C&C 3 Demo out

http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/30538

Holy crap, this is so C&C it hurts, hurts so good. Plays more on the Red Alert 2 side then Tiberium Sun side (thank god for that) and is just a ton of fast paced super awesome fun. Looks great, runs great on my modest rig and just… wow.

Easting, you may have to power level yourself tonight :) Laccy, I can hear the bags forming under your eyes ;)

Tea, Earl Grey, Hot.

We’ve been drinking the same ol’ Folgers Columbian coffee for 4 years now, and for some reason I was sparked by a little trip down memory lane to buy my own Flavia machine, the “personal” model.

Flavia uses these dinky little pouches with a little valve at the top. It superheats some water, injects it into the little pouch bringing out the flavor (and caffeine) of the drink and causing the bottom of the pouch to open. Then it flushes more water through the pouch to fill the cup.

It produces fantastic aromas and the drinks are superb. Its a little on the stingy side – a dial on the machine goes from a strong 8oz drink to a weak 12oz drink. But there’s a fairly wide variety too.

At a cost of about 45c per pouch it’s not exactly cheap, but it’s been a little moment of excitement for atleast three of us today (Killer, Animal, myself; not sure if anyone else was as pleased with this little novelty).

It was fun discovering that if you get a beverage machine to brew you a personal cup of hot drink and you take a sip out of it without waiting, the drink invariably tastes of burned-tounge. The first round of drinks were a little bit of a dissapointment – they all tasted watery. Then we worked out that you need to give the drink a minute to do the brownian motion thing (or a good, vigorous stir) and the drinks are really very pleasant.

Makes a very nice cup of Earl Grey – it actually tastes of bergamot rather than bergamot flavor.

Buying innovation: Microsoft’s disease

http://scobleizer.com/2007/02/23/microsoft-has-no-innovators-dillema/

Scoble seems to think that Microsoft isn’t doing interesting stuff. I usually enjoy reading Scobleizer, but I shuddered reading this post: Visions of MS employees, bored with the progress of their current ailing projects, turning to the Deep Pockets and saying “hey, this is fun, this would up our share value, please buy this project”.

That’s not how it works – not in the long term. Microsoft is full of dead projects exactly because of that sort of thinking. Buying companies isn’t innovation, though apparently Scoble confuses the two. Infact, its usually proven to be the death of innovation.

Scoble’s flaw here is that he appears to have come to believe that MS makes great software, when the reality is that MS has mostly bought great software and then destroyed it while trying to work out how to make it part of what they already have. Past MS-people tired of just making operating systems and business software and started to cast bored, deathray-vision, glances around peripheral markets. “Look ma Gates, these guys made a thingy – that looks like fun, can we have it?”

Microsoft buying technologies it didn’t innovate is become like a 600lb woman describing how she plans to “leverage” a Segway to assist her in her transportation needs…

Selah

We’ve had a long, long meeting today pounding on some of the problems with the current TOE implementation which, frankly, is not far off being amateur hour (this is my own work I’m talking about) It’s taken stepping back and saying “ok, this isn’t working” for me to see the forest for the trees, and today’s meeting was about filling in blanks in the design spec, eliminating redundancies, waffle and concreting the parts we know we really want.

Each step of this design sets out another series of steps we want to take. One of the big concerns for TOEs is, as I’ve mentioned before, support brigades: Right now you can join any army brigade and spawn troops at any air or naval brigade to “support them”. This is critical functionality, and there are several obvious options – but none of those options are practical without major coding ground work. And we already know we’re not in a position where players will accept more “ground work” patches. Especially not patches that are almost entirely “under the hood” with a hood you can’t yet see.

Other issues are related to movement, timers, relocation of spawn lists, fallback, hold at all costs.

With the things we’ve learned from TOEs across the last few months, a much cleaner design has emerged. Rather than throwing away fallback and hold at all costs, we recovered the reasons those features were added. HAAC is a great communication tool, and we want to retain that functionality; its also a great camp-counter function, we definitely want to keep that functionality for now. The addition of fallback was driven by several factors, all of which still apply, we just failed on the delivery: we still need a way for an OIC/commander to decide to surrender a town to allow him/her to open up the firebases to a battle.

We managed to move some of the features into postscripts – such as the “rearguard”/”vanguard” system that splits the movement of a supply list between towns into a two part thing. We also tabled [U.S. definition] the concept of supply list status tracking because it adds a complexity to the supply systems that I just can’t pull out of my ass; it needs a bunch of experimental/validation time for me to design how its going to work in a fashion that scales to the size of our world.

We’re meeting again Thursday to review my technical spec for proceeding and determine how long I have to deliver the resulting system.

Bedford – the land the restaurants forgot

I gotta get myself a driver’s license. Bedford sucks for restaurants and there are so few places around here that deliver. There are a few delivery services in Fort Worth and Dallas that offer menus from various restaurants, but so far not a one delivers to Bedford, or even H-E-B.

What makes it even worse is the number of places that sites like Yellow Pages’ Switchboard list as delivery but they actually mean ‘drive thru’.

Pretty graphs

While I’ve been trying to dig the TOE systems out of a marianis trench of functionality, I still have other host responsibilities to try and tend to. In part, I’m still overcoming the lack and fear of tools that existed here when I started.

Next EQ2 Expansion

EoF has been a fairly successful expansion, so pundits have already been speculating for a while now on what the next expansion will be.

One set of evidence points towards the introduction of planar content – changes to Ferrott reintroducing the fear portal surrounded by a number of fear mobs. I like to think that there are indicators of Sony building up to the opening of the “ruined” druid rings so that portage becomes easier.

EoF would appear to have been a success – at the very least, most people appear to like the expansion content – excepting the faeries and lesser faydark (aka totally gayerdark). Someone seriously misunderstood when they were told ‘like gfay but with more spunk’. That leaves the world a little “good” biased – Kelethin is a hell of a lot nicer as a home city than Freeport or Qeynos. And one of the best citys so far, IMHO.

An evil city might be a good bet for a next expansion and it seems Sony have moved to trademark a new Kunark name. Some people really liked the Kunark expansion of EQ1, but I honestly don’t think it was the best, and I have no special attachment to Kunark – I’d sooner see Velious again. Kunark, however, has some of the least “shoeboxy” of the zones, it had some feel of a continent to it; Velious less so. I seem to recall Luclin being absolutely horrible for it.

The trouble with a Planar expansion is that the lore than changes the face of Norrath doesn’t neccessarily apply to the planes, so presumably they’d be very similar to the EQ1 versions, and how will players receive that?

If SoE are going with Kunark, I wonder if a one-zone Cabilis is in the works. We already have lizardmen, so potentially there might not be a new race; on the other hand, we could always populate Cabalis with undead avatars of EQ1 characters ;)

The Sigiltrix

Many people have wondered about the story behind how Vanguard wound up departing Microsoft for Sony – especially given the Sony-hate that Sigil had fomented in its community.

I’ve always had this mental image, like a cross between the opening sequence of BattleStar Galactica and The Interrogation sequence in the Matrix, with Brad, in a pristine armani suit, carrying a brifecase, walking into a sterile, bright white Microsoft Accounting Space with men in black suits with titanium quills. He hands over the paperwork in the suitcase and they being poring over it, occasionally pressing their ear-studs against their heads and glancing between one another. Then they begin asking questions, until…

Sony, sell me some gold!

I found myself beleaguredly browsing the market for Fury equipment on Befallen. My little coin purse had but 1 (one) shiny platinum coin, 183 gold coins and enough silver/copper to root our Necro to the ground beyond recovery.

It hit me today, like a lightning bolt: Most of my equipment and gear comes from the broker. I’m already conditioned to “buy” my gear rather than achieve it. And, personally, I gain no sense of achievement from putting myself through gruelling hoops to get the virtual money  in order to buy items and spells that seem to refuse to drop for me. I already do that for 8-14 hours a day, and I’m telling ya, the coin rate on those 8-14 hours is actually way more fun than the coin rate in EQ2.

So here’s my suggestion: SoE should choose a few servers and mark them for Coin Purchasable. Any coin that is purchased from SoE is kept separately (as “Tainted Coin”) from regular coin, although they can be mixed when purchasing. However: Anything that a player purchases with Tainted Coin is automatically marked as No Trade (to stop RMT farmers profiteering off items bought for cash).

I know some people will be writhing in their seats at the thought that they will work hard to get an Umber Urn of Ubuntu from Urg the Ulmighty while some jackass just comes in and buys it off the broker with plat he bought from Sony.

But honestly, go back to sucking your thumb: it was already saleable in-game – someone was going to buy it. The difference was that until now that someone was always going to be some obnoxious camping/gold-farming sumbitch, or just some lucky necro who always seems to get the phat lewtz and so is disgustingly in-game rich, and rich off your back too.

So, c’mon Sony, sell me some gold.

Guess that’ll show me

I think Jeff Freeman finally connected ‘kfsone’ with some of my old, SWG-beta comments. It’s the only reason I can think why the worlds leading MMO development blog would have done this to me:

jban.png

I don’t usually agree with what Jeff has to say in the part of the page blocked by the pop-up anyway, although I do miss the ability to scroll up/down.

Just doing my bit, Jeff. Sorry for pilfering, Scott.