An Update… A Rather Large Update

October 20, 2007

Another ridiculously large gap between posts, another lacking excuse. Well, actually, I can’t really think of any excuse at the moment… wait, I got something. Get this, my excuse is school – you know, school work and such, or did I use that already? Anyway, let’s get down to business. I present to you a condensed post that touches on numerous topic, from my latest obsession in the realm of video games to the most recent quip of mine that I’ve chosen to expound upon.

Halo 3. Yep, you’ve probably heard of it by this point. Even those who play no video games at all have most likely seen it in a magazine or television ad. Microsoft’s 100 million dollars of marketing was very much helpful in bringing this gaming juggernaut to the attention of all. And despite numerous claims of my own that I would wait a while before buying it, I have indeed caved in and purchased my very own copy of Halo 3. At least I didn’t fall for the ludicrously priced legendary edition, right?

I will say that I was pleasantly surprised with the improvements on the single-player campaign and got just about what I was expecting in terms of multi-player. There’s really not much to summarize considering Halo 3’s still working from the same old formula as its predecessors. A couple of new features including the theater, a tool that allows the playback of multi-player and single-player matches, and the forge, a simplified real-time map editor, were surprisingly well done additions to the typical Halo features. The production value is about as high as I’ve ever seen in a game.

Secondly is a game that has been occupying much of my time lately, a game that was simply meant to be a side show, but became an instant favorite for many fans. It’s called Portal. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s the result of Valve hiring a team of Digipen university students to create a small game to include in the recently released Orange Box, which also includes the newly released Team Fortress 2 and Half-Life 2: Episode 2.

Portal is a puzzle game that takes a simple concept and crafts a number of elaborate, fiendishly clever challenges with it. The only weapon (if you could call it that) that you will use in Portal is the ever so creatively named Portal Gun. The Portal Gun will create a blue portal if you left click and an orange portal if you right click. These portals are linked together, so going through one with send you walking out the other. Simply messing around with portals provides an enjoyable time. Infinite jumps, the house of mirrors effect, and other nifty situations can be set up with portals.

While quite short clocking in at only around 3 hours, Portal is still a source of tremendous fun and exactly the type of material well suited to re-playing.

And here comes trouble. Stop reading now if you wish, for another of my infamous rants looks to be next up on the schedule. For today my topic is social networking sites. Many of you may know I have a Facebook and formerly owned a MySpace, so I hope you don’t consider me hypocritical for criticizing that which I make use of, but it’s not that I dislike social networking sites, simply that I consider them misguided in their purposes.

The core purpose of any social networking site is to, well, network people together. While you will connect and communicate with existing friends on these sites, a large focus is put on making new friends through these sites.This seems like a ridiculous waste of time to me because the large majority of people do not reach out in any way to people they don’t know, and they shouldn’t. Social networking sites, in my opinion, should be solely focused on communicating and having fun with already existing friends.

Friendships through networking sites are forced and rarely last for long. On site like MySpace, people compete to get a larger friends list, but most of the people on the list barely even know them. Simply adding friends to your list on these sites is very different from actually considering them friends. People would be better off meeting new friends through other interactive online sites such as forums that relate to their interests.

Social networking sites, in my opinion, should take a new approach which is more prominently focused on providing existing friends the tools they need to have fun with each other through the site. Facebook is a bit ahead of MySpace at the moment because of their so called “application” feature which allows anyone to develop applications for user profiles, and many of these applications are designed for existing friends.

Well, that’s all for now folks.

Blogged with Flock

Advertisements

Summer has too good a connection

August 27, 2007

Why do good times have to fly by so fast. Can’t they have high latency and a terribly laggy connection forcing them to take longer. But, quite unfortunately, this summer was one with a far too good connection, at least 300 kb/s by my reckoning. And so we hit the end and school begins.

I’ll try to keep up on the blog as I haven’t been doing. Trying to think of yourself as an anti-role model works quite well really. If only there was sort of mine I could build to harvest motivation for myself. (Terran’s female voice from StarCraft echoes in my head: “We require more motivation”).

In terms of gaming, my latest obsession is the lesser known grand strategy game Europa Universalis III. This game is similar to Sid Meier’s Civilization series in that you start playing at 8:00pm and before you know it, it’s 2am. However it varies from Civilization in that it is not turn-based, but instead it is real-time. Well, not quite real-time; you can adjust how time flows from about a day passing every couple seconds, to a few days passing in every one second.

The entire game goes from 1453 to 1789, though you can choose exactly when you will start. You can also choose practically any country available at the starting time, and then proceed to micromanage every aspect of your civilization, from economic focus to hiring advisors to recruiting a military. Newcomers with be daunted at first, but a bit of practice will get you going with the game in no time.


Eating The Map of Cats

July 12, 2007

Pants.

Pants…

What would we do without these sacred pieces of cloth. For the cats use them to write computers. The turtles use them to fly above the carpet. The Humans use them to feel fluffy. The puffins use them to  partake of melon. The moose use them to splatter pasta.

Pants…


My Deepest Apologies.

June 26, 2007

Sorry for the long absence of updates. I’ve been pretty busy packing up crap and now moving in. For those who don’t know yet, my family is moving. Just locally, in fact, only about 15 miles, but it’s still a royal pain in the arse packing and moving in various stuff. Today we just actually closed on the house, but the movers aren’t coming until tommorow. Other then that, I don’t have a whole lot to post. Lifes been pretty damn good apart from the work, which isn’t even that terrible. Just went Kyaking the other day which was a great deal of fun, as the lake was unusually rough which made for some fun situations where I almost flipped. I picked up Tony Hawk Project 8 for my XBox 360. So far it’s been a great deal of fun. I really enjoy the new Nail-The-Trick feature, and, as always, am amazed by the quality of the level design in the Tony Hawk games. That’s about it for now. 


New Shiny Stuff

June 12, 2007

You read the title, that’s right, I dropped some money on a blazing fast new video card. It’s one hell of an upgrade for me; coming from a GeForce 6200. While before, I had to drop settings to the minimum in order to get a reasonable frame rate on most games, I can now pump them all the way to the max and still usually hit an FPS in the hundreds. I’m fully satisfied having scored the card at a reasonable price of about $160.

Installation was a piece of cake. I opened my computer, stuck the card in the motherboard, and restarted the machine and it worked perfectly after some driver installation off the disc. This is a rarity for me, as I usually have to screw with some wiring and online drivers before getting hardware working. I was also glad that the card didn’t need any sort of direct cabling to the power supply, unlike the slightly higher end 8800s.

Since I got it working, I’ve been having fun with my newly bought copy of the Lord of the Rings Online: Shadow of Angmar running at max settings. LOTRO is a great game from what I’ve played so far. It doesn’t introduce a lot of new mechanics, but that’s kind of nice as I can settle into the world quite nicely. At first glance I got the impression that it was simply a World of Warcraft clone in LotR’s wrapping, but since I’ve played more I’ve determined it’s actually a much superior game. The quests, though some more  simple, tend to be much more interesting then those of WoW and other MMOs. It can be seen that a good bit of time was spent realizing each and every quest, only a very small portion seem to be simple Fedex and kill monsters missions.

Another aspect of the game I enjoyed is the accuracy to the books. Basically every aspect of the game’s lands is exactly as described. Even such minuscule details as the location of the hobbit holes in Staddle within the Bree-land are accurate. The book accurate feel has actually influenced me to go back and read the LotRs trilogy for the hundredth time.

I’m currently playing a level 8 Hobbit Hunter on the Melandor server if anyone might want to meet up with me.

Lastly, check out this website. It’s an awesome spoof like programming language that actually works and compiles. I was linked to it on a forum I frequent: LOLCODE 


3 x 3 Movies

June 4, 2007

Unfortunately, it looks as if the summer of 2007 won’t have much to offer in the way of original films, so it seems that you’ll have to quench your movie craving with a few continuations of some old favorites. Three big-budget movies have jump started the summer movie scene, these being: Spiderman 3, Shrek the Third, and Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End. Each is the third in its series and the presumed end to its respective trilogy. I’ve had a chance to catch all of these flicks, and will proceed to provide you with a quick summary of my thoughts on each.

Spiderman 3

The majority of superhero movies are passable entertainment at best, some, such as Catwomen, have even become the laughing stock of many. However, the Spiderman series has been a huge hit among both audience and critics. The series has managed to provide a perfect balance of action, character development, and romance. Unfortunately, the third in the series, though nowhere near terrible, fairs to meet the high standard its predecessors set.

It’s biggest flaw can most easily be summarized as: “too much.” Spiderman 3 simply has too much going for it. We have three villains, each in need of proper development and action scenes, a bit much to cram into a reasonably sized movie. Director Sam Raimi’s efforts to tie off all the lose plot ends are respectable, but often feel a bit too forced.

The scenes in which Peter Parker is controlled by Venom, and instantly becomes “emo”-like are laughable whether intended to be or not. However, despite it’s good share of flaws, Spidey 3 is still another respectable installment in the series.

Shrek the Third

The Shrek series has been one of the few humorous computer-generated series that I have been able to enjoy, let alone tolerate. The third movie lives up to its prequels and, in my opinion, surpasses the second. For previous watchers of the series, there isn’t much new here, some more good old fantasy spoofing. Though Shrek the Third works in some elements of the King Arthur mythos.

 

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Pirates of the Caribbean is an extremely popular series, and one of Disney’s few worthwhile movies. At World’s End suffers from some problems similar to Spiderman 3: it’s a bit crowded at times. I’m not one who likes movies dumbed down in order to accommodate those who care not to use their brains, but, even if you have your thinking cap on, At World’s End can be a bit confusing if you don’t have the second installment of the series in fresh memory.

As with the other movies in the series, At World’s End has superb acting. Though Johnny Depp does a fantastic job as before, it is Geoffery Rush’s character Captaint Barbossa who really steals the show. Unfortunately, Orlando Bloom continues to give a somewhat stale, unemotional performance that strikes a hard contrast to the others personality filled acting.

One of my few major issues with the third Pirates movie is the overall fantasy vibe of it. The first movie, though it included that fantastical crew of the Black Pearl, still seemed to stick with the Caribbean pirate feel. However, it started to degrade into a more mythical series in the second and now the third. Fish people and godesses have no place in a good swash buckling pirate movie in my opinion. As Keira Kinghtely’s character of Elizabeth Swan announces in the movie: “With the sweat of our brow and the strength of our backs and the courage in our hearts” is how battle should be done, not through mythical means.

In then end, At World End is a great piece of entertainment, filled with well though out twisting plots. However, not all will wish to sit through a somewhat confusing three hour movie of Lord of the Rings like proportion.


Starcraft 2 Announced

June 1, 2007

I swear, if I hear one more forum n00b raving about Starcraft 2 I’m going to poke the person nearest to me with a very sharp object. It still escapes me how someone can declare a game absolutely amazing when it’s more then a year away from release and only a few lackluster screenshots have been revealed. Sure, the original Starcraft was a good, if not great game, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the sequel will be a grapically updated version with only some slight game play updates: maybe a new unit here and there.

 All together it just seems far to early to judge. So, I recommend that you wait to pass judgement on it’s awesomeness until something more substantial has been released. This is for the sanity of myself and many others.

On the topic, here’s a strip from Ctrl+Alt+Del that I found to be quite amusing, as well as realistic since it seems most Koreans worship Starcraft in some kind of weird unearthly way. ::link::