Tuesday, August 30, 2005

New gaming video

It's done. Two different days/sessions in the level 35-39 battleground. Lots of fun, and I think this video came out a bit better than the other one. It has a few more bells and whistles anyway, the fights tend to be better at higher levels.

YouSendIt.com site

or

Savefile.com site

The first link might get tapped out, but may be faster. I've heard someone say that it seemed like a 12-minute download with high-speed internet. (it's 46 megs)

Monday, August 29, 2005

So tired...

Got 3 hours sleep last night. Strangely, I'm not exhausted, just mildly weary. I meant to go to sleep at ten after eleven, but got snared by the video editing demon. Was up til 2:25am trying to work out this annoying thinger that seems to exist in most Windows applications: if you scroll beyond the point where there is content (say in Excel, or in this case, Movie Maker) the program thinks those are the new parameters, and doesn't auto-adjust back to the last piece of datum (as per Outlook, when you delete a reply, it doesn't leave 3 scroll-screens of white). The long and short of it is a 3 minute video thought it was 6:25 minutes.

On the positive side, I'm getting a lot better at this video editing. Starting to mess around with various kinds and styles of overlays and transitions and fades. Worked a lot with trimming clip segments to match song beats, messed with white fade-in's with video transition, and different styles of title overlay (scoreboard, exploding, mirror, etc). So much fun.

I'm actually considering trying to find a course on video editing, maybe something even quasi-academic. The whole thing interests me to no end, as last night's marathon of stupidity might attest to.

That's it for now. I'll soon have a quick 1-min or so "teaser" for my next video from DAoC.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Funny picture of the day

Here it is

I laughed out loud when I saw this.

("WTF" means "what the fuck", by the way)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

This one should work

Using a new post to hit RSS. Hopefully this one works!

Aedhas, 24 Shadowblade

Monday, August 22, 2005

Finished video

Okay, fully done video numero uno (Thid vid). The link in the blog post below won't work any longer.

(EDIT: took the link out. The vid was bugged. I need to re-export and upload it... gahh!)

6m 25s and 28 megs, but not bad for a second first attempt. Had a tonne of fun both playing and editing, so it's all good.

All your phat lewtz r belong 2 us!

It's very interesting how more and more tales from the online gaming world are hitting the mainstream media. Everyone seems to be recognizing the prevalence of MMOs and online games in general, and weighing in on the subject. Most opinions and articles focus on violence depicted (article in the Ottawa Citizen today on how violent games are a good thing for kids), property rights with regards to virtual objects, and social and professional pay-offs that are apparent in players of interaction/leadership-based games such as MMOs.

Wish I could find the article about how MMO gamers are more likely to have highly-regarded business skills such as working through problems, taking initiative, showing better leadership qualities, etc. It was an interesting read. Then there is the somewhat infamous news about a Chinese man killing his friend because said friend sold his buddy's sword to someone in the game (EverQuest, I think).

That one was interesting in that it begged the question: can virtually owned objects be considered legitimate and legally-protected property? It sounds like a stupid question; one that most would scoff at and say "it's a bunch of frickin' pixels!". However... consider the situation thusly: you pay $25 for the retail game itself, but additionally pay $15 a month subscription. All activities including character, setup, inventory and status are maintained on a back-end server by the producer of the game. Very little of the playing experience happens on a local PC. If you physically rent a storage unit for $25 a month, and someone breaks in and steals your DVD player... that's theft. Considering that online items such as weapons, armour, etc are sold for large quantities of money on eBay and elsewheres, why is an item in a game not property? One acquires it through a transaction or a trade that is considered of value (else why do it in the first place?) or by actually going and getting the item (a kind of Lockean spin on property)... does that not meet the standard definitions of article possession?

Anyhoo, I'm constantly intrigued by anything and everything relating to online games. As stated previously, I honestly believe that as the military/government built and pioneered the Internet, MMO gamers and game companies are pioneering the next phase of virtual interaction.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Video editing

Okay, I'm addicted to video editing. I made my first DAoC video, albeit very short (9.05 megs), after downloading and registering FRAPS, a screen capture program that is, quite simply, a one-click wonder. Then I used Windows Movie Maker (pretty straightforward, if lacking in a few bells and whistles) to glue the thing together. I don't think it's too bad for 30 mins of work, and for a first try to boot.

Ector Midgard Thidranki Fun!

So feel free to check it out, or not. (ie, all normal viewing rules apply)

(EDIT: 08/24/05 -- this link no longer works. See the post above from 08/23/05 for working link)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Taiji

I've been feeling unsettled latetly, and just generally out of it. I think the main issue is one of inactivity.

So in the spirit of filling that void, I've looked into Tai Chi. I've sent an email to the senior instructor of the Tai Chi Studio, a downtown school about 10 minutes from where I live that teaches the full spectrum of tai chi (3 different styles, and long-form, solo form, staff forms and sword forms).

I got a long reply back today, a very positive one, and I am going to go watch a class tomorrow evening, and the two classes on Saturday. This will give me an idea of all 3 styles (Yang, Sun and Baguazhang) and how they differ and what they emphasize.

I'm looking forward to it. The instructor seems very down-to-earth, and quite competent (as can be seen from his various writings on the subject of martial arts, dedication, what to look for, etc).

So we'll see how tomorrow goes!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Alexander the Catastrophy

I hate Oliver Stone.

The movie "Alexander" is worth less than a sugar-coated fart, and if you even watch the intro credits, you'll immediately come away thinking "Oh my god... I've just wasted 4 minutes of my life!". First off, it was horribly cast. Secondly, it went through the entire Persian conquest within 15 minutes after the first battle (which was actually Alexander's 4th, chronologically).

They ignored the battle wherein he was blooded against the Greeks at Thebes, charged by his father to break the Sacred Band, the Thebian elite heavy infantry unit that spelled the end for Spartan power in Greece. They ignored his father's assassination, and the Greek rebellion. They bloody ignored the Battle of the Granicus and Issus!!! They started, more or less, at Gaugamela (which I think was 4 years into his Persian campaign) where Alexander routs Darius from the field. They ignored his trek into Egypt. They ignored pretty much his entire campaign in Asia Minor, Persia, etc. Out of 1,000 elements they attempted to implicate, they only got a handful even close to correct.

I hardly ever watch half a movie. Even if it sucks, I might turn my attentions to my computer, or my cat or whatever, but the movie will keep going in the background. I shut off "Alexander" after about 45 minutes.

The pros:
  • They got his horse's name correct, and the story behind Bucephalus.
  • Through high-shot camera sequences, they showed how Alexander used to advance on the oblique, a novel technique to phalanx warfare whereby an opposing force does not advance in a straight line, but leads with one edge on the diagonal, typically leading with a reinforced, strong right (keeping those on the left, the shield-side, protected). This was a strategy his father innovated and Alexander perfected.
  • ... and they showed (for 1.8 seconds) the Agrianians, who were the coolest detachment in Alexander's army. They were a group of ~700 mountain-clan javelineers who would run with the cavalry units, both Companion cavalry and Thessalians, and hurl with devastating effect heirloom javelins at the enemy. They were specifically employed to destroy enemies on heights such as steep slopes and mountainous terrain.

Cons:

You mean aside from the very existence of this shite movie?
  • Colin Farrell. He - is - not - European. He doesn't look European, he doesn't sound European, and he sure as hell does not look to be in his 20s or even early 30s. Colin Farrell is a worse actor than Keanu Reeves. At least directors have the wisdom to cast Reeves in parts that suit him.
  • Why the hell was Jared Leto in this movie? He looked like a 12-year-old girl, not a boyhood companion and soldier of Alexander's.
  • Alexander III was not a fucking German. It is almost certain that he did not have blonde hair! He sure as hell didn't have bleached blonde hair. Jesus H. God-Dancing Christ. Have you seen many Greeks with blonde hair? The little details that were utterly screwed-up in this movie just completely piss me off.
  • In the movie, the Companion cavalry had about as much coordination as a spider-monkey rotting in a gutter, when in actual fact they were the first cavalry ever that was used to break enemy infantry lines (and not in the way illustrated in the movie). In the movie, it looked like he had all of 50 cavalrymen (charging across their own fucking lines, obscuring the view of their infantry and the advance), when in fact his full cavalry complement would have been closer to 5,000 to 10,000 (including Companions, Thessalians, and mercenary Greek horse as well as Persian units in the latter years of the campaign). This is not a hard thing to render with today's CG technology.
  • His troops, although displaying sarrissas (14-foot infantry lances of Alexander's invention), were disorganized, mostly-unarmoured rabble gathered in clumps not even closely resembling a military phalanx. There was no shield overlapping so they all should have died under the first volley of Persian arrow since the Persians had about 75,000 archers. Considering a well-trained (or at least not-bloody-stupid) archer can draw, nock and fire an arrow in 5 seconds, that's a shit-load of bronze-tipped wood flying through the air at high velocity over the course of a minute, the minimum it would take to close ranks between two opposing forces. Especially when one is side-stepping and moving in the oblique.
  • The fighting. Dear god, it sucked. It looked like two hordes just whelming into each other, as opposed to solid bricks moving as one. There was so much space between each man in the units that you could have driven a wagon through. They would have broken after the initial impact. Phalanx fighting was dependent on grinding the man in front of you forward, compacting your shield into position to defend your companion, and forcing forward. It ought to look a lot like a reverse tug-of-war.
  • Alexander's mother was not some pouty-faced witch-woman. She was eccentric, and into exotic cults, and yeah, every now and then it was rumoured she had snakes around. But she wasn't a goddamn Angelina Jolie weirdo wench.
  • Alexander's father was a heavy-handed but cunning man and war-leader who revolutionized Classical warfare, not a stumbling-drunk brutish asshole as Val Kilmer played him as. We're talking about a man who unified dozens upon dozens of mountain clans that had been in-fighting and raiding each other for centuries. A one-eyed dipshit could hardly get them to coordinate, let alone fight and subjugate the entireity of the Greek mainland.
  • Alexander, himself, didn't possess exceptional ambition, and he wasn't arrogant as portrayed. His daemon (a god's manifestation in the soul of Man) drove him forward, set his ambitions. It controlled him, more or less; executed its desires through him. Small thing, and somewhat hard to convey, but very essential to understanding the pious and humble nature of the greatest conquerer in the world.
  • What the hell was with his helmet?? ARGH!! So goddamn stupid. What dicksmack would ride around in next to no armour, but wear a helm with not just one plume, but 2 side plumes? Why not just ride over to the enemy and tell them to cut you down.
  • The army. Where was the damn army? That wasn't 43,000 soldiers. On top of any combat army itself, there are 3 times as many civilians/military support personnel: farriers, smiths, cooks, servants, squires, attendants, scribes, historians, priests, teamsters. Where was the baggage train? He had no sea support until he won at Gaugamela or Issus (can't remember, but I think it was Issus) so how the hell did he feed 43,000 men 6,000 miles from his homeland in the middle of relatively inhospitable terrain?
  • On the other side of the fight... what the hell was up with Darius'? His forces all looked like they'd been dragged out of some ditch on the way from Persepolis to Gaugamela. The Persian forces were reputed to look like dandies: blooming pantaloons of vibrant colours, scale-mail vests, wicker shields, etc. In short, they looked like courtiers on their way to a ball. These guys looked like something out of Jesus Christ Super-Star. Also, Darius' army was around 300,000. So picture a fifth the population of Toronto jammed onto a battlefield that is only 2 square miles. Also, Darius had his entire royal family with him, and pavilions, etc. Those were nowhere to be seen. Just the dork on a chariot (accurate) who made stupid decisions with his forces. Also, he wasn't shown near enough respect as one would usually accord a god (Persian emperors were gods incarnate to their nation).
  • Distance. In the span of 30 seconds, Alexander is teleported 5,000 miles from Iran to Afghanistan. S-t-u-p-i-d.
  • ... and more.
In short (ha!), this movie was an atrocity, and deserved even less than the 17% rating on RottenTomatoes. The absolute worst thing about this movie? Now that one has been made, it would be very difficult to do a decent movie on the subject for some time. They have not only spit upon a legacy, and a turning point in both Western and Eastern history, but made it highly unlikely that it can be shown on the big-screen in a way that does it justice.

Don't get me started on Troy...

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Immortal Power Brought Low by Taser

Check this guy out.

This makes top article of the day for sure. What a n00b. Chainmail vs Taser? Should have gone with Blue Dragonhide for the electricity resistance of 25. And if he was against numerous opponents, he ought to have cast Haste on himself for an extra partial action per round. Pffft. "Thousand years of power" my arse.

>;)

iYuppy?


(Warning: might be preaching to the choir here, but let me have my fun and bear in mind that not everyone is Mr. Tech Bleeding Edge.)

Short of having an Austin Mini, a suburban carboncopy homestead/townhouse, and a can-do ultra-professional girlfriend, I think I may have taken the final step to yuppy-dom... last night I bought an iPod (and the latest NIN album - yay!).

Let me just say this: iPods (and Apple products in general) understand one thing very well: user experience/user interface is as important as product quality. Sometimes more important since usability/interface is something that customers see upfront; it's most top-of-mind. The iPod app, iTunes, is so stupid-easy even I can use it with only infrequent use of the Help option. (The tutorial on the Apple.com site is simply fantastic, by the way -- walk-through videos!).

I got one of the iPod Mini's (4 gig version, or 1,000 songs) which is enough for me. (they also sell 20, 40 and 60 gig iPods... you know, for those of you in the world who have the equivalent to the Library of Congress in music... yeah, all 6 of you) The ability to create customized, on-the-go playlists make having anything larger than a 6 gig capacity superfluous, in my opinion.

I'm not normally one for gushing over freakin' electronics, but... the iPod itself is very intuitive and laid out in a way that only Apple could have built. There is a LCD display, a centre Select button surrounded by a wheel, and on the scroll wheel at the 4 points of the vertical/lateral 'compass': a Play/Pause, Menu, Forward and Backward on the scroll wheel. Nothing else. It's simply as hell. Choose Music hit Select, use the scroll wheel to navigate the menus, hit Select. To go back, hit Menu. That - is - it.

More impressive, however, is the application that is the iPod's brain: iTunes. You start it up, it instantly recognizes which iPod is connected and uses those settings. It scans your computer for any .mp3 and .wmf or whatever and loads them all into a Library folder. From there, you can create and make custom folders, and set the iPod to update from any and/or all of those directories. Every time you plug the iPod in and start iTunes, it auto-updates so that if you've converted 8 cds that week but haven't manually moved them to your iPod, it does it for you. Me no think = me happy good.

The neatest feature is its auto-recognize CD thinger. Put in a music CD, and iTunes will load up and display all the tracks with all information. Then click or (Ctrl+A to get all of them) and right-click and Convert to AAA and bam... you've just made a CD iPod'able in about 45 seconds. AND it will retain track #, title, artist, album name, and genre (without displaying it). Click and drag all those songs into a custom folder, Update iPod, and you're ready to go. Rinse, repeat. Took me 2.5 mins to get about 28 songs from 3 CDs (2 NIN albums) into my custom folder and on my iPod for this morning. I've got 449 songs on there, with plenty of room left. I was file-hoppin' like mad this morning, going from the new NIN to Breaking Benjamin, to Toasters (coming to the nation's capitol on 16 Sept!!), to Sublime to Jethro Tull to Diana Krall. Frickin' sweet.

Honk if you also love having new toys.

Safeharbor Statement: I do not own nor manage client accounts containing Apple stocks or mutual funds, and was in no way paid or compensated for this flagrant gushing.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Something Wicked This Way Slowly Saunters

My reading as of late has been very sporadic, or I've been re-reading novels, mostly fantasy-adventure. This is, and has been for 8 months, due to one thing: I have not finished the Dark Tower series.

I just found out (or rather, was reminded) that the trade paperback edition of the final novel in the series, The Dark Tower, is not available until November. To be quite blunt, that sucks. I know why they've done it, of course. The typical wait time between hardcover and paperback (or trade) is roughly 6-9 months, depending on the popularity of or hype surrounding the book in question. It can be as long as 12 months, but very very rarely.

The Dark Tower will be have been a 12-month wait by the time it hits trade paperback. Thus far, I have been lucky in that no one has ruined it for me, or even spoken of it. The entire series has become a very private thing for most of Stephen King's CRs, as he calls them ("constant reader"s, as in "Have faith, my constant reader"). People simply don't talk much about it because it's one of the rare sets of books that people enjoy internalizing. No one wants to know what another person thinks of Roland, or Eddie or even Oi ("'Ake!"). The storyline in the Gunslinger (book one) is more open to discussion, but as soon as the second and third and fourth books emerged, it became "Have you read Wizard & Glass?" "Nope, not yet." ... silence. Not "Oh, it's really good" or "It's too damn long", just acceptance of the response and a tacit understanding that nothing more can be said without verging upon the blasphemous.

Anyway, all my reading energies are being conserved for this final volume in what has become, essentially, a modern-day saga; the closest this age may come to calling a literary work an epic (minus the "in media res", catalogue of warriors, and other epic conventions) since Milton.

In other news, it looks like Hollywood has recognized the substantial impact of video games on their demographic, and are moving into movie-ized versions of a few. There has already been the two Tomb Raider ones (bleh), and coming up are Doom (with the Rock) as well as Hitman: Codename 47 (with Vin Diesel). Hard to say how either of those will go, as there was never much of a story to either one, and you can hardly fill 1.5 hours with random assassination missions (in the case of Hitman) or opening doors and chainsawing zombies with rocket-launchers for arms (in the case of Doom). Though if the head rocket-launcher arms guy were to be played by Christopher Lee or Gary Oldman... hmmm... I can picture it now. "I have crossed oceans of time... 2 PWN U CUZ 1 4M L337!!11one!1!"

That is all for now. Bring on the weekend and beer and BBQ and Family Guy!

China to ban under-18s from PK-content games

Very interesting article. China has banned all people under the age of 18 from from any online games that contain "PK" (player killing; ie, going toe-to-toe with other players in an attempt to defeat them).

It's effective immediately, or I assume as immediate as gaming vendors can implement the age validation mechanism spoken of.

I would love to watch the riotous backlash in South Korea if the government were to try to do the same thing. The government would be overthrown by 800,000 12-17 year olds, I have no doubt. (and I'm serious)

The truth is, online gaming is an enormous market. In the game I play, Dark Age of Camelot, the total player base is in the hundreds of thousands. During the low periods of any given day, there are approximately 3,500 people online. During the peak periods, it can be as high as 30,000 or 40,000. That only accounts for one game out of about half a dozen games out there that are considered mainstream MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online games) such as EverQuest and EverQuest II, World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, Lineage II, Final Fantasy XI Online, etc. I can only assume that as many as 150,000-250,000 people are online playing games at any given time.

Neal Stephenson's Metaverse, here we come! I estimate only 15-25 years before the Internet we know becomes far more immersive, involving online "avatars" (digital representations of our "meat" selves) roaming "avenues" that are cables and fibre-optic lines, chatting in "caf├ęs" that are chat rooms and forums, and browsing in "stores" that are data nexi such as retail banking centres, personal websites, e-tailers, government e-services, etc. Internet II is already under development, so I'm thinking it will not be until the third rev of the Internet that we will see that kind of "information as metaphor" transformation.

Let's see if I'm right.