Anthem VIP Demo weekend

vlcsnap-2019-01-27-15h09m18s601Okay, quick trip report before I leave for work.

It’s like playing Mass Effect in an Iron Man suit. This is a compliment.

The lack of a npc squad typical in BioWare games was mitigated by having people on comms with you. So the precious “squad banter” is still there.

It is easier to solo than I expected (can’t do public multiplayer with the kids without being that AFK asshole all the time) but not easy enough to feel like they want me to play that way at all. It could be manageable, further data is required.

The story/world is intriguing, and the demo weekend has brought me from “I have zero interest in this game” to “I will probably pick this up when it’s on sale or I finally get through my Red Dead/Assassin’s Creed/etc backlog.” Didn’t expect that, but I also can’t help but give a BioWare game a chance.

Yes launch day for the demo was an large mess thanks to the new bugs, multiple of which are client-side which is hard to justify patching on a 56-hour demo when there’s another demo weekend in five days. It’ll be interesting to see if any new ones pop up next weekend.


Discovering Qualms

I have been accused of hate-watching Star Trek Discovery, and as much as I’d like to deny it that’s probably accurate. I love the actors and the clear skill of so much of the cast and crew. I can’t stand the writing and the narrative choices, especially in the last two episodes, and I cannot abide the clear breaks in canon. I’ve been having trouble with accepting that clearly since so many people disagree with me that the things I can’t stand aren’t broken but are just signs that this just isn’t for me, and that the fact that STD isn’t for me doesn’t invalidate anything else about Star Trek or “ruining my childhood” as it goes. And then there’s today.

I guess the argument “What I don’t like about discovery doesn’t damage what I like about other Star Treks” just died horribly.

The timing of this stinks of CBS trying to add more subscribers by launching this along side the next season of STD, seeing as the DS9 expansion Victory is Life is less than two months old and was only just released on consoles two days ago. We’ve had far less new content with the new expansion compared to others, but that ignores all the hard work the STO team did revamping existing content for the expansion. I’m still not happy about it, but this announcement is also thanks to a leak. This was supposed to be announced at the next big Star Trek convention, and while that might have only been another week away, it still would’ve made it a different week than the console launch of Victory is Life. My biggest issue with it is definitely that there was a crunch for the VIL PC release, with several aspects of the DS9 model & map revamp not guaranteed to launch if they weren’t finished on time. All I can think is if CBS didn’t want this Discovery content while the show was “airing” then the STO team could’ve taken their time with the DS9 sets and not had to worry about “If Ops isn’t finished in time we’ll just have to not put it in.”

So, aside from crowding freshly-released content and potentially making the dev team’s schedules unpleasant, why must I care (especially negatively) that this content is being added to the game? To me Discovery just doesn’t mesh with anything around it in a way that wouldn’t bother me nearly as much if it was its own universe AS IT SHOULD BE versus something that “definitely happened in the same timeline as the original series and the other shows.” I think that would fix almost everything I don’t like about the show (the Klingons bowing to a new ruler who will detonate the planet otherwise still doesn’t compute, but whatevs). It gives the freedom to change both the Federation and the Klingon’s cultural designs because they don’t have to line up with anything else. Starfleet’s court martials looking more like courts on Cardassia or in the Klingon Empire could also be explained away easier. I think you’d still have trouble getting all of Starfleet to agree that going Death Star on Qo’nos would be plausible, but getting ONE admiral to decide it’s a good idea isn’t hard.

Fucking hell, I just realized why “The Battle of the Binary Stars” bothers me so much as a title in-universe… BECAUSE ABOUT 85% OF STAR SYSTEMS HAVE TWO OR MORE STARS. Jesus Fucking Christ. Also this is a great example of what I don’t like about Discovery, where established science and canon are ignored because they think something is cool. And that is EXACTLY the vibe I got from the season 2 trailer. I feel I can definitely argue that some of these things are not okay and need to be course-corrected, and therefore the writing may not be objectively bad as I feel, but it’s definitely screwing up in at least a few places.

The biggest strength of Star Trek Online has always been tying everything together. And I would describe this as the biggest weakness of the STD team (not within their own story, but to the greater whole). This honestly means that the STD content for Star Trek Online will probably be the best Discovery content that will ever exist in my book, but I’m worried about how much of the STD team’s work they will have to use and how they will have to incorporate said work into the greater whole. It’s like trying to reconcile George Lucas’s fifth and final version of the Original Star Wars Trilogy with their theatrical releases #hanshotfirst. I look forward to seeing what the STO team does, but I’m worried what CBS and the STD team might have forced upon them.


Taking a break

I’ve been depressed most of this week, and no matter what headway I made to deal with it the news has been an unending torrent of malicious human misery with severe Nazi deja vu. And now ICE. I need to unplug and hide in a hole. And if everyone wants to go to DC and drag Trump and the GOP out of their offices and throw them in prison I’m good with that.

Coffee Break Log 1

Forever ago I started a blog post about being on leave from work. I worked on it a little for about a week before it was clear the kids were NOT going to let me spend any time at all dealing with it while they were awake, which frankly proved what I’d written up to that point was mostly lies. So much for chronicling my time off.

This coffee tastes like ass. I guess that expiration date on the bottom does matter. This box is nine months past date, but I also think it’s the only expired coffee in the cabinet. That’s what I’m going to keep telling myself until it’s gone anyway, and then I’ll double check the rest of them. With 2-8oz cups a day I just have to get through four more drinking this caffeinated battery acid. One of the “joys” of not working.

In reality, I’m not working any less, but now it’s all unpaid housework/childcare. However this does mean that all my energy is being poured into this instead of throwing 20-25 hours of SBUX work on top of it. I’m getting no extra rest what with one kid too smart for his own good and determined not to toilet-train, and the other teething, again. But it’s amazing how much a difference having time to keep up with housework makes. Also we actually watched a fucking hockey game. I can’t remember the last time I pulled that off.

I’ve also found I have far more brainpower available to actually problem solve at home. I actually have IDEAS on how to fix frequent problems. This past weekend my dad and I finally designed the access door/panel for the furnace in the attic and built the first “good-enough-for-now” version. I’ll need to reassess how it’s working before I finalize the hardware.IMG_7947.JPG

And that’s as far as I got. I’ll note that was not the only box of expired coffee, but it was the only one anywhere near that far gone. It had gotten buried after PAX last year and forgotten until a few days before I started writing this post… four months ago. I don’t think I’ve had coffee more than six weeks past the date on the box since then, and some of them didn’t taste as good fast enough to notice, but certainly no battery acid after that first batch. Since this post, I got the storage units in the attic finished (on the inside anyway), and between those and the access panel/wood I’ve noticed a huge difference in the attic temperature versus the outside. I guess that expensive insulation was worth it.

I used to need time off from work to recharge and just feel better about life, as people do in general. After four months of just having to parent, I think I feel as rested as about one week off from work before the kids would feel. That sucks, but hey it’s more than I’ve had in over three years, so it’s something. And hey, maybe with the backlog cleared I can actually start writing in here again. I’ve got a few different posts I can probably catch up with shortly now that I don’t have those DRAFT files taking up brainpower. But I should’ve been in bed 4 hours ago, which in itself is a story for another time.

Draft Archive: “Times Past”

I have no idea why this wasn’t posted back when I wrote it years ago, and I need to schedule another of the events that inspired it ASAP.

We’ve reached the time in our lives where we find ourselves going to weddings and baby showers left and right, and begrudgingly admitting “hey, I guess we’re really adults now.” People I’ve known for as much as TWENTY-FIVE years are getting married. It’s a hard thing to wrap your head around, a quarter of a century knowing someone.

Naturally in that time lots of things change. Interests, politics, religion… and while some people you stay friends with through the decades, others fall away. Time has a way of sneaking up on us and a great deal of it can pass since we really knew someone. We go our separate ways intentionally or by circumstance, with a bang or a whimper. And before we know it, years have passed since we last saw someone.

Then I’m reminded that through it all while others have come and gone, there have been constants. Our lives have gone in such different directions and we’ve all left home on different vectors. Different schedules and long-ish drives prevent frequent gatherings, but one thing will always bring us together.

License to Kill, Throwing Knives.

Draft Archive: “Food Poisoning FTW”

Oh look this one is over two years old. I’m pretty sure this was supposed to become a more scathing criticism of the US health care system in general, considering how long we were paying bills for the fact that Liam was born at all. It’s amusing that in this story Bunny was pregnant and I think we noticed a few days later. Also I wish the kids would sit in the stroller long enough to do this walk with the dog again.

Sunday is the day where Bunny and I are both home from work. It’s a day to buy things we need to survive as well as catch up on things that need to happen around the house. In an attempt to give Bunny some free time to do her own thing, this past Sunday I took Liam and the dog out for a 3-mile walk. It’s a walk I used to do with the dog all the time and rarely if ever have the chance to these days. It was a nice walk and despite Liam’s best attempts we didn’t lose any of his belongings on the excursion. Upon returning home Bunny had accomplished something she’d been trying to do all week, and both kid and dog went down for naps. It was time for a late lunch.

Lunch did not go down so well, which became increasingly apparent over time. After lying down on the couch for hours I tried to go upstairs to use the bathroom. By the time I’d sat down I knew the battle had been lost, and the prisoner that was my lunch was about to make a jailbreak. That was about as fun as it usually is. However at one point there was fairly clear evidence of blood amid the chaos, and it was time to go to the ER to make sure nothing else was wrong.

Three hours and two tests later food poisoning is definitely the culprit and not the stomach flu the hospital is seeing A LOT OF and my brother is apparently coming down with at this same moment. We get anti-nausea meds and go to leave, where I’m asked if I want to pay the copay now or get a bill. Having just the night before made an emergency hardware purchase, I truthfully say I don’t know what’s in my bank account right now and to send me a bill.

I currently have the highest tier medical insurance offered by my employer, and I know last night will cost me $100 for just showing up. Then there will be (at least) two tests, two bags of IV fluid and two IV doses of the anti-nausea med they sent me home with. I expect the bill to be around $500-700. Seriously, fuck health care in this country.

The bill was something like $800. Stupid blood in my vomit from my throat being irritated.

Draft Archive: “From my cold, dead hands”

Having trouble sleeping, I figured I’d clean out some drafts. Most of it is half-finished posts long past their relevance and can just be discarded. This one is unfortunately likely to be relevant for quite some time.

Another day, another shooting. Another AR-15 purchased legally by someone who really shouldn’t have been able to legally purchase a firearm. Oh great, this one happens to be a Muslim. Now it’s “terrorism.” Mass shootings are always terrorism, but not in the way the term is used by the media. Homophobia is not remotely an Islamic trait when you look around. Christians are really good at it, especially in this country. Look no further than the pray-away-the-gay initiatives that were only just banned [and sadly aren’t banned everywhere]. 

Terrorists come in all shapes and sizes and corners of the world. But we like to label Christian terrorists as mentally ill or mad gunmen. We don’t demand white dudes condemn the actions of murderers in their ranks, and we have no business lumping in Muslims with ISIS and Al Qaeda. The phrase “radical Islamic terror” is designed to equate Islam and terrorism worldwide by cowards trying to score political points, as the politics of hate are powerful. After all, that’s how those terrorist organizations tend to get recruits. When it’s worked so well here to divide us, we really shouldn’t be surprised others are using it too. Sure, it’s a time-honored practice, but as long as we continue to demonize and otherize those who disagree with us, nothing is going to change.

Islamaphobia aside, let’s look at the real issue for a damn minute. Mother fucking GUNS. The pillars of our society are the crown, the church, and the gun. There’s something very fucking wrong with that. Guns are so ridiculously American that when I wanted to watch a movie today that didn’t have any guns in it I had very little to choose from. Presidential candidates tweeted pictures of their guns to try and win votes.

The NRA has made it near impossible to get any common sense laws passed. Gun control, like global warming before it, has become a dirty word. Class warfare. There’s a way to make any sensible idea sound like a sign of the apocalypse.

A very long time ago when the laws of the country were first being written, people wanted state militias to exist to keep the government honest. Armed rebellion was literally left on the table, just in case. For the record, the Civil War (regardless of SLAVERY being what they thought was worth doing this over) pretty conclusively proved why this was a bad idea, but let’s stay on track. For the first 75 years our country existed firearms didn’t get terribly more sophisticated. They were good for hunting, and in battle they were deadly, but slow and inaccurate, coming with blades attached to them because you couldn’t possibly hope to reload in close combat.

Today, guns are entirely different beasts. Pistols, semi-automatics, full automatics, and machine guns. All of these would decimate a force using revolutionary weapons [Go ahead and watch season 2 of Westworld for examples]. One person should not have the power to kill hundreds. Now, what are legitimate uses of guns? Self defense? Maybe. Law enforcement? As legit as self defense is at least. Hunting? Definitely. Next, which weapons are appropriate for these uses? Handguns and/or hunting rifles are legit for self defense and hunting. It’s absurd to make anything more powerful available to the common citizen.

What about armed insurrection? Don’t we need to be able to buy what the military uses to defend ourselves, just in case? When is the last time you saw the Defense Department’s budget? We like to boast about being the best at everything, but if our budget is any indication, then we have the greatest military on the planet. And the citizens of the U.S. Would have Zero Chance in an armed conflict against the military.

That’s as far as I got. The odds are another mass shooting happened before I could finish this and I didn’t have the stomach for it. The Onion also really has it covered with it’s “‘No Way to Prevent this’ says Only Nation Where this Regularly Happens”. So that doesn’t leave much to say really, other than gun laws in this country are royally fucked, and our inability to do anything about it is killing us.