So I got a pleasant surprise over the weekend while playing Star Trek Online (no really, I’m not obsessed with the game, I just like to play it). This is one of those things where a person could say “hey, that’s really cool” or “wow, now people can obsess about an MMO without actually logging into game”. I honestly don’t know if this is the first MMO that’s done this or if it’s been done before, but the easiest way to explain it is through pictures.
So this is kind of neat, but just so long as Cryptic decides to keep it as something you can look at and inspect and that’s it. Don’t make a mini game of STO with a flash based engine because that will just end up giving people the excuse to play at work (if they don’t already). There’s other things I could be doing at work.
At one time, not long ago, a company would bend over backwards in order to make sure the customer was happy. Because if the customer was happy, it was a guarantee for the company that customer would repeat business with that company. That ideology has changed a lot in recent years.
This is especially prevalent in the video game industry. The video game industry already has a huge number of problems, the first and foremost being a long list of -isms that it doesn’t really seem to be able to figure out how to solve, or simply doesn’t realize it’s a problem. That aside (and it’s difficult to set that aside, because that’s a huge elephant in the room), the video game industry has another problem.
I know I’ve gone over time and time again about my enjoyment of one particular video game, and I honestly don’t wish to name drop and point fingers, but there are times when a company has to be held accountable. That company in this case is Cryptic Studios. They aren’t alone in this, as people have had massive issues with EA in the past and many other game publishers and studios. Granted, Cryptic is merely the game developer owned by Perfect World Entertainment. I can tell you, it’s not such a perfect world.
Cryptic has four games under their belt, all within the MMO market. They developed and launched City of Heroes, then sold off their share to NCSoft and the studio Paragon Studios handled development. Since then, City of Heroes has had life support cut by NCSoft. It was a good game, don’t get me wrong, it had a lot of loyal fans which a small amount of searching will show. But Cryptic struck off to do their own thing which was develop their own game (sort of). With the licensed product of Hero Games’ Champions pen and paper game, Cryptic went ahead and began working on their second super hero MMO. Which went fine. Later, they acquired the rights to produce a Star Trek MMO. Currently, they have launched a Dungeons and Dragons MMO called Neverwinter, which initially gave many players warm feelings about Neverwinter Nights, developed by Bioware.
Before I go on, I need to say this right here and now. I do enjoy Star Trek Online. But you can enjoy something and still be aware of how problematic that thing is, or how problematic the group or company who owns/distributes/creates that thing is. People can enjoy a television show while still recognizing that it’s incredibly misogynistic (Game of Thrones, for example), racist, homophobic and so on. Or even how misogynistic, racist or homophobic the developing team/creative department is. And that’s where I sit; I really enjoy Star Trek, but Cryptic Studios is the worst company.
In defense of Cryptic, I don’t accuse them of being misogynistic, racist or homophobic. I’ve never heard devs or artists or management within Cryptic say anything like that. They are, however, horrible when it comes to customer service. At present, they are running three MMOs; Champions, Star Trek and Neverwinter. Two of those IPs (initial properties) are much bigger and have a bigger fan base than one of the others. No offense to Champions, but it has a long way to go to eclipse either Neverwinter or Star Trek. Because of that, new development in Champions has laxed a lot. The driving force of a game, especially an online game, is more content at a reasonable time frame. Champions (or Cryptic’s) idea of new content is small alerts that take no more than fifteen to twenty minutes and have no repeat value except for grinding to get more loot. There’s been no additional story content since they made major changes to the Westside arc which happens to be low level content. So Champions has basically been kept on the back burner with a large group of players who are feeling rather left out in the cold.
This began when Star Trek launched. Cryptic released content for Champions and then began their focus on Star Trek Online. And it’s been that way even when they launched Neverwinter. When you’ve got two really good stallions in the stable, why do you pay attention to the mule in the corner. I can’t say much about Neverwinter, except what I’ve mentioned in a review before. I played the game for all of two days and then became extremely bored with it. However, this discussion has less to do with the content of a game, and more to do with those who maintain it.
Since beta testing and launch of Neverwinter, the servers for Cryptic have been, at best, mediocre. There have been constant crashes and near daily emergency service patches to each game. Since Legacy of Romulus came down, it hasn’t gotten any better. The three games are set up on their own servers, however, there’s only one gateway to get into those servers. Think of it like a shopping mall with three really big brand name stores, all three are popular, and all three have good layouts, lots of lighting and decent areas to find what you need. The only problem being is that all three stores have only one door to get into all of them. Just one door. No double doors, no bank of doors that might have three pairs of doors. Just one. When people flock to these stores, they run into the problem of getting inside. And once they’re inside, there’s still more problems. The lights flicker in certain areas, there’s no proper labeling on some of the merchandise, there’s no staff to help customers. This is what Star Trek Online is like, and lately it hasn’t been once in a while, it’s been so common you could set your watch to it.
Easy solution, right. Get the problems fixed and move on, right? You’d think that would be the solution, but it’s not. During these outages (some scheduled, many more not) emergency patches are released that are often 130 meg in size. And the things that were broken before the game crashed, well they’re still broken.
The common feeling among the player base is that Cryptic, and Perfect World, just doesn’t care. They’ve got the customer’s money, and that’s all that matters. They don’t care about helping the player base. Especially the player base that are lifetime subscribers or monthly subscribers. They’re more content with just taking the money, and if anyone disagrees with them and the way they operate, then they don’t care. The Better Business Bureau has even given Cryptic Studios an F out of the usual A+ to F system. The BBB does note that Cryptic Studios is not an accredited business and is under no obligation to become an accredited business. Since 2010, however, the BBB has listed 49 complaints that have been filed with them, and of those only 9 resolutions to complaints.
Yet, it seems Cryptic Studios, and to an extent Perfect World, really doesn’t care. As a side note, Perfect World Entertainment, which is the parent of Cryptic Studios, was also given an F by the Better Business Bureau. Perfect World is also not accredited by the BBB, and is under no obligation to do so.
I’ll more than likely still play Star Trek Online and Champions Online. I’ve got memberships with both, and both lifetime, so no more need to pay more money. I just feel like Cryptic took my money and then didn’t care about giving proper customer service.
Star Trek Online released the Legacy of Romulus pack for the MMO. I’ve played through it, and it’s actually quite good. There are some issues, and some things that I think Cryptic went a bit over board with. Before going through some of it, however, there’s one thing I wanted to mention about the game that’s really quite good.
The developers of Star Trek Online have done an excellent job of giving homage to what has come before. They’ve taken into account that Romulus was destroyed in the 2008 movie, and have used that to weave an interesting world (or universe). From the fact that Leonard Nimoy does some of the voice over as you cruise from sector of space to sector of space, to the fact Denise Crosby was brought back to reprise her role as Sela (and Natasha Yar in one mission). They aren’t the only ones, mind you. Chase Masterson also reprises the role of Leeta, mind you as a hologram that hosts the Dabo tables as a part of Dabo from Quark Enterprises. From Deep Space Nine to Drozana Station, Leeta can be found with a Dabo wheel.
It’s not just the actors reprising roles. It’s also the characters that are mentioned. Worf is standing in the courtyard of the First City on Qo’nos The character of D’Tan is the new political head of the Romulan Republic, and D’Tan was a character in Season Five of The Next Generation, the very well known two parter that saw Spock going to Romulus to discuss and investigate Reunification. D’Tan showed Spock a book and a set of toys with the Vulcan language written on the sides. There’s even a mission which has Bones and another that has Scotty, both in the past on an old Drozana Station.
But that’s not the end of it.
Many of the accolades that players can get point to many different famous lines throughout Trek. He’s Dead Jim. Crossing the line. Neutral no more. And many other accolades that call back to every single episode of Trek.
Now, with the introduction of the Legacy of Romulus, there’s more.
As a Romulan, the player is introduced to a population trying to find a new home after the destruction of their homeworld. These are the surivors of that catastrophe. But they won’t be so fortunate as they are hounded by Empress Sela and the Tal Shiar, who believe what they are doing is the best for the Romulan people. The player plays as a Romulan who is thrust into the conflict, and must make certain choices, even going so far as to align themselves with the Klingons or the Federation.
Right from the get go, there’s a major difference, as this new Romulan Republic has shrugged off the old uniforms of the past and taken up a fresh start. The player’s ship can even have Remen crew members aboard (and, players can also play as a Remen). The missions are interesting, which follows a conspiracy that the Tal Shiar is leading. Even to the point where the player is indoctrinated by the Tal Shiar and Empress Sela (one of the accolades for completion is called “There Are Four Lights” which harkens back to the TNG episode where Picard was held captive by Cardassians).
There are a great number of episode missions that the players can go through, before they embark on the episodes that are based on their alignment. Romulans who ally themselves with the Federation go through the usual Federation missions, and Romulans who ally themselves with the Klingons will go through the Klingon set (in some cases, they are the same, such as the missions set on Deep Space Nine and the ones on Defera).
Just like the ships available to Klingon and Federation players, many of the Romulan ships are familiar. From the old warbirds from the original series, to the massive D’Deridex Warbirds seen in the Next Generation, along with some new designs based on what has come before. Sadly, there is only one bridge option at present for the Romulan ships, something that may change in the future.
There’s a few more updates as well. Players who want a Klingon Defense Force character will now get the option to play from level 1 instead of level 20 as before. This opens up a few more mission possibilities. There’s also new UI updates, which make the game look a lot cleaner than it did before.
Plus, there’s promises of more of the same in the future, with the opening of the Cait homeowlr (home to the feline like Caitians as seen in the animated Star Trek series, when they introduced M’Ress), as well as the Trill homeworld, and even making the faction for the Cardassians available.
With all of this coming out, Star Trek Online is in good shape.
Now, it’s only hopeful that Cryptic can treat its other properties in Champions Online and Neverwinter just as well.
That is a damn fine uniform. It happens to be one of the really cool things you can unlock in Star Trek Online. There’s a lot of things you can unlock in the game, more than just uniforms. There’s weapons, armour, ship weapons, shields, devices to help in space and ground missions. Naturally, as you progress through the missions and episodes of the game, new missions and episodes unlock (the main story missions are called episodes, where there’s a series of missions that focus on one arc). If you collect certain weapons, shield and armour types together, they will unlock additional abilities to help you in combat.
The above uniform, I opened up while performing the duty roster missions (what I call XP while you are away from your computer, because you just set the mission and then walk away). Four ranks in Diplomacy of the duty roster missions and you unlock the uniform, plus the ability to transwarp to DS9 (at the other ranks you can transwarp to Starbase 39 and Deep Space K-7), plus you get the option to have an bridge officer from an enemy faction. I picked an Orion (I wanted a Ferasan but those are a species you have to buy in Cryptic’s C-Store… which I’ll get to in a bit).
You can also do actual missions that help to unlock ship items (weapons, shields, consoles, impulse engines and deflector) which unlock additional abilities, as well as personal shields, armour and weapons. I managed to unlock the entire M.A.C.O set of armour, shields and weapons for M’iaa (above) which gives the ability to replenish personal shields and remodulate weapons on the fly while fighting against the Borg.
That’s all great, it takes a long time to unlock this stuff and there’s a feeling of accomplishment when you do so.
However, for as much as there is this stuff you can unlock, it’s really annoying to see how much stuff you can unlock just by buying it. Cryptic has the C-Store, which uses real word dollars to buy in game currency. It is a lot of in game currency, mind you, as $20 will get you about 1500 which can buy some decent things. You can buy additional ship skins and types. For example, M’iaa’s ship is the U.S.S. Ocelot, a Defiant Class Escort ship complete with cloaking device. There is a Defiant Class ship you can unlock when you reach the captain’s level, but it doesn’t have the cloak. You can even buy playable races (like Caitian and Ferasan) and certain bridge crew species (like Caitain and Ferasan). I’ve taken advantage of that, plus I’ve taken advantage of all of the costume add ons. This I have no issue with, because it’s a quality of life aspect to the game. Customizing things so that you stand out in the game just a bit.
What really annoys me is one aspect of the game which manages to drop lock boxes. These lock boxes contain special additions for your character to use. Weapons, shields, duty rostes to complete your duty roster crew, costume pieces, and in the case of the Ferengi lock boxes, lobi crystals which can be used to buy a few other add ons. You even have a chance to open a box with a ship (Cardassian, Jem Ha’Dar, Tholian, Ferengi, Mirror Universe ships available). What picks at me is that the keys required to open the boxes require real world money to buy. And they aren’t cheap. Over 1000 in game credits to buy ten of them. Which isn’t so bad, but at the frequency of which the lock boxes drop, it can get very expensive.
These aren’t achievements you can unlock, but achievements you can buy. And even then, the chance of getting a ship is remote.
Costumes and ship skins I don’t mind paying for. It’s an added bonus to the game to help make you look unique. I do have an issue with being forced to buy keys to open boxes in order to have a chance of something really different. What I’d suggest is keep the keys in the store, but have certain missions that will offer the chance to get a key as a reward on completion of the mission. Make that drop rare enough, so when a player does manage to get one, it’s a real accomplishment. If players want to shell out cash to buy keys, so be it, be at least give players the opportunity to be awarded keys in game. Even make a key bundle of ten a reward option.
It’ll make the reward actually feel like an achievement.
I remember the glory days of Beta testing. You know, a new product would come out and you’d sign up to Beta test it, hoping to be one of the lucky few who have managed to make the list. Years ago, it was a prize to be cherished.
That’s changed a lot now, and while there are still the Beta lists of invites, Beta doesn’t exactly mean the same anymore. Companies now offer preorders which allow you to get in on the Beta testing of a product. I’ve Beta tested four games in the past few years, two I got in on merit of invite, two others I did preorder (one of which I really wanted to get, which was Guild Wars 2).Some might say I’m being hypocritical to complain about paying for something in order to be involved in it, and yes, I’ll admit the decisions to pay to Beta test were prompted by the aspect of monetary availability. I had the money, I wanted to try it out, so I paid.
But the problem with this comes from paying for something, which includes a pre-order, to try it out before the official launch. What if you think it stinks? You’ve just blown X amount of dollars in order to “try” something out. In some cases, name branding will help the product succeed. Knowing that a brand name that’s been trusted will help in the decision making. That has the adverse effect, as well. And it’s very confusing when it’s a trusted name brand that is being developed by a company who has a shoddy track record.
“I know it’s X game, and X game has always been cool, but it’s being made by Z company, and they’ve proven to be really shitty with development and customer service. So, do I sink money in order to play a really great franchise, all the while supporting a really crappy company?”
It’s a very complicated issue nowadays, considering how video game companies are pumping out products which just seem to be complete carbon copies of what’s been done before. And the consumer has this attitude that the video game companies don’t have any obligation to deliver anything to the players once they have your money. Well, yes, they do. They’re still a business and they still produce a product. When you give someone money to buy something, even if it’s digital, it’s still a product. There may not be a physical thing to hold in your hands, but you still did get something in the transaction. And to say it’s just the entertainment industry is nothing more than a cop out.
Consumers are now paying for the privilege (because, that’s what it is, a privilege) to join in during the Beta, and often, unless you’re really confident about the game or product, that’s like playing Russian roulette. For every one Beta test you get involved in that’s really good, there could be three or four that are just crap. And is it easy to get your money back from such a venture? Most often not. Sometimes a company will claim that the time you spent beta testing, is money to them. You, the consumer, basically rented time in the beta to play it.
Video game companies have really gone full bore with business attitudes that they are money making machines first and foremost (which, to be honest, all companies are), instead of trying to make a decent product and having good customer service to help out that product move along. There are cases where some products (in this case, video games) have gone by the way side, but let’s look at one in particular; Neverwinter Nights. Years after Bioware stopped production of the game, they still made a patch for it, and they still had servers and support for the game after that. Almost ten years after the game was launched, Bioware still supported it. And it wasn’t only until a couple of months ago that GameSpy, the company that ran the master servers for multiplayer aspects of Neverwinter Nights, finally shut those servers down. 11 years after the game was launched. That’s dedication to a product, that’s customer service. It helped that Neverwinter Nights had a massive community, but they also had a huge respect for that community.
Another example of excellent customer service and listening to the customers was the now defunct City of Heroes. CoX (as it was called) would often send out Beta invites for their expansions, never charging for it. Often, however, if you were playing the original game, there was a very good chance you would have gotten their expansions (City of Villains and Going Rogue). The team at Paragon Studios kept fans and players up to date on events, issue releases (patches or updates to the game were called Issues, like comic book issues), and a whole lot more, before NCSoft pulled the plug on Paragon (both the studio and the game). And if there was a problem in game, it was often handled fast. Paragon Studios and CoX was the fastest response time I’ve ever had with support problems, often times while I’m still attempting to find a solution on my own in game.
Those two previous examples seem to be the exception to the rule, as it now seems companies and development teams are less and less interested in customer service and more interested in pushing a product out.
Remember the days of video games that you bought in a box and had paper instruction manuals? In some case, more than one disc? Fortunately, this was on a DVD, so there was disc changing. It’s the diamond edition of Neverwinter Nights from Bioware, and took me two minutes to punch in the serial code.
Mind you, I still have the original discs that have been quite badly scratched (thus, why I bought the diamond edition which has both expansion packs, Shadows of Undrentide and Hordes of the Underdark), but can you imagine swapping out discs to install a game now? Especially when the current trend is to digitally purchase it and download it. But I still have those discs, and the only way to play it now is to have a friend who might have an extra copy (such as me having two copies).
Along with all three of the original manuals.
And… apparently a Far Side book was tucked in next to them.
Light reading material for later, to be honest.
Ah, but forgive my brief nostalgia. It brought back wonderful memories.
Since the Internet has had it’s users there have been online games. And during all of that time, there have been several varied attempts to create a Dungeon and Dragons video game. Especially with the name Neverwinter.
While the game Neverwinter Nights, created by Bioware in 2002, was the most well known and most popular game (there is still content being used to create modules and there are still active servers that host complete worlds created by different people) it wasn’t the first. The first came out in the early 1990′s and was a text based MUDD that featured Nasher as a character questing through a complete story. Since then, there’s also been Neverwinter Nights and Neverwinter Nights 2, created by Obsidian. The first Massive Multiplayer Online game was released in mid 2000′s with Dungeons and Dragons Online, and while it had references to Neverwinter, it didn’t start in Neverwinter.
Now, Cryptic Studios has developed their own MMO called, simply Neverwinter. It’s a throwback of sorts, to remind players of the original Neverwinter Nights, even using the font that was popularized by the Bioware release. However, that’s the only similarity (along with the fact it takes place in Neverwinter). There’s some good with this game, but there’s also a lot of bad.
It’s standard Cryptic development, which they used in both Champions Online and Star Trek Online, and is becoming their own sort of stamp on online games. Many of the animations used in the game are used in both Champions and Star Trek, as are many of the voice actors. The game was only in Beta, so I’m not going to be too harsh on the character creation system. It was very lax compared to Champions which has a much more indepth creation system. You could literally spend hours just creating a character in Champions, whereas in Neverwinter, they have a series of cookie cutter choice that you can tweak, or you can make your own additions and changes. Again, not nearly as extensive as Champions, but it’s also only in Beta.
Game play itself is pretty decent, and something which can be expected from Cryptic. After all, this is the fifth MMO they’ve created (they created City of Heroes and City of Villains as well). Even the system for levelling up is a familiar one for those who play D&D. However, it’s all very cookie cutter, and there’s very limited customization. You get feats based on your class with some racial feats levelling up as you go. You can swap out certain feats to use at various times, and as you battle you gain advantage points to unleash a massive attack.
It was a decent system for adding to attribute points which includes Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma. Every ten levels you add in more attribute points, two at level 10 and 20, and six at level 30 (only one point per attribute). I only managed to get to level 30 in the two days I played. There are 60 levels, which means even at casual play, one could reach the maximum level very quickly (hardcore gamers might do that in a day).
Early on, you get a quest that sends you to a livery, and you can then purchase a horse, which is pretty cool. However, they don’t allow for attacking while in the saddle. Any prompted attack automatically takes you off the horse and you’re planted firmly on the ground. Even in Neverwinter Nights, Bioware had made allowances for riding combat (it was one of the last patches that Bioware released with the game, which was patch 1.69).
Getting a mount isn’t the only thing available. You can also have a companion to help you with your quests. The choices are a devote cleric, a warrior, a guardian or a wolf. I went with a devote cleric, because I have a tendency of losing hit points fast. Having her along for the ride helped keep me topped up. Your companion will even level up as you progress, which does take time. Longer for higher levels. You go to your character sheet, click the companion tab, and click on the level up button for your companion and they go off and level up (which you just have to imagine they are doing something else and not presently available for an hour or so). Handy to have a backup companion, that way you can swap to that one as the other is levelling up (I had two clerics).
The vistas were actually nice, the area is well done and looks much improved from what Cryptic did in Champions and in Star Trek. The only problem I have is… it’s still the same. It’s very cookie cutter, whereas they took their work from Champions, tweaked it and made Star Trek, then took that work, tweaked it and made Neverwinter. Even the quests are of similar design, right from having a spawning point in dungeons. There were lots of “go collect x things”, which is really tired and boring (yes, let’s do the same thing that every other MMO from time in memorial has done). Even the big dungeons are copy and pasted from what Cryptic did in Champions and Star Trek. Five player teams needed to do a major dungeon. Even the monetary system is similar, right down to mining and refining a particular type of ore that can be used as money. This ore is one that can be acquired through quests.
I didn’t get a chance to go through the crafting ability, which has been titled as professions, so I can’t really comment on that at all. The combat was actually fairly good, and it looks as though they’ve done away with the tab targeting that most games use (you have a targeting reticle and your target has to be in front of you in order to attack). It makes it a bit more fluid and dynamic when you’re in battle.
The biggest downer is, there’s nothing really new with this, with the exception that they seemed to over use the word “Never” when naming things. Seriously, having a leader of a city of Neverwinter named Neverember, and have the Neverdeath graveyard. What next, Neverwater for the city port and Neversobber for a pub?
The game is only in Beta, but there was a severe number of races and classes that were missing from this outting. No paladin, no ranger, only wizard, no sorcerer. And I believe that Wizards of the Coast ditched druid for the D&D 4.0 release (which Neverwinter is based on). But there was also a lacking of races. Wood Elf was it’s own race, which I don’t understand why you can’t just have “Elf” and a series of subraces in there (such as Sun Elf, Wood Elf, Grey Elf, Drow).
As I said, it was only a Beta, so there may be more changes on the horizon, but so far it seems to be standard Cryptic design, which isn’t bad. They were successful with the two previous outings, but it’s also not great because it’s nothing new. I’ll have to see what changes come about with the next Beta weekend.
This isn’t actually the kind of internet rage you might think. The type where you see hugely insulting comments in some new article, whether they be racist, misogynist, homophobic, or any other ism or phobia (or even some troll who has the mental function of a 10 year old). Nor is this the type of rage where you get pissed off so badly at a game you rage quit in the middle of it.
No, this has nothing to do with those things, but everything to do with internet connectivity.
I’ll be the first to admit, I have no clue about the complete working of an intranet or network for our work place. But I do know that ours is so horrid that we often lose connection several times a day and can’t even do the most simplest thing like sending an email. It’s a pain because it often interrupts important things like ftp uploads for our newspaper pages to several different sites which includes our provincial association, our company headquarters and a repository for several newspapers that can use stories from different places to flesh out one or two of their own pages or stories. In the event of a lost connection to those, it’s really annoying because we have to shut down the client, restart the router and try again. I’ve thought we should maybe call our local computer shop and see if they can help, but there’s two problems with that. Problem number one is money. It costs money to have that service done, and we had to fight tooth and nail to get our new computer systems in. We’re probably the smallest of all the newspapers in this chain, so our needs aren’t as high a priority as other newspapers. The second problem is a case of network specialization. I know there’s no difference between networking a Mac and a PC, but Macs (which our shop has) bring out this very intimidated feeling among anyone. I know people who’ve never touched a Mac, but they hate them.
Maybe one of these days, we can get our network connection fixed and all our problems will be solved. For now, we struggle on.
Then again, maybe spring will arrive sometime in West Central Saskatchewan as well.
I really hate it when the world seems to be against me. Not people, persay, but situations. Where everything lines up correctly to give me a big kick in the nards.
Yesterday, the temperature dropped considerably during the day, and by the time I was ready to go home from work, it’s was -24 Celsius. And my car wouldn’t start. I had no other choice but to walk home. Let’s just say I wasn’t exactly dressed for it. And thank goodness that long hair can actually help keep your ears warm, though a toque would have been really nice.
So this morning, knowing I’d have to walk again, I got ready. Parka, scarf, toque, heavy gloves, the whole bit. Of course, not having walked much in winter, my nasal passages were accosted by the odor which I at first thought was burning. Fortunately, reason kicked in and reminded myself that no it is in fact exhaust fumes. They rather stink.
My plan was to get my car boosted, drive home and pick up the extension cord, plug it in while I’m getting the newspaper mail out ready, giving it a start to get her warmed up. That plan has also involved going to get the front tire filled because it’s flat. Guess I’ll need new tires soon. And that on top of the fact I need to look into getting a new computer for myself.
I suppose that all goes hand in hand with being an adult and having to pay for things. Something I should have actually realized several years ago. And to top everything off, I’ve also been looking at buying a home. I think it’s mostly because I want a companion, and while I’m not looking for a roommate, nor am I currently having any amorous affections toward anyone, I’d very much like to have a cat.
I guess just one step at a time until that happens. Maybe I’ll finish writing Rocket Fox just for the sole purpose of getting my car fixed.
It’s giving me more grief.
It began just before Christmas, when Windows announced at boot up that the profile was corrupt and was not recoverable. I reboot and choose the last known good setting at start up. It’s been okay since then, but this morning it did it again.
I can’t afford a new desktop at this time, I guess I’ll just have to deal with it until next month when I can get a new one. It’s especially bad considering I have to renew the plates for my car at the end of this month. Fortunately, my GST cheque came in.
For those not in the know, GST/HST Cheques are refunds from the federal and provincial government for having to pay… the GST, which is a tax on goods and services. There was a large uproar when it was implemented over 20 years ago.
At any rate, I just hope my desktop can survive long enough until I can get a new one. Fortunately, I don’t need to do backups, because I’m crazy paranoid about backing up anything I do on my system. The one thing I don’t look forward to is re-installing everything.
- Guild Wars 1
- Guild Wars 2
- Champions Online
- Star Trek Online
- Neverwinter Nights 1
- Neverwinter Nights 2
- RayDream Suite 5.5
- Creative Suite (maybe it’s time to move from v3)
- MobiPocket Reader and Creator
- Printer drivers
- camera software
- Blackberry software
Which will actually be a good number of programs and games I use.
Yeah, I still go back and play NWN from time to time
This is more just personal stuff that I’ve observed, taken note of and had an affect on me. Nothing world shattering, though the shattering events of the world does in the end have an affect on me.
New stuff as we get older
Maybe it’s the way I grew up, but at one time as I was accumulating stuff (by stuff I mean electronics) I never once imagined my parents getting into some of the same stuff. This first came about when my dad bought a digital camera and a netbook. Not a laptop, a netbook. One of those smaller computers with no CD drive, but was essentially a computer nonetheless. My dad has been taking lots of photos, including the structures of old school buildings in Saskatoon. There’s a lot with some very unique designs. He wants to do the same with many of the city’s churches, and that includes more than just protestant and catholic places of worship. Saskatoon has two mosques and a synagogue after all. It’s a good project for someone my father’s age, and it’ll keep himself busy. At some point I think I may show him flickr so he can upload his photos and have a digital backup of everything he takes pictures of.
But now my folks have stepped it up, so to speak. Because most television stations switched to HD, it forced them to get a new television. Then one day out of the blue, my mother said “we’re thinking of getting a DVD player”. That took me aback, but it kind of made me happy. I could share some of my movies with my parents. Not stuff like the Watchmen or Green Hornet (the original TV series, not the horrid movie) or V For Vendetta. But movies like Waking Ned Devine, or the Lord of the Rings trilogy, or A Beautiful Mind, and Oh Brother, Where Art Thou. Those types of movies my folks would like. Very little swearing, no gratuitous nudity or sex. Mind you, while L.A. Confidential had a lot of swearing and violence, my dad watched it because it had a good plot premise. But since my parents bought a DVD player (which they paid $15 for at XSCargo in Saskatoon) they’ve borrowed a lot of movies from the public library. It also means I can make “mix tape” cd’s for my folks and give it to them, because they can play those on the DVD player as well. No, they don’t own a CD player. I’m thinking I may make a Patsy Cline CD for mom, she enjoyed listening to my copy when we’d play Scrabble together.
It’s A Wonderful Time Of Year, mostly because I have so many days off
The past two weeks will be weird. I say will be, because I’m including the days up to the third of January. On December 20th, it was our first day of closure at the office for the Christmas season. I had to go in to deliver newspapers, but after that, I went back home and crawled under a warm blanket again. Partly because I was tired, but also because it was freakin’ cold outside. Friday past without the end of the world, along with the arrival of my Kindle, and the only rushed day was Christmas as I drove to the city to visit my parents. On the 27th it was back to work for two days, putting together a newspaper for the third. Which we did in two days. A 16 page newspaper, with two pages of it being a year in review. We were running out of copy, so I sat down and wrote an editorial on new years resolutions (which I’ll share with everyone at a later date here). I don’t often write articles, unless it happens to be an Outlook Ice Hawks’ Hockey game. Because I volunteer to do the public address announcements, so I may as well take photos and jot down notes to have a report for the paper as well. But these two weeks feel weird because there’s been constant days off separated by two days of work in the middle of it. As of this writing, it’s Saturday morning, and I won’t have to go back into work until Wednesday. That’s a four day long weekend.
Rocket Fox, the story that became a monster
I sometimes wonder if I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew by resurrecting this thing I started when I was 12, updating it and adding to it and expanding it. The world of Rocket Fox has gone from a single species of fox like humanoids on a planet over 50 thousand light years from Earth, to a planet with three individual and unique species (still 50 thousand light years from Earth). Now there’s the Vulpine (fox like humanoids), the Felanus (lesser cat like humanoids), and the Procylon (raccoon like humanoids). All of them stand no taller than 4 feet, but they are all of varying degrees of intelligence, have their own skills, their own cultures (which, admittedly, mirror Earth’s because I only have Earth as a reference), sports and religion and science. I’m half way through the first part of this series, but I’m contemplating doing some more world building before I go on. Even drawing up uniform designs, clothing designs, culture of different races and so on. After all, the Vulpine will vary in their cultures, there are different races of Vulpine, Felanus and Procylon. Foxes themselves have different species within the genus and species; the common red fox, the arctic fox, the swift fox, the kit fox, and the fennec fox. There will be examples of each in the story. Same with lesser cats; ocelots, caracals, cervals, lynx, sand cats, and even cheetahs and cougars (though, due to size, I’m considering leaving cougars out of the mix, while making a cheetah like humanoid slightly taller than most Vulpine, Felanus and Procylon). For the most part, my research of the raccoon has shown there aren’t many different breeds such as lesser cats and foxes. As far as lesser cats go, I’ll just be dealing with wild varieties of lesser cats, not domesticated cats, which are also lesser cats.
One might ask “where did this entire idea come about of using different species of foxes and lesser cats”. That’s easy. I’ve always had an interest in space exploration and science fiction, and some ideas I’ve gotten in the past came from covers of supermarket tabloids. Like the time I was 11 and saw a cover story about scientists believing that dinosaurs very likely would have evolved. That’s how this entire idea came about. But it went further than that. Earth, for example, has thousands of species on it, including humans. What if, somewhere in the galaxy, on another habitable planet, the evolutionary chain affected another species. Not primate like, but something else. What if it was wolves, or tigers, or lions who were given the evolutionary advantages to become the dominant species on a planet. What if it was one of the smaller species, like foxes, lesser cats or raccoons. It sort of ballooned from there, and during my 12th year on this planet, the idea came about and I wrote stuff down. It sat in a box for almost 20 years, until I dug it out, dusted it off and decided to take another stab at it. But it has grown a great deal since I was 12. There’s a lot more that can be explored.
One of those ways of exploration of the society of Vulpinia Prime was given to me as a suggestion by a friend. She said instead of writing history as the story is told, have sections of that history in an appendix at the back of the book. Good idea, so I’ll do just that. From slang terms, to different species, to histories of the planet, and even some maps and pictures.
Oh, I’ve also been asked where I came up with the names for the three species. Vulpine comes from vulpes vulpes, the genus and species of the fox. Felanus comes from Felidae, which is the family of all lesser cats. It grows more complicated with each species, such as Ocelots being Felidae Leopardus L. pardalis, and lynx being Felidae Lynx lynx. The name for the raccoon like humanoids comes from the genus of raccoons, Procyon. I just added the ‘l’ in there on my own.
Star Trekking across the universe…
I think it should be obvious to most, I am pretty much a Trekkie (or Trekker, whichever one prefers). I’ve watched every series (including the animated series), and was pretty pissed when Enterprise was cancelled. Mostly because there was word they were going to explore the Catians, the feline race of the Star Trek universe, in season five. But I noticed a major difference between the different series and J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot. While it’s entertaining and fun to watch, there’s something with the new Star Trek that’s missing. Something those four different series had in common. That something missing is hope. The common underlying factor in every series, from the original to Enterprise was there was a tone of hope. Star Trek was actually a series that allowed Gene Roddenberry the chance to explore societal issues in the present day without having to explain things to the censors. Basically, he snuck issues of race relations, wage disparity and gender politics past the censors in 1966 and continued to do so with Next Generation. Rick Berman picked it up from there, and it even allowed people like Avery Brooks to explore some of that as well (Brooks not only played Sisko, but he directed several episodes of Deep Space Nine including the groundbreaking episode Far Beyond The Stars).
The original series broke ground having not just a black woman on the show, but also a Japanese American at the helm. There are a lot of stories about Nichelle Nichols treatment while working on that original show, and how she was hired as day labour. Nichols went onto assist NASA in the recruitment of women and people of colour to add to NASA’s ability to explore and study space. George Takei has gone on to become a huge proponent of gay rights and has been very outspoken of Japanese American history, especially touching on his own experiences from internment camps for Japanese during World War II.
This continued on throughout the other television series, as Next Generation explored things like torture, touching on gender and even transgender in an episode or two. Deep Space Nine took another step by having a black man as the first commanding officer in the television series. It often goes unsaid, but Avery Brooks wasn’t the only person of colour, as along with Michael Dorn who played Worf, Alexander Siddig played the role of Dr. Julian Bashir, chief medical officer for the space station. Voyager continued this tradition by having predominantly female crew members in positions of authority, as Kate Mulgrew played the role of Captain Kathryn Janeway, and Roxann Dawson played B’Elanna Torres, chief engineer of Voyager. Dawson herself had a lot of say in the development of the character, and the episode Extreme Risk, Torres continually pushes herself in dangerous holodeck simulations that almost kill her, was praised by fans as being one that tackled the issues of depression and inner conflict that many deal with daily.
Even Enterprise stepped up its game, as it explored what the history of Starfleet was, and how it went about meeting those new civilizations. Using humanity as a backdrop in meeting new cultures and how it has to deal with those new cultures and with its own survival in this new frontier. It would have been interesting to see how the series would have played out had it gone to seven full seasons like Next Gen, DS9 and Voyager had.
But the reboot, I don’t see any of that hope that the series provided. Entertaining, yes, definitely. There might be a glimmer of hope, in that the characters have that hope of coming together in a way we’re all familiar. But not in the same way that hope is mirrored in reality.
For years there has been an MMO that has captured the imagination of players. An MMO that has filled a void in a genre. That genre was super hero comic books. And that MMO was City of Heroes.
Launched almost a decade ago, City of Heroes went from the single game MMO, to the expansion City of Villains, and finally City of Heroes: Going Rogue, which allowed heroes to go to the villain side and villains to go to the hero side. That being from Paragon to the Rogue Isles.
It was announced a couple of months ago that CoX, as it is more commonly called, was closing down. The servers will be shut down later today. Barring any eleventh hour save that has been pushed by fans. So that leaves many in a void that hasn’t existed for years. Granted, it’s not completely empty. CoX fans will attempt to find a new home, and many aren’t exactly looking to join a fantasy game. Some have already said they’re going to The Secret World, other are moving on completely, and some are going to the other super hero MMOs.
One is DC Comics MMO, which I’ve played but not fully. The other is Champions Online.
Champions is based on the old pen and paper game. The game has made news, and it’s received some rewards. And players from CoX will attempt CO. There’s naturally some pros and cons that come hand in hand with moving from CoX to CO
Those familiar with the CoX character designer will love the Champions character designer. Champions is very much as complex as City of Heroes/Villains. With a small addition. Champions allows players to change stances, manipulate individual shoulder pads, arm pads, gloves, bracers, leg attachments and boots, whereas City didn’t allow the differences between left and right side.
Champions game play is a bit more dynamic. Whereas in City, your hero/villain is rooted during an attack. So a gunslinger can flip and move and run while shooting, whereas in City, they remain stationary. Champions is also a lot more free when it comes to power choices. Unless you’re a free to play player, Champions allows the player to start their character, choose an opening power (say Martial Arts) and choose powers from other archetypes (like munitions, gadgets, might, ego blades, sorcery, fire, electricity and more). There is some limitations as to what powers you can take at certain times, but you’ve got a lot of freedom. In City, you are locked into a set of powers based on the archetype you chose, and what power sets you chose. Even when doing a retcon, which is basically going back to level 1 and choosing your powers and enhancement slots over again, you’re locked into your archetype and your power sets. The only exception is the power pools. You aren’t locked into that. In Champions, when you do a retcon, you can choose completely different powers, including different opening powers from a completely different power set (unless you are a free to play player).
Many of the larger team missions, such as Therakiel’s Temple or Shadow Destroyer, are not long, drawn out missions. That was one complaint I had about City, whereas a large task force would take hours to play, and often no one really cared how well we did by the time we got to the last couple of missions. The worst was the opening Task Force, offered by Positron which was also dubbed The Baton Death March. A level 10 Task Force, longest, hardest and most difficult due to lack of powers. Since then, Positron has been split into two task forces, but if you really like long, drawn out slogs (because we’re all a little masochistic at times) Positron’s complete Baton Death March is still available through Oroboros, a time displaced area where characters can go back and do missions they missed and claim badges that were available through missions they may have out leveled.
This is more a knock on Champions than a pro. City had epic powersets at level 41. Based on the character’s archetype, players could give their characters some extra power with these epic powers. They could choose four powers from a set and enhance them as much as they could. This went on until the player reached level 50. Further, players could continue to gain powers by doing some of the extra events that would allow characters to gain further powers through a series of trees that would give them a touch more flavour. The character would still register at level 50, but would seem like level 54 or higher. A lot of these missions to achieve these additional powers, however, while fast, were kind of a grind. It was essentially end game content and a lot of people complained about it’s set up. Champions, there’s just one epic power that a character can get once they hit level 35 and have unlocked the Vibora Bay content. Some of those powers are really kind of meh, and the players can’t level past 40 (though there has been talk of upping the level cap to 45, but that’s been a rumour for over a year now).
Vehicles! Champions has vehicles, City doesn’t. Though, the vehicles are more reminiscent of Star Trek, as they’re all fighter craft and hover tanks at present. There is talk about adding motorcycles and cars at some point. And the vehicles aren’t easy to acquire. Either using real world money to purchase a vehicle from the in game C-Store, or running an opening mission to acquire what’s called Drifter Points to unlock one of the vehicles he sells.
The biggest pro about Champions has to be the leveling curve. It’s not nearly as steep as City and casual players may find that it won’t take long to hit level 40. I did that with Rocket Fox in two weeks.
Regarding PvP, while Champions is like City in that it has specific zones in which players can battle players, players can also challenge other players out in the open. By right clicking on a character and choosing DUEL, the two players can engage in a slug fest in the middle of Millennium City or any other zone in the game (with the exception of Club Caprice or the Minefield, two of Champions social areas).
Unfortunately, Champions has a lot of cons, and quite a few of them don’t really need long comparative descriptions. One of Champions major failings is customer service. I’ve made support notes in both CoX and Champions and found CoX had far superior support. I never waited more than ten minutes before a GM would come to assist me with a problem that I had. In Champions Online, I have yet to interact with a GM to help solve an issue. And issues seem to take months to resolve, making some missions unplayable.
Champions is also plagued by the fact that while the first of Cryptic’s MMOs under it’s new direction (remember, Cryptic started City before NCSoft and Paragon Studios took over), it seems the team of developers for Cryptic is concentrating more on Star Trek Online and Neverwinter Online. The latter two are seen as the major money makers, and thus Champions development has suffered. Aside from vehicles and one new mission, there has been no new content, no new areas, and no new development on the horizon. Players are promised a lot of stuff, but some has taken over a year to complete, or has been completely forgotten.
Another con for Champions is the fact it is developed by Cryptic Studios. A lot of people who played City felt they got shafted by Cryptic. The studio left a huge bad taste in their mouth and anytime a new game would be announced like Star Trek Online or Neverwinter, there was some excitement until readers saw the developer; Cryptic Studios. That made their decision for them to never try the game because they had a bad experience with Cryptic.
In the end, the choice is up to the player. Already there have been several people who have logged onto Champions who have the tag in their bio that says “CoX refugee”. How long they stay will be another question entirely.
- Farewell to City of Heroes – and What’s Next? (mmomeltingpot.com)
- Requiem for Paragon (facesoftheranger.wordpress.com)
- Saying Goodbye to City of Heroes (andallofthem.wordpress.com)
- Farewell, City of Heroes (bronzeagebabies.blogspot.com)
- ‘Save City of Heroes’ campaign appeals to Disney (incgamers.com)
- Champions Online gets massive vehicle update (destructoid.com)
- City of Heroes Retrospective (geeksunleashed.me)
- Heroes at the End of the World: Living in the Final Days of City of Heroes (mediumdifficulty.com)
- How to Back Up your City of Heroes Characters (lurkingrhythmically.blogspot.com)
- Ten things to do in City of Heroes before it’s gone (massively.joystiq.com)
I’ve had some time to play Guild Wars 2.
Over a month, in fact. I have a human thief at level 70, a human mesmer at level 30 and a charr engineer at level 25.
I do like how dynamic the game play feels, even when you’re exploring solo, you’re never really alone. There’s always the chance that if you find yourself in trouble, you can always feel as though someone will come and help you. Even with the open field of players in a zone, you never have to worry about kill stealing. It’s changed the way a player can look at a game. Instead of someone being accused of kill stealing, people are helping to take down a mob, and are given reward accordingly. People don’t ignore you if you’ve fallen, because you also get rewards for resuscitating people. A small amount of experience and perks toward a title (Shani, my thief, has brought back nearly 1,000 fallen allies from the brink).
It’s fantasy, with a little taste of steampunk in there. And maybe even a bit of science fiction. No other fantasy setting has swords and sorcery that combines with flintlocks and musket rifles, and then enter an area where inside the buildings are hovering computer screens and mechanical golems built with speech patterns that seem to come from computer if/then statements.
It’s also nice that you never really outlevel an area, as it automatically sets your level without removing skills to the level of that area. You happen to be level 70 in a level 15 area? No problem, you’re still going to find it a challenge and you’ll still get rewards accordingly.
My first play through (not complete) was with my thief. I like the speed of the thief, plus the ability to hide quickly and draw enemies away and confuse them. Plus, having the ability to switch from dual daggers to dual pistols (or a mix thereof) is really fun.
The mesmer was a bit of a challenge to get used to, and seeing how they have an odd array of weapon choices, but once I got past that it was kind of easy. Mesmers can wield a scepter, staff, pistol, longsword or a greatsword (have yet to try that as of this moment). Plus, many of the abilities can create copies of yourself so it’s like a small army of you. That happen to smash into butterflies once combat is done.
My third high level character is a charr engineer. The charr are feline like creatures that were at one time at war with the humans. Now, they’ve set aside differences and are working on a peace treaty with the humans. 250 years after the charr reclaimed their old home of Ascalon. My first charr is named Flintlock Burnfur, an engineer. The engineer profession took a little getting used to, but it definitely has some major versatility. Rifle turrets, healing turrets, grenade satchels, tool kit, and much more. No weapon swapping, unfortunately. This is mostly due in part to the fact engineers have so much versatility. Though you can choose rifle, dual pistols or pistol and shield. It was a bit difficult at first to play, as poor Flintlock kept face planting a lot. She still has some difficulty, but now she has the skill Flamethrower, and it chews through enemies quite nicely. There’s an Avatar the Last Airbender parallel in there: Everything changed the day Flintlock got a flamethrower.
One other thing I do like about the game is the visualization. And this points to how gender is represented in the game and how characters are created. There’s A LOT of female NPCs that your character will interact with. A LOT! Especially with the charr. Which is also something rather nice regarding races.
Often in a game, whenever a female character is created, it seems that they are made more for titillation and eye candy. In Guild Wars 2, charr females look nice, but they look like charr. They don’t look like feline heads on human bodies with huge breasts. Charr male and female characters have similar builds. The same can be said for the Asura, which appear like very small creatures, rather pudgy, large ears and large eyes. Norn are just large humans, but even the women are muscular.
As can be seen, off in the corner of my office sits a new iMac computer.
It’s the latest thing from Apple as far as desktop computing goes. For our place of work, it’s a big step up. More RAM and processor speed, more harddrive space, newer versions of the software packages we use on a daily basis at the paper. So, why’s it sitting in the corner and not on my desk?
That’s easy. The short answer is because while I have the computer, they forgot to send me a power cord. Kinda hard to run the machine without that.
The long answer, however, takes a little longer to explain.
While the machine has all of the programs we use already installed, there’s still a lot on these machines that we use on a daily basis that is not installed on the new system. Fonts, for instance. You’d be surprised how fonts can factor into the decision making of setting up a new computer. Or maybe you can, if you happen to work in graphic design or the publishing industry. There’s a lot of times we use none standard fonts for many of the ad layouts we construct. Sometimes Arial or Helvetica just doesn’t cover it, so we need Landsdown or Marriage Script to make something standout.
FTP client software. I will admit, and won’t give them flack, that our service desk does not know what ftp clients we use. Those are easy enough to get, with only one needing a full license. The problem comes in when trying to get all of the servers, usernames and passwords back to the new machine. I swear, I have them written down somewhere.
But the biggest complaint about the new machines so far is that any time we want to do something on them, whether that’s make a new folder, save a file, copy a file… we have to input the local administrative username and password.
Now I’ll admit, I am not the be all and end all of tech work regarding computers. As a matter of fact, I know just enough to be dangerous. But I’m not going to go poking around on my work machine trying to disable the admin stuff without some help. Sadly, it’s not as easy as calling our IT desk to help, because they happen to be in Vancouver and we’re, obviously, in the middle of Saskatchewan. And we don’t exactly have an Apple store close by (Saskatoon, one hour drive, hour and a half to the store, I timed it once).
But, we have new machines. Faster machines. I should be happy. With my high tech paperweight.
The link above tells the entire tale, how by November 30 of this year, NCSoft will be shutting down the servers to the first Superhero based MMO ever to succeed in the online marketplace (or at least succeed as well as it did). City of Heroes, City of Villains, Going Rogue. They made an interesting package.
I think, even though I’ve left the game and haven’t really played in a year (or more) I kind of owe City of Heroes something. If it wasn’t for CoX, I’d have never met some of the people in a role play group that I had a great deal of fun with over the course of time in the game. And had it not been for CoX, and that group, then the creativity I had wouldn’t have really come out as it did. There’d be no Black Mask & Pale Rider, no Canyons of Steel, and certainly no Rocket Fox. I’d have been languishing in my ability to write and wouldn’t have been further ahead.
It may be a silly thing to credit to a Massive Multiplayer Online RPG, but that’s the truth of it. Had it not been for City of Heroes, and for the RPCongress (the role play group I had met and joined), none of those ideas I had would have really come to life. So, because of that, this announcement from NCSoft, coupled with the farewell at Paragon Studios, meets me with mixed feelings.
Oh, it was a good run, indeed. In a way, CoX made strides to become comparable to WoW, even though they were completely different genres. And I don’t think CoX was seen as a WoW-killer, like so many other MMOs hoped to become, but I think CoX was seen as a game that could co-exist with WoW and compete on even terms.
But again, for me, CoX will always mean that I managed to kick start Black Mask & Pale Rider, and start putting those ideas I had onto paper (or more realistically, into a wordprocessor).
The newspaper was uploaded to the printer last night, and should be done sometime this morning before I begin the usual Wednesday afternoon grind of labeling all of the mailing labels onto 1200 news papers.
Today, there is only one small publication which we print inhouse that we have to do, and that’s already started.
Tomorrow, the delivery of this week’s issue begins, and once that’s done at around 9:00 in the morning (or perhaps 9:15) then the holidays begin. Two glorious weeks off where I can do whatever I want. Already I’ve been asked if I’d like to travel somewhere far off or take a vacation to some distant and exotic location. But really, my holiday is what I want to do.
I hate driving, really. I hate getting into my car and driving for an hour or two to get to some destination. Driving stresses me out. As for going down to some far off place, like Scotland (because I’ve always wanted to), or the tropics, or go as far south Florida or some other place where it’s supposed to be warm all year round. Well, I’m not into that mostly because it would be much better off to fly to some place like that. And quite frankly, I hate flying. I am deathly afraid of getting onto an airplane. And I’m okay with that.
Also, I never understood why someone would want to go to a hot climate when it’s just that way here. It’s been really warm (though some days have been sweltering) and an all around awesome summer. Wouldn’t you want to wait until winter before heading south?
I’m also debating about getting a new laptop for myself. Replacing my old one and getting a brand new one to act as my lone computer, and set up my desktop computer as a sort of entertainment center. Games, movies, music, all in one location.
That might be something to look into during my two weeks off. Along with writing and other such things.
New stuff in STO (Star Trek Online)! Which is one of the reasons why I haven’t posted anything in a while.
Left the game for a bit (from boredom, really), but decided to come back to it after seeing something new.
They added the race called the Ferasan. Distantly related to the Caitians, the Ferasan are a more feral looking feline race. Longer canine teeth, different fur colouring and patterns. They are a playable race on the Klingon side of the game. Something nice about adding the Ferasan is that now the Caitians also have more additions for hair and fur patterns, so you can make some differences instead of just colour of the fur and eyes.
Displayed above is S’Returru (left) who is currently a captain in the KDF (Klingon Defense Force). On the right is my main character, Vice Admiral M’iaa T’Chall, who up until recently was commanding the U.S.S. Lynx, an Odyssey Class starship for which the latest Enterprise is built for (U.S.S. Enterprise NCC1701-F). But, the devs for STO released a new ship.
Thanks to efforts to match the Klingons with their carrier ships, the Federation has called out to other races to help match the intensity. The Caitians answered, making the Atrox Carrier class ships available.
The Atrox is a larger vessel (a little longer than the Odyssey Class starship) and doesn’t have the greatest maneuverability. However, it is powerful and has decent defensive capabilities. But the Atrox’s main attribute is she is an aircraft carrier.
She comes complete with a large squadron of Stalker Class fighter craft. So she’s basically a point and shoot, not fly in and take part in combat, though she does have her weapons banks.
No matter how busy it is today, work is going to feel like it’s dragging.
Especially that last hour, it always does that.
Partially, because today is Friday, and work days always seem to drag slowly on a Friday. As an example, Tuesday was very busy and seemed to zip by quite fast (albeit in a rather hectic “we’ve gotta bust our asses” kind of way). Today, however, I have a decent workload, nothing too stressful. But there’s no urgency to get things done as there is on a Tuesday. I’m merely getting them done so I won’t have them to do on Monday when I come back from work.
The other reason why today is going to drag by slowly, is because a game I’ve been waiting for to come out is having their second beta weekend beginning today. I’ve preordered it, and I’m ready to play. Granted, I’m at work still. That game is Guild Wars 2. I think the biggest reason I’m excited for it is because they have given the player the ability to jump. Which is fine, but it makes a huge difference. The other, much larger reason, is because it’s a fantasy setting game, where I can use pistols. Okay, flintlocks, but still its a step.
The third, and final reason for today going by so so slowly is for the event that I mentioned earlier. That being Saturday and something rather special that only comes around once a year. Yeah, tomorrow’s my birthday. Some might say “but Tim, you’re like old”! And I’ll answer with (first) “Oh shut it” (and then) “Age is just a number, really”. You see, I got over the fact I turned 40 two years ago (simple math, 40, two years ago, makes me 42, or soon to be). I can’t wallow in some depressed mulch over the fact I’m turning older. It’s just something that happens. I’m 42! It means I’m still alive!
Maybe it’s just me, maybe it’s just the fact that there was a piece of literature out there that I enjoyed a great deal and fell in love with the comedy of it’s words. Thanks for the fish. Don’t panic. Always remember your towel.
I awoke this morning with the not so subtle reminder that today is Towel Day. There on my tumblr dashboard was something that told me not to forget my towel.
I was excited. Filled with girlish glee (and I am comfortable in my manhood to say I was indeed filled with girlish glee), I set forth to spread the message of the day. Naturally, I thought one way of doing this would be to venture into the gaming world of Champions Online. I would take the character I fashioned for the Rocket Fox series and go into a populated area with her towel. One of the more populated areas that players go to happens to be called, Club Caprice. So there I was, playing the role of Senia Felix, commander of the Royal Vulpine Armada’s Nighthawk class deep space fighter. I walked up to the bar, order myself a tea and scones, and made certain that every time I said something or described an action, that the towel would also be mentioned.
Hang the towel over a shoulder.
Use the towel to wipe off the counter of crumbs.
Slip the towel into the weapons belt.
Much to my surprise, and my chagrin, there was no reaction. None at all.
Granted, I do know that some players have identified anyone playing an anthropomorphic character as a “furry”, and there is a lot of stereotypical baggage that comes with that sub genre. Those players often ignore such characters. Their loss, really. Especially when dealing with the members of the Royal Vulpine Armada. Granted, there are those who are mildly entertained by Senia’s actions; an incredibly intelligent mind in such a small frame. A military officer sworn with a duty to protect and keep the peace. A dedicated explorer.
But what I was really disappointed with was there was no reaction at all, even from those that Senia spoke to and interacted with, who mentioned the towel. Who got the reference. Even when some had to leave, there was no comment to “As the intergalactic saying goes, don’t panic” whatsoever. There wasn’t even a reaction to the comment “thanks for all the fish” upon my leaving the club.
Perhaps it was just the morning crowd. I’ll have to try again this evening.
- It’s Towel Day (travelbetweenthepages.com)
- Interstellar Hitchhikers, Rejoice: It’s #TowelDay! (geeksaresexy.net)
The name Two Steps From Hell may not conjure images of music that would inspire, but for the past week, it’s been doing just that. As the wikipedia page describes:
Two Steps From Hell is a production music company based in Los Angeles, California. Founded by Nick Phoenix and Thomas J. Bergersen, the company produces music for movie trailers and top ten classical albums on iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby.
In particular, the group’s music has been used in trailers for such films as Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Star Trek, The Dark Knight, The Fighter, Avatar, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, No Country For Old Men, 2012, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Matrix, Inception, Drive Angry, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, The Town, Priest and Prince of Persia, as well as video games such as Mass Effect 2, Mass Effect 3, Killzone 3, and Star Wars: The Old Republic and television shows such as Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Blue Mountain State, Merlin and Frozen Planet.
Their album Nero was released officially on 1st October 2011.
Their official website has a great deal more information about the group. This music has really been helping a lot to inspire some expansive scenes in Rocket Fox. An example below of their music, from Mass Effect 3, Two Steps From Hell – Protectors of the Earth.
- Mass Effect 3 Launch Trailer Premieres (bnbgaming.com)
- Meet the Composers Behind Mass Effect 3 (g4tv.com)
- The Perfect Writing Music (mitchallan.wordpress.com)
A while back (almost two years now) I mentioned that a video game was in development and I was looking quite forward to it. Seems a lot has happened since then. I haven’t mentioned it here but I have been reading up on it, and I have still come to the same conclusion; I’m still very excited for this game to come out.
That game is called Guild Wars 2. Incredibly perceptive if you clicked the link and read the previous article.
But yes, I have been waiting with baited breath and just yesterday received a link to apply for Beta testing (it’s not a Beta invite, sadly). However, it’s one step closer to actually getting in the game and seeing what it’s all about. There has been a lot that has been reported about it, such as combat changes, the new concept of “what you do effects the world” as opposed to the current MMO standard of “go out and kill ten ogres picking daisys”. Those “kill x number of things” are tedious, grindy, dull and repetitive. Plus, all you’re doing is pissing off a bunch of ogres who have green thumbs. I mean, come on! They were making Valentine’s bouquets.
There’s some other nice things, such as GW2 will recognize any achievements you made in GW1. Which means I must now crack open my Guild Wars characters and get some phat lewt!
…as the leet kids say.
Anyway, I’ll leave you with some interesting videos that introduce the Charr as playable characters. Two are in English, the last in German, but they focus on the Blood Legion, Ash Legion and Iron Legion. The three legions that make up the core of the Charr military.
- Guild Wars 2 Beta (tobolds.blogspot.com)
- Guild Wars 2 public beta sign ups end today at 6pm GMT (vg247.com)
- A jaunt through Tyria: hands on with the Guild Wars 2 beta (vg247.com)
- Guild Wars 2 Beta Sign Up Goes Live (webpronews.com)
- Guild Wars 2 Charr Elementalist Gameplay Video 2 (gamingphanatic.com)