Archive | November 2013

The Coffee Break. 22 November 2013

Hello folks;

Two interesting articles I have extracted that might be of some “use” to me for this edition of the Coffee Break: there is now a crowd-funded “assassination market” using Bitcoins to finance assassinations, and anti-abortion crazies wish to kidnap women on their way to abortion clinics to “convince” them to not abort.

Well it now feels like Skyrim, except the Dark Brotherhood on this planet does not just kill anyone for pay. Indeed there is now a crowd-funded assassination market or program in which people contribute anonymously using Bitcoins to have a public figure assassinated. The article from Elite Daily tells of how an anarchist wishes to destroy all governments everywhere by assassinating enough politicians so that people are afraid to run for public office.

Borderlands-2-Zero
Now the rest of the article details what this anarchist fellow told Forbes magazine, but good heavens people, you really want to kill political leaders over a disagreement? Certainly killing is necessary at points in history – at points in history – but the power of steel and cannon should never be thrown around like it was candy or sugar. Hopefully the police departments will be on this case soon because there are people who run for office who are interested in helping the nation, and not for sole personal gain. Who will you look to when no one is willing to collectively pool resources together to make a better future for us all? Will minority-rights exist when there is no authority to enforce them?
There is no such thing as a utopia, and this individual is delusional as is the rest of those folks who love to be part of any extremist movements.

Yet even though this anarchist started this site, there are many other sites on the dark net where people secretly pool resources to have officials assassinated. This is not a new phenomenon as many politicians in the past have been brought down by the assassin’s blade, and the threat of assassination is always present within our society – so long as there is different points of view on various subjects. Now the ramifications of such a site existing on the internet is that the governments of various countries could potentially use this as an excuse to censor the internet – harming us all – and in the case of the US, possibly take away their right to bear arms – a fundamental freedom in the United States. Not only is this anarchist fellow quite delusional, but he can potentially harm the very thing that makes life in this century worth living; the internet may never be the same afterwards if level-headed people fail to prevent censorship, or such an extremist from achieving their wildest dreams.

‘Reality’ ladies and gentlemen; this is why I like to play video games and do my own things like write. You can find the full article in the link below.
http://elitedaily.com/news/world/theres-now-crowdfunded-assassination-market-people-pay-bitcoins-public-figures-killed/
Now how do you prevent someone from getting an abortion? Apparently the answer is to abduct them and convince them not to kill the child according to this Elite Daily article. Down in Texas, the Abolish Human Abortion is receiving pressure from a super-religious group to pose as volunteers, according to Elite Daily, so that they may abduct women while ‘ferrying’ them to an abortion clinic. Now when asked by the media, Abolish Human Abortion has denied such ideas and points the finger towards Pro-Choice groups that wish to slander their image. This debate of pro-life, pro-choice is an interesting scenario to observe as both groups are more than happy to go at each others’ throats for the sake of public opinion and self-promotion. Again let us hope the police are looking into this phenomenon as well, because people should be able to make up their own minds – whether it is in support of pro-life, or pro-choice. No one has the right to force an opinion upon someone else, especially when it comes to using coercive tactics like kidnapping. This makes them no better than sanctimonious students who actively shout down opposing views because they do not see them as “progressive.”

How I fear what we are becoming; with the end of one problem, ten more take its place. Now does this mean I have no faith in humanity? No it does not, but what does it entail? The level-headed citizens in the various nations need to fight hard to overcome such insanity, for this can only lead us into a vicious circle of never-ending “conflict” dare I say. The link to this story is located below this paragraph.
http://elitedaily.com/news/world/anti-abortion-crazies-using-facebook-promote-kidnapping-women-en-route-abortion-clinics/

Well this edition of the coffee break is very depressing; apologies folks. Sometimes I pop my head out of the province of Skyrim – and homework – to take a peak at what is going on out there in the real world. Some things I see give me hope, others make me want to return to Skyrim and continue on my Dark Brotherhood quest line – I’m currently using a mod that lets me bypass the main quest so that I can solely do the side missions like the civil war, or in the case of my Argonian, an assassin.
Skyrim is beautiful this time of year, though I do wish that the Seasons of Skyrim project would upload their winter edition mod to the Workshop on Steam; I just do not feel comfortable using the Nexus mods installer, though there may be a ‘no Dawnguard required” mod that gives me crossbows. There is something about that aspect of fantasy – vampires – that I cannot stand, and it seems unfair to force me to buy the Dawnguard DLC just so I can use the bloody crossbow – mind the pun. Anyways I hope you all enjoyed this edition of the coffee break: granted it could have been made into a gazette edition, but I am currently more interested in writing shorter pieces that require less time to compile just so I can save some time on my end to pursue other things, such as gaming. Thank you all for reading, and I will see you next time.

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The Red Cross and their lack of common sense.

Now this is a bit of old news, but sometime ago the Red Cross was calling for the punishment gamers for committing “war crimes” while in-game. The sheer amount of stupidity involved in that was just mind-boggling as the Red Cross are typically smart people who have a genuine interest in helping to make the world a better place. Instead what do they do? They decide that it is time to go after gamers because they “seem” to be committing “war crimes,” and then proceed to advocate for war crime laws – so to speak – to be extended into the virtual world.

What, did a member of the Red Cross go online to find people T-bagging each other on Halo offensive? Did this member get killed often because of their inability to even master the basic controls of the game in order to enjoy this piece of media? This sort of behaviour from a respected organization is utterly unacceptable. Games like ArmA, America’s Army, and various other more “realistic” titles do in fact teach the rules of war to players, whereas less serious games like Call of Duty (sorry folks, but COD is not realistic, as much as Activision would like you to believe) are exactly as written on the tin: less serious games. Sure the gamers may take gun mechanics as fact, for many of the fire arms in games like COD exist in reality, but this sort of guess work done by the Red Cross is just unthinkable. Gamers know the games are just fantasies; fictional universes or semi-fictional universes – in the case of near future story arcs – are not real.

What about the developers, would they not also be punished for “authorizing war crimes to take place?” What, you’re just going to punish gamers because they are on the sharp end of the stick? Did you just morph into Fox News over there?

Not only am I disappointed in their actions, even though months have passed since this story broke out – and yes you can say it is repressed memories (humor intended) – but I still cannot believe what I read on the news sites around the net. Thankfully – hopefully – no one has taken them seriously, because if they did, then we would see a massive amount of censorship come to the internet, and to the gaming community as a whole. Governments would be given a free-pass to push through sweeping legislation that violates our rights as citizens, and in turn force us to go backwards, rather than forwards.

Update. 12 November 2013

Greetings folks;

Just a quick update to let everyone know what is going to occur over the next couple of weeks here on Thoughts and Topics. Firstly, it is paper season, and this means that I will have to concentrate the majority of my time outside of work and school writing papers for school – I know that sounded strange, but bear with me on this one. Therefore the blog will see a slow down of activity for the next couple of weeks as I concentrate my time on finishing these various assignments in order to receive a passing grade. Apologies if that is any inconvenience, but such is the nature of things.

Second, I have now ventured into the world of Terraria, and it is beautiful. Thus expect some form of review to appear after the next couple of weeks when I will have some modicum of time available to write the review for the title. The game – so far – has impressed me quite a lot, especially coming from a ten dollar price tag. Eat that Battlefield 4 with your constant server crashes! Humor intended folks, humor intended.

Lastly, I would just like to say thank you to all the current subscribers of this blog: your support is greatly appreciated, and it is thanks to your support that I have the interest to continue to write articles for this blog. Without the support, Thoughts and Topics would probably die a rather sudden death as time passes – but such a fate is now avoided entirely.

Alright, well if an article does pop up here on the blog, it will be because I discovered a pressing issue or story that warrants some attention. Otherwise do expect these coming two weeks to be very slow on the blog as it is now crunch time on my end. This concludes my update; thank you all for reading, and I will see you next time.

Lest we forget.

Countries like Canada and the United Kingdom take pause today on the 11th of November to give thanks for all those who came forward, to suffer and die under the banners of freedom and justice.

While scholars debate the true meaning of why they went to war, let us not forget that it was not monetary gain to which our veterans enlisted, but out of a deep connection to their country. Minorities of countries like Canada also partook in the war effort, knowing full well that there was a risk they would not return home, and despite their lack of rights when compared to the majority, they fought for king and country so that they may earn their rights, and prove that they are as much citizens as the rest of the enlistees.

War breaks down perceived differences: when the fight starts, differences melt away.

Lest_we_forget

While it is easy to dismiss war as unnecessary, brutal, and often dangerous to one’s life, let us not forget that war is also the reason why we have synthetic rubber for our tires, or the ability to debate subjectively various topics that float around the public sphere. While we do our best to avoid war in this globally connected world, violence is a part of human life, it is in our nature to fight when all other problem solving tools are either exhausted, or unsuitable.

There will always be a need for people like our veterans, and our current serving members of our armed forces: these men and women sacrifice much in the form of the freedom to choose where to reside – for relocation is frequent, and can disrupt family life – and the freedom to say “forget this, I am out of here.” Sometimes there comes a time and point where there needs to be someone to get the dirty work out of the way – that is the actual war fighting aspect of warfare itself.

The stress they go through, is far greater than any of us in civilian life will ever experience. One may not easily notice this, but going to work and taking care of kids does not cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD for short, nor does it leave one with nightmares that may haunt them for years to come.

No, our soldiers endure much more than a civilian can fathom, and their sense of duty is far beyond comprehension. When a son or daughter of the nation enlists, they commit themselves to the public order, to a homeland in which they owe everything to, and while they could have easily chosen another route, there is something in them – a sort of spark if you will – that gives them the courage to answer the call of duty.

Thus it is with great honour that we remember them every year on the 11th hour of the 11th month of the 11th day. We shall not forget those who shall not grow old, nor will we forget those who live to grow old.

A strong heart deserves a strong applause – thank you for all that you have done veterans, we shall not forget.

The Coffee Break. 6 November 2013

Hello folks;

Thought I would bring you some Warhammer 40,000 fan fiction today. This piece is something I wrote as a sort of “comment” to a picture on the Imperial Guard group page on Facebook. Looking at the story after finishing it, I decided to put my work here, seeing as how I spent a fair bit of time putting it together, it is only fitting it gets a place here on Thoughts and Topics.

This piece is titled “Slaughter”: enjoy.

book_of_the_dead_guard

They say somewhere in the Ghoul Stars rests the graves of a thousand five hundred guardsmen who went with a Inquisitor and Lord Commissar into the depths of space in pursuit of a heretic and his personal warband, only to be slaughtered by unseen forces once they made landfall.

The story goes a glory-hungry Lord Commissar led his one thousand five hundred men on a mission in service of an Inquisitor into the Ghoul Stars region of space. When they made landfall, they discovered the remains of the heretic’s warband scattered amongst the red sands of this uncharted planet. The Inquisitor – as brash and arrogant as they come – ordered the Lord Commissar to advance the entire force into the red wastes in search of the one heretic, hoping to capture him alive.

Three days passed and not a sign of life until they stumbled upon a series of ancient ruins protracting out from the red wastes. The Lord Commissar – fearful of what may lie ahead – sent a scouting party from the attached Penal Legionnaires into investigate the ruins. Seventeen hours passed and not a word until a lone Legionnaire emerged from the ruins, wounded and half insane. The soldier spoke of horrors within the ruins; of torture chambers so vast it could fit an entire hive city’s population within its cells; of ghostly figures that haunted the empty corridors, and of the horrors that took his comrades one, by one, by one, until he was left.

The man in question bore a freshly branded icon on his face that was not of Imperial origin, nor was it of chaos, or even the vile Necrons or Dark Eldar. The symbol shifted and pulsated as he spoke, causing the Lord Commissar to open fire on the man, despite his doubts.

The force was ordered to withdraw with due haste; seeing the ruins as a threat, the Inquisitor ordered his ship in orbit to open fire on the ruins, burying whatever was in there beneath a hail of ordinance and red sand. When the force returned to their landing zone, they found the crew members of the transport ships all dead in the sand, neatly lined up in rows with their heads removed from their bodies. Before the Lord Commissar could utter his next words, weapons fire came from the ships themselves, and then the very sands began to shift as figures appeared: cloaked in a sort of fabric, firing whatever contraption they had in their hands.

The forces formed defensive circles wherever they could; firing wildly in all directions while the Inquisitor frantically called for help from orbit, but to no avail. Communications had been jammed, and the men were left planet-side with only the ammo on their belts and the water on their webbing.

The last transmission received before the ships left the system was a garbled message: “do-nt return here! This is Inquisitor Cortez Draxton; I am issuing executive order 650-21. This planet is hereby declared hostile to Imperial forces, and is not to be explored, not even by the Inquisition! I say again, this is – no…NO! Get away! By the might of the Emperor foul xenos, STEP BACK OR I’LL…”

Reports from the warship that returned to Imperial space show figures butchering the last of the survivors; their bodies bound to poles, their organs slowly harvested from their bodies, their cries of pain and agony echoing through the red wastes. Whatever slept on that world, only the dead would know – only the dead ever saw what was down there.

Missed the last coffee break?
https://thoughtsandtopics.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/the-coffee-break-5-november-2013-2/

The Coffee Break. 5 November 2013

Hello folks;

Well after watching Totalbiscuit play Call of Duty Ghosts, I think I can safely say that I will be avoiding another edition of the COD franchise for another year in a row. Thus far the only COD game I have purchased was Modern Warfare 2 back in 2010 when it was somewhat interesting. Now the company that publishes the game just keeps on spitting out the same old title year after year with – maybe – a new gun or two just to spice things up. With that aside though, let us get into the serious aspect of things: why I am avoiding the title.

Firstly it has to do with money: pricing of the title at 60 dollars makes me less likely to buy the bloody thing when it comes onto the market as 60 dollars can mean another Leman Russ tank for my Imperial Guard army, several plates of Udon noodles, or a lap dance (sorry parents you will have to read this one without the kids this time). Steam games also come to mind when talking about 60 dollar price points; great titles like Terraria have been sitting below 60 dollars since release day, with other great titles like Skyrim steadily dropping in price to attract more players and to gain more sales. Longevity is the concept here, and Activision spitting out a new Call of Duty per year is similar to trashy tabloid magazines who spew forth content every week; psychotically stalking celebrities until they get slammed in the face by the bodyguard, or have a restraining order sent to them by the district courts.

call_of_duty_ghosts_cod_03

Readers, this game is no different than the previous Call of Duty game: though the story arc may be different, but America in the COD series has been an underdog before. The idea that Activision was trumpeting that as a new feature is laughable at best; Modern Warfare 2, America gets invaded by Russia – underdog scenario. Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, America needs to fight back, despite having her entire eastern seaboard decimated by the Russian fleet. Just because the United States had the strength to fight, does not mean it would not suffer setbacks, thus it has been in an underdog position. Making that one of your attractive features is pathetic at best, and it shows.

Now the video by TB showcases multiplayer, which for the love of the god Emperor looks exactly the same – and I am not exaggerating – as my Modern Warfare 2. Hell I just loaded up the game earlier today and stood there starring at a wall for a good few minutes; it looks the same. There would be no difference if I simply went and continued to play my Modern Warfare 2; the only thing I am missing is the story arc – if I wanted to play it for the campaign.

Battlefield Bad Company 2 is probably worth more of my time than this title, and it is significantly cheaper now that it has been aged. Activision, you do not spew forth titles every year expecting that your market will grow. People can get bored of anything given enough time, and or saturation, therefore if you want to see the COD franchise survive for the next generation, look for something new and interesting to do okay?

frustration

That said, Activision is mainly targeting console gamers with their strategy, as the game itself is poorly ported over to the PC, and players might get slightly motion-sick when fighting in multiplayer. The game itself was designed for televisions, and it shows as the game is locked at a certain frame rate, with nothing to change it beyond the pre-set rate. Now folks if you are wishing to purchase the game, this entire piece will not stop you. Just be aware however, you might want to get the title on console instead of PC due to the fact that customization options on PC is almost non-existent, and you could get motion-sick from playing the game. Now as for everyone else who is more interested in PC gaming, go onto Steam, and find something else – like Battlefield Bad Company 2 – to play. Heck even try out Battlefield 4 if you are interested; DICE did a good job with the level design, so you will not be disappointed. However do be careful as it is only a short time after launch, and you will want to wait a bit for the servers to be fixed and the population to be spread out over different maps. Otherwise do expect some lag and connection issues: just some of the wonderful things we have to deal with as PC gamers. Anyways folks that’s it for today: thank you all for reading, and I will see you next time.

Battlefield-41

Missed the last coffee break?
https://thoughtsandtopics.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/the-coffee-break-5-november-2013/

Totalbiscuit and his thoughts on Call of Duty Ghosts:

The Coffee Break. 5 November 2013

Minecraft is about to get a live streaming function, or so says Gamasutra.com’s article posted on the 2nd of November. According to the article, during the Florida MineCon, Twitch TV – the live streaming website dedicated to gaming live streams – announced that it would be bringing the broadcasting feature to the PC and Mac versions of Minecraft. The article goes on to quote the spokesperson – or what I assume to be the spokesperson – who represents Twitch and what their vision is for the near future.

Minecraft with live streaming; I vaguely recall the gaming community already using third party software – Fraps for example – to capture video footage while playing Minecraft. Now the concept of having an in-game video live streaming is quite nice for a game that is very popular with consumers, but is adding in a video streaming program to the game really necessary? Youtubers have already been recording footage with third party programs that can be – in many cases – better than the soon-to-be-released infrastructure proposed by Twitch TV. Funny how they wish to introduce live streaming to Minecraft, and not Starcraft 2 – of whom many of the tournaments are live streamed across the globe from either North America, or Korea – to summarize the results into a nutshell.

minecraft

Ultimately the idea is a step in the right direction as content producers on Twitch will have ease of access to the game, and this could also help the company of Minecraft generate more revenue – not that they ever needed it to begin with. However there will be potential problems with the new feature in the form of bugs and glitches in the first few months of release; here’s hoping that they can resolve the issue before release so that content producers can go straight to streaming with little to no difficulty. You can read the rather brief article in the link below:

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/203895/Twitch_to_bring_video_livestreaming_functionality_to_Minecraft.php

Alright onto some interesting discussion: Role Playing games and how they can survive into the future. With programs such as Skype and Twitch, role playing games like Dark Heresy or Dungeons and Dragons can – with some adjustments – survive into the future without having to suffer some losses to their market share as video games continue to dominate the interactive entertainment industry. How I can see this occurring is that these role playing games will provide a site in which players can access – after they have purchased the book with the various codes – and use the infrastructure to go about their scenarios and games with friends. The example I have to use is the roll play of Dark Heresy – a Warhammer 40,000 role play – done by the channel itmeJP. Now the role play game itself might seem a bit boring at first, but it does pick up after a while with all players fully interacting over webcam as they would in a game shop environment. This sort of mix of ‘old and new’ is something I might actually start doing – that is if I can find a group of friends to play the game, or who have the time to play in the first place. Definitely something new to do while you are socializing with pals online; alongside video games are a host of paper-based role playing games that are great for developing the imagination as the player must think of what to do in a given scenario within the game, rather than simply always pulling the trigger ( which is still a viable option in case you were that sort of psychotic murderer). Anyways the playlist will be linked below this paragraph so go check it out: do not be scared by the length of the videos, role playing games usually behave in such a manner.

Dark_Heresy_RPGame

Alright that about wraps things up for me: thank you all for reading, and I will see you next time.

Missed the previous coffee break? Then check out the link below to catch up on all the interesting reads.
https://thoughtsandtopics.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/the-coffee-break-30-october-2013/