Archive for April, 2010

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The Incongruities Of Tribble Breeding

April 26, 2010

Note: Yes, I’ve been making attempts at Tribble “crafting” with the help of breeding charts, and so far things are going great on my Tribble farm! I did have to beam quite a few of the useless common ones into space though, poor buggers. Oh, and trying to explain why a Vulcan captain will allow something so impractical as Tribble breeding aboard her ship is hard.

Captain’s Log, Supplemental — Stardate 87922.44

It appears my communications officer has been keeping secrets from me. Lieutenant Jaime Luciana has been a good friend and loyal officer to me for years; why she felt the need to withhold information regarding her recent activities aboard the U.S.S. Taiga, I do not know. When confronted, she explained the reason for her secrecy was out of fear that I “would not understand.” While she may have been correct in that assessment, I still regard her decision to hide the truth from me as highly illogical.

It all began the other day when I found myself on Deck Three responding to yet another a complaint from Chef regarding food mysteriously disappearing from his galley. While Chef is prone to exaggeration and outright fabrication when it comes to many of his “problems”, after this visit, I must admit I had reason to believe his concerns were quite real. My suspicions and handy detective work led me to Lt. Luciana’s quarters in the early hours of the morning. I had caught her by surprise, and when confronted with the damning evidence against her, she had no choice but to reveal to me her great secret that she had been harboring since we left the Minas Korva System. It appears she has been keeping — and breeding — Tribbles in a mid-sized compartment box under her bunk.

After knowing the truth, I cannot blame the lieutenant for not being forthcoming with me. She was a true friend after all, and knew my Vulcan tendencies only too well. Indeed, I failed to see why she had an interest in the Tribbles, or understand how humans can forge such intimate bonds with lesser creatures. It truly amazes me, the things humans choose to invest their emotions in.

While my logic tells me I should have put a halt to her curious new hobby right there and then, I could not bring myself to do so. The crew has been through such taxing times with the Borg as of late, taking this little pleasure away from my esteemed communications officer would seem a trifle bit cruel. Perhaps against my better judgment, I allowed her Tribble breeding efforts to continue, and since then she has involved the entire crew in her endeavors. The overwhelming enthusiasm for her idea was a response I could never have imagined, and even the ordinarily level-headed Dr. Ronbua has taken an interest.

I should be thankful, I suppose, for the morale aboard the U.S.S. Taiga has been lifted since the Tribbles have come into our lives. I must note, however, that Commander Landsberry was quite upset earlier today when one of his overzealous assistants accidentally fed a Tribble his ten-thousand-credit bottle of Romulan ale. On the positive side, we did end up with a rare breed of Tribble, the Highison, due to that little mishap. I also must add that not all the crew are happy that these Tribble are multiplying so fruitfully aboard our starship. My science officer Lieutenant Tohuna is practically beside herself; everywhere she turns she is plagued with the loud shrieking noises the Tribble make when she is in their presence. I am grateful to that Klingon for being so patient with the fancies of her crewmates.

I suppose these tiny creatures are fascinating in their own little way. After all, they seem to serve no other purpose than to eat and breed, yet somehow they manage to endear themselves to most sentient beings. I will admit, there is something about their soft, furry exteriors and their delightful soothing purrs that just makes me feel all warm and — well, regardless, they are still meaningless.

Like I said…highly illogical.

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The Coolest Question I’ve Ever Been Asked On A Guild Application

April 25, 2010

For me, it was: “What’s your zombie contingency plan?”

This was a question on the application for a fleet I had considered joining in Star Trek Online, before I ended up with the Federation News Service and even before I was with the now defunct Citrus Task Force. It sprang unexpectedly to my mind today as my husband and I were driving up north for our weekend retreat to the Georgian Bay area. We were making our way across a quaint little bridge overlooking a picturesque lakeside view when I told him what a fantastic place this would be to escape to…in the event of a fullscale zombie attack.

In response, he told me that I was the only person he knows who can drive through scenic cottage country and think about a thing like that. But I told him, you know I’m right. We were on a road with Lake Muskoka on one side and Lake Rosseau on the other, and the place we were headed to was connected to the mainland only by this narrow neck of land. Assuming zombies can’t use boats, it’s completely defensible, especially at locations like the bridge we’d just crossed. Everywhere you look is a freshwater source, and it’s a beautiful area to boot. The latter point might seem like an insignificant afterthought, but keep in mind, you might be here for a long, long time. It’d be nice to have something pretty to look at.

Set up trap for zombies here.

Anyway, my husband now thinks that our kids will grow up so messed up because of me, but whatever, at least I have a zombie apocalypse plan, one that’s better than my original plan which was to lock myself up in the basement washroom like a wuss with a nine-iron, a bunch of non-perishables and a bathtub full of water.

And in case you’re wondering, I didn’t end up applying to that fleet. I would have because they seemed like a nice bunch of people who knew how to have fun, but I wouldn’t join any guild without my husband and he wasn’t about to share his top-secret zombie apocalypse plan.

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And We’re Back

April 24, 2010

WordPress seemed to have hit a snafu last night which caused my blog to go down for a good part of the day. It appears they have a system in place that monitors factors like specific links, number of pingbacks, or an increase of traffic, etc. on their sites, and if anything raises a red flag, the blog goes down.

Well, this system must have caught something they didn’t like in my last few posts, because I found my account locked down some time in the wee hours of the night. I gotta give a kudos to the WordPress staff, however, for getting back to me so quickly to tell me that it was a mistake on their end. They apologized for the disruption, but it did take another ten hours or so for my blog to come back online.

Anyway, that’s the explanation for the folks who were wondering, and I apologize for the downtime. No, I didn’t lock it down because I got fed up and started bad-mouthing all of you, nor did I suddenly decide to post lewd pornography! *wink*

Please feel free to enjoy my latest post before this whole mess happened, Do I Really Want The Retail Box? and thanks for the emails and comments I got from those who were concerned about this issue and were asking where my blog went. I’m glad there are actually people who read this thing.

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Do I Really Want The Retail Box?

April 24, 2010

I was a little surprised when the announcement came a couple days ago that the Age of Conan expansion, Rise of the Godslayer, will be released May 11, 2010. Why, that’s only — *counts on my fingers* — a few weeks away! I scoured the Funcom and AoC websites for a confirmation, saw none, and went to the forums which were also abuzz with confusion.

Anyway, I don’t know what took Funcom so long, but the announcement finally came on their website, along with a great new look. That’s confirmation enough for me! AoC fans have been waiting for this for a long time, and though this news seemed to have come out of nowhere, knowing that the release date is just around the corner makes the anticipation a lot less difficult to bear (unlike the torture that is the wait for a certain Star Wars MMO). So now that I know when to expect the expansion, I can start contemplating my RotGs decisions, questions like Tiger or Wolf (if you can call that thing a wolf)? Which factions to ally with? What class should I make my new Khitan?

But the real decision before all of that — Retail box or digital download?

If you had asked me this question a few years ago, I would have said Box! Box! Box! with no hesitation at all. Since then, however, my life has become more about simplicity, efficiency, and in short, minimizing the amount of crap I have lying around the house. Why keep your music, books and movies on multiple shelves and CD towers when you can condense all that goodness onto a hard disk? It makes moving a lot easier, that’s for sure, especialy with these weak puny arms of mine. Anyway, I’m starting to feel the same way about PC games. Sure, it’s nice to look at all the colorful game boxes lined up on the shelf above my computer, but in the end it’s still just more clutter.

There’s more to consider when it comes to RotGs though. Adventurer Historian has already touched upon one of the issues with his pondering of exclusive goodies in his latest post. The new AoC expansion will indeed be launching with special items included in their retail box, like a starter package of unique in-game items as well as a puma pet that’s hard to say no to. And while we’re on the topic of unique pets, I’ve also received an email from Funcom offering an exclusive “Loyal Kappa” wilderness buffing pet if I pre-order RotGs. Not sure what the hell a kappa is, all I know is that it’s effing hideous:

I suppose there’s also another advantage to getting the retail box in this case — it will come with the latest version of the original game. And for the life of me, I can’t tell you what happened to the original copy of AoC that I bought at release. I actually think one of my friends “borrowed” it to install and never gave it back. But whatever, the point is, when I started playing this game again, I had to re-install the client using the Download Manager from the AoC website. The entire download including the patching process took the better half of a day and pretty much ate up about a third of the 60 gig bandwidth cap allotted by my internet service provider. I hate the thought of having to go through all that again, PLUS downloading the expansion, in case my computer or operating system ever decides to crap out on me.

And there’s something to be said about the feeling you get when you’re holding that game box in your hands after you bring it home, or when you open that CD case to see the pretty graphics printed on the shiny discs inside, that plastic-y smell of a brand new game and manual wafting up to hit you in the face. Guess I should enjoy these little pleasures while I can, before the time will come when all games are delivered digitally.

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What Did We Do To Deserve All These Goodies?

April 23, 2010

The first issue of Blood of the Empire is here! If you haven’t heard of it, that’s the new webcomic that was announced last month at the Star Wars: The Old Republic website. And now it’s part of today’s Friday Update. I quite enjoyed the last webcomic Threat of Peace (the hard copy is also coming out soon) so I’m looking forward to this one, which will feature a new perspective following the young Sith apprentice Teneb Kel.

We also got a Fan Friday, which was what a lot of us were expecting over at the SWTOR forums. The flow of information coming out about the game seems to be speeding up as we get closer and closer to E3, which was what the developers had said was going to happen.

Some of the highlights from the Fan Friday include a short work-in-progress video featuring some environment effects, which look amazing. As well, now I know how I’ll be getting around in a crazy ecumenopolis like Coruscant — a space taxi!

A good indication that we'll also get "mounts", perhaps?

SWTOR fans also got an extra treat yesterday with a new developer video on combat at the GameTrailers.com website. That’s the real news that’s making a splash and has gamers drooling all over themselves. I wouldn’t be a very good Bioware fan if I didn’t at least make a mention of it.

My favorite moment: "Get over here!" a la Scorpion in Mortal Combat! Who needs a silly little lightsaber?

“If you’re a player who wants to just get in there and wreak havoc, you can be maybe a Bounty Hunter or Trooper.”

Roger that, Bioware!

Bounty Hunters (my class of choice) got some extra love in the video. It appears they will be getting several cool abilities that are just positively nerdgasm-inducing: carbonite sprays, rocket backpacks and grappling hooks, oh my! Puny Jedi of the Republic, tremble before me because I’m coming for you!

The entire video is filled with spectacular looking footage and the combat looks very fun to me. Impressive, considering the release date is still a good year away. Definitely worth checking out.

They went all out this week, which begs the question — what’s next? Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a webcomic to read.

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My Lovely Ladies

April 22, 2010

No doubt every gamer has his or her own convention or set of rules they follow when creating their MMORPG characters. I started picking apart my own motivations this evening, when I got bored and started putting together this list of characters from MMOs I’ve played recently/extensively. I noticed a few interesting trends:

1. They’re all female.

I prefer playing females characters because I’m female, no big surprise there. It’s not for any nonsense like “special treatment” or the free gifts people assume we girls must get showered with everywhere we go; God forbid I just want to be treated fairly and with respect like any normal woman would! That said, I don’t go around telling everyone in-game that I’m a girl in real life, but if someone, say, mistakenly refers to me as a “he”, I will correct them. Female gamers are gaining ground in the MMO market but we’re still outnumbered by our male counterparts, so I don’t blame the folks who just automatically assume I’m a guy behind that girly avatar. There are also far too many stories of gullible people being burned by guys pretending to be girls, so I don’t even blame them if they don’t take me at my word. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve greeted PuG groups on vent only to hear one of the group members cry out in surprise, “Oh, so you really are a girl!” Uh, yeah, I thought we settled that matter fifteen minutes ago back at the meeting stone!

My second reason for playing female characters mirrors the reason given by some men to explain why they do as well — I’d just rather stare at a female’s posterior all day instead of a man’s. I’m a straight, married woman, and while I’m as appreciative of the chiseled, muscle-bound male form as the next gal, I’ll admit the smooth curves of a female avatar are easier on the eyes when you’re staring at a game interface for extended periods of time.

The final reason is pretty straight forward — in the past, I’ve been inspired to role-play a bit with my characters. I’m no expert at it, and being able to relay the thoughts and feelings of a female character makes things a lot easier.

2. They’re all attractive.

Attractiveness is subjective and we’re dealing with so many races across so many games here (some might find the Blood Elf too scrawny or the Hobbit too vertically challenged for their tastes, for instance) so when I use that word, I simply mean that all my characters on the whole look like they’re respectable people and are in good general health. MMOs today are offering players so many more options when it comes to character customization, and that’s a great thing! I love having a myriad of choices available, but I’ll personally pass on the blemishes, black eyes, missing teeth and mean nasty scars when it comes to creating my mains and alts.

I confess, it’s my vanity speaking. I like to stay in shape and look pretty in real life, so it just goes to follow that I’ll want the same for my characters in-game.

Oh, and while I’m on a roll with these confessions, let’s talk about boobies. One might think that only men like to make their female toons top-heavy, but that’s not true. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m one of those women who, when given the choice, will push the breast-size slider all the way to the right. I don’t think I’ll want double D’s in real life though, due to reasons like 1) inconveniences such as discomfort while running, and 2) the possibility of future saggage. Seeing as my characters are immune to both these problems in the wonderful fantasy world of MMOs, I figure why the hell not then?

3. They all have different names.

There are some exceptions to this, especially when you look at the names of my older characters. I used to have one or two favorite handles that I’d stick with no matter which games I go to. After all, if you like something, why change it? It made remembering things so much easier, and character creation was also faster when I didn’t have to pause in the middle of the process to think up a clever/appropriate name.

I’ve ceased reusing names just recently. For one thing, I’ve been playing a lot of IP-based games as of late. As a general rule, I try my best to christen my characters following the naming conventions established by the in-game lore, and sometimes my existing names just don’t sound right or plain won’t work. And then one day, I simply decided that each of my lovely ladies should have the right to a different and unique name. I wouldn’t name my children or even multiple pets the same thing, so why would I do it with my online game characters? Okay, stupid comparison and not the same thing at all, but still — I see each of my MMO characters as a unique gaming experience, even if they’re from the same game. In some cases, I’ve even gone to the trouble of giving a character her own back story, so I think coming up with a special name to begin with is the least I could do. You might see me recycle the names of characters I don’t play anymore though!

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Little Pearls Of Nerdom

April 22, 2010

1. First the Marines, then the Na’vi, and now Starfleet. When’s it going to be enough for Jake Sully?

A few of us in the Federation News Service have joked about our fleetmate Bryn looking like one of those aliens from Avatar, but we all know that it’s just a coincidence. The other day, however, I ran across the real deal. I was at the Earth Spacedock tailor making some changes to my uniform when I turned around and ran right smack into this guy. Hmm, not a bad attempt at a Na’vi, and I’m once again impressed by the options offered by the Star Trek Online character creator. I daresay he’s to scale too.

Coincidentally, today is also the release date for the DVD/Blu-ray for Avatar. The fact that it’s Earth Day is no accident.

2. Beam me up, Mr. Prime Minister!

To understand this one, here’s this short lesson in Canadian politics: here in Canada, we have something called a Governor General, or a viceregal representative of the Queen. He or she is selected by the Prime Minster of Canada and appointed by the Queen. The role is mainly ceremonial. And well, a week ago, our current GG has confirmed that her tenure is ending. Political publications all over the country are already speculating about her replacement.

This week, a rocketing public campaign has emerged to promote the nomination of William Shatner as the next Governor General of Canada. While all this is done with tongue in cheek, he’s kicking the competition’s ass. I gotta say, this is giving me a good laugh and all, but I can’t help but imagine: Shatner as our country’s ceremonial head of state…well, why the hell not? A graduate of McGill University, he’s educated and bilingual, and one of our nation’s most famous actors. Oh, and did I mention that he’s friggin’ Captain James T. Kirk? See above image.

3. Making the pilgrimage to Bag End.

One of the most famous landmarks in The Shire, Bag End was the former home of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. It’s also the setting of some of the most significant events found in J.R.R. Tolkien’s works. I only found out last night that it was a place I could actually visit in Lord of the Rings Online. Thanks to Blue Kae, I learned enough to pull off a quick stopover at this unassuming little Hobbit hole before I left for the Bree-lands. Apparently, a lot of players visit this place first when they find themselves in The Shire. For me, it was the last, but better late than never is what I always say! At least now I can say I’ve been there.