Friday, 12 September 2014

Dragon Burnout

Neverwinter's Tyranny of Dragons is giving me some burnout on the daily dragon tasks, though it's mostly my fault for trying to do ALL of them everyday. Advancing the campaign is simply a matter of collecting a handful of different currencies until you have enough to unlock the next tier up, which might be the skirmish or dungeon or bonus keys for either. All that's already open for me, the true killers are the final two boons which each ask for around 100 of the various things to buy the required tomes of knowledge (unless you get lucky and have them drop in the skirmish or dungeon chest). It's easy enough to get 2-4 of the currency items daily. Usually this involves some menial task, a small instanced dungeon and hunting the various dragons. It's that last one that I'm finding annoying with a lot of down time (aka "waiting to have fun").

The five dragons required are open world encounters that spawn every 20 minutes and only hang around for 20 minutes (though realistically they die in less than 10). Getting into an instance with a dragon coming "soon" is often just down to dumb luck due to how the game works. Instances only spawn when the players reach the map limit with new maps getting a fresh 20 minute wait for dragon while instances that "run out" of players just delete themselves so there's no way to determine the time other than arriving at said instance and looking for yourself or relying on the zone chat people who sometimes enjoy trolling folks. It also takes 1.5 minutes before you can switch instances to try again. 

Then you have behavioral issues that come with this (outside the trolls). People ask for dragon times regularly, then get upset when no one gives them times claiming that everyone else is selfish. On the other hand, some people ARE selfish. Getting the good, rare drops from dragons can supposedly only happen when there are less than -x- number of players fighting it. Having a sudden barrage of players coming in means that no one will get -x- equipment so they become vocally annoyed. The same group probably gets annoyed when they run into instances with too few people because while you can survive the dragons with a bit of skill, killing one in the time limit with less than four people would be challenging. If the dragon leaves, no one gets anything.

Need an artifact in game like this I think!

Anyway, I've instead been working again in the Foundry and have finished another quest for people to try out! Might have to hunt it down in the "reviews" or "new" section though. It's another short combat focused quest that you might want to bring some potions to (as per usual). :)

Quest: Coeden
Short Code: NW-DM717BCQ5

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

GI JOE: Rise and Retaliation

This is a double review for the GI JOE movies which I'm putting together for ease of comparison.

In "Rise of the Cobra" an arms dealer with a score to settle sets in motion a spree of violent attacks and general terrorism on the world. Good thing the elite fighting force known as the GI Joes are there to save the day. The plot mainly follows Duke (Channing Tatum) as he first learns about both Cobra (the bad guys) and the Joes, the latter of which he joins after an "intense" training/testing montage. Part of his training involves some super futuristic body armor that for some reason IS ONLY USED BY THE NEW GUYS. What? There's also a shooting test which seems to be pretty tough to pass. The Joes only take the best you see. Guess they had a lull in recruitment at one point since all the non-named Joes can't hit a barn door.

Not as colorful as their cartoon counterparts.

Cobra on the other hand have awesome bullet proof armor and freaking energy weapons. Too bad that the armor only protects them against the weapons of non-named characters. If Snake Eyes decides to shoot them with his desert eagle, or throw a shuriken at them the armor is useless. Actually I'm not sure why the rest of the team was required at all as Snake Eyes pretty much handles everything himself. That said there are good FX, good action sequences (especially from the flashback kid actors), to make it pretty decent entertainment. I give it three bullets out of five.

In "Retaliation", everything takes a downward spiral. Both the Joes and Cobra lost almost all their high tech gear for more standard issue stuff (though there are very nice vehicles added in). The previous Joe team is mostly replaced by new and mostly less interesting characters too (other than Dwayne Johnson's Roadblock), and while Snake Eyes is still around his introduction arc is very off-beat and he is no longer as useful plot wise as he suffers from a repeated theme in this movie where "Ninjas are Stupid". I suppose Cobra's engineers must also be ninja descendants because their major plan has a pretty big design flaw, outside the plot holes that you will be poking at. Not sure what happened to this movie but I give it only one and a half bullets out of five.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Rise of the Zombies

Oh Asylum Productions, you always make ridiculous movies. Basically stealing from almost every plot point in the zombie series "The Walking Dead", this film follows a ragtag group of zombie apocalypse survivors who are looking for a cure to the undead outbreak. Don't expect any explanations though as the zombies in this movie can't decide if they can sprint, jog, walk, stagger, or simply fall over. Sometimes they can scale unbelievable heights, while a few scenes later a wire fence slightly taller than a man can stop them. Some don't even look that zombie like. One even gets scared off by a dog. What?

Hero of the movie (on the right)!

The "heroes" aren't much better, often doing stupid things like saying "clear" when there are zombies sitting in plain view, throwing live grenades at team mates, ignoring doors that are getting breached by the infected and so on. Wait so are they infected or undead? Do only head shots kill them? I said not to ask! All of these and more get left unanswered! :P Acting wise I think only LeVar Burton (whom trekkies might better know as Geordi La Forge) is the only passable one. Even title actor Danny Trejo seems like he's just there for the paycheck.

There's little gore (not enough to save it) and the ending is somewhat anti-climatic. As much as I like Danny Trejo I'm afraid I can only give this movie one bullet out of five. One bullet, right in the head.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Sunshine (and Death)

The sun is dying. The only way to save the world is to send a bomb into it to make a new star out of an old one (um, I would think that might vaporize a few planets but future science knows better!), so the movie picks up with the second and final (due to the first mysteriously failing and a lack of resources for a third bomb) vessel and its handful of crew going in to attempt this important mission. *thumbs up*

What could go wrong?

It's a very interesting premise, and in general all the characters are quite well portrayed and relatable. The effects are awesome too, which is good for a space focused movie. Now what I didn't like about it was how the final arc was shot. Earlier on the movie begins introducing flashes of still pictures into traveling shots and for a time they work well in what they are supposed to do - make you on edge and be thinking "what was that". The last part they use some of this again this time freezing the actual scene that's taking place for... more impact? Not so good. Either that or my DVD decided to stutter at just the right moments. :P

Despite that, Sunshine is a movie I can recommend, and give it three and a half solar flares out of five. Warning, the rest of the post deviates into real life.

For me, one of the more interesting questions posed in the movie is that of death. Do you just quietly go out into the night or do you rage against the forces of fate for at every inch? If your life was in someone else's hands, what would you want them to do? Documentary makers don't interfere when wildlife kill each other. Do they do the same if its a documentary about people? As some of you might know, my father suffered a massive stroke at the end of last year to the extent that he was there on the brink, half his body paralyzed and no longer eating food. Most of the medical staff we talked to suggested we just "make him comfortable".

It was interesting to see the reactions of my quite large family. A cousin tearfully admitted that if he were in the same place, to end his life. I, on the other hand, want to live forever even if it's just my brain left for infinite resuscitation. Many of the others were half/half, until they found out that "make him comfortable" translates to drug him up and don't feed him anything anymore. In my book that isn't "letting go", that's murder. The others agreed so we shoved a tube down his nose to force feed him, and a few days later he was awake, lucid, and managing to eat. 

Was that the right decision? Maybe it would have been easier to let him die? Then my mom wouldn't need to be visiting him everyday. She wouldn't have all those other expenses. With half a body, dad can't do the things he used to enjoy: carpentry, photography, dancing, jogging. He can't even go back to his own house since it's not access friendly and currently lives in the nursing home.

What is the right decision? I guess it varies from person to person and situation to situation. For me at least, I know what my answer is and I doubt it will ever change no matter how selfish it might seem. Yes living is hard, but as the saying goes "Where there is life there's hope."

He has since moved from very thickened liquids to purees to pretty much regular food. From being stuck in various beds, physiotherapy has improved his core enough to be able to sit in a wheelchair (still needs a lot of help to stand). A few days ago we managed to take him to the mall and eat out with other family members at the local Yum Cha where he was happily sharing jokes and feeding himself with his one good hand.

Don't ever quit on life.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Today I Smiled: Survived Blaugust!

[Post #32 of the Blaugust Challenge! :P]

Huzzah! It's with some pride and relief that Blaugust is over, and that I managed to meet this years brief (at least I think I did!). The bonus "about you" segments were becoming killers. Obviously daily posting is not for everyone as some burned out on the way or were about to burn out. Apart from that during the course of the event I certainly removed less blogs from my list over there, as most people were not only posting within a month but within a week! Hopefully that continues.

What's next for me? Well, daily posting is draining for me so I think I'll be taking a break tomorrow and then going back to my more relaxed 2-3 days per post. Might post more movie reviews as they've become quite fun to do but I'll try throw in more real life stuff too - and of course get back to gaming related topics. Also now's a good time to answer a question Rowan asked during Blaugust - "Why did you title your blog what you did? Do you think the name still fits?"

I named it the JVT Workshop because it's supposed to remind me to actually make and showcase my stuff! As the final Blaugust Bonus for my readers is that JVT are my initials, if you haven't actually guessed it after all this time. Does it still fit? Well, other than making noise via posts (and my NWO foundry creations) not really because I'm slacking off too much. At the beginning I even hand drew the images for each post. That obviously stopped a long while back because it was simply easier that way. Maybe I need to try get back on that horse.

For now though, let us all celebrate with the musical stylings of Pipe Guy!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Anti-Scam Tip

[Post #31 of the Blaugust Challenge!]

No blaugust bonus today since it's about real life anyway.

I was recently contacted on Facebook by an old schoolmate who lives overseas. She was asking for any amount of money to help her sick child since she was in a difficult financial position. I replied, asking what was wrong with the kid and what she told me sounded worrying but at least not life threatening. She was also very thankful for any help I could give her and provided me with her address and details. She also mentioned that the fastest way of getting support was through Western Union, which I know a bunch of people use but since I never have I decided to look up reviews of it in google. Hmm, apart from the possibility of extra hidden fees it sounded like they more or less always got the money to where  you wanted it to go. What they didn't do is ever take it back if you sent it to a wrong person or purchased a dodgy item for example.

Interesting. Next step was to look up my schoolmate. I found her twitter pretty easily. One of her latest posts read as "Don't know what happened to my account. I was only informed about the problem today." Hmm, possible security flag? To be on the safe side, I decided to get a simple verification check from her - one that would prove she wasn't a hacked account. I request for a current photo of the person holding up today's newspaper, where I can clearly see her face and the date and front page articles. The next step would be to check and make sure that whatever newspaper was depicted -actually- had a front page that looked like that.

She replied saying she didn't have a webcam right now and instead told me of memories from our younger years. Memories I don't remember (because I have a bad memory). Memories that could have been shared to others. I politely asked again for the picture proof before I sent anything. It's been eight days now and I haven't heard back. Maybe I'm just being paranoid, but I didn't think it was an overly difficult test to pass.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Captain Phillips

[Post #30 of the Blaugust Challenge!]

A movie based on the real life hijacking of the Maersk Alabama, Tom Hanks stars as the clever captain of that ship which begins the morning before it set sails from port. It is quite interesting to see the countermeasures used by the unarmed container ship when a handful of pirates decide to try capture it for ransom, and the shifting of focus between the pirates and their prey makes for a pretty tense and exciting film. Can't really give away more than that as it might take away from the experience for you. While Tom Hanks does his "captaining" very well, everyone else does a decent job in the acting department (pirates included). Also funny to learn that pirates get their crew via ye old school yard pick.

Tom Hanks wishes he had one of those guns right about now.

That said there are some changes I'd like to see which I think would make the movie better. The first part at the beginning before Tom Hanks reaches the docks could have been chopped. Some other people in the later part of the movie traveling from point A to point B footage could also be removed and replaced with "they arrived". Lastly I would have liked to see the part where the US NAVY goes in and brutally kills every single pirate, their families, friends and pets at the "pirate base". 

Unfortunately that doesn't happen in real life either so I guess it's too much of a stretch. At least it looks like the Maersk Line learned their lesson and began employing security personnel on their ships. There are so many parts in the movie where I was saying out loud about the difference one or two armed dudes would make.

Anyway, before I get carried away further into real life vs movie life I'd better score this, and since I believe it is one that many people would enjoy I give it three and a half bullets out of five.

Blaugust Bonus: Writing Prompt time! "Do you collect in game pets? Various games have turned this into a mini game but are you a pet collector? If so why? If not why as well?" Yes and no, depending on the game. More on the no side though. There are three main barriers to pet collection for me. First, are they useful? If it's just a display item that you can get easily or by paying money then that holds no interest to me. An example for exception to this would be mini-Liadri in Guildwars 2, who while only being a "trophy" is one that I felt to be earned.

The second barrier is longetivity. If I need to take care of pets by any means other than occasionally healing it then it is too much of a hassle. Having to learn veterinary skills in UO for example (I think that combo was healing, taming, animal lore and anatomy) to maintain a viable ally was just not in my character. So, yes I had my mount and a random pack of critters for a short time, but it became too annoying to replace the pack as they died so I eventually dropped them altogether.

The last barrier is cost. If it costs real money then I don't buy it. Mabinogi is a huge exception for me here though as the pets are cheap, some freely earned, very useful (you can play AS the pet) and perhaps most importantly CUTE OVERLOAD. I don't classify as a collector though, as there are many I skip. My initial plan was just to get something to help me fight, followed by transportation. I sort of earned quite a few more in the process... cough. My current barn consists of: a mini bear, a thunderbird, a black unicorn, a giant eagle, a thoroughbred horse, a cobra, a thunder dragon, three flamemares, an armored pegasus and four bulls. Don't mock the bovines, I used them to help me defeat one of the goddesses in the game!