Stuff as of 11/7/10

July 11, 2010

I received a samsung home theatre package in the mail the other day by redemption and have been fairly excited about it. Even though I plan to sell it on ebay I will be using that money to subsidise a proper 2 channel system. Though I am not 100% sure on what I want to buy, since I want something that can do a variety of tasks but focusing on music rather than home theatre effects since I would like to use it for listening to CDs and music. Need to take a few photos before posting it up, but I have never sold anything on ebay so it shall be an interesting experience.

I have been training people for the past 2 weeks at work now, to prepare replacements for myself when I change departments. I am getting a bit tired of it since I have trained pretty much all the staff in the current team and I just want to move on to more exciting things. There will be 1 more person I need to train and then after that it will be done. I will be free to spread my wings so to speak and get out of doing onsite tech calls and into the fabulous world of networking. Or at least a world where I can enjoy the possibility of career progression.

New anime season started a week ago! My favourite so far is “Ookami san no shichinin nakamatachi”, since the female lead looks like an older Taiga. Quite clever sometimes in the way they link fables and fairytales into an anime storyline. Amagami SS is interesting but I have yet to decide if it is awesome yet, definitely something I will watch but people have been saying it is the next “True Tears” which I will reserve judgement on. The shows I am following have relatively slow subbers so I am slightly frustrated and behind on them, especially “Kaichou wa maido sama”, “rainbow” and “working!!”. Good things come to those who wait I hope!

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FFXIII x360 prelaunch

March 3, 2010

I had the chance to go to the prelaunch tonight and it was quite fun getting to see the local retail version of the game in action! The graphics were quite amazing and I couldn’t tell that the cutscenes were rendered in 578p. People say that the PS3 version is miles above the x360 but I just don’t really see it, maybe a slight improvement at best but nothing groundbreaking really.

The event started off with the promo video in IMAX which I found to be spectacularly choreographed- too bad I was sitting near the front for some mysterious reason and was about to get whiplash from turning my head around so much. Then the organizers took us through a couple of prepared battles which showed the battle system which is unlike anything else on the market; it is even more streamlined than FFXII! The battles uses the ATB system and it is very very quick, it is pretty much real time battle where you can queue up actions to attack.

The localization is alright as well, the voice overs weren’t too bad at all and are probably one of the best works in a long time. The one issue I have is the facial expressions of the characters, they are sometimes a bit too subdued or too emotional compared to the VO’s. Probably since the script was written in Japanese and some sections are just more pronounced at different times compared to the English VO. I suppose there will always be issues like this, especially in plot and story heavy games with different language tracks. I really wish they kept the ability to listen to the original Japanese audio, the theme song is way better and much more appropriate than Leona Lewis’ song since it was written for the game.

Perhaps my thoughts are a little late considering the Japanese version came out last December and some people have already imported it and finished it, but I reckon it is probably more appropriate talking about the localized release since it is what most people are gonna get.

Something that I am not overly familiar with is the process of saving money; I set a certain amount as savings each week but that is really as much as I do. Though I am proud to say that I shopped around and managed to score FFXIII and BF:BC2 for a grand total of $130 (from cdwow) which I am very happy with! Considering everybody is charging $100 for FFXIII alone, I would say that is a fair bargain, the only issue is that I might have to wait for delays in shipping but if it saves me $50 off both items then I am willing to wait, especially when I have a bunch of games in need of completing!

I also realized today that I have never bought an FF game despite my proclaimed love of the series. I remember playing FF7 first, I think that was the first game I had ever finished because the story was so compelling. Then I went backwards and played FF6 which had an even more epic story and I reckon even better gameplay. It wasn’t long until I backtracked the entire FF series to FF4, where I stopped since the original 3 didn’t seem to have the same depth and gameplay. I was even tempted to buy the collectors edition but for $130 you don’t get a lot besides a music CD and some random prints which I would probably never look at save the moment I open the box. Saved once again by frugality, yay.

My friends preordered BF:BC2 for $80 each whilst I got it online for $55, so that is yet another bargain I managed to snap up. Hopefully I will gather enough people to form a casual clan, that way we can get some organized fun going on! The likes of which I haven’t seen since my BF2 days.

I also found out that the HDX-BD1 was recently released and is only $30 more than the HDX1000. Just a FYI, this is a media player where you shove in a hard drive and it will play whatever is on it, very convenient for me since I have a 1TB disk lying around my desk with nothing to put it in and I am also quickly running out of disk space due to my movies and anime, mostly anime. What I have gleaned so far is that the BD1 is fairly glitchy since it is a new product and people have not managed to get a lot of advanced features working properly. Though to be perfectly honest with you, I would be happy if it manages to play all my anime and my music too. Later I could tack on a BD drive since the unit is supposedly compatible with bluray playback. However I might wait until the features are more mature before splurging on this.

If you may have noticed I have been going from a scale of tightass to self indulgent and the most expensive thing I plan to do is to move out, which will happen in the next week or so. I need to prepare myself for the move and I have not planned anything as of yet so it will be very interesting. If anyone has any advice on a first move now is a good time to tell me!

Game watch

February 24, 2010

I have been sidetracked from Bayonetta by playing Mass Effect 2. It is a much better game than the original in my opinion, it is a lot more well rounded, there are fewer sections to frustrate you esp the planetary exploration crap. The pacing is also a lot better, made me actually want to finish the game. I never did get through all of the original because I got to a point where I just didn’t care anymore, namely towards the end where there was no motivation to finish the game since the story has already been told.

ME2 has better story and the world is explained more clearly which I liked. The characters were also much more interesting and had more background which made me care more. Battles were fun but there really is only a number of combinations you can use your biotics; singularity/pull + warp/push. You either make your enemies explode or send them flying into space.

I played as an adept and found that singularity was the best skill to use against charging husks since you don’t even have to shoot them to kill them, set a singularity into the AI pathing and they all walk into it and die. I love abusing games to make it easier. The cooldowns really kill it for me though, since adept weapons suck and are inaccurate so I have to rely on biotics, really bad when I am being rushed. I do like how they now curve around objects now, helps a lot with drawing enemies out of cover and then pushing them into space.

With March coming around, I am gearing myself up for Bad company 2 and FF13 which will be quite epic.

I had a poem in my mind when I was driving today, but unfortunately lost the idea by the time i got home. Shame because I swear I would remember it if I heard the song that inspired me but I have been going through my playlist for a good half hour and couldn’t for the life of me find the damn thing. Maybe this Friday it will come back to me.

Guilty pleasure Bayonetta

February 17, 2010

You know that piece of chocolate in the box which looks damn strange but you can’t get enough of? That sums up Bayonetta very well. This game is strange and bloody hilarious and over the top with its fight sequences but holy shit is this a bucket of fun or is it just raining awesome? I have to admit I have never played Devil may cry and have no comparison to base my thoughts on, but this game cracks me up with its insanity.

I have played for about 3 hours but several words come to the top of my mind when I played this game, such as “holy shit I can’t believe she said that” and “oh my gawd there is a move called breakdance”. I can honestly say that I played through the first hour with my mouth open or laughing at how ridiculous the whole thing was. But I LOVED it. Even though I am quite horrible at this game since I have never played anything like it, dying only reduces my score so I can keep retrying the same level until I finish it, then replay the stage for a high score.

There is almost endless replay value to this game because it is semi-mindless fun, even though I spent most of my play time button bashing I realized that there are certain combos that fit for certain situations and that some combos can be canceled into others for an infinite chain. But really I am just having too much fun playing to concentrate on small things like that, I am just enjoying monsters blowing up and being crushed by hair.

Anime watch February

February 10, 2010

Really loving Katanagatari at the moment. Makes me wish I understood more japanese so I can understand the wittiness of the conversation better. I really love the way Nisio Ishin writes his stories, they focus more on the relationships between characters than the actions and the wordplay is very interesting.

The problem with the series is that it unfortunately seems that the animation quality has dropped or has become less consistent. I find that this is a rather common problem with a lot of hyped up anime, make a big impact with the first episode and slack off a bit in the hope that viewers don’t notice. Well they do notice and they do talk about it, but I suppose it gives the studios something to sell on dvd or blu-ray.

Darker than black gaiden has come out and I really enjoyed that too! Yin’s character really developed in the 1st series and it is extended into the OVA. Lolicon Hei is also pretty funny and sweet whilst his bk201 side is just as awesome and sober as ever. The 2nd series of DTB was a bit disappointing in my opinion, it didn’t give enough background into why Hei acted as he did and we have no explanation of Yin’s powers which is what the gaiden is supposed to provide. Somewhat backwards working and annoying for viewers but once again, the studios win.

Nodame Finale is coming along quite nicely, I am looking forward to seeing the ending, and hopefully it provides a nice conclusion for the NodamexChiaki relationship. At the moment it is building on the side character stories which is good and fine, but it inevitably must lead back to the star couple.

Gurren Lagaan movies are sitting on my computer and I need to watch them since they are apparently epic.

Dance in the vampire bund is not as interesting as I would have hoped. The manga is only up to about 30-40 chapters and reveals nothing of the main story arc so far so the anime will not be great, I might even stop watching it since I know there isn’t much to look forward to.

Also running out of japanese music, but I am waiting on a few singles to be released and look forward to tasting those.

So I have not written a post for a good part of a week and you can all guess why. Dragon Age is addictive as crack and there is so much depth in the game that it is hard to stop diving into it to find something new.

For the first few hours it is extremely difficult, or so I found at least, since items were gold dust and impossible to source. Also you gained next to no money from the enemies as far as I knew. But later in the game it becomes quite a bit easier because of a rather cheap/simple tactic I employed to “buy” my levels. The first 10 hours of the game were rife with frustration but it was intriguing enough for me to explore deeper into how to effectively manage my characters skills and relationships.

It took me 10 hours of grueling saving and reloading just to get to the “midgame” or so I like to call it. Basically I finished recruiting the Dalish and they requested I support their troops by providing them with crafting materials. I am not sure if the developers realized this, but you can buy crafting materials fairly cheaply and I was fairly well off since there was nothing I could afford in the shops. So I bought probably thousands of crafting materials and donated them to my Dalish allies.

Incidentally I didn’t actually know that donating materials will net you experience points until I donated what I had on hand and realized that I had gained a level. What made this even more ironic was that I bought cheap crafting materials from the Dalish and donated them back to the Dalish to level myself up by buying the levels. I don’t know if this was deliberate but hey I made good use of this to get about 6 or 7 levels (from level 7). Now I gain levels faster by killing stuff so there is a point where this becomes much less cost effective (around level 15 I say).

There are some parts which are extremely difficult in this game though, and the difficulty is so varied that it is hard to judge whether or not I was meant to do that quest at a particular point in the game. I honestly don’t think that any casual player can pick this game up and enjoy it, due to the overwhelming depth and seemingly random difficulty of quests. I did choose a mage so they are fairly squishy, and I admit that I probably chose all the wrong skills since I went more support/crowd control instead of damage. Also because mages do more damage than tanks, they get enemy attention a LOT faster and so I died very quickly when the horde of enemies attacking my tank chose to switch targets to me after I cast frost on them to save him from 10 simultaneous mace strikes to the cranium.

Even with all my whinging I still play this game because it is so good and the story is quite epic. The game allows you to recruit 10 characters or so and you get to manage all their skill trees as well as your own, so when you level up, you level up 10 times. Which means 10 times the number of skill points to allocate and what-not. I actually didn’t do that from the start, I let them auto-level until level 12 and then I chose what skills they learnt just because it was too difficult to cope in certain situations.

Anyways I must get off this topic and find something else to do, like play the game instead of talking about it…

Year of the gamer

January 11, 2010

2010 is turning out to be an epic year in terms of gaming, with half a dozen top titles hitting shelves in just the first quarter. Bayonetta, Darksiders, FF13, Mass Effect 2, Bioshock 2, Super Street Fighter 4 amongst the x360 titles. This is all very exciting news but my problem is that my budget doesn’t allow me to buy all of them which is a bit of a downer. At the moment I am still playing Lost Odyssey and that needs another 30 or so hours before it is finished so it will definitely take a while but I am aching to play the massively hyped Bayonetta and want to dip my fingers into Darksiders which is a more well rounded mash-up of DMC and Zelda with a more congruent storyline than Bayonetta.

Later in the year there will be Supreme Commander 2 which is going to involve many hours at lan as well as CnC4 which looks interesting. I have been following CnC loosely since the very first game so it is something that I have grown up with and it would be nice to see the series conclusion after a long 15 years or so. Prince of Persia has a new game out as well which brings more of the same, so I think I will pass on that since the first 3 made by Ubisoft more or less sated my appetite for that type of game to the point where AC felt routine.

I haven’t even finished Forza3 yet which is at least another few dozen hours and I am still squeezing a few hours into SF4 every now and then just so that my skills stay competitive. So many good games coming out can sometimes be a curse.

Return to routine

January 8, 2010

Back to work I go. So far so good, I have been taking it fairly easy but there are a few changes coming on which I am somewhat looking forward to that will help me out.

In other news, I bought Lost Odyssey for x360 on Sunday and it is surprisingly good, however the graphics are showing their age somewhat, based on the U3 engine without much AA the character models are lacking compared to say PC graphics. With limited hardware I think that art direction should be the way to go since there is only so much one can do in optimization. Same goes with “Star Ocean: the last hope” which I recently finished, the graphics are fine, but I would prefer smoother and softer graphics and less sharp, detailed character models. The story of Lost Odyssey is great so far, even though I’ve only sunk in 20 hours or so, but what really stands out are the protagonist’s memories which are revealed as the game goes on. These memories are snapshots of Kaim’s 1000 year existence and shows the types of people that he has met in the past and what type of person he is.

Next game on my list is either Dragon age or Bayonetta, but there is a long way to go with Lost Odyssey, not to mention that I haven’t finished Forza3 yet.

Back to gaming I go!

This was something I wrote and sent to help turn the tides and bring home an R18+ category so that disasters like L4D2 will never happen again on our shores.

Should the Australian National Classification Scheme include an R 18+ classification category for computer games?

I believe that there should be an R18+ classification for computer games in Australia. The introduction of this classification will make more games available to the Australian market and benefit responsible members of the public by allowing more mature entertainment to be enjoyed as it should be.

Firstly, I believe that video games are not all made for children, and that the argument against introducing an R18+ classification due to their negative influence on children is moot. Much like a violent movie, games which deserve a R18+ were clearly not made for children and should not be sold to minors.

Continuing from that point, it is my belief that the ratings system was created to help enforce sale of inappropriate material to minors. It was not created to reject quality entertainment from retail shelves. If a title is rejected on the basis that it does not fit our classification criteria then I believe that the classification criteria is lacking. When compared to the rest of the world ie America and Europe , it seems that our classification criteria is behind many other countries which have some sort of restricted classification.

Video games today can be viewed as an artistic method of storytelling where the player is interacting with the virtual world the game presents. Some video games require an R18+ rating in order to express the creators intent. Even if it is not artistic it was created to entertain and the entertainment is only tasteful to an adult market. If the classification system does not introduce an R18+ classification many users will miss out on potentially artistic entertainment available to the rest of the world.

I notice that the paper mentions an argument that “It would be difficult for parents to enforce age restrictions for computer games”. I find that hard to believe, since it is a parent’s responsibility to guide their children through society. There should be no excuse for parents allowing children access to inappropriate material. This is not a relevant argument against adding a R18+ classification category. As a matter of fact many arguments against adding an R18+ classification are built on this fallacy.

“An R 18+ for computer games would exacerbate problems associated with access to high level material in Indigenous communities and by other non-English speaking people”. As with above, this point is a societal issue and has nothing to do with amending a faulty classification system. Societal problems such as this are being used as an argument against video games since it is a very controversial and misunderstood scapegoat. I will not delve into this since it is outside the scope of argument. Issues in society are not relevant for a debate on including a R18+ classification into a draconian classification board.

There is no proof that violent video games causes violent behaviour. There have been studies done to link violent behaviour and violent video games, but this is purely on a correlative basis. I don’t think I need to explain the difference between causality and correlation in scientific studies. Either way, video games are only a tool or device used for entertainment and consumption; much like alcohol and cigarettes, there should exist an amended age restriction to mature content.