2010 Mar 30 rinoa

Guy Blade Guy Blade---03:36:00

On Scale
I often write about the video games that I play here. While I admit that the "reviews" that I write are probably best described as "stream of consciousness" or even "disjointed", I do try to provide some sense of whether the game is worth playing. To that end, I've decided to adopt a rating system for games going forward. Unlike other systems that might have a 100 point scale or a ten point scale or even a five point scale, I will have a two point scale. Games that are worth your time get a 1; games that aren't get a 0. I think this sort of "pass-fail" mentality works better with the way that I think about and play games anyway.

Now, for some past reviews on the new scale in approximate reverse chronological order:

Katamari Forever: 0
Bayonetta: 1
Bioshock 2: 1
Mass Effect 2: 0
Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings: 0
Dragon Age: Origins: 1
Shadow Complex: 1
Assassin's Creed 2: 1
Batman: Arkham Asylum: 1
Professor Layton and the Curious Village: 1
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days: 0
Borderlands: 0
Red Faction: Guerrilla: 0
Too Human: 0
The Last Remnant: 0
Resident Evil 5: 1

That takes me back to last June which I think is far enough. I may end up adding a 1! (should be read "one factorial") for games which I think should be required reading. I'm mulling it over now, but we'll see if there is ever a game which necessitates it.

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2010 Mar 22 aya

Guy Blade Guy Blade---22:06:00

Can't stop rolling
About a week ago, I finished my first run through of Katamari Forever. The premise this time around is that the King of All Cosmos is hit in the head by a stray piece of space debris and loses his memory. Without a strong leader to guide them, the Prince and the Cousins build a robot version of the King to fill his roll. The RoboKing, upon activation, goes crazy and destroys all the stars in the sky, so we're back to rolling up stuff again.

Gameplay wise, this is basically identical to Katamari Damacy and We (heart) Katamari. It turns out that only about half of the levels are actually new, though. The game is divided into the "King's Cosmos" and the "RoboKing's Cosmos". The King's Cosmos consists mostly of rehashes of levels from the first two games (including the damn Cow-Bear level) which you play through to help the King "get back his memories". The RoboKing levels are mostly new and have a few new variations--one level has you using the Katamari to apply water to a parched section of Earth.

Of course, since the game has the power of the PS3 behind it, they decided to take a bit of refuge in audacity by having their "world" level be expandable so many times that there is a PS3 trophy for making a Katamari over 2,000,000 km. Yes, a katamari 6.7 light seconds across.

Overall though, the game wasn't that special. I've seen it periodically show up in the $20-$30 range and think that's probably appropriate. I picked it up for $35 and honestly don't think there was enough original content to make it worthwhile at that range.

After KF, I began playing through Final Fantasy XIII. I'm still currently working on it, so we'll see once I've finished.

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2010 Mar 17 elly-miang

Guy Blade Guy Blade---00:17:00

I make hot chocolate at work semi-regularly. Today, the place in the coffee area where I usually grab stir sticks was down to two. My reaction to this was to (1) take one of them for use now, and (2) purchase five 6-inch glass stir rods for future use. I can think of no better way to mix my cocoa.

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2010 Mar 15 aya

Guy Blade Guy Blade---05:14:00

And now it's listed as complete
So, I've been playing a fair bit of the Bioshock 2 multiplayer. I had initially been dubious of it, given the nature of the main game's play. I found that it had a bit of a learning curve, but was actually relatively fun. I ended up playing it for a few hours every night after work, and then recently hit one of the higher ranks. At that point, I just decided to go ahead and shoot for Rank 40 (the highest available without the DLC) and earlier today ended up hitting it which gave me the last of the achievements in the game.

Unfortunately, my last couple of games were some of my least pleasant experiences. There were a handful of players being poorly behaved--racial epithets, accusations of cheating, people blaming "lag" for their issues. One player accused me of being a noob because I was using the "noob toob" more canonically known as the grenade tube. I, of course, enjoyed the fact that I ended that particular match with a higher score than the top two opposing players put together, but it soured the taste for me a bit. Add on the fact that I hit my goal, I doubt I'll be playing again soon.

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2010 Mar 11 aya

Guy Blade Guy Blade---01:49:00

Other People's Code
I was given some code that is supposed to replace some code that I had written. The purpose of both pieces was to calculate the latitude and longitude of something based on a series of measurements and interpolating it to a given time. My code has been in use for a while, but we're doing comparisons with another implementation and want to use the same (kind of) function to do this calculation so we can try to find the source of differences in high level implementations.

Anyway, the given code uses substantially different data structures and required a fair amount of wrapper code to get working. Now, it seems that I'm feeding appropriate values into it. The function is giving a return result indicating success, but is returning NANs for all of its resultant values. I find this irritating.

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2010 Mar 10 relm

Guy Blade Guy Blade---01:40:00

Seldom Used
Looking up something tangentially related, I ended up looking at the list of images types for an id3v2 imbedded picture. Most of the types are straightforward 0x03 is a front cover image, 0x13 is a Band Logo, etc. What drew my attention was the fact that 0x11 is defined by the standard as "A bright coloured fish". Somehow, I suspect that particular type is rarely used.

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2010 Mar 09 terra

Guy Blade Guy Blade---22:40:00

In other words, hold my hand
On Sunday, I finished up my playthrough of Bayonetta. The game initially caught my attention when I found out that it was the most recent game to score prefectly in Famitsu. I picked it up after Christmas, but I had been distracted by Dragon Age, Bioshock 2, and Mass Effect 2 and so hadn't played more than just a bit of it. I finally started playing again in earnest last week.

The game itself plays very much like Devil May Cry which should make sense due to the fact that they share a director. The game is thus made of fast combat, huge combos, and rapid action. I would classify the game as more forgiving the Devil May Cry, however, due to its inclusion of a "dodge" button. Although the DMC games include the ability to dodge, it tends to be more finicky and can fail. In Bayonetta, a successfully engaged dodge always works, and if timed properly, grants a bonus in the form of "witch time"--a sort of bullet time. Regardless, most of the DMC skills will transfer over successfully.

The term "hyper-sexualized" seems to float about when describing this game and perhaps not without warrant. The main character speaks almost always provocatively and almost all of her attacks emphasize her sexuality--at least one even ends with her in a pose and the game performing a "camera shot" by producing a shutter sound and a quick shutter graphical effect. The deapth of it doesn't really sink in until you realize that the character is essentially always naked. It seems to be implied quite heavily that Bayonetta's outfit is just her hair being strategically arranged via magical powers.

Storywise, the game also overlaps with Devil May Cry. There exists two groups--sages and witches--which previously kept some sort of balance and watched over history. Eventually, a witch and a sage had a child against all of the rules of their orders and led to the ultimate near destruction of both sides. Skip ahead a few hundred years and we have Bayonetta waking up from a coffin at the bottom of a lake. She is, of course, the cross-breed, but seems uninterested in dealing with any of the old problems. Instead, she starts taking jobs fighting angels. The exact reasons for this aren't really clear nor important, but the various "holy" types are mostly just jerks who are more than willing to wantonly destroy part of the human world to reach their objectives. Your character eventually gets ambushed by a more concerted pack than usual and decides to figure out what's going on. That's where the plot more or less starts.

I think the game makes a lot of good decisions in design. For instance, at the beginning of the game, there is a long explanatory cutscene where they explain the back story of the witches and sages. Most games would simply subject you to it, but Bayonetta instead has the dialog playing in the background while you take the role of a fully powered character with infinite health fighting enemies in a huge battle. In the closing of the game, after the final boss, they roll credits with various little scenes playing in the background. Two of those scenes zoom in and become player-controlled battles. They didn't even want the credits to be boring. It's that sort of care that sorts the great games and the good games apart.

There is one other thing that is worth noting: the game makes very heavy use of the song "Fly Me to the Moon". In a sense, it is the game's theme song. It shows up several times as battle music complete with lyrics, several of the battle themes are direct remixes, and even the other songs will occasionally throw in just enough notes in a row to evoke some part of the song. The reasons for this are never made terribly clear, but the continual use of the song does provide some level of unity to the entire audio score.

Overall, I'd say the game is quite good. In a sense, it is better at being Devil May Cry than Devil May Cry is. I picked it up at MSRP and don't really consider that to be a bad thing. I should note that I played the XBox 360 version rather than the PS3 version. Supposedly, the PS3 version had framerate issues, but I have no first-hand evidence on that. Either way, where else are you going to find a game that allows you to weild a katana while wearing ice skates or lets you simultaneously use four rocket launchers?

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Guy Blade Guy Blade---10:23:00

Pulling Data
So, last night one of my fraternity brothers asked me to for a copy of a document that I made in college (for reference, that would be my proposed IFC revisions related to budgeting and dues). Now, I know that I had made those after my last laptop disk failure, but shortly after graduating, I formatted my laptop and installed linux on it. Before doing that, however, I made a disk image and saved it on one of my big storage arrays in case I needed anything on it in the future. Unfortuantely, I made a whole disk image rather than just saving the specific partition that I needed. Turns out that linux doesn't provide an easy way to treat a disk image with a partition table as a virtual disk with appropriate virtual moutable partitions.

I ended up pulling the data out of the image by using parted to find the beginning of the NTFS partition and then using dd to make a file of just the partition. Then, I was able to use mount with the loop option to actually mount the partition.

Now that I've pulled what I need most immediately, I think I'll copy over the "My Documents" folder so that I won't need to do this again, though I do have a perfectly fine partition image that could serve a similar purpose.

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2010 Mar 06 anthy

Guy Blade Guy Blade---01:30:00

Daft Club
I ordered the album Daft Club after I found out that it was mostly remixes of Discovery songs. Honestly, I can't say it is very good. I paid less than $6 for it after shipping and am not sure that it was worth even that. I suspect that the strength of Discovery itself makes creating similar quality remixes tricky. I'll probably give it another listen just to see if it grows on me--Coldplay's X&Y was like that for me. For now though, I just can't say that I'm impressed in the least.

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2010 Mar 04 relm

Guy Blade Guy Blade---19:28:00

The thing that I think I like most about the recent arc of PPG Doujinshi (which updated today by the way) is the writing of Gir. Although the comic as a whole is generally fun and certainly has high production values, it is hard to beat a green dog-robot looking up at another character and yelling "Call me Ishmael!" for no discernable reason (unless he's calling Bell fat...).

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