About 2 1/2 months ago I asked my nephew what he wanted for his 15th birthday, to which he replied with a few items, one which was a “Move”. Insightful as I am, I responded with a “Huh?”.
He clarified it to “Playstation Move” – which I had never heard of at that time, but I do not really follow what is happening in the console market, even though casa Sente actually has a Playstation 3. It is mainly used to play Blu-ray discs.
I bought him a Move starter pack and an extra Move controller for his birthday. This was all good and happiness, until they actually tried it. My newphew does not use a regular TV screen for gaming, but instead a projector. This apparently caused problems for the camera included with the Move and the controller did not work. So unfortunately that did not work out.
Recently we had a Christmas party with the company I work for, or rather the Swedish offices. One of the events that had been arranged there was a video game competion, but all games and consoles were using various movement controllers – Wii board, Playstation Move, XBox Kinect etc. Quite good fun actually!
So I ended up also buying a Playstation Move for the household PS3… Picked up Sports Champions as a first game for this. Lots of fun, and almost a bit of wreckage in the living room – obviously need to keep an eye on the surroundings and have lots of space around
Currently I am working in Helsinki in the weekdays and travel back home to Sweden in the weekends. However, this week the force of nature that is Eyjafjallajökull caused some change in the plans.
When we first heard of the ash cloud on Thursday and looked at the prognosis, it was quite clear that flights from Helsinki would be cancelled on Friday. So those of use that were from Sweden took the opportunity to get tickets for the boats between Helsinki and Stockholm instead.
A longer travel than the short flights would have been, but still much better than getting stranded. The boats going between the two cities are really big floating entertainment and tax-free facilities; the typical crowd going with the boats are there to party and have fun, and/or buy cheap booze. This time there were a significant portion of the passengers that were carrying air cabin suitcases and laptops, instead of duffelbags and beer.
Given the nature of these boats, they might not be the best place for uninterrupted sleep – at least if they happen to be close to the night clubs on the boat. I have had better nights.
Coming home to Stockholm on Saturday, the next task was to go to the airport and get my car back from the long-term parking area.
The usual airport shuttle traffic from the city centre had been significantly reduced – one bus per hour and the bus I traveled with was almost empty. All the passengers were there for the same purpose as me – to get their cars back. When I got to the airport, it was almost completely deserted. It was still possible to get a ride to the long-term parking area and soon I had the car.
Overall I think I was among the lucky ones. Some of my collegues who were from other parts of Europe did not have the option to go by boat home and had to stay over the weekend. Other people we met and much more complex travel plans to get home – literally taking a few days in some cases, if they could get a seat on a bus, train etc.
Other people had been in the process of switching flight connections when traffic stopped and now could not get hold of their luggage. Other people are stranded abroad without option to get home – a friend’s parents were supposed to fly home from Beijing.
Hopefully this ash cloud will be an issue for only a few days at most.
A couple of days ago Crimson Starfire memed me with The Honest Scrap Awards. My first reaction was “cool, a meme!” – it does not really happen often to me, so I am glad being considered. But it has taken me a while to actually get around to write something here, but here it goes:
First the meme rules:
The Honest Scrap Awards
- When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to the said person so everyone knows she/he is real.
- Choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have seven friends. Show the seven random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog. Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.
- List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself.
- Then pass it on!
The seven blogs:
- Van Hemlock. A very gifted writer and a blog I enjoyed reading for a long time. Nowadays it is mainly podcasting instead of blogging, which he also does an excellent job with, together with Jon. A very enjoyable podcast and probably the only podcast I listen to regularly right now.
- The Ancient Gaming Noob. While I seldom seem to play the same games, it is still good reading and whenever I see comments signed Wilhelm2451 on other blogs it is gennerally some pretty sound opinions also.
- Saylah and her Mystic Worlds has already been memed by others, but she is an excellent writer with lots of great posts, so I’ll point to her as well.
- Also Tipa @ West Karana has been memed, but this is also another brilliant blog which I have very much enjoyed reading ever since I noticed it was not just about Everquest and it was enjoable to read even though I was not interested at all in Everquest.
- My sister Anna. Her web site/blog is on an entirely different topic and only in Swedish, so would not be understandable by most readers here. She has a passion for her topic and has always been an excellent writer and back when she was writing for traditional newspapers it was always a good read.
- Killed in a smiling accident. Melmoth and Zoso produces funny and clever blog posts on a regular basis, well worth a visit.
- Kill Ten Rats. When I initially started to play City of Heroes/Villains I started to look for someone blogging about that game and found KTR. Ethic, Zubon, Ravious, Julian and all the others that are KTR produces lots of good and thoughtful blog posts and is definitely on my must read list.
And then for the honesty part. A few bits and pieces, perhaps not so interesting.
- I get a little bit sad when people guessing my age actually get pretty close. For a long time most guesses were that I was much younger than I was. But now it seems real and perceived age is much close to each other.
- In MMOs I have altoholic tendencies – I play a lot of characters and/or a lot of different games. The same behaviour can be seen in real life to some extent also, I often switch between different activities – try something else, visit a new place etc.
- While I love learning new languages and probably have started to learn 12-13 different languages, I only speak Swedish and English fluently. My altoholic tendecies is a reason for this. Some stupid choices when I was younger in school caused me to quit French classes after 7th grade.
- I got my drivers license when I was 29.
- One of my proudest moment during my time at the university was receiving a standing ovation when we walked on stage after the premiere of a comedy play we had set up. I was part of and leading the group that wrote the play.
- During a period in the 80s I found more enjoyment in removing copy protection from games than playing them.
- I was member of a political party during most of the high school years. The inital reason was a girl, but then the actual political agenda became the main reason a bit later. Yet I did not vote for this party in any election until more than 15 years later (I still voted on other parties).
- Even in mildly noisy locations I have some trouble hearing conversations and everyone else seems to be hearing each other fine.
- In my first year at the university I had so bad results that a number fellow students thought I would drop off, commenting that they would have left themselves with results like that.
- I got my Master of Science degree almost 5-6 months later than I had planned. There was a lab which the teacher did not approve, but I was never informed and thus I waited to get my degree. When I asked around why I had not received the proof of my degree yet, they found this lab. I took a day off from work, visited the university and completed the lab (2 hours work). A bit later I got the proof of the degree finally.
A few days ago Melf @ Word of Shadow passed on the torch for the blogger meme to show the 6th – of something. It seems to have mutated a bit from what I can see, although the number 6 is still in there. I do recall at some point it was the 6th picture in the 6th folder in the pictures directory (assuming you have one), somewhere it was either mutated to or from screenshots (or both).
I do have a fair amount of pictures in the regular Windows pictures folder, although it is a a bit of a mixture and there are also pictures elsewhere. But to stick to the pictures filder in Windows (or Bilder as it is called in Swedish) I first picked the 6th folder and the 6th picture in that folder, regardless of content.
I took this picture among a number of others during a weekend visit to Al Ain, a city in the south-eastern part of United Arab Emirates, close to the Oman border. A bit over a year ago I was in UAE working for 5-6 weeks and this picture was taken in early January as I recall. Not perhaps a quite exciting view to take a picture of some signs, but it relates to a cultural aspect that I found interesting.
The signs are for ladies clothing stores, but not the ladies fashion boutiques one might find in the West, but rather for the traditional outfits, such as the whole body dress abaya. The store windows could have mannequins just like clothing stores here, but when everything that is shown is black whole body outfits, it makes for a slight cultural surprise initially. But really clothes are clothes wherever you go, so it should not really be surprising that there are stores for whatever people may be wearing.
These were in the traditional marketplaces though; if one goes to any of the modern shopping malls the selection of stores looks just like in any Western mall, including fashion boutiques. If you want to experience something more traditional when visiting the region, the malls are the last place to go to.
Today’s network access at home did not start out so good. After about 15 minutes the connection was lost. It turned out that the router had broken down and was completely dead. It was a fairly new one also, only 2 months old.
Since the evening was still early I packed up the router, dug out the receipt and headed over to the MediaMarkt store where I bought it. I did not have too much hope of a quick resolve, but the service personnel was very nice to deal with and within a few minutes I had a paper which I could exchange for cash or use to buy something else. So I picked up a new router (and a slightly different model) and set it up at home.
The installation wizard for the router is annoyingly slow and got confused with my network adapter set-up, so I skipped it. Not really needed anyway and configuring the router was quick and easy through the admin web page and the home network was back in business again.
The whole thing took less than 2 hours from breakdown to everything up and running again, probably shorter if I would not have bothered with the installation wizard in the first place…
The recently announced shutdown of Tabula Rasa has triggered a lot of emotions and responses among MMO players, ranging from quite upset to more neutral – but hardly anyone consider it a happy and positive event.
This illustrates quite well that the persistent worlds that many consider MMOs to be can also be viewed as a bit transient. While an offline game is available to a player as long as that person has it stored on some accessible media and the equipment to run it, the online games are effectively gone as soon as the operator decides to cease running the game.
I do not think we can have the same expectancy of an online game being around as an offline game you may buy in a store.
It is more like the the availbility of a favourite local movie theater or a store. If the store/movie theater is not making enough money or the owners decides that they want to focus their business in other areas or some other reason they may close down.
Which may of course upset at least parts of the local community; it has been “their” store/movie theater – people have met and have had good and bad experiences and it is part of their memories and lives. Then suddenly that may be taken away.
I think the emotions involved here are quite similar when it comes to online games. And the reasons for something clsoing down may be as diverse as many real life scenarios as well, since in most cases it is a matter of a business. But it is not always perceived as such by the people who use or visit the business.
This past week my play schedule changed a bit from the ordinary. My guild was asked by another guild if one player could help them with some quests in the guild’s home zone, Qatar. That seemed to work out with my play schedules and while there were some zones to pass to get to Qatar, the flight paths between made it reasonably ok to get there.
The zone itself is not the most populous zone and at first glance the zone design might seem a bit bland. However, it has turned out that there is really good loot to be obtained and many players has come into the zone. In fact, the amount of player characters originating from other zones by far surpasses the player characters that has Qatar as a starter area. The latter group tended to be easily recognisable with their specific guild capes and emblems, which they wear with pride.
While there are some neat elements of the original zone design, what is mostly striking today is the amount of player-generated content that has sprung up and changed the landscape. Some like it, while others feel that it does not fit in with the theme that the original zone designers might have had in mind.
The guild I was here to help out had a fairly impressive guild house. It had a bit classical style and perhaps not as daring as some of the newer guild houses in the area.
The purpose for my visit was to help the guild with some quests in the zone. These called for not only some specific classes in the group, but also a specific talent build. The others playing the same class were either spec:ed differently or were not high level enough and so they needed some temporary assistance. My participation thus had two purposes; complete some of the quest objectives and also help some of the guild’s regular players of that class with some hints of where to put the talent points for an somewhat optimal build.
The first few quest objectives tend to be a bit hard, but once the general quest solving strategy is figured out it can become a bit easier. They have some pretty good players in the guild; so I think they are on the right track.
Unfortunately I did not get so much time to explore the zone; the whole visit got rather focused. And since I did not have a mount I had to rely on some of the other players. It is a zone where a mount is required – the other game transportation systems are quite lacking in the zone itself. Walking and running in the zone would take time and can be a bit risky; many mounted players act as if the game had no collision-detection mechanic is in place. FFA mounted PvP has been nerfed lately though and heavy faction penalties can occur.
One thing that is notieable as an outside player is the presence and acceptance of the developers as a part of the daily play time; with scheduled Q&A sessions multiple times per day and celebrations of the game design. Others might not agree on that level of commitment or which game companies developers are preferable. But in the end everyone wants good games and I have had a great time with the local players and will probably get back to the zone at some point later.
Due to work I will fly down to Doha in Qatar for a week, which likely means that I will not blog anything. Even if I would get the time for that there is a risk that it would not be possible. This is my first visit to Qatar, but I have been to other emirates in the region; some internet content are deeemed inappropriate and are blocked in my experience.
And not just adult content; this includes at least a number of forum and blog sites, gaming sites in particular. It could of course be different in Qatar, but I am not surprised if they have similar filters there.
So back in roughly a week…
Lately when I have been playing there has been frequent moments where the game has just frozen for several seconds, or had a time warp (you get back to an earlier spot). A first it thought was something temporary problem with NCSoft server, as I have been playing Guild Wars and NCSoft.
But the problems occurred even with quite good ping times and they persisted. I also started to see some delays in regular internet surfing, more than might be usual.
My computer connects through a wireless router and an ADSL modem and I realized when I recently bought a new computer, I just used the wireless network interface that was bundled with it, a D-Link AirPlus G DWL-G510.
I have had my share of problems before with D-Link, so I decide to first plug in a regular network cable instead to the router and see how that worked. And that worked flawlessly, when playing now I did not experience any of the frozen moments or time warps.
I still prefer wireless though, since my computer is not close to my ADSL modem and the router. So I plugged in a different (Netgear, same brand as my router) wireless adapter. While I did have some brief frozen moment in Guild Wars when I tested, it was nowhere near the problems I had with the other wireless adapter.
So the gaming experience suddenly got back to normal from the sometimes quite frustrating times lately.
I recently discovered by pure chance a neat little game, which I have played a bit lately: Audio-surf. It is kind of a racing game where you have to pick up coloured blocks in combinations. The race tracks are created from music scores you select yourself. There is a bunch of different ships you can race with, each with different charcteristics, as well as differences in the racing track itself. Quite enjoyable.
It is probably old news for some, but I have no background or tradition of playing games on PCs (as in Wintel computers) other than MMOs, so I am pretty clueless to much what goes on in terms of PC gaming outside the MMOsphere.
Anyway, neat game and good fun!