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The Project: Another update!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

So some nice things and some not so nice things. One of our programmers had to drop out, his full-time required too much of him. However, he realized this and dropped off before it got to be too late so it wouldn't cause any problems. Great dude, but unfortunately it just didn't work.

However, I do have good news! I got an update on the overworld map sent to me, and I saw it, and it was good. I also got a huge update from my other artist of creatures and the characters and I am excited beyond excitement. Thrilled? Titillated? Those words don't enough describe my level of fervor as it pertains to this news.

We have our first meeting this Saturday. I cannot wait!

Gaming: Game Design

Saturday, September 10, 2011

One of the things I get a lot of now that people know I am making a game are their suggestions. In many instances, they aren't very good ones. I always feel bad if I tell them no, and working in sales has helped a bit with letting people down easy, but sometimes you just have to say no. For example, some people don't understand video game genre's and ideas and lore. They don't really get that if you've got a specific world created for your game, you can't throw in things that are radically different. I've had to adopt phrases for people like this making suggestions, like "Maybe on my next game." or "Maybe in the sequel." or even, if you don't mind being a little blunt: "It's not that type of game." The first of these three is the one I use the most because it keeps people from asking so many questions about the game this early in the project. Then you get the types who don't care what genre your game is, they want you to change it. They'll say things like "that would be much better if you did it this way." In some cases they're right. We're focusing on those who are wrong today. The easiest response to that is "It doesn't fit my vision of the game."

One of the things I do that I don't know how many other game designers do is that I like to ask you for suggestions. I do want to hear what everyone thinks and see what I can incorporate into my design, so I may get this more than others.

So just a short post today, with an apology for neglected this blog. I've been hella busy at work with us getting a new phone carrier in the store, and some problems with the project. I will have some more tidbits of information for you about the project tomorrow night! Leave questions if you'd like to know anything in particular about the project!

The Project: An Update!

Friday, August 26, 2011

I do apologize for the long delay between my posts, but here we are! The game is officially underway, and this is exciting. I am thinking a name, mascot, and logo is in order, since we are technically a development studio, even if just an indie studio. We also have our first official meeting date/time/place set up, so that's awesome. I get giggly with excitement if I think about it too much. If you want some info about the game itself, I can give you some! It will (likely) support an Xbox 360 controller and standard keyboard/mouse controls. We will also not be going with the standard "point-and-click-to-do-everything" control scheme.

Also, one of the artists are working on the map for the game at the moment.

I need a word that's thrice as strong as "excited," anyone have one?

Nerdery: A Ramble of Phones, Carriers, and Manufacturers.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Growing up, I always thought my hardest choices will be whether I got console "A" or "B" but now I've learned that humanity has thrown something new into the mix. Something that works as a gaming console, a handheld gaming device, a sticky-note-pad, an alarm clock, a computer, and a phone, just to name a few. I find myself trying to decide between the Motorola Photon and the HTC Evo 3D. I like HTC Sense. I am interested in the 3D aspect of the Evo 3D. It's the direct upgrade to my phone. However, the Motorola Photon also runs Android, doesn't have that stupid Motoblur interface anymore, has a better battery life, and all in all will feel a bit more new, seeing as how I haven't used a Motorola Android device before. I think I might get one, and swap if I don't like it. That's the great thing about being with Sprint, I think. I don't have to worry about swapping phones within the first thirty days of me having one. I can change my mind without any extra charges (yes, I mean you, Verizon.) or having to worry about a limited number of swaps (should I namedrop AT&T? Yes, I shall.) and I don't have to worry about a lack of coverage, because where I am, and where I go, I am covered. Also, free roaming on Verizon's network if I somehow find a spot where sprint doesn't have coverage. Sprint is about half the cost of Verizon and AT&T without having T-Mobile's horrible coverage. But I veer from my main point.

If you're trying to decide between phones, first thing to check is the carrier. Is the phone available on your carrier? Are you willing to switch? If you are willing to switch, what weighs the most on your decision? New deposit, breaking contract, monthly price are all things to consider.

Once you have the carrier straight, look at the manufacturers of the phones. I personally am not a fan of Samsung by any means, as they've been pretty bad with keeping their phones up-to-date and bug-free. Samsung Moment? Nightmare. Samsung Intercept? Two nightmares. Samsung Transform? Two nightmares and a badger to the face. HTC is good at keeping up with the latest Android OS as well as keeping them mostly bug free. LG is largely a small-time competitor in the phones market, as well as Sanyo/Kyocera. Well, to be fair, Sanyo-Kyocera is the sixth largest cell phone company, however, they don't do so well with Android. The Echo was neat, but a failure. The Zio had a trackball. Why? Trackballs are already out of date, not to mention the phone was slow as anything. Anyhow, lets stop the rant there and continue. Do some research on your phone manufacturer. See what complaints there are.

The third consideration is the phones OS, hardware, and non-OS-related software. Is it Android or iOS? Maybe you're still using Blackberry or Windows Phone 7? Does it have a rear and front facing camera? Kickstand? Dual camera's for 3d? Is this stuff you'll actually use? And does it have access to all the apps that you need?

Getting a new phone has a lot more to consider than what most people think about, and for someone like me who loves to have the latest gadgets, it's something worth taking your time about.

The Project: Is Our Team complete?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

We now have two artists, two programmers, myself, and a musician (waiting for his computer to be back up, if it takes too long I'll have to look for someone else.) so I think we might have everyone we need. This means it will start rolling quite a bit! I have got the skills developed for the players, as well as some of an in-depth progression (right up to the third milestone of the game! Though I have about fifteen more to go, I think). The enemies are named, but not yet fleshed out, both maps I needed are complete, though up for revision.

One of the things I would like to do is have a different aesthetic for the UI for the different characters, and if we have enough time, have the battle music differ for the different characters as well, maybe the whole musical theme could be different.

What are your thoughts on this? Would this provide a nice touch of immersion, or just be something that would largely go unnoticed?

Gaming: Blizzard and D3

Monday, August 8, 2011

Anyone who is interested in Diablo may already know this, but for those who don't, here's a nice tidbit of information: If you don't have an internet connection, much less a reliable internet connection, you can't play D3. Yes, even in single-player mode. You will also not be able to play over LAN. Their response about playing offline? Well, they just want you to play someone else's game.

They are trying to wrap up this DRM reaming as a good thing, so they threw in a real-money auction house. That's right, you can buy stuff for actual cash! They are also giving you a persistent friend's list, server-side character storage, guarantees the disappearance of hacks and dupes, a cross-character item stash, and a few other things.

Let's take a look, shall we? The Auction House, I'm torn on. I was an avid WoW player for some time, and some of the changes to the game just seem all too... similar. I like the idea that my gaming could possibly gain me some real-life revenue that I can use how I need. However, this also means rich kids get the best things, since this will let them just purchase the weapons straight up without doing a lick of work. On top of this, it could open the door to the IRS coming online in full force. This is an excuse for the always-online DRM, and another revenue source for Blizz (as I'm sure there is a nominal fee for this feature).

The persistent friends list isn't so much bad as not needed. With the age of cyber-socializing as it is, we have our friends in a hundred different lists already. We don't need another one. Allow us to link our account of choice and use it when we're online. This is also an excuse for their always-online DRM.

Server side character storage. Why? Because they're afraid you might mess with your character. Well, I paid for this software, I will do as I please, within the letter of the law. This is an excuse, again, for their always-on DRM.

They say it will prevent hacks and dupes and such. This just simply isn't true. There is no possible way to make something completely unhackable. They can try, but as they have said themselves, their development team isn't as big as the cracking/hacking community. Another excuse to push their always-connected leash? Yup.

Cross-character stash for your items. I like this. I love a cross character stash, though I apparently hold the unpopular opinion. However, there's no need for the stash to need to be online. I've played plenty of games where they had a cross-character stash and was never connected to the internet. I'm pretty sure you can guess the next sentence. It's just another excuse for their online DRM.

Also, their persistent friends list requires RealID. This isn't something I'm a fan of. I dropped WoW before it, and so haven't used it personally, but what is this doing besides causing another step of inconvenience? I don't want my name thrown out to everyone so future employers could see I once used a bad word on a forum, or see that I had a level 80 of each class. No employer will see that and think "Oh, he must get his work done quickly, and that's how he has time to do that!" No, they will think "He's a lazy ass who only wants to play video games all day. NEXT!"

Another point I would like to make is that requiring a persistent internet connection punishes people who choose to live in a more rural area or even those who don't, that can't get an unlimited internet connection.

Finally, pirates get a better product that they have less hassles with, and for a 100% reduction in price. Why wouldn't you pirate? Check out, for instance, the whole StarForce problem. Or the previously mentioned problem about internet connections. Or hey, trying to get customer support (especially from blizzard) can be a nightmare, so I think I'll just post on the forum or comment section from where I got the cracked version. Almost always an answer in very little time, and I don't have to have a phone up to my ear the whole time!

Blizzard, we're trying to throw our money at you for this game, what is your problem with that?

Gaming: The Humble Indie Bundle

Friday, August 5, 2011

If you haven't heard about this, then you don't really keep up with gaming news as much as you should. I don't either. I'm pretty terrible about keeping up with any type of news, and bury myself in my projects. What this bundle does is it gives you a bunch of games for whatever price you would like to pay. You can pay anything from one cent to a million dollars if you wanted. I'm pretty sure they'd let you pay more than that, as well. If you pay more than the average, you get the games from last year as well. When I purchased, the average was 5.35 USD.

The money that you pay gets donated in whichever way you want to developers and charities.

Nerdery: Blogger Stats Part Four!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

So it's that time again, gentlebloggers. The time where we get to see... Statistics! The heavily populated USA got the most views at 468, firefox at 455, and windows at 758. I will update this post a bit later with the promised picture of me holding the flag. Who will get the most views for the coming month? I've never seen the Argentinian flag, will I next month? Or will I see the same US flag that I have always known?

I am still surprised at the amount of windows users compared to Mac users for the blogging scene, at 758 to 30. Firefox still tops the charts at 455 (44%) and then chrome at 323 (31%). Another surprise for me, as I thought everyone moved to chrome, but I guess not. Although there are quite a bit of mobile browsers in here, and mobile devices as well. Android actually comes in second for pageviews by OS, and I am kind of proud of that. I don't seem to have any views from the eastern half of the map, which is a bit odd, I think.

Until next time, ladies and gents!

Edit: Been way busy, but I will remember to get that flag. Don't worry, my fellow Americans.

The Project: It is still alive!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Yes, I am indeed lacking in my blogging because of the project and other job-related reasons, and for this, I do apologize. I will try to work in at least three blogs a week, as I should have some more time, now that nobody is on vacation again.

As for the project, the map is designed, and this works great as a tool to help with progression. I now know when and where I shall send you on this journey, and what direction you're going to get there. After completing the in-depth progression, implementing the other characters will be a million times easier, story-wise. From there I just pick something else to work on, I guess! Is seeing the design process as straightforward as you thought it might be? I thought it would be plenty more linear, do this, then that, then this, then that. But not really. I designed the characters and concept I wanted, with a basic overview of the story and progression. From there I fleshed out some characters, then started working on enemies, then in depth plot, then a map, and more plot... It's all everywhere. I need to re-tweak my list of enemies tonight, and start adding in their damage soon, and then I need to type up everything that was written down in my notebook.

I have been asked on multiple occasions why I write everything down in my notebook instead of typing it as I think about it, and why I use a pen instead of a pencil when writing story material. The short explanation: It's what I'm comfortable with. The long explanation? Well, I prefer writing things down in pen because it makes me think about what I write before I write. Usually. The reason I write instead of type is because writing, as a more natural form of putting thought into words, seems to flow better. Ideas come out easier than if I were typing them. So using a pen kind of balances me from putting something utterly stupid down, while still letting the creativity flow. That's really the best answer I can give, I hope it doesn't confuse anyone!

The Project: We have an artist!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The title says it all, guys. Well not quite all. There's more happenings afoot. We're still looking for a couple more artists for creating digital art. Anyhow, I'm excited to see the concept art for the machinist and his machines, as he is born. I'm literally shaking with excitement, I mean, this is a huge step, and for me, it's like the point of no return. The art is being created. It's exciting. It has been settled, both the gun and the wrench will be available for the machinist. Similar options will be available for other characters as well, of course. The characters that don't make it into the game, depending on the number, will become available as DLC, possibly free. This all depends on who we can implement into the game. If just the core three and maybe one other make it it, there is an expansion possibility, though the game will have to do well enough to warrant doing so. I'm confident that it will.

Just this small bit for now. Mexican food is calling, and it is one of my many weaknesses.

The Project: A Quick Mentioning.

Friday, July 22, 2011

I wanted to mention a couple things, and pose a few questions, about the game that is underway.

I have (almost!) finished getting into digital means all of the core character skills. I have a few more on the machinist to type up. We have decided that we will implement these core characters first, and expand to including the other ones as we have time to do so. This means while you're guaranteed to be able to play 3 different classes (with some super-slick customization options!), there may be up to 8 characters to choose from, all with their own flavor of ass-kickery.

Now, for some questions. I'm thinking for the machinist that he could have a couple options for weapons: Gun or Wrench. Guns do more damage, but wrenches give a bonus to your creations. What do you all think?

Also, If we can't include the characters in the release, should we offer the rest as DLC, or create an expansion that gives the extra characters and makes the world a good bit bigger, with more lives to save and problems to solve?

That's all for now! Leave me some answers, and even more questions, and I will reply to them in my next post about the project.

Nerdery: Potter is Over...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

People keep saying that it's all over, or it's ended... but you can just watch the movies or read the books again. Thinking like that, it would have technically been over from the last book's release.

However, I don't think it's actually over in any sense. We have Rowling doing this whole Pottermore bit, and I think we will eventually get a really great Quidditch video game (if there already is one, I'm sorry, but I haven't heard of it). Then we have all the fanfic (some of it is good, at any rate). And I'm sure some professional writers will take up to write other books in the Potter universe, like many writers did with the Dragonlance books. I would like to hear what happened with everyone after the last book, besides the marriages and children, etc, personally.

Nerdery: Censorship and Us.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I have been told that because I live in the United States, I don't need to worry about censorship. It's not a problem here. However, that just simply isn't true. The United States Government can and will do whatever they want. I mean, the USDA probably doesn't have too many ulterior motives, but I'm pretty sure that some of the much-higher-paying sectors of our government have their own schemes going on.

Here's some things the Government would like us to just roll over and allow:

The Internet Blacklist Bill - This would allow the government to take any website down; not just in the USA, but off of the internet completely. It is made to fight piracy, but is so broad sweeping in it's statement that it will allow them to remove any website them deem unsavory.

The PATRIOT Act - This was needed once, and is still needed... in a much more revised manner. Currently, the way it is written and with the lack of proper surveillance on those who are using it, it is being abused. The FBI was caught spying on five children who hadn't done a damn thing wrong and they didn't match the voice profile of the person they said they were spying on. They weren't even speaking the same goddamned language!

The founder of a group that attempts to bring progress through peaceful means was arrested for allegedly downloading too many journal articles. I don't know enough about this particular happening to speak about it at any length, however you can read about it at Demand Progress.

Honestly, if I see the Internet Blacklist Bill go through, the PATRIOT Act go without reform, or Aaron Swartz charged with "felony computer hacking" when even the alleged victim said there were no damages and didn't want the guy prosecuted, I'm leaving the United States.

The Project: Talking About The Game

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I have been asked and asked and asked to provide more details on the game I'm working on. I can't say too much just yet of course, but here's what I can tell you:

The influence behind the game comes from many different sources. The want to make the game comes from this old game designing program that we had on my moms old Tandy 1000 HX computer. I wasn't able to do much with it, but found right then that I really wanted to make games. The specific design for games comes from my love of Tolkien-esque worlds. The fantasy worlds have always been a draw to me, especially ones that offer a sort of steampunk theme as well. The genre was first introduced to me with the Diablo and Baldur's Gate games, then later on, from games such as Titan Quest and Torchlight.

It's going to be an Isometric view Action RPG. The turn-based style of play is something that I don't think I want to see anywhere outside of the Final Fantasy realm. The skill learning system will be neither trainer-based nor talent-tree based, and instead will be one that grants you abilities as you use abilities in the same "family." When the project makes enough headway, I'll be able to release to you guys the working title and maybe the number of classes, depending on how far along we are. I am meeting a possible artist tomorrow, and if everything goes well, I will be able to start with art production!

Nerdery: Deciding Between Operating Systems

Everyone I know who has checked out a new computer recently has, for the most part, asked me what is the best operating system to go with. While the answers aren't all clear cut, I'll give you my breakdown of each.

Let's start with Apple, and their line of the Macintosh computers. If you're looking for a gaming computer, you pretty much want to look anywhere else. Most games are not designed to run on this operating system, though it is possible to run them through a virtual windows box. I really have to impress upon you, however, that this is a most terrible way to do it. If you want something that looks flashy and tells everyone else that you're well off, go with the Apple. It has all your basic functionality, and does video, picture, and movie editing quite well. They're very simple to use, and for that, I have to recommend them for the older batch of people that want to use a computer. Looks clean, runs well with few viruses, and hard to cause any major problems on accident. Not compatible with most programs and sometimes hard to find cables/adapters/dongles etc.

We can tackle Microsoft next, on the Windows operating system. It's less expensive than a Mac, compatible with most programs, and good for gaming. It has it's drawbacks, however, in that if you don't know what you're doing, you can very easily mess something up. It is also not as user-friendly as a Mac, and has more viruses available to harm it. However, if you run a virus scanner (not McAfee or Norton!) you will be fine. I suggest AVG and Ad-Aware. They are both great with the option to have automatic updates, and with free versions of both. Suggested for kids who are learning about, or learning through using, computers. Also suggested for anyone who doesn't need something to be over-simplified.

Linux is last, with too many distributions of the Linux operating system to list them all. You can find that list over at Wikipedia if you really want to read it. Linux, for the most part, is exactly the opposite of user-friendly. If you want a computer that is a toy, and a hobby, and a pet, you may as well install Linux on at least one of your hard drives. If you're considering Linux, I hope you are computer savvy enough to not need an article like this, but just in case, if you're questioning whether or not you should try it, dual-boot. If you can't figure out how to dual-boot, Linux is not for you. If you can figure it out, it still may not be; give it a go anyway. Either way, Linux is free and open source.

The only real way to decide, however, is find out if the software you need works on the machine, look at pricing to find if it's in your range, and then use one of each and see how you like it.

Gaming: Portal 2 Co-Op

Friday, July 15, 2011

Multiplayer is something that most games, in my opinion, need. The second installment of Portal has made me love Valve that much more. I finished playing Portal 2's Co-op mode with my girlfriend last night, and the ending to that is just as great as the ending to the core game. With all of the gestures to use, the pinging tool, and the imaginative test chambers, I have to say I think I've had more fun in Co-op in this game than I've had with any other.

I do, however, have a few gripes. The Robot Enrichment Center, from what I hear, is only going to be PC-to-PC available. So while I can play with my girlfriend through my computer and her PS3, neither of us can use the Robot Enrichment Enhancements. On top of this, even though I'm fairly certain that valve makes enough money not to need this, they have made almost all of the stuff from the Robot Enrichment stuff you have to pay for. To me, microtransactions can ruin a game. If, for example, those items were available by unlocking certain achievements instead, then I wouldn't see a problem with it. However, from what I gather, this is not the case.

Valve: Make the Robot Enrichment work cross platform, and stop with the microtransactions. Gabe Newell has much more genius available to work with, and pulling a stunt like that only makes people dislike you.

Nerdery: Blogger Stats 3!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Well I've waited long enough to do this again, so here we are. I am surprised that there are still people using Internet Explorer to browse the web. A couple browsers just say "Mobile" but not which mobile browser.

Windows is still the preferred OS, at 434, taking up a whopping 84% of the OS Pie. Android is next (beating out iPhone by 49, take that apple.) then Linux at 14, with Mac at 12, then iPhone at 2.

The Browser shows a similar trend, with Firefox and Chrome topping the charts, followed by an apple product, then Mobile Safari, then Safari, then IE (I mean seriously, guys. Why are you using this?) Ubuntu (I found out that some newer version of Ubuntu operates as a browser, similar to ChromeOS, and thats why it shows up as Ubuntu.) then the mysterious "mobile" and one lonely Opera user.

US has gained the lead for readers at 307 views from the US. Argentina still has a good chunk of the views, though, with 171. Germany is way down at thirteen. What are you doing, Germany? If you're from Germany, I want you guys to beat out Argentina in pageviews by next update (two weeks from now, maybe?). Whoever is top pageviews as a country will get me wearing or waving their flag at the end of the month. Can you beat USA?

Gaming: Upcoming Games and Other Things

There are a few games that are coming out that I am super excited to play, but have to wait. The first, but likely the furthest away, is Grim Dawn from Crate Entertainment. It is the spiritual successor to the amazing Titan Quest that was tons of fun to play, and if you don't like it, you should be ashamed.

The next is, of course, Diablo 3. With the other two in the series repeatedly beaten, it is really past time for the third to come out. Stop horsing around, Blizzard. We know you're done. You've generated enough hype.

The third is Torchlight 2. I spent too many hours playing the first one, and I know the second will be just as fun. I just hope none of these games come out at the same time, otherwise I will have to quit my job, stop sleeping, and halt development on my own game to play them.

I'm not really interested in too much else at the moment. Child of Eden was a blast, and is replayable out the wazoo. Haven't had the chance, yet, to get Alice: Madness Returns.

Update on the game I have under development: I have decided on a working title. It will be called Spellplague for the time being. I have decided upon shunning both the talent tree system and the trainer system, instead, as you use more abilities in a certain family of abilities, you'll progress that family of abilities. This gives you the chance to really master your class. I am thinking of also letting characters who have beat the game start again with everything they mastered, and letting them master the other skill families as well.

If you can find a cope of it anywhere, you'll want to pick up Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magicks Obscura. It is a great game, but an older one. It's got it's bugs and troika went out of business, but it's a pretty great game, albeit polarizing. You will grow to either love it or hate it.

This concludes tonight's updates, and with any luck, the fellows and/or ladies over at Crate Entertainment will respond to my email, and I may have a surprise for you dudes and dudettes.

Gaming: Doing Research for Designing Video Games

Monday, July 11, 2011

Something most of my followers do not know is that I am currently creating a video game. That is why I have been silent for a week, is I was in hardcore getting-stuff-done mode, and that made me neglect my blog. Well, no fear, I am back, and will be less sporadic. On to this evenings subject. I have been trying to figure out how I am going to do the skill learning mechanism, and the battle mechanics. My question for skill learning is should I have trainers that teach you at the correct level, like World of Warcraft? Maybe a talent tree system a la Diablo II and Torchlight? Should I invent a new way of doing it, or use one that's rarely used? I think the most satisfying for me is a use-it-to-learn-it system. The more they use "Fireball" the more potent it becomes, for example. I don't want to re-do something that's been done too much, but at the same time, I want it to be accessible and feel natural enough. I have also designed the spells for two classes over this time, the Wizard and Necromage. I can't go into too much detail, but I cannot wait for others to experience this. So to research different types of battle systems, I decided to play a few different types, so I pulled out Torchlight, Diablo II, Titan Quest (pc versions), and Secret of Mana. I'm gonna have to dig for my copy of Baldurs Gate and see if I can find a PC action-RPG that doesn't use a controller or the "left and right click to attack" battle mechanics.

If you know of one, leave the title in the comments. Also, if you enjoy playing warriors or barbarians, leave a note of your two favorite skills for that class. Who knows, they might make it into the game.

Gaming: How to Decide on a Gaming Rig

Friday, July 1, 2011

I have been asked many times how I decided on what parts to get when upgrading/building a new box, or if buying one pre-built, who to go to. So I figured I would put my answers here.

On building: First things first. You want it to look slick, right? Plan this one out. Find your case first. If you want something more unique, fabricate your own! It's not as hard as it sounds, with the right tools. Once you have your case decided, use the case size to decide on the motherboard. Generally, the larger motherboards provide a faster experience (this isn't always true, however. Do your homework! Read the reviews, etc.). Once you have that, make sure the RAM and graphics cards are compatible, as well as the processor. Many motherboards come with a processor, some don't. If you're willing to spend some money, go with dual graphics cards - but again, make sure the motherboard will support it. After you've got the RAM, graphics cards, and processor chosen, you can then go on to what you're putting in your drive bay. Blu-Ray? DVD? Zip drive? It's your call. I recommend a blu-ray, if you can spring for it. You can also find neat trinkets to go in there, such as a gauge that shows temperatures and fan speeds and such, or a cup holder and cigarette lighter (not even kidding!). Hard drives are fairly inexpensive, and if you go with a Solid State drive, you'll be paying a lot more for less storage, however, they are silent and much quicker. Most motherboards have good on-board sound. If you want a sound card, however, make sure you have enough room on your motherboard. After all of your lights and components and drink holders and whatever you want are picked out, it's time for you to get a power supply. This is something, again, that you need to make sure is compatible. Take note of the amount of power each component uses, then decide on your power supply. If all of this stuff doesn't come with fans, you'll need those. Head down to Radio Shack (or similar small electronics store) and pick a couple up, as well as a static guard wrist strap. Just in case, you know? Don't want to fry something brand new. If you don't have them, it's also good to pick up some electronics screwdrivers. Putting it together is fairly easy, just read any instructions and read the labels on your motherboard.

On Upgrading: Upgrading a system is easy enough, if you're gonna drop some bank on it, go for the high end stuff. If you're getting a new motherboard, consider replacing the whole computer; it can sometimes be much easier on your stress levels. Spawn campers stress you out enough, right? For anything else, just keep in mind any restrictions your have, whether it's power, case space, or money. Newegg usually has some great deals running that you can jump on there.

Finally, on Purchasing: The most important thing you can do is read reviews. If it's something you're gonna be using for some time, make sure it's aesthetically pleasing, or it's a case you can make so. Always watch out for deals, and find out who has a good warranty. I like the Alienware stuff myself, and they have good support there. You wont need to worry about making sure part "A" works with component "B" when "building" your computer through the different companies builders, and the drivers are almost always up-to-date. It's the most convenient, but can cost you more money than you're wanting to spend. To help with the price, always call up and order over the phone. The sales reps have a commissioned job, and can work with the price, and give you different discounts. If they have a card program, apply for it. Most companies give you a discount.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave it in the comments!

Gaming: Child of Eden

Monday, June 27, 2011

We picked up Child of Eden yesterday, for the Xbox360, and It's definitely a great buy. If you liked the game Rez, this one is definitely for you, but I believe it's one everyone should try. We haven't played it on controller-mode yet, we've only played using kinect, and I have a feeling that this is how it needs to be played. It provides an immersive experience of an arcade-shooter like no other game out there.

The first thing I noticed when I heard about Child of Eden was the music and visuals. It was no less than beautiful, and one of the reasons we got it. This game shows why video games can be considered works of art. It plays to the beat of the music, and you will get a score multiplier for releasing a fully locked-on laser blast to the beat of the music. When you first start, you notice how fun it is to be directing all of the gameplay using your own two hands. Like a controlling the world kind of experience. I imagined I was a mage flinging fireballs instead of lasers. Seriously a blast of a game! On top of all this, Child of Eden is also challenging, and something that gets harder as the levels progress. I find this refreshing, as most games now have the problem of never getting harder as the levels play through, and it just gets boring. No sense of accomplishment is gained from beating a final boss that was as easy as the first.

As much as I like the game, though, it does have it's downsides, and I wouldn't feel right without telling you. It doesn't give much in the way of explanation. The first level, it tells you how to fire the two different weapons, and it tells you how to get and use the support items, and that's about it, aside from the backstory. If you read the manual, you'll figure out the rest, for the most part, any way. The next problem is more a problem with the kinect, than with the game, but on control scheme "A," where you just switch hands to fire the other weapon, it will sometimes act as if you switched hands, even if you haven't. This can be a problem, but if you go with the other control scheme, you just clap your hands at about chest level as if you were about to do some form of an oriental bow. This does make the problem occur less, but it's not as smooth of a transfer from one weapon to the other. The final gripe I have, and probably the one that matters the least, is that the opening scene is just way too long. I was asked if Child of Eden was "a game where you just stand around." But it's where all the backstory is, so I waited it out and got the information it provided, and played a game that is truly an amazing work of art; one for the gaming industry to hold as a flagship in the fight to let video games be recognized all around as a work of art.

Gaming: Beat Hazard

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Beat Hazard is an excellent reanimation of the standard "asteroids" style gameplay. It takes you in a ship blasting aliens and huge balls of junk with intense visuals and gameplay speeds that depend on your music. Want some slower-paced gaming? Pick a more mellow song. Want something that will keep you on edge, where you will forget to blink and barely remember to breathe? Throw some Dragonforce in the mix. It's got rankings, upgrades, single player and multiplayer (co-op or head to head!), great music for everyone (if you don't like the song you're listening to, why do you have it?), and multiple game modes. Their classic version is also included, however to get the online and boss rush modes, as well as a bunch of extra upgrades, you'll have to purchase the Beat Hazard Ultra addition. It's all fairly inexpensive, and as well available on the XBLA (save "Ultra"), and - get this - created by a one-man crew over at Cold Beam Games.

My opinion: Buy it. Buy it all. Have fun getting all the achievements!

Gaming and Nerdery: Rolling your first Dungeons and Dragons Character

There are a few different ways to make your first Dungeons and Dragons character that you have to choose from. The first, of course, would be with a pencil and paper. You could also use a character builder, like the one available from Wizards of the Coast or the freeware character builder "Redblade." The last option, is, of course, to have your DM roll you a character based on your loose specifications.

My favorite option for the first character would be with a pencil and paper, doing all the math and marking it down in appropriate places. This accomplishes multiple things here: you get to better learn the mechanics of the game, you get a better feel for who your character is, and you get a better feel of the game as a whole. However, this method does take more time, and if you don't have someone to explain the different elements of your character sheet, and your abilities, and what's the difference between a blast and a burst... Well, it can be confusing.

Using a character builder can be fun, and it can let you play around with different builds to see what happens. It's not as true to the game, I don't believe, but then, I am one of the types who believes in re-rolls only by DM rule. Using a character builder is quite fast when you put it side by side with rolling by hand, and you get a really nice character sheet with the abilities listed and everything, makes all of it so much easier to keep up with. If you've rolled one by hand and want to try it with a character builder, go for it. If you don't feel like writing everything down, use the builder but, and I can't stress this enough, pay attention to what numbers change what stats, what skills modify how many abilities you have, and the like.

If you're entirely helpless with rolling a character by hand, and just can't get the character builder to work for you, then you can go to your DM and ask for a hand. Everyone rolls a first character; S/He will be more than happy to help you, and explain everything along the way. If you want, and the DM agrees to, your Dungeon Master can make your character, then explain everything afterwards.

Any of these three methods will work, though I definitely suggest the first one, if it's not too overwhelming. Happy roleplaying!

Nerdery: Blogger Stats 2!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

So a week has passed, and I've got a lot more views to work with. I had 52 last week, and today I have a total of 371 views. Out of these, there are 117 that aren't appearing in the stats under "Operating Systems" but are appearing both in the "Countries" and "Browsers" section. Maybe those are our Mac people? That's about 32% of my readership that's on an uncounted operating system.

Somehow I have more viewers from Argentina than from anywhere else in the world. Those of you from Argentina, feel free to leave a comment. I'd like to hear how you found me!

The USA is second with 155 views, and then a drastic drop from there to the UK, with 15 views.

The most popular browser is Firefox, for my readers, with the Apple feed reader in second and Chrome down from first to third in this, then we have Mobile Safari, then Safari, then Ubuntu (They have a browser called Ubuntu? I thought it was just the OS with that name) and in last place, and I'm slightly surprised it's being used, Internet Explorer with 2 views.

Those with IE, go download a better browser. Try Firefox or Chrome.

Gaming AND Nerdery: On Getting a Good Dungeons and Dragons Group.

I couldn't decide whether Dungeons and Dragons should go under Gaming or Nerdery... so it gets both.

I've moved quite a bit for someone who isn't from an active-military family. This makes things quite hard when trying to find a steady D&D group. There are websites like Meetup that can help with this, and it's a great help, especially when trying to find a group in an area you're brand new to. I moved out of North Carolina a couple years ago and my friends up here were my brother's friends; Not at all the type to enjoy the classic tabletop RPG. So I've been looking, and had something going for awhile, but due to life happening, had to back out of that group. In all the time spent looking for new groups, I have found a few things that help wonderfully. First, if you're new in an area, go to your local gaming supply store, or comic shop. Let the person behind the counter (or at a table, if they have gaming tables) know that you're new to the area, and ask if he knew anyone looking for players. This almost always helps, and is a good way to make friends in a new area. Another option is, as I said a moment ago, Meetup. Just search for a group for your area.

Something else I've found from playing D&D is that when you're starting a new campaign, create your characters all at once, together. This can solve many a problem. You wont end up with a group full of Strikers with nobody to heal or defend them (unless, of course, that's the point of what you're doing). You will then not be surprised when some characters make a move like trying to defenestrate the shopkeep for no reason than to do so. It will also develop a sense of having known each character for sometime and gives a richer D&D experience.

One last note: if there's a known "last session" that you're having, where it's the end of the group, or whatever: dress as your characters for that session. Speak and act in character as well. Especially if you don't normally do that. It'll create a great memory for everyone and is one hell of a lot of fun!

Gaming: Creator Commentary

Friday, June 17, 2011

For anyone who doesn't know, my dream is to create video games for a living. In this, I love hearing the ins and outs of game creation. After beating portal 2, I went back and replayed the first one, and then again with commentary on. Doing this, I learned a TON of things about game design, and the way you need to think as a game designer. It even shows how little you need in a game to manipulate someone in to doing what you want. Shape something a tad bit differently to draw attention to it. Put moving objects somewhere that you need a player to look. If they're associating something incorrectly, force them to use it in a different manner. I only wish we could get more developer commentary in games.

Nerdery: Evo 3D

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Is anyone else as excited about this phone as I am? I mean, yes, the 3d gimmick is going everywhere, but with this and Youtube3D, I cannot wait to see what some of these people come up with! You can shoot footage in 3D yourself, easily! The only downside is that I'm pretty sure the battery wont last too long in 3D mode. I'm not positive on this, as I haven't gotten my hands on one yet, but when I do, it will run it's share of my gauntlet. 3D games, 3D movies, 3D user created content, 3D Android interface, 3D apps... Remember looking at computers in some movies and going "Woah... I can't wait until we have that!"

It's here.

Gaming: Portal 2 Completed!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Portal 2 has been completed, with only two deaths! I loved the ending, and another great Jonothan Coulton song to accompany the credits. Almost made me tear up a bit.
Still to finish:
  • Fable 3
  • Borderlands (I know, I know, I'm slacking! I just never got around to finishing it.)
  • Infinite Undiscovery
  • Darksiders
  • Darkspore (Is there even an end?!)
  • Too Human
So what's next? I also have Alice: Return to Madness on reserve, waiting for me at my local Gamestop, and I'm considering Duke Nukem, but I've heard terrible, terrible things.
Any suggestions?

Nerdery: Blogger Stats

What kind of a geek would I be if statistics didn't interest me? Not a good one, I'm sure. So using blogger, I have a stats tool that tells me where my readers are from, and what browsers they are using. As it's still early on in my blog's oh-so-new introduction to the glorious internet, I don't have much yet, but I'll be logging my blog stats as we go. Once a week, maybe, sounds good.

54% of my readers in the USA. It's interesting to me, because I would think it would be a higher percentage.
19% in Denmark. Another odd one, it's not a place I think about often, but it seems that it's the next highest percentage of my readers. I would think that the UK would be higher, but it's only at 6 percent of my readership.

Another thing that gets me here, 100% of my readers use Windows, so far anyway. I always though the blogging crowd would have been you mac people out there.

Let's see what we get next week!

Gaming: Rift - Invasions

If you haven't heard about, seen, played, or signed up for rift, you should definitely give it a chance. I have been playing for a bit over two months, and it is definitely a noteworthy game. Today, though, I'm going to specifically talk about one aspect of rift: the invasions. Invasions are a zone-wide and sometimes world-wide event where the other planes of existence are colliding with Telara, and you get tons of rifts to destroy, bosses to kill, and smaller groups of sometimes-elite creatures trying to invade and take over strategic points, or points of interest. This accomplishes a couple things, first:

Players actually feel like they are saving the world. There are people all over Telara who need your help, and will send you on quests for said help, but the non-player characters are fighting back the invasions as well. This means that your questing is at a standstill until you can beat back the evil that lurks withing the zone. It changes the landscape, as well. The sky gets darker, the ground changes to burning molten rock, or huge plant growths, or whatever the rift may consist of. These are changes that are very noticeable, and there's a sense of satisfaction when you finally stomped out that water rift, and the foot of water you were standing in evaporates.

The second thing these accomplish, is the "MM" part of "MMO." The largest invasions can take over a hundred players to take it on, and you get the feeling that you're just a part of something big. Taking out the invasion with so many people that you can't count them, I tell you it is an experience I enjoy. For many players, joining an MMO can be daunting; It is similar to going to a new school. You don't know anyone, and you don't know how to make friends. If only there were alien invasions during school to help us meet other people, right?

Now there is a downside to this. If you're on a break at work, or between classes in college, and you want to get a few minutes of game in, well, usually you're good, but sometimes there's that invasion, and you just can't complete that quest you were itching to finish. To me, however, that's something that I can live with, because it provides players with a base to get together and do something for the good of the world they find themselves in.

Gaming: Afterglow Controllers

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I recently got one of PDP's Afterglow controllers for my Xbox 360. I love it. It has it's drawbacks though, and I think I should mention these first.

For the 360, all of their controllers are wired. It's not something I currently miss; I sit pretty close to the television and console anyway, but it's something many, many people would miss. Also, the bottom of the controller only has the pin connection, not the two long connections on either side. This means my headset doesn't work on it. The problem here is that now, when playing Fable 3 with my girlfriend over live, if we are to chat, then we need to call each other. As you can imagine, craning your neck to hold the phone while playing is not comfortable, at all. And my last gripe is that the lights on it have three settings: full blast, off, or flashing on vibrate off to full blast. I wish there were a dimmer option, or that the flashing was dim to full flashing.

Now on to the better side of things! It is precise. I cannot stress this enough, it its sensitive and precise like no stock controller ever will be. In that, it is perfection, and this should be what a controller is about. My other love for this controller is the feel. The buttons press better. Think about the first Guitar Hero controller you used. Now think about when you switched to the Rock Band guitar. Yeah, the clicking is better, isn't it? These buttons offer a great resistance that actually feels like pressing a button, performing an action. Much more satisfying than the stock controllers, who's buttons go "smoosh" in comparison.

I really, really wish it worked with my headset, though.

Nerdery: Autofill

This may be an odd subject, but I have often wondered; Autofill will complete titles of some things for you, but where one title might give you suggestion list "x," another will give you suggestion list "y." Now here's my question: What determines which list it pulls up? The world may never know. As an example, for this post, the title section gave some options from the Meetup site that I use, however, when I would create a topic for, say, a Tumblr post, I would get suggestions for, not just previous Tumblr posts, but also from posts on one of the forums that I frequent. Anyone who has met me knows I'm a bit of a lazy ass, and can't be bothered to look anything up unless I'm really bored, or trying to win an argument, so I'm just gonna guess that its because some websites use the same cookie-cutter posting tools as other sites. Maybe I should ask a web designer.