Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Random Shots: Biding My Time

  • There have been a number of topics sitting in my queue waiting for me to push out to the blog. However I none of them have excited me enough to actually write a full post about them. So I'm going to save myself a bunch of stress and combine all of those snippets here. Then we'll start March with a clean slate.

  • Sherlock - My wife and I couldn't wait to watch the new episodes of Sherlock when the second series aired, no matter how we had to do so. I've already enthused about the first episode, but I meant to come back and write about the next two. We thought that The Hounds of Baskerville was the weakest of the three, though watching while our baby was playing did not help. The Reichenbach Fall was an amazing climax for the series, though, and has us itching for a third series. No word yet on when the DVD is due, but it will be worth the wait.

  • Order & Chaos Online - This might be embarassing to admit, but the MMO that I've spent the most time in over the last couple of months (even more than SWTOR!) is the crazy Gameloft WoW-alike (and if there is one game where you can't deny that description, it is this one), Order & Chaos Online. For a game that you play on a tablet, it runs reasonably well and is not awful. It is pretty basic, but it's actually pretty playable. Damning with faint praise, I know, it's a real thing here. And I bought it on sale for 99 cents, so I've already got my money's worth out of it.

  • The Lost Art of the Rant - My first introduction with the MMO community was not through the games themselves, but instead through the websites devoted to them. And the site that caught my attention was Slow News Day, the rather controversial descendant of The Rantings of Lum the Mad after he turned pro. Slow News Day didn't last long, but it left a strong impression on me. One of the things I miss about that community was the fire they had for the games that they are playing. Blog are so polite now. Sure, games have gotten better, so the opportunities to rant are rarer. But it's something that's been lost to time, for better or worse.

  • The Downward Spiral of the Cash Shop - I probably could go on for days about this topic. If there was ever anything to rant about, it will be this one. It is my contention that cash shops will always drive toward more and more broken options as the store ages. Even for developers with the best of intentions, they will run out of good ideas and turn to bad ideas if they expect the revenue stream to continue. Look at EQ2 and their winged flight. Look at LotRO and their gear. If they don't keep adding to the store, revenues will dry up. And good ideas will absolutely dry up sooner than that.

  • Don't be surprised if there are a lot of SSX posts here for the next few weeks. My Xbox Live gamertag is AnjinM if you want to compete. I'd love to see you all on the slopes.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

News Filter: Guild Wars 2 Beta Signup

  • I am the very definition of "late to the party", so this news post is more a celebration than any attempt to spread information. But just in case the rock you've been living under is measured on a geologic scale, here it is:

  • ArenaNet announced signups for the Guild Wars 2 Beta today. And you have less than 48 hours to sign up. So stop reading this and go do that before time runs out.

  • Unfortunately, I'm stuck here and work so I haven't signed up yet. There is the 48 hour window. But what if I'm hit by a bus? What if I'm struck with amnesia? What if a magical vortex sucks me into another dimension?

  • Actually, that magical vortex thing could be cool depending on where I end up, but I'd still miss the beta. There is no excuse for that sort of thing, ArenaNet. If I end up fighting an evil overlord and freeing the oppressed peoples of some alternate earth in order to escape back to this world and I miss the signup, you can bet ArenaNet will be hearing from my currently imaginary lawyer.

  • Don't tempt fate, folks. Sign up now.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Admin: Anniversary, the Fifth

  • In honor of this milestone, let's do something a little different.
It has been five years since I started blogging here at Bullet Points. At the time I was chafing against the constraints of my prior blog, Guild Wars Kira. I wanted a place where I could write about whatever was on my mind.

And this blog has certainly lived up to that. I've written about MMOs and found a small place in the MMO blogging community. But I've also written about PC and console gaming, about comic books and novels, about RPG worlds that exist only in my head, about podcasts and music. And I've written a very little bit about myself. There are little bits of me in all of these posts, like shards of a mirror strewn throughout the blog, each reflecting a fragment my life.

Blogging like this was actually a throwback to my first blog. Way back in 2002, I had a blog that I hand coded in HTML on my personal Charter server space. I shared Raven's Prayer with my wife and we posted book, movie, and game reviews. That page has long disappeared, but one remnant of it still exists here and there around the internet. That was where I posted my rules for Risus Firefly. (I really need to revise and repost that here someday.) Raven's Prayer was very personal. So when it was taken down in 2006 due to an ISP change, it was only a matter of time before I took up blogging somewhere else.

The bullet points thing came as a whim. As I state in my first post, I thought it would let me put up whatever random collection of thoughts that was on my mind without need of a connecting narrative. I didn't really expect to be writing long form posts as the blog evolved. By then the gimmick stuck and I think it makes the blog stand out, if only because of my bloody minded adherence to the shtick.

You might notice that the first post doesn't start with a category name. That conceit didn't start until the second post. I'm very happy to see that the practice has spread out to other blogs in a limited fashion. But, it has taken every bit of my self restraint not to go back and append "Admin:" to the subject line of my first post. But that would betray the history of this blog, this autobiography of the minutia of my life.

I'm coming to terms with the fact that, beyond starting an amazing family who I love very much, this blog may be the primary mark that I leave on the world. I think that I'll be okay with that. Here are my thoughts, cast out into the void, for anyone to peruse, to comment on, to link and share. No one knows how long it will persist. But I like to think that nothing is ever lost on the internet. Things just become harder to find.

So thank you to everyone who has ever read Bullet Points, whether it was because you were looking for a WoW gear auditor, for EVE Online's biggest stories, for a list of things to do before WoW's Cataclysm changed the old world. Or even because you were genuinely interested in what I have to say. Knowing that even one person gets something from these words has made all of this work so fulfilling.
  • Let's put these back on before I get too maudlin. I'm going to keep up with my hundred post anniversaries from here on out, just because I like being contrary about how I run things around here. But I felt that I couldn't let the occasion pass without comment.

  • Here's to another five years. Hopefully together with friends and family.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Played Lately: SSX 3

  • As I threatened back in this post, I broke out my original Xbox and started playing SSX 3 again.

  • To be fair, this wasn't hard to do. When we moved into the new house, I specifically set up a retro-gaming setup in my loft. I have an NES, PS2, and Xbox all hooked up to an old CRT television that's still hanging on. And amazingly enough, everything still works. Sure, the NES is a little finicky about loading cartridges, but the Xbox runs like a dream. And the games don't look half bad.

  • Whenever I come back to SSX 3, I start a new profile so that I can ease into the game. And then I always pick Elise and start racing. Always Elise. I guess I'm not a fan of the other characters.

  • I'm not sure if I'm getting to old, or if I'm too long out of practice, but it was a real challenge to play initially. I barely remember any of the race shortcuts or the best stunt points. And I couldn't react fast enough to pull off more than simple tricks. After a couple of hours, my hands started to remember some of the old ways and I didn't feel like a complete embarrassment.

  • It won't be long now before the new SSX comes out. I'm hoping to see several of you on my RiderNet feed as well. But until then, SSX 3 is going to keep me company just fine.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Read Lately: With The Lightnings by David Drake

  • While still on my science fiction high, I decided to plow ahead and try something else from the Baen Free Library. It did not take long to settle on David Drake's With The Lightnings.

  • While On Basilisk Station is compared to Horatio Hornblower, With The Lightnings draws its inspiration from Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series. The main characters, Lt. Daniel Leary and Adele Mundy, develop mutual respect for one another and discover how well they compliment each other.

  • The novel descibes the battle between the Republic of Cinnabar (the space British) and the Alliance of Free Stars (the space French) over the neutral planet Kostroma. Lt. Leary, a member of the Cinnabar delegation, and Adele Mundy, a refugee librarian, end up working together to escape an Alliance invasion and begin to fight back.

  • With The Lightnings was slower to get into. But I think the payoff was a deeper understanding of the main characters and why they would be drawn to one another. By the time I reached the end, there was nothing slow about it. I could turn pages fast enough to see the resolution.

  • Though there are superficial similarities between the Honor Harrington and the Leary/Mundy books, I don't seen any problems reading the two series side-by-side. And I fully intend to read David Drake's next as soon as I have the opportunity.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Played Lately: Saints Row: The Third

  • It was touch-and-go there for a while (as all of my game time is nowadays), but I finally completed Saints Row: The Third. Actually, I completed it a month ago, but work with me here.

  • When I last wrote about it, I was well into the game, but there were several missions and many open world activities left to complete. But at no point did I feel overwhelmed. At no point did I feel like it wasn't worth going on. If anything, the missions jut get crazier as they go on. Some highlights:

    • The mission that takes place in the virtual world is amazing. It riffs on so many different things that aren't referenced anywhere else in the game. Everything is unique for that mission.

    • Can you believe that there are ______s in this game? I shouldn't work, but they don't overplay them.

    • I love each of the choices you get to make in the game. They all come down to what kind of rewards you receive, so they don't affect the story greatly. But they do add lot of flavor. That doesn't count the final mission, though, which can swing the story a couple different ways.

    • I didn't finish them all, but I am close to one hundred percent completion on all activities. I suspect that I'll be going back and finishing them soon.

  • I haven't yet tried the DLC (though it isn't getting great reviews), but I liked the activities a lot more than most. So expect to see me in Saints Row for a while to come.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

News Filter: DC Announces An Obvious Thing, Before Watchmen

  • The rumors have been floating around from some time, but DC Comics finally pulled the trigger on the new Watchmen series. (That is an amazingly apt description, now that I think about it.) Before Watchmen will include seven miniseries and an epilogue for a total of thirty-five issues.

  • Fish have to swim, birds have to fly, and comic companies have to exploit their characters. There is a lot of talent involved in this fiasco, which means that this is going to be uneven as hell. If more than one series is any good, I'll be shocked.

  • I'm not here to rage. I'd rather they got this all out of their system so that, one way or the other, all this talk of continuing Watchmen will be behind us.

  • If there is one highlight of the whole endevour, it's that Darwyn Cooke is involved. That something at least.

  • P.S. The new DC logo looks super-90s to me. Come on, how can you mess up two letters?

  • P.P.S. While you're at it, here is a defense of the project by JMS. Read and judge for yourself.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.