Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

From the Desk of Rowan Blaze

Greetings, Traveler!

For the past couple weekends, I have been traveling around, myself—usually with Scooter along—gathering materials to craft a proper place for my trusty gaming rig. You may have seen some of these on Instagram or Twitter, but I figured I should share them here.

The frame holding up the desktop is made from 3/4-inch pipe held together with structural fittings (allen-wrench driven screw clamps). I bought all the metal hardware from Lowes. In the picture below, the frame is upside-down and back-to-front, as well as missing two of the flanges I used for feet.
The double braces about a foot from the bottom are probably overkill structurally, but provide a place for a shelf. In the end, I moved the long cross bars further back to provide more foot room. The long lines seem out of square in person, but I checked and rechecked the level. The desktop itself is from Ikea, both light and sturdy.
Below, you see my almost-finished setup. I have swing-arm monitor stands clamped to the back, but I need to get a DVI cable for my slightly obsolete HP monitor (shown on the left). I plan to use it mostly for holding open browsers and other programs while gaming on my newer one. I also dug out (well, Scooter did) a set of self-powered speakers (including a subwoofer, just visible below my keyboard) that have better quality than the on-board output of my monitor. (While I like Viewsonic OK, getting the one with speakers was a complete waste of money.) I also plan to get a cord hammock from Ikea the next time we're down there.
All told, the dimensions are 59" x 29½" x 40" (150cm x 75cm x 102cm). It's high enough for me to stand at the desk if I want to, but I got a bar stool with a tractor saddle for when I want to sit. You may have noticed the bare concrete floor. The house suffered a minor flood in April, and the carpet had to go. The room needs to be repainted before we put down a new floor, when Scooter and I get a chance for another home improvement project. Which (lol) will involve dismantling both my new desk and the repurposed kitchen table I took apart in order to get it into the Game Room in the first place.
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Creative Commons License
This article from I Have Touched the Sky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you repost part or all of the work (for non-commercial purposes), please cite me as the author and include a link back to the blog.

Scooter proofreads almost all my articles before I post them, for which I am very grateful. However, any mistakes are mine and mine alone (unless otherwise noted). If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after publication. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Unplugged

Greetings Traveler,

Syp has a post up about the new gear grind of Secret World Legends. It got me thinking. First, I am perceiving less and less reason to make the jump from TSW, which itself lost a bit of luster for me years ago. I loved the classless Ability Wheel, even if enterprising individuals found “perfect” builds and the game itself encouraged other builds through the outfit system. I loved the complex, mature story; though the unrelenting grimdark became tiresome. I've said it before, but it would be nice to have a similar underlying system in a different setting. I guess that is the appeal—such as it is—of game systems like GURPS, where the basic mechanics are the same, but many different settings and scenarios can overlay the dice rolls.

But I never got Panoptic Core in TSW. That is probably the result of my SLC with Scooter, not to mention my innate altoholism. Maybe between the experience points on my three characters, I could have gotten all the abilities on the Wheel. As far as I know, I could always go back and finish if I want to. Funcom hasn't actually shut down the original TSW completely; they've just decided to develop the game in a different direction. What if Blizzard had done that on at least a few servers for each expansion of WoW, enabling players to return to those older versions of the game if they prefer?

On the other hand, it's become a habit for me to lose interest in an MMO before ever really reaching endgame. Despite playing MMOs fairly consistently for over a decade, I think its been at least a couple years since Scooter or I have hit max level and the "end of the story." It's been almost a month since either of us logged into WoW, on characters that are nowhere near max-level. Part of that is Real Life intruding on our game time. Just when all of the kids are out of the house (sort of), it seems that both of us are busier than ever with job duties. And more of our time off is spent completely unplugging than jacking in to whatever our favorite matrix is at the moment.
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Creative Commons License
This article from I Have Touched the Sky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you repost part or all of the work (for non-commercial purposes), please cite me as the author and include a link back to the blog.

Scooter proofreads almost all my articles before I post them, for which I am very grateful. However, any mistakes are mine and mine alone (unless otherwise noted). If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after publication. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Finding Our Path

Greetings, Traveler*!

Scooter and I enjoyed a bit of a long weekend, though we didn't really go anywhere far, unless you count the awesome Cyclone Corral BBQ in Burlington, TX, and a journey to IKEA, though that is part of another story.
Kickin' Peach Cobbler!
So, on Saturday, among other errands, Scooter and I decided to stop by a couple local gaming shops to see what they had available. At one, several people were conducting wargames of various types I wouldn't be able to name. They had a small selection of figures, scenery, and rulebooks for a few different tabletop RPGs, strategy games, card games etc. They had gently used copies of the Pathfinder Core Rulebook and Bestiary for half the cover price. What they didn't have was any beginner boxes for games we were thinking of taking up.
Saturday's Loot Haul
The second store we visited has been in the same place since before I moved to the area almost two decades ago. This store has more stuff packed into a smaller space, including a wall of comic books in addition to the gaming items available. A card tournament was going on when we arrived; Magic the Gathering, I believe. The books we looked at were all full price, around $50 apiece, but they did have a couple introductory boxes for different games. We picked up the Pathfinder Beginner box, and decided to return to the first store to snatch up the half-price books. (Speaking of which, my daughter informed me that Half Price Books has several locations around Austin, about an hour from our home, that frequently have gaming books and other items we might use.)

I did an unboxing video for the Pathfinder Beginner Box, if any one is interested.
As for the actual gameplay, it went about as well as you might expect with two duffers poring over the rules for a new game. We decided to use two of the premade characters, which became a bit of a challenge in a dungeon designed for a group of four. But at least no one has died yet. In addition to fielding my own character, I took on the role of the Game Master, but avoided reading much about the campaign for fear of spoilers. This was a mistake in retrospect, because I needed to be more familiar with the concepts the introductory session was trying to impart. Even then, the Game Master's Guide and the Hero's Handbook both seemed to be missing the answer to a bit of information that would have been helpful during one of the fights.
The Game is Afoot
The second session went much better. I was more familiar with what was going to happen, and we are both quick learners. Having to think about rules and calculations normally handled behind the scenes by computer games is quite an experience, but we got more opportunity for flexibility and "real" roleplay, which I like. Of course, I enjoy playing alone with Scooter, but I can imagine adding a couple more people would make the game more dynamic.


*Hmm, I like it. I shall now call you "Traveler" rather than "Dear Reader." Unless I forget.
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Creative Commons License
This article from I Have Touched the Sky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you repost part or all of the work (for non-commercial purposes), please cite me as the author and include a link back to the blog.

Scooter proofreads almost all my articles before I post them, for which I am very grateful. However, any mistakes are mine and mine alone (unless otherwise noted). If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after publication. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Playing Catch-Up

HELLO! It's funny how being required to write a dull report for work gets my creative writing itch going.
I'm back from the future! Looks a lot like Chicago.
It's been just a bit since we've "talked," Dear Reader, and a lot has been going on in my real life. Unfortunately, not nearly so much in my gaming life. I just returned from a three-week trip to Chicago that included working 10- to 12-hour days and one of the two full weekends I was there. Needless to say, coming back to the hotel after each long day, I was mostly ready to veg out. And the set-up in my room was not exactly conducive to sitting down and playing WoW. I doubt I'll even take my gaming rig on my next trip. I don't know, I'll have to see how I feel about it when I'm closer to the date.

But, as I said, a sort of creative bug has stirred my desire to write. The trouble is, I don't have any solid ideas right now, just a couple of vague notions. I think I need a good fantasy novel to get my imagination really going again. And not some murder/torture-fest like A Song of Ice and Fire or The Sword of Truth.

I'd love to spend some time in the Black.
Along that line, I've also had the urge to do some table-top pen & paper gaming of late. But I'm a bit stymied as to the best way to go about it. I've had some excellent suggestions about online P&P venues, but I feel like, until I am more experienced with P&P in general, doing it online would not be the best way to get involved. Scooter has experience from her youth, as do both my daughters from college groups, interestingly enough. But it's something I never really got into when I was younger.

Yesterday, I was sorely tempted to stop by a games shop or even Barnes & Noble on the way home from work, looking for guides and playbooks. I was also eyeing a Firefly RPG core book a few months ago at the now defunct Hastings in our town. Don't be surprised if I report back about a weekend adventure on Monday.
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Creative Commons License
This article from I Have Touched the Sky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you repost part or all of the work (for non-commercial purposes), please cite me as the author and include a link back to the blog.

Scooter proofreads almost all my articles before I post them, for which I am very grateful. However, any mistakes are mine and mine alone (unless otherwise noted). If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after publication. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Secret World Legends First Devstream

I am totally including this as a DAW entry, because I love The Secret World, and Romain "Tilty" Amiel, is one of the few MMO developers I had the pleasure of personally interacting with, thanks to my stint on the Beyond the Veil webcast.

So, back at the end of February, Funcom announced through a quarterly financial report that they intend to relaunch The Secret World with new combat systems, a reworked new player experience, and a free-to-play business model. Concerned voices raised the specter of Sony Online Entertainment's "New Game Engine" for Star Wars Galaxies. Relaunch activities were set to begin in late March. Bloggers at the time assumed this meant an actual relaunch of the game; however, it was apparently only a reference to the start of closed beta on 28 March.
I've adopted a wait-and-see approach to the news. I've been resubscribed as of early February, but have only been able to play a few times in the intervening weeks. So I totally missed last Wednesday's Letter from the Producer. Having a little time today, I logged in to play me some TSW, and discovered the beta had started already. They did a devstream on Twitch that I had just barely missed by a few minutes. Of course, I was able to watch the recording, which featured community manager Andy “Odonoptera” Benditt, newly promoted community team member Nicole "Spynosaur" Vayo, and game director Tilty. The stream was fairly informative and included a bit of character creation and gameplay.
The most striking thing I learned about the new Secret World Legends (SWL) is the forced reticle combat mode, where there is a small target circle in the center of the screen which represents roughly where the player character is aiming. I say roughly, because the actual target box is much bigger than the reticle itself (which many people in the chat felt was too big as it was). If you're not sure what reticle mode is, think of how you might play, say, Call of Duty on a console. Belghast once called it "Action mmo perma-mouselook interface." The Elder Scrolls Online uses reticle mode (or, it did when I tried it a few years ago), as does Neverwinter Nights.
Now, TSW already has a reticle mode option that can be toggled by hitting the "T" on your keyboard (by default). But I generally stick with the regular MMO (read: "WoW") style of moving and controlling my camera and cursor. I haven't really liked reticle mode in the past, so I am skeptical about it being the only mode for movement and combat in SWL. But I signed up for the beta in hopes of checking it out.

But not so hidden in the Producer's letter mentioned above is the following:
"This will not erase your progression in The Secret World though! Secret World Legends will exist on a different server than The Secret World, meaning you will still be able to play your old character on The Secret World server."
In many ways, I still feel woefully uninformed as to the direction Funcom is taking with their IP. It seems that they'll be putting TSW into maintenance mode; that is, all new content will be presented in SWL instead. But they seem to have learned at least one thing from SOE's NGE debacle: Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Maybe I'll get LoneStarBelle to Panoptic Core after all.
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Creative Commons License
This article from I Have Touched the Sky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you repost part or all of the work (for non-commercial purposes), please cite me as the author and include a link back to the blog.

Scooter proofreads almost all my articles before I post them, for which I am very grateful. However, any mistakes are mine and mine alone (unless otherwise noted). If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.