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free time, ahoy!

Written: 21:57 on July 30, 2008  |  By: johnny  |  MORE…
Okay, I have a summer job, which, sometime in November will turn into a full time adult position. As we all know summer, according to school rules, ends at the end of August, or rather, after Labour Day. This leaves me with approximately 2 months in some jobless void (a sort of frictional unemployment if you'll allow me to flex my economics degree).

So with this short term freedom - during this time I intend to mouch off the system (Unemployment Insurance) - I am trying to figure out what I should accomplish, not accomplish, or how i should enjoy myself. There are a couple of options:

  1. Drive across Canada to British Columbia for approximately 1 week there. I figure this will kill a good 2 weeks of time as it takes about 3 days to drive out there and 3 days to drive back, maybe a little more if I'm in no hurry. I've never seen my own country really and I figure now is as good a time as any plus one of my housemates from University lives out there, so I can stay with him for free.
  2. Fire out to Thailand in November for about a week and a half. I've got a buddy at school in Australia who also wants to go to Thailand, so we would meet there and pick up one of those many Thai hookers…double wrapped of course…
  3. Sit at home and do nothing… boring…
  4. In the mean time, throughout September and October, I have baseball twice a week and am entering a bowling league (I am actually overly excited for a bowling league), but that will not keep me busy, what is there to do in your own town to make you not bored?

Help me out here people! Make my decisions for me!

\new topic/

On a side note:
A conversation with andrew:

(andrew) imagine
(andrew) a mexican japanese person
(andrew) they'd have an amazing 14 year old moustache

I think their moustache would be outstanding at any age

\new topic/

I want one of these.
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nintendo learned a thing or two from the riaa

Written: 18:54 on July 29, 2008  |  By: ethan  |  MORE…
Legitimate uses for flash carts be damned, WE'RE SUING!
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rpg2knet development: nested set model

Written: 19:52 on July 26, 2008  |  By: jon  |  MORE…
Squirrel, the mascot of rpg2knetAs most visitors I imagine will know (since they are mainly friends), I used to run a website about game making called rpg2knet.com. The site has been down for many years now (since around about this time in 2006) and I have been trying to get it sorted and back online again. It has only been recently that I have really been pushing hard to get this all completed. I got really wrapped up with Counter-Strike: Source for several years (starting around about April 2005 and ending just recently), which caused me to struggle finding time for programming. Now that I have effectively retired from the source scene, I have had plenty of time to get on with rpg2knet.

I thought, since I'm coming up to roughly the half-way mark in terms of coding, I could start using the group blog here at dovka as a devlog as well, since posts can be filtered quite easily with our tagging system. So, today I thought I'd let people know about how things are progressing. This weekend has mainly been spent working on part of the site that I have toyfully been calling Nutforge (a play on sourceforge). It is a tool for starting a game-making project, finding your team/friends with certain skills to help you work (and rating them on how useful they've been, etc), talking about your game, showing off screenshots, and uploading/releasing your game to the masses. The 'end-game' for nutforge is to have your hard work reviewed by the panel of reviewers here that we shall (hopefully) hire for rpg2knet.com, just like it happened last time.

One of the features I have implemented is a "skill set" system. Using the excellent Hierachical (Nested) Set paradigm, I've managed to come up with a tree of skills that you can tag with different levels of proficiency. The idea being, you can search for 'free' people that have listed that they are looking for a project to help out with, and order them by their proficiency, filter them out and well… cherry pick the people you like. Obviously I can foresee a problem with trolls putting all their 'proficiencies' at maximum just to clutter up the search results. With that in mind, I've been thinking about adding in a modifier system where community members can vote a member up or down in skill level if they have been involved in a project with them. That way, if somebody is a time waster, they'll essentially be flagged as such and this will warn others about undertaking a project with them.

This tiny feature is something that I consider to be, at the time of writing, very unique. I can't see any other RPG maker based website doing anything like this, although I'm aware I may have been mildly inspired by the excellent assembla.com. This is what rpg2knet.com is all about in my eyes. Something original, that nobody else has thought of, or something that nobody else can do. If all goes to plan and we can couple this website up with the sort of community spirit the old rpg2knet.com had, I believe we are really onto a winner. And that spirit is exactly what keeps me programming every night to get it completed *hurl*. As cheesy as sounds, it's true.
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isn't it time for more good comic movies?

Written: 19:19 on July 24, 2008  |  By: ethan  |  MORE…
I saw the Dark Knight, like the rest of the world, over the weekend. I'm not here to review it, though. I want to discuss the possibilities, my friends. The possibilities of awesome comic movies that we're missing out on. Somewhere towards the end of the film, I was half paying attention. Hey, it's long, and I was tired. I was thinking about how completely incredible a Green Arrow movie would be, done PROPERLY.

I'm not a big Batman fan by any means. I like the guy well enough; he's just never completely grabbed me. Batman Begins and The Dark Knight have shown us, though, that comic movies don't need to be campy nonsense, or overdone trash relying on lowest common denominator effects and writing. They can be well-written and thoughtful, appeal to the masses, and respectful to the source, all at the same time. Apply that to my favourite comix characters, and it's a wet dream. Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Swamp Thing? Don't they all deserve a chance to win the hearts and minds of moviegoers everywhere?

DON'T THEY?
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final fantasy iv is back, and it's baaaaaaaaaaaad.

Written: 15:16 on July 24, 2008  |  By: ethan  |  MORE…
But as Run DMC says, not bad meaning bad, but bad meaning good. As every nerd knows, Square-Enix just pushed out its latest Final Fantasy IV Final Fantasy remake, for the DS. Final Fantasy IV has always been a favorite of mine, thanks to an enjoyable cast and a story I adore. Seriously, you take a whale to the moon. What's not to like? So, is this another cashgrab, or is this actually worth it? Let me answer that for you.

Short answer: Yes. It's a nicely polished remake of a great game, with additional features to boot.

Long answer: FFIII was okay, I guess. It was a good remake of an okay game, and thus it ultimately lacked any real draw for me. Class changing was a hassle and the story was reeeeeeeeal light. FFIV changes all that. It's a remake of a great game, so the foundation is more solid. What it adds, however, is what really makes it.

First off, the Active Time Battle system isn't much changed. The meter still fills, you still pick an action, and then perform said action. Nice touch: you know see how long it will take until the spell you just selected is cast, as the gauge starts filling up again, in a different colour.

Secondish, also related to battle: Each character's battle commands are now customizable. Do you think Edward's Hide command is useless? Replace it with a shortcut to a potion. That's right, instead of just being able to pick "Items" to throw on their list of five battle commands, you can specify which item. Same with magic-users. Why dig through the menu to cast Cure or Fire, when you can put it smack on the commands list up front. The only ones that must stay static are Attack and Items. The other three slots are flexible. AND, since characters now have the full complement of actions they had in the Japanese version of the original 16-bit game, there's quite a variety. Rosa now has Pray, not just Aim. Edward can use Salve, to use an item on every party member. Palom and Porom, Yang, too — every character I've used has extra commands.

EDGE Thirdforth, also also battle-related (let's face it, the bulk of time you spend playing an RPG is spent in battle, so it better be good and tweaked): Auto-battle. No longer must you sit and pay attention to every single random encounter. Push X and the party will fight for you. What's awesome about this, aside from the time savings? It's completely customizable. You choose the command. If you want Cecil to fight, Tellah to cast Thundara, Yang to use Kick, and Rosa to heal, you can do it. It's all set up in the same menu as their battle commands. Reeeeally tricky, Square. Nice.

Fourthwise, and this is a plus that potentially was a minus: Cut-scenes and voiceovers. Any time you take material this old, with a following this large, you run the risk of shattering everyone's mental impressions of characters, which have been established for what, about 15 years now? I'll admit: at first I hated the voices. Cecil sounds younger than I always imagined. Kain sounds too growly. Everyone else, however… has been pretty spot-on. I've even started to accept the others. Combine them with cut-scenes — thankfully NOT FMV — and it's a nice touch. Cut-scenes use the same character models as the rest of the game, so there's no shocking switch from 3D to FMV. It's a nice touch, and I don't usually like these things. I do, however, wish that you could skip them, which you can't.

So what's not to like about it? Not much. It's hard, for one. You will die. You will probably die multiple times. You will have to level your party or face death at every boss, and occasionally in random encounters. For serious. I also don't understand why they missed out on a couple little tweaks that would've made a big difference. For example: You can't set the cursor to memory mode, meaning you have to pick your action again and again every time you're in a battle. That's an annoyance. Also not configurable is the battle message speed, so you'll have to sit for five seconds after you're done reading, every time someone says something in-fight. Not major items, but silly just the same.

To summarize: If you like Final Fantasy IV, you'll like this. If you don't, you should. If you want something easy, don't get it, and miss out. It's up to you. I just can't imagine passing this gem up.
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the batman

Written: 21:38 on July 18, 2008  |  By: johnny  |  MORE…
The Batman is truly Amazing. Everyone should be required to go see it or be shot in the face…
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amazingly wikipedia!

Written: 01:51 on July 03, 2008  |  By: johnny  |  MORE…
Truly amazing

To help bring back memories of a Russian agent he works with, he uses mirrors, a spinning motor, and some cups to somewhat hypnotize her.
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chrono trigger ds announced!

Written: 13:35 on July 02, 2008  |  By: jon  |  MORE…
Chrono Trigger's main playable characterIf you're a fan of RPGs like myself (obligatory link to rpg2knet), the fact that Chrono Trigger has been announced for the Nintendo DS probably hasn't escaped your attention. It's pretty fantastic news if you're a fan of the struggling Square-Enix. Lately, they seem to be pretty obsessed with releasing poor rehashes or half-sequels of their old classics. Fanboyism asside, I played through and thouroughly loved Final Fantasy VII when it was first released. I locked myself in my room with my friends Playstation and played it solidly, only coming out for toilet breaks and meals. I cared for the characters, and I don't feel any other game has managed to surpass it so far. Even a fool can see they are attempting to cash in on VII's success by releasing tripe like Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII.

Finally it feels like they are getting back on track by developing something that the fans actually want. I mean, I know it's still a bit of a cash in (with it probably being a direct port of the SNES game [although people have hinted Square-Enix will continue porting the FMV into the DS versions of their games, as seen on the PlayStation edition of Chrono Trigger) but at least it is a product that the fans will actually be interested in. I think the Dirge of Cerberus tie-in was a complete insult to the intellect of their fans (duuur you like FF7 so you'll immediately buy this game). A large cross-section of their fans would not have played previous Final Fantasy games and bought FF7 on the strength of the reviews it received. If you're the sort of gamer, you're not going to rush out and buy any title that has been labeled an obvious doozey by a reputable magazine such as EDGE. Final Fantasy tie-ins are no exception.

Well… rant over. I'm just glad to see something that, in my eyes, is worth doing by Square-Enix. With this announcement, I thought I'd compile my top 5 16-bit era role-playing games that I would like to see get the DS treatment:

  1. Earthbound. And Mother 3. I will CRY if they announce this.
  2. Secret of Mana (imagine link-up play for co-op!)
  3. Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals
  4. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the 7 stars
  5. Shining Force 3 (I wish they'd done the map engine in 2D, though)

All relatively unlikely, but a gamer can always dream…
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