Remiss? Yeah, probably.

January 13, 2007

Mood: Pretty good, really, aside from the sinus headache.
Music: I Have The Touch, Peter Gabriel
Game: That Same Beta, Gears of War, Battlefield 2142, DOAX2, Various Arcade Games
Book: A Bridge Too Far, Cornelius Ryan.
Watching: Not much…yet.
Weather: Cold, Icy.

In deference to friend Tator, this isn’t really a holiday blog. What it HAS turned into is a place to write when I actually have more than 20 minutes downtime…which mainly happens to coincide with holidays lately. But Happy Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Tator. Go protest some injustice. Non-violently, of course. Curious that there’s no Malcolm X day…but whatever.

You know, if I had the ability to post on my blog on the way to work, this thing would be overflowing with content.

I take the bus to work, where I typically check my mail (I have a Windows Mobile Powered Smartphone…benefit (penalty?) of doing a ton of work for Microsoft,) read some, and generally veg. I suppose if I was into torture, I could make notes for a blog entry, but I’m generally not in blog mode at that point. Where I do most of my thinking on the blog happens to be when I’m walking from the bus stop to work. It’s less than a mile and it takes me between 10 and 15 minutes to walk it, so I have a good solid 10-15 minutes of internal dialogue.

I’ll think for a bit, then say “I really need to blog about that!” Then I get to work, and whatever I was thinking of gets knocked out of my head by assorted insanity, and by the time I get home, I’ve completely forgotten what I was thinking of. And even if I haven’t completely forgotten, I’m usually too mentally tired to do anything but kill pixels.

None of this is any excuse, of course. What I should be doing is getting into work, doing 5 minutes of rough outline on the blog while I have my ideas, then finishing it at some point during the day, at work or at home. Once the outline’s there, it couldn’t be too long to finish it…and if it doesn’t get completed to any major significance, at least it’ll be some random thoughts, which are better than nothing.

Maybe I’ll do that.

In any case…about the HD-DVD Player. I’ll say this…the image quality is great, as is the sound. The issue is that since I patched my 360 with the necessary drivers and such, my 360 has started crashing. Random lockups, resets, and plain Red Glowy Circle things. When I physically unplug the HD-DVD player from the 360, the lockups and such still happen, but not nearly as frequently. I’m not sure why it happens, but I’ve had exactly 2 lockups prior to installing the software, and both of them could be easily traced to heat. I have a few friends that have the HD-DVD player, and they say that they have no such problems…so I’m thinking that it’s either my good luck with my 360 catching up with me (certainly possible) or I need to find a cooler place to keep the 360. I suppose I’ll move the 360, and see if that fixes it. If so, I’m certainly very happy with the player itself. It’s the crashing I could do without.

As far as HD-DVD content, not a lot out there…and I’m sort of opposed to rebuying DVDs just to get HD versions. I mean, there are certainly some that I’d be willing to rebuy…but not my whole collection, and not every DVD is available by a longshot. I think at last check, Amazon has about 100 HD-DVDs. And, as you can expect, some of those movies shouldn’t even be on VHS tape, much less HD-DVD. I’d like movies like V for Vendetta, or The Matrix…ones that are visually arresting to really make it pop. But most of those movies aren’t available in HD. What I’m beginning to see is that the studios have made their choices as to which format to follow, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. Since the studios have chosen, naturally, you won’t find their movie in the HD standard they don’t support. Yes, this means that any Sony Picture won’t be coming out in HD-DVD until this war is over…and frankly, there’s your biggest reason for not getting a player, and why HD players in general aren’t being adopted, even by early adopters like my buddy Asphyxiate there. An interview by an industry analyst said that about 20% of the expected HD DVD/Blu-Ray sales happened this Christmas. People are staying away from it for fear of choosing “the wrong standard” and the content available is split too evenly to make a clear decision possible. That coupled with the very high cost entry point made people say that they’d buy one in 6-12 months when a path became clear.

My advice: Wait. I got mine, and I love it…but I’d like more content for it.

Next: The Burning Crusade is coming out for World of Warcraft on Monday night at midnight. If you’re not a WoWie, you probably don’t care much. TBC (as it’s called…funny. I remember TBCs as Time Base Correctors…cool devices that allow you to properly sync videotape during editing, but I digress.) is an expansion for World of Warcraft, raising the level cap to 70, adding two races, a mechanism called socketing (the same concept from Diablo…), and a mess of content/instances/dungeons.

I wasn’t initially excited about the concept, but to be honest, I am now. I’m really looking forward to getting back in the game with Smitty, Firethorn, Southern, Abyss, and the rest of the crew.

The truth is that I’m not geared up for raiding. I’ve discussed that at length here, so I won’t repeat. But the net of it is that being able to level again, being able to explore new dungeons again, being able to play with a few friends, rather than rely upon 30 people I don’t really know (or sometimes care for) is a huge plus for me. The scaling that’s happening in TBC is that they’re moving away from content that requires huge guilds to conquer. They’re shifting to difficult, skill-based content…rather than content that requires gang-tackling to achieve. That plays directly into my mindset of playing. I KNOW I’m good at games like this. A small, tight-knit group that can coordinate well is far superior to a large, largely uncoordinated (and sometimes unskilled) group. Not to mention that a smaller group has a far better chance of being friendly and happy for one another when they get something they need or want.

Anyway, the expansion comes out at midnight on Monday (Tuesday morning.) The place I pre-ordered it from is having a midnight release party. Costumes and everything. OK, newsflash to those people: I may not have a life, but I don’t dress up like a big cow and head down to my local game store at midnight in freezing cold weather. I feel reasonably certain that the sentence I just wrote has never seen the light of day before.

Aside from that insanity, let’s be blunt: Blizzard doesn’t have a stellar track record on launches. I expect the first crash to occur at about 12:20am on Tuesday morning. Then rolling restarts for the next 8 to 12 hours. I expect every mod and plugin to fail. Then, I expect the queues to exceed 500-750 people for the first week. Then, once you manage to scrape your way in, I expect the lag to be so bad, that people will be cursing blue streaks all over the place. Couple that with about a million level 5 blood elf paladin jewelers and Dranei shaman jewelers, and you’re going to have what I like to call “A Sub-Optimal Entertainment Experience.”

I figure that by the following week, it will have settled a bit. Yeah, I’ll pick up my copy on Tuesday after work, come home, and patch it. I’ll probably even try to get in. But I feel reasonably certain I’m not going to get any real play time in.

On a side note, apparently there are eight MILLION World of Warcraft players world-wide right now. That’s not characters, people. That’s players. That’s a lot of revenue…and pixels.

I’d like to talk briefly about Battlefield 2142, as long as we’re talking about gaming. I LOVE this game. It’s everything I love about a game. Rewards skill, tactical knowledge, as well as teamwork. AND there’s an RPG aspect to it. The more points you earn, the more unlocks you gain, better equipping your guy the more you play.

There’s real balance in the character roles. The net code is pretty good this time. It’s not perfect…and on crowded or underpowered servers, there is definitely some lag. But if you stay off those servers, you can have a fabulous time.

Abyss and I have been playing quite a bit lately, and doing pretty well. It seems like on Titan maps, we always end up defending on the titan, and the other day, he and I largely kept the OpFor from blowing up our titan by holding a hallway chokepoint, dropping a few automatic turrets, and setting up with grenades and heavy machine guns. I personally killed 20 some odd enemy in that hall, and it got to the point that the OpFor was cursing us and taunting us, telling us that we were “Really good at holding a single hallway.” I merely replied that they weren’t very good at taking a single hallway defended by 2 people. While I think we lost the map (because our team wasn’t doing a very good job of assaulting) they didn’t win quick or clean. And Abyss and I were laughing our asses off the whole time. “Ooh! You think he’s gonna feel that?” “Oh, definitely.” “Go, little autogun, go!”

Last, I’ll say that work is getting a lot more hectic. Which is mainly the reason why I haven’t been writing a whole lot. There’s a project I’ve got that’s gone way out of control because the people running it didn’t have the knowledge or experience to plan it properly. It’s now up to my team and I to figure out how to resolve this…last minute, of course. Doing so is drastically impacting my ability to do my day-to-day job.

The difference between this and every other place I’ve worked is that my boss said “This isn’t your fault by a long shot. Let’s figure out how to get you the support you need so we can all get out of this OK. We don’t want you burned out.” And as crazy as it sounds, that’s about the best thing they could have said. They didn’t say “We’ll take care of you when it’s over.” They didn’t say “Sometimes these things happen.” They didn’t say “We’ve all been there.” They said “We need to figure this out and keep you getting burned out.” And that, frankly, makes me feel like I made absolutely the right choice in choosing to work here, despite my initial misgivings.

It’ll all work out. And I may even be sane at the end of it. (Well, as sane as I get. I suppose that if you don’t start sane, you can’t all of a sudden become sane.)