Brackish Waters

how my gaming and life coalesce.

Its okay to be curious

Tabula Rasa LogoJust a quick post here for those of you who have been curious about Tabula Rasa and want to give it a shot for free.  As a subscriber I have access to 4 free invites for three days of access to the game.  If you would like to receive one of these invites, please let me know either though a comment on this post or via email at brackishwater[at]gmail.com

I will need an email address to send the invite to.  RMT people need not apply as they will only receive laughter.

November 29, 2007 Posted by | Tabula Rasa | | 11 Comments

Keeping it real

Brenden over at Another Here has a new article up about podfading and how it upsets him to see any podcast or blog drop off in activity and die out.  What I found really interesting was Brent’s comment about Tobold, a veteran to the blog community.

Everyone knows their work, but do you feel like you know Tobold? Even after 1000 posts, he is still a disembodied (silent)voice in the blogosphere and readers have no idea of what he is all about, as a person. If he started podcasting, that would change overnight.

I’ve only been reading Tobold’s blog for about 6 months and while I understand his point of views on a lot of things and find him to be a really great writer and full of opinion, I really don’t know him.  Should I expect more?

While I have been somewhat open about myself here and some of my personal life, I really haven’t divulged much.  “About Me” pages sometimes have a bit about the person and why they have this section of the Internet reserved for themselves but more often then not they are just a spot for people to lay out the justification for the site and a quick reference about what people can expect if they decide to come back.

I think the reason I haven’t dropped a post about myself is because I think it would possibly do more harm than good.  Maybe by taking a moment here to write down some of the key points that I believe are a real part of me, those that visit here may find some affinity to my musings and also my goals.

Feel free to jump ahead to the disgusting quote of the month.

I’m not a developer or a code monkey.  I don’t have a job in the industry or in a field even remotely connected to gaming.  At times I wish I did but I think I like my life at the moment.  I play games almost every night and waste atleast 2 hours a day at work reading and writing about them.  On top of that, I’m being considered for a promotion this month and that is the only thing that has kept me from posting/reading as much as I would like.  Its like a scene from Office Space with the exception that the fax machine loves me and I’m in the process courting the rest of theTyler Durden terminals at the company.  One can do a lot with an overabundance of printers and outdated scanners, if one was so inclined.

I admire a lot of people but the person that stands out as of late is J.K.Rowling. Anyone who can encourage that many children to read is an inspiration to me.  I would love to be able to create something as powerful as that someday but I think my lack of education may hamper that prospect.  I only did small stints in college and graduated from a high school that had a larger ratio of animals to students.

I left school after I met my wife and the two of us decided to move to a more “rural” location in Maine.  We didn’t get as far into the woods as I had originally intended us to go because there are just some things I can not live without, Internet being one of them.  I’m lucky enough that I pay for a house (banks like deeds) that isn’t sucking the life out of me every month and somehow manages to keep me warm and dry.  I’m still hoping that some old loon back in the 1900′s left a cash box in the wall or floors but I don’t have the energy to look for it.

Random Stuff:

  • I hate having to feed my body every night but I love eating good food.  We have the longer lasting lightbulb, can we work on the longer lasting sirloin now?
  • I like small cars but I hate maintaining anything about the automobile.
  • I hate flying but I see no way getting around this as I plan on going to my first game conference in 2008, still have no clue which one.
  • I only look at the pictures in manuals.
  • I haven’t read as many books as I should have yet I live within a half a mile of a library and my bus stop in high school was the first library in the nation.  Go figure.
  • I’m a good father but would make a really bad godfather. (not like the movie)
  • I found religion once.  I was told it wasn’t a real religion so now I’m lost again I guess.
  • I love playing board games but I am the worst loser ever.
  • I spend, at a minimum, 1 hour every night lying in bed before I fall asleep.
  • I roll my own cigarettes and continue to smoke even though I know its bad for me.
  • I don’t like being drunk but I love Baileys in coffee or hot chocolate on a winter morning.
  • If I won anything more than$50,000 dollars I would leave my job tomorrow.
  • If I won anything less than $50,000 dollars I would have a kick ass contest on this blog.
  • …. and I would subscribe to VirginWorlds.
  • If I won a dollar, I would by a Twix and eat them both.
  • If I could play any game right now it would probably be Call of Duty 4.  I need a better video card apparently.  (Damn you Shader 3.0!)

And now for this month’s Disgusting Quote:
“Well when I get to Hell I’m going to miggs the Devil.”
“No way man, you’d end up in the Pit of Miggs’n!”

I told you it was disgusting.
I love my office.

November 28, 2007 Posted by | Blog-o-sphere, RL | 13 Comments

How do I stop this *censored* Lag?

I normally don’t post when I’m at home because I save this time for actual gaming or maybe eating something.  However, there are times that just call for action and this is one of those times!  This has got to be the best fix yet for lag in a game:TR_Lag

Known Issue Workaround
There is an issue that causes extreme lag on Descent when your profanity filter is enabled. If you are going to Descent, turn off your profanity filter option located on the Game tab.

That was in the patch notes this evening when I logged into Tabula Rasa. I’m not even going to get into the part about the name of the zone in which this takes place and the fact that you have to put yourself through the torture of listening to the children banter on in full color.  It speaks for itself.

Just in case some people are actually experiencing this issue, here is the additional notes on this.

If you are on Descent and are unable to turn off your profanity filter, send a petition on an alternate character and remain online for GM assistance. If you cannot remain online, simply update your support ticket the next time you are able to log into the game.

Best fix ever.

November 20, 2007 Posted by | Tabula Rasa | | 6 Comments

Massive Trivia

SuccubusThe guys over at Channel Massive have a new Holiday Contest going on now that offers a great chance to snag one of the two biggest titles coming out in 2008.  If you are a listener of the show it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out the answer and I’m not going to drop any hints here.  :P

The topic itself and their latest release is a bit on the mature side so it may not be safe for work unless you listen with headphones.  You have been warned.

November 19, 2007 Posted by | Blog-o-sphere | | 2 Comments

Working it

WorkI’ve been spending the last week and a half preparing for a change of position at my current job and I have to say, it’s taking more of my time than I imagined.  If you liked the video review I did with TR you can imagine the job tutorials I’m currently writing.  I like to keep things clean and easy to understand and I’m not someone who is overly wordy about things as you can probably tell by the general length of most of my posts here.  I’m always one for polish and I tend to do more than is needed at times but I can’t argue with the outcome.

I want to thank those of you who have stopped by over the last couple of weeks because it definitely kept me going and I apologize for not posting more.  I’m spending most of my free time either reading while at work or playing EQ2 and TR when I’m at home.  I really wanted to get Rise of Kunark, but because I decided to get TR when it released my extracurricular funds are a bit low now.

To be honest I have been kind of disheartened over the past week with EQ2 as the areas we have been playing in have been less than stellar in terms of reward for the time invested.  We basically finished both Obelisk of Lost Souls and Bloodline Chronicles, being only at the very last part of Bloodline on Tuesday.  I’m not going to go into Bloodlines that much but receiving a level 1 potion as a reward is crap.  On that note, receiving a level 1 potion as a reward twice is absolute bullshit for the time it took me to finish those quests. /profanity

Obelisk was a little of a disappointment in terms of the number of quests only.  The only ones I could find were those picked up from mobs that were the typical book quests and then one for Summoning the Creator.  This went well and we managed to get all the way to the Vestibule inside the Obelisk before getting literally beaten back. We may return there again some day as the upper part of the Obelisk had some interesting hallways and a couple of closely spawning named mobs.  The layout here was probably one of the most interesting dungeons I have been in.

Have no fear though because this is all good news as there is nothing wrong with a raise before Christmas.  I may just have to celebrate by making a nice little stop by Gamestop and starting a new Sarnak character this weekend.  Wonder if my Iksar friend will mind…we are on Antonia Bayle after all.

November 16, 2007 Posted by | EQ2, RL | 4 Comments

Tabula Rasa – A video review

What an exciting title huh? I’m sorry as I really wanted to call this one “I brought you flowers” because of the blog guilt I’m feeling right now, but I just didn’t think it would explain the real content of the post.

I’ve been playing a lot of Tabula Rasa and I know I have already written a little review about the game but I just felt like it needed or deserved more. I’m not saying this is the epic game I have always been waiting for or that you should run out and grab it right now. I don’t do recommendations anymore.

What I will show you is exactly how the game is and maybe give you enough information to decide if TR is the game for you. Please enjoy as this was what has kept me away for the past couple days.

The Google Video Page

System Specifications
MSI 915p Neo2Platinum
2 gig PC2-4200 Kingston
MSI RX800XL ATI Raddeon PCIx16
2.8 Pentium 4

November 14, 2007 Posted by | Reviews, Tabula Rasa | | 18 Comments

Running on empty

Fuel_GuageI think for the past 6 years I have been sleeping on average about 5 hours a night.

I know that you are supposed to get something like 8 hours of sleep a night to be a fully functional human being but lets face it, I’m a gamer. We are powerhouses and store our stamina to sit for long periods of time in small recesses of our ass that most people do not have. Okay, thats gross but sometimes I question how long I can actually sit in a chair. Is my ass forming into some semblance of a cheap Staples chair pattern? Do I have biscuit buns at 30?

Some weekends I sleep in and get a good 9 or 10 hours if the wife is in a good mood and we aren’t out of town or at a friends house. This brings the tank back up to full and even drops in a little of that 3$ engine clean-out stuff. More often than not I tend to go right back into my routine of non-sleep the next day and with head down and running as fast as I can, I blast to the end of the work week. Its probably a normal thing in the gaming community and I might even be a mild case. However, when it gets to a point where it can affect your work, re-evaluations must be made. I quit my job.

Ha, that would be great wouldn’t it?

So, I’m going to bed earlier and with much regret I have limited my play time on weekdays to 11pm. This is really hard. Really, really hard. EQ2 isn’t the best for helping me stick to this goal and I found myself jumping out of a great guild group the other night while we were in the middle of the Hadden’s Earing and the Mask Heritage Quest. Definitely discouraging as I am not sure when I will be able to get a group together to return to that quest line.

What is shining here for me now is Tabula Rasa. I’m not going to get into what other people think about this game as I only care what it is doing for me right now. It offers me a chance to get in game for just an hour and participate in some very action packed battles. The rewards are decent and the goals simple but its the gameplay that keeps me going here. I can sit in this game by myself for a night and have a great time just helping NPCs or camping an outpost and not feel upset about leaving at 11.

My goal is to continue to log into EQ2 every weeknight and pick one quest to finish up before logging out. In EQ terms that could mean 30 minutes or two hours but I am going to have to really pick my battles here and rely on my friends and the EQ2i wiki to help me out. This also means that I’m not going to get any serious progression in either game until weekends.  Sacrifices must be made for the greater good and that greater good right now is the god of mortgages and bills.

If anyone knows what this deity takes for offerings (besides cash) please let me know.  My neighbor has some chickens I think.

November 7, 2007 Posted by | EQ2, RL, Tabula Rasa | 9 Comments

Going the extra mile

Sunset_RoadSo I did end up buying Tabula Rasa as I said I would and wouldn’t you know it, Gamestop had it the day before it was ready to launch. Interesting. I haven’t really visited that store much since I stopped working for them 6 years ago in Boston but its pretty much the same. One thing that I will note about my local store here in Maine is that the workers there went the extra step and gave me a copy of the preorder box. That was pretty cool of them as my beta access had expired the night before and I kind of wanted to get into the game on Thursday.

I’ll probably go back to that store because the employees were pretty cool even if they didn’t know what the game was about or that it was a MMO.

I’ve been going back through the same content as I did in beta and taking my time to ensure I do everything before moving on to the next zone. It still runs smooth on my system but the servers are crazy right now with stress and I really hope they iron out the issues.

If you haven’t played TR, they instance each zone multiple times and separate the population into mirrors of each world. Think Ironforge_1, Ironforge_2, and Ironforge_3 and the ability to switch between them at a certain place in the city. For some reason it kept dumping me to the same heavily populated zone even though I would select the less populated one. Suc.

The reason for the post is not really to complain about TR but more or less ask them why they didn’t take the time to finish out their world with the same level of immersion that the Bane offer the player. Immersion is pretty high on my ‘need’ list when playing a game and I’m not just talking about graphics here.

The Bane (bad guys) and the AFS (good guys) drop in on the planet via ships at seemingly random encounters and engage you, the player, in awesome battles. Ask any player who is in game right now about their first time at Memory Hill and I am sure they will tell you they spent atleast an hour there just running around taking out enemies. Its highly addictive and you can’t help but get caught up.

So why is it that the other 40% of the population in the world is working with the old respawn scenario?

The Tree Lurker drops down from certain trees when you happen to run by. This is great as it makes me look around and wait for the “thump” that they always make when they hit the ground. Very similar to the Bane and exactly what I would expect a mob with this name to do.

The Miasma, which you have to kill a ton of at the beginning, just ‘pop’ in. This just takes away from the effort that went into the Bane and Tree Lurker for me. They look like illithid so why not make them come in from another plane or maybe give them some wasp-like nest to come out of.  Heck, I’ve only seen these things in caves so why not give them some crevice to spawn out of?

Then there are Boars. I can’t remember their real name but I think it is something like Boregar or something close to that. Give them a hole in the ground too small for the player but just big enough for the boar. Make them come out as they usually walk and then go to their designated path if you have to, not just pop in whenever they are killed. Make us think that there is an actual colony under our feet full of these boars and make the world we are on truly foreign.

TR_TreebackFinally there is the Treebacks. These gigantic docile creatures scale to you very similar to that of a elephant. They roam around the wilderness in small packs and make a fairly loud stomping noise when they move in unison. I like these guys a lot even though I haven’t seen them as frequently as many of the other creatures.

Image courtesy of tr.stratics.com

W hat I think is missing with the Treebacks is that TR had an opportunity to entwine their spawn method with the ever present and impassable zone walls. When you reach one of these walls its usually pretty obvious because the forest somehow has become mysteriously thick and no opening whatsoever can be found. Pretty basic stuff here but a bit better than that in EQ2 and many other MMOs.Elephant_Forest

TR could have added a small opening that was one way and allowed the Treeback to simply walk into the area when one of their kin was killed.  Think Natural Geographic and a herd crashing through the think forest out onto an open plain.

I will say that Richard Garriot’s team did an awesome job with the immersion so far in Tabula Rasa and I really feel a part of the world when I am out on the battlefield fighting the Bane. I just wish they would have gone the extra mile with the rest of the world’s inhabitants.

November 5, 2007 Posted by | Rants, Tabula Rasa | | Leave a comment

I’m no advocate for change but,

Burglar…there are some things that just need to be re-evaluated after a period of time.   Sometimes it takes a new set of eyes to look at the same issue and offer up a new solution.  Other times it takes a more brutal approach and slaps us right in the face and says:

“Wake up! Things are not how they should be!”

This weekend my house was broken into and I am at the point where I need to decide if having a firearm in the house is a better alternative to not having one.  Being a parent and living in more rural zone puts these reasons at the top of the argument for the pro side.  The flip side of this is that I am possibly endangering my child by simply having one in the house.

Lets get real though, all that was taken was a 3 liter bottle of root beer and 7$ in cash.

“But that was MY root beer and I wanted to drink it while playing EQ2 on double experience Sunday dammit!”

If you ask my wife, she thinks I was more upset about the root beer than anything else but I can’t help but think if the burglar had come upstairs would I have gone and picked up a new Smith and Wesson the next morning.  Someone violated my house and my refrigerator!  They gots ta pay.

November 5, 2007 Posted by | RL | 9 Comments

A look back at October

Continuing with the new month end tradition of my blog wrap-up, lets take a look at October and see how scary a month it truly was.

Blog-o-sphere

  • Alex over at Average Joe decided it was best for the time being to take a break from blogging and focus more on real life commitments. Come back soon man!
  • Clockwork Gamer added Xeavn to the mix of writers there and opened up a new section devoted to some upcoming guides for Everquest 2.
  • Cuppycake and many others faced the fires of California and it looks okay for all.
  • Orange Box is the new crack.
  • Grouchy makes the move to a private domain. Mood change not guaranteed.
  • Rao makes me wish I had vacation time left over.
  • Heartless creates a Steam community and does a great writeup on TF2.
  • Many of my fellow bloggers have found either the dull-drums I had or simply the need for something new and have landed in the world of Everquest 2.
  • Wilhelm gets the Hulk inside of him free at last!
  • Bildo put out chapter 1, 2, & 3 of a great story that I highly recommend to anyone who likes the fantasy setting. The world sounds very cool. Ask him about Hellgate:London too.
  • Damiano dinged One this week and has some stats up at his blog. My traffic epeen just shrunk considerably smaller.
  • Some crap about a cake.
  • PvtHudson posted an epic article about MMO burnout, please read it as I care about all of you and I am waiting for the Blog-o-sphere guild to form.

Overall Blog-o-sphere morale: Temporarily satisfied.
Podcasting

  • Virgin Worlds hit the 2 year mark this month. Still my favorite site.
  • Channel Massive put out a new show that has a great round table on addiction.
  • Darren finally gets Grimwell on the show and manages to keep everyone on topic.
  • Tabulacast has launched over at VW and he sent me some linkage on my TR review. Thanks Sean. (I listen b/c he has a cool name)

Brackish News
I really think I forgot to post something about this at the beginning of the month but I made a second appearance on Darrens SUWT. What can I say, he promised me a bottle of Baileys and winter was around the corner.

I finally got iTunes this week. I had planned on writing a whole article about it but its a pretty bland topic and its not something I really wanted to do. Now that I have it, the hold is beginning to take place and I’m thinking about re-re-formatting my iPod back the original software. It seems Rockbox doesn’t like iTunes either.

My gaming has funneled down to me only playing EQ2 in my spare time and even still I have only reached level 39 as a Berserker and 35 as an Armorsmith. I guess thats pretty good as the wife is still sleeping in the same room and the boy is still porky and happy. Gotta balance out the life systems too!

With iTunes now on my PC, my list of shows is growing and I hope to update the right here with my top ten. There are many like EQ2′sDay, EpicDolls (WoW), and GameOver that make me wish I was sleepless like the marines in X-Files.

New Links

Top Search Engine Terms
human seducing games – I want no part of this.
veggietales mmog – I want every part of this.
animated person recycling in action – I don’t even know what this is, Soylent Green?

Forgive me if I missed any new linkage or important events that happened.

November 1, 2007 Posted by | Blog-o-sphere, monthly recap | 5 Comments

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