Wednesday, January 30, 2008

In The Toilet

My local non-video gaming scene took a turn for the worse over the past few weeks and is essentially in the toilet.

It started in early January when the organizer behind our local Dungeons and Dragons Meetup.com group stepped down due to health concerns. No one has stepped up in his place and the group is quickly fading into the sunset. The Meetup.com group was a great monthly get together for D&D nerds of all flavors and offered an easy way to find a steady group. Sadly, it does not look like there will be a big party when D&D 4.0 hits later this year.

If the death of the Meetup.com group wasn't enough, my favorite local game store is closing it's doors and this time there is no one around to save it. A few months ago, the original owners announced they were moving, and we all feared the worst at that time. However, a family stepped up and bought the store. Unfortunately, it does not look like they will be able to keep it going.

Sadly, a couple major downers were not enough. The cornerstone of our local gaming scene, the game store in the mall that has been around for 20 years, has also announced it will be closing. This one honestly came out of left field and shocked most of us. This store was always busy, partly due to location, and while it had no actual space to play games, it was the place to go and buy supplies and harder to find board games.

Now we're left with an upstart game store that everyone thought wouldn't make it past a couple months in the face of the other two, more popular, stores. But now those two stores are closing and that leaves the upstart as the sole king of the mountain. I just worry that the upstart is struggling due to an expensive store location and massive prize support to bring in local gaming groups.

Also on the plus side, our local board gaming group is still going strong and the decision about which store to host events at has been made really simple now. Hopefully, the store closings will end the "this store vs that store" mentality and we can all get back to gaming! Speaking of that, I should go check when the next Board Gaming Day is.

Update: 1 Feb, 2008 - The gaming store located in the local mall may have just made a successful saving throw and looks to remain open for the time being.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

News Bits

World of Warcraft has officially hit the 10 million active subscribers mark. A lot of people, including myself, predicted this as a year-end goal of 2007. We were close. Also, a bit of clarification on what a subscriber is:
Blizzard defines subscribers as those who have paid a subscription fee or are using an active prepaid card, as well as those who have purchased the game and are within their free month of access. Internet Game Room players who have accessed the game during the last 30 days are also counted as subscribers, but players under free promotional subscriptions, expired or canceled subscriptions and expired prepaid cards are excluded. WoW currently totals more than 2 million subscribers in Europe, more than 2.5 million in North America and approximately 5.5 million in Asia.
Next, there is news that EVE Online will be available via Steam, Valve Software's digital distribution platform. As a fan of Valve and a regular game-buyer through Steam, I am pleased to see MMOs make the move to the platform. Unfortunately, most MMOs are linked with publishers that only sell boxes, or that have their own digital distribution platforms. Unfortunately, I have yet to find anything as good as Steam.

Lastly, some sad news out of Hollywood. Heath Ledger has kicked the bucket. The only question I have: how does a great actor like Heath Ledger die and a walking reason for abortion like Britney Spears remain alive?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Another Age of Conan Delay

Funcom set a new release date for Age of Conan today.
Funcom announces a new release date for Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures. The highly anticipated MMO receives 8 more weeks of development, allowing Funcom to deliver a more polished MMO experience when the game launches on the 20th of May 2008
With the rumormill and beta leaks swirling, the news coming out of the Age of Conan camp has not been good. I don't harbor any ill-will towards the title, but I am a bit confused by the delays for the title.

I praised Age of Conan at one point for showing the fans what they wanted to see: PvP sieges, mounts, city building. However, apparently most of what was touted to be "in-game" was actually not. What fans have seen through demonstrations seems to have been pre-canned development server stuff, which is disappointing.

Is this the last delay for Conan? I think so, but I also thought I would be playing both Pirates of the Burning Sea and Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning back in 2007! Oh well, I still hold to my 2008 predictions that AoC and WAR will both launch.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Heartbreak, Bad Weekend

Well, the Green Bay Packers managed to throw out a stinker tonight and forfeit their chance to go to the Super Bowl this year. I'm proud of what the Packers accomplished this year, but I am absolutely dismayed by the performance they put on against the Giants. I am still not sure what team and coaching staff showed up, but it was not the same one that had been in Green Bay all season.

I give credit to the New York Giants for the win and playing a good game, but I can't stand the "destiny" tag that the Giants fans have thrown on their team. Let's face it, they beat a fairly flat Tampa Bay team, were in the right place at the right time to catch Dallas with their pants down, and then really just got the luck of the draw and catch the Packers playing their second-worst football of the year.

Congrats to any team that wins a Championship game, but as a football fan, it pains me to see underdogs limp into a win over a team that for whatever reason falls apart for a few hours. However, that is why the NFL is so great, any team can win on any Sunday and being a football fan, GO GIANTS AND BEAT THOSE PATRIOTS!

On top of a heartbreaking Brett Favre interception to end my weekend, our heating unit died. We had snow the other day and last night either the heat pump seized or there is a freon leak that turned our unit into an ice cube.

Adding insult to injury, our dog has absolutely gone off the deep end, coming within an inch of biting a random joggers hand. We've worked extremely hard and long with our dog, but she has gotten worse by the week and it is starting to worry us that there is something we're missing that has turned a friendly puppy into an aggressive 11-month old dog. Sadly, as a Doberman, our dog does not get a second chance and one bite could be the end.

I'm not sure what else could go wrong in the next thirty minutes to make this weekend any worse, but at least I have tomorrow off from school and work. Too bad I have an online test to take, two massive assignments to get done, a heater to get fixed, and I still have to get around to getting into see the eye doctor and figure out why I am going blind.

Life's a bitch, but I'm not one to gone down quietly.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Challenges

I really wanted to tackle my RE: RE: Why Be Nice Anymore? post today, but time is just not on my side.

I am enrolled in a capstone course for my Computer Networking degree. This is the big daddy of classes and will require my complete attention for the next fifteen weeks. Already, in the first two weeks, I've dedicated more time to the project than I am used to dedicating to gaming!

The class is split into teams of three, each team responsible for designing a Request For Proposal for an imaginary company. Basically, our team will design a computer network from the ground up on a budget of $150,000 dollars.

Being the outstanding person that I am, I was elected to be the Team Captain. I understand some readers may not believe that, but that's the way the cookie crumbles. In reality, I was hand-picked to be part of this group by my instructors.

The group that I am part of has a perceived advantage, a forth person to split the work with. Unfortunately, the fourth person is the odd-man-out in the class and presents a unique situation. The extra member has been deaf since birth, has never really learned English, and has struggled to get into this course.

Yet, he has persisted and made it to the crowning achievement of the networking degree program at my college. In reality, this should be a ticket to a diploma, but it is doubtful that my team member will be able to pass his programming courses anytime soon.

I have been tasked to lead this team to success. My instructors have undaunted faith in my patience and leadership ability to see this through and produce a noteworthy end product. I have been challenged, and I do not plan to disappoint.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bad Weather Incoming!

Looks like a wintry mix of rain, snow, and ice is going to hit overnight here in the Carolinas. Hopefully this means class and work are canceled for tomorrow... and that the Internet connection and power stay up! Then I can post my follow up to RE: Why Be Nice Anymore?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

RE: Why be nice anymore?

Over at Wife Aggro, PVTHudson, asks: Why be nice anymore? Apparently, I am not nice, which may be a good thing according to PVTHudson, who seems to have grown bitter on the idea of playing nice.

Bloggers are guilty of being human. It is better to be nice, because no one likes to get noticed for being the Negative Nancy in the room. There is an argument to be had about the Internet and the effect anonymity has on a person, but in my decade of travel across the vast online sea, I've found most people to act fairly normal. Even as much as I'd like to argue that I'm a pretty nice guy in real life, and I am, I can't deny the fact that I have a whiny and combative edge.

The real effect of the Internet: amplification. I am inherently more whiny and combative on the Internet. I wish I could fully-explain why it occurs, but I can't. I observe it in almost every blogger I know personally, whether it is politics, gaming, or knitting (yes, with needles and yarn).

I know part of it comes from passion and the fact that most blogs get started out of a person's passion for something. Bloggers inevitably break down and say "Here it is world! Here is the fire that lights my world!". That opens the door for criticism and most people do not want to deal with criticism.

This blogging thing they started was suppose to be about them and their passion, how dare criticism become involved. How dare what they say matter. How dare that someone else on the Internet has an opinion. Honestly, how many bloggers have woken up to find some massively rude comment on their blog? I know I've had my fair share of wake up comments on this blog.

So, we end up with a lot of bloggers that talk in hushed tones and rarely have an opinion differing from the mainstream. I like to call it the "I agree too" problem. How many multi-blog posts have occurred where hundreds of comments and dozens of posts are written basically agreeing with the one before them. Everyone gets together at the end and pulls out some grand conclusion that the rest of us better live by, or else!

Lastly, it is wrong to go against the grain, because it puts a label on a person. For example: Heartless_ is an angry gamer. See what happened there? In reality though, it isn't going against the grain. It is following the grain, but differentiating one's self from the noise.

More to come...

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Agency: Are You Fucking Kidding Me?

I won't lie. I hit the Hatorade pretty hard in regards to SOE. But come on, they aren't even trying anymore!!! Evidence: The Agency gameplay video.

UPDATE: Please read the comments for speculation on when this video was from. I blame it all on Razor.



I'm not sure what's worse: John Smedley's Steve Jobs "I only wear comfortable clothes" impersonation or the actual gameplay footage. I could sit here and make a bunch of comparisons between fat chicks and the gameplay, but I won't. SOE, put this garbage back in the shed until you have something decent to show us.

6 Truths of Life

1. You cannot touch all your teeth with your tongue.

2. All idiots, after reading the first truth try it.

3. The first truth is a lie.

4. You're smiling now because you're an idiot.

5. You soon will forward this to another idiot.

6. There's still a stupid smile on your face.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2008, The First Few Minutes

Guess what, our dog hates fireworks. Happy New Year from the East Coast.
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