Fall 09: Things That I Will Post

Keiya-Tier-9I have a couple of things that I want to post about within reasonable time when I’m not so real life busy. So, this is my late October and Early November tentative post schedule: Keiya’s New Raiding UI Version 3.2, Dabbling withAion and Borderlands for the PS3. I might do a CD review in mid to late November because Them Crooked Vultures is releasing an album on the 17th of November and well, I’m a pretty big fan of Dave Grohl.

I impulse bought Aion a couple of weeks ago. I was actually going to do a thorough review and state of the MMO industry post once I had a chance to properly delve into it more, but I have kind of already lost all interest in it. It’s a fun game, but I just kind of got…busy/distracted and set it down. If I’m really bored and game deprived at some point in the future, I’ll go poke at it when I’m not on WoW or doing other things. Borderlands is an interesting game that was just released for the consoles. Think Fallout 3 + Team Fortress 2 + Left 4 Dead. Having fun with it so far.

So I redid my user interface yet again, mostly to switch over from Fubar to ChocolateBar, from Pitbull 3 to Pitbull 4 and from Bartender 4 to Dominos. I also wanted to consolidate the functionality of a few of my addons. My previous setup had a quite a bit of redundancy. Aside from some window shuffling, it really doesn’t look that different I guess. I’m liking it so far though. I don’t know why I do things like this to myself. Redoing your UI is a giant pain in the ass. I spent all of yesterday evening half-assed running battlegrounds and poking shit mobs to make sure that every little element was exactly where it should be.

I was in 25-man Trial of the Crusader last week (well and tonight I guess) when my computer started dropping below 10 frames per second during most of the counters. The resolution increase on my new monitor in addition to the fact that this machine is getting ass old probably doesn’t help. I’m thinking that it’s probably time to start building a new computer. I made the mistake of goingel cheapo on a CPU with a low upgrade path. I think this time I’m going to budget more towards building a nicer machine.

geoDefense Swarm

geoDefense Swarm by Critical Thought Games is finally up on the iTunes app store now. It’s an open level version of the original game; So instead of blasting creeps along a single pre-defined path, it is up to you to create a maze of obstructions in order to fend them off.


I really like geoDefense, it’s one of my favorite iPod Touch games. A while back I was on a tower defense bender and tried out virtually all games of this genre on the app store (the ones with a free demo that is). This one was my favorite by a fairly large margin. It’s harder, fast paced and require a fair bit of thought and strategy for many of the higher levels. The vector graphics are also colorful, clean and well presented.


If you are still unsure, it’s only $0.99. It includes 30 levels across three difficulty groups. There are several new features not present in the original. I don’t know if this is the permanent or promotional price, but either way it’s well worth picking up.

BlizzCon: Part 2

This post is more about my opinions regarding the expansion than about the convention I guess.

I am interested in seeing how Tauren Paladins, Gnome Priests and Troll Druids will come about lore wise. Most of the other new class combos either exist in the game as NPCs or aren’t all that far fetched. Dwarven Shaman for example, exist in the Wildhammer Clan and Blood Elf Warriors were stated as a balance decision instead of a lore issue. A blue stated earlier on the General Forums that the official lore name for the cowadins would be Sunwalker, which I assume will tie into their sun worship. I guess the gnomes were too busy focusing on the holy light instead of focusing on say, retaking their city.

The removal is this level of content in a game, particularly for an MMO strikes me as odd. I wonder if it is going to be even more odd for the folks who start playing post-Cataclysm. But that said, I think that the revamping of Azeroth is a fantastic idea and quite frankly, well overdue. The Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor have had more than their fair share of use over the past 5 years. At the moment, they feel out of date in terms of leveling flow and types of quests available. Consequently, I find it very hard returning to the old world to level my lowbies alts, even with the boost in experience.

The Burning Crusade introduced a smoother quest flow and more natural zone progression, eliminating the need to mob grind experience and to run across multiple continents and zones to quest. It also introduced a few new mechanics to increase the quest quality; The bombing runs for example. But as a whole, I felt that the story lines felt disconnected from the rest of the lore. I don’t know if this was intentional or not, given that the Outlands well, is an alien planet. I just didn’t feel as connected to the WoW story as I had originally in vanilla WoW.

Wrath on the Lich King on the other hand, was all about story progression. Using the new phasing mechanic and the intertwining of the lore into the quests in such an interactive and visual manner really pulled me into the expansion. So much so that I had actually leveled my hunter to 80 shortly after Keiya (anyone in guild knows that this is an incredible feat given my track with alts). It heralded the return and continuation of story lines from familiar faces that we’ve seen in the old world; NPC’s whom we have invested quite a bit of time with like Tirion Fordring, Bolvar Fordragon, etc.

Wrath retained the Burning Crusade’s smooth progression without feeling disconnected. The Lich King looms over you throughout your journey to level 80 and is introduced very early on in the expansion. Blizzard also did an exceptional job of rehashing key events from Warcraft III for the folks who either are not familiar with the strategy games or who might not have remembered what occurred. By contrast, Illidan, though mentioned quite often in quest text, did not feel like an active part of the Burning Crusade, at least to me. He just sort of popped into play when the Black Temple patch went live. I think that this point illustrates how important the doing things is in a gaming environment. I wonder how different the first expansion might have been if he was played out early in the game like Arthas?

I am really looking forward to seeing the new quest mechanics and the lore interactivity in the  old world when Cataclysm hits. I am actually looking forward to rolling and leveling a low level alt again! According to the WoW panels, they are going to be able to phase areas even more. The terrain will change significantly as you progress in certain areas (the presentation had screenshots). The developers also mentioned that they are working out phasing kinks. We supposedly, might be able to share a phase with party members. You can probably already guess at some of the changes based off of old world gripes regarding certain areas (too large, too boring, too large and too boring, etc).

I am also cautiously optimistic about the new stat streamlining. Some stats are redundant: Spirit and MP5 for example, while some stats like Armor Penetration just never worked out. It is one of those stats that very few people understand and is either awesome for certain classes and otter crap for others. There’s a pretty high level of redundancy on gear that makes it difficult for certain class and spec combinations to determine if an item is an upgrade without consulting an Excel spreadsheet. Several of the changes should make gear less ambiguous: No more spirit on mage gear, no more AP on leather (no more rogueadins lol).

Oh one more thing: Battlenet 2.0 will allow you to talk with friends across Blizzard games and across WoW servers/factions. I have IRL friends strewn across various servers, so I’m looking forward to being able to chat with them all in game without having to log over or poke Facebook/Gtalk.

BlizzCon: Part 1


Note: The image effects aren’t loading for some pictures, I don’t know why. Also, I have more pictures up in the BlizzCon gallery. I’ll finish labeling and adding descriptions to them all later.

TL;DR: BlizzCon was a lot of fun, if you have the means and time I highly recommend it! Greatly looking forward to Cataclysm, Diablo III and Starcraft II. I’ll split this post up into two parts since it got kind of long. I’ll go over the convention in general today and then post general opinions on the Cataclysm tomorrow. I was going to do a rundown of all of the announcements, but I’m sure that has been done a hundred times over on all of the big WoW blogs.

I am fortunate that I have family in the area willing to lend me their couch for an evening. In the future, I think that I will just go get a room Thursday through Sunday evenings at one of the hotels walking distance from the convention center. The place that I was staying was only 15 minutes away at most, but it would have been more convenient to have in-and-out privileges. Between not being able to come and go (without paying for parking again) as well as a generally busy con schedule (so much to do!), I ended up missing a few opportunities to meet-up with some good buddies in the area.


Parking wasn’t a problem at all. It was $10 at the Buzz Lightyear lot across from the Anaheim Convention Center on the eastern side of Harbor Boulevard (I detest parking structures). It was a little farther than theACC parking structure, about a 5 minute walk at most, but I didn’t have any problems getting caught in exiting traffic. There’s ample parking in the area so that’s not a big deal.

Everyone must have picked up their badge and goodie bag on Thursday or earlier on Friday morning because by the time I parked and arrived, at about 8:30am to 8:45am-ish, I pretty much just walked right up to the badge registration. The line into the convention center on the other hand was long, it wrapped around and snaked to the back service parking lot, where I stood in the sun for about an hour until the doors opened. (Note to self, get there earlier >_>).


>WoW: Cataclysm and the Diablo III Monk class were announced at the opening ceremonies, which I ended up watching on the monitors in the gift line instead of the main hall. I rushed to the store as soon as I got into the convention center. Some friends told me that last year, unless you got into the line early, it was 4 to 6 hours long and they sold out of t-shirt sizes and popular items. Oh, nice dude with the German accent who I talked with in line the entire time: I should have gotten your email or something, I feel bad for leaving you hangin’ at the store.

I attended the World of Warcraft Preview Panel, half of the World of Warcraft Art Panel (and half of the Diablo III Heroes and Monsters Panel), the Guild Panel and the World of Warcraft Discussion Panel on the first day. On the second day I attended the WoW Q&A, WoWPvP Discussion, WoW Dungeons & Raids and the WoW Class Discussion (much of this one was recap, but I needed to sit and eat).


I did around half of the goodie bag promotional events (and won a T-shirt at the Razor booth. So so close to winning a new mouse). I probably should have, but didn’t bother standing in any of the demo lines for Cataclysm,Diablo III or StarCraft II; I figure that since I am 100% sure that I am pre -ordering each and every one of these, it’s no big deal. Well, that and the fact that I have a general dislike for unnecessary lines. I also had a chance to meet-up with a guild mate, server mate as well as a good friend whom I haven’t seen in years!

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to attend my realm meet-up. Bloodlust was scheduled to meet on Friday at 7pm, but the costume contest began at 6pm. I had a decent seat and didn’t want to miss anything (we were also having trouble reserving seats, the main hall was packed). I also figured that many people would also probably skip the meet-up to watch. The costumes were great, some of the contestants must have spent months working on them.


Lessons learned: Go out to eat, don’t get the convention food unless you want a $7 ham and cheese sandwich. Bring water: Con water costs $3. Also, if you open your water bottle in line, there’s a chance that the security people at the door will make you throw it away. It depends on who I guess. Snacks are good to have, I brought snack packets of fruits and nuts from Trader Joe’s. Also, half of my messenger bag on Friday was taken up by a light jacket that I ended up not using. The building was comfortably air conditioned but not freezing cold.

I bought a pack of earplugs for the closing ceremony but didn’t use them because I wanted to chat with people. I am thinking that was kind of a mistake…/half deaf afterward. I’m not all that familiar with Ozzy’s discography, but I thought that both he and L80ETC were very good. Hung out afterward until closing time and then drove back home. Overall, BlizzCon was an absolute blast.

BlizzCon Post Coming Soon

Eep, well, the supposed Keiya BlizzCon Twitter feed didn’t work out. There was free WiFi all over the area, but I opted to socialize and enjoy the events instead of hunching over my iTouch. Beh, it’s not as if there was a lack of live feed coverage anyway.

BlizzCon was an absolute blast; I vow to attend next year as well and to plan meet-ups and scheduling better! Next year, I think I’ll make sure to get a hotel in the area and stay over Thursday through Sunday night. Word is that I missed a couple of pretty fantastic blog meet-ups and parties. I will publish a more detailed con post later tonight or tomorrow with a couple of pictures and what not (I’m a pretty bad photographer >_<).

BlizzCon Tomorrow!

BlizzCon is but less than a day away! I was going to be in OC today to pick-up my badge and meet-up with people, but I had errands to run and stuff like that, so I’m heading over tomorrow morning. So, if you see a chick wearing a black fruit fucker t-shirt with a blue and gray messenger bag, it could quite possibly be me.

I bought a new messenger bag for the convention. I’ve been kind of looking for one that I can take traveling for the past couple of months, but just never really had a reason to buy one. Perfect excuse! I really like my canvas Fossil bag, but I needed one that closes securely, is larger and made of a material that I can throw around without it getting trashed.

I ended up getting a smallTimbuk2 classic messenger from REI . It was a little over what I really wanted to spend on a bag, but it’s well constructed, organized and suits my needs perfectly. This is what I plan to stuff into it in addition to normal items (wallet, cell, cosmetic case):

  1. The email barcode printout to pickup my badge
  2. Digital camera with extra memory cards
  3. A water bottle: I get thirsty and don’t want to have to buy drinks at the convention (I’ve heard that it’s expensive).
  4. Snacks: Same as above. I have little fruit/nut packets from Trader Joe’s that are the perfect size and moderately filling.
  5. Enough cash for parking and any miscellaneous fees that might not be chargeable
  6. A light jacket: I’ve also heard that the convention center is well air conditioned.
  7. Small notebook and pen: /shrug I always carry one around in my purse. Might come in handy for writing down contact info?
  8. Earplugs for the closing ceremony.
  9. iPod Touch for waiting in lines.

I wonder when the Proudmoore realm meet-up is scheduled…sadly I don’t have any minicards or any other form of ready-made contact information available >_<. Edit: Aww, apparently I am missing some pretty epic parties/meet-ups over at the hotels and surrounding areas in OC. Next time I’m going to stay over Thursday night.

Must get sleep. Not tired. Wide awake.

Review: Razer Carcharias

I have a small headphone fetish and apparently cannot function without being able to properly listen to my music wherever I go. I have a pair for every occasion: At home/work, on the go, running and Ventrilo. If you wear headphones often, it’s actually worth dishing out a little extra cash to get a not crap pair. In my experience, most of the extremely cheap ones break easily (stress fractures on the headband near the ear cups, loose wires).

So my old headset broke last week: The sound coming through the earphones was extremely muffled and the microphone intermittently muted or reduced itself in volume. I could have just sautered the loose wires or ghetto fixed it, but why pass up on an excuse to get a new toy?

I was using some really clunky Plantronics headset. The microphone was actually pretty good, but they were uncomfortable and the headphones sucked (sound was way trebly). They were way too snug and bulky; Never get faux leather earmuffs, they crack over time and stick to the side of your head whenever it is warm. Tight headphones, in addition to giving you a headache over a long period of time, are impossible to wear with glasses.

I ended up getting the Razer Carcharias. I’m a pretty big fan of Razer’s line of computer peripherals (as seen on any of my workspace pictures). I was somewhat dubious of their audio products (headset is different than a keyboard or mouse), but the Carcharias had received good marks on most review sites so I gave it a go. It is very comfortable, it feels notably lighter than most other headsets without feeling shoddy or flimsy.

carcharias side

The headband tension is tight enough to seat the ear cups against your ears well, but not tight enough to pinch your temples off. Consequently, they are very comfortable to wear for long periods of time, even for folks who wear glasses. The earmuffs are plush and velvety. I am partial to this type of material because it is soft and doesn’t stick to the side of your face when it is warm. It does collect lint though.

Each ear cup is attached to the headband with two stuff paperclip like wires that slide up and down to adjust to your head size. They are flexible enough to laterally move to fit the side of your head, eliminated the need to include a swivel joint. Not having a moving joint against the side of your head is a huge plus to anyone who has long hair that gets caught in things on a constant basis.

There’s an in-line remote with a volume and a mute switch on the cord. Both are easy to use and stay put even if you shuffle around quite a bit (I have had issues with loose mute switches). Other than that, I suppose they are much like the remote on any other pair of headsets.

The braided cord is tangle resistant and fits snugly into the rubber sheath that attaches it to the base of the headphone cup. The cords on cheap headphones jiggle around quite a bit when you yank on them, leading to breakage. This point is a huge nitpick but: When you twist the braided cords they get increasingly curly. I find that slightly irritating.

carcharias 2

The Carcharias isn’t a sound isolation/cancellation set of headphones. If you play in a noisy environment, you will still hear background noises, your mother or wife sneaking up behind you, whatever. A couple of reviewers felt that the noise canceling microphone was sub-par, but it seemed more than sufficient to me. It was at least equivalent to the mic on my old headset, which was pretty decent (err according to general Ventrilo opinion). It is also worth noting that I have all of my headsets plugged in through the analogue input ports on my X-Fi front panel.

The headphones themselves are a bit lacking bass wise in my opinion. They are great for gaming, but only above average to good for music. It’s not that they are tinny, trebly or bad, they just don’t sound as rich as mySennheiers (which were in the same price bracket). If you aren’t extremely picky about sound, they are way more than adequate and far better than most of your run of the mill headphones. Audiophiles though, will probably opt for something better.

They are a bit pricey. I think the average retail price is about $70 give or take a couple of dollars. Overall, they have been great so far.

The Summer Slump

I am in full summer mode at the moment, just in case it wasn’t fairly obvious already lol. Expect err, the number of non-WoW related postings to increase a bit. About half of my guild and seemingly a good chunk of the WoW population is too, based off of the general raiding lull and blah feeling floating around the community. It’s not just WoW either, I just haven’t feel like gaming nearly as much lately; I think there was an article on low game sales a week or two ago. The weather is nice and the days are long, so why not go outside and engage in recreation?

Summer has never traditionally been all that big of a game season for me or anyone really, seeing as nothing really ever comes out during the summer, with the Fall and Winter pre-Christmas release season just around the corner. I used to play video games quite a bit while I was in school because it was one of the only long break periods in which I could dedicate time to completing lengthy games without having to study or work on a project (well, that and being a kid, thus having no money to do much of anything).

In my case, friends and family are generally more available to do stuff during the summer. It’s when children are out of school and when people take the time to plan vacations. I’ve been either away or busy during the weekends quite a bit more than usual this year for whatever reason. I’ve also been focusing a bit more on non geek traditional hobbies: Playing the guitar, running, and several other things.

I know that the summer slump occurs annually, but it just seems extra bad this year for some reason. I’m sure that being firmly in-between patches isn’t helping much either. Ulduar is awesome and all, but I think we’re due for an injection of new content soon. So is it a general disinterest in WoW? Is it a product of the bad economy? Or is everyone just really busy all of a sudden? What’s everyone up to in the real world nowadays?

Review: Betrayal at Krondor

image_47Betrayal at Krondor is a longstanding PC favorite of mine. It’s an older (1993) DOS based PC roleplaying-game, developed by Dynamix and published by Sierra On-Line. The game events occur in the rich and detailed fantasy world of Midkemia, the setting for Raymond E. Feist’s Riftwar Cycle. I actually wasn’t aware that Betrayal at Krondor was based off of a book series when I had originally played it. If anyone is curious, it takes place approximately halfway between A Darkness at Sethanon and Prince of the Blood (decade after the riftwar).

The game is designed to unfold like an interactive book. It’s divided into nine chapters, each beginning and ending with a cut scene consisting of text narration and pseudo-live action animation (fair warning: This game was created in the early 90’s, the height of live actor cut scene cheese). Most importantly, Betrayal at Krondor feels like a book: The narration is compelling and well written. Most RPGs present you with a generic selection of character archetypes to play. Not so much here, the characters are well fleshed out, each with a distinct personality, past and history.


Betrayal at Krondor, if I am not mistaken is one of the earliest examples of a not strictly linear game. Each chapter allows you to freely explore large portions of the map, which are filled with small towns, loot and side quests to complete. It’s a good balance: Open enough not to feel like you are on rails but not so open that you are distracted from completing the main plot. I highly recommend taking the time to explore. The side quests are fun and supplement the main storyline.

Keep in mind that the graphics haven’t aged well to say the least. All of the game travel occurs in the first person. Though the concept was way ahead of its time, it looks pretty dated now. Combat occurs in the third person, image map graphics with hot spots for inns, shops and whatever are used for large cities and certain locations. The game’s charm though, lies within the writing and plot. Stunning new age graphics were never a main draw, to me at least. The soundtrack on the other hand, is great.


The gameplay has a turn based grid combat system which occurs in the third person, kind of similar(ish) to Final Fantasy tactics. Skill gain is based around usage, there’s no leveling. For example, the more you use a sword, the more accurate you will become. It’s a well balanced system. One of my favorite parts of the game are the Moredhel chests. The treasure chests are locked with a letter dial combination lock. You are given a riddle and it’s your job to figure out the answer.

Anyway, Sierra released Betrayal at Krondor as freeware, available at Abandonia or wherever people go to download old games. There’s also a sequel, Return to Krondor, also a fun game. Unless your computer is ass-old, you will probably need DOSBox to play it. Highly recommended, well worth a download.

The Sims 3


You know, I had these grand plans of actually posting and updating this on a regular basis throughout the month of June; I even typed out a few post drafts. But then The Sims 3 came out (as well as several other things) and I started semi-obsessively playing it. As such, I feel obligated to post about it.

The Sims 3 in a way feels fundamentally different than The Sims 2, though at heart, the same. For one, sims aren’t trapped on their lots anymore. The entire neighborhood is one seamless area, allowing sims to visit neighbors and go into town without having to load areas. Time also progresses universally throughout the neighborhood, so no more going out for a full day, only to return to a lot that hasn’t changed since you left.

You now live in a persistent world. It’s fluid and growing; the new Story Progression feature keeps it as such. Sims outside of your active household will also grow up, fall in love, have children, live their lives and die. Gone is the need to micromanage every single household in order to avoid the awkwardness of being the same age as your great great great uncle (accidental incest is bad).

Story progression though does have strange moments: Computer spawned babies apparently need only one parent. For example, I created a small family consisting of a father and son, moved them into their own house and then left them to their own NPC devices (I wanted interesting neighbors). Several days later, a baby popped out of nowhere. I guess this is the way that the game balances itself, which is alright though someone artificial feeling.


The game feels geared towards a single family play. You can swap households, but doing so feels a bit cumbersome in that it requires quite a few mouse clicks (go to the edit neighborhood screen, click change active household, choose the household, etc). When you swap households, short term wishes are reset and you run the risk of story progression doing something negative to that family unless you toggle it off. If you were one of those Sims 2 players who insisted on having absolute control over every household, this change mightfrustrate you somewhat.

Daily life feels like much less of a grind, much of the sim needs and daily micromanagement has either been streamlined or reduced, leaving more time for storytelling and antics. Yours sims don’t need to pee or shower as often and you are able to throw out trash and put items away yourself, rather than having to wait for your sim to do it.

Your Sim’s current ‘state’ is based off of a new moodlets system. Certain activities and conditions will give a buff or debuff to your mood. Each moodlet lasts for a certain duration; Being in a good mood positively influences work performance and social interactions.

You can also change the color and texture of virtually every surface and clothing item in the game. Even so, there is a distinct feeling that EA is holding back on items for the sake of eitherre-releasing them in an expansion pack or on their online store. Where’s the piano and hot tub?


The Sims 3 also runs notably smoother than The Sims 2, even on very large lots with a surplus of items. Keep in mind though, that this is the base game, minus any expansion packs. We will see if this performance improvement holds up in a year or two…

Anyway, there are dozens of fun changes and game mechanics that I skipped over (the traits system, collectibles, body shapes, etc). In short, it’s fun. So fun that it has ate up my urge to do much of anything else during the period of free time that I set aside for gaming and stuff like that. If you enjoyed the other Sims games, you will most definitely enjoy The Sims 3.