Backlog Resolutions

I have an extensive back-catalog of video games. This is, essentially, my video game TODO list (in no particular order).

1) Replay Paper Mario and Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door. Those were great games, and soon enough I'll be itching for a 3DS to play the next title.
1b) Maybe finish Super Paper Mario sometime.
2) Finish Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess so that I can then feel good about buying Skyward Sword and leaving it in my back catalog for a few years.
3) Finish Ninja Gaiden 2. It's freaking ninjas yo, and apparently there's another one on the way.
4) Finish Dragon Age, play Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. I like good voice acting and stories. Why can't I finished these games?
5) Finish Dynasty Warriors 7. It's so freaking good, finish it already.
6) Finish Bastion. This should really be my first priority before someone spoils everything for me.
7) Finish Metroid Prime 3. No, you don't get to replay 1 and 2, not until you finish 3. Seriously, how are you so bad at finishing these great games?
8) Play Okami. You have it sitting around from Gamefly. If you can't be bothered to play your Gamefly games you might as well cancel your subscription you silly person.
9) Speaking of which, you have a nice long list of games to play in the form of your Gamefly queue. Dear lord, there's like 20 of them.

Can someone add a week to the year? I seriously need 7 days to make a dent in this or something.



Okay Firefox. I know you're a very popular browser, but you seriously need to calm down with all the updates. I'm sure you think Firefox 8 is extremely exciting, but you seriously need to chill out. At the start of the year we were on Firefox 3. That version lasted a good two and a half years. Then you came out with 4 and gave it all of three months before 5 came out, and while we were still considering how strange that was you came out with 6. Now 8 is out and I haven't even finished coming to terms with the existence of 7.

If you're going to update constantly stick to classic version number conventions. Unless you have some divine software engineers working for you two months is not sufficient time to design and develop code worthy of a new whole number.

Today's Fortune: No Future

Today's fortune cookie did not have a fortune in it. I can therefore only assume I have no future.

I mean, I suppose I could succumb to the wishful thinking that this was some sort of mechanical error on the part of the fortune cookie machines, but we all know that's impossible.


Yo Dawg

To make money websites with videos will use advertisements. Generally these take the form of an advertisement you must watch before the video can load, or some sort of banner ad which appears over the video itself in a corner or a the bottom.

I just had both happen at once, an ad for a restaurant which also had a banner advertising the very same restaurant pop up to obscure the ad.

Insert appropriate meme here.


Blizzcon 2011: Day 1

Blizzcon this year had a few notable changes from last year, but was otherwise very similar. Unlike last year they began letting people in as early as 9:30 and will presumably do so tomorrow as well. The change is welcome, as it gave people significantly more time to settle in and also allowed for some amount of exploration before the start of the proceedings.

I took a brief turn around the building before taking a seat for the opening ceremony, and immediately noticed that the WoW section of the convention was effectively cordoned off and hidden from prying eyes. It was pretty obvious that there was going to be a big WoW announcement, and given how much we already knew about patch 4.3 it was equally obvious that it would be the next expansion.

Mists of Pandaria seems like it has a ways to go before it'll be ready for launch, but what I did play felt pretty typical of WoW. Simple starter quests, fluid starter zones, and beautiful vistas. The only jarring aspect was the lack of auto-attacks on the Monk class. It didn't take long to figure out, but it was unexpected.

Overall, however, I'm not terribly excited about the expansion. Obviously I don't play anymore, but I never completely wrote out the idea of briefly reappearing in Azeroth to take a gander at what might have changed. In fact, Blizzard's changes mostly serve as a reminder that the game is no longer being designed for people like me.

In essence, Blizzard has given up on content as a means of progression, and is instead wholly focused on cosmetic or gear-based progression. You "progress" toward the look you want for your character by getting the hard to get cosmetic loot from Challenge Dungeons. You "progress" by getting better gear through valor points. It hardly matters that I can acquire the valor points by doing anything I want if in the end the only progress I truly make is always better gear. Picking daises for druids daily and killing evil overlords should not reward the same epic gear, no matter how many daisies you pick.

On the upside I was glad to hear about questing moving away from the linear mess it was in Cataclysm, and I'm sure many people will be overjoyed at the launch of a new pokemonpet battle system.

The Diablo 3 boothes are sadly just the beta content, and doubly sadly no D3 beta keys were given out. The special rewards for the new yearly WoW subscription don't appeal to someone who has given up on WoW. It will likely stem the tide of canceled subscriptions somewhat, but it's too little too late in my case.

What is interesting on the Diablo 3 front was an edited trailer "The Black Soulstone" and the Diablo 3 art featured prominently on various promotional materials. The Diablo pictured in these materials is distinctly feminine which is extremely interesting when the trailer and tidbits from the beta are taken into consideration. My pet theory is that Deckard Cain's adopted daughter/granddaughter/niece/whathaveyou, being the daughter of the previous host of Diablo and a powerful witch, will be forced to revive him using her own body in some convoluted plan to protect the black soulstone and defeat Azmodan. I have no idea how Belial fits into this.

I have not yet had the chance to try the new SC2 Campaign or the revamped Blizzard DotA, but I have had some change to try the new SC2 units. It's hard for me to say how well they work given that I'm terrible at SC2 and there's very limited time to do anything, but they seem to do their jobs nicely. I'm only peeved that Blizzard seems intent on removing the Carrier and Mothership. What gives???

There were some extremely awesome SC2 matches today, and I very, very highly recommend the GSL finals. The level of play that went on, the back and forth battles, and the insane precision and determination of each player was absolutely phenomenal.

Tomorrow will likely be somewhat less exciting given there are no more big reveals to be had, but there will be plenty of SC2 matches to watch and the D3 Q&A so all is not lost.

Also someone in a minecraft/Paladin T2 costume fell off the stage during the costume contest. Hilarity.


Blizzcon 2011

It starts this weekend; I'm going. I may not play WoW anymore but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy a good SC2 tournament live, or a chance to play more Diablo 3.

Expect me to post some daily reflections and/or a big lump post at the end if my hotel's internet buckles under the strain of a million nerds.


Six Years.

Six years. To call that a long time may be laughable in the cosmic scale, but my feeble human intelligence struggles to make a concrete notion of the abstract concept described by those two words. Six years, six rotations around the sun, six birthdays, six iterations of yearly rituals, six spans of time on a continuous, unceasing forward movement. Six years are all these things, but how do you turn that evasive concept into something with form? How does one hold six years like an apple, taste it, and digest it?

Six years ago I built for myself a computer for the first time. There's a strange pride in the delicate piecing together of carefully chosen parts, and it compelled me to put my work to the test. I installed World of Warcraft and sat awed at the smoothness with which my computer handled the rendering of that virtual world. It was a small triumph, but an important one for a computer science major standing amongst throngs of peers sporting their own custom built machines.

Six years of World of Warcraft came to an end yesterday, as I logged out for the last time and uninstalled the game. In that time I was a newbie, a veteran, a casual, a hardcore, an explorer, a raider, a layman, a leader, a nobody, and a community figure. I've been everywhere from bottom to top, and the experience has taught me as much about life, people and myself as anything else I've done. Closing that chapter of my life is neither easy nor unnecessary.

Six years from now I wonder who I will see when I reread these words.


Money and Power in Video Games

Blizzard announced yesterday that Diablo 3 will have an auction house for players to buy and sell their hard earned treasures, which surprised no one. Blizzard also announced that players would be able to post auctions both for gold, the in-game currency, and also for real money. That surprised many people.

This announcement represents two major policy shifts for Blizzard. First, after years of fighting the underground item/character markets for Diablo 2 they are instead embracing and facilitating them. Second, they have crossed the line between only selling cosmetic effects and selling power/achievement, even if only slightly.

It's the second of these two policy shifts that has my attention. Selling power isn't universally a mistake (it works very well for the supercapitalist EVE Online) but is so frequently one as to warrant, at the very least, extreme care. Without absolutely perfect execution it can and will destroy a game's longevity and community.

This isn't unique to selling power, any game mechanic which trivializes accomplishment will undermine a game's community. There need to be goals, accomplishments and prestige in games for their communities to thrive. Most implementations of selling power, including what we know of Diablo 3, undermine these fundamental aspects of the game.

Diablo 3 is still something I'm very excited about, and it's extremely likely that I will be staying up to play it the night it launches. However, I worry that the community of the game will suffer for decisions like this one.


Fortune: Pack Your Bags

Today's fortune cookie reads: "Pack your bags. You're bound for an exciting destination!"

Oddly, I'm actually going camping in a few weeks. I... crap I need to prepare for that don't I?


Today's Fortune: Wonderful

Today's fortune cookie reads: "Something wonderful is about to happen to you."

For some reason all I can think of is one of those slimy villains who is so very congenial and pleasant talking to an unsuspecting victim just prior to some bizarre, deadly experiment is performed on them and they because a mutant cow person, mind slave or a pile of goo.


Today's Fortune: Direct, Reprised

Today's fortune cookie reads: "You are direct, and others often appreciate this quality in you."

The rest of the time they wish I would stop saying, "I told you so."


Today's Fortune: Soil

Today's fortune cookie reads: "Not every soil can bear all things. Be practical."

Welp. There goes my spaghetti garden.


E3: Wait, E3 is this week?

So all sorts of interesting stuff is being announced regarding the impending offerings of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. Historically I've breathlessly followed their press conferences when new consoles were impending. Today I just walked obliviously into the fact that Nintendo announced their new console.

I'll comment more later when I've had a chance to actually watch the press conference. That said, I'm concerned Nintendo isn't taking usability into consideration these days.

The 3DS requires you maintain a perfect, motionless posture to properly view the 3D aspect. Any motion at all and portions of the screen go flat, resulting in a fairly awkward mix of 2D and 3D that strains the eyes.

The Wii U requires you look back and forth between two screens. "Ah," you say, "But did not the DS require the same?" No, it didn't. The two screens on the DS are equidistant from your face and directly next to one another. Looking between a touch screen in your hands and your TV 6-10 feet away requires actual neck movement and refocusing.

These concerns may be unwarranted and overblown, but they're my first impressions having just seen pictures of the console and its controller.

Oh, and I guess Sony is releasing a new handheld. It's name makes me think of a brand of vegetable juice. Meanwhile Microsoft is upping the ante with Halo 4: The "We couldn't be arsed to make something new so we're just rereleasing Halo again and printing money" edition.


Today's Fortune: Goodness

Today's fortune cookie reads: "You believe in the goodness of people."

This is true. I also believe in the inherent stupidity of people. In fact, this is objectively demonstrable. SEE: The internet. QED.


Today's Fortune: Wealth

Today's fortune cookie reads: "Wealth is a state of mind."

There is actually some depth to this, but at the same time I can't get out of my head the image of a drunken hobo screaming "I'm king of the world!" while being dragged off the streets by police officers for disturbing the peace.



Despite the fact that I never bother to advertise the videos I post on youtube, I nevertheless bristle and snarl when someone with inferior videos and grammar freely flings their misshapen works to the public and receives more attention. I am not shocked that they receive the attention given the obvious correlation, but I am riled.

Whenever this happens I briefly consider calling to light my own work in a public manner, followed quickly by perishing such thoughts. To take such a course of action would be to lower myself to the same level as these attention seekers, trying and saying anything to attract the brainless masses.

Yet in spite of this resolution I am again incensed the next time I encounter this. I am not sure I can consider myself rational.



On the way to and from the Renaissance faire today I saw billboards advertising yesterday's Rapture, imploring people to hear the truth before it was too late. I'm glad I procrastinated.


Today's Fortune: Sincerity

Today's fortune cookie reads: "You are a true and sincere friend."

While flattering, I'm now considering the logical possibilities of "true" but "insincere" friends, and "false" but "sincere" friends. What would they even look like, and how would Hollywood try and cram them into a summer movie.


Today's Fortune: Future

Today's fortune cookie reads: "You do not have to worry about your future."

Is that a threat?


Today's Fortune: Leadership

Today's fortune cookie reads: "Your leadership talents will bring you an incredible opportunity."

This sounds like the opening pitch to one of those Nigerian prince emails. Speaking of which...


Today's Fortune: Moved

Today's fortune cookie reads: "Others are deeply moved by your presence."

I give this one the award for least amount of effort, not because no effort went into crafting this fortune but because I can apparently, without effort, touch the very souls of others simply by standing around in their general vicinity.


What is this I don't even


This is possibly the most bizarre the internet has ever been.


Today's Fortune: Love, plus a Bonus

Today's fortune cookie reads: "You will always be surrounded by those who love you."


Bonus Grannyism: "Smile - it makes people wonder what you're up to."

Uh, thanks Sweet Leaf for that insight.


Today's Fortune: Adventure

Today's fortune cookie reads: "Get ready for a daring adventure."

The question is, will this be my adventure or am I one of the NPCs that says, "Welcome to our village!" no matter how many times you talk to them?


To Isengard

They're taking the hobbits to Isengard!



No fortune today. Instead, take this test: http://www.faceblind.org/facetests/fgcfmt/fgcfmt_intro.php

I got 71 out of 72 correct. I declare myself awesome, despite being completely unable to remember anyone's name.


Today's Fortune: Accomplishments

Today's fortune cookie reads: "You are admired for your accomplishments."

And here I thought I was admired for the stuff I hadn't accomplished.


Today's Fortune: Pleasure

Today's fortune cookie reads: "Pleasure awaits your company."

This sounds less like a fortune and more like a bad advertisement for a gentleman's club.



This about sums up my experience this far with internet dating.

Still trying. Happy Valentine's Day.


Today's Fortune: Misunderstanding

Today's fortune cookie reads: "Avoid misunderstanding by keeping your ears open."

It's trying to be profound, but it ends up just coming across like a commercial for earwax removal.


Today's Fortune: Attention

Today's fortune cookie reads: "You are the center of attention."

I don't care unless I am the center of a lady's attention.


Today's Fortune: Direct

Today's fortune cookie reads: "The most direct approach isn't always the best."

And here I thought driving directly through other cars and red lights would get me home faster.

This one is actually close to real wisdom, which surprised me. It's fairly trite without context, but it's something you'd reasonably expect a parent to impart on their children in appropriate circumstances.


Today's Fortune: Trivial

Today's fortune cookie reads: "Do not burden yourself with trivial matters."

This one confuses me. Normally when you hear a line like this you have one character freaking out about the details of various things and then their sensei or good friend says this and tries to calm them down. It usually ends with at least a glum, reluctant acceptance from the control freak or a complete breakdown.

So what, exactly, is the fortune cookie company expecting to happen while eating their food that warrants an intervention of this type?


On Paper

Nintendo: We're releasing our new 3DS this year!
Me: Ho hum.
Nintendo: It's got 3D! Real 3D!
Me: Yeah yeah, and I have a back-catalog of games to beat on my current DS. Call me when the 3DS actually merits me spending money.
Nintendo: Paper Mario.
Me: ... what?
Nintendo: You heard me.
Me: I don't care about some remake.
Nintendo: This is no remake, it's a sequel.
Me: Super Paper Mario sucked, why should I care about a sequel?
Nintendo: Oh we know it sucked, so we went back to basics. This is just like the first two games.
Me: You didn't.
Nintendo: Oh we did.
Me: ...
Nintendo: :)
Me: ...
Nintendo: :D
Me: ...
Nintendo: XD
Me: You know what you've done.
Nintendo: Yup, we know.
Me: Someday, someday when you're lounging on the heaps of cash that you siphon out of my lifeblood you'll feel a twinge of guilt.
Nintendo: You're welcome.


Today's Fortune: Travel

Today's fortune cookie reads: "You are going to travel somewhere far away."

Note the complete lack of qualifiers dictating when this will happen, and the vagueness of "far away" as a term of distance.


Today's Fortune: Love

Today's fortune cookie reads: "Someone loves you very much."

That's about as safe as fortune cookies get. I mean, everyone has a mom.