There are two things that frustrate me the most about Facebook.
The first is how games work there. I love the way Lexulous worked. I was playing games with my friends, and I was playing games with strangers without having to friend them first. And because it wasn’t constant asking me to invite people or ask them for help, I actually posted wins and achievement notices to my feed. Of course, Words with Friends owns my soul now, so I don’t play much Lexulous anymore. (Hint: people like to play on their phones and you phone app sucked. Maybe it has gotten better, I don’t know, because I’m not there anymore.) I want to play other games, and being a huge fan of MMOs I don’t mind playing with other people. But the current design of most (Zynga) games is that I need dozens and dozens of friends playing in order to progress at a reasonable level. Well, I don’t have that many real friends who want to play, so I need to friend strangers unless I want to suffer slow play. Friending strangers breaks Facebook. The result is, occasionally a game interests me enough that I’ll create a group/list that I’ve painstakingly denied all access to, and friend random people and put them in that list. This lasts until either a) I need even more friends, or b) I get a creepy feeling from having all these non-friend friends and thinking I missed some setting and they have full access to all my stuff. Then I spend a day purging those people and those games from my account.
The other thing bothers me is the terribly shitty layout of Facebook. Here, I drew a picture:
That covers pretty much all that I find annoying or crappy about the default screen I get to see when I log in to Facebook. Essentially, the content I want is surrounded by stuff that is wrong or pointless. And they go a step further by making that center column all wrong. I want a time line, in order, of stuff my friends have done. That group on the left side called “Everyone” is how I do that. Even though the default News Feed lets me choose to show news with “recent stories first”, that feed and my “Everyone” feed are different, and not just because my own updates don’t appear in “Everyone” but because there is still stuff missing from the default feed.
Speaking of the default feed is constantly telling me things like that there are “5 new feed items” and then I click the link and only 2 items show up, or that one time it said I had 10 new items and none showed up when I clicked the link. I realize that’s probably because of all the apps I’ve blocked, but if I’ve blocked them then why are you telling me about updates I can’t see? And that goes hand in hand with my complaint about the numbers on the left. It tells me where are 20+ updates in a group, and I click on it to see that there are only 5 updates because there were probably 15+ messages from apps I’ve blocked.
There is so much wrong and useless stuff on Facebook (and I’m not even talking about the updates from my friends!!) that it makes me want to never go there. And still… it’s where everyone is. *sigh*
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since I maintain one, but I like blogs. The main reason I like them is that most blogs update daily, as in once a day. Maybe every once in a while a blogger gets prolific and updates twice a day, but there will also be days they don’t update at all. I can even manage to stomach sites that get enough popularity that they have multiple writers and updates start becoming more frequent, mainly because each writer often has their own voice.
What I hate is when sites become popular enough to be profitable and suddenly the RSS feed gets clogged with blurb posts that are little more than saying “Hey, there is a piece of news from somewhere else and here is a link.” I don’t subscribe to a lot of sites other people live and die by because of this. So many of them just don’t put forth the effort. A new thing gets announced and 90% or more of the sites post a “Look! New thing!” entry that just links to some other site (often a similar post that links to somewhere else – I mean, seriously guys, if you learn about the new thing from another site and not the source, please link to the source and thank the site, don’t link to the site, that’s a waste of everyone’s time). No commentary, no story, just a link and a place for people to comment.
If you are going to repost news, have the courtesy to think up an opinion on it, or the decency to do a daily or weekly wrap up of links so that it comes in one post and not twenty-seven. By posting every little bit of news or announcement or cool thing on its own with no meat of your own, you are saying that you don’t value my time, just your post count and my traffic. Which is why you lose my traffic.
My blog isn’t very popular. I’ve got maybe seventy or so people who read frequently enough to be tracked, and mostly it’s because, I admit, my content isn’t all that exciting. A few people like it enough to keep coming back, but that’s it. If I wanted to get more readers, I would post more content and work on making the content I do post better. I wouldn’t increase frequency with shit posts linking to other places with hot topics that will drive up my page rank in hopes that more people visit. But the latter seems to be what many sites do. They increase quantity without increasing or even maintaining quality, popularity over substance, and a number of other “this instead of that” scenarios.
I suppose it comes down to preferring opinions over news, especially since so many news sites are really announcement sites, posting headlines without substance. Anyway, back to the blogs…
About two months ago, a friend sent me a link to Elements. I played around with it for a few days to see if it would be something I was interested in, and it was. So I backed away from it and then came at it fresh for 30 days.
If you’ve ever played and enjoyed collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering, then this is probably right up your alley. When you begin you pick an element from Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Light, Darkness, Entropy, Gravity, Time, Aether, Life and Death. Don’t worry about picking wrong, you can change later if you like, or just make a new account. You’ll be given a starter deck and your first Quest: to defeat a Level 0 foe. This first quest works like a tutorial, explaining how to play the game. A coin is flipped to see who goes first, on your turn, if you aren’t first you draw a card, then you can play any resource cards you have and any cards you have the resources to play, and then you end your turn where any monsters you have will attack, any effects you have will process, and you’ll collect a round of resources. The goal is to reduce your opponent to zero hit points before he does the same to you.
There are too many cards to spend any time talking about there here, but you can go to the bazaar and see them all. You’ll earn money from winning duels, and sometimes even win cards in bonus spins after a win which you can use or sell, and you buy cards to continue constructing your deck. If you are worried about spending money on the wrong cards, go play in the trainer that lets you have unlimited money but you can’t save your deck.
I started the game with a Death deck, built mostly on poisons and infections and boneyards (that produce skeletons when monsters die). If you can survive long enough with this deck, you can kill just about anyone… its the surviving that is the trick. After a while, I switched to playing Darkness, which I enjoyed more as it was definitely more active. Basing the deck around Drains (a card that sucks life out of the opponent and gives it to you) I started regularly ending matches with 100 health and earning double the winnings. I really ended up liking this slim deadly deck, but I felt I should also try out some others. I played in the trainer and eventually I decided to build a deck based entirely on quantum pillars/towers (random 3 resources instead of 1 specific) and drawn resources (1 of each resource), and even went so far as to look up the ultimate god killing deck which was similar to but much better constructed than my rainbow deck. Now I take turns playing my god killer for cash and my darkness for fun.
To be honest, this would never be a game that I played “seriously”, as in “for hours straight a day”. But it is a very nice throwaway game to keep running in the background while you work (if your work doesn’t mind you playing games and they don’t block the site). As a programmer, I know I occasionally need a momentary distraction from work in order to let my brain wander away from a problem so I can approach it from a new angle later, and Elements is perfect for that. The only negative I would say exists in the game is that it is very grindy in that it takes quite a lot of time to be able to upgrade cards and build a better deck unless you play a certain way (Google “elements god killing deck”). One “would be nice” thing is I would love to be able to build multiple decks and switch them out easily instead of having to rebuild them every time.
Overall, the game is very well constructed, it doesn’t appear to have any game breaking balance issues, and since it is free to play there is no harm in giving it a shot. And if you enjoy playing it, feel free to throw a few dollars at the developers via their PayPal donation link.
I suppose it was inevitable. Eventually, Internet social tools become so strong that I end up joining in. First there was MySpace, then Facebook and LinkedIn, and now Twitter. In case you can’t follow that link, my name on Twitter is Jhaer, the same as my Xbox Gamertag. There is a story behind that name which I don’t often share.
On the bright side, I am considering deleting my MySpace page because I barely go there anymore. One should be mindful of one’s Internet Footprint and not leave inactive accounts all over the place. Its kind of like “Going Green” but digitally…
In case you have been living under a rock, Internet-wise that is, Google released a beta of their new web browser called Chrome.
I’ve been playing with it, and my official review is that I love it. Its fast, and when a web page does lock up for some reason being able to kill just that one page without killing all my web pages is really nice. Of course, being a beta, it still has flaws. There is no integration with many of Google’s other tools (I’m a big user of Google Bookmarks, and while I can use the web page I would prefer to have my bookmarks available in browser), and various plug-ins don’t function (if you use any Cold Fusion web sites that make use of the database table grid tool thing, it doesn’t work). But I am sure many of those will come in time.
However, playing with chrome introduced me to another thing which had previously been available but I have never used and that is using a single link to read my RSS feeds from my Google Reader. I have subscriptions to 87 RSS Feeds, and its only growing. Now, up in my bookmark bar in Chrome, I have a link that says “Next»” and when I click it, my browser navigates to the next unread RSS entry, or rather to the page of that RSS entry. Now, when I find myself with a few minutes to spare between work items, I just click the Next link and start making my way through my RSS feeds one article at a time. It really is quite nice.
Another really nice feature is the adaptive search engine capabilities. Essentially, any website that uses a search where the search terms are in the URL (not passed as session or cookie values), Chrome will parse the URL and add it as a search engine. When you start typing in a URL and you have enough characters to correctly identify the page (i.e. – it shows as the first option to select in the suggestions under where you are typing), hit Tab. This will change the URL bar into a Search Bar for the selected web site. Enter in your search terms and hit enter and Chrome will submit the search as if you had gone to the site and entered your terms into their search field.
And it works with any web site as long as you have performed one search on it. If you have Chrome, search for something on my blog. Anything. Now, go back to the URL, type in “weblog” (or whatever you need to type to make my web site the first suggested option) and hit Tab. Now type in a search term and hit enter. You should get back a page of search results. This kind of thing is fairly nifty as long as you have searched the site before. Like, if I know that Scott over at BrokenToys.org has written about Hello Kitty before and I want to find it, I would just type in “bro”, hit Tab, then type “Hello Kitty” and press enter. Bam. Search results!
Overall, I’m really looking forward to more improvements being made to Chrome. They have a great start going, and I am optomistic that it can only get better from here.
And that’s all I have to say about that. Except, thanks to Cyanbane for the link.
A friend of mine is making 1,000 paper cranes.
If you followed that link, you’ll see a story about a young girl with leukemia who is told of a legend whereby if a person folds a thousand paper cranes their wish will come true. According to the story of the girl, she originally was going to wish to be well, but when she got to the end she wished for world peace instead. She was buries with a wreath of a thousand paper cranes.
In all of my searching, though, I cannot find reference of the original legend itself, only mentions of people being told the legend.
I suppose the point, as my friend says, is that if you see it through, making the thousand cranes, during which you really can’t think of anything other than the wish you will make, by the end you’ll really know what your heart desires. In the girl’s case, being a victim of the atomic bomb herself, she (I assume) realized that she wanted less to get better herself and wanted more that the world would have peace and never see another atomic bomb drop.
I’ve been wondering what I would wish for if I decided to undertake the folding of a thousand cranes. I have no idea…
My friend has been keeping track of his progress on his blog.
I am seriously considering remove the Vanguard link from the probablynot main page. Seriously.
In case you missed it, Brad has been dropping mini-videos of gameplay on their forums. You can get some of them from Ten Ton Hammer, or you can go straight to the V:SoH forums.
In short… Brad has done it again, almost exactly. The game looks like EverQuest, with a touch of World of Warcraft and the graphics engine of EQ2. For something that is supposed to be a next generation game, its looking to be a last generation game that requires a next generation investment.
The NPCs seem to all just stand around, rigid. Sure, most games are that way, but that’s the point… you can’t claim to be next gen if you don’t improve anything, and requiring me to upgrade my computer isn’t improving anything. The combat looks to be just like every other combat around these days… auto-attack and some button mashing. I thought there was supposed to be this whole chained attacks and opportunities thing going on, but if its there he doesn’t show it in these videos. One thing of note during the combat… notice the way the group stands… tank in front, everyone else to the back and sides. I assume this means we will see more of the EQ game mechanics of NPCs with area attacks that you have to avoid by being out of the forward arc. Boring. Age of Conan impressed me with its model interactivity (player and monster actually making contact, a grapple move actually grappling the opponent), but Vanguard is sticking with the everyone is independant method of animation. So I could look forward to huge mobs with large bounding boxes whom I don’t have to actually be near to hit as long as I’m in range of his hit box. *sigh*
If this is all Brad has to offer, I’ve got no reason at all to stop playing WoW and plunk down the money for a new PC.
Thanks to Heartless Gamer for the heads up on the future of tedium.
And the page doesn’t get updated.
Some things have changed.
You’ll notice the Sages of the Primordium link is gone – the guild is dead. I don’t want it to be dead, but in the end it was a failed experiment. The experiment was: Can all my friends in EverQuest come together under a single name and play for fun? The result: No. Some people don’t want to co-operate. Some people get on other people’s nerves. Some people seek loot, fame, and fortune. Some people want to “win” EverQuest (The popular theory is that you win simply by going to all the high level zones and killing everything at least once). And all of these people cannot co-exist as a single unit. They can be friends for sure, but they must have two circles: one of friends, and one of like-minded achievers. They can actually hate all the like-minded achievers, but since those people are getting them what they desire outside of friendship they continue to associate with them. With the experiment failed, I headed back home to the Guardians of Order. We may not be uber in the world of Norrath, but we enjoy being there (Yes, there are people who are uber and also hate playing the game, why they still play baffles me).
There is another raid guide up – City of Mist. It will soon be joined by more guides once Jodi and I get around to gathering all the data and writing them up. All the raid guides are part of a little in-game project we are working on called nobody’s heroes. Another experiment, one that can’t fail because simply by my posting raid guides that we have created it has succeeded.
And as always… I’m looking for a new job and… buy my comics!