The Animal Farm

January 29th, 2009

Bullet Points!

* Watched Jekyll, written by the only writer who still does Dr. Who justice. Short and good, aside from the last episode, which is wholly unfulfilling.
* Reading Runaways. Juvenile, but entertaining. Read an issue of Wormwood. Iffy. Love the art, but the dialog feels forced.
* Tried out RE5 demo. Absolutely fantastic.
* UNC Board Game Night! Learned Arkham Horror and Nuclear War. Arkham is complex, but fun. Nuclear is also fun.
* Played Munchkin. One of my new favorite card games. Requires too many people to play, though.
* Finished sketching out the major story arcs for a story I’m working on. Would work better as a graphic novel, but I don’t have the requisite talents. Maybe I can find an artist.
* Fixed my Ride. My Ride broke again. I need a soldering iron for a reliable solution.
* Purchased a larger TV for no good reason. Wee!
* So proud of Zach for reading Gaiman. You really, really should get a collection of his short stories. A Study in Emerald is brilliant.
* Cleaned! Wee!
* Eating healthier. And less. And cheaper. Walking a lot more. Constantly hungry; waiting for my body to get used to the change. Still unhealthy lunches. Will change that soon, along with switching from walking to jogging.
* Fallout 3 DLC dropped! I’m going to start playing again tonight and try out the new content this weekend.

Yea, it’s got a lot of depth complexity. But it’s a tree.

January 21st, 2009

Some light reading

I’ve been reading a bit more than usual lately, due to both my internet at home not working very well at night and the fact that I spent 20 or so hours traveling this weekend.  I tend to prefer light reading as I am not all that good at reading.  Basically it has to be light or very much something I like in order for me to finish it.

Last year I read Richard Knaak’s “War of the Ancients” trilogy.  It is basically a reimagining of the events  of the first war with the Burning Legion on Azeroth.  In other words, Warcraft lore fiction.  I loved these books and got through them very quickly.  At the end of the books I was under the impression that Knaak was an excellent writer and was eager to read some of his work again.

He recently came out with “Night of the Dragon” which was a sequel to “Day of the Dragon.”  I read them both in succession.  “Day of the Dragon” was okay, nothing great, but nothing terrible.  “Night of the Dragon” kind of sounded like someone played a previous generation’s RPG with random battles and transcribed them into a book, renaming powerful characters and artifacts.  I swear every other page had some unnecessary, lengthy description of a battle against the same tired dungeon trash doing the same tired things.  I was extremely disappointed.

I still stand by Knaack’s retelling of the War of the Ancients.  Perhaps I liked the characters a lot more as they are mostly well established lore characters all ready.  At any rate, the “of the Dragon” books weren’t worth the read.

Finally though, like a real man, I’ve begun reading Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods.”  I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like “American Gods.”  It is interesting that it follows one character’s journey through the plot almost exclusively.  This book is full of all of these puzzling characters and we only get to see them the way Shadow does.  I have to say, at halfway through, I am loving this book.  Next up will definitely be something Gaiman wrote.

Zach

January 20th, 2009

Battlestar Season 4.5

Her!? Really!?

January 20th, 2009

Snow Day!

Woo!

Couldn’t get into work today. Tried, but after nearly skidding into the middle of a street while I had a red light, I decided to turn around. Besides, the way drivers are on 54 during perfect weather, I can only imagine them slamming into each other at top speeds with so much as a flake of snow.

Still worked, of course; I have a laptop synced up to work, so a little bad weather isn’t capable of knocking me out of commission.

When I stopped and went out for a walk, everything was closed. It was barely 6:30. It’s crazy, like these people have never seen snow before. The only place still open was, oddly, the comic shop. Didn’t go in. I’ve been blowing too much money on comics (Persepolis, Maus, Runaways, Dr Who, and soon Wormwood). But it’s nice that they were a beacon of civilization in a deserted town.

Ok, I’m off. I just wanted to say hi to all you folks.

These numbers mean nothing to me!

January 16th, 2009

Is it really that hard?

Let me preface this with what I am about to discuss may very well BE that hard, I just don’t know a lot about it.

Anyway, my internet connection at home has been very laggy lately.  I don’t just mean WoW.  While it was WoW that brought this problem to my attention, upon further inspection my connection in general is really poor.  After doing a few pings to google and seeing that it took anywhere from 200 to 3000ms to get the echo, I figured there was something wrong.  I then did a tracert to google to get the first hop outside of my local network and pinged that a bunch and even to the first hop I was getting 200 to 3000ms echo delays.

I don’t know much more about network diagnosing than that, so at that point I called Comcast and set up an appointment to get someone to come out here, someone who I assumed was trained in the arcane arts of networking, and fix it for me.  Well, the guy comes out and basically just disconnects and reconnects all of the coax cables in my apartment and tests the signal coming in.  He claims a -4 is good, and I have no reason to argue, since I have no freaking clue what that means.

What he does here should’ve made me realize he wasn’t the droid I was looking for, he opened up a web browser, and then went to websites like msn, espn, etc. to test my connection speed, claiming that upwards of 3 or 4 seconds was reasonable to load the espn logo.  Two things wrong here: he tested my internet connection by OPENING A BROWSER, and 4 seconds for a logo is definitely steep with a broadband connection.  Of course, the 4 seconds could’ve been his machine rendering, I have no idea what kinds of computers Comcast guys are given.  Also, maybe he should’ve checked the modem?  He didn’t.

Anyway, I had to go back to work, as this was in the middle of the day, so I didn’t really have time to properly test the network before thanking the Comcast tech.  Of course, when I get home the problem is still there.  So I called Comcast back up and have another appointment for next Wednesday after work, let’s hope it gets fixed then, because that tech isn’t leaving until either he dies, I die, or it is fixed.

This could all be because of the Inaguration next week.  A about a billion people are coming to the DC Metro area this weekend, maybe they already came and are killing my internet?  I guess it’s possible.

Zach

Are you sleeping with him?
A little.

January 14th, 2009

Battlestar Season 4.0

So. Poorly made DVDs.

I’m talking about missing portions of the episode. You remember the scene just after the one where Starbuck pointed a gun at the president? Or how about the mutiny under Starbuck’s command? Both are completely absent. I searched, believe me, I searched. Not in the deleted scenes, nowhere. Just. Gone. Sloppy.

Also, there’s a hidden message at the end of ‘The Hub.’ I haven’t been able to read completely what it says. My XBox is the only player that will even get to the message (not VLC or WMP), but even if I step up to it frame-by-frame, it flashes for a second and then returns to the main menu. I know it has the name ‘Peter’ in it, and I believe that in the lower left hand corner the word ‘(SOBBING)’ appears (or maybe that’s t he next frame, I don’t remember other text when that bit flashed). Now I’m obsessed. If I could route my XBox output into a computer and record it, by god, I would. Can anyone tell me what’s there?

Still, like all Battlestar seasons, a good season. A lot more action than I remembered (but this was the only season I watched as it aired, so it was once a week as opposed to two or three episodes a day). Probably better than the third season, with its added action and press to drive the story forward. The final half of the season starts in two days. I. Am. Ready.

Except, of course, for having cable and thus a means of watching the show. That kind of throws a wrench in the whole thing, doesn’t it. I’m sure the internet will keep me up to date.

We can make a choice. Right here. Right now.

January 8th, 2009

Bounce Ninja Alpha

My latest game idea that I dreamed up while thinking of simple games that could be made for an indie game jam:

The game is a combination of physics puzzle/platformer/stealth action. You play as a little circular ninja who, in each level, must assassinate a number of targets in the level.

At your disposal is a rope, which you can use to swing from place to place ala Bionic Commando. However, when you land, you don’t stop dead - you bounce a little bit depending on how fast you were going/how high you were. The same goes for smashing into walls. You do have a wall jump, too, if you don’t want to bounce off a wall.

You have to get to your target without him seeing you, otherwise he calls guards in to finish you off. The same happens if a target sees another dead target. I haven’t worked out if that’s instant death or if I can create guard behaviors that could be used to benefit the puzzle (the latter sounds more interesting to me). Obviously, the target has a limited field of view, and there are shadows spread throughout the level you can hide within.

There’s also the potential (though I’m not sold on this) of acquiring ninja powers. Techniques gathered in a level that help beat that level. Example: a powder bomb, where detonating it causes your ninja to do a ninja vanish and appear on the other end of a platform. Or a fast ninja dash to kill a target from across the stage before he knows you’re there.

This seems really fun to me. Thoughts/ideas?

Before the devil knows you’re dead.

January 8th, 2009

White Chocolate Mocha

I typically don’t devote entire posts to drinks, but sometimes divine mandate forces me.

Caribou’s White Chocolate Mocha is a must. If you are on death row, without hope of parole and hopelessly awaiting the chair, should a man want to trade his White Chocolate Mocha for all your cigarettes, you tell him yes, and after you’ve finished, you explain to the warden in calculated tones that you are Ready. If he’s an educated man, he’ll know what you mean.

And if you are not, as it were, incarcerated, just go out and ehf-ing buy one. Lazy jerk.

My dream come true. And my second!

January 8th, 2009

Riding High

Frustrated with the lack of a ride on my drumset but not motivated enough to deal with customer service, I decided to take the beast apart and see if there was something simple. Turns out it was just a loose connection.

Of course, this is when I had to get resourceful. I don’t own a soldering iron (and am not about to buy one for such a small project), nor do I have any duct tape. But I discovered that a fuse box in the house had duct tape over some things. So I cut off little bits and fastened the wire back into place, missing my mark the first time, but the second time hitting the connection dead on. My ride works beautifully now, though I doubt for long. Eventually I’m going to have to come by a real solution, which really shouldn’t be hard.

In celebration, I banged on my drums until 3 AM. Perhaps not my smartest move, but a joyous occasion all the same. I was going to record some things, but my connection was being wonky, so I think I have to work out the wiring again (it’s a complicated tangle of dual-connectors, adapters, stretchy wires, and more adapters that doesn’t produce the greatest sound quality but is less expensive than, say, purchasing a synth package to use my MIDI out cable… one day).

You want I should throw them away?

January 4th, 2009

How to Drive a Franchise into the Ground

Take lessons from Russel T Davies.

Dr. Who was, at one point, a good show. It had wit, character, intrigue, all those things that make a show last 26 seasons. Twenty six. Name another show that’s gone on that long. You can’t. You’re just not that good.

Then they revived it, and it’s nearly unwatchable. It’s been filled with a ton of angst coupled with horrendous story points. Most of the imagination has been removed, instead favoring revisiting different points on Earth so they can make William-bloody-Shakespeare a character. The Doctor’s not nearly as likable; David Tennant is better, much more fun than Eccleston, but now he’s always moping about one thing or another. Everything’s so poppy and sexy, ignoring that the first 7 regenerations of the Doctor were 40+ old men. The Daleks and Cybermen have been butchered to hell and back, and I’ve only had a glimpse of The Master so far, but I’m not impressed. Nostalgia typically always makes old things seem better than they were, but the old Doctor Who was hands down better than this. There are a few genuinely good episodes, but they are almost invariably written by someone else. Someone’s taking over at the end of 2009, so hopefully he’ll make everything right again.

On a different topic, I had a chance to play four player Left 4 Dead over the weekend, and it was great fun. It’s basically what I wanted to do with my Zombies in Morgantown game, but done in a way only Valve could do. Huge zombie hordes, frantic battles, lots of mandatory teamwork. It’s got a relatively small offering at present, only about 4 campaigns, but they do each take upward of an hour and a half each, which clocks in at a not-insignificant amount of gameplay. The replay value seems pretty good too. I wonder if they’ll release mod tools. I’d like to take another crack at modeling the town after a zombie invasion.

Everything alien belongs to Torchwood.