Category Archives: Other Random Geekery

A Farewell to WoW Insider

So, apparently WoW Insider is no longer a thing. Shut down by AOL along with Massively and several other gaming blog sites.  While this blog has long since stopped being exclusively a World of Warcraft blog, WoW Insider was still a daily visit for me to keep up on the going on’s and the various fun in the form of articles like The Queue or the Tin Foil Hat editions that reveled in speculation about the game’s lore.  It was also where this blog’s predecessor OddCraft got its first big break, being shared along with other bloggers in a series of posts about the various other blogs in the community.  Now it never got me a boost to internet stardom, but it was pretty much the largest exposure I had ever gotten as a blogger at that point.  I’ll never forget that kindness.  To this day I still occasionally got hits from WoW Insider for the WoW Ironman Challenge.  So the legacy lived on far longer than my old blog did.

So this post is for all of the great people who worked at WoW Insider.  It was a great ride.  Thanks for years of enjoyable reading.

EDIT: Apparently, I spoke a bit too soon! Lots of the great folks who staffed WoW Insider have launched a new website called Blizzard Watch.  It’s supported by Patreon too, so if you wanna show your love there’s a way. I wish them all the best in this new site!

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Welcome to the Machine

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Continuing in my grand “Seriously, I don’t give two damns about Garrosh and seriously SoO feels way to grindy even on LFR” vacation from MMOs, I decided to finally boot up my copy of RPG Maker VX Ace.  I bought it on a steam sale over a year ago for like 60% off or something, and never really got around to using.  In fact my girlfriend was using it most of the time making seriously awesome stuff that would just make my jaw drop.  So I decided, Hey I like to run D&D campaigns, I’ve spent more time in Final Fantasy games than I have homework over the course of my life, why not give this thing a try?

Like being zapped by the MCP and taking my first few steps out onto the Grid, my life was forever changed.

rpgmaker2

RPG Maker is like handing a kid the world’s biggest LEGO construction kit and just saying have at.  It has a ton of power, lots to learn, and great deal of freedom.  It comes with everything you need to start making your own role playing game and even comes with built in pre-sets that allow to start tinkering as soon as you open the box.   I started with just using the basic tutorials that are on the website, which sadly appear to be incomplete.  You get to the last lesson and it just stops, teasing you with a “In our next lesson” bit that dangles a juicy fruit of useful information just beyond reach.  Luckily the web is vast and infinite and full of other non-official tutorials that offer thorough explanations of both the basics as well as the more advanced features of the game.

While the advertisements for the software will boast that no programming is required, some basic knowledge of programming is incredibly useful.  Knowing how concepts like loops, if…then…else’s, and variables will prove vital in working your way through making your story come alive.  Luckily they’re not the hardest programming ideas to grasp.  But yea, the more experience you have with programming the more you’ll be able to do.  You can also add scripts to your game to add additional functionality using the Ruby based RGSS3 engine.  For instance, I’ve added a World of Warcraft like Reputation system as well as a crafting system with the scripts in the game.

rpgmaker1

Still the sheer amount of power you wield to tell any kind of story you wish complete with cutscenes, characters, classes, monsters, etc from the get go is an amazing feeling.  Once I finished the tutorial I began work on a slightly more sandbox-y style game, where you would find clues and tips about where to go next but no clear goal or marked areas.  For instance, someone in town mentions that the statue in the park had the gem stolen from it.  That’s it.  Where is the gem? Dunno.  Maybe you’ll find it.  Maybe you’ll find more clues.  Maybe an unrelated clue will actually lead you to the same thieves that stole the gem.  It’s awesome and fun to just lay clues down.  Especially since this allows me to do a sandbox style adventure when I don’t know if I could ever accomplish one in my Dungeons & Dragons campaigns.

However, even more than a D&D game using RPG Maker requires a lot of planning ahead of time if you don’t plan on using the built in pre-sets for everything.  Just testing a formula for how much damage a character can take or dish out was a long process of trial and error.  Then planning things like stat growth, abilities, experience rates (which are somewhat limited by the software itself.  Like you can’t set it to take more than 90 XP to get from level 1 to 2. Though you might be able to change this with a script.  Probably can.  There hasn’t been much I’ve found that you CAN’T change with a script.)  So before I’ve gotten too far in the game I’m already buried neck deep in spreadsheets.  But hey kids, let this be a lesson. Learn Excel.  It can be used for fun someday!

The sheer joy is in the creation though.  You’re making something.  Something new and yours.  It’s the kind of feeling that ignites your passion when you built the Three-Headed Dragon Super Space Ship With TWENTY Lasers So It Can Totally Blow Up Mark’s Ship Yes It Can Mark Shut Up Mark III with building blocks when you were a kid.  I have no idea if anything I make will ever turn out to be decent, or even great.  Nor does it matter if I can or can’t monetize it.  For now, I’m having fun with it all.  However, I might upload a copy of the first city as a ‘demo’ or something.  I’d love to hear what people out there in the Interwebs might think of it and get some feedback. Who knows?

Post Apocalypse, One Year Later ~ Looking Back

Oh geeze, what a crazy past two months.  I moved, I went to Disney World (those who follow me on Twitter got treated a series of photos of Vry & his girlfriend wearing various hats), and then the insane holiday whose name is so feared it begins with the dread letter “X” (except not really. But X-mas is almost X-men, so that makes it the better spelling. WOLVERINE SAYS SO.)  And of course the one year anniversary of the end of the world.  Kind of crazy to think that the world was completely destroyed by the planet Nibiru and a simultaneous massive solar flare only a year ago. How time flies in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, even when you don’t push the ‘T’ key. (That’s for you Fallout 3 fans)

As for gaming this year, I haven’t explored a ton of new ground I’m sad to say.  Mostly exploring my two major MMOs (SWTOR and WoW), and then dabbling in a few indie titles and oldies like Game Dev Tycoon and Rollercoaster Tycoon 3.  I suppose I did get my feet wet with some newer titles.  Finally starting to explore more in Skyrim by going around from town to town and completing them instead of doing the main storyline. I finally got to play Bioshock Infinite late this year and absolutely loved it.  That ending.  Oh geeze. I might have to do another post at some point just gushing my love for that ending.  Probably when Burial At Sea – Episode 2 comes out and I’ll just yak about the whole thing.

Of course the other big game that I tackled this year – and still working at it – would be Final Fantasy XIII.  The always controversial title that I went from downright loathing to absolutely being absorbed into the mythology of.  I really need to write more about it.  I keep scolding myself for not keeping up with that.  But I recently got a copy of Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Lightning Returns on pre-order now.  So I imagine you will be seeing more from that.

Finally in gaming news, my girlfriend and I have recently begun our own personal retrospective on the console games of the Zelda franchise.  Starting with the original NES title and currently progressing through Ocarina of Time, I haven’t decided if I’ll share my thoughts on going back through these wonderful games. But hey, if people ask I definitely will.

In some good news for the future of this blog, I received for the holidays a BlackMagicDesign Intensity Pro HD/SD capture card.  This little piece of shiny tech will let me capture video from any of my consoles instead of just stuff on my computer.  Combine this with a new copy of some editing software, and a 1 terabyte hard drive and hopefully I’ll be able to start producing Let’s Play videos that I keep talking about soon.  I actually have the stuff.  Now I just need to do it.

Overall, I must admit that I’ve been stearing towards single player games more lately than my MMOs.  Neither SWTOR or WoW seems to be keeping my attention for any long period of time at the moment.  I have no desire to start from scratch in another MMO, and my Steam Library is now boiling over 100 titles at the moment.  Perhaps it’s time to explore the rest of my library for a bit instead of sinking time into MMOs out of habit.  I want to finish leveling up some professions, but honestly I can do that later.  So you’ll probably being seeing less MMO posts and more “Adventures of Vry in Skyrim” or some other weirdness for a while.  If you come here looking only for weird anecdotes or rants about only specifically MMO content…  I’d say sorry but let’s be honest you’ve been disappointed for a loooong while.

And now for a quick run down of non-video gaming stuff I’ve done this year:

– D&D Next Playtest: Enjoyed it. Ran a Halloween adventure. Might post it. Still need to get used to the whole saves thing.
– Doctor Who 50th Anniversary: I’m a fairly recent convert to the show, but the special was nice. Only seemed to focus on the new show – bad. John Hurt got some awesome lines – good! Answered some questions and gave the show somewhere to go – Good! Pretty much undermined a ton of my favorite characterization bits – bad.
– Comic Books! Pretty much stopped reading them.  Pretty much entirely Scott Lobdell’s fault.
– Cartoons: CARTOON NETWORK. STOP CANCELING SHIT I LOVE. DAMNIT.
– Anime: I just watch stuff on Netflix.  But that’s been pretty fun! That’s about it.  Really.

So here’s to 2014.  One year away from Third Impact.  Let’s make a fun one!

A Nerdy Nursery Rhyme

Mary had a little lamb,

It’s fleece was white as snow.

Everywhere that Mary went,

The Lamb was sure to go.

Little did the little lamb know,

This obligation would be its tomb.

Because Mary had a special mission,

And no one returns from Z’ha’dum…

Odd Aside: Vry vs Internet Acronyms

Today’s Internet Acronym:  GPOY

Vry’s Guesses as to What the Hell It Means:

Good Post On You

God’s Pity On You

Garage Pictures of Yours

Great Perception, Old Yeller

Grand Party of Yaks

Google Pities Original Yaps

Gargantuan Purple Old Yeti

General Presence Omits Yiddish

Good Porridge Originates Yen

Good Pippin, Orcs Yucky

… And The Actual Answer:  Gratuitous Picture of You

Seriously?  *looks over tumblr*  ….REALLY?  Geeze I must be getting old.

5 Endings I Hate More Than ME3

For the record, I don’t have a single issue with the Mass Effect 3 ending.  I really liked it.  Maybe it was because I was really to please.  Maybe it was because I was expected something truly god awful based on what people were saying on Twitter. Or maybe it’s because I’ve seen much MUCH worse.  Here’s a handful of endings that pissed me off in ways that Mass Effect 3 never could.

Battlestar Galactica: If there is way one to quickly push my buttons it’s a cheap cop-out ending.  It was all a dream? Bite me.  But one that gets going even more so?  God did it.  And that’s what we get at the end of the new BSG re-imagining.  No real explanation.  Just ‘God did it and that’s why it all works.’  You have got to be kidding me.  No.  You don’t just get to wave that wand around because you have some pseudo-religious themes in your show.  You have to EARN ‘God did it’.  There has to be reasons.  There has to be motives.  God doesn’t get a free pass because it’s God.  It doesn’t work that way.  

So unless you can actual give me an explanation as to why ‘God’ decides to wipe out the Cylons, sends them to a mysterious planet that they dub new ‘Earth’, destroy all their technology and jump start humanity.  Cause as it stands there is NO REASON for them to do most of that other than to cram in a stupid message that technology is bad and God is good and they are somehow mutually exclusive.

Ranma 1/2: What’s worse than a bad ending?  Well, how about a non-ending?  Ranma 1/2 wrapped up after hundreds of pages of manga with a complete and utter non-event.  The two closest things we have to main characters in a cast of dozens seem to be about to be married – something that was a LOOOONG time coming, and then POW! The whole wedding gets ruined by the baker’s dozen of other potential suitors and the massive series ends with a still shot of the two NOT married teens running off to school like they always do.  No real conclusion.  The end message is: put the last few volumes on a loop and read until the end of time. Thanks.  Fabulous.

Teen Titans: Things. F-ing. Change.  The biggest middle finger to the fans I can possible think off.  Let’s bring back a very important character that was thought gone for good a few seasons back, make it super ambigous about whether its a look alike/clone/etc by giving them amnesia and a bunch of other weird hints, and then don’t resolve it giving one of the main cast a nice heaping helping of woobie angst in the process. Oh, and by the way: SERIES FINALE.  This episode never existed as far as I’m concerned.

Neon Genesis EvangelionOkay, so you spend 24 episodes of a 26 episode series building up some horrific apocalyptic ‘Third Impact’ event that will wipe out everything.  So how do you start episode 25?  Oh, with a text screen that proudly announces that the apocalypse already happened and the following two episodes take place AFTER that.

Beyond the fact that the last two episodes are entirely philosophical debates that take place within the main character’s head, there is never any explanation as to how or what the apocalypse was.  You actually get the feeling at the end of Episode 24 that they just stopped the last risk that could have triggered it!

Luckily, we get a movie that explains what happened.  Or maybe it’s a ‘what if’ alternate universe thing.  No one is really sure if they are supposed to be in the same continuity.  I always assumed they did.  But the movie is just as whack-a-doo as the show or more so in some cases.  And as a giant middle finger to the audience they made an even MORE non-sensical ending.  Complete with utterly irrelevant imagery, vague dialogue and little to no context crammed in for the last minute.

Chrono CrossSo you’ve spent dozens of hours hacking your way through a plot more dense than Akira meets the Kingdom Hearts franchsie, and defeated the final boss.  Finally we have a chance for some clarity as that last piece slides into place and puts all of this in some kind of conte-  Who is that?  Why is there some random live action girl wandering around live action Tokyo? Why does she have the magic pendant?

The ending of Chrono Cross requires more work in trying to decipher what it is supposed to be than the entirety of the rest of the game.  And in a game that involves alternate universes, time travel, body swapping, conspiracies within conspiracies within conspiracies…  that is saying A LOT.  To be honest, I have no clue how anyone figured out what’s going on here without some kind of supplemental material.  Which considering Square Enix’s fondness for companion books may have been the case.  Anyway, it confused the heck out of me in an already confusing game.

CGI & Star Wars: A Response

From Tumblr:
“As a fan of the original trilogy, I don’t mind organic special effects at all, i.e. props like the Death Star and Qui-Gonn’s communicator. I DO mind the excessive CGI, which might not necessarily be lazy, but God there’s so much. I don’t even think there’s a single shot in any of the prequels without CGI in it.” 

Hmmm…  you’ve touched on an interesting point.

There’s is an overwhelming amount of dislike for CGI nowadays and I quite honestly don’t get it.  I’m not saying there isn’t bad or lazy CGI out there, but it seems like it’s very existence is enough to discredit a film for many.  Which doesn’t make sense to me.  Yes, the Star Wars prequels used a lot of CGI.  But the CGI never made things confusing or hard to follow – for me at least.

Compare that to the use of CGI in a film like Transformers, where the robots are just giant masses of grey whirring parts and gizmos.  If two robots are smashing into each other – with the exception of Bumblebee and maybe Optimus – can you really point out where one begins and the the other ends?  It’s just a big messy lump of CGI bits that doesn’t seem to help the goal of showing a cool fight scene.

Star Wars has a ton of CGI. But it’s CGI used well in my opinion.  It’s used to create fantastical locales and creatures, and it never leaves you confused as to what is going on or make all the characters look bland or similar.  Except for the clones.  Cause they’re clones.

(Blank)-punk Nerd Peeves

Shadowrun: A pen & paper game that takes place in 2053-2070 (depending on edition) that clashes semi-futuristic technology with reawakened magic and fantastical creatures such as Trolls, Orcs, and Dragons. Cyberpunk meets D&D. Usually not well liked by Cyberpunk purists, especially not liked by Cyberpunk legend William Gibson.

Cyberpunk 2020: An ACTUAL Cyberpunk pen & paper game.

You: Someone on the forums who is trying to look clever, and failing to do so.

(Also, if you are curious why the quoted individual wrote ‘Elve’ instead of ‘Elf’ it is probably because they tried to de-pluralize ‘Elves’. Public education FTW!)

What? You Thought There Was Only ONE D3?

There is a special place in gamer hell for me. (Click here if you don’t get the joke.)

WarPony 40k

For Celestia!

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