In so much silence.

12 12 2016

The world’s kind of on the edge of going straight to hell. A lot of awesome stuff happened to me (marriage, kids, house, sweet new job, I discovered ZSH and git) and some shitty stuff happened (most of which is political in nature, some of which is tied to my family’s health which took a pretty massive hit midyear, but we’re on our way out of the woods now) and I upgraded my computer (hurray) after about six months of troubleshooting a 980Ti that was fine but shorting out because the motherboard was shorting out (showing its age).

I didn’t want to upgrade the motherboard because doing so meant upgrading everything…which I’ve now done. I’m in Skylake town and I’m pretty happy with it. In spite of being forced there.

I got my new job by writing XCOM mods. That was sweet. (I don’t work in video games.)

XCOM 2 is fantastic. I’m also – to the shock of everybody – back into World of Warcraft which, with the launch of Legion, actually became fun again. Except for legendaries. I got lucky with mine, but I’m an exception and I think that’s stupid.

I wish I had whatever fortitude is required to play Dwarf Fortress. I’m really enamored with it right now.

I hope all zero of you faithful readers are healthy, happy, and well. ❤





They are better than me.

26 06 2014

There are a lot of people that do this whole scene better than I do. Campster (Errant Signal), Super Bunnyhop, Lazy Gamer, Mr. BTongue. (Notice how I’m talking about Youtubers.) I enjoy making Youtube videos, but not enough to balance out the astonishing amount of work they require. (Seriously, a single episode of Thade vs. XCOM would take six to eight hours to do…for a 20 to 30 minute mission. I’d rather just play.)

I dipped my toe into Twitch streaming (sans announcement) which was pleasantly simple but is very unrewarding when you know you’re playing to an audience n=0. “I could put a lot into this and generate some views, maybe,” but then I remember “I kind of want to try other things.”

One thing never really peters out of me though, and that’s blogging. Something many other people are better at than I am: better meaning not just net hits they get or the fact they’re paid to do it…but better content-wise. Higher quality, higher volume. I really enjoy reading well thought out and researched video game criticism. Much more than I do trying to come up with it myself.

As is evidenced by the half a year it’s been since I’ve posted here.

There was a Sims 3 binge in there somewhere. And a lot of Path of ExileDon’t Starve. Occasional Left 4 Dead 2 forays which I still have a knack for, I’m happy to say. Much of my L4D2 static team is now playing Wildstar and there are a handful of Two Percenters (my old SWTOR guild) in there as well. I miss those people. WS looks like it might be fun for a bit, so with little to lose, in I go.

What have you been up to?

*crickets*

That’s what I figured. ❤





My dark little meaningless secret.

19 01 2013

Things are rather hectic for me, but sadly the only things that have suffered for it are the elements of my web presence…namely my now poor excuse for a blog, really poor excuse for a Twitter account, and even poorer excuse for a Youtube channel. I haven’t played XCOM in well over a week (and before that, more weeks) and so what would I share there or here? Well, I could share some stuff.

Work is insane. We got acquired. Big company politics can be shitty. Best case, we get funding and its awesome; worst cast, well…the punchline is I get like two months off as I find a new job and work on my dark little meaningless secret. That would be either a lay off or me saying “I really love my teammates, but I am NOT working for that guy.”

I finished Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which was pretty good and scratched my stealth itch. The same company is making Thief 4, which is kind of my dream come true…provided that stealth take downs aren’t limited by a really frustrating, arbitrary energy mechanic.

I’m nearly at the end of Far Cry 3, meaning there’s story and some boss fight(s) to get through;the core game play (which was amazing, the whole stealth base overthrows game) is basically done with.

My girl and I got to the end of Fez and discovered there’s much more to find; also picked up Braid and Super Meat Boy which I already own on PC but got on XBOX so she could get into them from the couch with me.

I’ve done a lot of reading. Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food and some of Omnivore’s Dilemma; I actually got into Game of Thrones finally. And I’ve got this dark little meaningless secret.

That secret is currently comprised of things like “20 hours of tutorial videos watched” and “lots of reference documentation read” and “several toolkits examined” and “Unity3D downloaded and installed” and “a 22-page and counting design document”. I have this insane dream of making a video game, and this hope that the current state of free and inexpensive tools will help me get there. The kicker is that the game idea I’ve got in mind is – without a doubt – too large for one person to do alone. But I’m learning new technologies and really enjoying the creative  process…and maybe, just maybe, if I get enough of a prototype up and running I can recruit some help. It would be nice to make a big chunk of money off of a Greenlight $14 Steam game, but that’s not what I’m thinking about.

I’m thinking about how to build a conversation tree system that’ll fit the bill. It’s is a really fun problem academically, and I’ll get to learn a Java GUI lib and use JSON for my first time and get back into C# or learn Javascript as I dive into Unity. More design to do first though.

And you know…content. Like, a story and stuff. That’s on my mind too.

I am jonesin’ for XCOM though, and here’s a 3 Day weekend.

No guarantees, all around. ❤





Somethings to consider.

24 10 2012

Dr. Vahlen: “Commander, while doubtlessly effective at killing aliens, explosives-”

Me: “ARE TOTALLY AWESOME?!”

Dr. Vahlen: “…”

Me: “KABOOOOOOOOOOM, DOCTAH! KA-FREAKIN-BOOOM!!! WOOOO!!!”

Dr. Vahlen: “…I see that you’re needed in Mission Control.”

…radio static…

Wait. Bullet swarm lets me fire twice? Good bye, holo-targeting.

…radio static…

me: “This is great!”

her: “Thanks! It’s apple spice cake.”

me: “Is this reasonably healthy for me?”

her: “No, honey. It’s cake.”

me: “But it’s like apple and you used like olive oil or something, right?”

her: “No, honey, butter. And cream cheese.”

me: “But, apples?”

her: “Sure, honey. I’ll bring half of it to work with me.”

me: “Okay.”





It’s summer-time!

28 06 2012

Real-life really gets in the way of gaming (and writing about gaming) but I still make time for gaming. Here I am trying to make a bit of time to write about it once more. Wedding planning and a promotion have made for a lot of new stresses and adventures, but fear not, gentle reader: our hero still plays games.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Is still really good. The hate train on this has had absolutely no effect on me. What I like about the game can easily be summarized:

  • A really, really cool group of people, Two Percent (which refers to milk and not Wall St.).
  • Lightsabers; no, really, they never get old.
  • There is so much content. It’s ludicrous. I’m starting alts on the Empire side finally, seeing the light-side Sith Warrior I always wanted…only this time alongside some awesome people. The stories have all been very enjoyable. No surprise there, right? That’s like the Bioware schtick.
  • No really…a ton of content. End-game in most games is “repeat the same content”. SWTOR’s not immune to this as it has it’s share of end game raids (which, by the way, have uniformly been fun) but most of the “end-game” is alt’ing…which means, seeing the different stories (and in some cases, the different decisions) that are available to different classes (and in some cases, species and genders).

I get to play two to four nights a week now, depending. It’s rather restricted by real-life (wedding planning, general dates and outings, and also my job) but still a great time.

Diablo 3

This game is precisely what I expected it to be. It’s fun and I can pick it up and put it down very easily; if I have 15-30 minutes to burn, this is a great game to do just that with. If I need to quit immediately, worst case is I eat a repair bill. Jumping into games with others is trivial; I spent much of the initial phase of the game playing exclusively with friends. Barbarian and Monk are my favorites.

I even started a Hardcore character which – I admit – even very early on is extremely exciting.

Warhammer Fantasy and 40k

I finally got my dwarves on the table a few weeks ago and I’m hooked (as I expected)…it’s a lot of fun. They are largely unpainted: one large unit of dwarves is fully detailed and they’re some of my best work…but there’s a lot of ‘only base-coated’ plastic on the table.

The new rule-set for 40k drops on Saturday (at least, that’s when I pick up my pre-order…there are leaks all over the net already, of course) and I’m extremely excited for it.

(Very) long story short, I’ll be playing at least two times a week again. (This will cut into video game time, not only because of the game sessions, but I have a lot of painting to do.

Speaking of painting…

I’m taking a  painting class. No, really. Like, on canvas. It’s a lot of fun, I recommend it. When you have absolutely no skill at something and there’s no pressure…it’s nice to let go of that aspect of myself for a little while.

The Secret World

Was terrible and I won’t be licensing it. Maybe it’ll be awesome in a few years (e.g. the EVE Online growth model) but I’m not about to suffer through that long of a boot-strap. Besides, I’m not lacking for things to do. I am a bit disappointed I won’t live through the ARG…that marketing team is one of the best in the business. I am more disappointed that the gameplay is so dry.





Advice for the New Bloggerz.

7 05 2012

I neither support nor oppose this New Blogger Initiative thingy. New blogs are a good thing but, honestly, there are so freakin’ many that I’ll be the first to admit I may never even see your blog if it’s new; I barely have time to keep tabs on the ones that are already on my feed. Last week many of my associates (of which I am, I think, the most wayward) dispensed with good advice and words of encouragement. I read over these and thought to myself “gee, Thade, you seem quite the jerk, not chipping in a bit here.”

So, I will give a bit of advice here which you are free to take or leave.

Do the research.

This isn’t as annoying as it sounds; it is in fact as easy as it was for early high school assignments. Hit Google for the proper nouns and see what people are saying; hit Wikipedia and follow a citation or two to learn a bit about a game or company’s history, see who’s on the dev team, blah blah. Definitely read and follow links on other blogs – even if you don’t really care for the blogger in question – as the more you know about different view points on a topic, the more you think about it. This will help you say more interesting things about it.

Read the stuff you want to write.

You want to write a blog on MMOs, so read blogs on MMOs. (You probably already do.) Read as many as you have time for, as doing so will passively refine and bolster your own writing style. There are nuances and accepted formats that  you will pick up on and you get to take or leave whatever elements you like, helping you to both fit and break the mold as you need. Also, you should try to keep up to date on memes, because they’re going to come up. A lot.

Get into the community.

As much as you are able to, treat the blog-o-sphere as you would a respectable forum; read other people’s posts, think about them, then respond to them. Either do this directly on their blog with a comment (in which case, make sure you fill out the credentials linking back to your own blog) or do it on your own blog (in which case, you link directly to the relevant post). The latter will in many cases get you a ping-back comment. Real comments foster traffic and thinking on other people’s blogs, while at the same time generating some potential interest for your own blog. On that note…

Citations.

These get you ping-backs (those automatic comments posting a quote and a link to your blog on other people’s blog posts) and show that what you’re talking about relevant. Get down with citations. I’d be amiss not mentioning that citations do not intrinsically make you correct, but they do show that people out there share (or implicitly do not share) your own opinions. For example, just today Spinks posted some NBI advice on picture editing and handling on your blog, while Syp introduced several new blogs in his post.

Don’t be a troll.

If you are going to post in a way that strongly disagrees with another blogger, do so in a constructive and respectful way. Now, I’m saying this, and I bet you can both think of other bloggers (myself included at times) who seem to throw this very rule to the winds. There are a few notable bloggers out there that make it their shtick to use effrontery and pejoratives in disagreeing with one another; part of the whole sensationalism thing. I do it at times because I have the stupid idea that it’s ironic. It is not really ironic. (Well, perhaps it is recursively ironic.) It has, in fact, been done to death. Let’s try some new stuff to get each of us to stand out.

Don’t sweat the numbers.

Listen to Syp: don’t obsess over traffic. You are writing for you. Keep it that way and you will enjoy it more, for longer.

Grammarz. You can haz.

Strunk & White. Also, Diana Hacker. And the Oxford Comma. Omit needless words. Etc. And don’t start sentences with a conjunctions. (lulz)

Don’t write a single-game blog.

Give yourself leeway on what you’re able to write about. If you name your blog “archmagery – a warhammer online blog about the archmage” and then you find yourself no longer playing an Archmage and not even playing Warhammer Online, suddenly your blog feels like a very awkward place to you. (I have that on good authority.) By now you have a moniker. Use it or something else to name your blog. You can still write almost exclusively about Warhammer and Archmages (just an example) if you like, but then should you find something else interesting you can easily switch gears or mix-and-match.

Google your moniker before you lock it in.

Otherwise you’ll end up sharing a name with this guy.

Welcome and good luck.

You’ve got nothing to lose and so much to gain. Start writing. 🙂





X-fire and validity.

4 05 2012

I fell for ye olde trap, the Internet Debate, and naturally failed to convince anybody of anything I had to say. (Syncaine and his boys are a tough crowd, to boot.) Anyway, the reputable Syncaine (and others) still maintain that X-Fire is a valid source to use as a predictor for the collapse of games, despite liberal application of sampling bias or the sheer definition of validity i.e. a formula is valid if and only if it is true under every interpretation. Their arguments seemed to boil down to:

  • we have nothing else to go by;
  • I’ve seen consistency, I swear;
  • what’s a third variable?

I see this kind of stuff too frequently in blog-o-land and I guess I have this unconscious, feverish, and vain hope it will some day go away. Especially in MMO-land…I mean there are so many people who sit down and reverse engineer the non-linear, multivariate functions that model damage, speed, and defenses in these games you’d think that sort of mathematical adeptness would translate over to basic statistical analysis. To be fair, no amount of statistics is basic, really. I took three of those courses and they were so dreadful. All I really took away was that small, angry Korean professor yelling “Support! Support! Support!” and growing increasingly frustrated with the flip-flop of the terms “function” and “variable”.

It is likely the case that trends, peaks, and troughs in a full game’s population are somehow reflected in X-fire graphs. That’s really what people are riding on. The problem is that trends, peaks, and troughs in X-fire populations (all that those graphs actually represent) probably do not reflect on the full game’s population.

You probably read that and are thinking either “w…t…f is thade talking about” or possibly “this thade guy is such a turd.” But stick with me a second.

We (or at least I) don’t have demographics for for X-fire users, much less demographics for the entire gaming population for a given game. World of Warcraft is probably the easiest to discuss in an armchair statistics hand-wavey way, so let’s go there. It has like 10 million subscribers (as of a few months ago, back when it dropped an equivalent of, like, half of EVE online’s subs) who – if fans and cosplayers at PAX are any indication – are demographically all over the board. If it’s the case that there’s a statistically representative cross-section of this massive fanbase in the 50-70k WoW players that x-fire tracks, we have a winner: we could use those X-fire graphs to build a predictive model.

What if, however, the X-fire sample is not representative? If, for instance, the X-fire population is completely devoid of women over 30, players who’ve never played an MMO before WoW, etc., then the graph is only really valuable for predicting and discussing the trends of that specific sub-population. For instance, just because the (I’m totally guessing here) 15-27 yr old X-fire user base decides Mists of Pandara is stoopid doesn’t mean the host of married couples playing the game don’t think it’s the shit. So, in that contrived example, a downward trend or hard dip in X-fire data may mean absolutely nothing insofar as global trends.

There is – very, very likely – some relation between X-fire trends and global trends; what the comparative slopes are, utterly impossible to determine. It’d still be difficult, even if we had all of the data we’re lacking.

That was really my entire point (which I failed to communicate firing from the hip yesterday) and all I wanted to get across. If you see months and months of steady down-ward trending on X-fire, it could very easily be due to a global population down-trend; but it may only be X-fire users. Since we don’t even have that backlog of information, let alone the demographic data we’d need to really hammer this out, saying anybody is foolish for questioning is, well…embarrassing.

If you’re going to state facts, back ’em up. If you’re going to state your feelings or suspicions, it helps to back those up too, but you can be a little less rigorous there. Just don’t say “This is my feeling; here are some demonstrably non-facts I will now present to you and defend as if they are facts.” It makes the whole scene here look bad, you know?