Thursday, January 05, 2012

Waiting For Somebody

I'm not sure when my last post was, and I'm pretty sure it was a few years ago, but I decided to put this wonderful love letter on the internet. See, when you quit a game that charges a monthly fee, they tend to want to know why, and usually people probably give pretty short answers. I don't.

To: Bioware
Jan 5, 2012, roughly 3:30 AM

I'll be honest: The game's just not very good:

- It feels like a really good single-player game with a chatbox in the upper-left corner. That's really what differentiates it from KOTOR. A chatbox.

- The UI is lacking, particularly in the lack of ability to move unit-frames or hotbars. This is a huge deal for me. I need three bars at the center of the bottom of the screen or I can't function.

- The voice-acting and cinematics are exceptionally well done. Unfortunately, they also start or end dramatically average MMO "kill this many X" or "bring back this many Y" quests. When you get right down to it, it's the usual MMO quests but now WITH AUDIO!

- Other than reading the quests to the player, it doesn't feel ambitious. It feels like any other MMO with a Star Wars skin slapped on it. I find this very sad, because Star Wars Galaxies was, at its launch, a terribly ambitious game that tried to do a lot of things VERY differently. Unfortunately, it catered to a specific kind of crowd that didn't exactly match up with the Star Wars demographic (which, really, is everybody).

- When I hit level 10 and opened up the talent tree screen, I pretty much wanted to die. It gave me flashbacks to the bloated talent trees of World of Warcraft circa 2009, and these were not good "Hey, man, remember when we put the principal's car on the school roof?" flashbacks.

- The Galactic Trade Network UI... oh, this was where my crafting dreams ended. I love auction houses in games. Buy low, sell high, make money on the margins, and sell my own wares while I'm at it. But the GTN UI is a tragedy the likes of which I've never seen. If I can't bring myself to shop for materials on the GTN because the UI is so bad, nobody's going to shop for my crafted goods. So, there, you have just killed the item for crafted goods, making crafting utterly pointless.

- The removal of a Search function on the forums was cute. I'm totally unsure as to what the point of that was, but it makes it very difficult to find a thread about an issue that I may be having or a question that's likely been asked before.

- The forums feel like there's nobody at Bioware either reading or watching them. A blue-tracker would be nice, but that would probably require turning the Search function back on.

- The /getdown exploit has, I understand, been fixed, but it's just ridiculous that something like that could even get out of beta testing. That is just inexcusable. Doesn't affect me directly, but it makes Bioware look like it doesn't know what the hell it's doing, and I'm starting to believe that hype.

- While I'm on the subject of bugs, some of which may be fixed: Item linking, party chat, guild chat, client crashes... SEVERAL of these were apparently issues during beta, but some genius said, "It's okay, we can ship this. We've got a street date to hit." I don't mind queues, I don't mind the occasional server instability, but I mind it when known bugs aren't fixed before release.


Righto, so I've just given you more honesty than most reviews do. Hell, IGN's review isn't even a critical review, rather it's, "Here's what this aspect of the game is like, here's what this aspect of the game is like," rather than actually criticizing the game (I'm betting they're waiting until they get their copies of Mass Effect 3 in-hand before saying what they really think, but IGN is where a 7.5 means never having to say you're sorry).

Okay, it's better than Motor City Online. Again, though, it's just not ambitious. I was hoping for just a few things that would have been mind-blowingly new. Nothing specific, just ... I'll describe the feeling I'm talking about.

- After years of playing first-person shooters, I'd come to the conclusion that one is the same as the next. When you get right down to it, they're all the same. Portal is different. It fundamentally alters the shooter into a comparatively non-violent puzzle game in a shooter engine. It was such a new concept that I immediately told my friends they HAD to buy it.

There's nothing with this game that makes me call my friends and say, "You HAVE to play this." Because, really, the only selling point that I'd have is, "It's Star Wars." And that's not enough.

Friday, January 01, 2010

The Kids Are Alright

So I just signed up for Netflix a couple of days ago, basically for the express purpose of saving money on DVD's, because I spend an extraordinary amount of money on bad movies. Most of the time, I know they're bad going in, but I really want to watch them at the time. However, thanks to the wonder of streaming video and $8.99 a month, I'm now able to watch a ton more movies than Hulu offers at a level of quality that's unparalleled by anything short of the new release wall at Blockbuster.

For example: Yesterday, I watched Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, because it'd been tempting me on the ten-dollar rack at work. Ten dollars saved, because I'll never have to watch that movie again. True fact: Michael Cera is the best actor in the world when it comes to playing Michael Cera. After that, he's right up there with Richard Grieco.

Speaking of Grieco, I watched If Looks Could Kill, which is just an awful, awful movie, also known in some countries as Teen Agent. It's got Grieco in it, so how good could it be, really? Well, it's almost as bad as Leonard Part 6, starring Bill Cosby, that's how bad it is. But I had to watch it. Had to.

But there are a lot of good movies on Netflix, too. Most of them are bad, and I totally intend to really plumb the depths of horrible movies, such as Captive, Point Doom, and Against the Law, all of which are Richard Grieco movies, but that's not really the point.

For good movies, I currently have queued up Synecdoche, New York, which Roger Ebert named the best film of the decade, and I watched The Answer Man, starring Jeff Daniels and Lauren Graham, which I thought was a particularly good movie, or maybe Lauren Graham hypnotized me again. She does that. There's no good reason to watch Bad Santa other than her. Don't argue with me, or I'll make you watch a Rob Schneider movie.

But my favorite discovery on Netflix so far is... well, it's a rediscovery, really, because I used to see this sort of thing a lot back when I worked in a video store. There are these B-movies, made for video rental joints (because who's going to buy this crap), with names like Alien Species, which is neither Alien, nor is it Species, but it's enough to catch the attention of people who are looking for the latest Steven Seagal movie and stop them in their tracks. But the thing that I want to close out with, here, before I watch a movie (yes, I'm aware that it's six in the morning), is the way that crappy movie studios would rip off the art from a popular film to market their crappy straight-to-video fare:

Popular movie:

Not so popular movie:

AIM: therbmcc71

Friday, October 19, 2007

Clowns of Death

Quick question before I take my pre-karaoke nap. This is the sort of thing that I ponder for substantial periods of time while I'm at work:

Okay, so if a kid comes to my door on Halloween and says Trick or Treat, and I produce a rabbit out of a hat, am I then allowed to say, "Good day to you, then," and close the door?

After all, the kid is saying Trick or Treat, which implies that he'd rather have the trick than the treat, since he is giving primary treatment to the Trick half of the option?

This is not unlike a criminal saying, "Your money or your life." He would much rather have the money, but will take your life, but only as a last resort, if a deal cannot be reached with regard to the money.

AIM: therbmcc71

Liars Everywhere

So, I was bopping around the internet, as I commonly do on nights like this, where I just can't sleep, and I noticed the news story about the Turkish killings of a number of Armenian people, and how Congress is trying to figure out whether or not it's genocide, and whether or not they should condemn it. And this is one of those parts where we realize that Congress, despite being run by the Democrats now, they're still the lapdogs of the President.

No, seriously. The Democrats campaigned and won almost a year ago on this notion of change and getting things done, and –this was their big one– ending the war. The closest they've gotten to getting shit done all year is sending a bill to the President to give more kids health care, which the President promptly vetoed, at which point the Democrats celebrated victory. It's totally fucked up out there in Washington, and nothing has changed. The last nine months are proof positive that the Democrats are just as inept as the Republicans, just as self-serving, and it's not like next year is going to get any better, because they're going to have to spend the next year fund-raising, rather than actually working, because it's an election year.

Case in point: Congressman Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) wants Nancy Pelosi to rally the Democrats to essentially 'vote yes for genocide.' Okay, that's poorly phrased, and deliberately so, but Joe Knollenberg is the same guy who's introduced a House bill to promote Mandarin language instruction. No shit. Seriously, the guy wants you to be able to personally train the Chinese man who's going to take your job back to Asia and do it for thirty cents a day. So, of course, Knollenberg is the voice of reason, and so we should take his word that a vote for genocide is a vote for ... exporting American jobs? Something like that.

I mean, it's genocide. It totally fucking is, and there's really no denying it, although Turkey has managed to for about the last century. I think their official position is, "It wasn't genocide; it was merely a forced deportation and massacre of only about 1.5 million Armenians. That isn't genocide. It's not genocide until you hit Hitler kinds of numbers." It's absolutely laughable that Congress is bowing to Presidential pressure to not label this as genocide, because we won't be able to fly over Turkey in order to continue the war in Iraq.

Let's flash back a year, here, and remember that the Democrats were all for ending the war in Iraq a year ago. Today, they're perfectly willing to continue the war and, as a bonus, allow Turkey to continue to labor under the delusion that their people have always been morally upstanding. I mean, it's not that the war would end if Turkey suddenly cut off access to its airspace, it would just be less convenient. And yet the Democrats allow this shit to keep going on.

They're all liars. Democrats, Republicans, delusional third-party Presidential candidates. Liars, one and all. They promise us a better America, and then they can't deliver on their main campaign points. They can't even start to deliver, because they're afraid for their own jobs. They can't cut the war budget, because that would be equated with accusations of, "This soldier died because the country didn't give the army body armor to stop that bullet!"

You want the best way to save soldiers' lives? Get them out of the way of the bullet by getting them the hell out of Iraq. This is not rocket science. It's not hard to understand. The notion of, "If we don't get them over there, they'll get us over here," doesn't hold water, because logistically we can't invade every country that has a sect of people who don't like us. Furthermore, I don't remember the United States invading, sanctioning, or condemning Saudi Arabia for producing the majority of the 9/11 terrorists.

Of course, if there's one thing we can be sure of, it's this: As long as Saudi Arabia still has oil to sell us, the United States isn't going to be condemning them for much of anything. I mean, I condemn them. Hell, I condemn them on women's rights alone. It doesn't take much to get me to take the moral high ground against ass-backward countries that will be relegated back to third-world status about three days after the oil runs out.

So, in conclusion, Turkey has us over a barrel. If Congress declares their actions to have been a matter of genocide, they have every right to cut off our military access to their airspace. I say, "Fuck 'em." Pull the troops out of Iraq, ship them home, tell Turkey they suck and that they're bad people, and take the $200 billion that Congress appropriated for this year's war in Iraq, and we'll build the best thousand schools in the world.

AIM: therbmcc71

Sunday, October 07, 2007

We Care A Lot

So, I'm typing this post on my nifty new iPod Touch, and it's kind of a rough go, but I'm getting faster by the minute, and the predictive spelling is very nice on the regular occasion that I mistype a word. It's really a neat device, but I don't imagine I'll be using it for this sort of thing very often, as it really is a bit of work. And I have no idea how you kids do text-messaging on phones that don't have real keyboards (of the QWERTY sort). This is neat, though; everyone should get one, or an iPhone, if you have sixty bucks a month to blow on your iPod.

AIM: therbmcc71

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Update 6: Hey There Delilah

I'm home, finally. I got my truck back yesterday and drove sixteen straight hours to karaoke, where they made me sing. Ugh. As much as I like karaoke, and as much as I really respect these two guys' ability to sing Linkin Park (they're almost as good as the Stevie Nicks guy, but in a totally different way), but a man can't drive a thousand miles and be expected to sing as Eric Cartman at the drop of a hat. ... Okay, I can do it, but I don't necessarily like it. It's like work.

Speaking of which, I have to be at work in seven hours, after two weeks of being away. They only broke one piece of my machine so far, at least as far as I can surmise. Actually better than what I was expecting, and my new boss appears to be doing her job, which makes it so that I don't have to do it anymore, which frees up a bit of time during my week for me to not stress out over things I don't get paid to stress out over.

Yes, I just ended that sentence with a preposition; kiss my ass, Freshman English. One thing they never taught you in proper English classes is that style trumps substance any day of the week that doesn't involve being graded on grammatical propriety.

I saw God again this morning. No, seriously, that's twice in a week. Okay, the first time was with the risotto, and that was touching the face of God (see one of the prior posts), but I actually saw God today. And not in some bearded "Jesus, but like seventy years older and extremely fit" sort of Star Trek VI kind of God. No, I saw God. Not like it'd get me to subscribe to some sort of organized religion or anything like that, and I spent a goodly amount of my time rationalizing what I saw, but if you ever get the chance to take I-470 about two or three miles north of the airport exit outside of Denver at about seven in the morning (yes, this is asking a great deal of most of you), you, too, will see proof of The Almighty.

Take this with a grain of salt, of course, as I initially managed to equate connecting with God to a rice dish.

I'd have taken a picture, but 1) it wouldn't have done it justice through my already dead-moth-soiled windshield; 2) cameras just aren't that good; and 3) it's one of those "Now I Can Die" moments that you get precious few times in your life, which generally happen after really good sex or after you see something you think you might never see again. This was, unfortunately, the latter.

Yeah, so that post about the High Renaissance and the length of a mile, I'm not sure what crack I was smoking that day, but it was probably really good, and I've every intention of finding some way to get employed by the National Lampoon of tour guides. I'd even settle for doing the almanac (or "almanack," as they were in the years before the Great Letter Economization Act, which coincidentally dropped the letter U from words like "color" and "flavor;" this is clearly an American act, as the Canadians have not yet adopted such legislation for themselves).

But, anyway, I think I'd really like to take road trips, get paid for it (this part is very important), and write blatant falsehoods about the things I pass and the places I go through. I think it would be a great deal of fun. ... This is the part where the literary companies are supposed to cough up the dough to get me out of working another season in retail.

See, what set me on this notion is the fact that Route 34 (Interstate 34, Ogden Avenue, whatever the hell you want to call it) ends in Greeley, Colorado. First, I had no idea that it ended so close to Denver, and I probably would have gone to see it and taken pictures, if not for the fact that some broad decided to run into me and Triple-A decided to recommend having my car brought to an auto shop that was run by the mechanic version of Sling Blade. "I reckon we're gonna have to do yer alignment for three days, mm-hm..."

But I digress. I want to see America. You can't see America from I-80. Interstate 34, Interstate 30, Interstate 6, even... Those are America. For the illiterate in the audience who have gotten this far, I assure you that there will be no pictures of Alicia Silverstone naked in her ad for being a vegetarian (read: Google bait), so just move on now. Anyway, there are places in America that you can't see from the main roads. Sometimes you can, and I regret not getting to stop in at the zoo in Omaha, or the geographic center of the United States outside of Lebanon, Kansas, but the best you get while doing eighty miles per hour on Interstate 80 is driving underneath some arch in Kearney, Nebraska, which apparently went over with tourists about as well as the aforementioned geographic center of the United States.

So, yes. If anyone reading this would like to front me the several thousand dollars (make the check payable to "Cash," please) to take a nice road trip and write all manner of slanderous falsehoods about the places I pass through, feel free to leave a comment. I also take money from special-interest groups, such as state boards of tourism, that might like for me to mock other states, so as to prop up interest in whichever state pays me to remain silent. Note to the State of Illinois: There is no amount of money that will prevent me from pointing out the fact that Gibson City constantly reeks of twice-baked soy.

Regardless, I had a very good time in Denver, despite the absurd amount of time I spent there, and I think everyone should go sometime, if at least to personally count the number of obvious prostitutes on the streets of Federal and Colfax (the correct answer is thirty-one, but feel free to audit this fact yourself). I'd tell you all about it, but –again– I have to work in the morning. As such, given the day I've had, I may very well go to sleep after work and consequently miss the weekly Trivial Pursuit game that I do look forward to on a weekly basis (though if I do miss this week's game, the correct answer you are looking for is either 'Saskatchewan' or 'Cal Ripken, Jr.'), and for that I apologize, but I need rest.

Word of the Day: Vegabond. n., A vagrant, often confused at first glance with the run-of-the-mill hobo, who rides the rails from town to town, only leaving the trains to partake of shrubs and/or berries. The vegabond can be discriminated from the run-of-the-mill hobo by his disdain for clothing not made entirely from hemp and his general resistance to that great scourge of nomads and wanderers, which most of us better know as scurvy.

AIM: therbmcc71