Nothing-A-Day 07
10/09/08 at 01:38 EST

Wow, I must really love my job.

My day at work consisted of roughly six and a half hours of updating documentation, with a short lunch and zero Foosball matches, and yet the time absolutely flew by. What's more, it was on the release date of a Kingdom Hearts game (though I attribute that lack of anticipation/day-dragging to the fact that I just forgot). Further beyond that, after getting home and taking care of laundry, I got the game and subsequently ate dinner and then went back to work. That's pretty unprecedented.

I, of course, still found time to squeeze two or so hours into the game, and I've been pleased with what I've seen so far. The "tutorial level" this time around takes all of 25 minutes to complete tops, and that consists of about 15 minutes of cutscenes, so you do the math (it takes about 10 minutes). Apart from Snow White's voice, all the surprises thrown into the game thus far have all been welcome ones - Critical difficulty is available right off the bat, so there's no need to wait for the Japanese-only re-release a year after the game's initial NA release to get a challenge out of the game. Well, "challenge". The first planet gave my ass a thorough lashing, but by the time I was through the second, I was level 10 or so and dominating everything. I guess there's a reason they give you the No-EXP ability off the hop.

Combat seems to be given greater focus this time around, and the objective is variety. Even if the game still ends up being easy, at least they don't discourage the equipping and use of special attacks that I never used in other Kingdom Hearts games. "Just mash X", while still reliable to a degree, is within the realm of imagination, a thing of the past. I also got to slaughter a house cat in a very God of War-esque fashion. That reminds me, I don't think I mentioned my acquisition and completion of Sonic Unleashed, my first Sonic the Hedgehog game since Sonic 3. Enjoy that, it's the last time I'll call it a "Sonic the Hedgehog" game, because it's not. It's actually two games - one loosely based on those old SSX snowboarding games for the PS2, and the other being Hog of War.

Updated the RSS feed on the website tonight as well, after it was brought to my attention that my feed was, by design, stupid. I don't actually use RSS feeds/readers/bookmarks or what-have-you, so the design of it is essentially open to the highest bidder. Or, in this case, the first person to say something about it.
Tagged under: gaming, site, work
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Nothing-A-Day 06
10/09/07 at 01:37 EST

Round two, fight!

Tonight marks the first night in my life where I've gone to a movie theater to see a movie I've already seen in a movie theater. Pilgrim managed to maintain (and in a couple instances provide a fresh dose of) humour and interest in a second viewing on a level rivaling the first.

Birth By Sleep is officially out now, yet I don't feel that tingly sensation that I've felt in the past with new Kingdom Hearts games, though 358/2 Days should have been my first clue. I was both excited and delighted when I had it in my hands, but the effect seems to dim with each post-KH2 release. I was so unbelievably jazzed when I got my copy of KH2, in part because of the immense anticipation, and in part because I actually got my copy early by a couple days. At any rate, I think I'll be spending my evenings getting comfy with my hammock for the next week or two. I was impressed to see that Squenix are attempting to subvert the UMD's design flaws by having a "Download Data" feature included in the game which, as the name suggests, allows the game to download its data onto the memory stick so disc reads can be kept to a minimum in favour of faster memory card reading. Sounds like the game pushes the PSP beyond its limits though; I also hear tell of the game lagging/getting poor frame rates at intense moments. Well, I'll see for myself.
Tagged under: gaming, life
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Nothing-A-Day 05
10/09/06 at 11:02 EST

Evidently when I made this "commitment" to "post something" "for each day of the month", I should have "commit" this "commitment" to "memory". Sure, it's another one of those "I did nothing" days, and in this case it didn't even involve leaving the awpartment until early in the evening, but a deal's a deal. I have thus decided to make an amendment to the contract: time is an abstract. For the 30 days in September there should be 30 posts, as close to a regular schedule as possible. Exceptions accepted: I simply forgot last night.

Playing Rock Band, you see, now that my crash cymbal's been fully repaired with the latest modification: I originally increased the pressure in the spring that controls recoil on the impact microphone inside the cymbal, which reduced the occurrence of double-taps, but it only reduced, not prevented, the distasteful combo-breaking. So I cracked it open again and inserted a small, folded and shaped piece of toilet paper to cut down on the vibrations and overall sensitivity to get the minor vibrations following a strike to stop being read. Worked like a charm; in the last 11 or so songs I've played not a single double-tap has been observed.

Going to see Scott Pilgrim vs the World again, since I'm that kind of guy. I haven't seen a movie in the theaters for quite some time, and this may actually be the first time I've ever seen a movie twice in the theaters. Normally I don't go for this sort of thing, but it'll be quite a while before it's out on Blu Ray, so I'll take what I can get.

It'll be back to Katamari Forever for me, now. 4105 objects found, just 40 to go. I can practically taste the wasted time. Though I've had an urge lately to do another run through Resident Evil 4. Why not? I've got a few hours to kill.
Tagged under: gaming, life
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Nothing-A-Day 04
10/09/05 at 01:46 EST

Another day, another tale. Nothing particularly interesting today. Sorted my phone situation out now that the actual system is functioning again. Headed down to Guelph today for some Mario Kart and things. Moving-in Day for the freshmeat at the University, so traffic was complete shit. Rolled a few stars. Nothing particularly eventful.

Coulda sworn earlier today that I did have something to say, but whatever the case, the memory is gone now. Got multi-disc Gamecube games working on the Wii, but I was unfortunately unable to make my Resident Evil triple-pack, thanks to the combined file-size of the four discs being about 10MB over the disc's limit. Oh well, asses to RE2, I have a cartridge of it already.

Express pay systems at the gas station I frequent were down today. What's with everything being out of service this weekend? I need a vacation. I can't work in these conditions.
Tagged under: life
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Nothing-A-Day 03
10/09/04 at 00:44 EST

I've been demolishing my phone bill like a katamari in a lego castle lately. While at work today, a Rogers representative (Rogers being my service provider) called to ask about my Internet service, and if I was happy with it. Apart from being down an hour or two earlier this week, performance was pretty solid for the last several months so I claimed as such. While on the phone, however, my phone ran out of minutes and it hung up on the poor Rogers representative. (Yep, it costs me money when my service provider calls me. Isn't that delightful?) It's kind of a bad idea to leave my phone empty, so I called the top-up service for some juice.

The top-up service was having a system failure, so I was redirected to another representative. I told that representative what had just happened, and it turns out there's some sort of opt-in feature I can request that makes my service provider not charge me money every time they ask me if I'm happy with their service. Well, that's swell. I'm going to remain quiet about the unbearable irony inherent in the whole situation. So I was told that the system was in fact down, and that I should try topping up online, since the system would be down for a couple hours yet. I figured, what the hell, I'll look into it (and consider upgrading my archaic plan) when I get home from work.

I get home from work, and the top-up service is still down (this is about 4 hours after the phone call). I hop on the website to register my number under my Rogers account, and it's fussy at first, but eventually it goes through. The Rogers website, as if you hadn't guessed yet, is also undergoing some severe maintenance issues. So I can't top up my phone that way, either. My phone remains useless until about another four hours later, but in the meantime I was able to be constructive with my time, reorganizing my storage closet and tweaking my broken RB2 crash cymbal so it doesn't double-tap on every hit. It's not a perfect fix, but I'm sure with a bit more fine-tuning I can get it purring like the hi-hat.

Anyhow, once the Rogers service is back online, I'm able to re-fuel my phone. While I was poking around the volatile website, however, I discovered a wonderful little text messaging plan that would stop certain friends from running my phone bill through the roof (you know who you are - both of you). So I decide to go for it.

Guess what else is broken?

I'm trying to be a nice guy here, so I open up the source code for the page. About 3500 lines down the html file, I find a TODO comment stating that an SQL query should be using an EMS key but is "using the cID for now". That query is returning bad/invalid data, which is causing the title of the package to display incorrectly. Now, if that were the extent of the problem I wouldn't have given a damn, but due to that invalid assumption, any and all combinations of add-on requests resulted in a "please enter the required field" error, of which there was no required field to enter data into.

So I decide to troubleshoot the problem with a customer support rep. I'm in this chat queue for about six minutes - not bad, really - until I get into a live chat with a representative. So I explain my problem and my discoveries to this fellow, grab my PSP, and wait for him to reply, telling me what I should do. 53 minutes later (that was not a typo) he tells me he only troubleshoots problems with my actual phone, and that I should call some 1-800 number so that someone from another department can override the broken website and add the add-on to my account manually. I call the number only to end up at the top-up number where this whole mess started, and the rep tells me it's because the department is closed (fair enough, it was midnight by this point). So I start asking him if they're open on weekends, and he closes the chat mid-sentence.

My understanding is that this is the sort of "nightmare scenario" that causes people to lose their minds and climb the nearest clock tower. I prefer to just smirk at the situation and mumble something about getting one's act together. Apart from the fact that it wasted several hours of my time (and a couple dollars, too!) it's actually kind of funny. At least, it's kind of funny if you're not me. Which you aren't.

Tagged under: life
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Nothing-A-Day 02
10/09/03 at 02:44 EST

I'm tired and I want to go to bed, but to shirk the responsibility I arbitrarily gave myself within a single day does not speak well for my character. I only just got home from the office 10 minutes ago, after taking a 9 hour detour through a neighbouring city (you know the one - it's the one where most of my friends live). The seven-or-so of us decided to play a quick round of golf, among other activities - something I haven't done in quite some time, and something I have never done at 10:30 at night.

I'll have to make this one exceptionally short, as I need to wake up in five hours for work. It has also dawned on me as of this evening that I may have been overlooking a fairly glaring flaw in my character that has most likely been present for years. I'm not referring to the lack of commitment for a change, either. Off we go.

Some amendments are also in order from yesterday's post, but I forget what they are. Also I decided Scott Pilgrim (the "graphic novel" series) was worth spending money on, so I did that. I think it's fair to try before you buy. Were I not able to read it for free, I would not have purchased it, and O'Malley would not have received my compensation for his hard work.

All's well that ends well.
Tagged under: life
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Nothing-A-Day 01
10/09/01 at 19:07 EST

I am going to undergo a brief experiment on commitment: for the month of September, 2010, I will do my best to make at least one entry every day, no matter how little I have to say in it. However, since x interesting things have happened in the last y days, I've at least built up something of a backlog, so the first...well, 3 days, at least, should have some kind of content.

Over the past week I've been reading the Scott Pilgrim books, since an e-friend generously provided them to me in a very accessible way. There are six volumes to the series, and it only takes about an hour per volume, so to say you can't afford a six hour investment in it is an absolute crime. I absolutely loved it and honestly haven't felt the same since I was about halfway through the last book. Maybe it was just the kick in the ass I needed to start finishing the things that I start. Or to start taking initiative on things that haven't been started. Or at least refine perspectives, or ditch bad habits, or develop good habits, or thing stuff.

The natural course following the completion of the book was to see the movie. One reluctance that I had prior to seeing it (which remained a grievance afterward) was Michael Cera's casting of Scott, but barring that, the movie also felt like a personalized gift from the entertainment media. The movie did that most wonderful thing where it captured the true personality of the books, respected the plot and characters (well, some more than others) but told the same story in a different enough way to make both of them very enjoyable in their own way.

The very subject matter of Scott Pilgrim vs The World (the movie, not Volume 2) felt catered to my tastes, and when I did finally make the decision to go see it, the sequence of events that ultimately led to the time, place and scenario could hardly be more ideal. Everything just went right.

Gonna close off here, so I don't set a precedent for the rest of the month.
Tagged under: life
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On the Subject of Used Games
10/08/26 at 20:09 EST

Yeah, it's been months since my last post, and x interesting events have transpired since. Par for the course.

An interesting subject crossed my attention today, spawned yesterday morning on the website Penny-Arcade, regarding the ethics behind used games. I've been seeing some interesting and valid arguments from both sides, but can't shake the feeling that most people are missing the point.

The general topic in a nutshell is, "Is the purchase of used (video) games bad? From a developer's perspective, is there any difference between a consumer buying a game used versus simply pirating it?"

No, and no. That's the short answer, as I draw it from my own perspective.

When someone buys a video game used, the developer sees no profit. This is, in most cases, an undisputed truth. There are edge cases, of course. For example, if I buy a game used, the developer makes no money. If I really like the game, and buy DLC for that game, suddenly the developer has made indirect profit from my purchase of a used game. But barring these edge cases, developers for the most part do not see a profit from the re-selling of video games.

From the developer's viewpoint, there is also little to no difference between a game pirate and a consumer of second-hand games. We can establish similarities about the gamer in both situations:

-The gamer has an interest in the product
-The gamer is not willing to pay full price for the product

Now, the second point still draws on some assumptions. It's entirely possible that someone can value the game at the full release price, but just hates the publisher or certain practices the publisher engages in (for example, Securom). Those assumptions aside, I'd like to draw attention to the first point: The gamer has an interest in the product.

There is more to appreciating someone's efforts and creativity than simply monetary validation. Not every artist paints a masterpiece to cut a profit measured in dollars. Video games are an expression of artistic creativity in the same way that music and artwork are - both of which, I need not remind you, are elements in video games. The more someone comes to appreciate the efforts of another, the more he or she will want to support those efforts. Drawing single-mindedly back to the subject of monetary gain (the primary focus of the gaming industry, as it is an industry like any other) there are two major economic forces at work: the consumer market, and the potential consumer market.

The consumer market is, plain and simple, those who are buying games new. They support the developers because there is a sufficient level of trust involved that the developer will deliver the expected level of quality. The consumer already believes s/he will get his/her money's worth. Someone who buys a game used puts a lower value on the game by weighing the costs with the associated risk and uncertainty of enjoyment. The value this has to the developer exists in the building of trust between the consumer and the developer. If the used game consumer thoroughly enjoys the product, s/he will have an increased interest in that developer's other products, both past and future. This can also result in word-of-mouth transmission of interest which leads to other people who may consider buying the product, thus expanding the potential consumer market.

You can split hairs all you want about the differences and similarities between people who pirate games, people who buy games used, people who borrow games, and people who play a single game together, but the only commonalities that are certain are that they have an interest in the game.

I can't draw this to a close, however, without exposing my own bias. The last time I purchased a non-digital video game new was Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days, and that was half a year ago. There are two factors at work contributing to this.

1 - I'm cheap. More often than not, these days games do not feel they are worth at least 60 dollars. In the case of Disgaea 2, there were multiple factors which pushed me to buy new - one, RosenQueen was having a package-deal sale on the game, so I was able to get the game directly from the manufacturer for a low price of about 35 bucks, and it included several other nick-knacks with it, some of which I make more use of than the game itself. So the price tag was equal to or less than my valuation of the product. As a side, I actually pirated the game in advance of purchasing it, due in part because UMDs are a horrible media form, and also in part that my PSP firmware was incompatible with the UMD version of the game and I had no intentions of changing it. There's also that more noble motive of brand trust/loyalty - I love every Disgaea game I've played. Especially for a small-name publisher, NIS produces exceptional-quality products. My copy of Disgaea 2 is still sealed, and it will likely remain that way.

2 - Scarcity. If you find a Squenix retailer selling copies of Final Fantasy 3 SNES cartridges, you let me know. Most of the games I buy these days are from the mid-90s and earlier. I'm aware that Atari is something of an exception - you can still order Atari 2600 games from the manufacturer new. But in that situation, factor 1 takes precedence over factor 2 - I'd much rather pay 3 dollars a game than 30.

To wrap this up at last, I think I'm going to try to summarize what I've been saying, as I am aware that my written communication skills leave something to be desired (unless what you desire is a misunderstanding). There is more to the production of video games than immediate revenue.


It just occurred to me that I forgot to mention how purchasing a used game is essentially recycling. And we all know recycling is a good thing.
Tagged under: gaming
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10/06/13 at 14:34 EST

Decided to give IE compatibility another shot.

Didn't go well. I temporarily broke the entire site.

We here at the awplog apologize for any disturbances our actions may have had on our non-IE users. We here at the awplog also apologize for whatever disturbances IE's actions have on the rest of you. Such as a lack of compatibility with CSS.

I can't help but feel that there's some simple solution to the issue, such as adding a "ver=1.4" somewhere or something that tells IE to do things correctly. I think, rather than block IE out, I'm just going to allow it with a warning. Or three.
Tagged under: site
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IP Recognition Completed
10/06/08 at 01:33 EST

The IP Recognition feature is now complete and, after very basic testing, seems to be working. You should now only need to go through the trouble of providing a name and entering a CAPTCHA once. Well, "once" - this assumes that you only comment once before it gets stuck in my message queue and subsequently approved. Basically, once I've approved the first message from any given IP address, the rest will be auto-approved. There are still many tweaks to be done, but for now it's good.

I have some grave news, on the other hand. At roughly 10:35pm today, 22 of my comrades have fallen, never again to experience life. The lower battery connector pin, which I broke off when replacing the battery in my Pokemon Silver cartridge, came loose earlier today, effectively wiping my cartridge data. I've repaired it as effectively as I repaired it earlier, which means in another 15 hours of game time I will again lose everything I have grown to love. Rather than suffer that heartbreak again, I'm just going to buy a soldering iron and fix it properly.

By the way, a word of caution to the home viewers: you cannot presently change your username once you've made an approved comment. This feature will come eventually, but I'm sure you all know by now how timely I am when it comes to implementing these things. I'll also be posting some informal "rules" at some point as well regarding commenting etiquette, but for the time being please observe two suggestions:

1 - Don't be a douchebag. This includes flooding, spamming etc. and excessive vulgarity.
2 - Don't pretend to be someone else. If the someone else you're trying to be contacts me saying that you're not them, I will ban you.

Gawd dammit I had 7 badges and a crack team of two good, two okay and two mediocre pokemon, too...
Tagged under: gaming, site
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