Archive for December, 2009

Zombieland! Though the spectacle slows down towards the (rather unspectacular) end, this movie starts with a great pacing and keeps the audience on point for the biggest part. All in all a fun ride and viewers learn some rules along the way. :P
The production also makes me rethink my once firmly held belief, that most movies under 90 min total runtime are bad.

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89

//Edit

Clarification: This entry is basically supposed to be a continuation of this previous note, which already tried to point out differences between Steam in various countries [1]. It’s just Steam opened with 2 different country IP addresses and every time listing “all” games a.k.a. the entire Steam catalog. And yet the difference between the 2 total amounts unveils, that (in countries not here) Steam sells 89 games MORE. Not counting all dumbed down (but still available) versions of course. Those would go extra.
Though this might seem mighty boring to most, I always find these little facts very interesting and noteworthy.

[1]

Which is really one of the reasons I’m not that enthusiastic about Steam as I could be, when I consider that Steam is still as dissimilar for the poor users as all kinds of international retailers always were. Because let’s face it: Bringing a fair/equal distribution to all locations was exactly the one new thing the Internet could have brought to mankind. Yet once again: Everything stays the same.

Germany:

Not Germany:

6.7 (167 MB) / Changes

(+) denotes changes only available to Plus Edition players.

  • +Prevented feeding twice from Romero and getting him a rival in love.
  • +Made Tourette give you her gun and forced endgame Skelter dialogue.
  • +Moved frenzy powerup from basement into hollow book in Grout’s room.
  • +Forced Nosferatu to use Empire Arms vents and fixed map transition.
  • +Fixed Regent’s reward and Yukie bug and improved on her translation.
  • Fixed Jack, Isaac and LaCroix dialogues and theatre web log update.
  • Finally fixed Beckett’s “wait” freeze bug, thanks to burgermeister.
  • Fixed intro paintings, added two more and swapped two with Skyeline.
  • Corrected look-through problems of male Tremere and Ventrue models.
  • Corrected Heather changing clothes and added Gary to intro sequence.
  • Moved some new props and restored a few more to warrens and Asylum.
  • Moved new raver as DJ into Confession and restored old DJ to Glaze.
  • Removed poster quests from basic patch and added a log for Tourette.
  • Added missing endgame quest logs and pause key option to keys menu.
  • Restored four female and two male hand skins and Nosferatu eyeballs.
  • Restored Fu Syndicate alarm switch sequence and three context icons.
  • Added walkthrough including patch changes, thanks to vampyri_lestat.

Because let’s face it: A game that is published by EA, which now expects that players of offline games are always connected to servers for DLC and whatnot and logs (for those titles) numerous online statistics about every abstract detail of user activity AND is distributed, amongst other things, by Steam, certainly doesn’t want to raise awareness for privacy concerns and possible consequences for serious lack of them. :P

Or short: Oh the irony

Just finished Dragon Effect (where TOB doesn’t stand for Throne of Bhaal – this was pre-generics after all). With Commander Warden (the guy who looks almost exactly like Dr. Jack Shephard from L O S T [for years I wanted to get this off my chest!] – in the default setting – if they ever do a movie, don’t be stupid: THIS is your guy! Play it safe!). I wanted to refresh my memory (sometimes I was totally surprised by my squad, couldn’t remember they would do stuff like that) for part II that is coming out in late January (if I import a savegame, I wanna know what it contains – although, by sheer coincidence, I still had all my original savegame files; and who wants the important decisions of ME1 [like showing some interest in Asari OR giving Ashley reason to look happy – they obviously made a severe mistake with that camera angle, btw] to be swallowed by oblivion in ME2). It still payed off. I never played the DLC “Bring Down EA Because of DLC” either (introduces the new race dark spawnarians), so I had plenty of incentive (I finished it TOO SOON after release). I perceived it quite differently than the first time around. I didn’t even remember having to pick an origin story at the beginning. I always go with the “sole survivor” and “ex-gang member” background. For the characters I play are TOUGH, baby!
I felt at home immediately, the game starts in Lothering Prime, where some scientists survived an attack and welcome you with the words “Thank the maker!” (no kidding). After that first introduction, it’s right of to “Britadel Castle“, where we’ll meet Leliana at a med clinic, who’s a doctor this time. The red hair or her voice give her away. Or maybe just the latter. I LOVE recurring stars, btw. Makes me smile (e.g. Jennifer “Then I suggest we move on” Hale should start doing podcasts, it wouldn’t even matter what she would talk about!). Except for when I hate them! Then it doesn’t.
Lots of little adventures happen after that, trying to keep the player from noticing, that there actually are only

FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR

or 4 main/story missions, between the prelude and finish of the entire adventure/game. I read a while ago, that BioWare tried to do an open world game (think Fallout 3/Oblivion) with the planets, but it didn’t pan out the way they imagined it, so they had to go back to the usual scripted stuff. Sadly, at this point, their time had run out and thus there is really only a single layout for every base type on all planets (and other locations). ME could have really been the ultimate stuff, if it would have featured unique locations. The maps they did build from scratch, were awesome. Be it the lush ocean world (Virmire), where the bomb goes off, or the prothean world leading up to the finale (Ilos). For ME2 they specifically promised ([…] location […] singular […] you can’t get anywhere else […]), that wouldn’t happen again. So I’m “stretched to a breaking point”, if they’ll actually come through.

They could have brought the Normandy into DAO, to “ride” into battle, like they put the blood dragon armor into ME2. Fuck griffons man! Just imagine the expression on Loghain’s face! Suddenly there’s this mind numbing, everything supressing sound and BAM! Joker (or the other one) puts down the ship in a hot zone (I’m pretty sure that’s how griffons would have looked like anyway, if they didn’t go extinct)!

This is how the Mako should have been. Like the tumbler from BATMAN. Put a huge rocket engine on the back and turbo boost away! It was SLOW. I’m not even talking about the fact, that it “drove” like a ball, that’s just uncontrollable bouncing around… (As a nod to the sometimes outrageous ability of the Mako to climb cliffs, there is a ‘Mako Mountain Climbing Team’ t-shirt in BioWare’s official store.)

And this is what people missed (a delightful Mako wallpaper collection), who didn’t land on every planet, because they were ALL THE SAME:

After seeing this, you regret not visiting every copy/pasted pirate base out there, right? I don’t blame you.

What actually sold ME2 to me (pre-ordered), was Tali (“I can’t tell you how much what you said means to me.” Wow!). Learning she would be back made the decision for me. Pushed me over the edge. My favorite character from the first game (the engine room [where she spent her time] was the coolest on the ship too). The misleading (and ultimately unsatisfying) mysteries from ME surely wouldn’t have done the trick (because they promised something – anything, that really wasn’t there).
In their E3 reveal video they even tell, that the characters are now the focus of the game, so they apparently admit, that it’s officially no longer e.g. the story, that should pull the whole project. Interesting!
Thinking about the story, this (unfortunately) makes sense… Some of it was really written like they hoped no one would actually listen to it and just skip it all. Close to the end Vigil reveals some contradictions pretty close to each other (e.g. telling that the reapers knew everything about the protheans because of the databases on the citadel, but a few sentences later, that the reapers never found Ilos because the reapers destroyed all the information during their attack on the citadel, so they had nothing to access to find that base…). I also never bought that slogan about why the real plan of the reapers never was explained, because organic life forms couldn’t comprehend it anyway. That’s pretty much only a lot of BS to me. And I also perceive it as a huge cop-out, in the form of bringing that instead of an actual explanation, what really would have required some ideas… Come on… Such babble passes through quality assurance? If anyone maybe thought this might come over as mystical or eerie… it does really NOT.

Since I didn’t kill him, I’m looking forward to major events with Wrex in ME2 (RIIIGHT). :P Because otherwise it wouldn’t really matter, riiight? Considering, however, that another krogan appears to be a team member in ME2, I won’t hold my breath for more than a short cameo.

“Sorry folks, but as a biotic with barrier active and bastion specialization, I cannot be killed, no matter what you throw at me! Even if the 1000 extra hitpoints of this shield should be depleted, it would just immediately recharge! Boom!”

“Hey! Aren’t you that chick [1] from this comic?!?”

Now it’s time to watch the video that’s NEW (at least since I last checked).

[1]

BioWare revealed at the 2009 GDC that originally Liara T’Soni was supposed to be discovered on the mining planet Caleston in addition to several side quests, in a section of the game comparable to the size of Feros. Due to scheduling and coding issues, Caleston saw severe content cuts during the development of Mass Effect before being eventually changed to Therum. Originally there was a human mining station that served as a hub; much of the architecture for this station was later repurposed as the final fight location in Bring Down the Sky.

http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Liara#Trivia

Extract!

Good thing that I gave up wondering why they put him in every movie, because thus I could really enjoy this film!
Overall this is one of these dialog and character based films, that drag the story along beneath that. Almost like Kevin Smith does it – similar, at least. Everyone who’s seen JB in anything, knows what kind of character he’ll play (always the exact same), so this should already explain the tone of the setting quite nicely. The rest of the cast is pretty good either, with strong arguments like Mila Kunis or Ben Affleck.

Too late! The knot is tied!

Exhale!

The fact, that cloning a (let’s say) 40 GB partition onto a 750 GB partition, CAN leave you with an utterly broken MFT (insufficient disk space to repair master file table mirrors; CHKDSK aborted), doesn’t necessarily strengthen the trust in NTFS. I’m purely guessing, but apparently it’s not designed to adapt to such a change (rumors say Acronis can be the cause of it, seems plausible enough, since cloning like this usually doesn’t work without third party software anyway).
The only safe solution seems to be to remove the partition and create a new one and then format it. Which really wouldn’t be hard, if there wasn’t the “small feat” of copying everything somewhere else and returning it after.

Define “Check for a solution”. What would an option, called like that, probably do, considering the wording? I (once upon a time) actually believed this would mean, the software would go and check for a “solution”, if I selected that. But what actually happens (as well), is that an error report is sent. Is this supposed to be some sort of newspeak? Where does “checking” include “transferring data”? Someone give them a dictionary, so they can learn what actually is synonymous. This dialog appears every time on Windows 7, after a program crashed/stopped working correctly. The action taken can be configured through 4 degrees of various intensity, reaching from complete automation (sending without user prompt) and sending “everything” to doing absolutely nothing/skipping this dialog.

I got put on this track, when I used the BitDefender Online Scanner and decided to get a second opinion. I remembered reading about the “Microsoft Security Essentials” – which is supposed to be a “basic” virus scanner. Again, the title security essentials tells anyone it’s a virus scanner at first glance… Its first action was to enable Windows Update again without telling me (there is a patchday once a month, so it doesn’t make lots of sense, to have WU check for patches more often, let alone every day…), but what I really disliked, was the Microsoft SpyNet (Yes, I know! They really called it that! Awesome!). The difference between Microsoft SpyNet and the formerly mentioned Windows 7 “solution checking” is, that the program wasn’t intended to work without sending data back home. This time there are only 2 settings, allowing to send “some”, or “even more” information (The information will be automatically collected and sent.).
Of course the text says, that Microsoft will never use the collected information to identify or contact users, but when a program crashes while writing a letter (or something like that) the name might be sent anyway – along with the rest and (even current, let alone future) memory capacities can only suggest it will never be deleted again, only archived.

The sole thing that’s getting transparent here, is: MSE is free of charge* software, but it’s not free of charge like – I don’t know – VirtualDub is or other stuff like Password Safe, Replacer, InfraRecorder, Audacity, yadi and VLC. Stuff like this can just be downloaded, tested, used, discarded or whatever, without any further consequences. And to me, this is suddenly changing now (almost in a surge), for more and more products.
Look at Steam, how it collects data about players gaming times and hardware, or even offline/single-player games like Dragon Age: Origins, that now require the player to stay logged in for access to some of their (fully paid for) content.
The sheer number of software that changes this way makes it appear to be more than just a few products altering their behavior (as they always do), but rather than a general change of policy in the entire mass market software world.

*FREE of charge – because you MIGHT end up paying by other means.

Heavy – Crossing Over wasn’t just a darn good movie, but also the first really great flick with Harrison Ford I saw since The Fugitive. I kinda lost hope he would ever be in another “hit” (=what I consider one).
Of course the subject is a little “hollywoodized” (e.g. everyone is beautiful, because “we” aren’t empathic for ugly people), but not bastardized – only that would be truly bad (naturally).
But enough of this, consider seeing it, if the opportunity should arise.

I’m not so sure The Box has a point to it, in there, somewhere… But it managed to keep me awake and that counts for something! Also, all people who don’t like it, just don’t get it and are therefore stupid!!! Or all people, who like it, are dumb, because they didn’t get it themselves and believe everyone will think they are dumb, if they don’t say they liked it. Something like that. It could be one of these two, or not. I, uh… liked it.
Extreme, I finally managed to do a real spoiler free “review”! Now go see The Box (or do push a button). As long as you think about it, it’s “okay”.

That would have been cool – as an actual part of the game.

The Generic Four

Is KotOR 2 “bad” (or worse than 1), because the goal is to just chase down 4 jedi masters? Rather not, right? Because the goal of KotOR 1 is to chase down 4 star maps, right after the Ebon Hawk was stolen from Davik of the exchange(able). And that game was great. Just like the goal of Mass Effect 1 was to scout 4 star systems. Or the goal of Dragon Age: Origins was to gather 4 allies. I don’t know the mission objectives of ME 2 yet (don’t wanna spoil myself), but right now – if I HAD TO guess, off the top of my head I’m assuming it will be something revolving around 4 other things… [Apparently Dragon Age 2 is already queued for production…] I can’t wait to see if I’m right! There will be so much surprise! [Even ToB as a pure add-on to a “full game” had 6 Bhaalspawn to fight. There’s a reason (several actually) these titles are held in such high regard – it was the pre “rule of four” era after all.]