Archive for October, 2007

Busy Busy

Been busy of late. On Sunday, I have a  2-3 page paper that I still haven’t even really started, though I think I can finish that tomorrow. I have a 15-minute presentation due on Monday which i’ve just barely started but have no idea where I’m going on it. And the following Monday I have a 5 page paper due that I’m still figuring out a topic for.

On top of all that this week I have been suffering from a major bleed in my left elbow that has been keeping me on Oxycodone almost completely non-stop for the last 3 days. I took my medicine on Wednesday morning and that stopped the throbbing, but it is still painful so today I am going in for a second infusion. Being drugged and in pain, not to mention the constant sleeping due to the drugged bit, has made it difficult for me to start on these projects which is part of the reason that I haven’t really started the two first projects until now. I also missed my day of study on Tuesday because I needed to come home and take some oxycodone cause I was in too much pain and that often puts me behind on homework.

To make matters worse, my roommate is going on a date tonight in which the guy will be coming over to get ready before hand so we have been cleaning the house a lot the last couple of days, taking up even more of my time. And tonight I get my daughter which will make working on my projects difficult, and I need to stop and get lunch I think before I go to get my medicine because I’m starving and don’t really want to make something. Though I’ve been going out to eat a lot lately which I can’t afford to do so I think I just need to make something here and eat it. Would be healthier that way anyway.

When it rains it pours.

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Side note

As a side note for my site today… I had totally forgotten about my colour for this week and because of that wrote the previous post. I had then considered that I would work on it today, but instead have decided to put it off for a week as I try to get caught up in classes and get a paper that is due next Friday done today instead so that I can get started on another paper further out that is more important. I am starting to think I need more time than the last couple of days to write a paper just to ensure that I get a chance to proof read and make it better than average.

Bloodline Chronicles

I recently bought Bloodline Chronicles for EQ2. This was SOE’s first adventure pack and I never really bothered because SOE made a point to say these weren’t necessary, and it launched toward the end of my first stint with EQ2 which by the time I got back Splitpaw was out and that was far preferred at the time. Well recently SOE has revamped a little of this adventure pack, adding Vampire Master and I felt that this was a worthy thing to have for EoF raids (which are Vampire intensive at times) so I went out and bought it.

Now I have played through the main quests with one character and almost done with them on a second, I have decided that I fairly like the pack. The zones themselves have a fairly simple layout, but the pinkish caves with blood red crystals throughout are different and interesting. The addition of vampires are boring due to their look being very near identical to the elves or dark elves, but other creatures used in the zone are lesser used models such as the blue goblins, the hellhounds, the big giant snakey looking things. I’m not sure if these were invented for this pack, and later used in future expansions as the vampire were, but they are all very interesting in use given how little you really see them elsewhere.

The two big features touted in this pack were breakable walls and single shot items such as wands that do dmg and potions that heal or give power. Both I think were rather minor. I like walls here better than splitpaw largely because I don’t have to find a barrel to break them, but overall unimportant. Overall, I still think this is badly designed… something like this should be obvious to the player how to deal with it… I kept looking for a barrel due to splitpaw and took awhile to figure out that I could just hit it. There wasn’t any tutorial or anything to rely on, which I suppose is more realistic, but I’m just too stupid to really figure it out on my own, and considering how small a feature it was it seemed odd to me that it took so much effort.

The one shots too were bland. It was a good idea, and they may work well for a level 35, but they don’t scale and SOE dropped it. I mean at level 70 gaining 10-15 power isn’t much use in reality, and thus this aspect is completely lost. Which is too bad as it seemed like a focus to SOE for this.

To Commence or not…

So it is getting to the time where I really have to decide whether I want to go to the UW commencement ceremonies and get a yearbook picture taken and the whole nine yards or not. This has actually turned out to be a rather difficult decision on my part. At first, I was just giving a flat no to any who asked… fully intending NOT to do it. It isn’t my style after all… I think graduation ceremonies are boring as heck and far far over rated. I never really have felt a desire in all my life to go to these things…

But then, I only get one chance here, and ever since I was a little kid I wanted to go to the UW Madison. In fact, to this day it is one of my proudest moments, that I not only made it in, but that I am doing a fairly good job at being here. I love being at this college. So I sit and contemplate it because I wonder if I will regret it. It is a huge accomplishment of one of my very first goals in life and maybe I should take a moment to be proud of it. Yeah it’s a retarded thing to have these ceremonies… they are always overly pompous and sitting and watching 5000 students graduate leaves much to be desired… but still…. will I regret it if I don’t? Who knows what man I will be in 20 years… I may appreciate looking back at all things I did in my life and knowing that more than just I recognized it….

WiiWare & other fun stuff

Last night Nintendo announced their new WiiWare lineup (as well as showing off some of their normal software that is coming up). I must say I am pretty impressed over all, however I think pricing may be interesting to say the least. The games that I can recall off hand include a Pokemon Farm which allows you to upload pokemon to the wii from D&P and raise them in a farm… this one sounds pretty cool and I will likely take a look at it when it launches. A new Dr. Mario… A new version of one of those popular Turbo Grafx Games (i can’t remember which). And a new Final Fantasy Chrystal Chronicles.

Now this last one was really quite a surprise. We knew since launch that Square was working on it, but we hadn’t really heard much from it since the launch came. Now we can assume the reason for this was because they didn’t want to talk too much about WiiWare until it was closer to being ready. They seem to be having two different types of WiiWare games. One is the traditional small puzzle game not unlike what is on most of X-Box Live… the other type is a full game (likely smaller) like FFCC. I think they announced the price of FFCC to be somewhere around 1600-1700 Wii Points (which is $16-17), which actually if it is a more full fledged game isn’t a bad price and may be the answer to those lesser games that I’ve been talking about for months being too expensive (like trauma center, cooking mama, and big brain academy). Perhaps a reason they are not releasing Brain Age yet on Wii is because it will be a WiiWare game instead later down the line for $20 instead of a disc for $50. I don’t know…

Now the real question remains is how much will the smaller games be? I could see pokemon go for maybe 1300 points, while a new Dr. Mario could go for 1200… I think for the smaller game these would be fairly acceptable prices, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see them go up to 1500 for bigger games. After all, I think the N64 & SNES games are a tad overpriced as it is… wouldn’t be at all surprising if they overprice the rest of their WiiWare games… but so far the news is good on WiiWare.

They also announced that their Everbody Votes channel will be updated in the future to allow you to rate games and then have the channel tell you similar games that you may be interested in. I have a feeling that this is an advertising ploy for WiiWare in particular, but I think it is still a good idea. One problem that is out there with something like X-Box Live is that many of the games you may not even look at because you don’t even KNOW if you would be interested in it, and this will help sift through the junk. I think it will also play big in helping with finding the right VC games as it is starting to get crowded in there and I think Nintendo is doing a good job at putting in off the beaten track games.

Speaking of the VC… they have recently been adding a lot of new types of games of late which really make me excited for the variety it’ll provide. Two weeks ago they added what I think is called the Super CD which I think was a CD add on for the Turbo GrafX. Last week they added an import section bringing over the long wanted Mario: Lost Levels and Sin & Punishment (Mario I am considering buying only for the fact that I feel it is a game lost from my youth). And this week they added in NeoGeo games (which was a system known for porting arcade games, so it has a lot of fighting games on it… it is a tad pricey but then I think the actual console was too). I am particularly interested in the imports… as I said I am considering Mario… but there are also a ton of games that never really made it over here such as the other Earthbound/Mother games, or Fire Emblem… Japan has had a history of really cool games that never made it over here because they were believed to be too “niche” to be worth the translation costs (I hope they actually translate these games though!!!!!). All these new systems and such make me wonder what they will launch next week but I bet this is it… still… am I the only one who thinks it would be pretty kick ass if they brought over 64DD games?  There weren’t many games for it but, some of them were pretty cool in how they used the disk drive and since the Wii has the flash memory, this feature could easily be duplicated (after all there was only 64MB of space on those discs anyway).

New Feature: Colour Meanings

I’ve lately been taking an interest into colours (I use the -our variation of this word as I just kind of like the spelling for various reasons and have taken to using it of late). Because of this I’ve decided to start taking a casual look at the meaning of colours and their symbolic values in texts. One reason is just so that I get a better meaning of it, but also because I haven’t really found a really good guide for such a thing online. This I will try to make a regular feature on Tuesdays as I have a bit of time in between classes in order to work on it, but be warned it may come a day late as I try to finish it up. To go with this I have created a category for Colours for these posts to reside in to make it easy for those who wish to go and look up only these posts. To start this out I will start with the oddball colour of gray.

I can’t begin the colour gray without first mentioning a very interesting aspect of the colour… it is spelled both grey and gray. This has actually troubled me as a writer for quite some time as I’ve never been able to figure out which I should be using, which is more appropriate, even though both mean the same thing. I went to the Oxford English Dictionary to find out why it is that there are two different spellings for this word and what is proper, and there doesn’t seem to be a clear reason why it is the way it is. One guess is that perhaps gray used to refer to a darker shade, while grey used to refer to a lighter shade. It does seem to make the distinction though that -ay is used predominately today by the U.S. while -ey is used by the U.K. I also noted while looking at the historical use of the word that back in 1000 A.D. it was spelled græy which could explain why it got split off into two separate words the way it did.

Looking at the list of meanings from wikipedia, I noticed the big meanings they gave as mourning, elegance, March, neutrality, and Wisdom. The rest of the list I sat there and looked at wondering if people actually thought that certain things meant these things, such as Urban Sprawl. I mean who really has a colour that symbolizes Urban Sprawl? As a personal addition to this, I would say gray can also be represented as a sense of melancholy or depression as well as storms or rain.

Wikipedia also notes in the section on gray that mythology generally associates goblins with gray, and Norse mythology in particular tends to dress their gnomes in gray largely due to their association with dusk. So I guess we could also include dusk in our meanings of grey as well as a couple of interesting mythological creatures.

Another interesting side note comes from Dreammoods.com. I am largely interested in the symbolism of things in dreams and they note the meanings of gray in your dreams as indicating fear, depression, ill health, ambivalence, confusion and an emotional detachment. These meanings I think go along with what I would think the meaning of gray would be a little more, with a couple of associated meanings in addition to it. So I suppose a question that I would bring into this is do we give colours a more contextual non-existant meaning in texts, and is the dream meanings more correct to our actual associations with colours, or is dreammoods just a rather faulty source to be looking at for such info?

Mario Party 8

A couple of weeks ago I was looking for something to do with my sister’s family because they were coming down for my daughter’s birthday. I decided to go out and buy Mario Party 8 and Wii Play. I decided to get Wii Play, like most people, because I wanted another controller (brought me up to 3) and I was willing to pay $10 for the mini-games. I will talk about the game in a future post.

Mario Party 8 was actually a bit of a hard decision for me though. I wanted it because it is my room mate’s favorite series of games, and I like buying games that she will play with me. But I heard a bunch of bad reviews saying this game really should have had wifi connectivity of some sort, many of the games are the same that have always been in the game, the implementation of the controller seemed forced and rushed, etc. So I was going to wait for Mario Party 9 in order to buy it on the theory that this was likely just a modified gamecube game ported to the Wii with weak controller use.

Now i have owned Mario Party previously. I have Mario Party 4 for the Gamecube so it has been a long time since I’ve gotten one. In fact, I generally don’t think you need more than 1 per system unless there is an overwhelming upgrade (as I assume there will be with the wifi in the next couple of years) and have long felt that Nintendo’s biggest mistake with this franchise has been to make it a yearly game. I think they would have been much better suited had they just put out 2 per system with a year or two between games to protect the franchise. However, that is not what they’ve done and as such this franchise has gotten worse and worse scores as it has continued and become less relevant, even for party games. (Most people would prefer Rayman now instead of Mario Party although they could create the same mistake as Rayman 2 is coming out in just a year from the previous).

I was pleasantly surprised by this game however. The graphics were much nicer than 4, the new characters were  a welcome change (to me.. I love dry bones, boo, birdo and hammer bros. as additional characters). The Donkey Kong board is a brilliantly designed board, and I wish the others were to this quality but there are some interesting designs in each. Such as the train cars being mixed and moved, the random generation of rooms in the haunted house, or the monopoly like purchasing of hotels for stars. Many of the games seem fresh to me, even if they aren’t really, and the controls seem very appropriate and well done for the most part.

That isn’t to say it is perfect… controls in particular seem to be a constant annoyance. Twisting to turn or rotate in some games doesn’t seem to work all that well and everyone ends up annoyed that the computer consistently beats us because he doesn’t have to deal with the controller. Another trouble some game is where you have to flip the controller to the side in order to flip the monkey to a different side of the rope to avoid dropping coconuts, however, more often than not flipping the controller just doesn’t work at all and is an early prime contender to be taken out of the rotation if we can’t figure it out because this game will only work with 4 players being equally bad at the controller.

Another issue I have with the game is the general lack of boards. I have always found it curious that Mario Party has stuck with 6 boards since its inception on the N64. Despite growing disc size (now on DVD), they just refuse to put in more boards. Even if they didn’t want to totally design new boards, it would be nice to throw in 3-4 “classic boards” that could be unlocked in the game not unlike what you got from Mario Kart DS. This would reduce the onus of having to design new boards, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the reason that they don’t do this is because they later want to sell the classic Mario Parties on the Wii Shop Channel.

Overall, it was a pleasant purchase though I still believe Nintendo needs to start a low cost line of casual games in it for $39.99 instead of the traditional $49.99 as they do with the DS. This line should contain Mario Party, Big Brain Academy, Wario Ware, Cooking Mama, and other such games. The problem with many of these types of games, Mario Party included, is though it is a quality game, it often doesn’t feel like you are getting your money’s worth when you compare it to similar priced games such as Metroid, Zelda, or Mario Galaxy. I think at a $10 lower price, it would encourage more people to pick up these games in order to give them added value.