Playing the E:D Premium Beta

June 26, 2014 Leave a comment

I’ve been an Elite fan for a long time, so naturally I backed the kick starter.

Since I’m in the middle of seeking new employment, I’m not getting a great deal of time to play, but you may see me flying around as ‘kfsone’ if you too are trying to beta.


Categories: Gaming Tags: ,

And now for something completely similar.

May 18, 2014 1 comment

So I’m back on the job market. Lots of ideas and inspiration from my time at Blizzard, a really great place to work. No, I won’t tell you. I already have a few job apps out, and I’m trying to stick to the US west coast and gaming.

I’ve been in the games industry proper for near 12 years now, and while that’s where I’m going to look first, I’m going to be open to possibilities back in the real world.

Right now I’m toying with the idea of a C++-centric code templator I’m thinking of calling “C[]” (C-squared); something that can handle trivial cases like “take this list of words and generate an enum statement and an array of strings” to the ability to generate multiple complex code modules from shared definitions.
Read more…

Categories: Coding Tags: ,


December 1, 2013 Leave a comment

Still trying to rescue one of my virtual machines on my ESXi 5.5 blade that I erroneously upgraded to 5.5 virtual hardware (which prevents you from using the vSphere client to edit settings any more). I finally got an evaluation vCenter running, only to find: you can’t use vCenter to manage a free ESXi host. Even if you pay $6k for vCenter, it can’t manage a free vSphere host.

Read more…

VMware: We’ll take your money, look – a dog!

November 30, 2013 1 comment

I continue to be impressed at just how customer-hostile VMWare manage to be.

Step 1: Give all products vague and conflicting names (VMware vCenter Server requires VMware vSphere Client to access),
Step 2: Make every feature a product rather than having products with licensable features, because that was cool in 1995, damnit,
Step 3: Instead of hiring copy/technical writers for your web site, make instructional videos that are approximately related to something vaguely within a a page or two of of the link you clicked on.

I just watched what appeared to be the “omg you want this” promo for vCenter, and it was all about how the client is now web-based which can now do a search, and you can do other stuff while it searches and go back to the search. Seriously, the entire video was in the context of “sure, there’s other stuff to click, but look – we can go back to our search!”

What brought this on? I have an old SuperMicro server blade that hosts my Ubuntu apt-cache and Windows server, and I thought I’d try upgrading my ESXi from 5.0 to something newer. Even though the blade has stock e1000s, when I upgrade to 5.1 or 5.5, they kinda quit working, and you have to dig down into VMware forums to find a link that basically says “force it to reinstall the 5.0 drivers using magic shenanigans”.

Then I got shanghai’d with 5.5 – it’s still free but they’re cutting off access to the “vSphere Client” you use to manage it, and I upgraded the “virtual hardware” on one of my machines, It paused for a while so I went to click again, exactly as a dialog appeared with the “OK” button directly under my mouse.

This was presumably the dialog that was mean’t to warn me that upgrading the virtual hardware would lock me in to requiring vCenter Server to change settings on the server in future.

And now that server won’t boot because the mac address conflicts with something. So I wanted to install the vCenter Server trial, I think. So I follow the link that the old vSphere client provides and … I have no damn clue what this is that I’m installing.

The website is just a mess. It’s harder to shop for a specific product than it is to find a decent Windows 8 tablet (ka-ching).

Well played, VMware, well played. I’ve left your site feeling dazed and confused and with a strong desire to buy shares in Microsoft…


Finished ACIV: Black Flag

November 28, 2013 Leave a comment

I’m left confused, annoyed, angry and also confused.

In a nutshell: They took what they’d developed in previous games, streamlined it to make room for scope (more side games etc) and shipped a game which did nothing really well.

The game spends more time tipping it’s hat than a fez-wearing Doctor Who bobble head, as a result, none of the side collections were engaging and the overall story line was very shallow and lackluster, the plot is it’s own synopsis.

During my play through, all kinds of things bothered me about the game as an experienced developer; it smacked of too-many-cooks and too-many-new-recipes. So when I finished the story, I let the end-credits run. Oh. My. Goodness. What is that – 8 minutes? 10 minutes? Of steady scroll?

It’s not the run time of the credits but the sheer headcount. Firstly it makes it much, much harder to deliver a cohesive story across all the little details when you have so many people. The bigger problem is the amount of time that must have been spent in meetings.

Why did they need so many people? Localization for one part, but also because they broadened the scope of the game. My personal take is that they were unsuccessful: you don’t get to say “I made an omelette” just because you put 12 eggs into a pan and applied heat.

From a gameplay perspective, the first AC game was tedious and bland, dull, repetitive. It was the story telling that sold it. ACIV’s gameplay is less honed and less nuanced than Revelations and the story telling is abysmal.

Seriously – one portion of the lore you can collect is done in the form of audio tapes. Long, drawn out voice acting sessions, which didn’t really contribute anything for me. They have no video component, which just makes them feel cheap/lazy. One set are letters from Desmond – which had less value to them than eating the box your cheerios come in – but which came with a written transcript so you could skip the tedious reading. The other set are audio-transcripts that you can’t pause without resetting and have no written transcript.

If AC IV is a taste of AC to come, I for one have left the target audience.


Assassins’ Creed IV

November 24, 2013 Leave a comment

*** Contains plot spoilers***

Without playing much, I’ve ranked 38,000th most deadly assassin. Oddly, last weekend, my position had 6 digits.

To my mind, it’s one of the best ACs to date. Excepting the aquatic bits.

The sailing, swimming, diving: well, they’re a turd on an otherwise magnificent serving of filet mignon served after a 2 day fast.

I do the sailing, when I can’t just fast-travel, and sort of look down at my feet, I somehow feel guilty/ashamed. I’ve tried the under-water sections. Then there are the under-water sections. Ok, so every now and again your character drowns because the controls are so clunky you can ‘t turn around and reach an air pocket/diving bell, or you ricochet between columns of urchins like a pinball and die. Those are probably bugs.

*** Plot spoilers are about to happen ***

Then there is the campy-pastiche attempt at a cameo; the non-animus portion of the game occurs in a game studio. You’re working for Abstergo Entertainment in conjunction with Origin researching material for a new Assassins’ Creed game, in their Quebec office.

It was probably funny to the developers, and to the people who knew the developers who they bounced it off. You know who it isn’t terribly funny to? Anyone else. A passing reference or an actual cameo, coulda been funny. Sure, I got a good giggle looking at the desk loot. But there’s also the minor matter of how bad this portion of the game looks. After the beautiful elegance of the animus world, the Abstergo portion looks … like something from an original Xbox game. Animation, textures, it’s all terrible.

There are some fantastic moments in ACIV – tip of the hat to the wake-up scene that looks like it’s going to be a flash back to Desmond originally waking up from the Animus.

But there is vastly more fail: The pitiful handful of achievements, most of which you will complete in the first day or two of play; The utter irrelevance of most of the side-games; The magnificent visuals of bringing the weather in so close you really actually can’t see anything; The immersion and soul destroyer of boarding an enemy ship as a way to prevent the other 5 ships you’re fighting from sinking you; The tedium of cut-scenes that run 90% thru before telling you “Hold B to skip cinematic” (and then holding B causes it to end a second or so earlier than not doing would have, and yes: I’ve tried holding B before that point); the annoying randomly capitalized letters and words.

There is a crafting system, but it’s sort of stupid. There are 3 consumables you can craft, but if you loot corpses, you will never want to. The remainder of your crafting options are one-shot upgrades each of which requires different components. It’s an in-your-face “KILL STUFF AND SKIN IT OR NO UPGRADES FOR YOU”.

Where previous ACs had feathers for you to collect, AC IV has Animus Fragments. It also has shanties (songs for your sailors to sing while sailing) chests (with gold coins) manuscripts (for those who don’t like interesting lore/backstory, and specifically want dull, tedious lore/backstory) and outside the animus there are post-it notes to collect (with tedious, vaguely AC themed, rants on them) and computers to hack (in return for miscellaneous AC-themed tidbits that are at first gratifying but quickly make you want to use your AC box to punch people with).

Yes – there’s a larber number of side activities, but especially compared to previous ACs, they are hideously shallow and tacky.  None of them are well done, none of them are engaging, none of them are immersive, none of them draw you into a sense of story/world connecting back to what is going on either in the animus or outside. And once you reach a certain point (about 60%) there’s clearly no effort put into them. Capturing a fort? Chests and animus fragments start to pretty much trip you up as you follow way points.

But the bottom of the barrel, which AC IV scrapes up with it’s tounge and tries to shove down your ear, is the under-water wreck exploration. Games usually don’t do a great job of swimming-related activities, and AC IV does a really bad one. Plus sharks. Did I mention that you are weaponless during this section? Yes. In the franchise known for running, jumping and climbing, they’ve added a combatless underwater swimming segment where you may get eaten by an eel if you don’t succumb to wounds from sharks that you fail to hide from because the swimming controls would make a blown goat want its money back.

I’m going to try and see it thru to the end of the story mode because I’m determined to see if the story makes any kind of sense or in any way fits into the AC storyline so far. My hunch is that the game will disown itself and reveal that it was all just a templar’s bad dream.

Mine too.

VS2013 Preview

July 19, 2013 Leave a comment

I’ve been experimenting with Visual Studio 2013 Preview on my Windows 8.1 laptop and I’m liking it – with a caveat. Windows 8.1 is absolute fail on the laptop itself, it’s not touch screen. But I’m using remote-desktop into it to use VS2013 on my desktop 27in LCD, and that is actually really pleasant.

VS 2013 is still visually kinda horrible and wasteful of visual real-estate, and it has a new on-the-fly syntax formatting feature which I am permanently fighting, probably needs a lot more options before release. E.g., if you tell it to put spaces around math operators, it preemptively puts spaces around “<” as you type a template, but never corrects them when it finally realizes it was a template (“std::vector < string>”).

It’s a nice feature but they need to make it less aggressive, so that if you go back and change an auto-format feature, it doesn’t immediately undo your change.

The ide definitely feels faster and smoother, and there are a lot of nice new bells and whistles which so far I have found fairly beneficial. The perf visualization tools are really nice to work with, if a little confusing to get running (apparently you need to set up some adminstrator privilege stuff and jankiness).

I owned the original SAS C compiler from which MSVC is derived, and a version of each release from then upto 2010. VS 2012 is the first one I didn’t buy, I’ve stuck with 2010 and done less dev work under Windows.

Ultimately, the damage they did to the UI in 2012 still puts the hurt on 2013 for me, so far, so right now I suspect I’ll give 2013 a miss too.


Categories: General

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