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12

I’m back!

Woohoo! It’s good to be back! Well, not really. I loved being on my honeymoon, and I enjoyed the first real 100% relaxing trip I’ve taken in over 10 years. Nothing beats swaying in a hammock on a tropical island. We took a Disney Cruise to the Bahamas and had an absolutely wonderful time. This was my first cruise ever, and I have to say it was much better than I expected.

We were on aboard the Disney Dream. She really is a beautiful ship, and as a detail oriented person I love how Disney goes to great lengths to ensure every little detail contains that sparkle of Disney magic. From the Aqua Duck water slide-coaster to the private island, it really is a great experience. We paid quite a premium, as in all things Disney, but it was worth it for us as Disney fans. I’m happy to share any details and answer any questions you might have about the cruise. Suffice it to say I highly recommend it and will do it again.

Oh! The wedding was beautiful, and the the whole day was magnificent. I’m so glad that I can say the entire thing from ‘I do’ until the last day of the honeymoon was absolutely flawless. The one hiccup in all of it was at the very end on our flight home … we got delayed right at the last second before boarding and ended up spending like 14 hours in the airport waiting on our flight. To top it off we both got colds from all the sneezing and coughing people on the plane. Both of us agreed that the honeymoon ended upon the cruise docking so this doesn’t count! 😉

So what now? My internet (~22mbps … grumble) is up and running. I just got my computer and desk all set up yesterday night. I’ll be logging in from home now to play games again!

Did I miss anything big? I’m going through all the news sites and my email (over a week without my phone on means quite a pile to sort through) and should be up and running today or tomorrow at the latest. We have lots of furniture being delivered and still so much to do, but I’m at a point now where I can come home from work and relax to some games.

39

AT&T U-verse Questions – HELP!

My fiancée and I are moving stuff into our new place, debating which TV to buy, waiting for the bed to be delivered, trying to find decent furniture, and then we realized one important thing: We should probably get internet. Before I jump to the point of this post I want to give a little preface.

When choosing this place we did so based on a huge list of criteria ranging from our budget to its location, etc., etc. Everything is truly amazing except for the fact that the only internet provider we can get is AT&T U-verse. What a total drag. I hate being victim to a monopoly, but supposedly the developers gave TWC time to come in but they were late so they closed up the ground and said no more running lines.

Our apartment complex was built just under a year ago. AT&T U-verse ran fiber lines directly to each unit during construction. U-verse has a dedicated rep for our complex that supposedly gives pretty good deals to rival what AT&T will sell you on their website. So I got the guy’s number and gave him a call.

I got on the phone and cut right to the chase: I want the best internet you got and I want a little bit of TV too. So he put together a package that comes in at $76/month +California taxes (that price includes their hidden fees and modem leasing, yada yada) and a guarantee that our prices do not go up each year due to the special deal we got through our complex. Yep, that’s cheaper than their online prices (I’d be paying 86 for the same package and slowest internet). I choked when he told me how fast the connection was: 18mbps. Excuse me, say what? I currently have 100mbps from TWC. The rep told me “Yeah but this is Fiber running straight to your unit. It’s better.” I asked, “Why?” He said, “because it has more bandwidth and on TWC you have lots of people sharing the same line and that slows you down.” I replied, “Speedtests showed me getting 100mbps-125mbps at all times. I didn’t feel slow. I downloaded any time of day at 10 megabytes to 13 megabytes a second.” He replied again about it being consistent and great.

Having no choice, we’re going to have our setup occur on March 30th. My question to you all is whether or not this guy is giving me a load of crap. I see 18mbps and I think I’m about to go back to the stone age. I want to watch my Netflix in super HD and not have any buffering issues, and I want to do it while playing online games with great ping. Am I going to be okay? Speak comfort to me, friends!

23

I Dropped Epic Loot

Whew! Long break without any updates. Sorry about that folks. I’ve had a busy week with the flu and haven’t felt like getting off the couch or lifting my head more than an inch. Oh, and I also got engaged! It was all romantic and stuff. The logistics of a beach proposal (traffic, people, weather, etc.) and having it all set up just in time for us to come across this awesome heart in the sand decorated with rose pedals, sea shells, star fish, and all sorts of neat stuff. I rolled a 20 on the whole thing and it went off perfectly, but she’s definitely the one walking away with the epic loot.

Now I’m recovering and will hopefully be cranking out content all week.  Did I miss anything major that I should have commented on?

5

Birthdays, Backlogs, and Board Games–Oh my!

Keen's BirthdayFirstly I should very much like to wish Keen a happy birthday. You are one step closer to kicking it, etc. I think I do the mortality joke every year but I’m just not feeling it this time. But yeah, Happy birthday and all that! Hurray!

Now onto more important matters…

Backlog

My gaming backlog is really starting to creep up on me. Even more since I’ve neglected many games in favor of playing board games. Right now, just off the top of my head and not including current stuff like Toukiden and Bravely Default, I have:

The Wonderful 101 – I played the demo of this game and I really liked it. Apparently enough so to buy it not to play it. Just recently, i.e. last night, I started playing it and I was reminded why I liked it in the first place. I seriously need to put more time into this one.

Sonic Lost World – I think I’m something like 75% done with this but I really need to finish it up. I’m not exactly sure why I stopped but seeing that I have the attention span of a goldfish I suppose it’s not that surprising.

YS: Memories of Celceta – This one I actually got for Christmas. At least I think that’s when. I did start playing it recently and I’m really enjoying it but it’s probably going on long pause until I finish more current RPGS like Bravely Default.

I don’t even want to look at my Steam list. I’m more than sure it’s full of impulse buys (sales, etc) and the mere sight of it would be enough to cause a panic attack.

Board Games

cavernaWe didn’t get any real chance to play this week but I’m hoping that can be remedied this weekend. Perhaps we can complete the first scenario in Robinson Crusoe and maybe even squeeze in some Pathfinder: ACG. I guess it really depends on what Keen wants to do since it is his birthday and all. He should at least get one day where his vote counts.

We’ve started looking towards future games, too. The Witcher game is on my radar and we already went ahead and pre-ordered Caverna. Technically that last one already came out but it’s near impossible to find. Fortunately they seem to be reprinting it soon. We also decided to back a couple of Kickstarters that looked very promising. One of them is Tiny Epic Kingdoms, which is a micro 4x game and looks absolutely fascinating. The other is a tactical superhero game called Heroes Wanted which I think looks absolutely fantastic. The humor and style plus the superhero theme is right up my alley. It reminds me of games like Freedom Force and The Superhero League of Hoboken. I’m really looking forward to it.

In Other News…

Keen decided to bite the bullet and get a new PC. That’s pretty nice for me since it means I get his old one and now I don’t have to try and run stuff like Battlefield 4 with HALF of the REQUIRED RAM. Seriously, I don’t know how but it does work. I suppose I will also get to play EQ Landmark now that I’ve been set free of my 32 bit system shackles.
I was able to instruct Keen on how to build a circular pillar. I’ve never even played the game but it only took me a couple of minutes to figure it out. He looked at me like I was some kind of mystic space wizard. I’m not saying that’s untrue, but you just don’t go around telling people that kind of thing.

 

8

The Frustrating Flipside of Board Games

As much as I’m loving my new hobby I have begun to notice several different aspects of playing board games that are starting to irk me. I’m sure some of these things might be personal quirks but others seem to be common amongst every single game I play.

Box

When I refer to the box I don’t mean the outside but rather what is inside. The one thing that I can’t seem to understand is why almost every box comes with some kind of cardboard insert that renders a huge portion of free space absolutely WORTHLESS. This issues especially pisses me off when you can already barely fit the game components into the box. I’ve already made plans to replace the interior of several of my boxes with custom foamcore interiors that will not only accommodate everything but make organizing and setup so much faster, which can be a big deal since…

Space

…some games seem to take up SO MUCH real estate. I’ve touched on this one briefly before when talking about Mage Knight. This point is obviously only a problem for some people, those who have limited space. I’m starting to think that I might need to set up both of my tables next to each other just so I can fit everything. One of the biggest problems I face is leaving games set up so I can come back to them later since…

Time

…some of these games take several hours per session. Honestly this doesn’t bother me so much as it does Keen. Still, that directly effects me since he is pretty much the only person I could convince to play with me. Even if all of my games have solitaire play it’s always more enjoyable to have somebody to play with and talk to. Some games are naturally just long but play time can be drastically increased…

Rules

…if you don’t fully understand the rules. Some of these rulebooks and other resources don’t seem to explain certain elements all that well and sometimes the language can be very confusing. I am not very good at teaching myself something through reading which has been demonstrated several times over when I need to hit youtube to learn how to play a game. So of course some of it is on my end but there are several instances where it seems many players can’t seem to agree on the interpretation of a rule. Fortunately most of the time these things get addressed in online FAQs or errata or even by the game creator themself, which is always nice. Still, I think one of my biggest pet peeves is seeing an example laid out in a manual that runs you through a scenario with outcome A but doesn’t fill you in on what happens with outcome B, which seems to be what I always need to know. This whole issue is probably Keen’s least favorite aspect of playing board games. Any time I need to double check something or consult the manual I can see a little piece of his soul breaking off. It seems to be an extension of pausing a fighting game to check out your character’s moveset, which is apparently one of the worst sins you can commit around him.

———

Those are really my biggest complains, at least that I can think of off the top of my head. Mostly it’s just nitpicky stuff but it does feel good to vent. Thanks for listening to complain for several paragraphs. Here’s a bonus picture of a Cthulhu miniature I’m working on since according to Keen I “can’t get away with making an entire blog post just one picture.”

Claythulhu demands your worship and love!

7

Video game instruction manuals

baldurs gate 2 manual

Our copy of the Baldur’s Gate 2′ Instruction Manual — So thick it was spiral bound!

I miss those really big instruction manuals that used to come with games.  When I was younger, in 5th-8th grade, I would bring my instruction manuals to school with me and study them during recess.  I loved the information, pictures, and ability to bring my game with me wherever I go.  Maybe that’s what was so great about having those wonderful smelling, cheaply bound pages.

Back in 1996 I met one of my best childhood friends because I overheard him and a few other kids talking about a video game with a Sorcerer, Rogue, and Warrior. At the time I had no idea what the game was about, but I did my  best to pretend I had a clue so that I’d be included.  I remember begging my Dad to take me out to the store later that day to pick up a copy of Diablo.  When I got it home I ripped open (actually I carefully pealed back the tape) the box and pulled out the holy grail — my ‘in’ with this group of kids — the instruction manual.

Remember how big manuals used to be back then? Loaded with facts about potions, armor, spells, and everything we needed to know, or simply wanted to read about in the bathroom or on a lunch break.

Reducing costs, the internet, mechanical familiarity… I”m sure there’s a dozen reasons why instruction manuals disappeared.  I just know that I love them and what they represent.

11

I Love Old School Video Game Boxes

I sat down in our gaming room this evening to think up ideas for blog content.  I casually looked around the room and realized I was surrounded by inspiration.  While growing up I had trouble throwing things away — I still hate throwing things away.  If something looks neat, I have a natural desire to display it.  One of my favorite things to collect when I was younger was video game boxes.  We have hundreds of PC game boxes on display in this room.  In our built-in wall unit we have these sections near the roof that go along the edge of the room with recessed lighting.  What’s in them? Computer game boxes.  Across the room from where I’m sitting now we have 2 very large book cases.  Are there books in those shelves?  I think there might be 12 books, 30 game boxes, and some action figures.

Here’s one my favorite shelves.

old school video game boxes

That shelf alone represents more than ten years of memories, and contains some of the greatest video games ever made.  I can lean back in my chair, close my eyes, and transport myself to a world where the memories of these games are alive and well.  I remember watching Graev play Final Fantasy 7 every day when he got home from school.   Graev and I used to go online in Nox, coordinate our play, and just stomp other people.  Age of Empires… my gosh, I got my Mom into that series and to this day even she has fond memories.   Black & White consists of game mechanics which, to this day, are still untapped. Need I say anything at all about the original EverQuest or DAoC?

Collecting boxes has become a hobby.  I can look around this room and see how video game boxes have evolved — how my hobby has evolved — over the years from enormous, cardboard works of art to the smaller boxes with those flaps on the front.  Then came the plastic thicker boxes, and not long after that the thinner boxes shrink wrapped like console games.  In a way, I feel like my collection validates my love for the older generation of gaming, and in a small way I know exactly how some of you must feel about your Atari and even older collections.

I feel almost sad about PC gaming shifting to almost being entirely digital.  How will I keep the memories alive decades later?

6

Returning to Normal!

Whew! What a long two weeks.  I’m so glad to be back in SoCal where the weather is amazing and life is just so much more laid back.

I’m really sorry for the lack of posts and general activity on our blog and forums.  Taking finals, graduating from college, hunting for jobs, picking up and moving my life several states away, and really just trying to settle down has been a real time-sucker.  All of that is just about over!  I plan to unpack my desktop today, and maybe even find a few spare minutes to play something.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I’m away from my computer for several days I feel like I lose track of what’s happening in the world.  Fill me in! Has anything big happened out there? What are you up to?  In all honesty I’m sitting on my couch right now touching my laptop for the first time, so I haven’t even checked Camelot Unchained’s kickstarter numbers or been to any of the news sites to see what’s been going on.

Look for a post either tonight or tomorrow. I promise to inspire you, fill your minds with thought provoking ideas, and have you questioning your own gaming beliefs in no time — or maybe I’ll just give you something to read.  Either way, it’s great to be back!

11

Conglomoblog: Minecraft, SWTOR, Job Hunting

Life has been crazy lately.  I spend more time working on campus to finish up the last of my finals (graduating in a week!) in one day than I do sleeping and playing games.  I apologize for the lack of updates around here, but it will improve in just a matter of days.  After that, until I can find a job (Which I am actively looking for — anyone want a marketing guru?) I’ll have plenty of free time.

I’m also bound by a few NDAs right now.  If not for forced silence, I’d have quite a bit to share about a few games.  I want to talk about Marvel Heroes, for example, which is an action RPG set in the Marvel universe, but I can’t just yet.

To kill what very little free time I have, which has mostly been extremely late at night (read: after 10pm), I’ve been playing Minecraft again.  Our community has another server set up, and we’re playing a mod compilation called ‘Feed the Beast’.  It’s neat, challenging compared to Tekkit, and a lot of fun to hop in and build.  There’s something about building, tinkering, and letting my creative (or lack thereof) manifest itself in a game.  Why can’t more games be a blank canvas like Minecraft? So simple, so fun.

Let’s see, what else am I up to lately?  I played a 30 minutes of SWTOR tonight. A friend of mine is playing again just to kill some time and play some battlegrounds.  I had fun playing the single-player game 1-50.  The game is quite charming looking once you get past the low level armor that looks like it’s painted on.  Animations are extremely smooth.  I love what they did with the interface changes.  I hate the F2P crap, but it’s free. As I continue to play, I’ll refine my thoughts and keep you posted.

That’s all for now! Things will pick up again very soon.

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