Monday, December 29, 2008

yes, I picked up a 360

Couple of notes. If you've been watching the website, you might have noticed some rapid changes over the past month. Suffice to say, the winter specials and New Years events have kept me pretty busy.

Anyways, to the main point... yes, I have picked up an Xbox 360... partially funded by selling off my Playstation Portable. While talking in Gamestop about the system, I made a comment that I hadn't purchased anything for the system since Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters. One of the store clerks shot back, "You mean there's been some more games since then?."

For me, the PSP was probably one of the worst $250 purchases I ever made. I honestly had less games for it than I did for the original Xbox, and there just hasn't been any compelling content on the system for a long time... and the upcoming play-list looked to be pretty bare as well.

I also saved some money on the 360 by picking up one of the refurbished xbox 360's instead of a brand new one... having taken advantage of Circuity City's pre-Christmas special on a hard-drive and wireless controller for the 360. All told, I pretty much got the $299 Xbox 360 for around half the price.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

MMO playing doesn't give leadership skills

Source Story is from here :

The basis of the story is that job recruiters are being instructed to avoid World of Warcraft players, and that one particular job recruiter shrugged off the possibility that leadership skills could be learned in an MMORPG, or that playing MMO's could gain project management skills.

The employment industry has a point to be made. While some MMO games, like Eve Online, demand a certain strategic and tactical mindset to play, the most popular MMO, World of Warcraft, doesn't require anything more than a credit card and some free time. Just playing an MMO won't somehow make people learn management skills or learn how to work with teams.

Lets do a management case in point with City of Heroes, the MMO I currently play. I've talked about explaining to high level (40+) players with 4 or 5 vet badges how their basic powers worked. Specific examples include enligtening a storm defender to the capability of his O2 boost to prevent endurance drain, and explaining to a kinetics that the increased density they had skipped over prevents knockback and increases damage resistance. On an almost consistant basis I come across people who have been playing for literal years that don't have basic grasps on how their powers in CoH work, or how to slot those powers. I still remember a Fire Tank who went out of his way to get a slotting for a large Ranged Defense buff, and couldn't understand why ranged attackers were still killing him off just as easily as before the buffs. The player was oblivious to the complete lack of defense Fire Tanks get to begin with, and didn't understand the point of a tank is to get up close and personal, forcing melee combat. In short, the player would not accept that he couldn't boost defense to anything meaningful on his fire aura, and wouldn't accept any advice on how to make his tank useful.

From my own experience then, just playing an MMO doens't grant managment skills. Management skills can help to play CoH in a certain way. Players able to plan for the best enhancement slotting and best mixture of powers, and able to understand the limitations and liabilities of a particular archtype, can help turn even mediocre builds into desirable teammates.

Keeping on my own experience, I think I can safely say that leadership skills aren't granted by MMO play either. I can actually go all the way back to Phantasy Star Online for emperical data on this idea. Since PSO was limited to 4 players online play with no true team leader, it's not the best example available. That being said, it wasn't uncommon to come across a level 70+ player who didn't know the maps, and kept aggroing too many monsters onto a grouped team. Just because somebody had better equipment in PSO, and a higher level, didn't mean they were a better player qualified to lead.

Planetside actually handed me one of those what was I thinking moments. I remember early in the life of the game joining up with an Outfit and having the rank of Dread Knight. We were fighting on Oshur against the Terran Republic and I figured out what the Terran's battle plan was. I broadcasted in a base zone what the Terran's where up to, and somebody challenged, demanding to know who I was that I would dare say the leadership was wrong. I still remember my response : I'm a dread knight whose a little pissed off that we are going to lose this fight. ... which we did.

One of my biggest complaints against Planetside as the years went on is that qualified leadership was non-existance in the command ranks. It was not uncommon for a CR5 to log on and immediatly call an offensive at their location. It was not uncommon for CR4 and CR5 players to completely screw up major offensive drives. Some of my fondest memories of Planetside were hot dropping in on a base and taking out an enemies generator, then holding the generator against enemy forces and reinforcements. It also bugged the living daylights out of me when right after dropping a generator some clueless CR4 or CR5 would suddenly complain loudly about somebody dropping the generator, therefor depriving them of precious exp. In a couple cases, CR4's and CR5's on my own side would orbital strike a team heading to blow up the generator.

The real problem is that out of any game, Planetside would have been the best place to learn real leadership skills. Not even the America's Army games have come as close to fully implementing real-time combat with armor caravans, supplies, travel logistics, infantry concerns, and so on. The amazing point to Planetside is that it was real-time warfar on a truely global scale. It was an incredible experience... only it served to prove that just playing an MMO doesn't grant leadership skills.

Tabula Rasa was another such game that had a chance to be something truely epic. There was the very real possibility of becoming another Planetside with a working simulation of full-scale warfare. Sadly, Tabula Rasa never materialized anything above basic running and gunning... and squad leadership was meaningless once the devs decided to take the focus away from the inherently imbalanced team-based gameplay.

City of Heroes then, as a more typical MMORPG, also represents emperical data that simply playing an MMO, even for a long time, doesn't grant management skills. Very recently I ran a Cap Au Diable Strke Force with a rather... obnoxious player. One of the basis of City of Heroes is that a team leader is signified by a star over their name. The starred player can invite new players to the team, kick current players on the team, and select new missions without actually having to be at the mission door. However, just because somebody has the star, doesn't mean that they are actually the team leader, or the one choosing the missions.

Some Task Forces and Strike Forces in City of Heroes have to be unlocked, such as the Katie Hannon Task Force, Hess Task Force, and a villain group strike force. Sometimes the player who has run through the task force and knows all of the missions and how to complete those missions won't have the task force unlocked, or their current avatar won't be in a villain group that has the villain group strike force unlocked. So, while they can direct the TF / SF, they may not have the star.

Then there are the cases where one player has a particular story arc, and an entire team works on the story arc, such as the Praetorian arc on the hero side. The arc holder may let somebody else put the team together because a friend has better promotional skills.

Leadership in CoH is extremely flexible then. A good team leader needs to be able to come to grips with changing conditions such as players who quit or log out, or finding out that a particular player is not really good at what their archtype does. A good case in point here is the Imperious Task Force. As I diagramed out and posted on several times in this blog, there are several ways to succesfully complete the task force. I even ran into a new way to complete the task force on a recent run. With 3 blasters, the team lead called for the ranged players to fire on the healing nictus before the AV fight even started. It worked. The blasters could fire from outside the healing range of the nictus, and had enough DPS to take the healing nictus down.

Going back to the Cap Au Diable SF, the person who put the SF together hadn't wound up with the star, and early on the SF started directing the fight... which was a good thing. The player knew how to work the SF. After a couple of disconnects, I wound up with the star, and promptly kept asking the experienced villain side player what to do, where to go next... only to get no response. As far as the player was concerned, whoever had star made the choices, no matter what... and then after the TF the player went off on a rant that I hadn't "abidcated" my position and that if I hadn't wanted to lead the Strike Force I should have just quit, logged out, and given somebody else the star.

So. Word of Advice. Don't play with @Celerity on Victory. Just /bad/ idea.

From the empirical data I've witnessed then, I myself call into question the real world viability of management and leadership training as gleaned from inside MMO games. From what I've experienced for myself, skills learned in the real-world, skills learned in a job, in the military, are far more effective. I find it real easy to believe then that employers would ask recruiters to avoid MMO players, and I'm not at all surprised that World of Warcraft tops the list of games that employers don't want employees playing.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

CoH - Pain Domination / Cold Domination

Originally wrote and posted this on the City of Heroes forums here.

However, since most good ideas on game forum threads tend to get buried in a crush of bad ideas... posting my take on the Pain and Cold sets here.


Actually spawned from I13 feedback here.

One of the things that bugs me about the pain domination and cold domination sets is that they sound like Dominator sets... but aren't.

So I proposed changing the names to pain corruption and cold corruption to better signify their use in corruption the powers of pain and cold to suit the users interests. That opens up the cold domination and pain domination sets for actual Dominator powersets. So the idea here is to create a workable framework, list of powers, and implementation of powers that would fit the cold domination and pain domination sets.

The base framework as follows seems to be about the same for each dominator

Tier 1: single immobilize

Tier 2: single hold

Tier 3: special power

Tier 4: aoe status effect

Tier 5: mass immobilze
Tier 6: weak mass hold

Tier 7: unique power

Tier 8: strong mass hold

Tier 9: pets


following this train of thought then:

Cold Domination

Cold Domination : the idea of Cold Domination is that it will borrow aspects of Ice Control and Storm Control. To separate it from Ice Control, work on it having a few more debuffs / buffs, and targeted radial drop AOE's instead of targeted aoe burst aoes. Cold Domination calls up on the powers of the Arctic Winds to freeze and shock opponents.

Tier 1: single immobilize : Lighting Paralyze : summon an arctic cloud that strikes with a bolt of lighting paralyzing an opponents lower legs. Alternatively, a low cloud filled with sparks appears about the targets legs shocking the opponent into submission.

Chance for 30second Mag 2 stun

Tier 2: single hold : Lighting Lock : The target is overcome with a cold storm that shocks them into a hold.

When target exits the hold, 15 second Mag 2 stun.

Tier 3: special power : Artic Fog : lifted directly from Cold Corruption

Tier 4: aoe status effect : Snow Storm : lifted directly from Storm Summoning. Massive toggle Slow Debuff.

Tier 5: mass immobilize : Lighting Storm Paralyze : Summon a cold blast that detonates a shocking cloud at low levels, paralyzing enemies where they stand.

Chance for a 20second Mag 2 stun

Tier 6: weak mass hold : Arctic Icicle Detonation : The Cold Dom launches a ball of ice into the air detonating it at eye level. Enemies are struck by a blast of cold wind and think they have been hit by a stronger attack, closing their eyes and turning away. Attack though and the victims will realize it was just a trick.

Tier 7: unique power : Arctic Waters : The Cold Dominator Summons forth a well of shallow water, as freezing tendrils wrap around foes legs. Enemies defenses and resistances drop, and enemies recieve a dramatic slow to travel speed and recharge rates.

Tier 8: strong mass hold: Lightning Storm Lock : The Cold Dominator unleashes their most powerful attack. A huge storm explodes completely paralyzing everything in sight.

15 second mag 2 stun on exit from hold

Tier 9: pets : Lightning Cloud : Cold Dominators can summon forth cold winds personified in the the Lightning Cloud. The pet follows the dominator around chilling everything in it's path. It's able to cloud enemies visions, lowering accuracy, and the constant cold temperatures drop Defense and resistance. Unlike other pets, the Lightning Cloud is weak. Aside from being able to generate it's own lightning strike, it has nothing else to offer.


Pain Domination

Pain Domination : The concept of Pain dominators is that they inflict pain on a very mental and physical level upon their opponents. Unlike Mind Dominators they strike to the bone, not to the head. Like Pain Corruption though, Pain Domintors use pain to their own adventage as much as their enemies disadvantage

Tier 1: single immobilize : Oppression : The Pain Dominator can make even the hardiest foe feel pain. It's not enough to stop attacks, but with but a hand wave, most enemies just won't feel like moving.

Tier 2: single hold : Oppressive Force : The Pain Dominator digs in and uses both hands to generate a wave of energy stopping enemies dead in their tracks. Enemies that are held take little damage, but their regeneration rate drops dramatically, and they need to take a moment to catch their breath.

(the intent of this power is to have an effect similar to the transfusion power from kinetics, with an end removal and regen decrease equivalent to a kinetics defender).

Tier 3: special power : Soothing Aura : lifted from Pain Corruption. Pain doms can heal allies around them.

The Heal buff is equivalent to an Empathy Defenders heal buff.

Tier 4: aoe status effect : Radiated Pain : A Pain Dom won't hesitate to use an allies body as a tool. A hand wave places a wave of pain circulating an ally. All enemies who come close are convinced they will take more damage.

(The intent of the power is to be similar to the sonic buff of
disruption field giving a resistance debuff)

Tier 5: mass immobilize : Mass Oppression : The fury of the Pain Dominator extends to all. A wave of pain washers over enemies, leaving them with their legs quaking. It won't stop attacks, but it will make most enemies think twice about moving again.

Tier 6: weak mass hold : Anguishing Scream : A scream of pain causes enemies to halt in fear. However, a scream alone won't halt enemies for-ever, for if they refocus their attention, they'll keep attacking, even if they have trouble dodging attacks and think they take more damage than they should.

(intent of the power is a Modification of Anguishing Cry from Pain Corruption. Because of the hold component, use the debuff values from the Mastermind, which has a lower defensive debuff value).

Tier 7: unique power : Forced Pain : The Pain Dom is never afraid to sacrifice their own health to that of their enemies discomfort. The pain dom sacrifices their own regen rate to keep enemies disoriented.

(The intent of this power is to be similar to Oppressive Gloom on the Dark Armor side. However, instead of sacrificing hit points, Pain Dom's sacrifice 50% of their regeneration. A higher Regeneration rate increases the lasting time and strength of the disorient.)

Tier 8: strong mass hold : Oppressing Shutdown : The Pain Dominator unleashes waves pain, hitting enemies in there very bones. Enemies take massive smashing and lethal damage and held for an extended period of time. The sheer force of the attack takes a chunk out of the Pain Dominator though.

2 minute Hold time. 5 minute recharge time. Hitting the Enhancement Diversification limit will mean that Pain Doms can actually keep the hold cycling. However, using Oppressing Shutdown causes the Pain Dom's own regeneration rate to shut down for 30 seconds, and if Forced Pain is running, send a Pain Dom's regen rate into negative numbers. Recovery Rate is also terminated for 30 seconds. The intent is that this is a nuke for dominators.

Tier 9: pets : Shadow of Pain : The Pain Dom can summon forth a being of ill will from dimensions best left unmentioned.

(The intent of Shadow of Pain is that it is an analog of the illusionist phantasm. It is able to create a decoy copy of itself, and attack with ranged dark attacks. However, while it has a high resistance, it can't be buffed, and it can't be healed).


Friday, December 12, 2008

Saying Goodbye to American Cars : is it also saying Good Riddance?

Over the past couple of weeks the news has been pretty much unavoidable. The US car industry is going down the toilet, and 2 of the big 3 USA carmakers are facing the very real possibility of bankruptcy. Right now there is a very real chance that General Motors and Chrysler will cease to exist as car-manufactures, with only Ford surviving due to actually having some money in the bank.

I've seen a lot of doom and gloom takes on the demise of the US car industry, but I can't say I'm convinced that it's a bad thing, or that it wasn't going to happen anyways. National car companies with tens upon thousands of workers have gone bust before. Case in point, British Leyland. As far as I can tell, Britain got over the demise of their own national automaker, and while many people lost their jobs, the British economy recovered and is chugging along relatively nicely.

I'm also not convinced that the US car-makers dying is a bad thing because, well, they haven't made good cars. Seriously, go pick up a Consumer Reports from the past two decades. Tune into Top Gear on BBC. Check out Top Gears annual car survey results from people who actually buy cars. The short version is, US cars have been overpriced and under-performing for not just years, but decades. Jeremy Clarkson loves to point out that Ford's premium muscle car, the Mustang, was shipping with leaf springs for the suspension, less than 2 years ago. Leaf springs are something you'd literally find on a horse draw cart. Top Gear also wondered aloud on camera how Porsche, BMW, Ferrari, and Lamborghini get 500 horsepower out of the same size engine that Dodge only gets 400 horsepower from.

The reality is, when people I know buy cars today, they start with non-American cars. There's a reason why Japanese, Korean, and Malaysian cars have hammered out massive shares in the US car market. They simply make better cars for the price. There's a reason why Europe dominates the sports car market. They simply make a better car. It wasn't until the most recent Corvette that Chevy finally made something Jeremy Clarkson liked, then loved. Now, I don't care what you think about Jeremy Clarkson, but as long as he's been driving and talking about sports cars, I'm pretty sure he knows what he's talking about.

Even though the US car makers are finally stepping and competing on a practical level by making cars that can compete against their European, Japanese, Korean, and Malaysian counterparts, they haven't solved the real problem. The real problem of the US car industry is the Union.

One of the points that I see a lot of news analysts just skipping over is that the United Auto Workers Union declined to take a $3 to $4 an hour pay cut in order to have pay scales in line with non-unionized car manufactures. Now, speaking for myself, when I got hired on to help Adventure Crossing, I flat out told the owner when he asked me how much I was looking to get paid, I said this : Pay me whats in the budget. If that's minimum starting salary, that's minimum starting salary. Unless the work I do helps the business I don't deserve the big bucks, and you shouldn't be paying me big bucks.

I still remember my first trip to Anthrocon resulting in a What was I thinking moment. During the closing ceremony the con chairman offered thanks to the local Union, and I turned to somebody who was local to Pittsburgh and said something to the effect of the following : You still have Unions up here?

The result was a completely confused expression on the local's face as unions were second nature to him and responded to the effect asking why didn't we have unions down south. I remember sitting there trying to come up with a polite way to say that unions where one of the worst business concepts going, and that for the most part, most Southern businessmen and employees had figured out that unions were a BAD THING.

One of the issues with Unions is that they once did have a practical use in the American Economy. I'd even say that as little as 20 years ago Unions still had a place in the US economy. At one point there was a need for employees and workers to get together and unionize themselves through select representatives to promote their rights and ideas to their employers. However, in a democracy like the United States, one of the basic governmental foundations is that if you have an idea, and it's a good idea, and you want it to become law, convince your fellow citizens to vote for your idea to become law. Today there are both federal and state regulations regarding workers employment rights, payment rights, overtime rights, and safety rights. All of the issues that unions used to fight for are safely ensconced in federal and state law.

Instead of disbanding after the legal rights were achieved, unions continued to hang together, and the effects today are bank shattering. I've lost count of the horror stories where several hundred people in a union were paid to sit around on their read ends and do nothing because there was no work for them to, but they couldn't be sent home because they were unionized, and they had to be paid for work they didn't do because they were part of the union.

What we learned in the South, and what is practiced in the South, is a form of the free-market economy. There is someone out there better than me at what I do. There is somebody out there who will do my job for less money. I do not have job security. If I mess up, screw up, or do something wrong, I can be fired. Yes, I can make life difficult for my successor by not leaving proper documentation, changing all the passwords and locking systems out, and so on and so forth. But, if they are as good as me, it will just take them some time and aggravation to undo everything I did.

Thus I have to work at my best, doing my best, to prove that I am valuable enough to keep getting paid.

Unions do not encourage that behavior. Once a person is part of a Union, such as United Auto Workers is today, they don't have to the work. If they screw up, mess up, or whatever, so what. Nobody else is going to take their job, and the employer gets stuck with a logistics nightmare.

That is what has happened with the car makers in the US. The Unions have such control over the production of the cars that the companies are effectively held hostage. US cars cost more than their counterparts because US cars have to calculate in the exorbitant pay of the unions, the ludicrous benefits of the unions, and the outrageous pensions of the unions. When push came to shove, rather than backing down, the unions torpedoed a deal that would have bailed General Motors and Chrysler out of trouble.

As I see it, Unions as represented by the UAW, don't understand real-world economics. They don't understand that they have to be better, and that they have to produce better products. Shoving out brand new cars with yesteryears technology just doesn't cut it for the smart consumer.

For me then, I welcome the collapse of the US car market. General Motors and Chryslers bankruptcies will shut the unions down and remove their power base. And like Britain did after the collapse of British Leyland, the US will no doubt recover.

There's just one slight problem. The unions are democrats. Oh yes. They vote democrat. And there is a democrat senate, a democrat house, and a democrat president coming up really soon.

Do I really need to spell out why this is a bad thing?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fox's take on Dragonball: Not that Bad

People who have seen my first attempt at making my own website probably correctly guessed that I'm something of a Dragonball fan... People who saw pictures I took of some of my computer systems may have also noticed a number of Dragonball products as well. People who read my take on the Chrono Trigger Playstation re-release probably also caught that I described it as the Dragonball RPG that was never going to happen, although Dragonball RPG's actually did make it stateside in the following years... And those who have seen my collection of 1990's Bandai boxed DBZ / DBGT toys... think I'm a complete lunatic for Dragonball...

Which is actually pretty correct. Suffice to say, I was reading and enjoying the Dragonball series long before Funimation and Cartoon Network got their hands on the projects. I can even forgive some of the horrendously bad effects from the conversion from Manga to Anime, such as focusing on a single panel setup panel for 2 or 3 minutes... simply because at the core, I liked Dragonball. I liked the storyline and the concept. When I needed another alien race for Callaer, I didn't even bother disguising the use of Saijens.

The point of this is that I pretty much consider myself a hardcore fan of Dragonball, although I will admit that's probably not exactly cool at the present time, sort of like being a Trekkie.

And the new trailer from 20th Century Fox?

Doesn't upset me at all. Actually I think it's rather cool looking.

Even if it's not 100% accurate to the Dragonball series, I'm fine with that. I, personally speaking, really expected another Super Mario Brothers movie, a movie that was pretty much rubber stamped with Dragonball characters and not much else. I expected something truely horrendous that didn't even bother staying true to the anime concepts... and well... from the trailer, it seems that Fox has stayed pretty close to the concepts.

Considering that the anime to live action genre normally goes really wrong to begin with, it's quite refreshing to see something that looks like it went halfway right... and I'll probably be sitting in the theater on opening night for it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Murdoch gets it?

Found this interesting. Rupert Murdoch, the owner of News Corp., basically confirmed what the conservative right has been saying for years, and by conservative right I mean people like myself and Rush Limbaugh. The liberal media thinks people are too stupid to think for themselves.

While ABC is currently hosting Mr. Murdoch's lecture series, I have a sneaking suspicion ABC probably don't want to be associated with somebody whose called them out now.

The point, however stands. The liberal media has been busted, collectively, by bloggers and people sitting in their homes so many times, it's almost become a game. I know some people... okay. I know two people who the only reason they subscribe to a local newspaper (Augusta Chronicle for those interested), is to go through and look up what the Associated Press and Reuters got wrong. I know for a personal fact that the furry community is horribly misrepresented by the liberal media, and I know for a fact that video games are horribly misrepresented by the liberal media.

What the liberal media failed to realize is that as they were coming up with pigeonholed stereotypes for furries and videogamers, such communities were setting up their own news services and methods of communication, using basic bulletin board systems, then forums, then websites with forums. When I want to read about what's new in gaming, I don't go to The Washington Post or New York Times. I do, however, drop by IGN, Kotaku,, GamesPress, or simply write it myself from a press release. Although, I will admit, Kotaku editors should be kicking themselves in the arse for having campaigned for Obama.

The real big problem, as I see it, is that the Liberal media is not going to be able to rebuild the trust it once had. Newspaper subscriptions are going to continue to drop, internet media is going to go to more specialized sites who stay in better contact with their readers, and TV reporting is going to become a past history event. Well, maybe not this year, probably not next year, probably not by 2012, or even 2015. In all seriousness, stuff like the Wii's real-time whether channel, and online up-to-date streaming programs will probably become the sources of daily news for the average US citizen. Afterall, that's how CNN succeeded. Any news, any time.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

is there a long-term future for the netbook?

Many tech-news websites spent the past couple of weeks betting on AMD introducing a new processor line aimed at the currently red-hot netbook market. For those unfamiliar with the term, a netbook is a class of laptop computer inspired by the OLPC project. In short, a netbook is a laptop computer with a sub 10inch viewing LCD, a solid state hard-drive, limited memory, and a low-end processor. Because of the low system specs for the netbook type computers, most netbooks ship with a Linux distribution or Windows Xp, simply because Vista, and the upcoming Windows 7, won't run. The best known brand of netbook, the Asus EeePC, has a starting price of about $300 on a 7inch screen version.

Much to the shock of many analysts, AMD decided to downplay the netbook market, which resulted in statements like this:
Yeh but AMD does need to enter the market sometime if they wish to keep up, intel is coming out with some nice processors thanks to the work they have done in the netbooks so intel can take the market over entirely if AMD isnt careful
Well, by the same logic, just because your best friend decides to stick his head in an oven pre-heated to 600 degrees, doesn't mean you should join in.

From an objective viewpoint, I'm tossed on the netbook market. On hand I applaud anything that pushes forth Linux as a viable competitor to anything that's spewed out of Redmond Washington. The retail impact of Linux in the netbook market has been huge, with many retailers reporting that Linux based netbooks were taking up 40% or more of their notebook class shipments.

Not that the success of the Linux netbook hasn't had some vendor detractions. Case in point would be a vendor that claimed that returns of their Linux netbook were 400% higher than returns of their Windows Xp netbook. What the vendor didn't mention, and then promptly buried when it was brought up, is that the sales of the Linux netbooks were well over 4 times the sales of the Windows Xp netbooks, actually somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 times to 10 times, which is 800% and 1000% respectively.

On the other hand, I'm not really sure the netbook market has a viable long term value. The basic reality is this. An HP netbook with a 1.6ghz Via C-7 and 2gb of memory will set you back around $650, if you can find one. The slightly less mobile friendly Intel Atom at 1.6ghz and 2gb of memory will be setting you back $700 new, or maybe $680 if you shop around. Granted, the Via system only has a screen size around 8 inches, while the Intel has a screen size around 10inches. Lowering the price abit, lets say to just over $400, at $430, you could pick up an Intel Atom powered Asus EeePC with 1gb of ram and a 10 inch screen.

By comparison, $400 will grab you a 1.8ghz dual core Athlon64 from Acer with a 15 inch screen, albeit with only 1gb of ram.

15 inch laptops with 2gb of ram have a general starting price around $500-$600, although if my money was involved I'd be spending out some extra for the Athlon64 in this Compaq over the lower priced Pentium based computers.

So, realistically, from a laptop operating view, consumers will pay more for less performance when it comes to netbooks. Don't let the Intel brand name fool you on the Atom. As HardOCP found when they ran the Atom, Intel had managed to catch up to Via's previous processors, the C3 and the C7, which weren't exactly speed demons to begin with. By comparison, Via had gone a step further on the new Nano, surpassing the C7. According the HardOCP guys even Microsoft Vista was comfortable to run on the Nano, but they couldn't say that about the Atom.

There are two sides to every story though. When Xbitlabs did a similar comparison, they handed victory to the Atom over the Nano.

From a purely performance point of view, the current crop of Via and Intel mobile processors are pretty much on par with an Athlon4 from 1999/2000. Remember, the Athlon4 was the mobile varient of what became the AthlonXp.

While Linux users often brag about how efficient their Operating System is compared to whatever Redmond is producing at the time, Linux performance really comes down to the applications in use, and like it or not, the current crop of Intel and Via processors for mobile devices are perfectly capable of running most common Linux applications without a single hitch. So while the Nano and Atom processors won't be entering into the Top 500 list of Supercomputer processors, they are more than adequate enough for everyday use.

The real big problem is whether or not the battery life that the Via and Intel mobile systems offer is enough to make up for the loss of performance, loss of screen area, and the price tag difference, against a standard laptop.

The product question is complicated by the emergence of more mobile devices that are well suited to mobile computing. The two leaders of the mobile computing convergence are of course Apple with the Iphone, and Google with Android, both of which offer many of the computing capabilities normally found in laptops.

Then there are products that aren't designed specifically for mobile computing, but handle some aspects such as gaming and internet access quite well. The two leaders there consist of Nintendo with the DSi and DS platforms, followed by Sony with the Playstation Portable and if you can actually find it in the wild, the Sony Mylo.

Speaking as a gamer, I have both a DS and a PSP, and I also have a Cellphone. Most of the time, I'm carrying one of the gaming platforms along with my cellphone anywhere I go, and it's not the PSP. So of course I'm very interested in the upcoming DSi, which with the integrated Opera Browser, should make surfing at hotspots a bit easier. It's not to say that I'm not interested in a netbook, but if I know I'm going to be needing an x86 computer where-ever I'm going, I'd much rather be toting something with a little horsepower.

The mobile market is made even more complex by the number of competitors involved. In the desktop computing segment there are only two players. Intel and AMD. If you want to get technical, you could say that IBM plays in the desktop market, but Sony blows that chance every chance they get. And yes, I'm fussing about Sony not having the balls to simply sell, ship, and update the PS3 as a Linux Desktop computer.

In the mobile market though, there actually is quite a bit of processor activity. Processor designs like ARM, as implemented in Marvell's (formerly Intel) Xscale processor, are quite common in mobile devices. The MIPS architecture also has a wide range of uses in routers, telecommunications equipment, and cell phones. Even though Apple kicked Power to the curb, the architecture is used in all 3 current major gaming consoles, as well as many other embedded devices, including mobile communications devices.

The mobile market simply isn't open to everybody though. Even companies with a rich portfolio of genuine patented hardware inventions can go under, such as Transmeta. So merely having a good, or even the best architecture, doesn't mean that a company can be profitable in the mobile market.

Intel is one of the few hardware companies than can sink a few million dollars into a dead-end research, well, okay, a few billion dollars if you want to stop and look at Itanium for a minute, but anyways. Intel has the money to invest in the mobile market in a meaningful way.

However, most of the other companies involved in the mobile market, don't have plans or production lines spread out very far beyond that. Case in point is Via, which has slowly withdrawn from offering desktop computer parts and chipsets for AMD and Intel platforms.

AMD, unfortunately doesn't have the cash available to chase after every market Intel goes into. That means that AMD has to pick their battles and do the best they can with their resources.

Even with the blazing success of Netbooks today, Intel has a large problem that as the Atom processors improve, the Atom processors will begin to cut into Core2 processors.

Intel also has a large problem that Ubuntu will now officially support a Ubuntu distro on an ARM processor architecture. Imagine the implications of Dell offering an ARM based netbook with Ubuntu. Running Linux, it would be just as fast as an Atom, and have better power management. If I was in Intel's shoes, I'd start throwing F.U.D. about ARM. Oh wait, Intel's already doing that.

The basic reality is, the netbook class of laptops has a lot of incidental, indirect, and direct competition, from a wide range of devices. To the average business user, stuff like the MacBook Air is the way to go. Ultralight weight laptop without sacrificing screen real-estate. Which is where AMD said they would be putting their money. Into bringing stuff like 13" ultra-lightweight notebooks down from $1800, to half the price.

AMD has decided to go after a market where there is a clear difference between simply a laptop, and a glorified cell phone.

Right off hand, that's a much better use of their money, than to go after netbooks.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Is proprietary software responsible for the so-called recession?

wcc1776 posted this link on Mepislovers :

Rather than get into politics there, decided to get into politics here.

Okay, to start with, I'm not convinced the world is actually in an economic recession. And yes, I do actually pay attention to the news. Many of the attributes of a recession are present, such as massive layoffs and massive bankruptcies.

But what would happen if these massive layoffs and bankruptcies were caused by criminal actions? It is still a recession when somebody deliberately broke laws in order to cause an economic downtown? The fact is, I believe the Liberal Democrats and many of their leaders are guilty of acts consisting of treason. A case in point would be executives of housing companies bailed out by the US Federal Government that promptly went on a multi-hundred thousand dollar retreat. People like Presidential-Elect Obama that made off with lots of money as well. Am I accusing Presidential-Elect Obama of treason against the US? Yes. Yes I am. Given his track record on foriegn visits and the people he keeps as advisors, it is my believe that Presidential-Elect Obama has actively worked against the government and citizens of the United States.

But that's not really a big surprise.

Lets start with the housing problem. I think Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear had the best explanation for the housing market crash. Banks lent money to banks that didn't have money, and the banks that didn't have money lent money to illegal Mexicans in California that couldn't pay the money back.

The fact is, Liberal Democrats have several political policies that have been foisted on the American Taxpayer and business man. One of those policies is a complete rejection of anything resembling racial profiling. It's known now that the Associated Press, Reurters, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and other news agencies actively worked to suppress and censor data, from at least 15 years ago, that housing companies were getting hit with charges of discrimination.

In simple terms, a person who was black, hispanic, non-white, or whatever of some minority, believed that they were unable to qualify for housing because of their minority status, rather than on points such as time in job, pay rate, expected job length, and so on. The result was a rash of small and large housing companies that took the risk to bet on the minorities, and bet on people who simply couldn't pay back the money for housing.

Eventually, that house of cards was going to fall, and many in the housing business saw the crash coming years ago. I know several local real estate dealers that were surprised the housing market managed to last as long as 2008 under the policies of the liberal democrats.

Quite simply, there were several people in the real estate and housing market that simply had no business being there in the first place. Had banks and housing companies stuck with strict standards for approval, the housing crash would never have happened. Many of these companies and banks knowingly violated federal regulation, willing broke existing laws, in order to make quick bucks, and comply with the demands of Liberal Democrats.


So, what does this have to do with proprietary software? Well, notice a common theme in the housing market? Liberal Democrats? Is any of this ringing a bell? The complete lack of personal responsibility? The complete lack of accountability?

It's no secret now that Steve Ballmer is firmly in the Obama camp, and it's no secret that I believe that Steve Ballmer is guilty of criminal fraud in the US. It's no secret that his company is a federally convicted, not just suspected, convicted criminal organization.

The same policies and beliefs that lead to the collapse of the Housing Market were the same policies that lead to the collapse of the U.S.S.R. Those same policies would have also lead to the collapse of quote Red China, up until China adopted some free market economic policies to survive. There is empirical evidence that the political and economic beliefs of the Liberal Democrats do not work. An entire country collapsed, what more needs to happen?

I know a lot of people in the Open-Source world who live and work in the US are stepping back from the election and wondering what they voted for. People wanted change, but Obama never defined change. Now we know what change is. That change is an implementation of the social and economic policies of Communist Russia. There's no other way to put it.

And Microsoft is a key part of the Democrats world. It's a key part of bringing together the control over everything, the key to making the government larger and more pervasive. Microsoft is the Big Brother capability, made real.

And I've been screaming at the top of my lungs for years that the Liberal Democrats are not your friends, that they are the enemy. And now? the evidence is coming to light that everybody who voted for Obama in the US... made one of the worst political mistakes ever.

PepsiCo... stay out of the culture war

I normally don't bother passing on stuff like this, since I figure anybody who is interested is probably already subscribed to the AFA.

Long story short I buy a lot of Pepsi products when it comes to drinks. For starters, I try to support companies that partner against the likes of the RIAA and MPAA. Given Pepsi's overly long cross-promotion with's DRM free music I've been more than happy to buy up Pepsi products.

Second, I've come to actually like the taste of Caffeine Free Pepsi. I can honestly taste tell the difference between most caffeine free drinks, and their original versions. With Pepsi? Still tastes enough like a Soda to me.

So when I find out that Pepsi has decided to get involved with the Liberal Democrats Culture War on the United States, I'm a little upset:

I've already gone into the reasoning behind the homosexual agenda before. My view is that people just want money, and they see the Homosexual agenda as a quick way to get that money. From what I directly know, all of the reports about the size of the Homosexual agenda use falsified data, and that far from having a 1 in 10 minority rate populated by the likes of falsified data surrounding the Michael Kinsey reports, the real rate is somewhere around 1 in 10000, not that the MPAA or various television shows would ever dare suggest that Homosexuals make up one of the smallest minority groups in the US.

My take is that a corporate business has no business getting involved with the Homosexual agenda, on any level. Doing so is a recipe for disaster. A good case in point is Disney, which under boycott managed to save itself on paper by scrapping multiple cruise ships, international clubs, and rapid expansion of the Disney Corporation. Even today television watchers and movie goes have noted that Disney's quality isn't what it used to be, a large result of cutting costs under the Boycott caused by partnering with Homosexual groups.

Now the executives who pursued a gay-friendly work enviroment, and worked for the gay-causes are now gone from Disney. Ejected because it was simply bad business. The same story is true with McDonalds, which under financial pressure, severed it's ties with the homosexual agenda.

One would think that after a while, corporations would learn that supporting Homosexuals in any way, in the US, is a sure fire recipe for ticking off the majority of consumers, and will inevitably result in profitable companies having to scramble to look good on paper, even while bleeding heavily underneath.

Pepsi's pretty much always played second fiddle to Coca-Cola as a world-wide soft-drink, and supporting the Homosexual Agenda in any way... based on past histories of companies that have done such support on the fraudulent data put forward by the Homosexuals, could easily turn Pepsi-Co into a niche market product like Royal Crown Cola.

Speaking for myself, when I hit Kroger today, it won't be for Pepsi. I'll simply go to Coca-Cola.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

CoH Stories - 2008

Okay. While trying to explain City of Heroes to a coworker, I went over some of the main storylines of the game. Well. Some of them get kind of complex.

Now, this isn't a listing of all of the enemy groups. This is attempting to be a listing of the major storylines, and where those storylines stand as of Issue 12.

Nemesis - Current :

Nemesis is a reclusive genius bent on taking over the world. He does so because he honestly believes he can make the world a better place. At one point he was Emperor of America. He is noted for his advanced steam powered creations.

Nemesis also caused the Rikti invasion.


Nemesis - Ourobous :

Nemesis has succeeded in taking over the world at some point in the future. Something went screwy, and now he's trying to prevent himself from taking over the world... but not letting himself know that he's preventing himself from taking over the world.

If that confused you... don't worry. The general rule of thumb for CoH is that if there is no explination, it's a Nemesis Plot.

Nemesis also has his hands in the downfall of the 5th column and the rise of the Council through Ourobous.


Hamidon - Current :

George Hamidon loves the earth. He loves it a lot. There's just one slight problem. George Hamidon hates the humans. In fact he hates everything that isn't the earth. Now he's a big giant blob of sentient jelly that is literally eating his way through the earth to take control of landmasses and send his minions, the Devouring Earth, all over.

Hamidon has, at one point, developed the ability to turn humans into minions.


Malta - Current / completed :

The Malta are a goup comprised from members of the CIA and other secret agencies from years ago. Their aim is to control... everything really. They also work on building a giant super-hero killing robot. While the storyline is effectively completed, with the core of the Malta halted, there are hints that the Malta have some plots and plans up their sleeves.


Carnival - completed :

The Carnival is a group of mystics controlled by an ancient evil mask. The storyline is effectively completed, with explinations on the mask, it's powers, and how the Carnival came to be. However, it's widely presumed that the original mask has not yet been destroyed.


Rikti / The Lost - current :

The Rikti are from an alternate earth. Attacked by Nemesis they launched their own assault against the Heroes home dimension. The Rikti have appaerently captured and brainwashed Hero 1, and keep trying to shore up their positions in Paragon City.

The Rikti have perfected a method of turning an average Human into a rikti. The Lost, a low-level enemy faction, appears to be either Humans that are turning into Riktis, or Humans that have failed to turn into Rikti.

The Rikti themselves are split additionally by two factions. There is the Traditionalist faction, which is the small minority on earth, mostly made up of scientists and politicians. The Traditionalists are open to peace talks and a treaty, but have strict rules against non-Rikti. Basically there's a glass ceiling to the Traditionalist faction if one is transformed from human, into The Lost, into Rikti. While the Traditionalists hold power on the Rikti homeworld...

The Restructerist faction makes up the bulk of the Rikti on Earth, and they hold power in Paragon City. Driven by the Lord Of War Hro'Dtohz the Rikti they seek to conquer the planet, and occassionaly mass enough forces to invade parts of Paragon City they don't already have footholds in. Their only concern is getting enough portals back to their homeworld to bring in enough troops to crush earth once and for all. Various hints show that the Rikti Restructerists haven't been giving the full story of Earth's activities to the Rikti Homeworld.

They just have one... slight problem. Since they went after Nemesis's headquarters of operation first, their foothold just happens to be surrounded by one of the strongest superhero concentrations on the planet.

Another problem in the Rikti's plans is that as of Issue 12, a cure is available for The Lost.


Council / 5th Column

Another Nemesis plot story. The 5th Column is a Nazi-like organization headed up by a villain known as Requim. The Council is a similar organization headed up by a villain simply called The Center.

Early in the life of City of Heroes the Council overthrew the 5th Column and seized control. However, as found out later, the Ourobous collective was responsible for the overthrow of the 5th Column.

Currently there is a split between the Council and the 5th column soldiers. While the bulk of the Council follows the orders of The Center to the letter, the various generals inside the Council fight against each other on a regular basis. Many times the 5th council soldiers stay loyal to 5th council generals, resulting in what appears to be some nasty infighting.

The story seems to be getting more complex as Requim appears to have control over an Ouro Crystal of his own, and has been found to be time traveling. Various hints in the dialog indicates Requim has his eyes set on Atlantis.

Speculation presumes that there is a massive fight coming up as Requim and Nemesis go at each other threw time, and it's presumed that Requim will take up a direct fight against The Center in present time to overthrow the Council.


Circle of Thorns:

The Circle Of Thorns are... different. At first glance they are a mystical cult that specializes in summoning demons, offering sacrifices, and generally fitting the bill of mages gone wrong. However, the Circle of Thorns aren't... from the present. Their physical bodies are, but the minds and spirits of the Circle of Thorns are the minds and spirits of an ancient race, the denizens of Oranbega. The higher mages of the Circle of Thorns aren't just possessed by the spirits of old... they are completely made of the spirits of old.

Short version, the Circle of Thorns have mastered a power that allows them to store a person's mind and spirit in a crystal, and move it in and out of bodies almost at will.

The Circle of Thorns constant demon summoning and dark rituals provide a never-ending source of pain to both Heroes and Villains alike.


Banished Pantheon

The quick shot on the Banished Pantheon is that they are the undead. The majority of their ranks are formed of zombies raised from the dead. They also feature multiple summons, and priests that wield superpowers.

Unlike most other villain groups, there is no central head to the Banished Pantheon. Rather, the heads of the Banished Pantheons are presumed to be Ancient Incarnates banished centuries ago. Where those incarnates were banished too, and how those incarnates can be brought back... hasn't been revealed in the storyline.

The Banished Pantheon's main impact on the storyline is the take-over of Dark Astoria, a section of Paragon City continously shrouded in a supernatural fog. It is presumed that the dark rituals of the Banished Pantheon cause this mystical fog.


Praetorians : Completed / Current

The Praetorians are much like the Rikti in being that they are both from an alternate earth. However, while the Rikti are from an alternate earth that is completely different in most physical aspects, the Praetorians are from a mirror dimension. In the Praetorian world the Heroes are villains, and the villains are heroes. Groups such as the Carnival of Light fight for what is good and lawful, while the corrupt twin of Statesman, the evil Tyrant, conquers all.

The Praetorian world is made all the more complex in that their are multiple dimensions of the Praetorian world, and multiple planets. In one Praetorian Dimension, the Council suceeded in taking over the world, becoming the Council Empire.

The Praetorian arc is largely completed, which players getting most of the in-game story wrapped up once they have a face down with Tyrant. However, the sheer number of hero / villain alts opens the Praetorian worlds up to future problems. As is now, nobody knows who, or what, Lord Recluse is over in the Praetorian World.


Lord Recluse / Arachnos

Lord Recluse wants to control the world. However, before he controls the world, he wants to take down Statesman first. There's nothing Lord Recluse wants more than to see Statesman on bended knee surrendering.

Storyline wise players face off against Arachnos at pretty much all levels. The spider forces even show up as low as Faultline. Currently one of the high-level TaskForces is dedicated to stopping one of the plans to take over the world.

The Arachnos storyline is further complicated in that like the Council, there is a lot of infighting among Arachnos forces, and even one of the top generals, the spooky Ghost Widow, isn't following Arachnos because she wants to. Not to mention the fact that another top general, Scirocco, only follows Arachnos because of a curse.


Shadow Shard:

If you thought the above storylines were complex ... the shadow shard is even worse. In the Shadow Shard, an extra-dimensional plane (which also houses Pocket D) is filled with unending amounts of Rularuu forces.

There's also 3 demi-gods, consisting of
Ruladak the Strong, Faathim the Kind, and Lanaru the Mad. Oh, and then there's the master of these 3, the so called Rularuu... which is never clarified as an actual entity, or extra-dimensional force, or another Incarnate.

The short version is, as learned in the Rikti Warzone, even the Vanguard is scared of what would happen if Rularuu were to be set free in Paragon City.


Okay. That's the list of the ongoing / not resolved storylines that I can think of.

There's also some on the villain side that aren't wrapped up by the time the players finish most of the story arcs in Ourobous.

And yes, I know that there are a lot of other minor arcs, like the Trolls Superdine, and the Family, and the Cage Consotorium not covered here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

General British leaves NCSoft

There's... a lot that could be said here. I used to love Tabula Rasa, to the point that I even started writing fiction that took place in the Tabula Rasa universe. However, after Richard Garriot was promoted out of Destination Games, the game... suffered. The developers caved to the pvp crowd, and Tabula Rasa stands as the worst performing NCSoft game going. Now that Richard Garriot is gone, for good, from the game, I really wonder what the development team will do from this point.

Speaking for myself, when I played during Operation Immortality, I found a lot of bugs that were still unresolved, after literal months. The game just never lived up to what it could have been... and now... I doubt it ever will.

(well... I dunno, unless NCSoft hires me to direct the storyline and game mechanics... but I don't see them doing that)

Heads up: Matt Hartley might have found somebody willing to touch him

If you don't know who Matt Hartley is, don't worry about this. If you DO know who Matt Hartley is, Jupiter Media seems to have picked up some his articles to publish.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

CoH: I13 Epic / Patron power changes

Now that Issue 13 is in open beta, I figured it was time to go over some of the changes that are in the game right now. One of the major changes is that Hero Epic and Villain Patron powers are getting some reworks. Epic and Patron powers are player powers that become available once the player achieves level 41.

As I understood the Epic powers back in I7 when I got my first 50 they were basically intended to round out various weaknesses in various builds, giving classes like Defenders and Controllers some protection against damage; giving Tanks and Scrappers some ranged damage or extra accuracy; and basically turning trigger happy blasters into maniacal weapons of destruction. Just trust me on this, Blasters get a bunch of awesome epic powers, ranging from the debuffing cold mastery that my Archery / Fire blaster took, to an extra nuke, to a sniping nuke, to a self rez.

The big problem with the Hero Epic powers is that for many classes, only one or two of the Epic power sets available made any actual sense. A good case in point is the Controller archtype which typically lacks any status protection, force field and sonic field controllers to the side. The Epic Psionic set gives Controllers some protection against status effects, as well as helping to shore up direct and aoe damage. A defenders biggest problem is the sheer lack of damage, and they get a Power Boost as an Epic power choice. Scrappers and Tanks typically have a bit more flexibility, but by and large, most Scrappers and Tanks go after Focussed Accuracy because it doesn't matter how much damage you do, if you can't hit it will not matter. The Blaster class is really the only archtype where it didn't matter what players picked, the choices were pretty much all good.

Then came Villain Patron powers which were... well... confusing. The Villain Patron powers didn't clearly shore up any obvious weaknesses in each archtype. In fact, I know a lot of villain players that decided to just skip the Patron power sets. Granted, I only have one 50 villain, and it's a stalker, where as I have 50's in tanks, blasters, controllers, and defenders. Speaking for myself, as a stalker, I really don't need a summon pet that I have no control over when, where, or what it attacks. Okay, I can appreciate having a decent hold as a stalker, and yeah, there are times when being able to snipe from range while being invisible has it's advantages. However, I really didn't have a choice. Pretty much all the Patron sets for stalkers consisted of a short ranged attack, a sniper shot, a hold, then a pet summon.

Players in Grandville could also check out the Patron powers that other classes got, and it was pretty much the same. No matter which Villain Patron you went with, be it Captain Mako, Ghost Widow, Scirocco, or the Scorpion, the powers each archtype got were pretty much all the same for each Patron. Compared to the Hero side where even the most limited archtype, scrappers, still had 3 drastically different sets to choose from.

For reference, scrappers can take Body Master, which offers extra accuracy, an endurance usage buff, and two ranged attacks; Darkness Master, which offers a hold and 3 ranged attacks including a group immobilize; or Weapon Mastery, which has 3 ranged attacks and a mob slow.

With Issue 13, a lot of the Epic and Patron powers are changing. If you don't mind the CoH Forums, the full list of powers is located here.

Some of the changes directly affect characters I have. A good case in point would be my archery / fire blaster which has the Cold Mastery set. One of the current Cold Mastery powers is flash freeze, which does a quick hold that can be broken by any more attacks. Pointless on a class that does nothing but attack. Well, flash freeze is gone, being replaced by the Health Buff power, Hoarfrost.

Tanks are also getting a rework, with their epic sets getting various debuffs, such as Melt Armor, Shiver, and Quicksand.

One of my older builds on the test server was still specced for the Pyre Mastery set, and I also have a Thermal Radiation controller, so I decided to check out the Melt Armor for tanks.

Well. It's not good. It's actually really bad. To set up how bad the Epic power is against the normal power, I did a comparison of various Epic powers against their normal cousins on other archtypes at about lvl 41.

As always, click on the picture for the full size version. A side note before we start. I know these pictures are cropped. I forced myself to use Vista to put these together, and... no other way around it. Vista's handling of grabbing images from the frame-buffer is the worst Microsoft has managed yet.

First up, the Controller power of char

The Tanker version doesn't look so hot, pun intended. It does less damage, and has a much longer recharge time, works for less time, but the status magnitude effect is about the same. From a status effect point, the Tank is about 30% down on effect time when comparing the controllers 21 second effect to the tanks 13 second effect.

So how about the controller power of Shiver?

Compared to the Controller, a Tank isn't that bad off on shiver. The recharge time is actually faster, while the endurance usage goes up a bit. Once again, the overall status effect is down by about 30%, comparing the ~80% debuff against the ~50% debuff, around 40% on length of effect comparing the 18 second effect time versus the 10 second effect time.

Okay, lets take a look at another debuff, the Freezing Rain from the controller Storm set.

Surpisingly, at 41, the damage between the Controller version and the Tank version is the same. The status effect also remains consistent with an average difference of 30-40% on the length of the status effect, and the strength of the status effect.

For a tank then, most Epic debuffs seem to fall within 40% to 30% of the effect that a controller using the same power. So what about attacks?

Well, lets check out the Blaster Fire Blast.

At 78 points of damage on average to 51 points of damage, the Fire Blast power is staying well within the expected delta of 30% to 40% drop.

Okay, how about Energy Torrent?

59 points of damage on average versus 39 points of damage again holds true to a difference around 30%, and actually falls on the high 20's side. Granted, the slightly higher damage comes at the price of a little less... I don't mean little. I mean a lot less knockback. However, the tank's attack will always do knockback, where as the blaster power only has a chance of knocback.

How about a power that's not native to blasters, but is still ranged? Well, Tanks can get Laser Beam Eyes, and as far as I saw, there was no direct equivalent in the other normal archtypes.

However, the Peacebringer Epic Set has a Glinting Eye attack...

In fact, it's pretty much the exact same power. The only numerical differences appear in the recharge time, 4 seconds versus 6 seconds; the debuff, 18% versus 14%; and endurance cost, 5.20 versus 6.50; which all fall on the 20% side of 30%.

So, overall then, players can expect their Epic Tank powers to have an average of 30% difference versus getting the power natively on another archtype.

Or can they?

Melt Armor Controller

Melt Armor Tanker

The word you are looking for is OUCH. The status effect is the WRONG SIDE of 60% difference.

Word of advice to the developers? Get consistent with the epic powers. Melt Armor is just outright tacky.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Don't believe me that Microsoft and Obama go together?

Some people seem to want to believe that Microsoft does not equal left wing liberal democrats.

Yeah. Right.

So why then does Steve Ballmer back Obama?

There's no other way around it. When the chief executive of one of the largest criminal organizations in the world says he backs somebody, his entire company backs that person.

I've been telling readers for years that Microsoft is hand in hand with the liberal democrats, and that they are friends with the likes of the RIAA and MPAA. I've laid out in extremely plain terms the relationships and the logical 2+2=4 arguments behind these statements.

And nobody wants to listen.

Until I'm proven right. Once again.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Open Source is /screwed/

No other way to put this. The election of Obama as president, and a sitting congress comprised with a majority seating of Democrats in both houses... has officially utterly screwed open source.

If you thought that the RIAA, MPAA, Microsoft, and their friends were hard hitting in the past when it comes to removing personal freedoms, ownership, fair-use, and everything else, the next two years are going to be extremely tough.

The only plus to the election disaster today is that the liberal democrats and their anti-consumer friends only hold 53 Votes in the Senate, 7 spots shy of the needed 3/5th's number of 60 votes, as well as only holding 242 votes in the house, 46 votes shy of the 2/3 majority rule. In 2 years time, consumers will have a chance to kick the Democrats out of majority in congress, and put representatives in place that will stand in for the consumers rights.

Remember basic politics 001. Obama, as president, can't actually do anything for any extended length of time without congressional approval. He can't pass laws, order military action, place judges, or any real tasks without the approval of congress.

So the good news is, the democrats don't have enough votes to do any real damage, and in 2 years time, that capability can be rejected outright.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Wii / DSi : secure SD transactions

Nintendo just announced the DSi, a new version of the Nintendo DS platform, and in the speech notes Iwata expressed concern about how to manage the secure transactions of WiiWare and the upcoming DSware games and applications on the freely removable SD card format. One developer has already weighed in wondering if SD cards will open up the platform to even more piracy, as if the R4 chip wasn't easy enough.

Well. I have a solution for Nintendo. Truecrypt. Truecrypt is an on-the-fly disk encryption utility, and is the perfect answer for locking down content on the SD card format. It's also Open-Licensed, which means it's royalty-free and patent-free, which means Nintendo can use it without having to pay anybody else.

The idea is that when inputting an SD card to be used for WiiWare and DSWare games, the user has to format the SD card, or a portion of the SD card, against Truecrypt. The password and keys to unlock the content aren't actually exposed to the user, they don't see them at all. Rather, the password and keys are stored in the Wii and DS operating firmware, and against the Nintendo Online account.

The conceptual implementation is that by saving the game data in a Truecrypt formatted partition, the games data cannot be cracked by pirates using other platforms. By the same token, games that are not inside the Truecrypt partition are automatically blocked. They are given no run permission by default.

Basically it's an extension of the Unix way of reading everything as a file and assigning permissions. Executable game files can only run if they are run through the Truecrypt partition and are signed against the truecrypt partition.

Okay, that should eliminate piracy concerns, but what about consumer concerns? How does one take an SD card used in a Wii, put it in a DS, and play games, without knowing the password?

The answer is found in the system memory of each device, and the online Nintendo store. Nintendo automatically tracks every purchase made through the WiiWare and Virtual Console networks. Once you buy a game, you own that game, and can re-download it at any time.

So, whenever you register and format a Truecrypt partition, that key is actually a hash made from your login information. The online store saves the Truecrypt Key, and when you go to a different platform, you simply login with your information. The Truecrypt key is downloaded to the new platform, and the SD card is unlocked. If you have multiple SD cards, multiple pass keys can be saved.

The idea is that if you buy say, Mario64 DS DSware edition, store it on an SD card, then boot up your friends DS with the SD card, you input your login information, the key is downloaded, the card is unlocked, and your game is available.

The drawback so far is that you will need an Internet connection to validate the install.

Well, since we basically are describing Steam for Nintendo, lets go with the Steam method some more. If you have logged onto a friends Wii or DS, your login and has information is saved. So they can continue to use your SD cards.

Okay, saved information, pirates locked out, ability to access the games at any time with the login information, there has to be another technical problem, and that problem is space!

At some point if enough people register with a certain DSi or Wii platform, there won't be any space left.

Okay, this isn't exactly true as the Truecrypt pass key and the login information can simply be saved as Plain text... which isn't going to take up a lot of space. However, each device is given a user control screen. Basically, the platform owner can see who all has registered against the machine in question, and remove any usernames left, also removing their passkey.


Given the time to the DSi launch, I'm pretty sure that this strategy will work, and will ease developers minds about the potential of piracy on the Nintendo platforms.

... next question. How in the world do I get a hold of Nintendo engineering to give them this idea...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

No Apple did Not drop the NDA on Iphone Development

For those who haven't been following the Iphone development saga, Apple's been pulling some really rotten tricks with it. Long story short, developers who work on the Iphone platform have to sign an NDA, a non-disclosure agreement. Developers whose applications are rejected from the Iphone store can not talk about the rejections under the NDA. The result was a huge backlash among Apple Fans, as chronicled on MacRumors. So, Apple has reportedly dropped the NDA on Iphone development according to many news sites. Only, Apple hasn't. I'm going to post the message from Apple, with a couple lines bolded.
We have decided to drop the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) for released iPhone software.

We put the NDA in place because the iPhone OS includes many Apple inventions and innovations that we would like to protect, so that others don’t steal our work. It has happened before. While we have filed for hundreds of patents on iPhone technology, the NDA added yet another level of protection. We put it in place as one more way to help protect the iPhone from being ripped off by others.

However, the NDA has created too much of a burden on developers, authors and others interested in helping further the iPhone’s success, so we are dropping it for released software. Developers will receive a new agreement without an NDA covering released software within a week or so. Please note that unreleased software and features will remain under NDA until they are released.

Thanks to everyone who provided us constructive feedback on this matter.

Apple uses the term released quite often in the announcement. Released software is software that is sold on the Iphone market. Unreleased software is software that has been rejected from the Iphone store. Which is what the complaints were about to begin with.

So, Apple's done absolutely nothing to address the complaints from Apple Fans, has not listened to constructive feedback, and thinks they can get away with it. Instead, all I can see the new announcement causing is more developers fleeing to Google Android.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Jack Thompson Disbarred : yay!

Bit of a congrats to the Florida State Bar. Jack Thompson is officially gone from legal process. He's got less than 30 days to close up any cases and shift his clients elsewhere, or if he has no clients, he's shut down immediatly.

The news of the disbarment has generated different responses in the video game world. Many gamers are taking the news like a ruling against SCO. It's great, but really, gamers should strive to hold the higher moral and ethical ground. Others are going out of their way to crack jokes about how disbarred Jack Thompson is.

As for myself, I find myself in the middle. I so very badly want to be the better person and not mock Jack Thompson at all. I do not want to make any jokes about what's left of his career. He brought the shame and misfortune upon himself, and I'm grateful that a weapon used by liberal democrats has been neutralized. At the same time, there is a feeling of pleasure gained from coming up with sarcastic comments and spiteful words to be thrown in the face of somebody like Jack Thompson.

I think I can say it best this way though: Good riddance to Bad rubbish.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Adventure Crossing

Guess this is as good a time as any. For those who've been wondering why I've been so silent... I've picked up an outside job.

As of the past several weeks I have been working at / for Adventure Crossing. Website is and some of the re-writing I've done can be found on the What's Playing Now Lasertron page.

The best way to describe myself in this job is Assistant Shop Tech. So... if you'd, I dunno, like to actually find me in person... ya can.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hurricane Ike... little sympathy...

As I write this Hurricane Ike is pounding the shores of Galveston Texas, with showing the eye of the storm just about as far away from Galveston as Galveston is from Houston. At the same time that Hurricane Ike is slamming to the shore, various news agencies report that thousands are still in the direct path of the storm and refuse to leave. Various state and federal authorities are on record saying that people who remain in the path of the storm... will die. Some analysts think that Hurricane Ike could take more lives than Hurricane Katrina and Rita combined, and possibly be the most lethal hurricane to ever strike US soil.

While talking about the potential death toll, some friends of mine were shocked at the pure indifference I displayed towards the people remaining in the path of the storm. Quite simply, I can't care about them.

One of the best, and worst, stories I have from the Hurricane Katrina disaster is one I mentioned in passing on the Livejournal site back in September 2005. I seriously took a call from a person who was not getting any cable TV, wanted to watch WWE, and had no roof over their head.

During Top Gear's American Journey across the south a couple seasons ago, Jeremy Clarkson wondered how the richest country in the world could possibly let the squalor and damage remain years after Katrina hit. I just wanted to scream back at Clarkson that he didn't get it. People in Louisiana simply didn't care about their state, or about New Orleans. It was full of Liberal Democrats whose complete and utter failure at the governmental level resulted in the devastation of the city. After Katrina hit, people in New Orleans expected financial handouts, and expected the government, and through the government all the surrounding states to fix everything up and pay for everything.

All I can do is just point at South Carolina, North Carolina, South Georgia, and Flordia, which get smacked by Hurricanes and Tropical storms just about every year. Even after disasters such as Hurricane Hugo or Hurricane Bonnie there were no expectations that the federal government, or the rest of the states, would swoop in and fix everything and pay the financing. Private citizens did the work themselves. Yes, they accepted volunteer help, but even less than 6months after Hurricane Hugo struck in Charleston, the town was pretty much back to normal.

That difference between the costs is marked in a political manner. I shouldn't have to explain it. New Orleans was a disaster because the political party running the city was a disaster.

I can't explain liberalism. I can't explain mental insanity. That's what New Orleans was.

In the same way, I can't explain why people would hunker down with a 200mile plus wide category 2 hurricane moving in. If I had been living in Galveston, or any of the coastal towns in Texas, I'd have done bugged out of there as soon as it became known that the Hurricane was going to hit.

I can't explain people who want to sit in the path of a Hurricane and hope for the best. I don't want to explain people like that. I'm glad I don't think like that. From what I've heard bus business's were offering free rides to people moving away from the coast. I've heard that hotels in the states just north of Texas, and in North Texas, are opening up rooms for Free. Simply provide a drivers license showing you live in one of the landfall cities, and you have shelter for a few days. That's not including the standard opening of Church doors to provide shelter, and the offers that shoot up from people 2 or 3 states away to host families whose homes are in the direct path of the hurricane.

Why, in the world, would someone willingly sit in the middle of a hurricane path then?

I don't know. I have no sympathy for anybody that does.

Honestly, I only feel sorry for the clean-up people, because I've dealt with some of the soon to be, and affected geographical territories. I've taken calls, and I've had to explain to people that a Hurricane hit. I've had to explain that a Hurricane is big. I've had to explain that if a car is flipped over in your drive-way, you probably should have left town (not a joke, trust me on that).

Maybe I'm cold, maybe I'm heartless, and I hope the damage isn't as bad as expected... but sympathy for Hurricane victims who chose to stay in the way of the storm? I have none of that.