Archive | December 2014

RC-3345. The Coffee Break. 23 December 2014.

RC-3345 reporting,

 

Now relax my dear readers, no Republic Commando (RC) replaced this fine fellow – I just thought I would do something different today. Now I recently started reading a book that has been sitting on my shelf for nearly half a decade: titled Star Wars Republic Commando Hard Contact, by Karen Traviss, the book talks about a group of Republic Commandos (Clones) as they embark on a fresh assignment in the early stages of the clone wars. Not being too far into the book, I cannot say much regarding the story – what I can say however is that the book is so far excellent. Traviss does a stellar job with her writing, and it shows as she does not need to use a ton of words to describe the clone troopers, but rather relies on strategically-placed vocabulary, supplemented by the knowledge that her readers will know what a DC-17 is, rather than having to explain what the weapon is and how it functions from scratch.

 

Something about Black Ops, espionage, counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency, and other related topics appeals to me. Indeed Republic Commando is an example of that, as is the Splinter Cell series, the Imperial Agent story arc from SWTOR, and the list goes on. Sadly Metal Gear is not part of it due to the lack of “realism” associated with the series. Yes, there are parts where stealth is necessary, but when you play “Guns of the Patriots,” it feels like one giant emotion-train – everyone cries about how the world changed, and the usual, exaggerated dialogue and animations enters the fray. Sure it appeals to some, but I like the “realism,” ie: Skyfall, as opposed to Goldfinger – one is inherently more story-focused, while the other is exaggerated, full of “toys,” and otherwise quite corny. Watching Jack Bauer take down a terrorist may be a bit exaggerated, yes – there were moments where I was rolling my eyes, like how in the latest edition of 24 he can go through an entire 24-hour cycle WITHOUT medical treatment. Sure it is a show, but NO medical treatment after a gunshot wound to the shoulder is…not as realistic as I would like. Please directors, at least throw in some medication or something, something to make the scenario more believable – but regardless I enjoyed it nonetheless.

 

Republic Commando Hard Contact is turning out to be a good book, and I will indeed pick up the other titles in the series where possible. Traviss, you have earned your credits (see what I did there!?! (humor intended)). Now if you will excuse me, I have some reading to do on this rather wet and cold Tuesday afternoon. Keeping with the theme (and in case you missed yesterday’s coffee break) I will leave the full OST for the game Star Wars: Republic Commando here. Take care out there in the field, please try to return the equipment in one piece, and I shall see you next time.

 

Oh and don’t forget to check out my Patreon Page here:
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The Coffee Break. 22 December 2014.

Hello folks,

 

Slow day with regards to news – apart from the usual: “Sony vs North Korea hackers” scenario. Frankly this fight between freedom and censorship is oddly amusing – the freedom for artists to express, against this monster that is the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea). One bit of trivia for those of you still able to receive short-wave radio signals – the North Koreans broadcast propaganda aimed at the west through that. Now how do I know this, am I a sympathizer? Hardly my dear readers, you know where I stand – no a friend picked up an old radio and repaired it in his spare time. When he activated it after months of work, it picked up the North Korean signal. The usual propaganda was airing: “Dear leader is great, dear leader is god – join dear leader and free yourself” etc.

 

Now that “dear leader” is dead, they stopped broadcasting the propaganda – at least until the new leader gains some traction in his country. One can imagine what nasty words they will have for the rest of the world when “dear leader” number three gains momentum – well, apart from China (though how long they will remain on ‘okay’ terms remains to be seen).

 

Okay, enough about dictators – let us talk video games! Well what has the writer been doing as of late with regards to games? Not a whole lot to be honest – my friends sort of postponed the seeing of the final Hobbit film until January; something I plan to fix before the new year (I can solo this raid people, I don’t need you! (humor intended)). Presently I just finished going through the Imperial Agent story arc for the tenth time; I really like the Imperial Agent story. Now I am resting, and preparing for the mayhem that is Christmas – food, family, and annoying relatives (humor intended). Ultimately the gaming-side of this writer has slowed down quite a bit – though I intend to start driving some of those fancy new American Tanks in War Thunder, so that should keep me busy until January.

 

Anyways folks that’s the coffee break for this Monday – I shall see you next time.

Oh and one more thing before I go, have some music – the soundtrack is from Star Wars: Republic Commando (the only war game you will ever need (humor intended)).

The Interview: say no to censorship.

Hello folks,

Well this bird has pretty much been beaten into the ground, has it not? The comedy titled: “The Interview” was set to be released earlier this week, but was canceled due to some hacker group stating that they will be conducting 9/11-like terrorist attacks against cinemas. While Youtube channels like Nerdist debunked this myth, it seems Sony has gone ahead to simply pull the film from theaters and not show it in the near future.

The problem with a company kowtowing to some anonymous internet group is that it starts to set a trend whereby if a film were to offend someone, it would receive massive amounts of threats, and then the film would not show – period. This hopefully will not set a trend as censorship and fear of terrorism is not the way to live, but rather to admit defeat to an enemy who has not even taken their first move on the chess board.

Now I am aware that the film was in bad taste, but I mean come on; one key feature in our society here in the west is our freedom to disagree, to dislike, and to criticize – without these freedoms, we lose what makes us what we are. Artists should have the right to engage in creativity, and to not be censored by some sore little tosspot who probably is sympathetic to a regime that would execute him after he served his purpose. Yeah sure, go and bow to some other foreign power – forsake the society to which you owe EVERYTHING, and live in a ditch for the rest of your life. After all, we have a constant flow of people fleeing those regions, so it would not hurt to send some idiot who wants to live there across the border on a one-way trip; saves us food, saves us fuel, and we get to re-distribute their possessions in an auction, or give it to charity: they will not let them cross the border with their belongings anyhow.

Indeed companies like Sony should not fear some internet troll who puts up a threatening webpage, does a few bits of code, and then throws empty threats onto the web. Good lord people, giving into terrorism and living in fear is how terrorists win. Give them no satisfaction, make them fight for every inch of ground, and for the love of the Emperor protect free speech – we will become the demons we fight against if we lose this basic element of our society. Thank you for reading, and I shall see you next time.

In other news… The Telegraphed Gazette. 18 December 2014

Hello folks,

Well it is getting close to Christmas – I hope you all have managed to get most of your Christmas shopping done. Now enough with the pleasantries, on with today’s show! Today’s topics are as follows: commentary on the latest SWTOR expansion Shadow of Revan, helping a friend advertise his book, and finally some miscellaneous news.

 

Shadow of Revan was an interesting distraction, if I may be allowed the phrase. Indeed the game is exactly what you would expect from Bioware, but I felt that it lacked the “wow factor” – like the game was given a great head start, and then tripped over a large cable and tumbled onto the floor as the other racers bolted over the finish line. Now this is going into spoiler territory so for those of you wishing to play the expansion for the story and mind spoilers, STOP READING HERE AND SKIP TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH!!!

shadow of revan 1

Revan is “killed,” but he does not actually die, more so he just merges with his force ghost, and presto the Revan story arc is complete. Now after watching that, and then seeing the final cutscenes and so on, the expansion does the usual sequel-baiting; hinting at some new expansion for the game later down the line. Now they need to make money, I do not dispute that. Bioware needs to feed its staff, and keep the lights on in their office – sequels are perfectly fine, and people need to understand that the game is there as a means to make money (because not everyone wants to do trades, go into sales, or work in some bank). Yet it would have been nice if they had simply made the expansion feel more conclusive, you know – a real ending, something that we will remember. Truth be told I want more content, but having paid expansions that feel flushed out and whole is just as important as producing a series – they both make money, and the customers are happy with the end result.

 

Now onto some other news per se; a friend of mine has recently published a book on Amazon. Titled: “Cradle of the Matchlocker,” the story revolves around a character named Lutz Grafen as he goes to war in the northern border regions. When things go astray, he decides to take control of his life, and the rest you can read on his various Amazon storefront pages. The book is available in all regions, and you can pick it up for 5.00 USD, or your regional equivalent. Personally I like the story – it’s fluid, well written, and it is not as long as some of the books I have read on the market (the pages come in to about roughly 64). The man’s really passionate about writing, and the two of us share the same mindset. Therefore if you are interested in a general fantasy, war and miltiary story, this book might just be the one for you. The links to the Canadian, UK, and US stores are located below this paragraph.

Amazon US:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QVUL0L6

Amazon Canada:
http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00QVUL0L6?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

Amazon UK:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00QVUL0L6?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

 

Now onto some Canadian economy-related news: the price of oil is still dropping, and this means that next year growth in the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan will slow down. This could in turn produce a lot of people who will be back on the job market, and looking for work. Now with regards to jobs in Canada, many media outlets over the past year (and more) have been broadcasting that Alberta is booming, that there were: “plenty of jobs in the province.” Yet when I visited last September, the restaurants were empty on a Friday afternoon (usually people are in the sort of “holiday mood” per se as it is close to the weekend), and the cost of a plate of noodles was higher than Toronto – Canada’s largest city. The media did a great dis-service to the people of Canada when they shouted from the rooftops that the province was littered with jobs when in reality, only the oil and gas sector was booming – the rest of the province was slowly inching out of recession. This will hurt the young families the most, and especially the ones with small children as the “new arrivals” to the province will either have to move back to their respective provinces, or quickly find some minimum wage work to keep paying the bills – a fate that no one deserves, especially in tough times like these. However outside of the natural resource-dependent provinces, things are about as normal as they could be give or take. Sad news indeed, but this is reality – it hurts, and some pay a higher price than others.

 

Now in other news, the US territory of Puerto Rico has just awarded their first tax incentives for games development according to an article from Gamasutra.com. Contained within the article, it is described that the new tax scheme offers up to 40 percent in rebates on salaries and production costs with budgets of 100,000.00 and up. Great news for those in Puerto Rico looking for some help with games development as now the government has decided to step in and reward creativity – something that needs to happen more as our economies shift into a knowledge-based economy with emphasis on services and banking. You can read the full article in the link below.

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/232649/Puerto_Rico_awards_its_first_tax_incentives_for_game_development.php

 

Some more good news coming this time from Valve: the game Hatred has been restored to Greenlight following its removal from the storefront. Now Hatred itself is a questionable game, but for the sake of creativity, and in support of the free market, I have to say that unless the game goes out of its way to actively promote genocide, the game should be available on Steam. Totalbiscuit made a valid point when it comes Steam in that it is not a family-friendly retailer, but rather it sells PC games. Now with the case of Target Australia removing GTA 5 from its store shelves, the company is aimed at families, and thus there is a case per se when it comes to the removal of said title. Yet ultimately video games is a form of art, and in order to allow the scene to grow and have a chance in this world, it needs to be allowed the same freedoms as artists who paint, write poetry, or create songs. Ultimately it is up to the market to decide if Hatred is worth a buy. The link to the gamasutra.com article, and to Totalbiscuit’s video on the subject is located below.

Valve has a change of heart, restores Hatred to Greenlight:

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/232620/Valve_has_a_change_of_heart_restores_Hatred_to_Greenlight.php

Hatred has its greenlight page removed by Valve – Content Patch. Dec. 16th 2014:

 

Okay folks that concludes this Telegraphed Gazette for the 18th of December 2014. Take care out there, don’t forget to check our my patreon page, and I shall see you next time.

 

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TGIF (I don’t actually like using that phrase – I just did it as part of a shameless advertising scheme). The Coffee Break 12 December 2014.

Hello folks;

 

Today feels like a unique sort of day – the sun is shining, the internet is running smoothly (for the most part anyways), and I have an interesting topic to cover: Millennials and the job market. Now before you all switch off out of anger (and to possibly grab a gun to hunt me down, either is possible (humor intended)) hear me out, please. Earlier in the day I read an article about why our generation is finding it difficult to find work; the usual bits applied regarding under-employed and unemployed, and yet I found one bit that intrigued me, one bit that came out as: “huh, you know that is not a bad idea.”

 

Now some of you may know that the Bank of Canada’s Director came out some time ago in November to say that young people should (quote): “work for free, because at least they are working;” trite propaganda! However the author was not as insane, and instead opted to explain things in this fashion: that old HR directors and recruiters are overlooking our generation’s talents and capabilities. Then he offered something that made a whole lot of sense – that we as a generation have opted to do something unique to our abilities, we create.

 

Anything from independent projects to freelancing, to more concrete activities like being an entrepreneur; people our generation have opted to create, rather than follow – something I like, and something I can relate towards. Recently I just got off the phone with a municipal agency regarding my application, and to put it bluntly, she – the recruiter – said in very polite terms: “you suck, go find work elsewhere, then come back in two years and beg.” Not a literal translation, but it sure as heck sounded like that; after all why not solve the problem by hiring and mentoring, rather than dismissing and slamming the phone? God-Emperor help me, if another application comes back like that, I will rip the recruiter to shreds over the phone and slam it down myself – I can find my “gold vein” elsewhere you self-absorbed tossers.

 

Indeed we all share in the same struggle here; entry-level work is drying up, the economy seems to be dragging its feet, and the older generation has left us with a significant amount of debt to bear. Yet there is hope, for we can create our world, a better world; we just have to log on, and start to work – create, share, subscribe, and continue to operate from within the shadows. One day, someday, this “trend” of “robo-hiring” and “know-it-all-stuck-up” HR directors and recruiters will end, all of this pseudo-suffering will end, and we – all of us – will move forward as one, bright beacon. Like the song from Dragon Age Inquisition goes:

“Shadows fall, and hope has fled. Steel your hearts, the dawn will come.

The night is long, and the path is dark – look to the sky, for one day soon, the dawn will come.

The shepard’s lost, and his home is far.

Keep to the stars, the dawn will come.

The night is long, and the path is dark.

Look to the sky, for one day soon, the dawn will come.

Bear your blade, and raise it high – stand your ground, the dawn will come.

The night is long, and the path is dark.

Look to the sky, for one day soon, the dawn will come.”

Indeed ladies and gentlemen look to the sky; we can do it, and our time under the sun will come – our days will be long, and our hardships few. Stand true friends, and thank you so much for staying with Thoughts and Topics – keep safe out there, and I shall see you next time.

Also feel free to check out my Patreon Page located in the URL below.
http://www.patreon.com/thoughtsandtopics?alert=2

When I was your age… The Coffee Break. 10 December 2014.

Hello folks;

 

Yes it is about that time of year is it not, a time of year to reflect on how wonderful this past year has been (or not, depending on the individual’s circumstance). While I wait for my lunch to stop being a burning sensation, I thought I would compose today’s coffee break for the purposes of amusement and entertainment. Recently I watched Jingles’ 83rd episode of “Mingles with Jingles,” and after listening to the part where he talks about a particular fellow who he follows on Twitter, I thought I would answer the same question per se. Long story short, the Twitter personality that Jingles follows was going off about how things were different (NOT better, just different) when he was our age (what, you thought I was a grandfather? How dare you *This portion has been censored by the Ministry of Intelligence* (humor intended )).

Right well I can remember when I was growing up, how video games were still doing these block-shaped, ugly triangle polygons that had no expression, and where blinking eyes was an amazing feat. Growing up, the first system I owned was the NES; the device was a gift from an uncle whose sons grew up, and stopped gaming (shame on them, those heretics (humor intended)). However when I was growing up, the mainstream console of the day was the N64; yes the classic N64 with Golden Eye, Perfect Dark, Doom, some crappy port of Starcraft, and the list goes on. Afterwards it was the PS2/Xbox, and you can guess where I would be by the time the 360/PS3 war kicked off.

Gaming has come a long way since then, as did the graphics, the storytelling, and the list goes on. Now some people will harken back to when the games were just pure “fun” per se, but I am inclined to disagree. Controls at the time were clunky at best, and people could not take gaming seriously. Now that games are mainstream, there is an atmosphere of understanding (insane Media outlets and ultra-conservative parents aside) as to what the hobby entails. These days we are moving into touch technology, and crystal-clear displays that bring every inch of detail to life as we sift through dialogue choices with Turians, and ponder who to romance (I go with Miranda Lawson – she’s great (humor intended)).

ME2 miranda lawson

Sometimes nostalgia brings back some classics; example being the site GoG.com with their collection of classic games. Yet looking forward, I can see even greater potential for gaming to expand and grow – something that cannot be said for paper-based media like magazines or newspapers per se. Anyways, the noodles await, so I shall conclude this coffee break for the 10th of December 2014. The usual stuff applies: have a safe week, check our my Patreon page at the top bar and to the right (or the link below), check back often for more articles, and I shall see you next time (but seriously, Miranda Lawson – she is unique, intelligent and think of what an amazing relationship it could turn out to be. However one bit remains; never piss her off because she is ex-Cerberus, and is therefore capable of killing you with a bottle of wine and a kiss – something you will least expect. Yeah sure Ashley Williams can kill you, just you will see it coming as she is a soldier, whereas Miranda will do it in a very “Imperial Intelligence” fashion, or “James Bond” fashion, if you prefer that term. You will come home, sit down to dinner, of which after eating one-third of your meal, you will start to choke, and suffocate. Miranda will then walk up to you slowly as the heels of her shoes clacks against the floor, and when you are out of your chair and on our back, gasping for breath, she will look down at you and say: “it’s not you, it’s me – sorry things turned out this way.” (humor intended)).

 

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Why I identify with the Sith Empire more so than the Republic in Star Wars: The Old Republic.

While I wait for my lunch to cool off, I figure I would do a rhetoric piece for the 9th of December 2014. Now by this stage many of you know that I play an Imperial Agent, and am heavily devoted to the Sith Empire per se. Yet I never really explained “why” I was this dedicated to the Dark Council, the Imperial ideal, and so on: figure it was time to do some – shall we say – water cooler talk regarding this present circumstance.

sith empire korriban

When one takes a walk outside in a country like the United States or Canada, one has to be careful with their opinion, because otherwise if they accidentally offend someone (be it a political opinion, or moral opinion, and so on), that person (depending on background and or mood of the day) will generally explode and throw accusations at the person in question. Sometimes the truth hurts, like a certain neighborhood is poor because of the people inhabiting it (based on education, or certain social attitudes like wanting to be part of a gang and dropping out of school, rather than focusing on career aspirations and the likes). Yet if one is not careful, someone who is sensitive to this case will explode at the speaker, threatening them, or just throwing accusations and curse words at them like it was going out of fashion – almost like they were attempting to censor them.

Living in a society where being politically correct comes with a sense of stability is an interesting phenomenon, and one that many people may find it difficult to adjust to and/or live in, depending on their circumstances. This circumstance therefore is made easier by siding with the Sith Empire; almost like drinking coffee to make the work day bearable. Replacing the over-sensitive social activist or eavesdropper with a Sith Lord, one can see the parallels regarding the consequences of pissing off a Sith Lord. Generally in the Empire, citizens are always beneath the Sith in the power structure (not that anyone is below an activist in real life, but bear with me with this example), therefore when talking in public, one must be careful not to upset the “established order” per se. Indeed the Empire can be what we would call: “an exaggerated example” of modern life – minus the near-totalitarian architecture and so on. Now some of you may say: “but Writer, the Republic is the same as our reality – it is a democracy, is it not?”

The Republic is an alliance of planets, and Coruscant happens to function like a democracy. This alliance is as diverse as the worlds that comprise it: from Balmorra (former), to Alderaan (present), and to planets like Ord Mantell and the list goes on. The Republic feels more so like a “Wild West” with the various political factions than a unified nation. Now is the Sith Empire exactly what I am looking for in a: “representation of our society?” Short answer is no; the game’s factions are just fictional works designed to be exaggerations of reality for the purposes of entertainment. Indeed the harsh xenophobia in the Empire is a detriment to its power as it can certainly benefit from the cooperation of alien species much like Admiral Thrawn and his Empire of the Hand. Now will this threaten the established political elite, some might ask? Possibly yes, because the Sith Empire works for humans a lot better than aliens; yet it can also add to its power base in a sense.

The idea of duty is not bound to one particular species, rather it is an idea – capable of transmitting itself through languages and barriers. People who feel a sense of belonging to a society will often seek to serve (at least when looking at it from an optimistic standpoint). Sith Lords like Razer (a Kaleesh Male) are one of the examples of how duty – and the concept of duty – can be carried by just about anyone who has the cognitive ability to understand it. Effectively, while I just went off on a rant about how the Empire could be strengthened with aliens alliances, this harsh xenophobia is limited to the game, thankfully. The up and coming generation (colloquially dubbed: “the Millennials” or “Generation-Y”) is definitely more diverse and tolerant than their predecessors.

Imperial_Fleet

Ultimately when I play my Agent in the Sith Empire, it helps me explore our world in a more exotic fashion. Indeed it teaches us humility, and how to navigate the public sphere in order to avoid unnecessary confrontation with the above mentioned. One is entitled to their opinion, but it is not wise to throw that opinion around like a tennis ball – that ball might hit a “child” who will in turn make plenty of noise to notify half the country of your actions. Best stick to the shadows, and enjoy the spectacle; you might even get to romance a rich girl like in the mission: “High Society.” One can guess that ladies like their men dangerous, mysterious, and they also want their lovers to earn their affection. Suit up gents, time to play James Bond in real life (humor intended).

Thank you all for reading, I do hope this was enlightening for all of you. Stay safe out there, don’t forget to check out my Patreon Page if you are interested (Tab is at the top of the main page and off to the right), check back often for more written works here on this blog, and I shall see you next time.