Tuesday, January 26, 2010

This is the end...

It has been a long time since I wrote a blog post...way too long. Well that’s not entirely true, I have actually drafted a few posts. But then I stumble, and here’s my issue.

I don’t think I can do this anymore.

I am largely conflicted. On one side I think I have thoughts I would like to express, perhaps other people may be interested in them...who knows. Sometimes the writing is almost a cathartic process. But there is a big ‘other side’.

I am also an intensely private person, I protect my personal life and don’t like intrusions into it. Which is a little contrary to putting myself out there through such mediums as blogs, twitter and Facebook. And I also have a passionate hatred of people that live their lives through such public forums, posting what I feel are inappropriate comments and/or actions and divulging information that I don’t feel should be announced to all.

If you look around the web it takes about two mouse clicks to see that everyone publicly vents their opinions, their innermost thoughts...Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Blogs. Pseudo-Journalism. Let me give you some examples:
• A friend writes on his Facebook status that a close relative passed away a year ago today, and he loves him and he's never far from his mind...
• Another posts his relationship status...
• Someone carries out a conversation between herself and her teenage daughter...not a pleasant “hi mum” type of chat either...
• Twitter posts of “At XYZ for lunch”...
• Facebook/Twitter/whatever posts of “I'm eating/drinking/drunk/hungover/sitting in seat x watching event y...”.

The logical comment is “you only have to read what you want, just don’t use those tools etc”. Well that’s entirely true. I have actually removed my Facebook account twice in the past and while I currently have one it is a) locked down tighter than...[insert funny quote here], and b) it has only my friends on it not ‘associates’ or ‘fakebook’ friends...primarily as I am relocating to the United States later this year and want to stay in touch with close friends and family. I also recently culled my Twitter down to just ‘news’ and ‘information’ style subscriptions with one or two minor exceptions.

However I would feel a little hypocritical if I then continued to post on a blog in a public forum about my thoughts and opinions.

I should reinforce here it is very much a case of each to their own. It is not bad to do the things I noted above (I’m sure someone is interested in what you had for breakfast), it’s just not who I am.

So I think this is it for the moment. Maybe I will change my mind, or somehow feel differently in the future. But until then, take care.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Game Review: Fallen Earth (MMO)

Well I have decided that I am going to branch out in this blog and explore. I am not limiting myself to my usual navel gazing or rants, I am going to step out and do a game review :)

I have been a 'gamer' (and I mean computer games, in case that wasn't obvious) for a long time. I am not one of those hard core, 24 hour a week types that locks myself in a room and stinks up a storm. I just enjoy playing a game, and find in particular the escapism of a good MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game) is akin to a good movie, only it has multiple viewings heheh.

Anyway, my history of MMO's dates back to the early 2000's when a friend introduced me to Earth and Beyond. This was made by EA Games and was science fiction based. Since then I have played a fair few of these sorts of games. My most recent being Fallen Earth.

Fallen Earth is developed by an independent studio, Icarus. It is set in a post apocolyptic world, and based in the areas around the Grand Canyon (although this may be expanded in the future). It is a very interesting game and having played it since release (around 22nd September) I feel I have played it enough to offer my opinion on it now. I will follow that somewhat boring but easy to digest method of the good and the bad.

The good...

* The lack of hand holding. Yes, this (as many of these things will be) is very personal, but I was a little sick of games that connected the dots for you. The learning curve is quite steep...but this is a good thing. It gives you a sense of achievement when you get through it and it also ring fences the uber leet zerger's out to an extent.

* The open skill system. No class paths, this is an entirely skill based system. Four areas of 'knowledge' being stats (i.e. intelligence, strength), skills (i.e. pistol, armour use), mutations and tradeskills. Each of these can be raised either directly or indirectly with Action Points (AP's), which are earned over time with experience. You do have levels which seems a little unnecessary, regardless the open skill system is a good choice.

* The world, lore and environment. The setting has been well thought out, and really encourages you to immerse yourself. The world is visually quite pleasant and 'believable' if that makes sense. The graphics are not state of the art, but it is sufficient to provide a good basis (they are not photo-realistic, but not cartoony.

* Crafting. The crafting system is very in depth. You are rewarded with skill increases when you craft something that is not below your level, and are limited by the stats of Intelligence and Perception (and therefore level, as this limits your stats). You utilise raw materials to build items. Sometimes these are themselves sub-components and are assembled with others into a component or final item. The crafting is offline, so it continues while you are doing other activities or are offline.

* Options. You can buy an item, or craft an item. You can get experience from salvaging (harvesting), crafting, quests and killing. You can group or you can solo. You can go hard and zerg, or you can take your time. I am level 16 and I think the cap is 45...I'm still in Sector 1 (there are currently 3). Sometimes I have 10-20 minutes spare, I will log in, harvest a bit, setup another crafting queue...etc.

OK now for the bad...

* Crafting. I know, I said it was a good. But I am a little concerned with the fact anyone can craft anything. There is no limit on 'specialisation', so you can max your crafting in every tree. Sure, you are limited by your intelligence and perception as to the levels, but the fact that anyone can craft all the categories...weapons, ballistics, science, nature, armour...you get the idea. I believe this will not only be potentially terrible for the economy, but also takes a large leap away from the other areas that seem so well thought out.

* Skill trees. Again a strength that is not a 'cookie cutter' class system, but if you are going to have a skill based system, why would you have skill point increases for crafting but not for the true skills like pistol, rifle, armour use etc? I am thinking a system along the lines of the old SWG (pre stuff up) would be better, where you earn points using the skills, once you have sufficient skill points you can use AP's to advance those skills.

* Respecs. I understand the issues involved with this. Really, I do. Some people abuse them. But don't make rules for the 5% that upset the other 95%. If you have a system where you are encouraging immersion, roleplay, character development...don't have newish players develop their characters and make mistakes, and then realise they are stuck and have no chance of altering the mix. Bring in some sort of system where you can gradually drop AP's from one tree, then reallocate to another, somehow, someway.

* Controls. After playing my first 2 x 2 hours sessions of this game, I very nearly rage quit and threw my laptop out the window. The controls are not great, and the ability to alter them is very limited. But once you get used to them, they are not horrible (but even now I don't like them).

So there you go, that's my thoughts on the game. The developers have released a number of patches since go-live, and the signs are very positive. The things I would like to see that are lacking right now:

1. RESPEC!!! Let us change the abilities for our characters at a cost/time penalty.
2. Player housing. This is huge to me for immersion. Camps, houses...whatever. Just don't make them instanced, and let us put things in them.
3. Fast Travel. I don't want to break the setting, or mechanics, but the ability to get from one end of sector one to the other...I mean it takes about 15 minutes to get from a town to a neighbouring town sometimes (yes, that's "real life" time). I hate to think what would happen if a friend was in Sector Two and I was in Sector One and we wanted to meet...
4. More a wish this one...limit crafting people can do. As much as I love being able to craft everything, it's poor form.

So there you go. My character name in Fallen Earth is Michael Brennan, feel free to add me to your friends list if you see me about :)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The mystery of time...

I have long experienced a little issue that has intrigued me, and I feel the need to discuss (aka vent).

You always hear it, that comment "I don't have time". Commonly an excuse utilised for a lack of effort on someone's part. Whilst it can often be the basis of the issue, it is more often the convenient crutch that is leaned on when effort was lacking.

It is however an easy, and very believable reason. Of all the things we possess, time is perhaps the only finite resource. However if you can find someone that has had something, be it a hobby, work, or some passion that involved them spending a lot of time on it...odds are you will find someone that appreciates just how much time we do have at our disposal.

I am a basketball coach and have been doing it for 15 years. I would train 2-3 times a week, with each session involving a 30 minute commute either way, arriving 30 minutes prior to the session to prepare and then the 2 ½ hour session. So up to three times a week, that was 4 hours a night (12 hours total). Then for every training session, I would spend about half that time again reviewing video, preparing training plans, analysing individual players issues etc. So that's another 6 hours. And then every Saturday morning I had 8:00am – 11:00am booked for professional development, where I would read a book, watch a college/NBA/other game, and try to improve my knowledge. So that's another 3 hours. None of that takes into account the 'variable factors', like going to junior games on occasion to watch upcoming young players, attending other coaches training sessions to assist/learn etc. So let's go with a total of 21 hours.

On top of this I had a full time job (no, coaching doesn't pay the bills...). That was well in excess of 40 hours a week. And still somehow managed to have time to catch up with friends and go out.

I am having a break from coaching this year and it has really hit home how much time it takes up. However I have chosen to look at it rather as how much time I currently have available. So many of the people I know, when you say to them "hey lets catchup", they say "sorry, I just don't have time right now...lets plan something later hey?". Hmmmm. So rather than accept this, recently I have politely asked what it is they have that keeps them so busy. It seems the routine of going to work and going home is sufficient for most. They get home...err...get changed...ummm....cook dinner...yeah and it is just really busy. There's stuff that needs to be done. And it's not getting done on its own.

Honestly, find something that will take up your time, do it for a while, then stop it. You will find a world of time available that you didn't realise you had.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dusting off the cobwebs...

Yup, it's been 3 months (+2 weeks to be exact) since my last post. Wow, a long break. I lost focus, and had some Real Life (TM) issues that sought to distract me. But things are back on track now and I am determined to do a little blogging.

So this isn't a terribly exciting post, but I'm hoping that I will have a couple more of very soon. I am wondering what is realistic to aim for...and should I go for the whole 'underpromise, overdeliver'...set a 'stretch target' and aim for it...or just be realistic...so many choices.

I am going for the realistic option. I will aim for a post a week, I think that's achievable. I am going to post on some subjects that interest me, as well as my usual naval gazing insights (oooh, more lint...).

Have great weekend everyone, mine is busy but I'm going to fit in some blog writing heheh.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

No #followfriday

I haven't got a Twitter #followfriday today. I just haven't had time to try and get something operating in my new workplace to allow me to follow Twitter. I can't install Adobe Air (you need administrator privileges) and that seems to be the weapon of choice for developing Twitter apps for some reason.

I haven't been able to track down a non-AIR application, and the web based items aren't exactly useful. So for the moment, it's a Twitterless life I lead.

As such, it's hardly fair for me to recommend following people on Twitter. If/when I can get something working for it and I recommence, I will be sure to start up my #followfriday recommendations again.

Relationships = Work

I'm not sure if it's just me, or an alternate way of thinking...but to me relationships = work.

I have had a few relationships of varying types and lengths. I'm certainly no subject matter expert, but I think I have enough experience to voice a semi-educated opinion on the subject.

I never want my partner to forget that they are the most important thing in the world to me, that I love them, that I will do anything and always be there for them. It takes a lot of work to do that. And when I say work, I mean it takes me consciously thinking "what are they going through, and is there anything I can do to help?". What can I do today to show my partner that I'm thinking of them, that I still love them.

I know a lot of people think if you're in a 'good' relationship, it should be easy...there shouldn't be any work. I have to say I have never been in a relationship like that. Maybe it is me...maybe I have never been in a 'good' relationship (I would beg to differ). If people are lucky enough to find themselves in that situation, fantastic. Just I've never been there.

In the meantime, I will continue working hard to try and make my relationships work and if I learn any secrets, you will be the first to know hahaha. And conversely if you know any secrets yourself, feel free to pass them on to me. Just between us, ok? ;)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Twitter: Follow Friday #4 (@tigertigercb)

And the next victim...bwahahaha...(thats supposed to be an evil laugh *sigh*).

*drum roll*


This one is a little indulgent of me. I am a bit of a coffee fan and really enjoy finding and tasting good coffee. I have explored Sydney and Perth coffee as I have lived in both, and Perth is really growing up a lot (in my humble opinion) on the coffee scene.

Tiger Tiger Coffee Bar is a really great spot in the Murray Mews, 329 Murray Street Perth. There's nothing better than dropping in on a Saturday morning, having some eggs benedict and a couple of cups of their awesome coffee (seriously, how could I just have one!). They have a "Single Origin Day" every Wednesday fortnight (next is 24th July) where they feature beans from a single country and plantation...such as Ethiopian Lumu.

Tiger Tiger Coffee Bar Website

Clare (the owner) always has a smile ready for you, and the atmosphere in the shop is terrific. They are also expanding into wine, with various tastings and special events.

I thoroughly recommend checking them out, and following them on twitter. Enjoy!