Archive | December 2013

Dwarves, Elf-Maidens, and Orcs with bits of metal implanted into their chests.

The Hobbit part 2: when the film concluded at the end, they left us at an interesting climax/cliffhanger. Now initially – about 30 seconds after the film ended – I was somewhat annoyed that I did not get the chance to see Lake-town set ablaze. Yet for all my frustrations when the film suddenly cut out like that, there was a certain level of understanding as Peter Jackson had to end it somewhere in order to lead into the third and final chapter of the three-part film series. Now were Jackson to show Lake-town under attack prior to the film cutting out, it would sort of ruin the mood as the plot in the book spirals down the slope of the climax and conclusion from that point onwards.

Yet I digress, you came here to read about fair Elf-Maidens and hearty Dwarven warriors. Well the actress who plays the Wood Elf captain Tauriel does an excellent job at finding the balance between tenderness and aggressiveness. Tauriel does not come off as a sort of push over, but has a soft side in which the most unlikely character in the series ends up poking – perhaps even triggering some undiscovered emotions previously hidden from the captain. Now the voice actor for the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) performs admirably when delivering his lines in the sequence where Bilbo and Smaug have a bit of a discussion over the state of affairs in which lead Bilbo to the mountain, and where he discusses how Thorin has deemed Bilbo virtually expendable.

The_Hobbit_Tauriel

Sir Ian McKellen does an excellent job once again as Gandalf the Grey; though it saddened me to see less of him in the film as his performance was something to behold. With that said however, in the book Gandalf does take off here and there, so it is something that many of us will just have to get over: there is always the battle of the five armies to look forward to in the third film. Now as for the Bard from Lake-town; I swear he was played by the same actor who portrays Legolas. However upon further investigation, it seems that a Welsh actor by the name of Luke Evans does the part of Bard the Bowman, rather than Orlando Bloom. Some might guess the two men are twins perhaps?

First_look_Bard_and_Legolas

Aside from that, the acting from the other key players of the series is about the same as they were from the first film: all amazing, and all do a wonderful job at portraying their respective characters. With the second installment we really start to see Thorin develop a bit of an unhealthy obsession with the quest, citing at times that sacrifice was necessary in order to achieve their objectives, and that the quest was not worth the lives of those “left behind” (take that with a grain of salt). Ultimately the series has me hooked, and I will once again have to wait another year to see the next Hobbit film – hopefully this time my popcorn will have a bit more butter; budget cuts I tell ya, they ruin everything (humor intended).  Anyways folks that about concludes this little after-action report on The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Thank you all for reading, and I will see you next time.

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Classics, dwarves, and world war 2 planes

Hello folks;

Well there has been a lack of gaming news as of late – Youtube fiasco aside. Thus some of you might wonder: “what is our fine artist doing these days when news is short in supply?” The answer is War Thunder, Dragon Age Origins, and Evil Genius (in no specific order). Let us begin with War Thunder: this pseudo world war 2 combat simulator – I say pseudo because there is debate amongst the simulation community as to whether or not War Thunder is a “real” simulator for planes, and soon to be tanks and ships – has eaten up quite a bit of time over the past few weeks. Flying planes within War Thunder, as that is the only thing a player can do at the moment until the release of the open beta for the ground combat module, is surprisingly easy to learn but challenging to master. Combat is fluid, and unless you are experiencing problems – like how the recent patch makes my fps drop like a dive bomber – the game ultimately is a must play for those of you interested in world war 2 era military hardware. Now the tutorial is quite flushed out, and does not take too long to complete. Afterwards the player will be able to immediately join a game in which they will be matched up to the tier of planes they are piloting, and then placed into a hair-raising match where aces dominate the skies and ground vehicles are piloted by AIs because nobody wants to feel the bite of 6x 7.62mm browning on a P36G Hawk: I fly these lovely ladies by the way.

War Thunder Wallpaper

Downsides so far: no ground module, and no naval module. Judging from the Wikipedia page however, it will take them at least a couple more years to finish the naval module, and a good 8 months to release the ground warfare module. Therefore if you are looking for tank combat, stick to World of Tanks for the time being – or you can be like a man and try Red Orchestra 2 where you command a crew in a single tank, and can switch between the various roles to get the feel of the battlefield when trapped in a metal box.

Now onto the 2nd item of the list: Dragon Age Origins. The second game in the series I never really got into; with the whole being trapped in a city-state mildly off-putting. Yet the first installment is so far quite enjoyable to say the least. Choosing from a list of 3 races, and subsequent classes and background story, the character feels alive despite their lack of voice acting. Now thus far the dwarf in which I am currently playing through has been left at the tower where the circle of magi reside, but even this early on in the game the world feels alive and the sense of desperation really sinks in even though the universe is entirely fictional. This sense of immersion is probably why a lot of people enjoyed their time with Dragon Age Origins, though any RPG that is worth their weight in salt and gold is able to do just that. More info will come as I play through this, so stay tuned for that.

Finally Evil Genius: this top-down strategy game is quite the classic piece. After I discovered gog.com this was the first game I picked up off of the digital distribution platform, and it brings back memories – though I only played the demo back then because I was a kid and had no money. Now the game itself can be dull at times when you have to go to the world domination map in order to gather resources, recruit new henchmen, and carry out acts of notoriety. However the base management aspect is quite satisfying, and the overall look and feel of the game does not give the impression that it is an old veteran per se. Watching the minions eat their meals, perform their tasks, and interrogate hostages has a strange entertainment value towards it: being a god to these sprites really is “the best feeling on earth (humor intended).” Still available via gog, it is a game worth checking out.

EvilGenius_controlroom

Alright folks, that concludes this little update on what has been happening on my end of the spectrum. Hopefully as time passes I will dig through both my Steam wishlist, and my gog wishlist, and bring you guys a good line up of classic and semi-modern games for you to “consume like the black soulless pits that you are (actually you are all nice people, I joke, I joke).” Thanks for reading, and I will see you next time.

Degenerate Driver

To the degenerate driver who decided it was “cool” to finger my vehicle as they drove past;

Should you wish to pass, go ahead. There is absolutely no need to give people the gesture when you pass them. It is entirely your fault you lack the patience that everyone else has, and wish to end your life so suddenly. No one else should have to tolerate your behaviour when they are on their way to work, or to a meeting. The behaviour you display is exactly the reason why we need protective services like the police, the ambulance service, etc. Your display makes the entire species look bad, and it shows a level of ugliness to drivers who are otherwise normal, sane individuals.

Speeding is not only dangerous, it is reckless, and displaying such careless behaviour, not to mention rather aggressive as well, is an embarrassment to your parents, and to your whole country. When you step outside our borders, and go to places like Singapore, you will wish you had corrected your behaviour when you are arrested, jailed, and caned for such behaviour. You can cry diplomatic protection all you like, but not even the prime minister’s office can prevent a nation from whipping you for such behaviour.

You are a byproduct of too much freedom. Self expression should have limits, and for most it does. However in your case, you think that just because you are a Canadian, you are free to offend other people because “you only live once.” Newsflash child, you are not the only one living on this earth.

The next time you display such behaviour, hopefully you will be pulled aside, and ticketed for such animalistic tendencies. Should you then lash out, you deserve to sit in a cell for a period of 72 hours to think and ponder over what you have done – if you even possess the cognitive capacity to do so.

The Coffee Break. 11 December 2013

Hello folks;

Canada Post, the national postal service for Canada, has announced that they will be phasing out their door-to-door home mail delivery for urban homes citing the need to reduce costs, and to balance their budgets. According to the news article from CBC, the postal service has reported a loss in revenue over the past few years, and as such is looking to reduce their expenses by cutting door-to-door urban home mail delivery. Now the public’s response – and indeed some MP’s responses – have largely been negative, citing the loss of jobs and services is unacceptable at a time like this. Adding to the loss of the door-to-door mail service is the news of price increases for stamps to a dollar a piece, or 82 cents per sheet.

Canada_Post_postOffice

Now one can easily go with the crowd and say “yeah, this is bad, everything is going wrong with the world,” but one does not need to look too far into the past to see this sort of service being phased out as time moves on. Indeed the milkman delivery service ended when supermarkets entered the picture, and people eventually adapted to the situation where they had to physically go out to buy their groceries, rather than have the items delivered to their homes. The key issue here is that the change is coming at a time when the economy is still recovering, and jobs are scarce in certain situations. However with technology replacing conventional letters and so forth, people are turning away from postal services when they need to send out messages to business contacts, friends etc.

Now this does not mean that when you order something from Amazon, you will have to go to Amazon’s headquarters to pick it up. Delivery services for parcels will continue, but your regular flyer, or letter from grandma will probably wind up at either a post office, or a community mail box where there is ten to twenty household mail boxes stacked on top of one another. The community mail boxes are similar to an apartment lobby mailbox in that you simply have to go downstairs to a “mail collection” room or space, and get your mail from there. Suburban residents will probably still have their door-to-door delivery, but when it comes to people living in town homes, or urban neighborhoods, your mail will have to be picked up from a lobby-like mailbox.

Now town homes and apartments have nothing to worry about: nothing will change. The mailboxes used in those situations are essentially what Canada Post wants to transition to for everyone living in an urban setting, like Vancouver for example. Government documents like passports will still require you to go to the post office to pick them up.

Yeah nobody wants to see the postal workers out of work, but times are changing. Indeed they do deserve to keep their jobs, perhaps move them to warehousing, but ultimately door-to-door delivery is becoming a thing of the past. Indeed the union is against this move, as it is their duty to do so, but they are fighting against the clock here because postal workers are no longer needed in massive numbers. Sure people with disabilities will have difficulty, but then you can re-assign the workers to deliver to them specifically? Able-bodied citizens can pick up their mail while the postal clerk keeps a chart of who is disabled etc, and delivers their letters to them in that regard.

Change has intended, and unintended consequences, but ultimately this move is designed to cut costs and balance the budget. Should Canada Post have thought of another way? Maybe, but in the end being at the head of an organization is quite stressful, and often at times people will hate you, even when things are good. Such is the nature of things. The link to the story is located below this paragraph.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/canada-post-to-phase-out-urban-home-mail-delivery-1.2459618

My gun’s jammed!

Well folks, I think I have found new love. No Planetside 2 has not released their swamp map yet, so that game gets shelved until further notice. No the “new love” is a title called War Thunder which has gotten quite a bit of attention from this end as of late. Now when War Thunder was first “discovered,” it was from BohemianEagle’s youtube page. Over time as the videos were watched, there was a certain level of interest directed towards the game, and seeing it on Steam, I gave it a try. The end result: I like it a lot.

Thus far the combat in the game is amazing. The air-to-air combat featuring interwar planes to World War 2 planes is just a blast to engage in, and the entertainment value is quite high; provided you are willing to tolerate crashing into a mountain side on a foggy map, or run into a friend who decided that it was cool to “fist-bump” you with his wing, sending you spiraling down into the abyss (this happened to me by the way).

Now the game itself is not finished, but Gaijin Entertainment have lived up to their word, and the ground module is now in its closed beta testing phase according to their website. Now you can get into the closed beta by purchasing a tank pack from their site, but without the liberty to report on the situation it might not prove too attractive for youtubers or bloggers such as myself – though I may invest in it anyways just to play through the closed beta module and get used to the vehicular combat. Now the only module available so far is the air combat module, with certain planes available via purchase, and others available via in-game unlock through earning ‘lions’ as they are called.

Now Gaijin Entertainment have announced that War Thunder will comprise land, air, and sea warfare all in one neat little package. The thing that is most interesting is that Gaijin have so far been able to live up to their promises – in sharp contrast to Sony Entertainment – and are continuing to improve and develop this free to play (yes folks, FREE to play) title as time progresses. Ultimately this game is quite good for someone looking for a air, ground, or naval combat simulator; it works quite well and is not too demanding on a standard 512MB VRAM graphics processor – the minimum is estimated to be around 256 MB of VRAM according to the google search on the minimum graphics card. Definitely give it a try folks; this title is definitely worth your time and effort, with possibly a purchase or two here and there to help finance the developers as they continue to work on this project. Keep in mind however that the naval combat module is at least a good twelve months – minimum – away from their open beta phase, so until then you can enjoy the air module, and when the ground module comes out, that too.

Now if you will excuse me ladies and gentlemen, I have some enemy warplanes to shoot down and even the score. They got me several times earlier before I wrote this piece, thus I intend to “fix” the scores. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time.

 

Where did the swamp map go?

Planetside 2 has not changed one bit, unfortunately. Indeed the game still has the same old “attack point, take point, lose point, and just for good measure we attack the same point again,” but it needs a fresh slice of “pizza” in a sense to liven up the place every so often. When Sony promised us a swamp-themed continent earlier in the year (now it is near the end, and it is no where to be seen) we were all hyped up about it. “Finally” some of us cried, “we will be fighting in a different environment that hopefully will add a new level of game play to the experience.” These dreams however were cruelly shattered when Sony announced that it would be pushing back the swamp continent release until next year (apparently April of next year).

Player numbers dropped, many of my friends left the game, and my outfit slowly descended into chaos as it re-structured itself over and over, dumping a lot of loyal players along the way. Thus the question arises: why am I still playing this game? Already I have uninstalled/reinstalled it once, but after today’s alert, I just felt like I wasted a good two hours or so engaging the NC over a tower out in the middle of nowhere on Indar. The outfit of which I was part of has disappeared, seeking to go exclusive, and the platoons I joined lacked the camaraderie that existed with my previous outfit.

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Though in retrospect, I suppose the reason why I remain with Planetside 2 is because I have invested a fair bit of money into the game via micro-transactions, and am therefore hesitant to simply cast it aside. The camaraderie felt when fighting alongside the outfit members was enhanced further by the weapon options I unlocked for myself when I paid for a few weapon types. Yet I digress; the point I am trying to make here is that the game needs this new continent to be installed soon in order for the player base to want to continue on playing. Sure the game wants to simulate a massive war, and indeed half of the time in real wars soldiers are waiting for the next action, and or a firefight can last for hours of which the trooper might be crouched behind a rock waiting for the opportune moment to strike, but even so there are dynamic events that occur in a campaign that – and I hate to say this because it really is not “interesting” or “cool” in reality but here goes – livens up the place. Recovering a downed pilot, or even a black box could make the campaigns on Indar, Esamir, and Amerish all that more enjoyable.

However the concept of the game is to take objectives, and hold them for as long as possible. Fair enough, but where are the civilians then? Not to shoot at for our enjoyment, but to make the place feel “organic,” and give the soldiers a sense of life when they drive through the place. Granted the game might suddenly spike in lag issues for many players if NPCs were added into the mix, but what about civilian structures popping up here and there when a place is taken, rather than the same old research facility, or bio lab, or air pad.

People fight for the Terran Republic to preserve security and order on Auraxis, yet all we are fighting for it seems is a planet riddled with research facilities, and no colonists. Therefore it leaves us to conclude that we are fighting over technology, and dirt: Sony has just taken a dump all over its back story for the TR and the NC – the Vanu would fit right in for this scenario.

Swamp lands: narrow pathways, jungle vegetation, and facilities half buried in mud and grime but contain information vital to the war effort on Auraxis. Now that is an idea one can get behind. Sadly however Sony has pushed it to April, and as such we will just have to wait and see if they will live up to their promises. Planetside 2 needs this new continent, otherwise more and more people will leave the title, and eventually Sony could shut it down seeing it as a failed endeavour. When that happens, if that happens, we will have lost a decent title to the hordes, and Call of Duty will once again puke out another release to swallow up the survivors of the Planetside 2 wreckage.

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I’m back!

250px-Terminator-2-judgement-day

Good lord, I feel dirty for using a contraction. Anyways folks, yes I have returned to the world of the living; after two weeks or so of arduous mental challenge in the form of papers and examinations, I am now free to return to my writing work: thank the Emperor for that.

Now what have I been doing these past couple of weeks during my papers and examinations? Surely I have not been studying ALL of the time yes? Well this is true indeed, I have spent a bit of time playing games while taking breaks between study sessions and paper-writing. Out of the list of titles I currently have installed, four have sat at the top in terms of play time. These titles are Skyrim, Oblivion, Fallout New Vegas, and recently Morrowind. However I spent most of the time modding the games, rather than roaming the vast open landscapes for I have discovered the wonderful program called Nexus (yes I know I am fairly late to the party but quiet you! It was a recent discovery for me!).

Now the modding scene for Skyrim is more active than any of the other three titles, but nonetheless the amount of mods available is astounding. Indeed one can turn their title into something – almost – completely different from the release title if they had the interest to do so, and all for free! Life as we know it is good indeed. However in all seriousness, the vast amount of mods available is refreshing, and it keeps the games going long after their release dates.

Now what else have I done since the end of my “special hell?” Well I have gotten back into Planetside 2, and Warframe. Now I did try to return to Team Fortress 2, but for some odd reason the title just would not function properly for me: the title would fail to respond when it reaches the stage of “receiving server info” or some phase of that nature. Thus I was forced to uninstall it as I am not the sort of person to have an interest to deal with faulty equipment per say; I have already sank plenty of hours into the game, and quite frankly it is boring to me now. Yet I digress, back to the meat and potatoes: Planetside 2 has not changed one bit, except for a small adjustment to their display hud.

The community has been anxiously awaiting the release of a new continent which would take the form of a swamp, but so far Sony has not lived up to its promise, and instead has pushed the update back to April – according to a few platoon members I spoke to earlier today. Now this does not mean I will leave Planetside 2 per say, but it does mean that sadly it might be shelved between weeks as I play other more interesting titles on the market; a shame really, seeing as how it had so much promise during the first few months after release.

Now onto Warframe: an interesting idea, and I like the whole “raids” concept. The idea that you are a sort of alien special forces soldier who goes on operations behind enemy lines to strike at key facilities, as well as capture information, rescue prisoners, and assassinate enemy officers is quite appealing for someone used to being a regular grunt in the field. Now I know Call of Duty places you in a pseudo-special forces environment, but in all honesty all you are is just a veteran infantry soldier. The characters you play in Warframe carry that atmosphere of “elite”: how they move, and handle combat is quite unlike anything a regular soldier will ever do in their lifetime. Indeed the graphics are good, even on low, and the game overall runs quite smoothly on a computer like mine. Definitely I am glad I gave this title a second chance, because I am not looking back – except to gather the loot I found in a broken locker, and to see if my enemy is really “dead.”

Right, so aside from that, what else have I been doing? Well news has been very slow as of late – the exception being Riot’s recent decision to ban professional players from streaming games from a select list, citing the need to maintain a professional image – and as a result there is not a whole lot to talk about. Then again it is getting close to Christmas, and things are going to slow down as we enter the holiday season, so there should not be any surprises there. Now to make up for this “loss” in production, I could do a sort of narrative series where I track my character as he serves in the Imperial Legion on Tamriel, to possibly some other minor narratives centered around the Imperial Guard from the Warhammer 40,000 universe. There is an inch – if I may be allowed the phrase – where I just want to do dialog between characters, rather than a “novel format” as I call it where I describe all of their actions and events leading up to their conversation.

Anyways folks, yes indeed it is good to be back – hopefully you all are alive and well, because if you were not, I am screwed. No audience, no subscribers, no purpose. End result, neither of us are happy, so let us continue where we left off, and I look forward to writing some more for you fine ladies and gentlemen. Thanks for reading, I will see you next time.