Tuesday, August 11, 2009

On the Subject of Being Unemployed...

When I was working, I always said to myself "Wouldn't it be nice if I were to win the lottery and never have to work again?" I think that, had I actually won the lottery, the experience of being without work might be quite enjoyable but for myself and the millions like me being unemployed in this economic downturn can be, and often is extremely frustrating and depressing.

I continue to apply for jobs, but with my career field of choice being IT, there is a heavy saturation of the market place from the Y2K surge nine years ago. So much so in fact, that I'm considering switching career fields altogether. I'm even starting to look at the possibility of travelling to a different city where there may be more jobs available.

One thing is for sure: things are tough right now.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

On the Subject of Naxxramas...

This is a World of Warcraft post, so if that sort of thing doesn't interest you then feel free to skip over it.

I started participating in a 25-man Naxxramas group recently and as such, loot has been really good to me! I've managed to get my hands on the following gear: Valorous Redemption Faceguard, Valorous Redemption Shoulderguards, Ablative Chitin Girdle, Bindings of the Hapless Prey and Shadow of the Ghoul. Not to mention the fact that those items are upgrades to items I received either in or because of my Naxxramas runs. I've also completed two achievements that I had been trying to get for some time: Champion of the Frozen Wastes and Heroic: The Fall of Naxxramas.

That said, I'm thinking about switching Naxxramas groups. From what I can gather, this group is fairly new, or at least most of the members are. That's not to say that the leadership hasn't participated in Naxxramas runs with some regularity in the past; just that this particular mix of people is new. The group is governed by two leaders, one of which is the main tank. There's nothing wrong with that at all, except he's let the title of main tank and his status as leader go to his head a bit. In the group's rules document (authored by the main tank), he refers to himself as "one of the best tanks on the server." The few posts he's made to the group's message board have been preceded by "main tank 2 copper pieces" as if his status as the main tank should somehow elevate him to a position above the rest of us. Needless to say, he's pretty pretentious. He even went so far as to ask that every member of his Naxxramas 25-man group avoid grouping with a specific guild because they offended his girlfriend.

Pro Tip: Bravado just looks ridiculous when you hide behind a computer screen.

His ego might be deserved if he was fully geared but his WoW Heroes score is only 60 points above my own at the time of this writing. The one thing that he does have going for him is that he's clearly experienced, or is at least good at passing himself off as being experienced. He's pushing us to do Ulduar now when I know that members of the group aren't geared enough for Ulduar yet. It seems that he's more interested in using the group to get himself better gear than the needs of the group as a whole. He also has a really bad habit of droning on and on whenever someone messes up. State the mistake and move on. No need to drag it out and make yourself into an asshat in an attempt to embarrass the offending party.

I'm torn because, with the exception of the main tank, I really like the group. Since we're not doing Naxxramas this week, I had an opportunity to run with a different group comprised solely of Taint members. I love running in all Taint groups. I can't say that enough. There's something much more comforting about running with guildies. Add to that the fact that this run was amazingly painless. We wiped twice throughout the entire run. Once due to fatigue (it was 2:00 AM in the morning) and once during Sapphiron because we were going for Heroic: The Hundred Club. Another member of my normal Naxxramas group was also attending and he worded it best when he said that there was "no comparison" between that group and ours.

We'll see how things turn out.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Days of Sacrifice: Reimagining Eberron's History Part 1

In my custom Eberron game, I've adapted a lot of the setting to insert some fairly substantial villains. I'm going to cover the history of my world. Some of this will overlap with canon and other parts will veer wildly off course, but I offer it here for other GMs who are looking for ideas.

Before Eberron

The high elves were masters of the arcane. They had studied the planes and it seemed that no magic was beyond their grasp save one type: divine. For all their ability, the high elves could not conceive of divine magic. They didn't understand it and like most they feared what they did not understand. For this reason, they sought to remove the source of their fear and looked for a way to remove the source of divine magic: the Gods themselves.

Having expended all sources of information that they could find, they decided to see what lay beyond the planes. For this purpose, they constructed the Vast Gate. It is said that when the gate opened, the world shuddered. The first groups of high elves stepped through the gate into the space that lies beyond the planes, the Far Realm. The things that they found there would forever change the world.

Some groups came back with a reduced capacity for magic. Others came back with skin as black as the night sky. They brought with them two beings that they woke. What followed can only be described as calamity. Evil spread across the land from their capital city of Io'lokar. They closed the Vast Gate and bound it shut. Then, they set out to stop the evils that they had unleashed upon the world.

Many of the high elves gave their lives to seal the evils but with all of their power, they could not destroy them. It was at this moment that the dragons, the most ancient of enemies to the high elves, seized control of the opportunity presented in their enemies' weakened ranks.

When the high elves were gone, the dragons set about removing every trace of their existence from the world. They wanted no one to know of the existence of the Vast Gate, for knowledge of it would lead only to more calamity.

10,000,000 Years Ago

Thousands of years passed as the dragons ruled over their fallen enemies' capital. The dragons were malcontent though as one of the three progenator wyrms, Eberron, created a sentient magical construct named Chronepses. The son of Syberis, Bahamut and the daughter of Khyber, Tiamat refused to recognize Chronepses as their brother. To them, he was only a magical monstrosity along the lines of the Vast Gate that floated silently above their city. Chronepses grew to hate them for their resentment and began setting plans in motion to ensure his survival and eventual placement among his creator's side as a dragon deity.

The three factions of the dragons moved toward war with one another over the juxtaposition of their ideals. It was only as Bahamut and Tiamat struck the killing blows upon one another that Chronepses revealed himself to them as the orchestrator of the events that lead to their down fall.

But the war had cost the world too much and, just as the deities of the dragons, it was dying. It was then that Eberron broke the seal on the Vast Gate once more and entered. It is unknown what he did there, but the world was reborn through his actions.

In the next part of this post, I'll examine the changes I've made to the rest of the timeline, beginning with the Age of Giants.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I, Rogue

Following in the footsteps of At Will, apparently I am:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

It's Been a While

I know that it has been a while since my last update. This is generally the way it's going to be with this blog now that I've discovered Twitter. Often I will want to say something short and witty about a topic, and that's not something that a blog is really designed for. If you don't follow my Twitter feed, and would like to keep current with my more frequent updates, you can do so here.

I lost my job back in August, like a lot of people and times have been a little rough on me in the interim. One thing that I learned about myself is that I don't really need a lot of the things I thought I did. I took stock of what I had and what I could do away with. I cataloged and sold off all of my Magic: The Gathering cards (finally). I sold my Playstation 2 and all of the games that I owned for it. The exception there being the Final Fantasy series. Those I wrapped up and passed the entire collection onto my nephew for Christmas.

I originally used the huge amount of credit I had built up at Gamestop to buy newer games as they were coming out for the Xbox 360 but even that has slowed to a crawl as the games coming out right now don't seem to interest me. I do have to admit that Ghostbusters: The Video Game is looking particularly sexy though.

I used to go see a new movie every weekend with Ben. That's stopped almost completely. I still go see certain movies, but they're few and far between.

I was able to secure a part time job doing market research. It's a paycheck and with the economy the way it is, that's saying something. Also the schedule will work perfectly with school as I'm planning to go back full time this fall.

I've decided to leave the IT market and work toward a career path that is more in line with my real passion. I'm working on an English major and possibly a journalism minor. I'm hoping to leverage this into writing about video games. If I can secure a Bachelor's Degree I may even be able to teach English in Japan for a couple of years, which has been another dream of mine for over a decade.

So things are slow, but progress is being made...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

D&D and the Nephew

I play a lot of Dungeons and Dragons and I recently introduced my nephew to the game when I ran a demonstration of the new 4th edition for some friends of mine. I regularly run a custom Eberron game, which is full. In addition to that, I play in a 4th edition game, a 3.5e Forgotten Realms game and I have started dipping my toes in the RPGA.

My nephew just called me and asked if he could come to future games--he's been bitten by the gaming bug. My Eberron game is full, so I didn't present that as an option for him and it isn't my place to invite him to the Forgotten Realms or 4th edition games; so I explained the RPGA and that there were kids his age that also played there.

So, if all goes well he may be tagging along with me on December 13th to the RPGA.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

iPhone 3G

I'd like to start this post off by telling you that I'm not a Mac user. In fact, I find the constant Windows-bashing that Apple does to be very annoying mainly because I'm an avid fan of all three dominant operating systems: Windows, Mac OS and Linux. Each has its strengths and weaknesses.

Originally, I was going to go to the AT&T Wireless store to purchase my iPhone 3G but in the end I opted to go to the Apple Store in Village Point. I have to admit that I was really surprised by the pomp and circumstance surrounding the launch (and I have been told that this is par for the course with Apple). They provided those of us in line with coffee, bottled water and at one point even sent someone out to answer questions before the store opened.

When the store opened, the first of us were taken in and the employees clapped as we entered. It was a little cheesy but very neat to see the level of presentation Apple went to. While I had originally planned only to get the black 8GB model, in the end I decided to go with the 16GB model simply because you can't upgrade the memory on the device and its going to have to last me at least a couple of years.

Interestingly enough, AT&T Wireless doesn't offer any kind of an insurance plan for the iPhone 3G. You're restricted to buying an Apple Care plan. This is provided for free for the first year, and paying the additional money gives you another year beyond that. After asking the sales person, I was assured that I could opt in for the plan at any time during the first year so I didn't spend the money. I may though as I get close to the end of my first year; I'm on the fence about it. Even with Apple Care the phone isn't protected against the owner accidentally dropping the phone which seems like a bit of a rip off to me. I mean, think about it; I believe an iPhone is far more susceptible to failure caused by the owner dropping it than failure due to defect. In the event that a defect were present, I'd think it would manifest itself within the first year...

 All in all, I'm very satisfied with my purchase. The first bill is likely to be pretty high due to the activation fee and the fee to move my existing number so I'm expecting to cringe a bit when I see it, these things are all par for the course though when starting service with a new cellular provider so I'm not faulting AT&T for them; I'm just pointing them out.

The only real disappointment I had with the entire experience was the fact that I couldn't get the phone activated in the store because iTunes' servers just couldn't handle the load and died an early death. As a result, I was without phone service for about 11 hours as my phone number had transitioned to the new phone, but I couldn't set up my voice mail on the new phone.

With the iPhone 3G came the 2.0 firmware and the new iTunes App Store. As more and more applications are released onto the App Store, it will mean that there is less of a reason to jail break your iPhone. Apple advertised over 500 applications at the launch of the App Store, however a lot of those applications were just different developers trying to do the same thing.  For example, there were three (that I know of) applications to check movie listings and show times. Of them, I preferred BoxOffice although a friend of mine prefers Movies.app. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. BoxOffice is a little buggy and likes to crash randomly, but it displays the Rotten Tomatoes rating for the movie, which I love. Movies.app doesn't display the rating but does allow you to view the trailer. I'd really like to see a blending of these two applications.

What really surprised me about the selection of applications at launch was a distinct lack of an SSH client. The iPhone needs a port of Putty something fierce. As of today they have a VNC client which is rather neat. The ability to manipulate my home PC from my iPhone intrigues me greatly.

I didn't think I would be gaming much on my iPhone. In fact, the only games that I had on my Motorola Razr were two timeless classics: Tetris and Bejeweled. Both of those games were available at the launch of the App Store, but for a drastically inflated price. At $9.99 per game I opted to buy only Bejeweled, although I must admit that it was a very tough choice. In reality though if both games were priced at a more reasonable $4.99 I'd have both on my iPhone right now. They're two great puzzle games and good time wasters when you've got nothing else to do or are stuck waiting somewhere.

All said, I love my new iPhone and as cheesy as it sounds, the experience of being there for the launch was well worth it.