Gears Rocks

November 10th, 2008 by Shalewind

Another weekend gone another week starting. Played some Gears of War 2 in hoard mode this weekend with Chris (on leave from the Air Force). That game is fun as hell, even when Chris is being belligerent about our level of assistance. ? Hopefully a little more to talk about as we get into the week. Right now just winding up to get some more stuff ready for our next project phase here at work. Good luck in the new week fellow readers.

  Current Mood: Gearing Up Listening To: Must Be Dreaming– Frou Frou

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Back from Vacation

August 4th, 2008 by Shalewind

Captiva SunsetI have returned from vacation and the beach. The vacation was a great time. The family was good and the weather mostly favorable. I think my wife liked the ocean despite little annoyances like sand, sun, and mosquitoes. Hope we can all do it again. Captiva (and the beach) in general represent my truly favorite places of solace and peace.

I must say that iPod I bought and took to the beach was super cool. I mean, I really like walking along listening to nothing but the breeze and the waves, but sometimes its nice to listen to something more human while watching the sunset or the tides. On that note, iPods are super cool. I only wish you could randomize play within a playlist. Another thing… Why is the iPod and electronic device that can’t be listened to during airplane takeoff? It doesn’t emit a signal. And it’s damn cool to listen to something fast pace during the initial surge. I know. I did it all the time with my Sony Walkman as a kid. Of course I was listening to recordings of Boss Fights from NES games… Ah childhood…

Matt & CarlyI fully intended to drop some entries with pics from the beach, but I simply didn’t have time. Relaxing is a lot of work. :) 

Re-entry has not exactly been easy. I hear my sister lost her medical feeding bag. My auntie Kim (and her little dog) were accosted by an Air Marshall. You know, one of the 1% that are actually on flights. Myself? Well I made it home with all my luggage intact but have had a number of mishaps Monday morning.

The e-mail and task list is piled high. We lost an associate to termination (yeah, that’s a nice way of saying it) so that means even more work. I’m telling people I’m not yet back on the horse, merely being dragged in saddle. But over all I think I’m getting it under control. I’m using a little lunch break here to eat some tuna, take a breather, and write this post.

In other news, I’ve finally started playing World of Warcraft with my wife, and close friends. And <sigh> it is a good game and very time consuming. I’m sure there will be some website changes to reflect our new and growing interest. If you are in WoW on Draenor drop a shout to Kethsari the Rogue.

Well I think that’s about it for this shout out. Signing out.

Captiva Reunion

  Current Mood: Exhausted      Listening To: Knee Deep and Down – The Rain Band

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Here Comes Round 2 – Go Stars!

April 21st, 2008 by Shalewind

Hello all. Had a fairly good weekend but we have some real muggy weather now. Adobe CS3 is one hell of a product suite but it takes FOREVER to uninstall. I guess they really want you to keep it.

GO STARS!!! That’s right we are going to round 2! It has been, so long… GO STARS!

One of the entertaining things about working in retail IT is the people that you meet, in particular the people from the creative departments. I just sat in a meeting with Richard (who’s totally Asian and yet totally American) who has one of the most bizarre haircuts I’ve ever seen. It’s isn’t dyed, but its mohawked along the center and alternates buzzed and spiky on the sides. Richard is one hell of a guy, brilliant and pretty cool to work with. Across from him at the meeting sits Joe who looks almost exactly like ZZ Top and has a voice like Walter Cronkite. Only in retail IT…

I’m still waiting to borrow Dave’s Assassin’s Creed so I started up a second normal run through of Mass Effect this past week. The game remains a whole lot of fun. I’m playing an Engineer this time and let me tell you, nothing tears through Geth like a powered up Engineering. AI Hacking, Damping, Overload, and Sabotage just rape them. It’s really cool to just wave my hand and have an Ampature fly across the screen in pieces.

So we went against all better judgment and got copies of Vegas 2 this weekend. All of us experienced a plethora of errors, though none of them similar. The game includes the following robust features:

  • Worse graphics than the original game.
  • A run feature that’s pretty standard.
  • A glitched achievement system (of course).
  • Very few low level clothing customizations.
  • No Co-Op Campaign with 3 or 4 players.
  • A much improved leveling system.
  • A good selection of maps.
  • Some of us experienced CQB problems similar to earlier games.
  • A horrible AI on computer team-mates.
  • Some of us experienced spawn problems – like into friendly fire.
  • And as always – enemies spawn wherever the hell they want to.

Needless to say I am happy I bought the game used and did not contribute to the coffers of Ubisoft for this one (I merely support that awesome Gamestop we give our patronage to).

For those of you watching, BSG continues to trend water and suck. I find the writing to be absolutely horrible – yet continue to watch because I would like to see how big the train wreck can become. One good scene does not cancel and episode of inept filler material. Why must you destroy and kill characters simply for drama’s sake? The tactic can even be done correctly, but that isn’t the case here.

That’s all for now. Have a good week!

  Current Mood: Happy   
Listening To: Newborn Friend – Seal

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End of an Odyssey

April 7th, 2008 by Shalewind

Checking in. Sort of a busy week coming up. My work on the secure ASP page for work continues to move smoothly. I think I have everything down but the SSL now. Also doing some major prep for the end of Fallen Sun this coming weekend. So it’s a fairly concentration intensive week.

I finished Lost Odyssey and got my full 1000 points from it. Final time was 72 hours and my party was level 54-71. This game is most definitely the best RPG on the 360 and I’m fairly certain it ranks in my all time favorites. All the characters were wonderful, the story was great, and the ending was touching and well worth the play through. This is also one of the first games I have played through where I didn’t need to spend time leveling once. I basically just played through it straight. Superb design credit there.

June approaches as does the release of the 4th Edition D20 core books. I’m deciding if I want to pre-order them and have them shipped to me or go pick them up on release. Enworld has compiled an excellent Lite edition booklet with all of the known material for 4E in one place. It’s pretty cool and it’s updated daily.

We went with DJ to the last regular session Stars game yesterday for his birthday. There were over six fights in the first period alone – 95 penalty minutes the whole game. It was insane. The stars pulled out the victory too, 4-2. Pretty amazing game to catch.

Seems the Olympic Torch relay is being mobbed. I think the relay is a cool idea, even if the torch does go out a lot. And I can understand wanting to protest China from a human rights stance. Don’t mob the athlete that’s running the relay. It isn’t his or her fault. And certainly don’t mob some poor dude in a wheelchair! What is wrong with some of these people!

Not much else to report right now. Just know the Jeremy Soule kicks ass. I worship at the altar of his orchestral music.

  Current Mood: Concentrating   
Listening To: Do What You Want – JASEfos

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proud to report

March 31st, 2008 by Shalewind

Just a few things here before I continue with a very busy morning. My performance appraisal went very well and I’m very pleased with the outcome. Now I’m still working on putting together a secure web application. It’s very tough, but still pretty cool. I will say its awesome being able to use the skill set I tuned up to make for something I’m getting paid to do. Got a big meeting this morning over its architecture.

Did some steaks last night – tried a new bottom round cut. Wasn’t too bad, but I need to find a better tenderizing solution – the marinade I use for the thinner low-end cuts didn’t work as well. Live and learn.

I’ll have my 1000 in Lost Odyssey this afternoon, got everything but the final skill learned and the last boss. I’ll post my opinion of the overall after I finish it but so far, still very impressed. Three things:

  • The Temple of Enlightenment sucks. It reminds me of the crashed dungeon in Lufia II only this is in 3D. Not particularly fun especially if you are looking for treasure. Sorcerer Fu… Easy even at level 68.
  • The Immortal wasn’t too hard but he took some getting used to. I got him on my first try at level 69. All I can say is that double cast Reversa (with Ming and Sarah) and HP Max 3 Reversa (with Kaim and Seth) is essential to beating his 175,000 HP in 30 turns or less. I think I did it in ~20. Persistence is a must, as is careful timing of your revives so you don’t get wiped out. I didn’t bother healing, because it just makes Reversa stronger.
  • Treasure Trove is not a good achievement. I have it now, but I still think it is not a good achievement. Fair warning – not every item is in the Prima guide. And also – there are 24 under sea treasures, 2 under sea treasure hunts, and 1 undersea pirate. Yes, they count.

I finally played some Halo 3 Heroic Maps. Not much to say about Rat’s Nest. Foundry is not my kind of board. I hate having enemies come at your from behind and this happens to me constantly on Foundry. I’m in love with Standoff though. Pretty awesome map: warthogs, bases, a variety of other weapons, and no sniper rifle. Simply cool.

That’s about it for now. Have a great Monday!

  Current Mood: Busy   
Listening To: This is Your Life – Switchfoot

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Happy Easter!

March 24th, 2008 by Shalewind

We have a door here at the office that has been broken since early last week. The only thing wrong with it is that the pressure hinge is cut so it slams closed… loudly. We, day one there was a small post it note sign informing us to not us the door. And sure enough throughout the day I heard nothing but bang, bang, BANG! (I sit next to the door) Well as the week went on the sign went from a small note, to a bigger note, to a full sheet of paper with high lettering.
   So I come in the office today to find no less than three sheets of paper informing us the door is broken. I anticipate this will still not be enough and will surely find the entire door covered in paper by tomorrow.

It got a little colder here today. I stepped outside and it was freezing! I thought we were done with that? Happy belated Easter to you and yours, I hope you enjoyed the weekend.

I finally nailed a Pot Roast last night after some three or four failed tries. As I suspected, previous failures resulted from not budgeting in enough cook time (my 3 pound rump roast took about 4 hours stove top by the way). I also have a meat thermometer now (a simple poke and read affair) which has aided greatly in the cooking of succulent meat. I recommend a good horseradish and worcestershire rub for the roast itself. Braising liquid is much a personal choice – I may try a cheap red wine next time.

On the gaming front, we had an excellent little Halo run last night. This was following a horrid big team affair over the weekend however. I’ve also decided to update my stat algorithms for the Halo Stat Tracking. This is for several reasons, such as placement in team games isn’t a good indicator of performance and I was using it as a keystone in a lot of calculations. Not sure when the changes will be up but I’ll send out FTA notes with more info.

It’s confirmed Rainbow Six Vegas 2 doesn’t have 4 person co-op. When you remove this feature, which you already had implemented, even if poorly, I think you have made a poor design decision. Users always get upset when you take functionality away. Other than that I here it is a Vegas 1 clone with a run button and new maps. Probably won’t be dropping the $60 on this one.

Lost Odyssey is still cool, but you probably knew this. I’m about 38 hours in and on disc four. I still love all the characters. My only major gripe has been the English voiced songs are for the most part not so good. I of course have been spoiled with good game music from Playstation hits like Metal Gear Solid and Xenogears. Compared to those, the full voiced songs in Lost Odyssey are cheap and empty. Of course the in-game music is very good. And that’s my only complaint so it is still my vote for best RPG on the 360.

I just found out you can share Pandora stations with friends. I totally am going to have to do this. Of course I’m presently on a Techno kick as its extremely easy to code to.

I’ve got my one year performance appraisal coming up now. Wish me luck!

  Current Mood: Pondering   
Listening To: As the Rush Comes – Motorcycle

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Big Weekend

March 10th, 2008 by Shalewind

Had a very good weekend but not much overall going on. Couple of updates all around.

I’m a little late on the ball of this one, but I wanted to give a moment to honor the passing of Gary Gygax, one of the founding fathers of D&D. I have read many others speak to his life and achievements far more elegantly than I could express so I will only say that his works changed my life in a very real way and his spirit for the game will be missed.

In some happier news, my cousin Blair and his wife Andrea are going to have a baby! This is the first of my cousins to have a kid so this is kind of cool. Of course, my wife’s side of the family has been doing this for years.

From the Ashes has some new stuff up as of last week. Dustin and DJ have both added some pictures to the gallery. Also, we now have After Action Reports for the Halo 3 statistics section. I’m pretty proud of that little setup (full of Bungie website graphics for the weapons and medals too).

The more I play of Lost Odyssey the more I am convinced it is the best RPG for the 360, period. It’s also good proof that a Japanese RPG can be done well on the American platform. A few things I have noticed that I like:

-The story is good.
-The plot is pretty standard but more than acceptable.
-The characters have pre-existing relationships.
-The love story is not some sappy teenage affair (big plus).
-What I thought was going to be a series of depressing events has turned into an uplifting experience.

In sum the game is fucking fantastic and I recommend you play it now if you are even a partial fan of RPGs. I think it is probably better than FFXII but it’s a close call.

The rumors and release material for 4e continues to impress. I’ve seen some pre-release character sheets and I am very eager to see more. Were I a rich man (which I am definitely not) I’d consider purchasing the developer’s OGL SRD which runs about $5,000 but will allow developers to put out material for 4e faster. A good idea for a publisher. The rest of us will have to chomp at the bit until June 6th.

That’s about it for now. Have a good week!

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Online Mashup

March 3rd, 2008 by Shalewind

The amount of spam that comes into my blog staggers the mind.

Had a fairly good weekend. We are now bracing for the one day of cold and rainy weather before returning to some semblance of normal. Well as normal as Texas ever gets. All this pressure shifting is playing hell with my head though.

My mother’s computer is still not finished as UPS attempted to deliver the memory to my door (I wasn’t home) marked it delivered and then failed to drop it off at the office. This creates a unique problem in that after it’s marked delivered there isn’t anything I can do. I have to take it up with the shipper (NewEgg). This, for the record, sucks and is a horribly inefficient process.

Couple of updates on the gaming front:

Lost Odyssey remains fucking awesome. I’m still on Disc 1 (there are four) and feel confident that this may be the best RPG to hit the 360. The voice acting and graphical expressions are amazing and the story is fairly intriguing. I can’t wait to get some more characters.

Rainbow Six Vegas 2 comes out this month. Supposedly the character creation is both more in depth and easier to manage. The Co-Op improvement they worked so hard on are apparently only for 2-Player Co-Op (ouch!). However, it’s also been stated that ALL of the multiplayer modes (and two more) are available in the new one. So hopefully this means Mission will be open as well. Oh yeah, they have stat tracking too, which I’m always a big fan of.

Microsoft has reported that 360 sales are falling but profits are climbing. I think we all know WHY this is occurring (call it the red-ring effect) and I pray this trend doesn’t continue. It’s time for the PS3 to put some pressure on them so we have some real market competition. Maybe Blu-Ray’s victory will assist.

A few of you might find this interesting. The most popular games for the 360 based on logging in to XBOX Live (whether multiplayer or not) for February:

Call of Duty 4 3,350,362
Halo 3 2,524,448
Gears of War 678,770
Mass Effect 518,215
Rainbow Six Vegas 464,256
Guitar Hero III 406,038
Assassin’s Creed 385,429
Forza Motorsport 2 344,714
Rock Band 341,756
The Orange Box 271,932


A couple of observations: First, it seems that 65% of the online community is only ever playing two games at a given time. Second, holy crap a lot of people still play Gears of War. Also, Mass Effect seems to be pretty popular. Finally, why the fuck aren’t any of these people playing Lost Odyssey? (admittedly I bet a lot of RPGers aren’t online).

I follow a webcomic called Erfworld where a wargamer from present day is thrown into a fantastic world of a turn based war game. It’s slow paced but extremely good with pop culture references. Well, we dropped an All Your Base reference in the last one that about floored me. Cool stuff.

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Robert Jordan has passed…

September 17th, 2007 by Shalewind

Yesterday we lost a great to the fantasy fiction world. Robert Jordan has passed away from heart complications caused by amyloidosis. Jordan was in the middle of writing his final book in the Wheel of Time series: Memory of Light. While in the hospital and still in fair condition he is quoted as saying “I’m getting out notes, so if the worst actually happens, someone could finish A Memory of Light and have it end the way I want it to end.” The decision whether to posthumously complete the book has been left to his wife Harriet and Tor Books president Tom Doherty. I hope your legacy is completed in a fitting manner, RJ. Rest in peace.

News: If you haven’t heard, France has said Europe needs to prepare for war. Let me repeat that… France as said that European Union countries need to prepare for War. Why? Well the new French president, Nicolas Sarkozy has a much more hard-line stance towards Iran and the possession of nuclear arms. The exact statement was that if Iran develops a nuclear weapon, there will be war. Political analysts are saying that due to Sarkozy’s stances that US relations could improve. Go figure.

Halo 3: There may be clan support by Halo 3 launch yet. Some rumors have been leaked over some semi-legit sources. It’s possible a September 25th dashboard update might include the Clan Support menu that is XBOX Live wide. This would also include the plug in support that Halo 3 would need for clans. In a word: awesome… if true. The good news is we should here more soon when the dashboard update is officially announced. More details here.

Video Games: I await Eternal Sonata, it looks very pretty and fun to play – plus it might be fun for a wee bit before the Halo emerges from its dread cocoon of life sucking goodness. I have been watching some Mass Effect trailers. Now, part of me feels like my best buddy – I don’t want to get too hyped up because of previous failures. After watching some of this though, it is very difficult to not get excited. Some of my favorites here:

·        New Character Creation seems to indicate that you can also play a female character. This is very important for getting wide demographic sales.

·        Some of the prettiest stuff in the game may be galaxy exploration. The map is fantastic!

·        This is one of my favorites, and negotiation and interrogation… sort of. Be sure to watch to the end. Dave, your option is finally here.

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Here comes 28…

September 9th, 2007 by Shalewind

Video Games: Well I finished up Bioshock last weekend and the game delivered in its entirety. There is a protection mission, but there is not penalty for failure. I did take this as a challenge though and made sure not one splicer got their bloody little hands on my ward – not one hit. I also got my 1,000 points in one play through – around 25 hours. This was sixty bucks well spent. The game has a 60 second ending but may be one of the most touching I’ve ever seen (yes, I got the “good” ending). Overall, Bioshock is one of the best games I’ve played on a modern platform, hands down.

News: Well in case no one has heard, Steve Fossett is missing. Fossett is the millionaire that’s been involved in breaking most of the aviator and world speed records through his 60 some years. My favorite feat though is the round the world trip in a hot air balloon. He’s lost in a downed airplane somewhere in Nevada. I hope they find him alive. Half of me still thinks he might turn up at a gas station some 1000 miles away and use a payphone to say – “Here I am!”  

Halo 3: Gearing up for the event. Plan is the have the dangerous four person commando team take on the prophets on Friday September 28th – starting in the morning. Yes, I have taken the day off work. Pray to whatever power you hold dear that this 4 person co-op thing works! If so – it will be the coolest thing ever! Regardless, this game is going to break every sales record.

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