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Venom and Spite

I wrote a blog post last week.  And I rewrote it several times.  I even touched it again a few times this week.  The post is entitled “The Animosity of Hope”.  I actually originally made it to post on inauguration day.  But I haven’t posted it…

The meat of the entry is that holding on to hope can be one of the most destructive things in life.  My example, using my own life, is that when you are unemployed and looking for work in an “educated” field, getting nibbles and the occasional interview keeps you hoping that you’ll find work in the field of your choice, all the while your savings are vanishing and your credit cards get filled up and common sense tells you that you should go out and find a job, any job, because if you hold on to hope too long you are just going to end up messing up your financial future.  And face it, a person’s finances touch everything else in their lives.  While people surely can be happy with less, its hard to be happy under a mountain of debt and creditors beating down your door.

I haven’t posted that entry because no matter how many times I have rewritten it, and no matter how true I feel that message is, I can’t seem to really tell it, beyond the quick summary above, without the page being filled with venom and spite.  Animosity.

Sadly, I still have hope… but what I need is a job… maybe this week I’ll have both.

The PBBG

It stands for Persistant Browser Based Game.  To be honest, until recently, I didn’t know this term existed.  But then, that itself is the point of The PBBG Project.  To get the term out there.  And considering that a PBBG is the kind of game that I want to make someday, I want to do what I can to help out.

In September, for my 30 Days of Game post I reviewed Travian…  October turned into a mess as I became unemployed and also because I picked a horrible game to review.  I won’t even bother to name it since I don’t think I can review it properly since I barely played it and hated every minute that I did.  In the future, I’ll be picking my games to play and review from the PBBG Project website.

Anyway, October didn’t work out, and November is pretty well shot… so here’s looking toward December…

Thirty-Four

Happy Birthday to me!

It has been a year since my wonderful self-examination post called “Thirty-Three“, where I said I needed to do the following:

  • Stop being a lazy shit and get my work ethic back.
  • Stop being a lazy shit and exercise to get my waistline back.
  • Stop being a lazy shit and find a new job that engages and excites me.
  • Stop being a lazy shit and finish some of these projects around the house.

So how did I do?

Well, I can say that somewhat I have gotten my work ethic back.  I’ve been working smarter and harder and not letting the corporate jackassery get me down.  I still need to do more, but my problems now are related to item three and that I have no passion for my current job.

I have occasionally exercised, but more importantly I completely kicked caffiene and sodas.  I drink only water and Crystal Light now.  I’m also sort of eating better.  I have lost weight, but not enough.

If you have been reading my blog, you know that item three is now a self-fulfilling prophesy.  I will get a new job because the contract is over and I have to get a new job.  So, there is that.  And I am trying very hard to make sure I only pursue jobs that I will enjoy.

And lastly… well… there are still projects around the house that need doing.  But I’m not going anywhere (especially in this housing market), so I have time.

Looking ahead to Thirty-Four, I want to get an awesome job, one I love going to.  And I want to write more, so I’ll be making more of a concerted effort to do the NaNoWriMo this year.  And that’s really all I want out of the year to come.  It doesn’t seem so much to ask…

Zombie Day at the Mall

It has been a while since I posted something for Zombie Wednesdays, and I hope with this post I am beginning a trend of doing so.

I am, by all accounts, a t-shirt and jeans sort of guy.  T-shirt and shorts in the summer.  I really don’t like dressing up nice because I find most “nice” clothes to be uncomfortable, especially anything with a tie.  Wearing a tie is like voluntarily placing a noose around your neck… but I digress…

Knowing my love for zombies, and probably suspecting my love for t-shirts, a friend of mine sent me a link to this:

Zombie Day at the Mall t-shirt @ SplitReason.com
Zombie Day at the Mall t-shirt design @ © SplitReason.com

And that is just all kinds of awesome.  As soon as I find a spare twenty bucks, that beauty will be on its way to my door.

Listening versus Waiting To Talk

Have you ever been talking with someone, regaling a story, and when you finish they immediately respond with a story of their own?  One that somehow makes your story insignificant?  Have you ever told someone something to which they respond that they disagree, but the reasons they give are completely out of line with everything you just said?

I have.  When it happens, I try to notice, because most people who do this become obvious in their patterns.  They are not really listening to you, they are waiting for their turn to talk.

The Internet is full of people with this problem, especially when it comes to game design.  Take this thread for example.  Where I linked to should be a post of someone saying that the upcoming Star Trek Online game should avoid being a DIKU clone like so many other games.  He goes into a pretty elaborate tale of how things might work.  The second reply following him is a post saying his idea would fail as a DIKU.

Ummm… duh?  And the guy even quoted the entire original post, including the parts where the original poster said explicitly that it wasn’t a DIKU idea.

This is the sort of thing that makes conversation hard on the Internet.  Some people know what they want to say, they are just waiting for an opportunity to say it.  They don’t join a conversation so much as they look for an opening (no matter how ill fitting) and step in to criticize and spew their opinion.  I mean, if a few people are talking about how to make great soups, what is the point of walking in and stating that, while their soups might be okay for people who like soup, a steak would be a better meal.  It was a thread by people who like soup about soup… what the hell does steak have to do with it?

Sometimes people need to realize that if you can’t contribute to the topic at hand, then perhaps the best course of action is just to listen instead of trying to turn the conversation to something you’d rather talk about.  It really makes message boards less enjoyable, especially when the same person keeps trying to hammer his point of view into thread where they don’t belong.  If no one is talking about what you want to talk about… start a new thread, or at least propose that the thread steer another direction, don’t go hijacking.

Blog Banter: The Box versus the Digital Download

Always looking for sources of things to talk about, I’ve joined up with a group of other bloggers to do a monthly blog banter topic where we all post on the same subject.

Welcome, welcome to the 6th installment of Blog Banter, the monthly blogging extravaganza headed by bs angel! Blog Banter involves our cozy community of enthusiastic gaming bloggers, a common topic, and a week to post articles pertaining to said topic. The results are quite entertaining and can range from deep insight to ROFLMAO. Any questions about Blog Banter should be directed here. Check out other Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

Topic: Digital distribution of games vs. buying physical boxes and discs, which do you prefer and why?

If you had asked me this question years ago, my answer would have been physical boxes with no hesitation, as my closet full of game boxes will attest.  But then again, years ago, digital downloading could be iffy. Downloading a game once from some random website wouldn’t guarantee that you could get the game again later if you needed to.

That’s the main reason I always went for the physical box.  Once I have the box, as long as I don’t lose it, I can install and play that game whenever I want.  Every once in a while, I’ll pull out one of those boxes even now and throw down with an hour or two of Myst or Evil Genius or some other game you may not be able to find in stores anymore.

Of course, many of those games I own boxes for are available on GameTap now, so I don’t need my box, I just need to keep my $59.95 a year subscription active and I can play any of their 1000+ games whenever I want, on any machine I install the GameTap client on.  I’m a proud user of Steam, where I get my occasional fix of Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress 2 (games I don’t own boxes for) among others.  And with my Xbox360, well, I don’t fear Microsoft going out of business anytime soon, so I buy downloadable content through them, which I can always redownload.

But back to that main reason… being able to install and play any time I want.  If EA has their way, that’ll be a thing of the past.  SecuROM is actually going to make me not purchase Spore, a game I have been dying to play, because its some of the most idiotic copy protection I have ever heard about.  Similar problems crept up when Bioshock was released, the copy protection invalidating the game, which could be avoided by either getting the console version or by going through Steam.

I guess in the end, what I am saying it… assuming the source for the digital distribution will stick around, or that I can burn my own copy of the download for safe keeping, I don’t mind not getting a physical box anymore.

Check out these other Blog Banter articles! Living Epic, Silvercublogger, Mahogany Finish, Video Game Sandwich, thoughts and rants, XboxOZ360, Zath!, Delayed Responsibility, Gamer Unit, Hawty McBloggy, Triage Effect.

The Forest or the Trees

This Zombie Wednesday post is being partially co-opted by the Gaming category…

I’ve run into a problem with my Zombie MMO design.  I’m trying to think ahead a bit and not just blindly dive in and I have one point which I can see will be a major problem later if I have chosen incorrectly.  Do I approach the whole thing as “chat with a game wrapped around it” or “a game with chat as a feature”.

Personally, I want to start with the chat.  Mostly because I think ultimately this is going to be a more social game than it is going to be an achievement type game.  The current design doesn’t even have levels beyond the length of time you have survived.

However, starting with chat means I need to stop and go learn how to build either an IRC or a Voice Chat system, so its very tempting to just begin building the game, the world and its mechanics, as I am already a database and user interface programmer.

So, that would be the question… should I start with chat or should I start with the “game”?

Consoles and Couples

Something I left off of Monday’s post about Burnout Paradise was its lack of local multiplayer.  They aren’t alone.  Tons of games don’t have local multiplayer.  And even more rare are games that allow more than one player to play online.

One of the greatest features of Rock Band is that my wife and I can both play, and play online.  Now, of course, the interface for Rock Band is pretty simple… but the fact remains, if I wanted to sing, my wife wanted to play bass, my brother wanted to play guitar and my brother’s wife wanted to play drums, despite living a thirty minute drive away from each other, the four of us can do that, my wife and I on our console and he and his wife on their console.

Burnout Revenge had a local multiplayer mode, so the wife and I could race… but if I wanted to go online, she couldn’t play again, because only one player can be online from the same console in that game.  And that’s how most games are: Local or Online, but not a mix of both.

More games need to explore allowing multiple players from the same console play online.  I don’t work at a game company, so I can’t say for sure, but I would love to know what the hang up is.  Do they just not think about it?  Do the games require so much bandwidth that they can’t possibly run two sessions from one machine?  Is there not enough RAM or processing power?  I realize that there would have to be limitations… perhaps in Burnout Paradise, the second (and third, and fourth…) player from a console could only join if the first is hosting the game, and they can only join the locally hosted game.

Since I did name Rock Band as an example where a couple can play online together, does anyone out there know of other games that allow multiple players to be online from the same console?

… and Taxes

Each year, right around this time, I become a vocal advocate of a shift from income taxes to sales taxes.  Normally, I manage to keep it off the blog by scheduling posts in advance or through other great effort.  This year, I just couldn’t manage to keep from ranting about it, so rather than post daily diatribes on how I think the Income Tax system of this country is flawed and sucks, I refrained from hitting the publish button and the blog was dark for a week.  I would pay someone to do my taxes for me, but I feel that only perpetuates the system.

Anyway, the taxes are filed, I took a day off to regain my composure, and the blogging will continue.

An Ebbing in the Tide

A while back, I posted about my efforts to stop junk mail. In January even, I posted here about how I was still getting junk. And even though I can’t seem to win the fight against direct mailings for local businesses, the war is go well on other fronts.

In particular, the fight against credit card offers is going extremely well. In my first post on the subject, I provided a link to a site from the credit card offers themselves. This, perhaps in conjunction with other efforts, have actually resulted in a near complete stop of credit card solicitation.

I say “near complete stop” because the companies I already have credit cards with do occasionally send offers for different cards they represent, or sometimes offers to my wife if she isn’t listed on my card with them. While still undesirable, this is at least tolerable, since it is, at most, one a month in total. I will make an effort to stop this as well, but its no longer high on my list.

Some of the other junk does appear to have stopped. At least once a week I will go to the mailbox and find nothing there, sometimes even twice a week. And the days of my mailbox being jammed to overflowing with catalogs and coupons appear to be over.  To make further inroads against junk, I’ve signed up for GreenDimes, which has gotten very positive reviews from people I know in regards to how it helps stop mailers, especially those nasty “Resident” addressed ones.

All in all, I’m much happier not getting all that junk.  However, the United States Postal Service isn’t happy about it.  My brother forwarded me a link to a Washington Post article which in part is about how the USPS actually relies on the revenue generated by junk mail in order to keep running, and how as an employer of millions of Americans, the USPS (and by association, the junk mail) plays an important role in the economy.

Personally, I’d rather see them reform the USPS system rather than continuing to try to justify the support of the glut of junk mail being sent.