The Animal Farm

November 29th, 2008

Let Me Show You

I just got finished cleaning out 2500 spam messages from the moderation queue. Some of those contained dangerous links that my virus detection software picked up on, so my actions protect you, the consumer. Let’s call that love, because it’s the closest thing I’m ever going to show you.

So this break had big goals; I packed my XBox, DS, and a bunch of games. And I only played Chrono Trigger.

I’ve pushed Chrono Trigger as one of the best games, hands-down, and I’ll continue with that until a better game comes out or until the Earth’s land crumbles and sinks into the ocean. I’m not sure the latter is physically feasible, but you understood. Everything - everything - that game does it does perfectly, from the story to the battle system to the music and graphics. They recently re-released it for the DS, and it was like Christmas. I’ve gotten one of the endings, only another twelve to go.

Oh, how I have waited for this day.

November 25th, 2008

You Know Where That’s Been?

This site is being hit with spam like we’re on somebody’s list.

Recently announced: a Fallout 3 editor. Sometime in December, which is like a bloody Christmas gift for me. Also a bunch of really nifty sounding DLC. The folks at Bethesda are starting to sound like classy fellows.

Also, a Megaman live action film? I’m sold.

Got the XBox update, and it’s pretty classy. The avatars are almost a direct ripoff of Mii’s with one key difference - they don’t look like retarded preschool drawings. They have limbs instead of oddly skewed cylinders. It’s more Saturday morning cartoon than it is PBS reject. The ability to stream Netflix movies straight from the system is a huge convenience: originally I had a laptop hooked up in the living room, but this is no longer necessary. Apparently Sony blocked their movies from playing over the service? Hasn’t really stopped me from watching anything, but my Netflix queue is so large I really wouldn’t notice if something were missing. The ability to install games to the hard drive has been downplayed a fair bit, but I’m fairly certain on Last Remnant those load screens aren’t supposed to vanish before I can read them.

I really really really want to try my hand at putting a community game up. Vacation project?

Driving to WV tomorrow. Not looking forward to the drive. Tried everything in my power to get on a train, and I still would if the Marc ran on Sundays. Mark my words, Christmas will be different.

You don’t give them enough credit.

November 19th, 2008

The Frozen Throne…

…is what I’m currently calling my apartment, because (a) I have sort of an ego problem, and (b) it’s freezing in here. I’ve thus far refused to purchase heat, because I don’t see why I should have to pay for something which I could have for free if I lived on the surface of the sun.

Follow that logic, I dare you.

As my time in the wastelands of Fallout is drawing to a close (not because I completed the quest proper, but because I’ve slowly been taking myself off the sauce), I’ve been forced to find other indulgences to fill my nights. The medical stylings of Gregory House - of the show House - take the bulk of that, but it’s gradually becoming less novel. Which isn’t really surprising, since the episodes are blatantly formulaic:

(1)Someone gets a sudden attack of something deadly. Usually they try to fake you out; it looks like someone else is going to become afflicted, and then out of nowhere a different person becomes the problem of the episode.
(2)House yells “differential diagnosis!”
(3)They discuss some symptoms and come up with a battery of tests or an experimental treatment.
(4)The patient gets worse.
(5)Repeat 3 and 4 a couple times.
(6)House discovers a series of lies from the patient/patient’s family and brow-beats them into submission.
(7)The medical team discovers the ‘big secret’ keeping them from a correct diagnosis, and House treats the patient successfully. Usually.
(8)Intersperse random bits of ‘drama’ here and there for seasoning.

Still, an interesting show most of the time, if only because Hugh Laurie is a good actor.

I also watched War, Inc which was pretty meh.

There’s a copy of Gears 2 sitting on my table, but I’m not playing it until I find a co-op partner. The same can be said for picking up Fable 2 again. I will, however, be spending some time with Last Remnant over the break.

Why don’t I get a name?

November 16th, 2008

Wrath of the Lich King

Wrath of the Lich King (WotLK) just came out this past Thursday and my Collector’s Edition arrived Thursday around 6pm. Since then I have played the expansion for about 20ish hours, spread over Thursday and Saturday.  The expansion is exactly what I expected, with a few problems.

When the last expansion came out, there was a gear reset.  What this meant is that the earliest gear you could get in the expansion was better than the best gear you could get prior.  This essentially put everyone on a level playing field.  This meant that they could tune encounters for exactly that new gear, provided that new gear was obtainable by persons with any gear level that could be gotten by level 58.  This was the case.  This made these new encounters fun and challenging because no matter what they were a proper level of difficulty.

In WotLK they did not do this gear reset.  They basically stated that mid-end game progression gear could be expected to be replaced by level 75-77 and final-end game gear could be expected to be replaced by the first level 80 raid encounter.  This made the people who worked so hard for their purples rejoice because they could keep them longer.. as if seeing your character look the same for months on end was awesome or something.  I for one, thought this was a very dumb idea.  At entry level I was able to complete encounters that were “tuned” for level 76 players.  It wasn’t even a challenge, I slept through enemies and laughed at boss “tactics.”  That is really dissapointing to me.  I wanted to experience the new content by spending time with my game buddies deliberating what went wrong the last attempt and trying to correct it/try a new approach.  So far I haven’t be able to do that.

The good is the new content.  If you didn’t like the WoW formula before you certainly have no reason to try it now.  It is the same basic game format with some new and neat tricks added in to spice it up.  I LOVE the grind-type gameplay of this MMO, I know many don’t like MMOs in general and that is fine, others do.

I do have a concern right now though, and that is that I will get left in the dust by my guildmates while they race to 80.  If that happens, I may not get into the entry-level end-game content, which should prove to be the first real challenge in the game.  Don’t get me wrong though, challenging content isn’t the only kind of fun I have.  I enjoy reading the quest text and understanding why I am killing those wolf mothers and taking their kids.

~Zach

November 12th, 2008

Computer Science Education

I’ve made the mistake of working in the most crowded coffee shop in the Ehf-ing world, where in a giant room full of seats there are no seats available, let alone any near a power outlet. My laptop is nearly out of power, so I have to type quickly.

I’ve been musing over some things missing from college education (or at least WVU college education, which I realize may not be indicative of all colleges) that could be helpful for preparing people entering the workforce. Some of these things you pick up on your own, some of these things you learn while on various jobs, and others remain a struggle even for professionals.

Source Control
There are a lot of great benefits source control provides, such that no project - even when working alone - should go without. It’s not even a hard topic to cover; most day-to-day source control interactions can be covered in a day, two at most, with some of the more complex interactions perhaps taking a bit longer. This should really be taught day one in an intro course, it’s just that important.

Working on an Established (Open Source?) Project
Here I am not pushing the quality of open source, because I’ve already shared my views on most of it being rubbish. But there is a fundamental disconnect between working on a semester-long project from scratch and working on an established, gigantic piece of source code. There’s the ‘ramping up’ concept - the necessity to learn things to do your job, like how various systems interact. There’s the reality that practically every code change you make involves some risk, which is not impressed nearly enough on small projects. There are practical considerations; for instance, scrapping everything and starting from scratch probably isn’t an option, and sometimes you just have to fit functionality in where it may not be ideal, but by-god you’ve got a schedule and that feature needs to go in. There are all sorts of realities you have to face that just aren’t there in small projects.

Working in Teams Greater than 5
Five seems to be the magic number for college projects; it’s small and easy to manage and feasible in a semester and nearly doesn’t exist in the real world. I work at a small company, and that’s still in excess of sixty people. Buy-in, code ownership, cross-team communication, domain specialties: all things you rarely run into in a college project. And for that matter, all things which are still presented as challenges even on a professional level. How do you build up an expert? What’s best for team communication? Academia probably won’t solve these problems, but students could at least be thinking about them before entering the workforce.

Development Methods that aren’t Waterfall
My software engineering course introduced us to a variety of different software design methods; it then said “produce a 100-page requirements document followed by a 200-300 page design document followed by another 200 page technical design document.” Senior project was the same way, only in the second semester we implemented what was in the documents, to some degree or another.
I’ve never seen anything similar since.
Oh, there’s design, to be certain. But I haven’t been in a place that doesn’t use more iterative approaches, disfavoring monolithic documents that are out-of-date before the author finishes writing them.

Those are my key thoughts. There’s a whole host of other things, but at a certain point it starts to get nit-picky.

Who watches the Watchmen?

November 7th, 2008

The Tudors = Crap

I seem to title a fair number of posts with mathematical equations, which must be mathematical proof of my mathematical mind.

I don’t have much to report, aside from this word of warning:
The Showtime original The Tudors is bad. So bad. Don’t watch it.

An arm wrestling match? Are you kidding me?

November 5th, 2008

It’s just dead cat in a box!

For you, Brian.  I don’t know if you read Questionable Content or not, but this made me think you of, the last panel in particular.

http://questionablecontent.net/view.php?comic=715

Enjoy,
~Zach

November 5th, 2008

Re: Re: Zach

I don’t have anything snide to say, just some replies.

On Rock Band: Okay, okay, I’ll concede to you not wanting to buy Rock Band 2 for the Wii.  I won’t be buying a three-six, though.  Look at it this way,  I have about 2 to 3 hours a night Sun-Thurs during the work week to actually play video games and I don’t play video games on weekends, I can’t justify buying an entire new system + games for it when most of my free time is spent on WoW anyway.  Even if I didn’t play WoW, I still couldn’t justify spending that kind of money for a few hours a night, maybe. I generally think, “Will I even play this game?”, when looking to buy a new game for the Wii as it is. I guess Rock Band with the crew will remain a distant memory forever.
The Wii’s disk space is 512, so not much more than the 256 that the three-six offers.

On Maryland’s Question 2:  A fair answer, I suppose.  I still can’t see that much more money coming to the government from gambling though.  Also, living in the area I also get Marylander’s calling into radio stations and none of the teacher’s calling in support it, which is opposite of the commercial about the money.  Granted, the complainers are generally the loudest, so maybe I am getting a skewed perspective there.

On your Habit:  Good to hear you are at least playing a game for more than a day now.

On Peter:  Fine, future Peter was the end of the world in season 1, so he was pretty messed up.  Future Peter this season 3 didn’t create all of the super-powered normal people, so what was so bad there?  I am not saying there wasn’t anything, just that I don’t recall it.  Still though, I just want to see Peter do something awesome. He has the best ability in the series and mostly just whines.

On Arthur: I don’t really think “the hunger” would matter much to him, he already is cool with killing people for no reason, and can absorb their powers as well, now he just has 3 ways of getting some else’s powers.  In fact, the killing them thing might be a plus for him.  At any rate, we probably won’t learn anything at all next week, as it seems to be a “before season 1″ episode, which is crap.

On your B-Day:  I sent you a text message when I woke up this morning, I hope you got it and that it didn’t wake you.  At any rate, happy B-day, sir.

~Zach

[...] A group in Bern just unveiled a mitten that they claim violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

P.S. Lori!? You still read the site?  I get bored with it sometimes, I can’t imagine what keeps you entertained.  Thanks for still reading (and commenting), though.

November 4th, 2008

Re: Zach

Zach has asked a number of questions/made a number of suggestions on this site, and though I could just respond in an e-mail like a respectable human, I find it preferable to expose our differences to the public.

Brian and Ricky, think about it, it has online play just like the big boy versions, and all three of us own the Wii.
No. No no no no no. I refuse to invest in yet another set of peripherals. Further, there’s only so much cheap plastic my apartment can hold. Finally, I’ve already invested upward of $100-$150 on DLC for XBox (PLUS the cost of Rock Band 2) to throw that away. Here’s an infinitely better suggestion:
The 360 Core package is around $200, which is pretty damn reasonable. You only get 256 MB of memory (how does that compare to Wii?), but a 20 GB hard drive can go for about $40 if you decide you need it. Not only does this open up a superior version of Rock Band, but it also enables Left 4 Dead, Gears 2, Castle Crashers, Fable 2, and a bunch of other games whereas the Wii is still pretty much just Smash and Mario Kart.

Okay.. 0+$400,000,000 < $660,000,000. Where did that other money come from?
I don’t know, I imagine they’ve done some pretty heavy market analysis. Consider the entire middle of Maryland, which is not likely to travel to another state to gamble unless the people are really passionate. Also notice that the numbers they gave were not the total monetary figures for West Virginia or Pennsylvania, but just the amount those states gain from Maryland contribution. I really don’t know if that number is reasonable, but I don’t think it’s outside the scope of possibility. And no, they probably won’t put it all in schools, but even if a tenth went in that’s an extremely significant contribution on the state level.

Brian, do you still have the nasty habit of buying games and never opening them/playing them?
Kinda. My game playing time is even more restricted, but the number of games I’m excited about has grown. There are a few games laying around nearly untouched, but that’s just because Fallout 3 is starving my free time. Infinite Undiscovery and Dead Space have both not gotten any real love.

Think about it, both future, scarred Peters are badasses, why can’t present Peter catch a break?
Because present Patrelli doesn’t have the emotional scars and hasn’t been trapped in a bitter kill-to-survive struggle. The same with Hiro. They keep succeeding (with a few notable exceptions on Hiro’s end), which has a negative impact on their character growth. It will be very interesting to see if the father acquires the hunger that goes along with Sylar’s power now, though.

Also, Domino’s has a buy-one-get-one-free deal on Tuesdays? Score.

Ricky got me the best birthday gift ever.

November 3rd, 2008

Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero World Tour

First of all, I am really getting annoyed at the music game genre.  The fact that World Tour basically took the entire band on tour concept of Rock Band and made their own game is fine with me, that’s more music to play around with for the fans.  The problem, however, is that in order to enjoy both games I would have to buy 2 sets of drums, 2 mics, and 4 guitars in order to maximize the fun band game play.  That’s just stupid.  Also, I like the Guitar Hero guitar far better than I liked the original Rock Band one.

The reason for this post, it appears Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero World Tour are both on Wii and both support downloadable content, finally.  Also, the Guitar Hero World Tour guitar is supposed to work with Rock Band 2, this makes me happy.  The downloadable content(DLC) is the selling point for me though, the reason I don’t own Rock Band or the Guitar Hero games of this past release is because they didn’t support DLC for the Wii, and I only own the Wii this generation.  I definitely plan on buying one of the games.  I plan on buying the Guitar Hero World Tour guitar and getting the Rock Band 2 game, odd I know, I’m just glad I have the option to do that.  Honestly though, with the advent of DLC, why do they need to release new freaking music games at all?  I mean, do I really need a newer, better, tatoo editor?  Let me answer that. No.
At any rate, Rock Band 2 comes out 12/16 this year, Brian and Ricky, think about it, it has online play just like the big boy versions, and all three of us own the Wii.

~Zach