Sunday, November 05, 2006

A light at the end of the tunnel

Thank the gods, I've finally snagged myself a new job. Well to be fair its my old employer, but damn its great to know I'll have something to do during the next few months. If ever there was a way to instantly make me feel better, this is it.

Well sorry for the major delays in this blog, but sometimes I just simply have little to say. As fun as it would be to bitch about every detail I wouldn't want to bore whoever it is that actually reads this. (By the way, I thank anyone and everyone who actually does!)

On the game front I've been playing through the missed classics like System Shock and Fallout. I've missed some major classics apparently, and I'm making up for it. I've also continued my DS trend with games like Star Fox Command, Touch Detective and Trauma Centre. They are all great games and I recommend any DS owners pick them up despite the very mixed reviews they've been receiving.

Well I certainly can't wait to begin this new job. The start date and salary have yet to be confirmed, but an estimate of November 20th and $10-12 CAD was given. I'd say thats pretty good. The work itself is going to be level 1 technical support and various other duties I'm given as the months go by. If it's anything like before I'm going to be quite content with it.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

No fate but what we make for ourselves

I had some pretty note worthy news thrust my way. It seems the online distribution program known as Triton, which recently hosted Prey for download, is being taken down. Thats right, the service is basically dead. Remember that rant I had about online authentication? Well the bad side has finally reared its ugly head and all I can do is say "I told you so!".

3DRealms is frantically looking for a solution for the customers who have been screwed out of their copy of Prey now. I don't doubt they'll solve it since they are a good company, but this is a hard lesson learned for those who trust online authentication claiming there is no risk involved.

It's all nice and good for Prey customers, but what about the countless other games listed on Triton? Are those companies going to help their customers out or leave them to dry? Trition themselves don't seem to be doing anything as of yet, meaning its basically up to the individual developers to act. Nice Triton, nice.

So what of Steam and Valve? Do you feel safe now? As someone who bent his will to purchase HL2 Episode 1 and Sin Emergence this now shakes whatever remaining optimism I had in the service. Who is to say Steam won't suffer a similar fate? Are they prepared? Gabe Newell claims they have a patch ready, but no details have been laid out if such a case does occur. Surely they don't have some magical patch for EVERY steam game including Sin Emergence, Darwinia and Defcon? I sincerly doubt it. They can't prove it either unless they patch out one of their games.

This is going to be a big fucking mark on the face of online authentication forever. In every arguement or debate Triton's name will be heard.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Review: Second Sight

Amazingly I only picked this game up because it was developed by Free Radical, the folks who brought you the Timesplitters series. Timesplitters 2, while flawed, claimed quite a few hours from me if just from trying to complete all the challenges. So I thought I couldn't miss with buying this.

First off - I played the PC version. I would recommend this over the console versions due to the controls. Considering it is stealth based precise aim is a must and the control method is already quite complex without having to deal with inaccurate control sticks. Basically when you wish to aim your gun, you have a mixture of a lockon - but a small aim circle appears over the spot you will hit. I imagine headshots aren't very fun on the console equivalents.

The story is suprisingly good, considering how arcade like Free Radical's other games are. You basically start the game out as man in a mental facility and no memory of how you got there or who you are. You start to realize you have psychic abilities, mostly by accident. You also start having flashback of a mission six months ago that started this whole mess. As the game commences the plot becomes very clear and a final "Aha!" moment will occur towards the end. I enjoyed it quite a bit, games with good gameplay AND story are few and far between these days.

The graphics in this game are the same style as Timesplitters, stylish cartoony characters with exaggerated features. For a game with a pretty serious story it's amazing that it works so well. Their facial features and moods are easy to recognize compared to the stone faced characters of other games. It's not HL2, but its mighty impressive.

The gameplay is well rounded. The game is a third person stealth action game. You use psychic powers to get through the game's obstacles and enemies and earn them as you move between levels. Telekinesis allows you to manipulate switches and objects from afar as well as toss enemies around like ragdolls. Throwing soldiers off tall ledges is really funny to watch. You have healing, but it is limited in that you will be vulnerable as you are healing. Projection allows you to send out a 'spirit' version of yourself to scout ahead and hit switches, or (later in the game) take over enemy bodies to force them to fight each other or, if you are really feeling evil, make them jump off cliffs. You get different powers as the levels progress, with your character learning them as he needs them. The gameplay is definately the strongest point of this game and thats a good thing.

The levels themselves range from all out action to missions where you simply can't afford to be seen. Although if you are caught and alarms sound, you can always duck for cover and it will be all clear eventually. With all the powers this game gives you, you'll become quite efficient in being a ghost.

The sound effects are pretty good, with decent sounding guns. The music reminds me very much of Timesplitters and really adds to the mood. In fact the main theme seems taken from the Siberia level in Timesplitters....I swear it. It also picks up when enemies are nearby and in levels that require more force than stealth. It is actually one of the few games I can recall the tracks after finishing....which to me indicates it was quality not just ambience.

In all I would say it was definately worth the bargain bin price I paid for it. This game is highly underrated, and it bothers me that it got such low reviews on some websites. Sure the controls take some time to get used to, but that hardly detracts from the experience. Even though there wasn't much 'replay value' since the game was linear, I still feel like replaying it because it was that good.

The one damning feature of this game is that it uses the dreaded Starforce. I went out of my way to find a patch to remove it, and luckily one such patch exists. I won't link it here for obvious reasons, but if Starforce prevents you from trying it I suggest a few google searches to remedy the situation. Starforce should *never* stop you from enjoying a game and its a shame that Codemasters stuck it to a game that already had trouble selling on the consoles.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Never too late

I suppose by now you've heard about the Montreal shooting. From what I've gathered from this news article and several others, this guy was someone who thought he had nothing to live for and just wanted to end it all in the way that seemed best to him.

However he didn't just point the gun on himself, he had to try and take out many others at the same time. I can sympathize with the overwhelming depression and wanting to opt out, but to take others with you for no real reason is just sick.

I don't think suicide solves anything. Do we know what happens after death? Is there an afterlife or do we just cease to exist? Are you willing to take that chance? I don't personally fear death, but I have no desire to end it all any day soon. Had he stuck it out just a bit longer and got some positive suggestions from a psychiatrist or a loved one he might have realized how bad this decision was. Instead he's caused a large uproar in an apparent "Look at me, I hate life" sort of thing.

I don't get this whole group depression stuff. I too think life has many problems and that people on whole are quite ignorant and stupid. However I keep that to myself, and I move on. Why do these folks always feel the need to join websites and groups that all hate life? They claim to have no friends, and then chat with dozens of people. This is a real problem, because now they have buddies who agree life sucks and even go as far as suggesting ways to snuff it. Ever heard of the myspace suicides? It's getting a little out of hand here.

So really - if your life sucks then maybe its time to do something about it. Just wallowing in self pity is swell and all, but it leads nowhere. Suicide is not the answer, change is. Thats how I personally feel about it anyway, and if I knew this chap I would have passed it on. Unfortuntaly he now leaves behind a very confused and upset family and has caused fear amongst the people around the shooting. So just what did he solve? Seems rather selfish to me.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Insomnia Curse

This past year my entire sleep cycle has been way off. As it stands right now, I'll usually not be able to sleep late into the night and then end up dozing off in the wee hours only to wake up around 3:00-4:00PM. Really its become a standard now, and it seems nothing I try helps it.

What causes Insomnia anyway? I hear the biggest reason is stress. Problem is, what stress do I have in my life? I can barely find enough to keep me busy during the day, much less find things to worry myself over. I don't really have any reason to wake up early in the morning so that might be a contributing factor. I mean when I get up its a toss between eating something, going for a walk to the mall (if even just to get out of the house), watching TV, playing games or surfing the internet. These days there isn't much else for me to do.

I truly need a job, it would solve 99% of my problems, financially and with regards to having a reason to get up in the morning. The search continues.....

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Online Authentication

Copy Protection. Without it games would be stolen left right and center wouldn't they? Its obvious the folks over at Stardock are in financial distress right? Thats funny, because the sales numbers seem to indicate they are doing quite well, in fact Stardock now publishes games for other developers which is quite impossible without financial success.

Is copy protection a bad thing? Not always. Sometimes a harmless cd-key can force entire legions of players to buy the game if they expect to play multiplayer. If the game is good, they'll buy it. However a new version of copy protection is slowly becoming the norm. It's called online authentication. What does that mean? Basically upon install the game will check a server to see if your personal copy is legit, if it isn't or if that server cannot be reached - ipso facto you aren't playing that game. Sounds good in theory right?

Well what if that server cannot be reached due to other concerns? What if I do not have an internet connection on the PC I wish to play the game on? Surely thats a prospective problem right? It isn't the largest one either. What if....oh I don't know, the server didn't exist? All things come to end sooner or later, as has been proven many a time by companies being bought out or folding due to lack of funding. They lose track of their old games, and many companies simply don't give a shit. What happens to your copy of Super Dungeon Master IV if that server does not exist? You can't play it thats what, and you'll spend the next few months looking for a working crack to a game you paid full price for just because "it stops piracy".

Let's take a look at Steam by Valve software. Decent program, easy to connect, easy to use and quite feature and content rich. Oh but wait, I need to be ONLINE to play my games? Even for single player? So what happens when Valve software gets purchased by EA games? Don't smirk, remember westwood? Origin? It happens. If steam cannot function then neither can your game now can it? Oh well, at least Valve made their $60 right? Who cares if HL2 can't work in 10 years time? No one plays old games right? No one at all right? Silly me for thinking I should be able to play old games on new computers when I have the future to look forward to? It's not like 10 year old games are playable today anyway right?

The only ones who support this push for online authentication are the ones who are casual gamers and forget them 5 minutes after finishing them. What if HL2 was your favourite game? Oh well sonny. So you say they'll release a patch years from now to remove steam/authentication from the games? Name one damn person who has. One. Go ahead, I've got time.

Better yet are you trusting Valve? Their head honchos used to work for Microsoft for god sakes! Better yet, if you just got fired or laid off would your first reaction be "Man I gotta get that patch out, all the fans'll be angry!"? Some people forget this is a business, and once you leave a company why the hell would you care to save them face? If you have left on bad terms then you can forget wanting to help that faceless corportation. So unless Gabe and co are going to release said patch while HL2 is still being sold and the company is safe and sound you are SOL. So its become a game of whether or not to trust the company or not. People always say the Steam network will never go down, but they seem to forget the bulldozer that ran over the WON network. I believe they were called VUgames. Any and all games that relied on it (albeit mostly multiplayer) now refuse to work. Sure we got lucky and no games used online authentication back then but what happens today now that games do? Don't shake your head at me, its going to happen one of these days.

Maybe not to valve, but I swear to you when it does I'll be there with my "Told you so" look on my face. Incidently I left out some points here on purpose. I have been asked by some folks to take part in's show on online authentication. If they accept I'll post a link here where you can listen to me rant on further.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Racism - A pimple on society's ass

Ok look, if you are an uptight politcally correct individual you are about to read the wrong blog post. If swearing or outright honestly bothers you then leave. Otherwise listen up.

You know what bothers me? Racism. We are all equal, we are all human, we are all guilty of the same crimes and deserve the same rewards for good deeds. I don't think a single individual should disagree, because this isn't opinion, it's fact.

You know what bothers me more than racism? Shit like this. Oh yeah, and this. Harmless cartoon drawn games, or stereotyping deviants trying to brainwash our children? Give me a fucking break. Perhaps you've heard of the infamous blackface controversy? Basically what it has meant for future generations is that if you have a character with a black face (not tanned/brownish, because we all know there are people out there with actual black skin) and big cartoon lips then you sir are a racist. That's right, I'm not making this shit up as I go along.

It makes me sick, even moreso than the politically correct statements added to Sesame Street. They took away the Cookie Monster's only reason for living. What the hell is that about? How anal has our society become? It doesn't mean anything, kids are not going to run out and eat 4 million cookies. I watched Sesame Street and I grew up fine thank you very much. I only eat entire boxes of cookies, so there Hilary Clinton.

Anyway back to the racism. Why is it such a horrific thing for a black man or any other non-caucasian race to be demonized or picked out of a crowd? I don't condone the jokes, but I'm not for anal censorhip either. Why can a black man such as Chris Rock make fun me as a white male and yet if I were to do the same to his hypocritcal ass I would be lynched? Fuck that pisses me off, and I *like* Chris Rock. You know why? It doesn't bother me thats why. I don't give a shit what someone says about my race, because they didn't address me personally now did they? Stereotypes only sting when they are true thank you very much. Therefore why is anyone offended by Jynx or these squishy loco things? Is that what blacks look like? No? Then shut the fuck up.

Its like that kid who was in my high school class. Whenever anyone called him names or made fun of him - "It's because I'm black isn't it?". No my friend, its because you are a douche bag, end of story.