An Update

I have been playing games. Really. I’ve been playing ESO almost religiously. It’s just, there’s not a lot to write about here. I’ve been mostly going through the faction story areas for the Ebonheart Pact, and am just cleaning up Eastmarch right now. Not a lot to blog about there, though I have gotten some amusing screenshots, at least. (The above isn’t mine, because I’m not at my PC, but I have one identical to it, because of course you take a screen of Naryu being cute.) I also did the Clockwork City DLC quests, which were a nice break from the main stuff.

I hit the “max level” (Really for reals this time!) again, meaning CP 160. So now I can max out my gear and stuff. I’ve been trying to improve my builds and play, so I don’t embarrass myself out there in dungeons. But I’ve discovered that I don’t really like that aspect of the game, and that the gear I can get that’s good for my build isn’t in the dungeons (there’s some in trials, and some from crafting). I’m going bow/bow, like a chump, but it’s pretty simple for my casual brain. Not the ideal setup for dps, but I like to actually fit into my role and class (which is apparently what the devs want too), and five active abilities doesn’t really do that for me. I still need a better self-heal than what I’ve got, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

Granblue Fantasy got a new event, and in short, it’s kino. It’s also somewhat amusing how some people miss what little subtlety and literary merit is in these mobage stories – they say it sucks, when it’s clear that they are the problem. Not to say it’s going to change anyone’s life, or get any sort of writing award, but it’s not bad in the slightest. Now, there were some missed expectations – some were hoping for an All Siegman All the Time flashback event, when it was instead the usual fujo/yume-pandering Dragon Knights event, but that should have been expected. Lancelot got another skin, but at least it’s free this time. And no deus-ex-Siegman this time (though they accomplished this by making him part of the problem…).

And the Dragalia Lost 1st Anniversary is upon us. No event at all, but lots of free stuff. Euden got the gala this time, as expected; and he’s not broken, which was somewhat unexpected: I guess Cleo was just a fluke. (Though looking at the actual history of the game and genre, that much powercreep was really out of the ordinary, and it’s kinda a surprise that she hasn’t been even slightly nerfed yet.)

Oh, and part of what kept me from writing is that I finally had my gallbladder surgery a few days ago. (I do have a picture of what they took out of me, but I’m not going to post it, since that’s probably what would be the Twitter post picture…) Probably the best-case scenario, as far as recovery goes: I was up and at ’em five hours after walking into the surgery center, and haven’t had any additional pain medication needed; indeed, I’ve actually used less (fewer?) painkiller than I normally do! Still sore – feels like someone(s) punched me in the gut a few dozen times – but not painful unless I do something that uses my core muscles. There was one uncomfortable complication, but I hear that’s normal with general anesthetic, and it seems to be resolved at this time. But this basically gave me another weekend to play games (ESO), which was nice.

Holonerds: A Star Trek [Online] Rant

The Star Trek Online twitter put up the above poll. Pretty self-explanatory. I’ll tell you what I voted for, why I think other people voted the way they did, and then why I don’t like the holographic helpers that Trek does occasionally (which came to mind because it happens again in the above episode).

First off, I voted for the TFO as my favorite new thing this time around. Partially, that’s because I just plain like it. I like ground combat generally. And this queue (Cryptic calls them TFO’s because they have to be special snowflakes) avoids most of the pitfalls that make ground queues bad: there are no convoluted mechanics, there are no time gates, and it’s not just wave after wave of mobs. There is some mechanical involvement (get your bug-buddy to the red monolith), but it isn’t difficult. There is a timer, but it sets a maximum time the group can spend in a task: it’s short enough that if your team fails, it’s not a huge drag, but long enough that your team has to go Full Packled to fail it. I also like the enemies: the Elachi are somewhat interesting in that their shields are a lot tougher than their health, so shield-penetrating weapons – which typically have less pure damage to balance the fact that they go straight through shields – are viable here. This lets me use my tommy gun, which is great fun. Lastly, the queue itself is short, which is great for repeatable content like this.

Another reason I picked the TFO as my favorite is that the other stuff just didn’t excite me. The episode was pretty much just pure STD, despite the tricks Cryptic made to make us think it was for the modern timeline. That, and it heavily featured themes I heavily dislike: multiverse theory, holonerds, and bad pulp biology becoming bad sci-fi plot devices. I’ve ranted on this already, so I won’t go on. I also wasn’t impressed with the patrols, which all have an “undending wave” style mob at the end of the traditional patrol, which I feel is unnecessary and unfun. And the new event system…it’s just a ui element. I can understand why the devs think it’s great and hype – it’s apparently way different for them – but as a user, it’s just a menu that places the relevant content in an easy-to-access place. Nice, but nothing to get excited about.

As for the rest of everyone, their thoughts seem to be the opposite of mine. Understandable. The episode being the main popular thing makes sense – people tend to play the game for the story, and there it is. Some people seem to actually like STD, so getting one of the main cast is cool for them. Though I think that a lot of people picked the “event system” because they didn’t like the rest. The patrols are kinda blah, but not offensive, and if you want to level your ships, they’re a really good place to go. And ground queues tend to be rather unpopular with the players in general (they want spaceships to go pewpew, not layzorgunz), and apparently there’s a huge afk problem, though I have never seen it myself (might just be that I play at a low-traffic time).

Now, I’ve told you all that to get to the rant. It’s about a think that Trek has done a few times, that STO does here in this episode (and has done before), what I will call the Holonerd. Basically, it’s using the holodeck to recreate a person with expertise to help solve the problem of the week. It was first used in the TNG episode “Booby Trap,” where Geordi makes a holographic recreation of one of the Enterprise’s design engineers, Leah Brahms, to help him figure out a way out of the eponymous booby trap. (It’s also a holowaifu episode, since of course that huge nerd can’t get a real gf amirite?) It’s done again at least once in Voyager (adding an additional ethical problem, because they recreate a Cardassian Mengele to solve the issue), and as I said, here in this episode of STO, where they recreate Stamets from STD, because he’s an expert on space shrooms.

Why does this bother me? Well, because it makes no sense. It’s not like the holodeck actually has the soul, or even merely the memories, of the person in question. All it has is, at best, historical recordings of the person, and whatever research they’ve done and is in the computer. Now, I can get how a problem-solver might want to have a personage to bounce ideas off of, rather than just a terminal, or disembodied voice. But there is no reason to try to recreate an actual person, because they aren’t the actual person, no matter how they might look and sound (as Geordi found out later, the real Brahms was not the holowaifu). In STO, there was no reason to get a Stamets hologram, certainly no reason to get the personality (although the episode did lampshade this a bit, since the computer initially brought up a grouchy, retired Stamets first, before the more cooperative Starfleet Officer version). And of course, the holonerd doesn’t actually think like the person in question, nor have their memories and expertise. (Again, to STO’s credit, they bring this up with the holoStamets – he can’t really help you, in the end, until the shroom people just happen to give the faker the real deal’s memories/soul/whatever that was left behind when they went there in that one episode – so now holoStamets is as close to a Real Boy as possible [this is not to STO’s credit, in my opinion].)

Basically, what the holodeck is doing is making an avatar of the ship’s computer. That’s actually kinda neat (and I believe the show Andromeda does this), so why not just go with that? It still gives all the other aspects of the plot (such as the holowaifu thing, or the ethical dilemma of using the gains of evil), and it isn’t just plain dumb. As far as STO goes, it gives a reason to use STD’s cast (since it’s 160 years after the show, you can’t just have the characters show up). But in the rest of Trek doesn’t have this excuse.

While I’m here, I’ll rant on another bad use of the holodeck, this time reserved for STO specifically. In the episode “Butterfly” the Allies have built an Anti-Plot Gun, which erases whatever from time itself, in order to change the past so we don’t get shreked by the Iconians (who are a whole Kardashev level above even Starfleet). (It’s the same weapon Annorax used in the Voyager episode “Year of Hell”.) Since changing even a little thing can lead to huge changes down the line, of course we want to make sure that we’ve got it all calculated out: the whole thing with “Year of Hell” was that Annorax tried to change history by erasing things, but he could never get the history he wanted. But in STO, we use the holodeck to recreate what might happen if we made this change or that. Now, why do we need to enter the holodeck and run some simulation of some particular event. Indeed, what the PC is actually doing is just grabbing some historical info at the end of the simulation. The simulation didn’t need to be run – the simulation that the PC goes through is based entirely on the simulation of history the computer has already run! It’s literally a waste of computing power (it takes a lot to simulate all that stuff going on) and time (since the computer already has the answer before you even go into the room, or at least before the end!). Even in “Year of Hell” the computer doing the simulation just did its calculations, then displayed the results – no need for holomumbojumbo.

So, this is another instance of writers not thinking through the implications of their plot devices. Though this time they go for the more complicated answer, rather than the simpler solution!

Everyone of you reading this…

Pecan Pie m&m’s: A short review

I like m&m’s. I eat them a lot. Way more than I should. I have this thing where, if I don’t eat, I get headaches. I don’t know why, but it’s been this way since 6th grade. At least it’s my head that’s broken, and not my brain. Anyways, m&m’s are about perfect, since you have to chew them (which also helps prevent tension headaches from me clenching my jaws constantly), they are small, and the come in bags big enough to last for a while. Also, they come at the right price.

I’ve tried a lot of different flavors. Probably most of them, certainly not all of them. I of course have my favorites. I like the physically bigger ones, not the least because they are harder to go crazy with (feel more guilty eating a bunch). However, I don’t really like the nutty ones, especially if I’m going to be eating them all day. Just have the wrong mouth-feel for it. I also don’t usually like the stronger flavors – I like to taste the chocolate primarily, not something else with a bit of choco.

Of course, there’s also the problems of availability – I have to be able to get them in the first place. And price. My local Wal-Mart down the street is one of those Neighborhood ones – small, even for a grocery store. They don’t have a lot of flavors in the sizes that I want. So I have to go to the other store further away, but even then they don’t always have what I want, where I want it.

All the above considered, I’d rate my favorites (for work snacking) thusly:

  • Crunchy
  • Crunchy Mint
  • Hazelnut

But, being in the Halloween Candy season, I checked out that section of the store to see what was cheaper than usual. Of course you have the fun-size stuff, which is also ideal for work, in a greatly discounted state. So I got some of my favorites there (Kit-Kats, Twix). I also was looking for m&m’s, since they tend to have seasonal stuff too (in the normal flavors). But, lo and behold, I found something amazing. Yep, it’s what I’m writing the post about.

They’re just about perfect. The individual pieces are big enough that I don’t have to grab a bunch to be satisfied moment-to-moment. The primary flavor is the chocolate, but it has a pleasant, but not too-rich, separate aspect to it. I’m not a huge fan of pecan pie, but this has just the right amount of pecan-pie-ness to it. It doesn’t have any separate bits that mess up the mouthfeel of the candy.

I might say that this is my new favorite m&m flavor. Get it. It’s good stuff. Maybe, just maybe, if we buy enough of it, they’ll make it available all year.

Dragalia Lost: Missed Opportunities

No game is perfect. Nothing is perfect, not on this world, anyhow. But you can try your best. Or at least make an attempt at all. It can be disappointing when you enjoy a thing, but come across an example of that thing which didn’t have the effort you’d expect in it.

Just for example, I’ll use burgers. I happen to like Carl’s Jr. burgers. Like, a lot. They’re my favorite of the big chains’ burgers, for sure. I had good examples of good burgers from many different stores, across several states in the U.S., so I know a good Carl’s Jr. burger isn’t a fluke. But I’ve also had bad examples of burgers from this joint, in multiple places, some consistently. I’ve noticed it’s all about the effort put into it. You’d think that there would be a lot of standardization in a burger from a big, national joint, and you’d be right. No matter how disappointing the burger is in itself, it always has the same flavors, because the ingredients are standardized, and cooked in a standard way. No, the difference comes in the effort made to put it all together right. If things are sloppy, in a way they’re not supposed to be (“if it doesn’t get all over the place, it doesn’t belong in your face”…), the overall burger experience is significantly lessened. If all the lettuce is on one side, if the patty is a quarter hanging out of the bun, if the sauce is all in a clump in the middle, all those things can be destructive to the burger. And it doesn’t have to be. Just a bit more effort, and the product could be great, even superlative. (And it’s one thing if I’m customer #500 in the hour; I understand that, but if a store gets things wrong consistently, there’s a culture there, or at the very least a systemic problem.)

It’s the same thing with stories. I know, not everyone is a good writer. Not everyone has to be. I’m certainly not. But there’s a reason I don’t write for games – I’m certainly not paid to do it. There are so many examples of good writing, that one could expect that things might be better, in certain circumstances. Or at least that things would be decent. I’m of course talking about Dragalia Lost here: it’s in the title of the post. I’m not expecting something great here, especially from a phone game, but I’d like something that represents some effort. I know that this game can do good stuff – I’ve experienced it. But the main story, especially the most recent chapter, leaves a lot to be desired. To explain why, I’ll have to summarize the story a bit, so forgive me if you’re already familiar with it.

The story begins with the Main Character, Euden, the 7th prince and youngest heir to the throne of the kingdom. Euden has a younger twin sister, Zethia, but she’s the dragon pope, and has relinquished all claim to the throne. MC is called to adventure, stuff happens, his dad the king gets possessed and is eventually killed by the Big Bad, who happens to basically be the devil in this country’s religion; and then Big Bad possesses Zethia, who takes claim to the kingdom in her father’s place, and renames said kingdom to what boils down to Devil’s Empire, as far as this country’s history and religion are concerned. MC fortunately has a nice abandoned castle he happened to come across, which becomes the base, which is fortunate because he’s been branded as a traitor prince (as he was fighting the possessed king at the time said dies). The other heirs are out running their own thing, either as governors or generals (except the 6th prince, who fills the role of useless wastrel). Also, around this time the military teams up with the already ubiquitous monsters to basically terrorize random villages, because, you know, the Devil is Evil and all that. And we know that the Big Bad is currently in a weakened state and is looking to regain its true power.

Now, just in that, you should be able to see some interesting possibilities. How did the no-claim Zethia take over? What gives her legitimacy? What do the other siblings (and actual claimants) think about this? What do the people in the kingdom think about their country being renamed to Evil Empire? What about the other surrounding countries, what do they think of this new development? What will happen to the Traitor Prince now? And there are other things, for sure.

Now, we do get some at least partial answers to these questions. Whether they’re satisfying or not is up to the individual player’s tastes. And the situation does change over time, at least subtly (as in, the game doesn’t bring attention to the changes, they just change). Euden is explicitly tested, and develops as a ruler, as he takes his base (and the refugees flowing in from all those attacked villages) an declares his independence from the Evil Empire. Things get safer for him and his in the surrounding areas (at least when direct combat with monsters or evil troopers isn’t happening) – at first he was being hunted down in town, but later he can move about freely. He gets allies. He encounters his siblings and tries to get them on his side.

We have a complicated situation, so I expect that the writers wouldn’t go for a simple answer for everything. But that’s exactly what happened in this last chapter. All the siblings are brought together with the Devil, and they all side with the Big Bad. We already know they have their own motivations, and things might get more nuanced in the future, but for now we’re back where we were at launch: the prince arrayed against everyone else.

Now, I wasn’t expecting Game of Thrones here. I wasn’t even expecting Crusader Kings. But some depth would have been nice. Not returning to effectively the same place we were half a story ago would have been nice. Giving the siblings some better motivation to joining the actual, literal, unequivocal evil Devil being would have been nice (even if it was just “I’m afraid of that guy”). Even MC’s motivation could have been better: not just “I’m a siscon so I can go with you as long as you’re possessing my sister!”, but something even so simple as “your past actions don’t match with your present words, Satan” would have been an improvement.

Now, none of this is unsalvagable. We could be given satisfying results and explanations for all this in the future. But as for right now, it kinda sucks. And it couldn’t have come at a worse time, with all the hype that’s been built up, combined with the slow month otherwise, the low sales, and other expectations being dashed.

Mobage Update

It’s been a while since I’ve posted one of these. Things have happened. I said I would talk about past events, but haven’t. Story stuff has happened. Etc.

It’s hard for me to talk about Princess Connect updates and events. Because, despite the fact that I retweet (and occasionally post here) untranslated Japanese stuff, I don’t actually understand Japanese. Neither reading or writing. Sure, I’ve been learning. But on a scale of N5 to N1 (official Japanese language skill exam levels), I’m like a N7. Mabye N8. Not even at the “can get the rough gist of things without subs” (though good enough to tell when subs are way off). So yah. Slow going. And, as PriConn is pretty much a visual novel with a management game attached, events are hard for me to appreciate. I still participate, as much as I can, but I skip most of the dialog. Which helps, because I only have about 20-30 mins per day to play this particular game.

But there was a new event! Some character goes to school for two weeks, for reasons! Stuff happens when she is there! She makes some friends! A couple of them turned out to be really popular with the community. One of them got a new SSR character this banner, and PriConn Twitter exploded. From what I can tell, she’s not that good, but not useless either.

In Dragalia Lost…well, stuff’s been happening, I guess. It continues to have the problem of too-long banners and events. And since the last summer event, there has been nothing new. And very little hype leading up to the anniversary, which is next week (either Thursday or Friday). Even the most recent banner (or rather, the next one) is a rerun dragon banner, with none of the featured dragons being particularly good – and only one of them being good at all. The only hint that something big is happening this month is that “something big” was announced at the beginning of the month, and there have been free daily rolls for some time. But other games, even other Cygames games, have had much bigger lead-ups to their anniversary: extra crystals, free 10-rolls, extra loot drops in content, and the like. Maybe tonight’s news will have that, but I’m not confident.

At least we got/are getting some new content. Got a couple new Void raids, which are nice for casuals like me. Tomorrow I believe is the new High Zodiark raid, which is nice for esports guys not like me (I haven’t even touched the second High Dragon raid). And last week we got a new beating stick (Mercurial Gauntlet), for the whales and tryhards. And, for people that actually like story in their RPG’s, we got a new main story chapter too, to lead off into the next arc of the story.

Speaking of main story, it was a bit of a let-down. Even the boot-lickers at Reddit were upset. More of a lore/worldbuilding infodump chapter than an advancement of plot or character. Typical shounen/jrpg premature end-boss encounter, where you go into it thinking things are going to get better, but they only get worse. I’ll have more to say on this sort of phenomenon in another post, since this event made me think of it.

Granblue Fantasy also had an addition to the main story. This was better than the DL addition, though it did leave a bad taste in my mouth at the end. It ended the current story chapter, and gave a big lore dump – finally, the/an explanation for what Lyria is! And Vyrn too, I guess, though we knew most of it already. I’m not sure I trust this explanation, though – first, we never hear Mikaboshi’s explanation, just that very trustworthy devil-man’s. And a part of his lore dump contradicts the explanation of Bahamut given by Sky-Lucio in the anniversary event, and what isn’t contradictory is incomplete compared to what we’ve heard earlier. Of course, GBF’s lore has always been this way (and that’s another thing I’ll cover in that upcoming post), this kinda wishy-washy unclear mess that seems like it’s made up as they go (almost certain that this is exactly the case – not that it’s a bad thing, inherently).

But man, that ending. Way dark for this game, especially for the main story, which has been generic good-boy shounen to this point (heck, even Naruto or One Piece aren’t afraid to have people die). I guess an organization that calls itself The Society might not be entirely on the up-and-up. But can this mean that we will finally get some acknowledgement of the various side stories in the main story?

Tokyo Game Show: What I Actually Care About

Lots of stuff happening at the Tokyo Game Show…mostly stuff I don’t give a darn about. Like FFVII remake? Don’t care. Death Stranding? Nope. I’m sure there’s other stuff, but as I said, I don’t really care. I’ve been too caught up in the MMO scene to give much of a crap about things like new games. That, and the old games going on sale keep building in my backlog…

Much of a crap, though. There are some things I do care about (thus the title). One of those is Granblue Fantasy Versus. I wasn’t expecting much more than a character reveal with another gameplay demo, and I wasn’t disappointed. And of course it was Metera.

Looks like she’s an aerial/ranged fighter. Might be cool. Kinda sad they censored her maximum booty shorts to just regular booty shorts, but that’s CalSony for you. Not that I care too much about Metera – she’s cute when she’s not being a terrible person, but that whole thing isn’t my type (her sister Sutera is much more my speed). But you know, it’s the principle of the thing.

But even bigger news: the Dusk trilogy of the Atelier series is coming out for modern platforms. I’ll actually be able to play them now. I’ve heard mixed reviews about this series: Arland fans hate it, some people think it’s the best trilogy of the modern games; some people think Ayesha is good, but the other two aren’t; others think Shallie is the low point of the series as a whole, while others like it. So yah, I’m totally getting this. I didn’t get the Arland series when it came out: 90 burgers is a lot to pay for some computer games that I’ve already bought (Rorona twice already!). But (likely) the same price, for games I don’t have? And games which don’t get deep discounts? Yah, I’m game.

No release date yet, that I can see, though preorders go up in Japan on the 26th of this month. Also no confirmation of the English version, but this is the Tokyo Game Show, so I’ll expect we’ll hear more at a later date.

Also Atelier related, we got Atelier Ryza’s story trailer:

Looks like the typical “Man, this place is boring; let’s go on an adventure!” seen in many RPG’s. Slightly less used in Atelier games, though: usually adventure comes to them, not the other way around. Might be cool. Of course, I’m getting this ASAP. Or at least as soon as practical. Which, considering my progress in Elder Scrolls Online, might not be right when the game comes out.

So yah, that’s what I care about so far. There might be some more interesting things coming out later this weekend. We’ll see. It’s just so hard for me to care about games that come out on systems I don’t own (which, for modern games is all but PC – maybe Black Friday that will change).

Worst Computer Experience Ever, Day 3

I think I spoke too soon yesterday. Because Princess Connect did NOT work. It installed just fine. But when I tried to run the game it immediately crashed, and up popped Gmail (only a little disconcerting there, Cygames) with an error message to send to the devs (error 10, which I couldn’t find any mention of in English Google). Didn’t even get to the first screen. So I can’t even do PriConn at work and school, drat.

Now, Pokemon Masters may yet work, if I can figure out sideloading .apk’s. From what I can gather, I have been trying to run them from the wrong folder. Android stuff can’t run natively in ChromeOS, after all. (Though I would have thought that would have been a priority from the start, I guess it wasn’t.) I just have to find the right folder to run it from, I think. Which I haven’t figured out yet. I still have a bit of hope there.

When I finally decided to give up on the games (for now), and focus on the work stuff, I went to download Outlook. Which I had to get from the Play Store (meaning there is no native ChromeOS version, Sad!). Get that going, and it runs fine…but I can’t access my email. Funny, since I was able to get into my email from my browser, on this very computer, from the Outlook online site, with what I believe are the same credentials. But I need some of the functionality of the actual program that isn’t (as far as I can tell) on the browser version. I doubt this is a problem with the machine, but still, sucky experience. I’ll have to contact IT tomorrow to get this sorted out (because OF COURSE it happened after they left for the day).

But I guess not everything is bad. When I was setting up my RSS stuff yesterday, one of the things I unknowingly got was some sort of RSS picker, or whatever you might call it – it looks at a page and sees if there is RSS available for it. Very nice! A lot of the blogs I was following didn’t have an RSS button (even though many are WordPress, which has native RSS functionality, and an easy widget to put that button on one’s site), so I had to either follow them manually (keeping a tab open), or, when applicable, following them from WordPress’ reader…when many were also on my RSS reader, which redundancy was somewhat confusing. And I found an RSS reader for Chrome which looks and functions a lot like Smart RSS on Opera, which is swell. Now just have to see if there’s a non-cucked ad blocker for Chrome.

Also, Granblue Fantasy at least works. Actually, it works great. I decided that, since I was messing around with things, I’d install SkyLink, which is a mobile browser developed by DeNa, made especially for playing browser mobile games…like Granblue Fantasy. And boy does GBF look reeeeealy nice on such a big screen. I mean, the screen has the same resolution as my much bigger monitors at home, but having the game fill up the full screen in portrait mode is something else. Only trouble is that they took out the bottom bar for some reason, and I don’t know the gesture for Refresh (which is like half the gameplay of GBF…). In fact, I was so happy with it, I immediately bought my girl Nio’s new skin. Feels like a totally new game, even though it’s exactly the same as it always was.

Really wish I could play my other games like this…

Oh, and one other nice thing is that having a touch screen is very, very nice, even in laptop mode. I’ve always felt, for reasons I can’t understand, that one should be able to touch the screen on a laptop, and make it do stuff. I guess I just have always had too much Star Trek on the brain. Even with my very first encounters with laptops in the 90’s I wanted to touch the screen. It just felt like the right thing to do. And now it is the right thing to do! Once I get this machine up and going, with a mouse and everything (though the usb port is on the wrong side of the machine, my mouse cable is long enough), things will be rolling.

So yah, while the gaming bit is a huge disappointment, to put it mildly (there might have been some ‘swearing in church’-levels of frustration…), the title of the post might be a biiiiiit exaggerated.

New Things! Second Impressions

Gotta say, I’m really disappointed with my new device. Well, not in the device itself. More like the things I can do with it. Maybe if I was a bit more tech savvy, I could make it sing. Like, use the linux mode to force a proper browser, instead of having to use mobile browsers. Or how to get the toolbar to show my RSS feeds. Things like that. I mean, having to use Chrome (I know, using Chrome on a Chromebook? How absurd!) is a bit of a I Hate It situation. At least I finally found I RSS reader extension that Just Werks, after like a whole twenty minutes of searching and fiddling (as opposed to the twenty seconds it took to get one for my old laptop’s Opera – Smart RSS, in case anyone wanted to know).

But the biggest disappointment is that, of the three games I wanted to play on it, two are incompatible, and for no real reason. Dragalia Lost said it was incompatible in the Play Store, but I’ve gotten that message for other things in the past, and with a simple workaround gotten around that issue. I downloaded, installed, connected to my Nintendo account, and updated, no problem. But, when I got to the point of actually playing the game, I got the dreaded 160 Error. While it says there’s a connection issue, it’s actually a compatibility issue. Or rather, it means your OS version is blocked. DL worked on Chromebooks until Feb or Mar, at which point they were blocked. Probably falls under the broad emulator block. I don’t know if I blame this on Cygames or Google. But it really pisses me off something fierce.

Also, Pokemon Masters won’t work, at all. Not in the Play Store, period. QooApp wouldn’t even let me download it. And getting the .apk directly didn’t install. That’s actually really weird. I know whoever developed the game (I don’t know if it was DeNa or Game Freak or what) really screwed the pooch on compatibility – it only works on 64-bit systems, which excludes 90+% of American phones, let alone all the phones across the world – but this is sad. I know I have a 64-bit system – I have 8 GB of RAM, so that’s necessary. But no. No dice.

I haven’t gotten around to trying Princess Connect, but I figure it will work, since that’s more platform-agnostic. I just need to get the will to open it up on my tablet, figure out the menus to get the system link, and we’re probably golden.

I also can see zero reason why Granblue Fantasy wouldn’t work, since that works on Chrome in the first place.

So yah, half the reason I got this stupid thing is out the window. I still need it, since the other half is still valid (laptop coming apart at the seams). But it’s a real drag, since I paid hundreds of dollars more for a system that could supposedly also play my games.

Oh, and also, that second look at Star Trek Online was a disappointment too, but one I was expecting. I did the new mission, and I just have to say everything STD touches turns to garbage. Even in the hands of (slightly more) competent writers, it’s garbage to the core. Even the sci-fi concepts introduced to the Trek universe are garbage. I hate the whole ‘mycellial network’ concept. You just know Kurtzman heard of one of those giant fungus bodies and thought, “What if that was, like, connecting the whole universe, man?” while doing various drugs. It’d be one thing if it were just another realm of subspace, or one of the dime-a-dozen parallel realms in Trek. But no, it ‘connects to all mutiverses’ and ‘if it gets hurt it kills all life in all realities’. And now the baddie-of-the-month is hurting it. But they got Rapp for STO, and Stammets’s whole character is >muh shrooms, so that’s what we have in STO.

Not a great start to my day.

New Things! First Impressions

Me, when I opened the door this morning.

I talked about that 2-in-1, convertible, flip-tablet laptop Chromebook whatever, last week. I talked about the reasons for getting it, and so on. I wasn’t expecting it until tomorrow. You know how they give estimations for when packages will arrive? Well, I got that, and it said between anywhere Sep 6-11. I’ve found they tend to arrive either in the first two days, or the last day. So I was despairing, having to wait a full week from the ship date (which was a couple days after the order date) to get my thing.

So, when I opened the front door to go to work (a bit behind schedule, I might add), what do I find but a rather large box! Inside the box was a lot of plastic air, and then at the bottom a much smaller box, with my laptop in it. As I said, I was already behind schedule, so I just grabbed the machine and charger, shoved it into its case, and ran out the door. (Forgotten: SD card.)

So, my very initial impressions of this machine, my first Chrome OS device: I don’t like it. Well, that’s not at all true. I like the machine. It’s very nice. It doesn’t pop and crack when I open the lid, which is a huge plus right now. In tablet mode the screen is HUGE. But I really don’t like Chrome OS. For one thing, the file system is all wonky. Then, I can’t install my preferred browsers (hint: not Chrome), except for the Android versions. Opera for Android doesn’t allow extensions (like a RSS reader…), so I had to do Firefox, which does. I don’t know how to right-click with the touchpad (though I did it on accident several times; unfortunately, I don’t know what I did to do it). Some of the gestures are counter-intuitive (you mean I have to move my fingers down to scroll down, which is the exact opposite of what you do on a touch screen?), and of course I don’t know all of them, since I use a mouse with my laptop now, and always have.

Oh, and nothing can be installed, except from the Play Store. Unlike Android, where you can give an app permission to install, you just straight-up can’t do it. At least not out of the box. You can set the machine to developer mode, which allows you to actually use the device. But that involves wiping all the data. Fortunately at the time I learned this, I only had one extra app installed anyways (Opera), so not a huge deal, but it really shouldn’t be this way. I’m going to be installing apps that aren’t on the American Play Store, which means using QooApp, so being able to install outside of the store is a real big plus.

I said using the thing in tablet mode was impressive. And it is. For one thing, it’s heavy. Of course it is, it’s a proper laptop. It’s light for a laptop, in my experience, but that’s still heavier than your typical tablet. And it’s big. 14 inch screen, I think. In laptop mode that’s a bit smaller than what I’m using now (15.5″), but way bigger than I’m used to for my tablet (9 or 10″). Doing DuoLingo on that…wow. And it was loud and clear, too.

I only used the thing for a couple of hours, mostly just trying to get the initial setup going, like one does on every machine. Once I get actually using it, I’m sure I’ll have more to think about.

Another thing that happened was the new big patch for Star Trek Online. I’ve said before that I wasn’t too excited about it, and I’m not. But hey, free ship to grind for, that isn’t inherently STD tainted, so yay! Too bad the missions themselves are. But I’ll live. I just did the new queue twice (since you can grind for 60 points a day, and the queue gives 30 points each time), and I have to say, I like it. It’s ground-pounding, which is a nice change: ground pub queues almost always are a lot faster than space pubs, and for a grind, this is important. I think the average run time is less than ten minutes, and that’s with it being brand-new and no one knowing what’s going on. There isn’t a lot of running around, like the last ground queue, and no fixed timers (besides the few seconds at the start of each phase, to let players get in the instance). And, most importantly, there’s no cooldown for the queue, like there normally is. 20 minutes in and out, no big deal.

ESO Update: Hit the Cap!

So, I’ve already hit one of my September plans. I finally hit “level cap” in ESO, after about a month of playing. Of course, that’s just the end of the tutorial. I have to put on my big boy pants now, and grind out those champion points, which are basically just more and more levels. I think the current (effective) cap on those is 810, though I might be off on that.

Even though I’ve made it this far, I’m still running the same basic build I was at lvl 10. Archer, with bear. I’ve got the sword-and-board as my secondary, but apparently that’s a tank build, and I’m not set up for that, nor know how to do that. Would be nice though, not having to wait 10+ minutes for a dungeon queue to pop. But dps is for dummies like me, and I’m probably not even doing that correctly.

I’m currently running through Deshann, and am almost done with it. Of course doing the dalies for the event tickets, which seems like a horrible grind for a fancy horse. I guess that’s how they get you – oh, just buy the event tickets from the cash shop! You can get your fancy horsey without grinding forever! And the kicker is, you can only hold 12 tickets at a time, so you can’t hoard for the next events, if you don’t like this fancy horsey (I don’t – my starter horse just werks; if I’m to get another mount, I want something cool, like a tiger, or a giant mechanical spider), but want to save for the next cool thing, SCREW YOU BUDDY.

Oh yah, almost done with Deshann. Well, except for the world bosses. I guess no one does those outside of the starter areas, or with their guilds. (I tried to do one with my guild last night, but I was there, and no one else. I guess they were on a different shard – Sad!) Just a couple of quests more to kill that chica who started the plauge. Then I’m off to the swamp, to solve lizard problems.