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Monday, October 20th, 2008
11:28 pm - Sony DRM idiocy
Recently bought a copy of Ratchet and Clank Future: Quest for Booty, since Ratchet is excellent and it looked fun, and reasonably priced at $15. Subsequent to the purchase, I went around, trying to see where Sony actually saved my list of owned media. Eventually I gave up and checked online.

It turns out it doesn't. Indeed, the FAQ clearly states that downloaded movies and games are "like a DVD" in that they allow a single download and cannot be transferred to any other devices (except for a limited number of PSPs), including a second PS3 should the first die or the same PS3 should the original 20 gig harddrive fill up and old movies need temporary shifting.

Also of note is that the PS3 movie store does not sell HD movies, the SD movies cost much more than buying from local stores, and the SD and HD rentals cost more than renting locally as well. I can't imagine the kind of thought that went into this kind of shit. Wait, yes I can.

Young, chipper Sony exec: Hey, the guys at Steam and Xbox Live have something cool with download services. We should do that--except also offer a vast selection of movies, since we're a whole media center and not just a console! Cool, right?

Codgerly Sony exec who wants to retire: Sure, whatever. But to make up for ease of use, we'll charge more than local stores would and only allow a single download of nontransferrable content.

In conclusion, fuck Sony and I'm never buying another thing from their Sean-damned store again.

current mood: bored

(Insult my life)

Monday, September 15th, 2008
11:52 pm
Haven't posted to my LJ or read anyone else's in months. Pretty much dead for me. Does anyone care? No. I got a new job. Currently packing up and getting moving shit in order. Will be arriving in Wisconsin for residence in under a week.

current mood: bored

(2 insults | Insult my life)

Saturday, June 28th, 2008
9:47 pm - Fucking pansies.
Okay, so I picked up EVE Online a while ago. Seems like an interesting game. I'm what is known as a huge 'carebear' in the game. I LOATHE high-security PVP, I don't like podding (killing people and wiping out their stats vs just destroying their ship and making them harmless), I react badly to piracy, etc. I had been in this corporation I loved for all kinds of reasons; it was based around cooperative missioning which I love (since I'm a carebear), was based in the perfect place for it, due to the factions I like working for, had a low tax rate, etc. After several months of being a good member, they kicked me out for unknown reasons. I tried contacting them to get it worked out but found I was blocked from talking to or mailing any of the leaders, from the forum, from the TeamSpeak channel, and from their public EVE channel. Lame. Spent a week trying to relay messages through underlings who didn't block me. One of them let drop that I was kicked for being a spy. I wasn't, of course. Eventually gave up after two weeks and decided to fulfill their claim and sold them out, for free, to the corp they claimed I had worked for. A week later, I joined a new corp that isn't quite as good but is decent anyway. A week later still, my old corp sent a mail to my new corp saying I was a spy and said I 'left' right before they were war-dec'd. I went and asked some of the lower ranked members if they had been war-dec'd by the corp I had sold them out to repeatedly, letting them figure out it was me, but I wanted to make sure it WAS what I was being accused of. Turned out it wasn't. An hour after I went around bugging them all about it, that corp went and declared war on them. Then I got messages being all pissy and saying they were filing a harrassment suit against me with CCP, makers of EVE Online. It will fail, of course. EVE loves this kinda shit. If they take personal action against me, I have plenty more nasty tricks up my sleeve. After all, I'm currently doing severe damage to them at no expense. If I want to invest my in-game money or real-live hours to fucking them over, I already have several plans to pursue that will make being war-dec'd with the enemy knowing the location of every member to attack at their leisure look like the good old days.

current mood: vindictive

(1 insult | Insult my life)

Saturday, May 17th, 2008
9:04 pm - Rant.
I've pretty much stopped posting entirely, haven't I? In any case, a few people still list me as a friend, if only because my lack of text has let them forget they still list me. A cursory update, then. Finished both classes this semester with an A each, even though I was worrying and complaining at friends and coworkers at length over whether I would even pass one of them with a C. Typical for me. I aspire only to avoid failure. It's only the fact I fear failure with such insane levels of pessimism that drives me to do anywhere near decently, even if it leaves me neurotic. Regardless, it's a non-issue now. College is completed, again. MS in CS, 3.9 GPA, and an award for academic achievement. Yay. Will use this, the fact I will now work full-time, and my newfound ability to move anywhere as leverage to bully my job into giving me a 25% raise. I probably won't get the full amount this time as that's a pretty exceptional raise but I'll be fucked if I don't get at least a 20% raise. Going to do some reading on the one bullshitty subject that's hurting my resume (lack of OO development stuff) so I can bullshit like everyone else they're hiring and then apply for more jobs. At present, I'm applying for a job from BAE doing top-secret research for $100k/yr (well, that's the job's low end--prospective employees with relevant experience and PhDs could get up to $175k); had to go through two levels of contracted head-hunters but my resume has made it to them and I should get a call back soon. If I got it, that'd be fucking awesome. It's closer than my present job, pays nearly twice as much, has all-around better benefits, and is doing vastly more interesting shit. Even if I don't get this one, I'll be spamming out resumes elsewhere. I just really hate my present job. Anyway, I won't be able to afford my own place unless I get a hell of a raise or take a decent job offer. I haven't gone through the effort of saving up a bunch of home-buying cash to go and rent an apartment for years.

current mood: bored

(Insult my life)

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008
6:50 pm - Logic.
I think I finally figured out why people have always had trouble understanding my arguments. It is the casualty with which I pick up and discard assumptions, and the mistaken belief that I place any belief of my own in the assumptions, rather than simply using them as means to ends in the argument. I figured this out during a PhD CS Logic class where the professor kept trying to explain this exact idea to the class and more students than ever before asked him questions, typically repeatedly while I sat there thinking it was the most natural thing in the world and wondering why everyone was asking questions.

current mood: bored

(Insult my life)

Friday, January 11th, 2008
12:41 am - PC.
Designed a new PC for myself. It's only $300 more than the last PC I designed for myself, when I chose a cheaper case and PSU, and my last PC was crap right when I got it, so I'm wary I'm getting seriously shitty stuff somewhere and not noticing it. $1185.90 total (before S&H, which will add probably about $50, and before the OS, which is another $150). I had expected to spend $1500 on hardware alone, before S&H and OS.

Lian-Li A09B case (yes, a 8800 will fit in there--barely), WD Raptor 150GB non-gamer edition (view screens are for fags), EVGA 8800GTS 512MB (granted, I intend to utilize their upgrade plan to a 9800GTX shortly), Turtle Beach RIVIERA 5.1 PCI soundcard (to take just a little more strain off the PC for games, and because I don't need more than that), Rosewill 550W PSU, 4x1GB DDR2 800 RAM (Ballistix), a GIGABYTE mobo that kicks ass and I don't need outside opinion on, and a Q6600.

I also plan to get a gigabit ethernet network drive to make up for the lack of HD space.

Any comments on where my PC is lacking?

Edit: Seriously, I want helpful comments. Comment! Although don't tell me to get an 8800GTX or Ultra. The GTX performs almost exactly as well as the GTS G92 despite costing $100 more and the Ultra costs twice as much for meager gains, which is nuts.

current mood: PC

(Insult my life)

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008
11:59 pm - I am a consumer whore.
Decided I wanted a sexy pencil for going back to school. Still think the Rotring 600 is the sexiest pencil around, but I am not about to spend $70 plus S&H for a fucking pencil. Ended up buying both Ohto Super Promecha AND Pentel Graphlet mechanical drafting pencils so I didn't have to pay S&H and because I liked both for different reasons (although if not for the free shipping thing, I'd have just gotten the Ohto one).

I expect one or the other of these purchases will suddenly make me a better artist.

current mood: bored

(Insult my life)

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007
9:59 pm - More money stuff.
Nyaha, fuck society! I've got long hair with scraggly shit at the back because I'm too lazy to shave my neck. I've got long nails because I like them that way and they're quite tough enough to gouge bloody troughs in flesh (which I've accidentally done to myself on occasion). I wear wrinkled shirts every day. I have no manners to speak of. I am cold and impersonal. I have venomous lips and a barbed tongue; every lash cuts deep and stings. I drop casual insults as gangstas drop beats. In spite of myself and in spite of my total lack of adherence to social norms, I am successful. I love being able to prove people can be jerkass weirdos and still function better than the average person in society. Census Bureau even says I make more money for my age group with just a BS than the average guy with a MS.

current mood: bored

(Insult my life)

Thursday, December 20th, 2007
11:22 pm - Operation: Get a raise
Decided it was time to ask for another raise. I got a 5% raise after 6 months of work but I still felt I was being highly underpaid. However, the date when most companies would have an employee evaluation came around and I decided to ask for 10% after the 5% I already had the day I hit a year's work. What I ended up doing was explaining why I deserve a raise and asking for one and letting my boss give the initial offer which I then planned to argue up to 10%. He gave 11%. I had to ask to make sure that was applied over the 5% I was already given earlier in the same year, but it was. So that's 16.55% raise in the span of a year. Depending on the source, I am still not being paid very competitively (just a teeny bit below the low-end of what I'm worth) or WAY too much. The former is based on job offers (which are ALWAYS for people with more experience but I toned down my worth by $10k to match the lack of two extra years) I cited to my boss, the latter on classmates' salaries. Amusingly, my top secret clearance came through yesterday, which means it seems to my boss as though I waited for my TSC to clear and immediately requested a pay increase.

current mood: bored

(Insult my life)

Friday, December 14th, 2007
9:23 pm - Holiday cheer
It's getting close enough so I'm going to bring in the Christmas season with my strongest memory of Christmas.

It was many years ago; about 9. I was therefore about 14. My family had bought some excellent gifts for the Christmas gathering going on a few hours up north. A good boombox for my grandfather, expensive telescope for one cousin, etc. Nice stuff all around. A little after we arrived and I was bored while the relatives asked about how I was doing in the special retard school and their single child talked about how awesome he was, gift-giving occurred. I was all, fuck yeah, gifts! From the aunt who got a dress and whose son got the telescope, I got a used Tiger electronics game. I forget what my sister got. They gave my mother an empty box. My uncle gave me deodorant. And my grandfather gave me nothing. This was the last time we ever had Christmas or any holiday visits with this side of the family. I've taken to contacting them recently to ask if the kid's still going through college, wasn't he supposed to graduate a year ago, and oh have they attempted to start another business after the last one failed? Then I talk about how I have a higher education than anyone in their family has and talk about how much money I make.

current mood: bored

(2 insults | Insult my life)

Sunday, November 18th, 2007
12:16 am - Assassin's Creed: Buggiest game on the PS3.
Or about as buggy as Lair, anyway. In 10 or so hours of playtime, the game has frozen mid-game once (literally frozen--Altair was floating mid-air and the peasants were as well, while I could still pan the camera around but not open up any menus). It has also been unable to load (taken over 5 minutes before I quit letting it try) three times. It's also taken over a minute to actually load at times. This is what I consider to make the game very annoying to play. Additional problems that don't preclude playability: Very frequent glitching with lighting (particularly trees and other complex stuff), SEVERELY bad antialiasing at times ("pixels" four or nine pixels large), FPS lag in intense areas (which is most places).

As highly anticipated as AC was, and the lack of such comments in reviews I've read, I'd expected the game to be more polished.

current mood: bored

(Insult my life)

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007
10:23 pm - To go with my proposal for today, here's a proposal for my LJ.
Based on available data, pay is not based on "years of experience" for experience sake. Pay tends to go up linearly with experience while in reality you learn less every subsequent year of work (logarithmically). Furthermore, people who have MS and PhD degrees do not make more than people with more "years of experience" even though they know more (although they do make more once they have the same experience, but that is a different phenomena). Therefore, it seems pay is actually based on the inverse risk-averse model of probability of the employee seriously fucking up. If the employee has worked for more years without seriously fucking their employer over, each year has less and less probability of doing so. Employers pay on that basis rather than by measure of actual competency. Suggested further work: Look into why employees who have proven to be serious fuck-ups can still achieve the same pay rate.

current mood: bored

(Insult my life)

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007
9:20 pm - Long overdue update.
Tap, tap. This thing still on? Is anyone listening? Doesn't really matter, I guess.

Rather than reporting on the full interval of time since my last entry, which I can't, because my memory doesn't extend reasonably that far, I'll just complain about modern affairs, in no particular order. Ratchet and Clank Future demo was fun enough that I want the game--but I don't have free time. I've wanted Folklore since I first saw the previews and the demos didn't stop that. Assassin's Creed is also highly desired. Yet I have yet to purchase either of the two above which are already out, nor will I purchase AC when it comes out. I don't have the time and I fucking hate it.

My job eats up a fair chunk and will only get worse. 26 hours a week doesn't sound like much but that's before you count in time spent doing things like, say, driving to work. Which is going to take twice as long (a full four hours a day of driving to and from work) now that my job has moved even further away from home and directly into the most highly-trafficed area around. This is a rather vast departure from its original location 'working from home' that lasted a month, max. To compensate for this fact, I'm going to ask for a 10% raise at my evaluation coming up next month on top of the 5% raise I was given after six months--15.5%, to $63.5k. Most of my friends in the industry say this is too aggressive but most of my friends in the industry are wusses about hanging onto their job, although one has the excuse that he's merely waiting for his TSC+SCI to clear.

The other half of my time consumption comes from college. I'm taking two classes this semester, both in AI: Metaheuristics and Machine Learning. The former was easyish, just work-heavy, until now, when the project has been assigned, the proposal being due tomorrow. I have a feeling he will NOT like my proposal. He's also pondering giving us an exam despite stating at the first day that he would not and increased the work-load to make up for the fact (a claim which he has held himself to). Machine Learning is unreasonably hard and also has a project, this one a team project. Since my partner's a PhD student, he knows a lot more about writing up papers so I let him edit what I had into something that seems professional. Actually doing the work on both projects is the easy part. However, Machine Learning isn't just a project due the day after the project from Metaheuristics is due; it also contains two unreasonably difficult 'short' homework assignments which end up being huge long math proofs, the latter of which is due shortly, as well as two exams. The first exam has already passed nearly two weeks ago and I fear (hell, I know) I did miserably on it, although she didn't have the exam grades by last class so I'm still worrying about it. I know I did miserably but the class is graded on a curve, especially since this is her first CS class, so perhaps I at least scored above the median.

Game review times. A friend gave me HL2 and its Episode 1 when he got the Orange Box and like a fool, I jumped at a free game. Unfortunately, I tend to get hooked on plots so I wanted Episode 2. Also unfortunately, I wanted Portal badly. I wouldn't have bought the Orange Box but for the fact I got hooked on the plot (which I wouldn't have paid $30 alone for to continue) but all factors combined urged me to purchase it, which was precisely what Valve schemed. Gave my gift copies of HL2 and HL2:E1 to a friend who I want to play mod games with but his computer blows too hard to play it well, despite being several years old. Portal was awesome. The auto-turrets from Portal are the best turrets ever and need to appear in every subsequent game, regardless of genre or theme.

Haven't really played any other games, due to the aforementioned time constraint issue. Haven't been doing anything else with my life. Once I finish this semester of college, I will have a lot more free time. Hopefully I will pass both my classes with Bs or higher and that'll leave me with a project and one class next semester; the project can't be as hard as doing two of these projects at once as well as homeworks and exams, no matter how much larger they make it, and the other class needs to be non-AI; I'm planning on taking computer graphics and having a cake-walk down Easy Street, even though I would really LIKE to take an algorithms course like Geometric Algorithms. This semester is just wearing me out with two courses that even PhD students are complaining are far too hard. I need a break and next will (hopefully) be my last, so it seems I'll miss out on awesome state-of-the-art non-AI algorithms.

Have over 60 hours of PTO. If I take off over Christmas like most people do, I could manage a full two-week vacation during the period but, being me, I would go nowhere and do nothing. Kinda. I've already scheduled making a few trips to the "local" (2 hours away) ski area. I haven't skied in a very long time and was going to last year but it was so hot the skiing blew. This year's looking fine for it--even if it's dry, they'll just blow some snow.

I've switched from drinking coke all the damn time to drinking A&W rootbeer all the time because apparently rootbeer is less damaging to teeth. And because Barq's tastes like shit and IBC is fucking expensive.

Monster Hunter Freedom 2 had me obsessed for a while until college started and the guy I was playing with mostly-quit because we started hitting the difficult fights and he didn't like being killed in a single hit so easily and while I could probably work my way through the rest of the game alone, I really love using bows and it's really a pain to deal out enough damage sometimes.

Still need to beat DQ8 and Suiko Tactics. Other games, too, but those I've pretty much given up on (including Fatal Frame and FF2:CB, which are both excellent games).

Ah! Should probably add a note about my social life. Still not dating. Still have no friends. Still have no desire to remedy either of the aforementioned. Not in person, anyway. I need people to talk AT, but that works better online, anyway. Having someone to play games with in person might be nice but thankfully most games work reasonably online, now. Still hate gatherings. Even at work lunch meetings, as inoften as they are, I pretty much hang out at the end of the table looking bored after I quickly finish my meal and have nothing to talk about while the others chat. So I persist in hiding in my room all day, or in my office, or wherever I need to hide.

Still drive like an asshole, still don't get tickets or accidents.

Still annoyed that I didn't get a Poogie with my preorder of MHF2.

Also still watching my stocks waver precariously. Currently I've made $500 over what I've invested. Still doing better than I would be in a bank.

Currently avoiding working on the huge project proposal for Metaheursitics which looms, being due tomorrow, after all.

Recent purchases don't amount to much. A new pair of pants and food. Computer purchases include one $75 keyboard (G15) and gaming purchases include only the Orange Box. I intend to buy a new hard drive soon, since mine has been full for a while, and I'm actually thinking of getting a NAS drive enclosure and two 500GB hard disks for about $400 total, just to be awesome. I could make a computer for a bit cheaper than a $200 NAS with no drives but I wouldn't be able to carry the thing around with me as easily (whereas this could come on trips with my laptop). The NAS I'm looking at specifically is this.

I haven't read a novel in years. Most people find this odd, especially people who knew me when I literally had my nose in a novel all the time. This was literally true because a) I'm short-sighted as hell and need to nose into the book to read it and b) I would wander the halls of school with the book up, and read while eating at dinner and such. Such a departure now.

On that note, I'm finding games less fun than I used to. Not because games are getting worse, because they aren't, contrary to morons who scream about oldskool, and not because I'm growing out of them, because that concept is bullshit. I've just played too many and they've lost the magic. It takes an exceptional game (like Portal or FF12) to draw me in and make me want to finish it, and enjoy the whole experience. My relationship with the whole MH series is an abusive love/hate relationship where MH keeps delivering more of the same and swapping to expensive new systems. Granted, they DID remove captures and egg-carries, so they're at least getting rid of the most painful stuff. I just don't have enough time that I COUNT as free anymore and I've played too many games to really enjoy myself usually. I KNOW the vast majority of games could be vastly better, and what I would do to make the games better. That makes them a lot less fun than when most genres were new to me.

On that note, grad school is much more wearing than work for two reasons. One, it is more mentally draining. You do not, generally, need to think at work, and my job's pretty thinking-heavy as they go. You really need to think for grad school. And thinking's tiring. Two, it is further draining because it doesn't end. You are not done with college for the day when class is over, necessarily. You may have homework. You may have homework that has ill-defined limits of what the professor expects. You WILL have homework that has ill-defined limits of what the professor expects. You should also study but I don't bother with studying after class. In any case, you have assignments, small and huge, which are all due at future points, as well as the fact you are fighting against the curve for your grade, and that's all stressful. Work isn't stressful. When you're done for the day, you're done. They may not think so, but fuck em. They may also want you to work after-hours, or over the weekend, or think about how to solve a problem you were working on in your spare time, and may want you to meet deadlines and satisfy certain criteria. But it doesn't matter. If you fail to meet those criteria, they extend the deadline or adjust accordingly. YOU are not the program, the whole team is. You don't have to worry about the repercussions of you screwing up, to a large degree. Even if the project fails, it's someone higher up's fault for mis-scheduling and mis-tasking (including tasking you), and you should manage to get re-hired fairly easily. Granted, I do excellent work but it's just much less stressful and that's nice. Granted, sitting through an 8-hour day can be a pain and my boss has started to notice me reading online comics while my code compiles.

That's enough of an update, I think. If you've managed to read all the way to here without skipping any of the above text, congratulations, you may be only an order of magnitude less bored than I am. Or at least, you are now.

current mood: bored

(1 insult | Insult my life)

Saturday, July 28th, 2007
8:08 pm - Sucks.
Lost $1000 in stocks over the last week, more than I've made up to the start this year.

Also possibly lost my job. I'm not to come in Monday while they figure out what's up. If it gets resolved, I'll be back to it, and in a month or two I'll have to drive even further to work in worse traffic and pay $100/mo for parking. If not, I'll have no job, of course.

Also, MHF2 is coming out for PSP and I have no one to play with. SADFACE.

current mood: bored

(3 insults | Insult my life)

Saturday, July 21st, 2007
2:37 pm - My mouth is bleeding heavily.
Had my two top wisdom teeth pulled. Shots fucking hurt and when he started pulling the one tooth it fucking hurt but once he had me properly novocained up it only took about 15 seconds to get each out.

My mother is fucking disgusting. She keeps randomly visiting. This results in a variety of things including:

She takes the toilet roll off the spool. She then somehow gets the whole thing coated in feces. The exterior, the sides, even INSIDE the roll.
She also leaves balled up toilet paper all over the bathroom. Literally at least a dozen balls after a single one or two hour visit.
She thinks my tub is too dirty so she's taken to clean it. What this consists of is breaking up a whole new bar of Ivory soap (cuz it's healthier than chlorox!) and spreading it all over the tub and probably wiping it down with paper towels, then leaving whatever bits of soap remain in the tub for me to clean up when I need to take a shower. Between the paper towels and soap she lets slip into the drain, it pretty much clogs the tub till it can't drain after only three or four visits.
This isn't just for tubs. She thinks Ivory is the ultimate in non-hazardous cleaning material. She also breaks it up and uses it to wash all kinds of shit. I found broken up ivory in the sink spread around some dishes, so she apparently uses it in lieu of dish cleaner too.
She has also started leaving wads of toilet paper that were apparently used as emergency tampons on my bathroom floor.
She also steals my sodas and promises to buy replacements. The replacements end up being the little half-size sodas in a brand I don't like which disappear the next day since she takes them to work with her.
She also bitched me out for being unappreciative when I told to quit fucking 'washing' the tub.

current mood: bleeding

(4 insults | Insult my life)

Sunday, July 1st, 2007
12:02 pm - Update.
Well, I missed June in its entirety so I imagine I'm due for an update but there's nothing to say. I've been working, overworked, really. Sister needed a loan of $1500 because she's in such horrible credit debt she can't get new cards and her current ones are cutting her off. It's a horrible proposition but my father forced me into it. Stocks have been sucking of late but I still have $14.1k in stocks. $1400 in the bank. $1800 owed me by my sister. Not doing too badly.

I have my new 24" Dell monitor, of course. My new Z-5500 speakers too. Been looking at a Ninja ZZR-600. It's a sexy bike.

My job may be dissapearing soon. There's a demo to a guy who will probably kill the project because it sucks. I'll still be paid my week of paid time off and my remaining week of work before the demo, though, so that's another $1700 paycheck, as well as the $1700 paycheck I'm still owed. Plus I'll get big wads of cash back from the Government Man because I was taxed assuming I'd make twice as much as I ended up making. Not a bad situation. That's plenty of money to finish college, though I'll have to refrain from excessive side-purchases.

I was forced to skip my planned trip to Centralia because I was made to work over that weekend. Pissed me off. Going to need to plan a new trip.

My life has been really boring lately. Been trying to figure out what to do to be less bored again. Any suggestions from people online?

current mood: bored

(Insult my life)

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007
11:54 pm - Anyone who's in the software industry will understand this.
My job has me SIMULTANEOUSLY (as in, intermixed over the period of one day) performing requirements analysis, system design, implementation, maintenance, security accreditation, and development of deliverables (including presentations and training materials).

current mood: bored

(Insult my life)

Monday, May 21st, 2007
11:25 pm - Do you know how fear smells?
There is a form of condensed fear, a viscous black fluid. It bears the scent of burnt motor oil. With it, one may open the path to the Black Lodge, a place where those who practice evil for evil reside and bide their power. There exists a location diametric to this place called the White Lodge. The path there is said to be laid with love. It lays in the shadow of the Black Lodge and the physical condensate necessary to enter remains elusive.

The way beyond this reality is too weak to merely be opened by the respective element alone--it requires a specific time as well, when Jupiter and Saturn, the representatives of expanding and lost influence, are in conjunction, a period when all things are unbalanced and the fabric becomes weak, allowing some to ascend to power while others fail utterly.

current mood: bored

(Insult my life)

Friday, May 18th, 2007
7:47 pm - Cumulative update.
Finished classes. Got an A in Advanced Networking, A- in Advanced AI. The latter really saddens me because it's my specialty. Only got that low because the exams were all memorization and no thinking.

Got a raise. 5%. Translates to $2750. Doesn't make up for having to drive two hours a day. Bleh.

Going to California in a week to visit my grandmother. I won't enjoy a trip to San Francisco as much as most people would. Or at all, really. At least it's a pause in work.

Plan to go to Centralia the weekend after. THAT I will enjoy.

This weekend I'm going to check out the National Air and Space museum for both flying shit and Spiderman 3. I'll also try to finish up Rogue Galaxy, finally.

current mood: bored

(1 insult | Insult my life)

Saturday, April 14th, 2007
11:21 pm - STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl update.
Beaten. Here's what I have decided:

STALKER is the prettiest FPS out there. With full dynamic lighting, the exterior environments are wonderful and lively and interior environments are properly run-down and creepy. Two problems here. One, because the game makes extensive use of normal maps, actual variations in the polygons have been foregone. Two, and the reason one is so very noticeable, the game is a giant PC-sucking whore and even my fairly high-end laptop needs to turn off ALL dynamic lighting to run it at any acceptable speed. With dynamic lighting off, the game clips along at 60fps and there is enough detail in textures and models of trees and creatures and vehicles to still look decent. The only problem is, as aforementioned, the low-quality textures and bland models on stuff like walls looks bad.
STALKER is the hardest FPS out there. Particularly early on before high-end armors become more common-place but after enemies start whoring assault rifles. The only problem here is that even on the easiest setting, it may be too hard for lightweight gamers. Compounding the armor problem is the weight-limit. You can only hold 50kg of equipment, including worn armor, without suffering badly. You cannot hold past 60kg period. Your armor typically weighs 5kg, and starts to be useless after a few large encounters so it pays to carry a backup. Weapons all take appropriate ammunition and are varied between NATO and old Warsaw-pact weapons as well as newer designs, which means there's about two dozen types of ammo available in the game, each needing a small selection of guns to be used, forcing you to carry a variety of (heavy) guns. Food is also needed to survive, and more heavily, medical kits.
STALKER is big. It has about a half-dozen each of handgun, shotgun, machinegun, and sniper rifle designs with a few odds and ends (grenades, knives, rocket launchers) thrown in, and unique versions amongst those where only one exists in the game world. It has at least a dozen styles of armor. It has miles of game terrain (although much of it can't actually be walked on, there's still lots of it you'll never explore just because). Which necessarily means it has a whole lot of optional crap available. And especially because item locations, allied, neutral, and enemy creature locations, and related are all random, that means a lot of replay value for unique sidequests (which are, in RPG standard, offered by barkeeps).
STALKER is cool in that it does have an RPGish feel to it. You can take quests given by barkeeps and do them for money, weapons, and artefacts which are practically magical items. Money can be used to buy better weapons or armor, to stock up on food, ammo, bandages, vodka, etc. Gun components can also be removed and moved to less beaten up guns (for instance, silencers and scopes). People who had guns drop those guns when you kill them so it's never hard to get a gun and you can raid corpses for their food and bullets, too. Unfortunately, while you CAN steal everything but the clothes off their back, you CANNOT actually steal their typically higher-level-than-yours armor. Which is another reason the game gets rather hard if you don't follow the treasure-hunting sidequests, many of which lead to high-end armors. Other Stalkers also remember how you've acted in the past. You get a fair amount of aid if you're a nice guy, people shooting at you if you're a bastard. You can join some two of the warring factions as well, supposedly, although I tried and couldn't manage actual membership. Ended up noticing I could already use their shop, bought the best buyable items in the game, and moved on.
STALKER also has a really nice pace and story to it. The story is rather sparse, admittedly, but what there is has a nice grim sci-fi feel I like. The pace, however, is awesome. A fair amount of the game consists of exploring. Sometimes it's relatively peaceful, sometimes it's fraught with danger in the form of difficult-to-spot anomalies and enemies. At one point (and only one point) there was heavy encouragement to use stealth to sneak into a military facility to steal something since the alternative was very deadly. At one point, there was no combat at all where it was very well suited. But most interestingly, whenever the game forces you underground, you can be sure it's going to be creepy as hell. Which makes the above-ground portions into nice breaks from nerve-wracking bits in the depths of the earth, even if the worst fights occur above-ground (typically when the military attacks your position).
STALKER has decided to take an odd take on realism where your gun jams up and isn't perfectly accurate. Furthermore, your gun gets more and more likely to jam and miss shots as it gets more wear-and-tear. Similarly, while your armor may start out being badass, once you shoot a few holes in it, it's no longer quite so good at protecting you. Despite these features, the game also features radioactive artefacts which give effects like making you more resilient to firearms, heat, electricity, radiation, etc. Kind of odd, but since you can choose to equip up to 5, it gives a bit of extra customizability. They also sell well if you don't want them and weigh only about a pound so they're the most weight-efficient items to gather for money, which the plot points out is also the reason most Stalkers are there.
STALKER also has multiple endings. Not sure if I've managed to find them all. But they aren't of the typical 'play the game this way, get this ending' kind of endings, nor meeting a few little flag points. Although that may be part of it; I'm not sure. What I do know is that there are various tiers of endings where you can generally look around the area where one ending is reachable and, if you completed the necessary quests earlier, find openings to whole new dungeons, at the end of which is another ending, which can be foregone for yet another dungeon, and so on. Somewhat unique, that. The area for the final (I think) ending alone had two hidden pieces of top-end armor, which is exceptionally high for this game, largely because the enemies themselves were rediculously overpowered.

current mood: bored

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