2010 Jun 26 relm

Guy Blade Guy Blade---04:00:00

Last night, I went to the second US theatrical screening of The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. Bandai put on a few little things there: they were raffling off Crunchy Roll memberships, they had some of the English voice actors signing posters, someone was singing the various Haruhi theme songs (relatively well, actually), Yen Press/Little, Brown, and Co. were apparently giving away copies of the light novels and manga, etc. The main event was, of course, the film.

First off, the bad, the movie basically requires you to have seen some of the second season of Haruhi. So far, there has yet to be a US release of the second season of Haruhi. There isn't even a release date (beyond the vague indication of "2010") as far as I know. I blame Bandai for being Bandai. Much as I might dislike Funimation, at least they tend to give release schedules for things that I care about. That aside, I don't think the movie is at all accessible to people who haven't at least seen the first season. Very little of the backstory is explained in anything more than a passing way. Honestly, I consider this a fine thing as it gives the movie more time to focus on its story rather than wasting time relating what I already know.

Setting that aside, I would say that this movie is probably the best of the animated Haruhi properties so far. I'm almost willing to forgive Kyoto Animation for the Endless Eight debacle. Almost. Regardless, once Bandai decides to actually release it on DVD, I would recommend picking it up with a great degree of insistence.

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2010 Jun 25 peach

Guy Blade Guy Blade---01:08:00

Good Ideas
So, I just found out that Studio Ghibli--the people who make Miyazaki movies--and Level-5--the people who make the Professor Layton games--have formed a partnership to make a game. This is the kind of pedigree that makes me excited. Hopefully, it doesn't just end up as another Blue Dragon.

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2010 Jun 24 garnet

Guy Blade Guy Blade---20:35:00

Walk in the Rain
Last night, I defeated Heavy Rain. By defeated, I mean that I earned the platinum trophy and am thus completely done with the game. If you've been living under a rock, you might not be aware that Heavy Rain is an "interactive thriller" for the PS3 (currently an exclusive title) made by the people who made Indigo Prophecy. Because Heavy Rain is heavily story driven, you would be wise to expect unmasked possible spoilers below.

Much like its predecessor, Heavy Rain is mostly composed of quick-time events with interspersed exploration scenes and a heavy emphasis on narrative. This time, our four-man band consists of Ethan, the downtrodden father; Madison, the nightmare-addled reporter; Scott, the private dick; and Norman, FBI profiler. The story begins with a very shiny prologue with lots of bloom lighting and a virtual guarantee that something horrible is going to happen to transform the idyllic life of Ethan into the dark and gritty version seen on the game's box art. Honestly, I was spent most of the prologue trying to figure out how many and which of his family members would die. After the inevitable death in the prologue, we pick up with Ethan two years later.

Within minutes of beginning the game proper, Ethan's son is kidnapped by the Origami Killer and he is thrust into a series of "trials" in order to save his son. Coincidentally with this, Scott and Norm are seperately attempting to hunt down the Origami Killer. Madison is added on a bit later as a romantic foil and makeshift medic for Ethan.

As I said above, the gameplay comes in two main varieties: exploration and QTE. The exploration areas usually consist of puzzles and tend to be a bit more subdued. Unfortunately, the controls for the exploration areas are a bit klunky. The game uses a sort of "driving" paradigm where you point with the right control stick and move in that direction using R2. Unfortunately, the turns are rather lousy, so the game doesn't quite respond as expected. This isn't enough to cause many problems, but it can be annoying. The QTEs make up the bread and butter of the gameplay, however. Despite what might otherwise seem like a relatively restricted set of actions, the game actually manages to mix up the QTE options somewhat. In addition to using all 8 of the available buttons (X, O, Square, Triangle, R1, R2, L1, L2), they also make good use of the sixaxis controller by including rotations (especially in driving scenes) and more complex analog stick manipulations to denote fine actions. Also, unlike its predecessor, the game seems to have relatively few unwinnable QTEs. I believe there is only one QTE that I was never able to complete successfully in the entirety of the game.

I found the story to be relatively compelling if somewhat short. My first pass from beginning to end took less than a day and I was able to get the platinum trophy in under four days. Playing through the last bits of the game so many times in such a short period (one of the trophies is "Get All Endings"), did lead me to discover that the game is severely lacking on replayability. QTEs in general are fixed and don't change from playthrough to playthrough. Puzzle layouts and hidden items also don't change, so the second lizard will always have the key no matter how many times you play through the level. At the same time, playing through a second time does allow you to see more subtle things that show off characters' true motivations. For instance, some animations that originally seemed just like "idle animations" gain new significance when viewed with full knowledge of the game's plot.

I was a bit disappointed with some of the voice acting/writing. Most of the children that show up in the game have very strange or perhaps stilted dialog and the voice actors chosen have strange delivery. This occasionally happens to the adult characters as well, but is slightly less noticable. I attribute this most likely to the game's dialog having been originally written in French and then translated into English later. This may explain their constant use of the word "wasteland" to describe certain kinds of deserted areas within an urban area--a usage which I'd not heard before.

There are also some loose ends that I felt the game didn't properly address in any of the endings. Mostly, there is some background characterization at the beginning of the game which is supposed to muddy the waters in your search for the killer. Some of it ends up getting resolved, but some is simply dropped on the floor once the real killer is revealed. At the same time some characters (Madison and Norman especially) have internal struggles that you seem to be set up to try to help them through, but player actions seem to have little effect on the outcome.

Overall, there is a lot to like here. Indigo Prophecy is a good bellweather for whether or not you'll like this game (surprise, surprise). Without that bit of data to provide help, I'd recommend it for general fans of mystery and old-style adventure games.

Heavy Rain: 1

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2010 Jun 22 terra

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

Over the weekend, I did some more updates for XPost.

Firstly, I finished with the generalization of the user addition framework. Previously, the parser for user configuration files had to be updated whenever a new type of blog was added or removed. Now, I'm using the reflection framework to automatically deal with new user/blog types. At this point, all that needs to be done is to create a new pair of classes--SomethingUser and SomethingBlog--that are subclasses of the appropriate generic classes--BlogUser and Blog--and compile them in. That will automaticalling add them to the list of available blog types to add.

I made that change so that I could easily add a new type of blog service. As of yesterday, XPost now supports the Cheapass Gamer blogs. Of course, some parts of the support are incomplete. Since CAG uses BBCode to format posts, I have a rudimentary HTML to BBCode converter. Currently, it only handles the things that I use (bold formatted text, links, and line breaks) and strips out any other html tags. Nevertheless, it is better than nothing and I'm now crossposting my game reviews to CAG.

Eventually, I'll probably put up a new binary at the XPost site, but for now the changes are only in SVN. I'm not terribly excited about trying to do another binary build because I've not done one in like 3 years and I no longer have a machine with NSIS set up and running. More importantly, I haven't tested on Windows in like 5 years. I'd like to make sure that whatever I release at least works on Windows with GTK#.

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2010 Jun 21 emeralda

Guy Blade Guy Blade---23:47:00

Ok, We'll need a Crucifix and a Knife Sharpener
Over the weekend, I finally beat Cross Edge. For those unaware, Cross Edge is a tactical(-ish) JRPG for the PS3 published in the US by NIS America--the Disgaea people. It's primary selling point is that it is a big crossover of various other games, notably bringing in characters from Disgaea and Darkstalkers. Less notably, it brings in characters from series that I'd never heard of before (Ar tonelico, Spectral Souls, Atelier Marie, and Mana Khemia). None of that matters though because everyone starts with amnesia, so you don't need to worry much about the backstory of the characters.

The game itself is segmented into four main "modes". The first is the overworld "wandering" mode. On the overworld, you are tasked with finding "souls" and releasing them. What this means in practice is that you wander around the overworld map, periodically mashing the square button. If you are lucky, there will be a soul or event within the area of effect of your search. If, as is much more likely the case, there isn't, nothing happens. Of course, the game includes random encounters, so during this combing effort, you are periodically subjected to fights.

The second mode could best be described as "event" mode. In this mode, you get to watch a short cutscene of various party and non-party characters interacting. Unfortunately, almost all of these are scripted together using perhaps a dozen different still poses of each character in an attempt to convey some action. Rarely, they will use some sprite-based animations to show something more important happening. Events also sometimes have battles in them when you wander across threats and the like

The third mode is the "dungeon" mode. Dungeon mode differes from wandering mode in two ways: your 2d-grid is now oriented like a platformer (complete with jumping puzzles) and your characters don't auto-heal between battles.

The last, and most important, mode is that "battle" mode. In battle mode, you take your party versus a set of enemies (Hey, its a JPRG, what did you expect?). The "tactical" part of the game comes into play here most. Both your party and the enemies are assigned a 3x4 grid on which characters are placed. The PC party is, generally, made up of 4 characters. Each side gets to take turns wailing on the other with perhaps the most important parts being making good use of the combo system to string together long and deadly attacks.

The game, unfortunately, shows many failings. First and foremost, the plot doesn't matter. In fact, one of the characters even says as much about two-thirds of the way into the game. Even setting that aside, it isn't a very strong plot anyway. More egregiously, the game basically ignores the last decade of development in the JRPG genre. Pacing could be best described as horrible with level grinding routinely required even between events which are nominally supposed to occur immediately after one another. The game eventually gives you upwards of 40 possible player characters, but rather than having everyone be at the same level, the "current" party gets full experience with reserve characters getting less. This quickly leads to a huge power disparity between the "main" party and your other characters. This could be ignored, but the game insists on periodically forcing characters into your active party for certain plot-related battles. There is even one event battle (where failure, luckily, has no effect) where your entire party plus your starting formation is chosen for you. Also, the game explains the combo system to you, but fails to stress that mastering it is the entire point of the battle system. In fact, once I had finally grokked it, I was able to beat the final 4 or 5 bosses in two turns each and did the same for the first 5 post-game bonus bosses.

As if these issues weren't enough, the entire game seems to be build out of guide dang it moments. For instance, there are events which are on the world map and discoverable. Periodically, some events will unlock others. Of course, the game doesn't make any mention of the newly unlocked events in any way. Since they only show up when searched for, even a map doesn't necessarily help. To make matters worse, many events disappear after key events if you haven't found them yet. And woe be to you if you are trying to get the "True Ending". In order to get it, you basically have to do every optional event in the game (a feat in and of itself). Additionally, you have to do arbitrary, unclued things in various battles. For instance, some characters who are outright hostile to you, you aren't allowed to attack in battle. Other characters must be completely defeated (getting them to zero hit points) rather than allowing the battle's turn limit to expire.

Underlying all of this is a layer of creepy Japanese otaku appeal. For instance, one of the things that you can do is change character's constumes in order to change their stats. Ok, sounds reasonable. The character who describes the system to you informs you that when females characters change, you "get to watch them, so its a bonus to the player" or something similar. Incidentally, said explanatory character is like an 8 year old girl. Oh, and the game also includes hot springs scenes. So yeah.

Ultimately, I can't say that there is much here to like: bad pacing, weak story, unclued puzzles, and endless random encounters. Honestly, I thought the best part of the game were the handful of post-game events. Since the main story was over, there were many instances of the PCs breaking character and being somewhat hilarious. Unfortunately, those handful of scenes aren't worth the investment.

Cross Edge: 0

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2010 Jun 20 peach

Guy Blade Guy Blade---12:20:00

I think "New" is a Misnomer
Earlier this week, I beat the final boss of New Super Mario Bros. Wii. I didn't actually end up beating all of the levels because I had skipped one world entirely due to finding the warp whistle equivalent.

Gameplay wise, NSBW is nearly identical to the NDS version of New Super Mario Bros. that came out a few years ago. The main new bits are a few new suits and the fact of it being on the Wii.

The platforming itself is relatively solid, though I think the wiimote makes a rather terrible controller for this sort of game. You really only have three actions available: jump, run/shoot, and spin. Unfortunately, they decided to bind spin to the "shake the controller" button. This means that precision spinning is mostly impossible.

The game gives a handful of new suits, but the main one of interest seems to be the "propeller helmet" suit. I say "main one of interest" because so many of the levels and challenges become trivial when using it. It seems like the "propeller helmet" is as important in this game as the "mini-mario" suit was in its predecessor given how often level designers chose to include things that are there specifically to appeal to it. Unfortunately, that means that some of the other new suits were heavily overshadowed. For instance, I never once got a penguin suit. I don't even know what it does and I've finished the game.

From the perspective of someone who played it single player and who had actually played the NDS game to completion, I can't say that there is much here. I would say that it might be worth it to the two or three people who haven't yet played the NDS iteration. It might also be good for people who want to experience the multiplayer--something that I've not done. Mostly though, I just didn't care at all. The game never engaged me to a level where I was either impressed with it or angered me to the point where I was beating it to beat it. Perhaps the best thing that I can say is that, when I stopped playing, it was because I reached a save point almost every time. I played it just long enough to get to the next checkpoint and then didn't care enough to keep playing.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii: 0

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2010 Jun 18 emeralda

Guy Blade Guy Blade---04:19:00

It may have "My" in the title, but I disclaim all responsibility
So, a while back Blogger announced that they were ending support for users who used ftp/sftp to post. I had been one of those users since before Blogger was bought by Google, so I was a bit annoyed. Nevertheless, I basically ignored the whole issue and the cutoff was over a month ago. Since then, hasn't updated due to the fact that it is driven by blogger. I've still been crossposting there, but the updates are just not pushed out. After freasha was replaced last week, I finally decided to do something about the issue of keeping (at least) up to date. Originally, I had considered creating an entire set of posting infrastructure with a metaweblog framework and the like, but I decided to go with a simpler, if less robust, solution.

Basically, what I intended to do was to import all of the old posts from into a database, then use a periodic script to sync new posts into the database by reading the blogspot atom feed. This mostly allows continuity of everything that was working before (comments, etc) without requiring a whole lot of work. I've mostly coded up the entire thing at this point, but I've run into two major problems, both due to MySQL.

Firstly, I should note that SQL requires certain things of literals used in queries. The main thing that it requires (as far as this problem is concerned) is that numeric literals must not be quoted. That is, when saying "SELECT blah FROM foo WHERE value = 3", the 3 must not be quoted. MS-SQL is very pedantic about this, but MySQL has always been rather lax and allowed you to quote numbers as strings without issue. Or at least, that is what I thought.

It turns out that for some very large numbers, MySQL will fail when doing comparisons between numbers and numeric strings. In fact, I've narrowed it down a fair amount:

mysql> select 15271058505994179526 = "15271058505994179526" ;
| 15271058505994179526 = "15271058505994179526" |
| 1 |

mysql> select 16951940091101346629 = "16951940091101346629";
| 16951940091101346629 = "16951940091101346629" |
| 0 |

The worst part about this is that I discovered this while using the perl DBI interface which is supposed to handle the type massaging on its own when I do parameterization. Eventually, I replaced the "= ?" in my query with an " = CONVERT(?, DECIMAL(60))" which fixed the problem (I used DECIMAL(60) as the column type because these values exceed the limits of BIGINT and I didn't want to screw around with finding the right size of DECIMAL to use). Incidentally, mysql will happily accept a quoted numeric value in an insert even with these large numbers. The problem that I had was violating primary key constraints when this comparison failed and I tried to insert the same userid again.

The second problem I have not yet managed to solve. Because I use php for certain parts of already, I decided to implement the updated code in php as well. Also, I decided that I'd finally move away from the mysql interface and use the (shiny, new) mysqli interface. It is somewhat more clunky than the equivalent DBI interface, but it at least allows for parameterized queries (though it doesn't allow you to merge bind and execute into a single call). Nevertheless, it is mostly straightforward. Where I ran into problems was when I was trying to pull data out of my database. I decided to use LARGETEXT fields for the "body" field of my blog postings. This seemed reasonable as the overhead is rather small and I can conceive of situations where I might want to dump more than 16M of text in a post.

It turns out, however, that the mysqli interface cannot actually read values from large text fields. The old mysql interface can do this properly, so I will probably get to rewrite all of the code using the old interface. Luckily only a few dozen lines actually dealt with the sql directly...

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2010 Jun 11 aeris

Guy Blade Guy Blade---21:49:00

Some time ago, I decided to replace the machine that I used as my webserver. I purchased new components and assembled them. I'm still using my rackmount case, but since I can afford to spend more on my hardware these days, I built the replacement machine around a 1U barebones server. Unfortunately, I ran into some problems with trying to set up NetBSD on it. The main issue wasn't getting NetBSD install (netbsd runs on everything after all), but it was instead setting up the machine to boot off of a software RAID-1 array. NetBSD has some explicit instructions for doing this on their website, but I just couldn't get them to work when I first got the machine about a month ago. Eventually, I got frustrated with it and distracted by other things and the machine sat around on the floor in my apartment until two days ago.

The reason for my desire to replace the old NetBSD machine was twofold. Firstly, the hardware itself was getting rather old: the CPU was bought my freshman year of college and was a handmedown from my gaming rig at the time; the other components were bought inbetween my freshman and sophomore year and were the cheapest available on NewEgg at the time, etc. Secondly, I hadn't upgraded the core NetBSD software since I replaced the hard drives in the machine my junior year or so. This meant that the machine was running NetBSD 2.0.2 in a world where the current version was 5.0.2 and no packages were being maintained for systems older than 4.0. To make matters worse, my attempts to keep the machine in working order had eventually left me without a working C compiler after the last failed upgrade attempt. Nevertheless, the machine, being NetBSD, had soldiered on valiantly by running the software that was already in memory even as the underlying object code had gone missing due to my botched maintenance.

Two days ago, however, something finally caused the Apache server to finally attempt to recycle (my guess is one of the keep-alive scripts triggered an automatic restart of the Apache server) and brought the system to its knees. Although it would still boot (and in fact hadn't even reset or failed in any externally noticable way aside from the webserver), it was unable to start the web server successfully. Imani brought the situation to my attention by asking if the link was down.

This time around I was eventually able to get the root raid-1 to work on the new hardware. I initially thought the problem was that I was trying to use the AMD64 install set (and they weren't explicitly listed as supported for raid-1), but it may have actually been due to an error in my disklabel configuration. I then began the difficult task of migrating data from the old machine to the new one. I started with the MySQL data since it is arguably the most important, and I only had a vague idea of how to actually copy it over. Apparently, using mysqldump requires the -x (lock all tables) flag to work properly even if nothing is accessing the data, but I did manage to get a usable dump file and copy it over to the new machine without too much trouble.

Next I began to try to migrate the normal file data and ran into a problem. I had expected to just be able to rysnc everything over without any issue, but the old machine was so decayed that attempting to run rsync resulted in the program crashing with an "Unable to find PLT symbol __stat30" error. I eventually solved this by finding a NetBSD livecd and booting off of it. Of course, the livecd's version of rsync was also borked (for reasons unknown), so I had to copy the new machine's binary to the old machine, running off the live cd, and use it. At that point, I was able to get everything that I could think of off the old machine. There may still be more, so I'm going to keep the old machine around for a while (though probably powered off).

If you previously had an account on freasha, you probably don't anymore. I should still have any data from there, so let me know if you need access again. If you were using any of the web services (like the link), the service should be working properly again. Since I just moved the databases over without changing them at all, passwords, usernames, preferences and the like are unchanged. This also affected by DNS hosting, so dynamic DNS may or may not be working again yet. I haven't followed through to verify one way or the other. Incidentally, freasha hosts webservers for,,,, and along with any associated .net or .org versions thereof as well as primary DNS for in case you were wondering about effected services.

I also took this opportunity to finally move the mail service over to Google Apps. I hadn't been attempting to maintain the mail server for some time, so it was basically just full of junk mail. Moving to google relieves me of having to deal with any of the spam filtering headaches and I can just have the mail forwarded to my primary address.

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2010 Jun 10 rinoa

Guy Blade Guy Blade---01:59:00

I don't really see what we're prototyping here
Late on Monday, I finished up Prototype. The game itself is an open-world platformer similar in style to Infamous. The player takes on the role of Alex Mercer--an amnesiac who wakes up in a morgue--trying to figure out what happened to him and why nearly everyone in Manhattan is trying to kill him.

The game makes use of a relatively standard platformer upgrade system. Completing sidequests, killing enemies, and finding various collectables earn you EP which can be used to buy new powers. Completing main quest missions unlocks new powers for purchase in addition to the standard EP rewards.

Mercer's powers proper are based entirely on him manipulating his body in strange ways--growing claws, turning his fists into giant mauls, etc. To that end, the standard way of regaining health is to grab a person and "consume" them. Doing so involves Mercer character physically absorbing (and thereby killing) the person absorbed. This consumption mechanic ends up being key to gameplay in several forms. Firstly, Mercer can switch between two disguises: his standard "Mercer" form and the form of the last person that he consumed. Since Mercer is often pitted against military personnel, consuming a military person and using their form provides substantial benefit.

Further, the consume mechanic also has an influence on the plot due to its non-gameplay powers. Most notably, Mercer gains the knowledge and memories of the people he consumes. Due to this, the main plot of the game is often concerned with finding people who know Mercer's history and essentially eating them. This mechanic also drives the major subquest called the "Web of Intrigue" which is concerned with finding random people on the streets of Manhattan and eating them so as to find out more information about the game's backstory and the ongoing operations of the military in the city.

The consume mechanic also bends back yet again into the upgrade system. Most powers can simply be purchased using EP, but some can only be obtained by consuming people with certain knowledge. All of the skills of this form are related to using things other than the powers inherent to Mercer--driving military vehicles, being more efficient with guns, etc. In addition, all of the people with the requisite knowledge are military personnel sequestered inside of the various bases constructed around Manhattan. This leads to a sort of minigame wherein you must find the base commander, consume him, sneak into the base under a false identity, and then find and consume the person (or people) inside with the appropriate knowledge. This is honestly one of the most interesting parts of the game because it pulls together many of the game's more novel elements.

Gameplay wise, Mercer moves about the city mostly by running up buildings and then gliding around. Unfortunately, the building climbing is infuriatingly impercise at low speeds or over narrow objects. There are several collectables situated at the top of antennas atop tall buildings that I collected before I obtained the ability to fly helicopters. Had I known about this, I would have simply waited rather than becoming frustrated. This poor control also becomes troublesome in the various "movement" sidequests. One in particular (Point to Point) took me hours to do successfully.

The combat is also rather weak. Mercer is somewhat fragile and prone to be knocked over. Additionally, he has little in the way on inherent ranged attacks. This led to me using combat vehicles whenever possible due to the fact that they have seperate health bars and have damage output well in excess of what the player can nominally do with weapons. For instance, the tank can take down a helicopter in a single show whereas Mercer on foot only has a shot if there is something large nearby that can be thrown at the heli.

Overall, I found the game fun despite its weaknesses. I also enjoyed the story enough to keep moving through it without feeling compelled to simply get it beaten. I wish that I, as a player, had more impact on the outcome of the game. Given the open world nature of it, such things seem almost the norm, but Prototype gives a fixed plot influenced only by the player's progress.

Prototype: 1

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2010 Jun 03 anthy

Guy Blade Guy Blade---23:41:00

Gamex 2010 Day Four
The final day of Gamex was, as usual, the lightest. I began the day with the Mega Dominion tournament. I ended up making it to the second round (of three total), but was crushed by a series of bad draws. The person that I roomed with for the convention, however, managed to get second place in the tournament by using screwy strategies which messed up the more conventional plans that the other players used.

After packing up, I spent a couple of hours in the auction. I got several very good deals there, even though I didn't buy nearly as much as last con. I picked up a sealed copy of Power Grid for $24; a sealed copy of Fluxx 3.1 for $4; and a first edition Shadowrun book for $1. I also picked up some nifty dungeon building tiles at the dealer's room though they weren't really a deal.

My last game for the day was Shadow Hunters. My team ended up losing, but only just. It all came down to a single d4 roll and I didn't roll high enough.

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Guy Blade Guy Blade---00:04:00

Some Benefits
There are some benefits to living in LA. For instance, today I became aware of the fact that the Haruhi Movie is going to have a US theatrical release. It turns out that the dub premeire is going to be less than an hour for my apartment, so I have purchased a ticket. I would have rather gone to the subtitled showings in San Francisco, but it is hard to justify that much travel for a movie.

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2010 Jun 02 tifa

Guy Blade Guy Blade---21:37:00

Gamex 2010 Day Three
I began Sunday of Gamex with a 9am game of Arkham Horror, a cooperative boardgame. Unfortunately, the person running the game was not terribly familiar with it and only one of the eight players had actually played it before. We ended up winning (and I got the second place ribbon for it), but it wasn't entirely clear if we were playing correctly.

After Arkham, I had a game of Paranoia XP. Our troubleshooter team was assigned to join a newly formed organizational group. Due to some strange incident, a new organization--the DCOD--had formed and our team had been sent to staff it. Apparently, they were assigning new clearances based on the order that teams arrived in, and due to my quick action, I ended up being assigned to Green clearance (the highest I've ever been assigned in any game) with the rest of my group being assigned to level Yellow. We then had to go get outfitted for a mission at an armory that had recently changed from army to DCOD hands, but were waylaid by a low level army officer who didn't seem to appreciate the new change in power structure. After trying negotiation and one of our troublemakers getting a foot-wide hole blown from his chest, I chose to hit him in the back of the head with a fire extinguisher. Of course, this being Paranoia, he came back rather quickly to visit us again and ended up in another firefight and getting his body scarred by one of our team shooting him with a laser weapon which was used to permanently burn the logo of the DCOD into things. Apparently things include bodies.

The second firefight with the army officer ended up causing enough damage to the armory that we were forced to flee with whatever equipment we could carry. A few moments after fleeing, the building promptly exploded after we directed a nearby Red/Infrared unit to secure it (I put in a commendation for their team).

We then headed off to the Multilevel Transit Hub and Shopping Funsperience which was where our assigned mission was to take place. At about that time, I was subjected to an impromptu attack from several of my fellow troubleshooters. One of them had stabbed me in the shoulder with a truth serum syringe while and then they began asking me if I was a mutant, when I (of course) denied it and had my nose grow Pinocchio-style, two began attacking me. One eventually injured himself with a piece of issued equipment (rocket boots breaking both legs and the hip) and blew himself up with a grenade. The one who had actually injected me with truth serum teleported away--proving that it was he, not I, who was a Commie Mutant Traitor--when I ordered the nearby Red/Infrared squad to capture him. I somehow managed to survive the attack and ended up with the non-traitorous members of the party. Unfortunately, due to a database synchronization error (probably resulting from traitor sabotage) we were temporarily detained on suspect of having fraudulent identification. Luckily, the misunderstanding was cleared up without bloodshed and we were soon called off to deal with a biochemical contamination on the lowest level of the building.

At the bottom of the level, we found our Red/Infrared team having an argument with a group of Reds. Our team was attempting to convince the Reds that they needed to get into a room so that they could deal with the contamination. After comparing the readings our Red/Infrared team was getting with the apparent status as given by the group of Reds, I asked Friend Computer to send an additional set of scanning equipment to clarify the error. Friend Computer decided to resolve the situation by destroying all faulty equipment. By using the camera-mounted laser, it destroyed our scanning bot and also killed the opposing group of Reds. Problem solved.

Not long after this, we breached the room releasing a flow of some sort of contaminant that had apparently been building up underneath the Multilevel Transit Hub and Shopping Funsperience. The release unfortunately flooded a nearby reactor, setting off a sizable explosion, but most of our team managed to survive.

Incidentally, this was the first Paranoia game in which I survived from beginning to end without losing a single clone. Of course, I was assigned to reactor shield duty afterwords due to a computer glitch caused by one of my teammates blowing up a large section of the Multilevel Transit Hub and Shopping Funsperience. Apparently, they had been an agent of Purge--the secret society bent on destroying the Computer.

I next had signed up for another RPGA game. This game was actually one of the best that I played due to the player mix. Everyone playing was very familiar with the system and with their characters, so the game went quite quickly. In fact, despite starting late (a chronic problem with the RPGA games due to disorganization), we managed to finish in under 3 hours.

Incidentally, one of the people at the game apparently runs a podcast which has recordings of games that he plays in. He recorded our game, so I expect it to show up online eventually. This game also had the GM from the Friday night game that I thought was so good in it as a player.

Since my RPGA game finished early, I wandered over to see what was going on in the board gaming room. I arrived just in time to play in the Race for the Galaxy tournament. I ended up being mostly crushed in the first round, so I joined a sponsored game of The Stars are Right.

The Stars are Right is a tile pushing game with a Lovecraftian theme. I ended up coming in second, but that got me little more than a ribbon.

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2010 Jun 01 aya

Guy Blade Guy Blade---18:01:00

Gamex 2010 Day Two
The second day of Gamex began a bit later than usual. I decided to give the Power Grid tournament a try. I'd only ever played one other game of it in the past, but it is rather fun. I ended up making it to the final table, but came in third place. Unfortunately, that carries no dealer dollars, but does come with a ribbon.

My next game was Phase 10. I haven't actually played the game in about a decade, and I was mainly only playing to fill a small gap in my schedule. I got lousy cards and played poorly and was thus out in the first round.

After a late lunch, I played in the Dominion (all expansion) tournament. I did surprisingly well in the tournament, making it through two rounds to be at the final table, but ended up coming in third again (to the same person who got first against me in Power Grid). Honestly, I got fairly lucky in the first round by playing against newbie players and in the second round managed to completely destroy the other players decks very early by filling them with curses.

My final event for the day was a Call of Cthulhu game. The premise of the game was that we were a set of federal investigatory agents from various agents. An agency was set up to investigate fringe cases and all of us had been assigned to it (probably due to the fact that we were troublemakers of some kind). We were sent from our base office in Virginia to Fresnoa, CA to investigate a sudden rash of strange reports from the city: someone had reported that the cats had become intelligent, there were alien sightings, crop circles had appeared, an artificial intelligence was supposedly trying to take over the internet, time travellers were apparently showing up, and someone might have rebuild Tesla's earthquake machine.

The players decided, for whatever reason, that we were going to layover for an evening in Las Vegas. During that time, one of the players ran into an old lady visiting from Fresno. After talking with her for a bit, the old lady pulled the pin out of a grenade and dropped it at her feet as a test of her "luck". The player managed to get around a corner before the grenade went off, but the little old lady did not and neither did a large number of other people in the room.

After the requisite terrorism investigation was begun by people from agencies which weren't filled with rejects, our little group continued on to Fresno with our own investigation. Once we got there, we began to slowly go about investigation each of the various individual leads from the incidents that had been investigated.

We began by investigating the crop circles, then moved to the intelligent cats, the time travellers, and the tesla machine. Over the course of the investigation, we found that people were beginning to come into amazing luck--some due to their cats telling them what to do and some due to the time travellers facilitating insider trading. We also found an incredible surge in gun purchasing over the course of the previous few week to the tune of the this period having higher firearm sales than the entirety of the previous year. We found cats who seemed to say (via their owners and the creative use of calendars) that "something" was going to happen on the 6th of June, just after midnight. Lastly, we found that the tesla machine was actually a recreation of a wireless power transmission system that had apparently been stolen from its creator some time earlier.

Our last investigation was into the AI. Once there, we discovered that the AI had instructed a person to go out and fetch the Tesla device (someone else apparently did the stealing and left it for the one we were interviewing) and leave it in a field. It had apparently been configured to run on nuclear power and was "reflecting" the time travellers, preventing them frorm coming to our time to destroy it. This same "reflecting" was causing the crop circle patterns to appear as a side effect. The AI asked us what we intended to do, and, given the parameters that we'd been given by our superiors, I told it that we were supposed to investigate the occurances in Fresno and write a report on our findings. The machine happily dumped out a 400+ page report through the nearby laser printer which provided a coherent story, but coincidentally left out anything about the AI itself.

Our party then began a discussion about possible courses of action. I advocated the following strategy: go to Vegas for the rest of the week, mail the report out on the 5th (the current day was the 2nd), let whatever comes, come. The remainder of the party decided to instead go destory the Tesla device so that the AI didn't take over the world and enslave humanity. After finding it and hitting it with a car, the sky darkened by the appearance of the time travellers who set off a world-wide EMP (presumably to kill the AI), leaving the world set back by several decades at least.

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