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Blaugust Day 28 – A Few Random Things

Just a few random thoughts this morning as Blaugust winds down – only a few days left.

Star Wars Goodness

Star Wars The Force Awakens has a new video clip out and while it is short, there is always some excitement. I'm so pumped about this film. Actually, I watched the J.J. Abrams Star Trek the other day and thought about how the style he used in that would be reflected in Star Wars – I think it'll work pretty well. Does Finn look comfortable wielding that blue lightsaber? I think he looks a bit worried.

Laptop upgrade

I am starting to worry about my current laptop. I've run into a couple of Blue Screens in the past month and I fear it may be starting to have some actual problems. I probably just need to make sure all the drivers are up-to-date which I haven't done in at least a year. But in fear, as I was recovering from the latest BSOD, I decided to start looking at gaming laptops online. Obviously things have gotten faster, more powerful, and more expensive in the 3 years since I purchased my last PC. If anyone has a recommendation, let me know.

PS4 Screen Capture

I also want to figure out how to capture screen shots and video from any PS4 that I will be getting. This basically is the last deciding factor in me moving forward with purchasing a new Playstation. For my PS3 and XBox360, I've used an AverMedia Game Capture HD for all of my capture needs, but that uses component video and I am pretty sure the PS4 is only HDMI. I'm looking at the AverMedia Live Gamer Portable to see if that will cover what I want, but if anyone has any recommendations, I'll take them into consideration.

Champions Online Downloading…

Brian over at Blue Kae posted recently about creating a new hero in Champions Online and I thought…what the heck? I enjoyed this game and haven't been back there for a while so I think I'll give it another shot. I'm sure it is a bit dated, but I've never been one to play or not play a game based only on its graphics. 1.2 gb patch downloaded and installed and I'll be giving this a run this weekend.

It's still not too late to join Blaugust – just go to the initiative page at Tales of the Aggronaut or take a look at the Blaugust Nook on Anook.


Morning Ramble #52 | Blaugust Day 28

#ChampionsOnline #Blaugust #MorningRamble #StarWars

 

 
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Blaugust Day 27 – A Game With Less Lag

I think I'm gonna have to give League of Legends a mulligan since I'm not going to be playing much with all the lag they've introduced with the server move – I decided to play Hearthstone instead.

Ping Worries Realized

Well I can't say I wasn't worried about the move and its impact on my gameplay, but the League of Legends server move to Chicago has not been good for me in the first few days since it occurred. I haven't completed a game without experiencing horrible lag. Of course it is only anecdotal since I wasn't hovering over the ping icon the entire game, but I regularly saw 200-600ms pings during the few games I played and things certainly felt sluggish. Along with the ping increase, I found it difficult to hit with my bind as Morgana – it seemed like everyone I tried to hit had their hit boxes reduced by half – I would see the bind go right by them (actually I need to take a look at things in slow-mo so I'll have to record a few games). I hope this is just a temporary thing since the servers are new, but I really would hate to have to change which champs I play so I can deal with the increased lag. I suppose I may do that or as I mentioned in a previous post, I may just cut back on the number of games I play in League – I never seemed to get much lag in Heroes of the Storm.

First game of Hearthstone as a Druid

With the lag I was having in League, I decided it was time to give Hearthstone a whirl. I'm pretty sure it has been at least 6 months since the last time I played, and I never played many games to begin with. While I like the idea of the game, I've never been really interested in collectable card games (I bought a few real world decks of Magic the Gathering years ago and played a couple of games, but nothing serious). Hearthstone makes things much easier that real world card games – you can play anytime, you don't have tons of cards lying around the house, and the game seems more understandable for a casual gamer like myself. With that said and not having played in over 6 months, I have a lot of learning to do.

Last time I played Hearthstone with any regularity, I was just opening up the various champions. I used the Mage deck, that you get when you start the game, to open up all the standard champions and then I got her leveled up to 12. I even found a reference online and built a basic beginner deck for her and I'm pretty sure I played a few games with it, but that's where things ended. Last night I found out that you need to level each class up to 10 or so before you really want to try to create a custom deck. Or at least, you don't have some of the class cards unless you are level 10 or so – I think. In any case, I tried to make a Druid deck and found I only had 10 of the 20 basic class cards, and I found it hard to make a deck with such limitations. So I went with the standard non-custom deck, hit play and was on my way.

I took 2 mulligans of cards that were 5 and 6 mana and got an Innervate and a Wild Growth. Too bad I wasn't sure how to use them in the first round, but I learned that Wild Growth adds a mana crystal spot permanently so if I play it on round 2 (it costs 2 mana) it will add a crystal and next round I will have 4 mana to use. Innervate is cool too as I provides 2 extra mana crystals for the current turn at 0 mana cost. Both of these together give a Druid some early game potential to pump out some big cards.

I figured out how to use those two cards after the 2nd turn when I went ahead and played Wild Growth. I was pretty please to see the extra mana on turn 3 and it let me put down a 4 point card so I felt I was gaining an advantage. I was up against a priest so I expected them to heal a bunch, but instead they kept attacking my hero. After a few turns and another Wild Growth I had minions that could do 18 damage on the board and she had taken my hero down to 22 health. My next round, I cleared the board of her minions and knocked her down to 14 health – almost there, but I had no cards in my hand. On her round, she managed to take out 6 of my damage so was safe, or so she thought. With 14 damage on the board, I drew what I thought was a bad card – Elvish something-or-other – only 1 point of damage, but it could attack right away. I played it and dropped her to 13 hp, hit her with the 12 damage I had on the board, and then remembered I had a one point hero spell that I cast and vanquished her.

My first game in over 6 months and I pulled off a win.

I gained 2 levels and a few new cards and feel pretty good at giving this game a shot again.

It's still not too late to join Blaugust – just go to the initiative page at Tales of the Aggronaut or take a look at the Blaugust Nook on Anook.


Morning Ramble #51 | Blaugust Day 27

#LeagueOfLegends #Hearthstone #Blaugust #MorningRamble

 

 
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Blaugust Day 26 – Tying this Morning Thing Out

I'm gonna try composing and publishing my post this morning. It's not my usually thing as I mentioned yesterday, but I want to see if starting the day by being a bit creative and goal oriented at the same time helps me feel a sense of accomplishment.

Mr. Robot

Tonight is the season finale of this show and I am going to watch it in real time. This has definitely become one of my favorite shows on television and I think it epitomizes the current age of great TV produced by smaller stations. The writer/director Sam Esmail hasn't really done much before, but with this show on his resume, I am sure he will be asked to do plenty in the future. The lead actor, Rami Malek, has pretty much only played minor roles (The only thing I've seen in his filmography was 24 and Battleship) but I think he pulls off a brilliant performance, and I think we'll be seeing much more of him in the future. I guess if I had to describe the show in one sentence, I would say it is American Psycho meets Fight Club meets Hackers, without all the “look at my fancy graphics as I delete files” that comes with most shows involving computers. If you haven't watched it, don't watch the finale, but go back and start from the beginning – I think I will be doing that as soon as it is available, it is definitely a show worth a second (or third) watch.

***Update 14:50 PST***

Due to the horrible murders of two journalists this morning, USA Network is postponing the season finale of Mr. Robot because of some similarities.

Fantasy Football

I wasn't sure it was going to happen this season, but there is going to be another fantasy football league at my workplace this year. With all the wonderful headlines from last season – wife beating, deflategate, etc. – I wasn't sure we were going to condone the NFL's behavior this season. We also lost our commissioner as he moved out of town.

Fortunately, I suppose, someone took up the reins and started drumming up support for another season. So now I need to figure out how I am going to make my picks this season. Last year I subscribed to some draft service that gave me advice for who to pick and in what order, but it did not result in a successful season. I suppose the more experienced players knew what they were doing better than my novice self armed with expert pick lists. This year though, I am an 'experienced' fantasy footballer so maybe my team will perform better. Or at least I have a better idea of what to expect and how to possibly make better weekly moves. We'll see.

Maybe we should try to throw together a fantasy football league for those of us involved in Blaugust?

It's still not too late to join Blaugust – just go to the initiative page at Tales of the Aggronaut or take a look at the Blaugust Nook on Anook.


Morning Ramble #50 | Blaugust Day 26

#Blaugust #MorningRamble #MrRobot #TV #FantasyFootball

 

 
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Blaugust Day 25 – Moving Things

Today is the day…

Today is the day the League of Legends servers move to Chicago and I am worried. My wonderful internet provider, Time Warner Cable, often provided me poor connection latency when the servers were right up Interstate 5 from me, and now they are going to be half a country away. Im worried my skill shots will never hit now as I have to deal with lag on a regular basis. I'm wondering why a game as successful as League has only one set of servers in North America? Why don't the set up clusters on the East Coast, West Coast and Mid West? I'm sure they could afford it., but instead they have one set of machines they are proudly moving to Chicago. Hopefully TWC doesn't have as much trouble connecting me to Chitown as it has to the Wesr Coast servers. I suppose this could be the one thing that gets me to cut back on my time on the rift, but we'll see.

Last Week of Blaugust

This is the last week, and I feel that I haven't accomplished anything that I wanted to during Blaugust except to have posted on a daily basis. I had so many ideas for what I wanted to post about and how I wanted to do it, but as with most plans, it did not last contact with reality. I didn't put together daily segments about Civilization V gameplay; I didn't get beyond a single level in FFXIV and produce posts on my spexperiences there; I didn't max out my Druid in WoW, and I didn't reach Silver in LoL. I know these ar all things I will accomplish, but August has been so busy in so many other areas of my life, I have barely had time to put together a post every day. I am glad to have reached that goal, and I want to keep,up with the daily posts, I just can't wait for it to calm down in other areas so my daily posting doesn't seem like I am rushing through just to check off a box. Perhaps rather than just throwing my thoughts together in the morning, I should try to put the final post together in the morning and put it up. At least that way it will be out there and I won't be rushing around to get it posted at 8 or 9 pm as I'm trying to wind down from a busy day. In any case, once again, I have really enjoyed Blaugust.

It's still not too late to join Blaugust – just go to the initiative page at Tales of the Aggronaut or take a look at the Blaugust Nook on Anook.


Morning Ramble #49 | Blaugust Day 25

#Blaugust #MorningRamble #LeagueOfLegends

 

 
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Blaugust Day 24 – Behold the Vision

The Vision has always been one of my favorite superheroes. I'm not really sure why, I never read any comics with him in them, but I guess I like his look. The green suit, red skin and yellow cape just drew me to him and I'm glad I get a chance to learn more about him during my Ultron reading.

One thing I am certain I never knew is that Ultron created Vision to defeat the Avengers.

Avengers (1963) Issue 57
Behold the Vision

 

Creators:
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: John Buscema
Inker: George Klein
Lettered: Sam Rosen
Editor: Stan Lee

Characters:

The Good – Wasp, Goliath, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Black Panther
The Bad – Ultron-5
The Undecided – Vision

 

This issue takes a bit of a step back from the time traveling Nazi and Avenger fighting to show more of the personal lives of the team. What little free time the heroes have is pressured by their day job and they find it hard to maintain much of a love life. Wasp and Goliath have no time to be alone with each other, while Hawkeye and Black Widow have hardly seen each other recently, it's really hard for these guys to find the down time to socialize.

And of course being attacked by a new super powered being puts even more of a crimp on the team's personal time. First Wasp is assaulted by Vision but he is thwarted by intense pain of unknown origin. With him knocked out, Wasp and Goliath mange to get him back to Avengers HQ where everyone can meet the newcomer. No sooner do they all get to HQ, but Vision wakes up and starts kicking butt. Goliath manages to subdue and calm him down and we learn that it was Ultron-5, who created Vision to destroy the Avengers.

With Vision's guidance, they head to Ultron's subterranean base, where it turns out Ultron programmed Vision to bring all the Avengers to their death. With Goliath knocked out by a giant android and the rest of the team trapped in a room with the walls closing in, Vision escapes to confront Ultron. Who surprises Vision and as he throws him into an energy vat, mistakenly tells Vision his only weakness. Enraged that Vision survived his assault, Ultron leaps at him and passes through his insubstantial body and into the energy vat and blows up.

Only Ultron's head remains…

Along with showing how hard it is for the Avengers to have personal lives, this issue develops Ultron further and introduces Vision. Vision's powers seem to be the ability to alter his density and a powerful heat ray that shoots from his eyes. I know in the movie, Vision had an infinity stone on his forehead, but I don't think the stones existed back during this origin story.

The art in this issue is classic. It is what I envision comics of this era should look like. I already mentioned how I love the color scheme of Vision but the other characters and scenes look great too. Emotions are clear on Goliath's face when his alert goes off that Wasp is in danger, and the hatred that Ultron's programming of Vision produced is clear as he attacks the Avengers. Dialog, thought bubbles, and editorial input are made very clear in this issue as well, and I am finding that I no longer have any problems following things – there are definite cues (a dialog box that crosses panels or an image that crosses the gap between panels) that I missed when I first started reading the first Avenger books.

Im definitely enjoying these books, and even though they differ from Marvel's cinematic universe, they are great at helping me understand where things all came from.

It's still not too late to join Blaugust – just go to the initiative page at Tales of the Aggronaut or take a look at the Blaugust Nook on Anook.


Morning Ramble #48 | Blaugust Day 24

#Avengers #Comics

 

 
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Blaugust Day 23 – Made it to Bronze I

Fight for rankings

Today I didn't have much time at all for gaming, but I was one win away from attaining Bronze I. I was on a 3 game winning streak with Morgana and was 5-1 with her yesterday so I was pretty excited to be headed to the top of Bronze ranking. Only problem was, I got last pick. Now when someone gets last pick and they mention they are in promos, people have 2 choices – be rude, obnoxious, and feed, or they can play their best. MY first game today, I got the first. I should have figured it when the summoner name for the guy who picked Zed mid included the word JERK – yes in all caps. I am pretty sure he wanted to see us lose so I would not gain my promotion, but whatever. I ended up playing Vi who I had not played in months. Xin, my normal jungler was banned and against a Warwick, I didn't want to take Amumu, so I went with Vi. I tried to go tanky with her – Cinderhulk, Black Cleaver, Merc boots because they had a lot of CC, Randuin's Omen, Titanic Hydra, and Locket. The game lasted 53 minutes and despite Zed's attempts at sabotage, we almost won. Fortunately that was my 1st loss in promos.

Hoping for a mid lane in my 3rd and final game, I ended up with last pick again. This time, I still did not get mid, and ended up as jungler against a WW. I chose Vi again since she was now familiar to me. We cleaned the other team's clock this game. They surrendered at 20:58. I didn't even get rolling in the game, but we won and I was Bronze I – yeah!

Now on to Silver!

It's still not too late to join Blaugust – just go to the initiative page at Tales of the Aggronaut or take a look at the Blaugust Nook on Anook.


Morning Ramble #47 | Blaugust Day 23

#LeagueOfLegends #Blaugust #MorningRamble #LoL

 

 
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Blaugust Day 22 – More Martian and Bronze

Continuing The Martian

I read or rather listened to the next few chapters of The Martian the other day and it was just as good as when I first started reading. Things have started to take shape about Mark Watney's situation. He's all alone on Mars and has no way of communicating with Earth or his fellow astronauts and there won't be anyone back to Mars for 4 years. He's got water and food that would have supported the entire crew all to himself, but the food won't last for 4 years, even if he rations. Fortunately, Mark is a botanist and a mechanical engineer, so he comes up with a plan to grow food on Mars. 1) get dirt; 2) turn dirt into soil with his own waste; 3) plant potatoes 4) water potatoes. The only problem he has is that to make water, he's got to play around with rocket fuel without blowing things up. We'll see how this goes in the next chapters, but he seems to have a decent plan to try to stay alive for quite a while. Interestingly, this is kinda like the Alone show I spoke about in my last post. They lasted 56 days, hope Mark lasts longer.

Promos for Bronze I

I made it through promos to bronze II last week and kept plugging away this week. Patch 5.16 threw things awry a bit with the updates for 'juggernauts', but I think things are settling down again. People have even stopped banning Mordekaiser and the champions that we're updated in 5.16. Now I am at the cusp of making it to Bronze I. I've won most of my games in this run as Morgana, Heimerdinger, or Xin Zhao, and hope to pull off another win in this promo series to get back to the highest level I've been at this season. One more win, then I get to rank up and try to finally make my goal of attaining Silver this season.

It's still not too late to join Blaugust – just go to the initiative page at Tales of the Aggronaut or take a look at the Blaugust Nook on Anook.


Morning Ramble #46 | Blaugust Day 22

#TheMartian #Blaugust #LoL #MorningRamble #LeagueOfLegends

 

 
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Blaugust Day 21 – Alone

Ghost Dragon

5.16 dropped yesterday so watch out for the a ghost dragon. Mordekaiser can now use his ultimate on the dragon, and it is a sight to see. He flies around behind Morde and breathes fiery damage all over the place. It doesn't help that he has over 2500 hp, but I guess the current strategy other than preventing him from turning into a ghost, is to kill Morde as fast as you can. Morde usually doesn't have as many hp as the dragon so targeting and killing him kills 2 birds with a much smaller stone.

56 Days

After 11 episodes, ten that covered the journey, the 'winner' was finally crowned in the wonderful real life documentary on the History channel called Alone. 10 people started on the path and 2 lasted past the 50 day mark, but they all seemed to learn about themselves, nature, and life. They were dropped off on an island on the pacific coast of Canada and were promised $500k if they were the last one remaining. They were all survival experts and they had enough gear for them to get by, but they needed to find food, drinkable water and shelter. Some were more successful than others. Some heard or saw predators – bears, cougars, wolves. Some broke down mentally, some physically. But they were all tough, and brave enough to give it a try. I thought it was a great idea to have them each film themselves so we could really see what it was like to be alone. They put Tom Hanks and Wilson to shame, particularly because this was real.

I don't really like reality shows and tend to avoid them, but this was one that I'm glad I gave a chance. I've added the phrase 'hey bear' to my vocabulary since one of the survivalists used it repeatedly to try to scare off bears early in the show. It wa interesting to see how each of the people worked to find food. Some set up fishing lines, one made a boat to get to better feeding grounds, some used fishing nets, some set traps for mice, and many ate lots of seaweed and bugs. I've watched shows about survival from Bear Grylls to Naked and Afraid, but I'd have to say this is probably my favorite. 10 people surviving as long as they could all by themselves. Pretty hardcore, but enjoyable to watch.

It's still not too late to join Blaugust – just go to the initiative page at Tales of the Aggronaut or take a look at the Blaugust Nook on Anook.


Morning Ramble #45 | Blaugust Day 21

#Blaugust #MorningRamble #LoL #LeagueOfLegends #Alone

 

 
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Blaugust Day 20 – Robot Apocalypse

I finally found more of my screenshots from the first bit of my time in Final Fantasy. I found the Moogles that I loved so much.

There's the main one.

And there I am talking to them in the cinematic.

This shot and the next are what made me realize I picked the right design for my main character. I really liked these images.

In any case, I enjoyed my start and look forward to this weekend when I'll have some time to gain some levels in the game.

Robot Apocolypse

If you haven't heard, the robots have a perfect excuse to kill all the humans now. Hitchbot, the perfectly innocent robot trying to travel across the United States was destroyed in Philedelphia shortly after he set out on his journey. There was no reason for the vandalism but in years to come I can see this event as the touchstone for the war between mankind and robotkind. This will be the 'Remember the Alamo' rallying cry for the robot intelligence. The irrational and apparently uncontrollable violent behavior by humans will be the downfall of our civilization and the robots may very well be the successors of our species. I'm sad to see the death of this innocent and hope this becomes a teaching moment covering the pointlessness of violence.

It's still not too late to join Blaugust – just go to the initiative page at Tales of the Aggronaut or take a look at the Blaugust Nook on Anook.


Morning Ramble #44 | Blaugust Day 20

#FFXIV #FinalFantasy #RobotApocalypse

 

 
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Blaugust Day 19 – First Steps in FFXIV

I finally got a chance to play Final Fantasy and in my 3 hours I got to create 2 different character designs and quest almost to level 2.

First Character Design

My first character design was a Miqo'te Keeper of the Moon. She was similar to my character during my first visit to Eorzea, but I felt I wanted something a bit different.

Second Character Design

My second and final character is a Lalafell Dunesfolk. I decided to go with her because I wanted a smaller frame and I liked the look of her a bit better. In WoW I had to go with a Tauren as my main was a Druid, but Final Fantasy has no limitations I know of for race/class combination, so I went small like I prefer.

A little bit of gameplay

So after I created my character, I did have about an hour to try out the game. I loved the Moogles and hope that I will eventually get to have one as a pet or companion, but the opening sequence did take more time away from my getting into the game. Then there was the 'tutorial' which fortunately was pretty quick, but was pretty familiar nonetheless. And then finally, I was able to run around a little. I completed a couple of quests in the short period of time I was in game and gained 201xp, but didn't reach level 2. So far things are good and I can see that there is a lot of stuff to see, do, and experience so I am looking forward getting more time in game.

It's still not too late to join Blaugust – just go to the initiative page at Tales of the Aggronaut or take a look at the Blaugust Nook on Anook.


Morning Ramble #43 | Blaugust Day 19

#FFXIV #FinalFantasy #CharacterCreation

 

 
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