for the 2007 day prior to starting this one, I would have seen that television and radio were okay, and I wouldn’t have felt nearly as bad about spending most of my time doing those things.
Still, unplugging from the net was a good thing to do. We live in an age of constant communications, and because of that we can sometimes conflate the importance of a message with its immediacy. An e-mail or a tweet or a facebook tag can sometimes be made to feel more important and less deferrable than a letter, or a phone call, or a face-to-face meeting. It’s also worth noting that once in a while, it helps to remind yourself of just how much you really rely on the global information hive-mind; to remember information for yourself, as opposed to having to Google it constantly. Granted, knowing that someone out there knows it and can share it is certainly a good thing, but there are some things you need to remember, too.
Anyway, I enjoyed the experiment and the outcome of it– I got a bit more done than just sitting and watching television, though that certainly was part of it. I also found that, absent the constant pressure to stay on top of certain things during the weekend, I have a bit more free time than I originally thought, and I’m probably going to put that to better use in terms of some ongoing projects that had fallen by the wayside over the last few months. I’ll get into that more in the coming days and weeks.
Yesterday I learned that there’s nothing wrong with failing an Insight roll when the target DC is in the triple digits.
I’m actually very glad to be “done” with Skylanders for the time being; at the moment, I probably could brute-force my way through the last four achievements if I really wanted to (or, more likely, enlist the help of another player to use a subtle exploit that may or may not work), but I’m pretty happy with leaving it as-is for now. Honestly, the game is too addictive for its own good, and outside of the figure-swapping gimmick there’s not a whole hell of a lot to it. Plus, the final boss is brutally hard solo, which is why I’d consider asking that certain other player for help– the “last” achievement (aside from the “get all others” one) requires a no-death run against the final boss, and I think it would be remarkably easier using the characters that can both attack foes and heal allies with the same action.
And yeah, I did do it this morning mostly to get to the next gamerscore milestone. It is an ultimately meaningless pursuit, but I like tracking it, and with the purchasing restriction this year it’ll be interesting to see how my percentages increase. They may actually go down, in point of fact– I have a few games on the shelf that haven’t even been put into the system yet, and as a result when they’re added to the aggregate totals I might lose some ground. Still, I’m making better progress to the 2012 clear goal than I really expected, and I imagine that I’m probably going to fire up an older RPG when I get back home tonight.
Speaking of that, I’d better get moving if I want to be on time– going to meet some friends and roll the ol’ plastic polyhedra. Ciao, folks.
The past few weeks have been rough, but today’s trip out to enjoy a little fun with some friends was greatly appreciated. Tomorrow, I have some grocery shopping to do and a bit of laundry, and I may yet go out again, but overall even if I stay home for the Super Bowl, that’ll be OK, too, as I’ll have accomplished what I need to.
I’m still writing up the saga of the whole mess so as to let you all in on what exactly I went through.
There are a lot of advantages to having a very active social life, but there are also drawbacks. I’m certainly not the most outgoing person in the world, though, and I greatly admire my friends who seem to do so much more than I do.
Now, if they’d just lend me their time machines, things would be OK…
Y’know, there are days when I ask myself, “Why I am so derp?”, and there are days when I think I could give Wile E. Coyote a run for his money.
Guess what kind of day today was.
Considering I meant to have this post up three weeks ago, I suppose that I should consider dropping one or more of my activities. Then again, I care too much about all of them to drop any of them. This blog included. Even if I only wind up making one real-content post a month, I intend to keep up with this thing.
For a while I was feeling more than a little guilty that I had Game Clears up on the blog, indicating that yes, I did in the strictest sense “have time” to write and I was simply choosing not to out of laziness or selfishness. It’s in my nature to feel that if I’m not being “productive” then I should feel guilty, stemming from my theory that if I have the capability to do something, then I also have the responsibility to do it. The problem, of course, was that every time I would sit down to write for the blog, the writer’s block I’ve been suffering under for a while now would reassert itself, and I would wind up staring at the blank page for a while before giving up and playing a game.
Of course, I do have to relax at some point. I can’t be expected to be “on” constantly. If I choose to do so by gaming, well, then more power to me. I have to break myself of the mental block that says “relaxation = selfishness”. It’s going to be a long road, but the first step is accepting that those game clears should be proof that I’m not going completely loco.
Anyway, let’s talk games for a little bit. Portal 2 has been the big one, and even though I finished it before I wrote the first draft of this post, I still find myself going back and getting a chuckle out of some of the more funny aspects of the game. What I found most interesting was that Valve rewards humor on the part of the player, as well as giving the player something to laugh at by him or herself. Wheatley is funny, but when the player is rewarded for doing something stupid-but-funny, that’s even better.
One thing I’m finding to be even more fun about the game, and which extends the replay value of it dramatically, is the co-op campaign. There’s an entirely different dynamic between GLaDOS and the two robots Atlas and P-Body, and that can even be extended to the players. I’m going through it off and on with Chris LoBue, a partner of mine in BM&G, and we recently unlocked a hilarious interaction gesture where one of the droids takes the other’s “head” off and plays with it for a moment, inviting retaliation. It’s slapstick at its finest, and it reaffirms Valve’s choice of using robots for the co-op and not human characters.
That said, someone needs to patch in support for a third robot based on a cube, and then Valve can do the whole Three Stooges bit up properly.
So, after that, there was… Hmm, well, I suppose I could talk about the 3DS. Yes, I did get it on launch day, and no, I don’t regret it for a second. You’d be surprised how much fun I get out of something as simple as StreetPass and Find Mii, but that’s the standout feature of the system so far in my mind. It simplifies the whole interaction between gamers, and it’s the natural evolution of the tag modes that were pioneered in titles like The World Ends With You and Animal Crossing. The simple addition of real-world interactions to certain games is the hidden revolution in the machine, and I only hope that this becomes the breakout feature of the device in the way that the original DS’s touchscreen advanced portable gaming. To steal Microsoft’s phrase, it’s good to play together.
Nintendo is doing a great job of engaging with the playerbase this time around as well, too. The NOA Twitter feed highlights the various city-based StreetPass gatherings and clubs going on around the US. Granted, they haven’t gotten around to StreetPass Pittsburgh yet, but we’re still a small group. That’s actually symptomatic of the rather weak launch that the 3DS has had in the past two months. I’ll be the first to say that it was a little underwhelming– there were really only two titles that were worth picking up, and one of them (Bust-A-Move Universe) will only be worth picking up once it’s in the bargain bin, if a better version doesn’t come out before then. It’s annoying that the software isn’t there to support it yet, but I’m confident that that’s going to be fixed very soon.
It was a little annoying, too, to hear that the 3DS eShop has been delayed until the pre-E3 show– but not nearly as annoying as the mind-games Capcom is playing with Mega Man Legends 3. The big problem there is that the game still has not been given a green-light for full production, according to Capcom’s Dev Room initiative. The official word is that, depending on performance of the Prologue Version– the paid beta that was supposed to be released alongside the eShop– the game would either be scrapped or funded in full. In effect, Capcom is holding the game for ransom.
Now before I continue, I want to clarify something: it could be argued that BM&G is also holding a game for ransom, in that we can’t produce Point of Descent without funding. It’s a tricky parallel to navigate, and while it’s flattering to put an indie developer working on their first game on the same level as an iconic studio such as Capcom, that’s simply not the case. We’re going to continue work on Point of Descent regardless of how our Kickstarter and 8-Bit Funding pages do (I’m sorry I’m not being more subtle about that). Capcom, on the other hand, can throw away resources on a “failed” experiment and not risk ruin. The problem, of course, is that Capcom isn’t just throwing away money, but also reputation. They’ve been on rocky shores in that regard before, and I think it would be very wise if they just went ahead and announced at E3 that they’re just trolling us all and that MML3 is definitely coming out. It’s not like Capcom’s a stranger to being a lying creator either– witness the shell games they played prior to the official reveal of MVC3.
Anyway, E3. It coincides with a major Apple event, too– WWDC– but we’ll get to that in a little bit. This year will see the unveiling of the Nintendo console that will likely be in ludicrously short supply next year. (I learned my lesson and will be putting down a pre-order as soon as I can.) What has me puzzled, though, is that there haven’t been too many rumors about what Sony and Microsoft are doing. This could be a great opportunity for the both of them to steal the spotlight a little bit. One would imagine MS, at least, is showing something worthy of buying live airtime on Spike TV for their pre-game on June 6th at 4:30p EDT. Sony has taken a bit of a bloody nose this past month, but they’re running their own show the same day at 9p EDT. Nintendo is set up for the 7th at 12p EDT, which is conveniently when E3 proper starts.
As an aside: Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but I think Sony and MS have made a HUGE misstep here in scheduling their pre-games the day before Nintendo’s. I draw this thought from The West Wing. See, that show, believe it or not, had some pretty good insights into information control. One of the big tenets was that you want to make sure you get the most press time available. If you want to bury a story, you drop it in somewhere between major announcements so that it gets relatively little attention compared to the big stuff. By placing their shows in such close proximity to Nintendo’s, MS and Sony are trading the lingering effect of being last for the bombastic effect of being first. They’ll get the big initial drops, but Nintendo ultimately will have the most eyeballs on its work because it’ll be in a prime position to react to the other two pre-games.
In the end, though, it really boils down to what games are being shown off, and going by some of the less verifiable rumors I’ve been hearing– which I’ll not lend credence to here, as they come from some really sketchy sources– I think we’re all going to be very, very happy with all three consoles’ output this year. Just trust me on this one.
Moving on to Apple. By the time I get this post up, many of the Apple Stores around the world will have gone into lockdown mode in order to prepare for a major revamp of some sort. Nobody really knows what it is, except that it involves “gigabytes” of encrypted data being pushed to store servers; it might be as simple as giving iPads to employees to use instead of iPod Touches for POS terminals, or it could be a surprise launch of OS X Lion. We’ll know for sure in the morning. The rumors of a new iPhone hardware unit to be announced at WWDC on June 7th are pretty tantalizing, too. But what is probably the biggest news is the formal announcement of iOS 5.0. The mobile OS is slated to include a huge number of improvements to the everyday-use-case of i- devices, with the chief among them being a completely redone push/notification system. Apple, I think, didn’t expect push to be as big or as quickly embraced as it has been, and the initial implementation is starting to show its seams. Granted, there are also a lot of other things that need some spit and polish among the iOS guts, and a few things that are being driven by the (healthy and appreciated) Android rivalry. I would like to see some form of lock-screen widget implementation so that I could see weather and notifications at a glance, and I would be shocked beyond measure if the new notifications platform did not include an option to set truly customizable alert tones.
I mentioned in an aside up there that the rivalry with Android is “healthy and appreciated”. I mean that. The fact that the two operating systems are advancing and pushing each other forward by leapfrogging features means that, no matter which one users pick, they don’t miss out– assuming a long enough timescale. I’ve been an iOS user for going on three years now, and I’m not about to look back at all. Point of fact, I look to Android to see what features will be in the next major version of iOS. About the only thing I’m really unhappy with is the slower pace of releases from Apple compared to Google, but at the same time, not having the dizzying splintering going on that the Android landscape has is a definite plus in my book.
One other thing before I leave the Appleology pulpit: Apple and Google are both learning from the OS wars of old. They may have differing platforms and opposing goals, but both of them are very careful to rely on industry standards and are working towards interoperability. That might just be reflective of the current culture of interoperability in the computing world today, but it’s a breath of fresh air from the not-as-long-ago-as-I’d-like days when floppy disks came formatted in Mac and IBM flavors.
I suppose, really, the last thing to go over in the life-dump is the aftermath of Tekkoshocon and what my next steps there are. I was asked to help out with the RPG room for Tekko, and I did so. I make that sound so banal, but in truth it was probably one of the best times I’ve had in a long time at a con. There was stress, of course– comes with the territory of helping other people have a good time– but in the end it was worth it. Since then, I’ve been working on getting the video game room for The Sangawa Project together, and that itself has been an adventure and a half. At some point I’m going to have to go back up to Sharon to try to clean out Budd Street Video of some rare titles. That show comes just a couple of weeks before Otakon, which… I still haven’t registered for. Lisa Ortiz is a pretty big draw, but it largely depends on whether or not I really want to get into the Dealer’s Room. Which I probably do, but I may have to see how things go in the interim. Otakon probably isn’t going to have an attendance cap again, but if they do, I’m sure there will be enough notice to get things going in time.
That about covers everything I’ve wanted to mention. I’ll try to wr– oh, for cryin’ out loud, I promise that all the damn time and I never deliver. I suppose that if you need to get a fix on me, you could just keep an eye on my Twitter feed. If something big does happen, I’ll set aside time to write about it. Beyond that, I’ll try to keep this place up to date with the Game Clear notices and suchlike as I relax my way through this life. Ciao, kids.
So I’ve managed to come down with my annual cold a little earlier this year. In order to accelerate the process of getting over it, I’ve taken the steps of taking medicine, sleeping off most of the worst of the fever, and watching through Hidamari Sketch x365. Because as we’ve previously established, little else heals as much as overpowering cuteness.
I always watch the sun rise on New Year’s Day. Or, at the very least, I try to. This year it was made more difficult by the fact that it’s raining, and so the rise would naturally be obscured. But, even still, I opened my blinds and turned off every light in the apartment, and I waited.
The habit, if you can call it that, started in the beginning of 2007, when I had the east-facing window in the Hyer Avenue apartment. I had woken at just the right time, and rather than get everything started and turned on for the day, I just sat and I thought about how lucky I was. I had a job, a new place, and a whole lot of opportunity ahead of me. There had been trouble before that, though, and there would certainly be tragedy and adversity ahead of me; but for that morning I looked out onto the barren trees and I thought, “Look how far I’ve come. Look how far I’ve been carried, and how far I’ve walked on my own. Look how far I still have yet to go.”
As I think about it now, I believe the only lights on in the living room then would have been KOS-MOS’ power light, the DVD player’s standby, the cable box, and the two PS2′s standby lights. Maybe a couple of power strips. I didn’t have shelves of games on which the lights were reflected; I didn’t have a huge TV sitting as a monolithic testament to my survival, and I didn’t have a couch to sit on and reflect. I had only a little, only what my first couple months’ salary could get me in the intervening period since the end of the final and most devastating of the Unemployings.
This morning, I saw a dazzling array of standby lights. Most everything that I had back in ’07 is now replaced, either due to wear or due to a desire to upgrade. My windows doesn’t even face east. I still can’t help but think how lucky I am, though. I know that it was not just my own efforts that got me here. I know that there’s something out there looking out for me. I don’t know what, or who, that is, but its presence is, to me, undeniable. It’s a fact as plain as the air in front of me.
There are mornings I awake with the fear that one day I’ll have to pay this all back, that this run of good luck will end and I will once again be placed under hard times. I’ve always thought that luck worked that way, you see– if you have a long enough streak of luck of one type, eventually it’s gotta reverse itself and you’ll be even on the whole affair. I know I was charmed for the first part of my life, growing up. I paid for that as soon as I got to college. My problem is knowing how far in the hole, or how far to the good, I am in the ol’ karma account. Uncertainty bothers me.
Then there are mornings where I wake up knowing that I am not just a plaything of fate, and that, in part or in whole, I can make my own luck. My greatest strength has always lay in the ability to turn a weakness into an advantage. I look at the things surrounding me, the circumstances I live in, not as gifts or privileges to be revoked at the whim of caprice, but as rewards earned through my own hard work and strength of will. All that I am now, is because of what I was before.
I leave it to you to guess what kind of morning today was.
Happy New Year’s Day, folks, and may 2011 bring you peace.