Playstation 4

The big PS4 news today was that Sony sold 1 million units of the PS4 in the first day. One of those systems is now sitting under my television. I didn’t buy any games for it because there aren’t any launch titles that looked worthwhile.

Since I’m a PSN+ member, I got Contrast and Resogun free. I’ve only played the very beginning of Contrast and while I really like the aesthetic, the music, and the art style, the game itself is buggy and feels weird. But hey, it’s free, so I’m not complaining. Resogun, on the other hand, is pretty damned fun. I seriously suck at it, but it’s really fun to play. And it’s so sparkly and pretty. I need to look at the play guide or something, though, because there were certain aspects of the gameplay that I couldn’t figure out. I’m supposed to save the humans, but sometimes they stayed stuck in their little boxes, so I couldn’t pick them up. Then they’d die and you’d see little green corpses in boxes. Sometimes a beam of light would break the box open and then I could grab them, but I was unable to determine what caused that.

I also used my first time playing Resogun to check out the Facebook sharing feature. I was expecting it to be complicated, but it really is just a matter of pressing the Share button on the controller and telling the PS4 to upload the video or the screenshot.

My husband installed the NBA app and Netflix so he could watch movies, TV shows, and basketball highlights. That’s pretty much it. He and I have been talking about stuff that’s coming to the PS4 in the future, but just like previous console releases, there’s not a whole lot going on for it right now. At least, not for me. If you’re into first person shooter games or sports games and you’re not sick to death of the Assassin’s Creed series, the PS4 has a lot more to offer, but for a RPG fan, there’s not much to write home about. 😉

IMG_20131115_012657 IMG_20131115_012755Update: I just realized that I had a picture of the power brick from my computer mixed in with my PS4 pictures and mistakenly posted that picture here. I’m so retarded! Fixed now! No power brick for the PS4…lol

My New Computer – Alienware X51 – Specs and Pictures

IMG_20131114_194932SPECS

  • Intel® Core i7 Processor
  • 16 GB RAM
  • 256 GB SSD + 1TB Storage Drive
  • NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 760 with 1.5G GDDR5
  • Windows 8

It is AMAZING to me how much faster this machine is from my last one. And I can turn the graphics up! When I loaded up Final Fantasy, I played for awhile at whatever the default setting was without even thinking about the fact that I had a brand new machine. I was consistently running at 60 frames per second. Then my husband asked me if I turned everything up. So I went into the settings and turned everything up to max. I lost about 10 fps, but even in busy areas, I ran at a consistent 50 frames per second. My last computer had everything turned down to minimum and I was lucky if I reached 30. I usually hovered around 20. I love it!

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I took this picture of the box while I was at work. After my husband drove out to the FedEx facility to pick it up, he dropped it off at my office. I didn’t want him leaving it in the car while he was at work. So this thing was taunting me ALL DAY.IMG_20131114_193239 IMG_20131114_193519 IMG_20131114_193535

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Look at the size of that power brick! I put the PS4 controller next to it for comparison. (That’s also probably why I stuck it in the same folder as my PS4 pictures and posted it there first… LOL)IMG_20131114_193601It’s so small and cute. I think it’s just about the same size as my XBOX 360. Maybe ever so slightly larger, but not by much.

I need to install some other games, but now that FFXIV:ARR is running really well, I’m just not motivated to do that. LOL (I finally got my Paladin to 50 over the weekend…)

My New Computer – Alienware X51 – The Reasons

While a bunch of people will probably see the word, “Alienware,” and get all excited, I’m NOT one of those people. I’m a firm believer in the idea that if you need a good GAMING computer, it is best to build it yourself. Companies that ship out pre-built gaming computers can jack up the prices because they know that gamers who don’t know how to build machines are more than willing to throw their money away on the best and fastest machines. And call me an elitist asshole if you want (it’s true), but if you’re really into PC gaming and you don’t know how to build a computer, WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU? I know, I’m terrible… LOL. Premium parts for a kick ass gaming PC are already expensive without markups by companies that ship out pre-built machines, so building your own gaming PC is always going to be cheaper.

I grew up as a Mac user and didn’t discover PC gaming until after I met my husband. One of our regular “dates” during our early relationship involved playing Diablo II together over the internet. Blizzard has always been awesome in that their games are both PC and Mac compatible, so the fact that I had a Mac was not an issue. When we started living together in 2001, I couldn’t take the family computer with me, so I needed a new computer. My husband and my coworkers had recently introduced me to EverQuest, which at the time was unavailable on Mac, so we decided to build me a PC. He bought all the parts and then we took an afternoon where he taught me how to build a computer. It was probably one of the most awesome and amazing days of my life. After that, I had a student job for awhile building and fixing computers for professors in the engineering department of University of Hawaii, so I got lots of practice putting the parts together.

When I turned 33, I bought parts for a new computer for myself and used the opportunity to teach my son how to build a machine. (Man, the background I used for my old blog makes me want to find that photo and use it here…) He was 13 at the time. Since he built this machine, I’ve replaced and added RAM, upgraded the video card twice, replaced the power supply, and replaced numerous hard drives. (I had REALLY BAD LUCK with hard drives. Little did I know that it was a drive controller issue on the motherboard. Oh well, now I’ve got more experience with troubleshooting.)

Since my husband and I are planning to move to the mainland, the idea was that we would take any data hard drives out of our current machines and build new ones once we reached our new destination. The idea of shipping two full size tower PC’s to the mainland just seemed stupid. The computers were getting older, anyway, so moving would have been the perfect time to build new machines. I had this factored in to the cost of moving. What I didn’t factor into the equation was the fact that my motherboard finally decided to just crap out on me. I could have just replaced the motherboard for about $100, but the rest of the parts were getting outdated. The processor, in particular, was starting to become the “minimum requirement” for most PC games. Thankfully, I don’t play first person shooter games, so it wasn’t THAT crucial, but even MMORPG’s were starting to tax my machine. Upgrading the video card helped, but I started getting to the point where I was running all my games on a pretty low setting. I’m not a crazy graphics snob, but I do like shadows and shimmering water. I’ve had to keep those kinds of things turned off lately.

So I started thinking about building a new machine, but I didn’t have the cash for that. I could put the parts on a credit card, but since I couldn’t pay down the balances immediately, I’d have to pay interest. I have a credit account with Dell and they were having a special that if you buy any Alienware on account, you would pay 0% interest if you pay it off in one year. THAT I could do. But then there is what I call the “penis envy problem” that my husband and I ALWAYS have when one of us gets new tech. It boils down to the fact that when one of us gets a new, shiny toy, the other gets sulky and grumpy. Seriously, it happens EVERY TIME. This is probably one of the ONLY things we ever get into fights about. We don’t fight about money. We don’t fight about trust. We don’t fight about chores. We don’t fight about not spending enough time with each other. We don’t fight about our son. We fight about playing video games together and new tech. LOL (On a side note, these fights usually only last for about 5 minutes. 15 minutes tops.) That was the other reason why I wanted to build new machines when we move. We’d build IDENTICAL machines, so no envy problem.

So I had to come up with a solution. My solution is in three parts. First, I bought him a Walking Dead PlayStation Vita bundle because it was something he wanted right now and we could afford that. (I already have a Vita and hate the Walking Dead, so there would be no tech envy here.) Second, I took the video card out of my dead computer and gave it to him to put in his machine since my card was faster than his. Third, I promised him an identical Alienware when we could afford it, so it’s in my best interests to pay off this machine ASAP! 😉

The next issue was to figure out which computer. I hate using laptops, so forget that. Then I had a choice between a full sized Aurora or a mini X51. I was really intrigued by the mini because I was now going to probably have to ship my new computer to the mainland when we move. The pros were that it’s small in size, but still has the parts to pack a serious punch. The major con was that although you CAN open it up and change things if you want, there is no room for expansion and the chassis is only large enough for a small to medium sized video card, so you can’t fit a full size monster card in there.

When I took ALL this into account, I decided to go for it. I ordered the machine and now it’s sitting unopened in a box on my second desk at work, while I type out this post on my lunch break. When I get home later, I will open it up, take photos, and write a post about the specs of the computer. お楽しみに!(Otanoshimini! Look forward to it!)

“Touching is Good”

(This post is NOT about games, but it’s important, so you should read it.)

Remember that Nintendo slogan for the DS back when it was released in 2004? My son was 10 years old at the time and completely oblivious to the possible sexual innuendo associated with it, so like most elementary school kids, he would repeat the slogan when talking about the new handheld that was coming out. One of my best friends, Dustin, always responded in kind. To this day, Dustin and my son continue to remind each other that touching is good.

Now I want to remind YOU that touching is good.

Dustin was very recently diagnosed with testicular cancer. And how did he find out? Touching. Just like women need to regularly “check their girls” and do breast self-examinations, it’s really important for men to regularly “check their boys” and do self-examinations of their testicles. Testicular cancer is more likely to strike a younger man than an older man, believe it or not, so don’t think that because you’re young, you’re immune.

I didn’t have a maid-of-honor at my wedding because Dustin was my man-of-honor instead. Outside of my family, he’s one of the most important people to me. I’m really thankful that he caught it early and that he’s cancer free now. If you’re interested in more details about testicular cancer, you can read his blog post about it here. Also, you can visit his Movember page and there are links on the site under “Men’s Health” with more information on prostate and testicular cancer. (Consider donating, too! I’m going to after I get paid on Friday…)

This year was the first year I had a mammogram and a pelvic ultrasound because breast cancer runs in my family and my paternal grandmother had cervical cancer. The thing about cancer is that the sooner it’s discovered, the higher your chances for survival. So take control of your health and check your boys and girls on a regular basis.

Remember, touching is good.

There’s More Than One Way…

“There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”

I’ve always found this saying to be quite disturbing. Yet when it comes to playing video games (or just living life for that matter), its message is one that I hold very dear. Since I started playing MMORPG’s, the genre has changed and morphed over time. More and more developers are providing content that encourages the player to get to the maximum level as quickly as possible. For example, there are min-maxers who do whatever they have to do to maximize their stats so that they can complete quests, dungeons, and other activities as quickly as possible. They tend to believe that if your gear isn’t maxed out in the same way, you will be incapable of satisfactorily completing whatever the task is.

This is a far cry from the times where creativity and unique tactical planning was not only acceptable, but a key feature in online games. For example, in the original EverQuest, there was a technique used by ShadowKnights (and sometimes Necromancers) known as the FD-pull. FD stands for Feign Death and this was a spell that if you were able to successfully cast it (in other words, don’t get hit on the way down), you would appear dead to the monster and it would run away after a set period of time. (Unlike in World of Warcraft, Feign Death in EQ lasted until you chose to get up. You could stay dead for hours if you wanted/needed.) Critical to the FD-pull technique, you needed to have an ability to snare an enemy as well. Much like MMORPGs today, enemies and monsters hang out in groups and attack en masse if you attack one of their number. In today’s min-max gear-based games, the strategy for groups of enemies is to fight them all at once. However, this was suicide in the original EverQuest because gear and stats worked differently. Hence the need for FD-pulling.

Here’s how it works: Your party camps out in a safe place with no wandering monsters. The ShadowKnight (SK) would find a group of enemies and cast a snare spell on one of them and then run toward the party. So you would have, for example, three monsters chasing you, but one can’t run as quickly as the others. Somewhere between the place where you found the mobs and your party, you cast Feign Death. Then you wait for the non-snared enemies to return to their reset/spawn points. Once that happens, your aggro or enmity is reset on those enemies, but not on the snared one, so you stand up and run toward your party. The snared enemy follows you and your party can kill the monster. It required a lot of practice and finesse to get it just right. It was a lot of work and required patience.

This was the first MMO role that I really learned. If I rushed or wasn’t paying attention, it usually meant death and experience loss for my ENTIRE party, so there was a lot of incentive to really learn what I was doing. In today’s games, people would never do anything so convoluted just to get a single target pull. And it’s not just the players. The developers of the games have made this mechanic impossible. In Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, if monsters are linked, there is nothing you can do about that except sleep one. The mechanics have changed. Now I’m not saying that the old way is the better way. It’s just different. To be fair, I enjoy being able to “zerg” things, too. (There are a few people who read my blog who need a definition of “zerg.” This means to just rush in and cause as much damage as possible without any clear plan of attack.) But my basic gaming personality is taking my time, being creative, and coming up with tactics to complete my objectives.

classes 11-13-13These are my current class levels in FFXIV:ARR. I have a plan and a playstyle that supports that plan. I’m trying to get Paladin (Gladiator) to 50 so that I can do end game content with my friends, but aside from that, I’m leveling everything else in a slower, planned out way. This goes double for the Disciples of the Hand and Land classes (crafting and gathering). Until you reach level 50, all the Hand classes wear the same gear and all the Land classes wear the same gear. And all the gear can be crafted by the Hand classes. (There are a few pieces of gear that you can get from your Grand Company that are better, though.) So I cycle between Hand and Land. I play a gathering class like Miner or Botanist so that I can gather the materials I need to craft their gear. Then I switch to the crafting class like Leatherworker or Weaver so that I can level up and create the gear. It’s a VERY slow way to level, but I spend almost no money on the Market Board or at vendors for materials and I don’t have to buy crafting and gathering gear from other players at huge markups with tax.

So on Monday, I was laid up in bed with a throbbing headache that didn’t go away for over 24 hours. I couldn’t sleep because the pulsing in my head would wake me up whenever I dozed off, so I decided to work on Botany and gather Walnut Logs for crafting. There were several other people in the area gathering the same stuff. Fortunately, gathering nodes are instanced per player, so you don’t have to worry about anyone getting to the node before you do. Your nodes are visible to you and you alone. Anyway, there was one guy that was trying to get me to buy gathering food (food you eat that would increase your stats used for gathering). He also wanted to buy my Walnut Logs. As I’ve raised Culinarian, I didn’t need food since I already had stuff I had made myself. I also explained that I was gathering the wood so that I could use it to level my crafting.  I explained my plan for gathering and crafting, so he proceeded to tell me that I was doing things inefficiently and that I would level my Botany faster if I did guildleves. (These are like repeatable quests that you can turn in for large chunks of experience.)

It is ABSOLUTELY true that if my goal was to get Botany to 50 as fast as possible, I would use guildleves, but that isn’t my goal. Besides, I use guildleves to level my crafting classes, but I still need to gather the materials to MAKE the items required for the guildleve turn-ins. He thought I was crazy, but he left me alone after that. The conversation I had with him (which was completely respectful and not obnoxious in any way) made me think, “Sheesh, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, you know?”

Sometimes I really wonder what it says about our society that everyone wants to get as far as possible as quickly as possible. My sister posted a link on Facebook yesterday that listed 18 things that you should make time for. It included things like writing letters by hand or taking walks without your cellphone. We don’t stop to enjoy the journey as much anymore. Is the goal really so great? As a parent, there are days that I wish I had spent more time doing silly things with my son. He will never be little again. Min-maxing and getting to max level as fast as possible might be enjoyable for some, but for me, I like to take my time and enjoy the journey. It’s the only one I’ll get. I try very hard to respect that everyone’s play-styles and journeys are different. I just wish people would be more accepting of mine.

FedEx Sucks

I’m really pissed. I specifically arranged for someone to be at home because I knew that FedEx was going to deliver my new machine today. But while I was at work, I checked the tracking tool and discovered that they tried to deliver it and no one was home. I checked to make sure someone was home and yes, someone had been home ALL FREAKING DAY.

My best guess is that the delivery driver knocked on the garage door instead of the FRONT DOOR where the doorbell is. And since you can’t hear that from the main part of the house, no one answered the door.

My husband tried to call them and arrange a re-delivery, but they said they couldn’t because they were too busy. On top of that, it wasn’t going to reach the FedEx Ship facility where we could pick it up until after 9 PM and they close at 7 PM, so we have to drive out to the airport tomorrow morning to pick it up. The airport is nowhere near my house or my office.

So I sent them a complaint e-mail through their website. Sadly, it won’t get me my computer any sooner, but I’m REALLY MAD. I MADE SURE someone was going to be home!

Fuck FedEx.

Batman: Arkham Origins Collector’s Edition

I’m pretty sure that even when my son is all grown up with a real job and real responsibilities, I’ll still be contacting him and asking, “Hey, do you want <insert game here>?” And he’ll say yes and I’ll buy it and send it to him. (This should make his kids happy if he has them.) Anyway, my latest purchase for him was the Batman: Arkham Origins Collector’s Edition for PS3. Since he’s away at college on the other side of the country, I just shipped him the game. I wasn’t about to try and figure out a way to ship this huge ass box. When he graduates and has a place of his own wherever he ends up living, I’ll figure out how to ship all his special editions at that time. As collector’s editions go, this one is pretty awesome:

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I was surprised at the size of the box when I went to pick it up from the store. I had seen posts on the internet about what was going to be in it, but somehow I figured that the figure would besmaller.

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I thought this was funny simply because if someone spends this kind of money ($120) on a collector’s edition of a game, chances are that they are going to be careful with it. DSC01749 DSC01750

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Of course there was a lot of different stuff in the art book, but I’m a fan of Deathstroke, so I took a picture of his page. As a side note, he’s a villain in this game according to this book. Why is Deathstroke a villain? He’s more like an anti-hero if you ask me… /shrugDSC01752 DSC01753

I thought this was a pretty neat addition. I love how it really looks like an old photograph.DSC01754 DSC01755

(Sorry for the background. I really need to find a better place in my house to take photos of stuff.)

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I love the detail on the statue. It apparently also lights up.DSC01761 DSC01762 DSC01763 DSC01764 DSC01765 DSC01766 DSC01767 DSC01768 DSC01769 DSC01770 DSC01771 DSC01772 DSC01773 DSC01774DSC01759DSC01760DSC01757DSC01758These evidence bags were probably my favorite things in the box. I’m not really sure why. I just thought they were cool.