Sunday, January 28, 2007

Old Friends

I saw a couple of friends/acquaintances the other night. We were in a room with a bunch of people I didn't know, but who I recognized as being the general sort as would drift into my dorm room from time to time. I think of this category as "Conrad's friends," but it seems inappropriate to use it seeing as I haven't seen Conrad in six months and most of these people probably don't know him. Of those I did know it was Ayan, who I know from UW; Alex, who I know from VMC; and a guy I see on the bus a lot. It was nice to see those people, but kind of awkward too, what with me being there to break up their party and throw them out of the room for disturbing other guests.

Still, it's nice to see old friends.


First a quick note. I finally finished the Baroque cycle, it's excellent and I recommend it as well as the collective works of Neil Stephenson, with the exception of the book Zodiac, to anyone and everyone.

Onwards to the point. So I have this book. It's supposed to be a series of surveys that help you understand yourself and the job market in preparation for choosing a career. It consists of these little self quiz surveys, a chart of the average results, and then a few pages talking about the subject of that test and the meaning of your result. It's all well and good for a normal person, but I've run into a few philosophical conflicts that I have with the nature of the book.

The first one was during the "Career salience Scale" test. It asks questions about the relative merits of career success and "finding the right person to marry." This is built on a preconception that I but heads with a lot, i.e. that Marriage is an inherent part of everyones plans. I'm not a nihilist rejecter of marriage, I'm open to the idea of it, but until I meet and fall in love with someone it's not even on the board. I also don't feel the inherent desire to be partnered up with someone that most people seem to. I can't say whether that desire is societal pressure or an instinctual thing, but whatever is driving it isn't affecting me.

I've also come across a lot of points where the books says that my lack of clear direction is okay as long as it's based on a breadth of interest, which it is. It goes on to state that everything will work out fine, but never says why or how. They do give the one piece of bullshit advice everyone gave me back when I was at UW, but it turns out that if you spend your first two years of college sampling various classes in order to pick a major you don't magically gain the prerequisites for that major, and nor do those unrelated credits magically become valuable.

In "Career Values" one question asks which you would prefer, a Job where you're free to make your own decisions, but not in a position of leadership; or a job where you're a leader, but not free to make your own decisions. I feel that I can say with confidence and without ego that I have been a leader, and from that I must say that anyone who isn't free to make their own decisions is not a leader. That's what leadership is. It's why people have leaders, they're the ones who decide. I respect and understand having both leadership and independence as scales on which to judge, but the makers of the test should realize that there is going to be some overlapping.

I have several problems with things I encountered in the "Achievement Motive" section. Let me preface this by saying that I was not at all offended when the test said that I have incredibly low achievement motive. I was expecting that, and pretty much already knew it. The book does offer some advice on raising it as well. It basically says that you should actively think about how someone with a high achievement motive would view the world, then actively convince yourself that it's the best way to think and that you're a better person for thinking that way. Does that process remind anyone else of anorexia? I'm not going to screw with the workings of my mind because of a book. If you're going to try and brainwash me you'll have to come do it in person. My other issue is how polarizing the test is. From the books perspective high achievement motive is inherently understood to be a good thing that makes you a better person and that everyone should want. Those who have it are sharp motivated individuals, and those who lack it are lethargic wretches that lack will and subscribe to a sort of occupational nihilism. The book is suffering from a bad case of western philosophy and can't see that my achievement motive is low because I'm free from desire. My scores have been painting an inconsistent picture because the test doesn't understand people like me. According to their surveys I'm someone who's highly prepared, creative, not a procrastinator, (I'm just as surprised as you) isn't afraid of success, and has a computer proficiency level that is literally off their charts, but doesn't value having a career and isn't motivated to achieve. These things don't line up until you understand that all I really want is the means and the freedom to pursue my diverse hobbies and intellectual/artistic curiosities. While I do think this book would be useful to many of my peers, those who fit into the group I call "Normals," all it's done is further convince me of something I've come to accept in these past few months.

My job, no matter what it is, will never be the central focus of my life, or something by which I can be defined. I am, and will always be, the sum total of my interests, hobbies, obsessions and addictions. And I admit that a person like that is unlikely to financially succeed in this world, but for me at least, that's stopped being the point a long time ago.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Zangermarsh, The Burning Crusade, and notes on me being the greatest.

This is going to be another WoW post, so those of you who don't care just move along. This post is also written as a stream of consciousness, and gets really self indulgent, to the point of being masturbatory, towards the end. You were warned.

A whole lot happened recently in my WoW experience. It all starts Tuesday at around 1 when the UPS guy brought my copy of "The Burning Crusade" This means that around two I was online and playing with the new content. There are essentially two routes you can take with this. You could either go explore the outlands and do all the new stuff for people at high levels, or you could roll a character of the new race and take advantage of the fact that alliance can play shamans now. I've mentioned my enthusiasm for shamans before, so I don't think there's any surprise when I say that I rolled out at level 1.

The only ones in my guild who are really gung ho about the shaman thing, and are considering having a shaman as their main, are me and Brisperel. So when I first logged on as Patronsaint (my shaman) and found Illano (his shaman) was already level 7 I was immediately thrust forward on a tidal surge of gamer bravado.

I had, and am continuing to have, no end of fun shammying around with my friends in relic, but it soon became quite clear that the server wasn't having any fun. We were on whisperwind, one of the original servers, and one of the most populated, and it just couldn't handle the BC rush. The outlands crashed once an hour or so. The whole world server went down fairly often too. It was crippling, it was annoying, and it was threatening to ruin the game for a lot of us.

Blizzard knows this, and they don't like it when their servers are chain crashing. I assume, as one logically would, that they have flashing red lights and klaxons that go off every time a server crashes, and if our server alone was doing this hourly they must have been at a constant state of crisis. To help solve this they offered free character transfers to some newly created servers. The guild leadership noted this, and what started with our GM deciding to leave snowballed into a full guild migration.

Greetings from the Zangermarsh server. The name is nowhere near as good as whisperwind, but it works.

So as of Thursday we're all on Zang, and they're having a great time running around in a stable outlands, and I'm having a great time because I have the low level zones essentially to myself. This makes it hard to find a group for those quests that require one, but I can usually get a guild mate to bring their level 60+ char down and fill the roll five people my level usually would. Plus I never have to compete for creatures or mines. Zangermarsh is a smashing success.

One other thing about Zang is that it's only available as a transfer to server. You can't make a new character on this server yet, you have to transfer over. Granted Zang is taking players from five of the most heavily populated servers, but it means that most of the players are level 60+. I've had a lot of fun in the lower level zones playing with the /who command. While punishing the criminal Defias raiders one night I decided to see who else was in the zone. I did "/who westfall" and I found something hilarious. In westfall, in the whole zone, there were five people. And one of them was a 60. The numbers run like that a lot, numbers never getting higher then 10 or so, whereas they would've been a minimum of 20 on whisperwind. The best one though is when I was playing at something like 3 a.m. server time (the server is on central time) and I did a '/who wetlands'. It didn't even have enough people to bring up the results window, all I got was a message in my chat box.

Search 'wetlands'
Patronsaint - 22 Draeni Shaman

I was the only one in the zone. I'm pretty sure I have a screen shot of that, which I'll post later. I'm also level 30 now.

Speaking of me being a shaman and screen shots I have a story to tell, and not to brag, but I'm about to.

The /who command can search on all kinds of conditions, and it wasn't long before I realized that I could do a '/who shaman' and see every alliance shaman online on the server. From there I can sort by level. Can you guess who reliably wins that contest? You're damn right it's me. This has lead to all kinds of really amusing moments.

"Do you see this healing stream totem? This is the first healing stream totem ever on this sever, because I'm the only one on the alliance who can use water totems."
"I just turned into a ghost wolf, nobody else is level 20 yet, I'm the first alliance ghost wolf on this server"
"I'm lost trying to do the wind totem quest, but I can't ask for help because I'm the only shaman on the alliance high enough to do the wind totem quest"

I have a bunch of screen shots of this, as well as some good dramatic "shaman in action" shots which I'll post later. And one last self indulgent note. The game came out 5 days ago, and I'm level 30. It took me at least 5 weeks to reach 30 with any of my other characters.

Another note, more of a bit of trivia really, but I'd like it recorded. The first guy to reach level 70, the new maximum level, was a french college student who plays as a Nightelf Hunter. It took him 28 hours following the release of the game. I'm equally impressed by and sad for that guy, but both of those feelings are dwarfed by my surprise that a eurogamer got it, and not someone on the pacific rim.

What happend to you China? You used to be cool.


I've responded to a record number of disturbance calls this weekend. A lot of that is based on the fact that I responded to my first disturbance call this weekend. Lets start with Saturday's series of calls, and allow me to point out that the racial slurs are only included because I'm quoting people. It goes something like this.

1:30ish a.m. The phone rings.
MX: Bellevue Homestead
Guest 1: Hey this is - in room - and there's some crack head looking guy wandering around outside. I think he's Mexican, he's got a red hat on.
The voice on the other end of the line is a timid sounding woman. She speaks hesitantly at all times.
MX: What has he been doing?
Guest 1: He's been knocking on peoples doors asking for cokes.
MX: Okay I'll look into it.

It was at this point that I began forming what is now my standard procedure for calls like this. I take all of my valuables out of my pockets, and stash them in my backpack. I grab the phone, my master key, and some form of weaponry. While I don't intend for these things to come to violence I'm not going to go unprepared, and I've heard from people with actual experience that having any metal object can be a significant factor in an impromptu melee. This time it was a fork.

Heading out and around I find the guy sitting on a bench both smoking and drinking. I confront him but it doesn't do any good because he doesn't speak English. Through tone and body language I convey that I'm an Authority Figure and that I'm mad. He gets his wife who I guess speaks slightly more English, but is still unable to communicate with me. Reading his body language he seems subdued, and so I eventually leave.

1:50ish a.m. The phone rings again.
MX: Bellevue Homestead
Guest 2: Hey there's some spic crackhead that keeps knocking on my door.
From the voice I can tell this is a fairly standard young man. I'd guess early 20s.
MX: Damn it again? Okay I'll go deal with him. Where is he this time?
Guest 2: He's outside my room, I'm in -

I go through the motions again and when I get there we waste another fifteen minutes ramming into the language barrier. I can see the guy who called watching through his window, so after I've registered adequately submissive body language from the Hispanic guy I go to the callers room. I explain to him that I can't really do much because of the language barrier, but if this keeps happening I'll call the cops. We talk back and forth, it turns out I know this guy from VMC. My NDA doesn't allow me to tell you more then that, but I've seen him around. I serve as an escort while the guest goes to the vending machines, and we end off the conversation with my agreement that if the guest has to beat up the crackhead I'll deny all knowledge and not summon the authorities.

It wasn't a really dramatic experience, but it was the first and so it laid my ground rules. Always go armed, command presence, and on the third act summon the police. The more recent one, the one that wrapped up only an hour ago, is a much more interesting story.

The first thing you need to know is that for some reason the person I take over for, the one who had the day shift before my night shift, tends to have the morning shift the next day. This usually means that I come in and whoever was here goes into an unoccupied room and sleeps for a bit. When I came in tonight and replaced someone we'll call J, he said that he was going to the bar in factoria for a while, and would then do the crashing in a nearby room thing. It seemed fine.

At 2:45ish I get a call about someone making too much noise, and while arming myself I get another from a nearby room complaining about the same person. I don't have a fork but I grab two steak knives, and head out. Long story short it's J. He's drunk, which is a depressingly common occurrence in my co-workers, and another story altogether, and he's with a bunch of friends in some room. I'm shot by how similar the whole scene was to my college dorm room. A bunch of early 20s kids hanging around in the middle of the night playing music and letting the sweet sting of ethanol wash away their conscious. The only real difference here is that there wasn't a dark introvert in the corner doing one of any number of things that make him detached from ambient reality.

I talk it out with J, omitting the use of command presence, he seems to essentially get the point and calms down, I head off to continue folding things. At around 3 I get an odd call. There are people who want to talk to me in the lobby, but they don't really say why. Drunk guests are something I'm used to, and unlike drunk co-workers, something I don't have any problem with. It's after midnight on the weekend, why not be drunk? I figure these people have lost their key or something but are suffering from a temporary inebriation based aphasia.

It turns out their concerns also go back to J. They were talking to him in the bar, and from what I know of J and what they've related of the things he said, J was talking a lot of shit. Bragging about things that aren't true, bragging about things that are semi-true but not necessarily good, and just generally being an arrogant jerk. However, he also told them they could stay until three today, and he wouldn't charge them for the extra time. Normal check out is at 11:30, so staying until 3 would normally be an extra day. I find all this out by talking to them in the way I've learned to talk to all friendly drunk people. As long as you're willing to be patient and not be a prick you'll get along find. You'll also have to spend twice as much time talking to them to get any useful information, but it's really not all that tricky. Another ten minutes of this strange dialect and I come to understand the nature of the problem, and why they called me here in the first place. J apparently claimed he was in Iraq, but when the male of the couple who I was talking to pulled out his US Army registration card and asked J for some details, J got mad and left. Something like that anyway. The full details of the encounter were lost to the drunken dialect, but J performed one of bar etiquette's most direct statements of rage. Namely walking out of a bar when he still had a full pitcher and a full glass. The point of our whole conversation is that they were now relying on being in the room until 3, and thought J might take some kind of petty vengeance. Not an unreasonable concern. I pulled a little trickery with the computers and arranged for them to have technically checked but for their room to be off limits until Monday, cementing their arrangement and granting them immunity to any backlash. After doing that, and spending twenty minutes explaining to them what I did and that they would be fine, they offered up profuse thanks and left. I once again returned to my den of linens and spinning things to fold stuff.

3:15ish the phone rings. Noise complaint from the same general area. At this point I would have called the cops if I was following my standard procedure, but I give him some leeway because he's not really a threat, more of an annoyance, and because if he gets arrested who's going to replace me at seven? I head out and it's J, again. While I don't like having to deal with something I've already dealt with thrice tonight it gives me a chance to try out a trick for making drunk people quiet. If you talk to them in a voice just barely softer then normal indoor volume they'll tend to bring their voice down too. I think the contrast embarrasses them into behavior. Anyway I talk him down and he gradually gets the point, but it's hard to keep drunk people quiet and on topic. J's really not a bad guy but at this point he's clearly become an issue and I'm in a weird position. If this were some unknown guest I could bully them down, and if that didn't work I could have them hauled off for drunk and disorderly. I wouldn't feel good about it, but I wouldn't feel that bad either. But I work with this guy. I know him, he's not a bad kid, and I know he doesn't have any malicious intent, but he's causing problems in the hotel, and one of the many things I'm supposed to do is keep order.

I haven't heard anything recently so I assume he's down, but if I have to do this a fourth time I'm going to make it clear that it's the last time I'll be coming out, and the fifth time I'll call the cops, then call my boss and get someone else to come in at seven.

Monday, January 15, 2007


The Burning Crusade has done a lot to a lot of diffrent things, and this close to it's release you can see all kinds of madness breaking out. There's one very simple reason, and I can save you all one thousand words by showing you this.

It's rediculous. How rediculous? It's gotten so bad that has shut down it's order tracker, and replaced it with this.

I've expressed fears before that WoW was too big and may be choking the MMORPG genre. While you may still say that WoW's impact isn't negative, you can no longer dispute it's power

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Damn Straight.

I could give a full page or two of a rant here, but I won't. I could summarize it by saying that people really should just stop worrying about copyrighted content floating around the Internet because it's free publicity and that Sega hasn't mattered since the dream cast did it's whole dragged out hopeless death thing.

However, YTMND, the grand master of summarizing, beat me to it. I warn you, this is NSFW.

Fuck you Sega.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


I'd like to take a moment to lament the loss of valuable prose, and the preservation of innanery. Despite what you may think and despite my history this time I'm not disparaging my society or my peers. This time I'm disparaging myself.

There is a great part of, a part I've only recently stopped fighting, that is indisputably an artist. It is, I think, the reason I will never truly be content, but it is also an inherent part of who I am, and something I would not be without.

There are states of mind I slip in to from time to time which lend some form of inspiration to this otherwise futile drive. The heights of zeal, the depths of depression, the singularity of peace and the multiplicity of peril. These are things I hunger for, the nuanced shades of the palette of emotion, and I am not without these experiences. With the freedom I have in exodus I push myself to these and others sampling the subconscious and subsisting on the surreal.

The problem though is that I push myself to these points, reach the point of actual artistry, and then rarely record any of it. I would prefer that this journal consisted only of entries composed at the highest levels of inspiration, but that is a leisure not afforded to me by the nature of my mortal existence.

Even these melancholic ramblings disappoint me. What's the point? Is this just me whining at nothing again? The answer eludes my immediate grasp and a lethargy that grips me prevents any further attempt to snatch this spark of meaning from the miasma of the sublime. I'm certain that if I could only muster the strength to endure this introspection I would divine something, even if it was nothing more then mere justification, but that introspection would be more of the same, and my weary mind has not the strength to walk any further on the cruel hamster wheel of such philosophies.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

YTMND, again

This posted started because I have to link this. It's madness on a level that I have not seen rivaled anywhere in the vast and sticky reaches of the Internet, or as we natives refer to it "Teh Internets!!!!11!!1!one!!"

There's a lot of good content going through YTMND recently though.

This one is clever, and AFAIK it's the first interactive YTMND.
-The God Machine

Bashing the pope is always good for a few laughs, and between the senility and Der Hitler Eugen Benedict strikes back is a font of comedity.

It's a bit cheap, but that's YTMND's MO, so IMO this is still OK.
-Retreat to your exits...

This one is really quite clever. It's a good example of duality of genius and madness that appeals to me in a pseudo-intellectual/artistic way. It works a lot better with headphones BTW.
-Fun With Pop Music

I'm glad someone finally mocked this commercial. You also may not understand this one, so here's a bit of gaming industry history for you. Kaz hirari, currently president of Sony since he was promoted following the PS3 launch. That, by the way, is a logical paradox that could blow up a robot. Anyway Kaz announced the PS3 price at $599. Apparently he didn't notice how mad people were when they were made to pay $399 for the 360. Since then clips of this announcement have been slammed all over the intrawebs.
-Do you know what it is

The entier sony staff has been a great source of sound bytes recently. You're probably already heard someone, probably me, parroting Kaz and shouting "It's Ridge Racer!!! RRRRRIIIIIIIIIIDGE RACER!!!!!!!" My favorite by far though is from Ken Katuragi, or "Krazy Kenny" who was speaking at... E3 I think. He said, in a perfect "I'm just saying what we all think" kind of way "PS3? Too Cheap! Too Cheap!" I forget whether that was said to derisive laughter or dead silence but either way.

I don't know but it amuses me. I think it also gets bonus points for drawing a corollary between Dean and Godzilla.
-The Cries of Monsters

Clever use of photo shop and mp3s.
-Frank Miller's Sim City

A bit more video game history for you. Has any of you ever played battle? I think it was called battle, it was either that or combat, but it was great. I'm pretty sure it was produced before I was born, but I still think it's a great game, especially because it was one of the first to have competitive multiplayer. It turns out that it's another first as well.
-The First Instance of Spawn Camping

Understand that I play WoW too much, but despite that I'm just barely at the level that would be called Hardcore. Hardcore is only the middle of the spectrum too, there are people who lose jobs, families, and no end of other crucial parts of life to the game, and it's cousins. On that note I will point out that there are places already sold out, and no end of midnight sales planned for Tuesday. Midnight camping for a game that isn't low on supply is something that never occurred to me, but some people are just damned addicted, and as always YTMND sums up the message perfectly.
-WoW Fans

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


So I left work today to find that it had snowed two inches while I was sealed in the dank lair that M$ does their testing in. I went down to the street and took a moment to admire the scene before me. Traffic was so bad-

Studio Audiance: How Bad Was it?

Traffic was so bad I caught the bus. And I don't mean I waited at the stop and got on when it arrived, I mean I headed out on foot and literally caught up to the bus. In the end I didn't take it though because I was traveling somewhere between seven and 10^3 times faster then traffic.

I think Kevin is still on willows. That poor bastard.

Person re-reading this entry days, weeks, even years into the future. Know that despite the time between posting and your reading, Kevin is probably still on Willows. Gods willing he's made it to 90th by now.

There was also an interesting series of events with relation to my job. Before leaving the leads announced that despite weather we'll be running tomorrow. A careful eavesdropper would know that an actual VMC employee, which trumps lead, has heard discussing the cancelation of night shift and probable cancellation of the next days shift. The waters were further muddied by a message I got from Volts reminder bot, which called to tell me my shift is cancelled. I'm going to assume it's cancelled, but call in trapped anyway just in case. The actual employees have no respect for their announcement bot. The whole of these proceedigns were followed by a tallying of emotions at the grand mental council.

We have 1 vote for confusion, is it really cancelled.
We have 3 votes for "Damnit I need the work."
And we have 507 votes for "Allright, now I have an excuse not to go into work tomorrow"

The Pro/Con sheet on the VMC job is so waky. It only breaks even, but it has a few incredibly useful niche pros.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Quick Note, this was written very stream of counciousness so I apologize if I'm rambling. My mind is afire with ideas for this thing so I may rant alot but that's just the enthusiasim spilling out.

Gridstream: Friend or Foe

The operating title has been updated to make the game showcase its key new feature which I’ll tell you about in a minute. This is a quick batch of notes because it’s a bit of insomnia based writing, but chances are I’ll have a bit more insomnia and get around to typing out everything on my notepad.

First key note: Cyberpunk.

The game consists of two key parts. The first part is the Grid. For those of you who’ve read snowcrash, think of The Grid as a new name from that books “The Street.” Those of you who haven’t read snowcrash should think of the Grid as something like The Matrix, only you’re aware it’s there. You exist there as an avatar, and it’s a virtual world. While in The Grid gameplay mode your character has an extremely customizable costume and a wide range of emotes but no combat takes place. This is where all of the social parts of the game take place. I’m thinking of giving each player a small personal area, and potentially adding customizable guildhalls etc. Costume changes, furnishing your personal area/guildhall will cost the in game currency which is currently just called money.

From The Grid players can access The List. The list is in story terms a list of available missions/contracts put out by various organizations. I’ll get into factions later. In game mechanics terms the list is where players get into the quests which are all instanced. If you’ve ever played DDO you know that it works, but DDO is only a partial metaphor to what I’m doing.

The key thing and the one truly original thing I’m doing with this is how missions work. You select a mission, it puts you in the queue, and once the queue has enough people to start it, lets say it’s 14 in this case, the mission goes to the intro screen. At the intro screen the overarching goal of the mission, which will always be in multiple parts, side goals, and a quick overview of the setting are given. If the recourses are available I’d love to do this via video, but more realistically it’ll be an overview map, a few noted features on the map, and a list of goals/side goal and descriptions. At this screen there will also be a chat window and a list of the players who are entering that mission and two columns running alongside that list of names. The columns are Friend and Foe. The briefing screen will stay up for load time + 60 seconds so that players have time to work out alliances. If player A marks player B as friend and player B marks player A as friend they’ll start the mission from the same spawn point and be on a team. Team size is not restricted so potentially the entire group could work together, but by teaming up you reduce the reward you get. It’s never quite as bad as ½ reward from having 2 people, but it’s along the lines of 2/3 the reward from having two people.

The friend/foe system has perks to both sides. If you team you have tactics and numbers to work with, but if you have enemies then you aren’t sharing the experience. Additionally a kill of another player gives XP. I’m certain that some will stay heavily foe simply to have more targets. Lastly there’s a cutthroat bonus if you complete any of the objectives while working solo.

There’s also going to be diminishing returns on player kill XP. The first time is 200% the amount you’d get from killing a monster of their level. Then 180%, the 160, 140, etc. This means that after killing the same person 10 times you no longer gain any XP from them. Another factor that keeps the game objective based and stops it from rolling over into one big death match.

Kill XP, both for killing NPC enemies and for killing other PCs will always pale in comparison to objective completion XP. Bonuses in if your team completes every sub-objective of the main objective, or every side objective, and a large bonus for completing everything on your own.

The mission ends and XP is handed out when all of the main objective are complete. One key note is that you don’t get any XP until the end of it, even kill based XP. This means that if you either abort mission or otherwise leave the game before it’s done you get nothing.

Some missions will require the whole group be one giant team, and at least one will require everyone be foes. Middle ground possible in some.

Actual game play will be very FPS like, but will have RPG elements at its core. Skill tree system, 4 base trees with a 3-2 split, although I may drop the entire melee tree. At the moment I have

-----Light Arms
----- Soldier
---------- Tac-Ops
---------- Artillery
----- Specialist
---------- Covert Ops
---------- Spec-Ops


-Tech Specialist
----------Gadgetry? Idea pending
----------Idea Pending
----------Armor, Name Pending.

----------Infiltrator (alternate name, Ninja)

Some may question who melee will work in an FPS setting, but if you played either Jedi Knight II, or JKIII you’ll know that it works great.

For the ranged classes one of the key abilities you’ll unlock when you go into each tree is simply access to that trees gun. While you won’t get many special abilities in the sense of special attacks, you’ll unlock various maneuvers, side skills, and combat forms. For example when you go into ranged/solider you get access to an assault rifle. More specialized trees bet more specific guns. Ranged/soldier/covert ops gets a sniper rifle, while ranged/light arms/pistollero gets dual pistols at the beginning of its tree, and dual SMGs at the end of it. The same is true of melee. Kensai gets a katana; Aegis and vindicator both fight with a sword and shield, but their shields very. Also Aegis is focused on defensive use of the shield, while vindicator gets more offensive abilities, such as a shield charge and a disarming bash. I’ll go into specific descriptions of each one later.

Advancement through the skill trees is what XP gives you. You can also retrain yourself at any time, switching which abilities you have prepared. If you’ve played The Matrix Online you know what I’m talking about. The level of readied abilities you can have is really the limiting factor. It essentially is your level, and it’s also the way that missions are level restricted. For this mission you can only have X through X+3 abilities prepared. I like this in particular because it means if you have a friend whose lower level then you and you want to play with them you can just ready only as many abilities as they can, then join them in a mission.

Since XP is both the currency you use to unlock new skills and the means by which raise your maximum readied skills you’ll have to backtrack and stop advancing in maximum potential if you want to go learn some other ability. I may make the in game currency the means by which you unlock new skills just to keep the two things separate.

I’m thinking that there also won’t be a level cap. If you played way the hell too much you could eventually unlock and equip every ability. However the cost of raising your maximum readied skills will go up along an exponential curve. The reward size will increase to mitigate this as missions get harder, but the hardest, crazy endgame mission will only allow you to have enough readied abilities to have 3 full tiers worth of abilities.

Some abilities also won’t be combat focused. Ranged/soldier/spec ops will get things like lock picking and a torch for opening sealed doors. If you have Psionics/savant you can spend time and mana slowly moving huge objects through telekinesis. Things like this will be placed in missions, meaning that you can get through everything just by shooting stuff. Combat will still be a large part of the game, but you’re going to need someone with these problem solving skills to get past various things. All of these challenges will have multiple possible solutions though.

Let’s say you have a guarded gate. The guard is in a control room with visual on the gate which is a giant metal thing. If you had ranged/soldier/spec ops you can sneak around, torch the door to the control room, take out the guard and use the control panel to open the door. Someone with Tech/engineer/demolitions could, after neutralizing the guard; plant satchel charges and blow open the gate. Psionics/Savant/Extrovert could exert enough raw telekinetic force to manually open a giant gate. Psionics/Cerebral could mind control the guard into opening the gate for you. Melee/Blade/Infiltrator would also have the necessary tools to break into the guard compound. Psionics/Savant/Introvert could use their psionic abilities to distort gravity and just walk up and over the gate, or jump over it in one massive telekinetically assisted leap.

Another situation, enemies are arming a bomb, one of your objectives is to stop them. You could kill them then use infiltration/demolition/spec ops skills to manually disarm it. An obfuscationist could cause them to be unable to see the bomb preventing them from arming it, a savant could shove the bomb away from them interrupting them, a delusionist could cause them all to enter a state of abject terror or dementia crippling their explosives skills, etc. All kinds of good options me and the theoretical level designers will work on here.

More to come.

Monday, January 08, 2007


One thought occured to me as I was budgeting these next two weeks.

If we're in a money crunch that means we aren't going to be able to buy Burning Crusade!
That should be the least of our concerns right now.
Especially because we already bought it back in August when we thought it was coming out in November.

Well a quick examination of my account will find that I Preordered, but didn't do a full prepay. Basically what this means is that they take $10 then, and the rest of the price whenver they get around to it, which in this case meant Saturday.

Now I've arranged a credit line from my boss based on my next paycheck, so I'm not actually in trouble anymore, but It's always a pain to have fifty bucks you think you had dissapear.

Although, to be honest, I probably would've ended up buying WoW:TBC even if I didn't have the money. I'm pretty sure I could survive on Rice for another week, and I've seen a few rabbits and a deer in the woods behind the house. My wilderness survival skills are what I like to call "Plan C"

Best. Ever.

I think I may have designed the greatest game ever Saturday night. It'll probably never get put into development but I have to post the details of it because it could revolutionize online gaming if it ever got made.

I'll post it later though because it's over 5 pages of notes, and a few diagrams. There's a lot of blanks left to fill but the one that chides me the most right now is the name. While this is by no means final, or an original creation, I'm currently calling it "Gridstream"

Saturday, January 06, 2007


I'd like to preface this by saying that I hold no anger or ill feeling towards Shane for any of this. And that's not just because I don't want to offend my boss. My boss doesn't read this blog, I could say all the offensive stuff I wanted and nothing would come of it.

In my laundry job I feel okay asking almost any question, even if it's something that I should probably know, because I still think of myself as being new to the job. Last night, my first night back, was a monumental night for these. First I'd forgotten how to put a wake up call into the system, then the washer started throwing an odd error. Luckily Shane, the manager, was around. He refreshed me on the arcane workings of the phone system, and knew the number to call to make the maintenance man appear when the washer went out. Everything got done, nothing big, but I did have to get help in places where I was faulted.

It turns out that nobody is above this kind of error. I'm actually the first person Shane has ever hired. This means I'm the one going through the grinder while he learns the ins and outs of the bureaucracy, and I'm okay with that. It also means my paycheck is delayed one cycle.

Those of you who've been playing along at home may take note of the fact that this is the second time it's gotten pushed back a cycle. The first time was my fault, and we're hammering out all the paperwork so I really should get all of my back pay two weeks from now, which is kind of the nature of the problem. I have what will almost certainly be over one thousand dollars coming to me. In two weeks.

This leads us to the thousand dollar question, something I have to ask because I'm far too poor to ask million dollar questions. How do I survive these two weeks. If I get a Volt contract this week I won't get paid for it until two weeks from today anyway. I've run through the list of things I have at my disposal and I'm going to have to do a few unsavory things.

Correction, a few more unsavory things. During this project I've done a lot of things with money that I wouldn't have otherwise done.

I was given a bit of money by each parent before leaving, each charged me with a different task. My father has an ongoing interest in getting psychiatric counseling for me. He funded me and gave me the task of arranging a counseling session. My mother gave me a much more challenging task. She pressed the bills into my hand and said "Spend it Wisely."

I thought a fair amount about what I would do with the latter of these two pools of lucre, but I made all of those thoughts under the assumption that my bellevue check would be in, so now I'm working on the much more immediate wisdom of "getting by" rather then the long term wisdom of wise investment.

I'll almost certainly end up playing the slackers of game of spending now and resupplying later with the counseling money as well. If I were feeling nefarious I'd just say that it took me two weeks to actually arrange the appointment and never mention the financial shufflings, but I'm trying not to lie so much anymore.

I really do hate to talk about money so much, but that's really the key hardship I have in life right now. The key difference in my life since starting Project Exodus is that all of my problems have gone from being abstract intellectual things to immediate financial ones.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Something just occured to me. It's January 3rd. 13 days. It's less then two weeks.

My excitement is sad, but nonetheless real. Azeroth has a painfully strong hold on me.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Quote Refresh

I'm cleaning out my facebook quotes library again. This is what was in there filling it up from 06

The glass was half empty, and I had to fill the rest of it, with liquor
-Jerry "Tycho" Holkins

I make sure to swallow my pride and vodka in equal proportion
-Morgan Webb

As an incredibly violent person, I endeavor to be peaceful and serene.
-Kevin Wilson

having big breasts is a lot like having a flamethrower. It's a bitch to carry around, but the effect it has is devastating.
-Max Willson

It is much like the problem of the centipede. If it relaxes the hundreds of legs will move in perfect unison. but if it thinks about the complexity of task it could crash into a teahouse in a firey wreck and kill everyone.
-Kang The Mad

Blood will flow like wine, then wine will flow like blood. That's MY great circle of life!
-The Black Whirlwind.

My blood cries out for the vengeance of my people's blood, which can only be repaid with at least twice as much blood! Or maybe three times as much blood! Like if you went to hell, and it was full of blood, and that blood was on fire, and it was raining blood, then maybe that would be enough blood! Eh… but probably not.
-Blood Mage, WCIII

When things look bad you can't just give up on the world! ... of warcraft.

The Sky's the Limit-Unkown
Fuck the Sky-Max Willson

Life needs expansion packs. It's all user created content and it all sucks.
-Max Willson

Gabe: Wow, looks like I'm pretty low on the totem pole
Tycho: I think the totem pole would actually come before you.

Marriage is an institution, and a commitment. And it's hard to get out of an institution. Especially once you've been comitted.
-Louis Ramey, I think.

It might never occur to you or me to try selling people the same game they have already bought, it's pretty outside the box thinking. The box in this case is labelled Common Decency.

Remember, always be yourself. Unless you suck.
-Joss Whedon

Don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me
-MALE blood elves in WoW

I sometimes have fantasies about adopting a similar position, but then I am reminded that Brenna would seize my scrotum, tearing off my balls with a quick jerk like an orchestra conductor. She would then kick my balls through the uprights, scoring three points for her team - a team which is made up entirely of angry wives.