Monday, January 31, 2005

Games: 40-year old cabbie is a MMO Player

Khan-fusion and a cabbie tale -

Cool story on INQ7 about a 40-year old cab driver who plays popular MMORPGs here in the Philippines. Goes to show how well MMORPGs like Ragnarok, MU, etc. are doing locally. Even though they're not considered "big" compared to American giants like Everquest and World of Warcraft, they've definitely captured the Pinoy market quite well.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Games: Namco, Capcom Combine Forces to Create Sim-RPG

RPGamer - News Bulletin - Namco, Capcom Combine Forces to Create Sim-RPG

Wow. I mean, wow. The game will feature playable Namco and Capcom characters apparently, and not just from RPGs. Street Fighter RPG! I'd play it. :p

Note: This is the first time I'm using Blogger's BlogThis! feature. It's neat.

Edit: They've got screens! Morrigan finally gets a new sprite!

Monday, January 24, 2005

A Giant Hammer

giant hammer
We have a giant hammer prop at home. Made out of a stick and some cardboard (I think). Naturally, we bash each other with it. There are only four things I think of when I see this hammer:

  1. Those carnival things where you need to use the giant hammer to ring the bell

  2. Triple H

  3. The Paladin in Warcraft III

  4. Thor

That is all.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Games: Star Ocean - Till the End of Time

This game is the third and last installment of Tri-Ace's venerable space opera science fiction RPG, spanning across three consoles [1], and it's a good finish. I finished the main story just before the year's end [2]. But I've still been actively playing it, going through the bonus dungeons [3]

The fact that I finished it, and the fact that I am still playing it, and the fact that I am still planning to finish it on both of the higher difficulty levels, all of these facts speak volumes about how good this game is, given that I don't have nearly as much time to play as I did before I was working.

The story/plot is so-so, not too strong, but some of the characters [4] are cool. Space-faring lad gets stranded on backwards-planet, gets involved and suddenly gets thrust into a conflict against the Creator that threatens the existance of the very universe. The usual sort of thing. There's a giant plot twist somewhere in the second disc that changes the very nature of the Star Ocean universe and guarantees that this is, in fact, the last game of the series. Actually, in retrospect, the plot is fairly okay, but it could've been pulled off better.

The gameplay is where it's at of course. As well know, RPGs are about gameplay, not story. [5] Gameplay-wise, the single best feature of this game is: Battle Trophies! Battle Trophies are awards granted to you for certain things done in combat, such as avoiding certain spells, winning with no damage, winning by tiny slivers of life, etc. Many boss battles have associated battle trophies such as "Defeat so-and-so in 1 minute" or "Defeat so-and-so without taking damage." Accumulating battle trophies means unlocking higher difficulty levels, extra costumes and extra modes.

The other good things carry over from Star Ocean 2. The real-time battle system is the same, with a bunch of improvements. The Fury gauge stops battles from being a button-bashing-fest, and the anti-attack auras add some tactical element to the battles. Damage bonuses for chaining together special moves are neat.

Item Creation is still here, but the system is vastly different from SO2. Instead of just crafting items yourself anywhere you are, you can hire inventors to work for you in workshops throughout the world. You can work with them of course, in an assembly line fashion that shows your characters going through various experiments to make stuff. However, I greatly miss that feature of Star Ocean 2's Item Creation where you are shown a blob of some sort of raw creation material that slowly but surely transforms into a wonderful item. Losing that feature sort of removed the joy of item creation. =p

There are however, some bad things about this game. Mostly minor nitpicks actually. The most important one is this:

The menu interface for the battle arena sucks.

Seriously, everytime I go to fight the ranking battles, I have to go through three or four menus. One to ask whether I need to be given a tutorial. One to choose what type of battle I want to fight. Before I beat the champions, I get asked whether I want to fight them. One where I choose the opponent for my battle. The one with the tutorial really ticks me off every time I see it. I've already read the tutorial! Must you ask me every single time? Would you like fries with that?

Really, the "I'd like an explanation" thing could just be placed in the second menu. I should only have to decide two things: One, I want to fight a ranking battle; and two, I want to choose my opponent. Single battles or team battles are slightly worse, as you must choose your fighter and your difficulty level in addition to the above choices. I wonder how hard it would have been to make a simple menu system for the arena, instead of relying on the conversation system?

I realize this is a really petty thing to note, but when you start playing the battle arena, you have to go through those menus repeatedly every two or three minutes. It got annoying fast. And don't get me started on those bunny races...

The other bad thing is: bad endings. Well, I wasn't expecting much given that the story wasn't that good anyway, but eh? The general ending wasn't much more than "Hey, we're still alive! Cool!", and the individual endings were a bit sleepy. Or maybe it was just the lackluster music playing during the endings?

Overall though, a decidedly good game, one I'm going to try to finish at least two more times, and a worthy end to the Star Ocean series. Looking forward to Tri-Ace's next series...

[1] and a side-story for a portable
[2] that means I actually finished two RPGs last year. That's right. I think FF X-2 was an RPG and was released last year.
[3] just finished the Maze of Tribulations today. Quick tip: the boss there is cake if you have paralysis immunity. Mmm...cake.
[4] read: Nel
[5] which is why I never finished Xenosaga. I hope we get more RPGs that don't try to be a cinemafest like Metal Gear Solid 3. Gee, two quick reviews of games I didn't finish in a foot note! I'm proud.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Someone asked for this on the GameFAQs forums.

w3chart is a program to analyze Warcraft III replays. I don't know if my copy is old though, it doesn't seem to have a version number.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Past Comes Back to Haunt Us

If you've been paying attention to this blog (yeah, you, both of you), you'll notice that the archives now go all the way back to January of 2002. That's when I started the site on topcities some time back. I moved some of the "journal" posts I had from there into blogger, using a very detailed process I shall refer to as "manual copy-and-paste and editing of links". I still had some backup copies of most of the old site around, and was a big help. There wasn't much editing actually, I just went through most of the links and marked those which were broken. I didn't transfer (yet) any posts which needed additional files to exist on my own server, those are a bit more troublesome, so later. All in all, the content of the posts are presented as they are, or were, typos and all, making these archives a genuine representation of my frame of mind circa 2002.

The purpose of this exercise is of course for posterity. Putting all these posts in one place makes it easy for me to export them in some method in the future. (And even if blogger goes down for some reason, these posts are now also hosted on my fateback account, and you know there's safety in redundancy.) So, past memories safely preserved.

After all, that's what a journal should be about right? Something that lets you look back into the past, to see what B*S you were trying to put out back then. Online journals are roughly ten thousand times more exciting than private ones; if you're honest enough (i.e., you don't edit out any embarassing stuff from old posts), there's always the tendency for something from the past to come back and bite you in the ass.

As an example, in the last post I made a comment about how I may have pissed my dentist off. It's a funny story actually. I wanted to post, but was in too much tooth-pain to think clearly; so after the tooth-pain cleared, I decided to post about it. (Note to future self: even if you move to a different server, keep the fateback account, so these permalinks would still actually work.) About a week after that, I sent an email to my dentist, (wow, I exchange email with my dentist, I'm like, so cutting edge, for 1999) and she read the blog entry. She mailed me back saying the post "knocked her off her chair", or something. I emailed back, saying it was just an exaggeration, hoping I didn't piss her off. She hasn't responded yet though (and I haven't needed any dentist-time lately), so I conclude that there's a distinct possibility I may actually have pissed her off. I'll found out when I need to get this impacted molar removed, I suppose.

So, anyway, yeah. Coming back to bite you in the ass. And for this reason, I'm hesitant to let anyone at work know about this blog. (At least one person at work knows it exists, but does not know the location) My long-term memory is a bit stupid, I may have inadvertently said something here that may be bad for me professionally, I'm not really sure. And of course I have no idea how a certain someone would react to me publishing on the internet my feelings about her.

What am I saying? Am I going to be more circumspect in the future, and avoid anything that may get me in trouble? Hell, no. Although I did breifly consider taking down the Unrequited post, I'm pretty sure I should stand for what I've written. No matter how bad, sappy, or stupid it was, it's my work, I should just take it for what it is. Hence bringing back the old posts.

Hmm...I really only wanted to post that I was bringing back the old posts. I talk a lot.

2004 - Year of Many Things

"So, what's your New Year's resolution?"
"I resolve to live life on purpose, to take control of my fate, to sieze each day as if it were my last. I will be reckless. I will be daring. I will be strong. I will challenge fate. I will defy the gods. Or I will die trying."
"...Why can't you just quit smoking or go on a diet like ordinary people?"
"It's like you don't know me at all. Life is too short to be ordinary."

So the year 2004 has come and gone, never to be seen again, unless you look in the archives. This is my looking back/looking forward post, for the transition between 2004 and 2005, no more than eleven days late. (I'm part-Chinese, so I actually get to delay this until Chinese New Year, but I'm cool, so I'll do it early.)

2004 Highlights

In mostly chronological, but actually no particular, order:

Seriously, I think I've changed a lot this past year. Especially due to the first entry above. Personally, I feel like I've broadened my horizons somewhat, I feel stronger, better as a person, more confident in myself. I'm a lot less antisocial now, and heaven forbid, I actually greet people in the office in the mornings and before I go home! Professionally, I feel like I've accomplished a lot as well. I learned a lot of new things; I'm a Web developer now, although my area of expertise is now apparently Oracle Reports; Participated in a lot more projects than I did in 2003, learned a lot of new stuff; Became a trainer for several batches of newbies (I think half the office calls me 'Sir' now...); had my first ON, etc. All in all, a very productive/fruitful/exciting year was 2004.

And the future? What does 2005 hold for our brave not-so-young hero?

I tried thinking up some New Year's resolutions, but, as many intelligent folk know, resolutions suck. Sure, they probably have some motiviational value, but if you really know what you want, you shouldn't need the end of an arbitrarily-decided calendar year to start. So, in lieu of resolutions, I present the following list of things-I-might-have-resolved-to-do:

  • Blog every day. This was a good idea, but I figured forcing yourself to do something regularly just for the sake of it was not a good thing. I'll blog when I have something to say, thanks.
  • Learn to cook/bowl well. This sounds neat. But the real problem with me trying to learn new skills outside my comfort zone is that they tend to eat up goof-off time. But I want to learn new things. So, for this one, I'll do 'em if I can and I feel like it.
  • Learn PHP/mySQL and use dynamic stuff for this website. This is an easier proposition, since it's something that falls well within one of my areas of interest (coding). However, I already code a lot at work, so I'm not really that motivated to code outside of work. I think I may be able to do this to some degree or other though.
  • Broaden my horizons. Do new things. Visit new places. This is a good idea. And I hope I can do it some. But I won't resolve to do it.

That's it I guess, let's see what 2005 has in store for us. Bring it!