Thursday, April 01, 2010

Wow...I bought the car

I found this in drafts...interesting to look back at it now:

While Tab sleeps, I feel the need to put down things on e-paper for future remembrance...only because I've gone through so much the last few days...

So...firstly, I'm married! Let's start there.

When I worked at Blue Cross of California, it was one of the most fun jobs I've ever had. I started out doing trouble tickets, but ended up doing PC rollouts (I.E. upgrading entire departments with new PCs). There was a lot of goofing off in the lab, but we got sh*t done, and done well. However, it always started with Ignacio or one of the other senior techs going up to the department manager, meeting with him, arranging the walkthrough, noting any PCs of note, etc.

It kept us working, allowed us to interface with the customer, then we would retreat back into our little nerdery, work on the PCs, and resurface again to roll the PCs out. It all worked very smooth.

One day, Ignacio was tied up with meetings all day long, so he pointed to my good friend Vince and me and said, "Vince, I need you to take the entire Accounting rollout, I'm too busy. Joe, you are his backup."

There was a weird moment where, for as well as I knew my job inside and out, and as much as I had prepared, I thought, "We're not ready. We're just the kids downstairs goofing off. What do we know about this?"

I've had the same feelings both times I bought a car: my Purple-Dirtmobile-of-Death (AKA my Plum colored '97 Saturn SC2), and my current '99 Ford Mustang (No name yet).

Both times, I spent weeks and weeks looking for cars, researching all the finds I could find in my price range, carefully weighing each decision, and finally going ahead with the purchase.

Each time, even though I know I've made the right choice, and the car was a good buy, there was a sudden moment of panic, thinking, "Holy crap! I just spent $6000/$8000! Was this a good buy? Can I maintain this car as it is needed? I've never had a V6 before, is there something I need to know about maintaining it? Would it work better if I put in premium gas?, etc. etc."

Now, I'm married. I've waited my entire life for someone who is Christian/funny/witty/goofy/fun/sane/single, and now I've married her.

Driving off from the wedding, I was elated, but I got that feeling again. The thought of "I'm just a kid! (I'm not anymore, but this is freakout talking) What happens when we get into a fight? What happens if one of us gets sick? Will she still love me if I'm involved in some horribly disfiguring windmill accident? How can I possibly keep her entertained for a lifetime? I've done good so far in a year and a half, but what happens if we reach 20 years and we have nothing interesting left to talk about? etc. etc." But you learn with the car. It's various quirks and intricacies, how it handles, where you need to baby it, etc. After awhile, you and the car work so well, you can't remember a time you were with any other cars. The memories you form in that car you will tell. You just have to remember that it requires continual maintenance and care. What a fun, interesting time to be alive!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Now I know why Assassin's Creed has "Ass" twice in the title.

Ok, I'm a little behind the curve when it comes to video games now that I am a family man.

So, I waited until Assassin's Creed was $10 on Steam, then purchased it just to see what all the fuss is about. So now it's 1 in the morning, I finally finished it, and I am *PISSED OFF*

*breaths*. This game is one of the most overhyped pieces of donkey dung I have ever had the mis-fortune of playing. While beautiful to look at, and the crowd mechanics were interesting, the gameplay itself was *SO* *DAMN* *REPETITIVE*.

Lemme set the scene for you: You are an Assassin in the middle ages in $SOMEWHERE_IN_ISRAEL. Damascus, Acre, Jerusalem (and some I'm forgetting) are now only 2 miles away from each other.

Your master assigns you a target in a section of one of the cities. You go there, play the same 5 mini-games, each time gaining information on your target. When you have beaten a sufficient number of the mini-games, you are allowed to take out the target.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

And you do this 9 times.

Oh, and Sam Fisher is an Assassin. This guy is as obvious as Liberace in a Baptist Church.

Let me tell you what I mean by that: When the time finally comes for your assassination attempt, you can try to be sneaky and take the guy out stealthy and all quiet-like, but as soon as you do, even if you did it out of sight of the guards, the entire city is alerted to your presence, and you have to beat off or outrun/hide from a gajillion guards who have been alerted to your presence. Which doesn't make you an assassin really.

Or not a good one, anyway.

Which would make for an interesting game mechanic: Short-bus school of assassins. But I digress...

There is some attempt at stealth during the mini-games, which is ok, I guess, but the guards forget where you are the nano-second you jump into conveniently placed haypiles or roof garden, despite the fact that you just ran all of their best friends through in gruesome fashion 10 seconds ago. No, no, They simply forget about you. But can somehow remember who you are if you run through an area where you killed someone previously, even if by "previously", we mean 20 minutes ago.

There are two absolutely ludicrous "Nuking the fridge" mechanics about the game: Scholars and "Leaps of Faith"

If a group of white hooded monks should walk by, and you are being chased by the guard, you can elect to follow them, adopting a similar stance and shuffle, and the guards are fooled by this. Despite the fact that your sword, throwing knives, and gauntlets are plainly visible. It's like they all got injected with Stupidol.

The second involves "View Points" where you can gain reconnaissance of a given area to reveal the mini-games necessary to get to the assassination attempt. This involves free-climbing to the top of a very very very high building (in some cases, ~10 stories in in-game height). After reconing the area, you are provided a ledge to jump off of, as actually climbing down could be somewhat tedious. Below these ledges are haypiles.

So, 10 story drop.

Onto a haypile that is perhaps 3 feet tall.

What makes it odd is the fact that they got the motion of actually falling down pat. If any of you have ever fallen out of a tree, off of a garage, etc., when you are falling, you experience motion blur, acceleration, etc.

Ubisoft nailed the sensation of falling from a great height. So when you see that ground coming at you after a 10 story climb, you are thinking, "wow, I'm about to make a very large stain, first in my pants, then on the ground" And then you are stopped by three feet of hay. I laughed the first time it happened, and had to show Tab, who, even with a limited grasp of deceleration times vs. structural integrity, realized that it was absolutely ridiculous.

And the fighting. Oh lordy, the fighting. They meant to have all sorts of moves and counter moves, but after the first level, you gain a "block, counter-attack" move that you pretty much use for the rest of the game. Why? 'cause it's all that is needed. I was literally surrounded by 15 guys at one point, and was able to fend them all off using that one move.

What makes it bad is that it suffers from "Final Fight-itis": the bad guys are too polite, and by that, I mean that only one will ever attack you at a time. Ubi tried to mix it up by having a second guy attack you while you are assaulting another, but they neutralized that threat by allowing you to break off your assault and immediately "defend, counterattack" the second.

They will also wait until you complete an absolutely awesome looking finishing move on one of their Guard buddies before they will even think of attacking you.

Complete waste of time. I paid $10 for a pretty world, an interesting crowd mechanic, and an effective marketing campaign. Ugh. De-installing this crap right now. On to Mirror's Edge!