Monday, March 31, 2008

Wednesday Brings a New PC

It'll be like Christmas in April!

What's weird is that the PSU (and only the PSU) shipped from Tennessee so it'll be here tomorro, while the rest of the order is coming in 3 boxes from California and is on-time to be delivered Wednesday (they're in Kentucky at the moment).

I can't wait to boot up Hellgate again with DX10 running (yes, I'm giving Vista a shot), and then come May... it's Conan time! Aye, here's hoping all the parts are in working order and this $830 was well spent.

In other Bildo-licious news... there's not much to talk about. I'm knee deep in TTH work and homework, though I only have 4 more weeks of classes before I'm done with this degree and with schooling for a good long while. And you know what that means... time to look for a day job as a Web Designer and Developer! Go me!

Not that I'm not happy with my current gig, but my heart belongs to this blend of art and tech we call Web Design, and I can't wait to make a living doing it. So wish me luck in that aspect. I'm nearly done with my first privately contracted design job, so that's good news too. Anything to continue to build the portfolio.

Hmm... not much else to report I'm afraid. Like I said, until Conan up and launches I've got nothing for you folks except these random updates and the occasional editorial rant. But I thank you all the same for continuing to stop by.


Friday, March 28, 2008

It's Time.

Tax return... sweet, sweet, sweet tax return.

I've placed the order for my new PC with Newegg. Everything's going smoothly until...


Turns out my bank will automatically deny large suspicious online charges, like buying a new PC from Newegg. So now I have to call Newegg at 11am EST and have them do a 3-way call with the bank to manually authorize the purchase.

Sigh... will update soon with final verification that the damned thing is done with.

UPDATE: So it turned out not to be an issue on the US Bank side of things. They had it unblocked the whole time yet for some reason it was returning denials to Newegg. Got the authorization code from US Bank, called Newegg again and had them try one more time with the authorization code...


New PC, barring any stocking issues, should ship out of the warehouse today and on its way to my humble abode... where it shall be built and played with forever more.


ADDITIONAL ASIDE: Newegg's customer service? Great. Speed? Great. But they charged my account twice because of the authorization code doohickey being needed to force the purchase through and apparently "that's just how these things work".

Luckily, my bank says they'll simply remove any overdraft fees that might occur during the few days it'll take Newegg to refund my money, or I'd be one majorly pissed Bildo right now. Instead, I'm just slightly pissed at what hassle today has been.

This system better rock hard.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Bloggers and Press... Yes, That Debate Again.

No, don't worry this has nothing to do with NDAs. I'm not here to preach, but rather to bring to light a recent story in the newest issue of WIRED magazine.

On page 106 of the April issue, there's a story all about the rising popularity and controversy surrounding Blogs and their place as press. The article focuses on rival blogs Gizmodo and Engadget, and goes on to highlight their competitive natures and antics at this year's CES.

Now, while I'm sure most of my readers might be aware of this fact, Engadget is usually regarded as the tamer of the two sites, approaching blogging with a more traditionally press-like demeanor, while Gizmodo tends toward the more irrevrant and some would say less professional approach. However, regardless of any differences they might have, the two sites share one thing in common: a butt-load of readers. By all counts, these two sites are the HBO and Showtime of technology blogs. They're always battling each other, and you can always count on them to bring you the news you want about whatever new piece of tech is out there.

But the article brings to question whether or not Blogs like Gizmodo and Engadget will ever truly be accepted as part of the press... especially when the former often produces an image of immaturity (Gizmodo's CES TV-Be-Gone prank warranted many a harsh e-mail, comment, and even bans from future CES events). However, when reading the article, I couldn't help but feel a hint of pride for the guys at Gizmodo.

I know it was unprofessional, but I think that's why I like Gizmodo. I think that's why they manage to distinguish themselves from Engadget and why both sites are able to flourish. It also happens to be why Kotaku is so popular among gamers. That is to say, Gizmodo knows how to write for their audience because they are their own audience. I'm not saying everyone who reads Gizmodo or Engadget is an 18-20 something male who enjoys the pranks and goofy editorial streak the former is known for, but I am saying that a vast majority of both sites' readers fall under that label... myself included.

These blogs, all media, even the stuff you might find boring is a form of entertainment. There are millions of different kinds of entertainment in this world. My grandmother got her jollies from depressing local nightly news, while my grandfather got his from naps between thw 1st and 18th holes on ESPN. My mom can't get enough country music, and my dad has a weird obsession with anything USMA. To each their own, right?

So then I say, how dare the current members of the press try and exclude sites like Gizmodo or Engadget from their exclusive little club. Hell, even the Inquirer is press... because it fulfills the need of those people out there who prefer to read about Dolly Parton's failed lip implants over what's going on in Saudi territory these days.

I'll end this, as I know by now I've probably lost all my readers in this rant. Gizmodo, Engadget, 1up, Kotaku, Tobold, Keen, Darren... even me. I'm making this claim now, and I'll stand by it... even when I've long been proven wrong by someone who knows infinitely more than I.

We are press. We serve up news. We offer opinions to willing readers. We write for the public even if that public is five people every week. We are the media. We just have the added luxury of not being bought and sold... yet. Gizmodo and Engadget? They're professionals while we may be hobbyists. But that doesn't make me any different than them. Even if no one reads this, it's still an editorial isn't it?

Yep folks... I'm changing sides I think. It's time for me to flip-flop as I so famously do. The bloggers are press, even most of us never see a dime for our work.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Couple of New Lost In Hyboria Strips

Just wanted to poke my head in and let you know that I posted a new strip last week at this link...

"Beach Boys"

And I just posted the 2nd official strip at this link...

"The Impotent Blade"

Have a laugh (either at the joke or at my pathetic expense) on me.


Monday, March 24, 2008

This week will be it... I can feel it.

This is the week, I swear it will be. This will be the week where the purchase is made and tiny parts of a new PC all make their way out to my house. We just have to get the IRS to hurry up and make that deposit is all. I wonder if they take special rush orders?

Anyway, on the gaming side there still really hasn't been much to talk about. I'm working on lots of things for Ten Ton Hammer, finishing up school, and my first paid design project... so really, I've been keeping quite busy.

I did have Codemasters' Overlord for the 360 last week, but I ended up returning it by the weekend. Not because it was bad by any real stretch of the imagination, but because I realized I don't have time for it right now. I'll be cancelling my Gamefly account before the end of the month until after Conan launches, but there's still time for one or two more game trials before then.

Next up? The Simpsons Game... which I'm greatly looking forward to. I heard the camera is absolute crap, but regardless it's the Simpsons. The yellow family's show houses some of my favorite childhood memories, and some of my favorite NES games to boot, so I'm stoked.

Anyway, that's all I have to report right now. I'm afraid I'm a bit boring leading up to the release of Conan, but hopefully soon we'll have plenty to chat about.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Turning off Anonymous Commenting for Now...

It seems between Tobold and I, there's a mutual hater that feels compelled to attack our comment sections. Odd? Yes. Childish? You bet. Completely a waste of said person's time? Definitely.

So to save him or her or them all the frustration, I've turned off anonymous commenting for now. Hope this doesn't drive away any of my regular commenters. If you'd like to say something here, you'll have to make a Blogger account (which is free) and sign in.

That's the way the cookie crumbles I'm afraid.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I am like, so totally hurt...

I looked in my mailbox this morning to see this anonymous post:
Bildo, you just lost the last bit of respect that I had for you. This blog was such a schoolgirl type of thing that I'm removing your blog from my favorites. Ass. I hate people like you as much as I hate bad leakers, the kind that only sees one side of the story, and one side only.
Now normally, I'll just ignore this sort of thing and move on, but I feel compelled to comment back and mayube invite some more discussion on the topic.

The poster of this comment left it on this post... which is now over a month old. I'm not sure how much of a "favorite" my blog could be if 6 weeks later he's just now reading this old post. Maybe he was new around here though. Maybe he was the person who posted said Beta Leak, now famously catalogued at Common Sense Gamer. I dunno. Maybe he just doesn't like it when bloggers state an opinion that differs from his own. I'm sure we'll both find other people. Life does move on, even through trials like this.

No to the topic at hand: said beta NDA leak and my chastising of the person who did it here. I stand by that post. I stand by the belief that beta testers have a responsibility to their fellow gamer geeks to uphold the NDAs they agree to. It's not committing murder when you break it, no. But it does reflect badly on the entire gaming community when JUST ONE person comes out of the beta and publicly lambasts a game that's still in testing and months away from release.

It's no secret now that the game in question is Age of Conan. Massively even reported on the beta leak. It's also no secret that I'm working for Age of Conan @ Ten Ton Hammer these days. So now, when the person who left that comment saw my post, don't you think they'd put it all together and realize that I wasn't only making a personal opinion piece out of that article, but also defending the game I'm now devoted to for the next so many months? I mean really... before you post a rude comment on my blog take some time to think.

And as for seeing BOTH sides of the issue. I do. I really do. Now, I'm not condoning breaking the NDA for any game. But if you really want to do it, do so towards your friends, your family, your work buddies. Don't go to a large as f**k public forum seeking attention and causing trouble for the game companies who actually (perhaps too idealistically so) expect you to uphold your part of an online agreement.

Yep, there are definitely two sides to the issue, but I still am pretty damn positive that I'm on the side of NOT breaking the NDA. I don't really see a reason why I should convert, either. Maybe, it's the fact that I play a Lawful Neutral character when it comes to D&D... who knows.

I'm sory for ranting folks, but I had to get this off my chest this morning when I saw the anonymous comment. Perhaps I've already done the offender a favor by bringing light to what he wrote, but whatever. That felt good.

I still think Tipa said it best about the whole NDA thing:
When you sign an NDA, you are making a pact with a company that you KNOW you will be seeing an unfinished game with placeholder assets, broken things, crashes, unbalanced elements, and all that sort of stuff. You agree to find these things and try to help the company make the game better so that everything works well, is playable and fun, by the time they throw open the doors to the public.

If you don’t feel this is the sort of thing you can do — don’t sign the NDA, don’t play the beta, and just wait to play it in its finished form just like the rest of us.

Betaleaks — bad idea

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Making of GTA IV - The Making of our Gaming Future?

Next-Gen has an article up today seven pages long about the making of GTA IV. It may come as something of a shock to most fellow gamers that know me that I dig the GTA games. But really, think about my other gaming habit: MMOs. There's not much difference between the two. Both offer massive worlds to inhabit and tons of content to explore. One just does it online while the other does it offline.

Anyway, even if you're not a huge fan of the series (I once wasn't), do yourself a favor and check out that feature. If it doesn't necessarily make you excited for the release of the game, it will give you the warm and fuzzies about the places developers are starting to take us as gamers. Last year we had Mass Effect, Assassin's Creed, and even to a lesser extent Halo 3, but mainly Bioshock leading the charge for how a narrative can be displayed in a game. But from all reports, it's GTA IV that will outdo them all.

And the more I think about it, the more I start to itch for the GTA formula to make it into our MMOGs. I wonder how long it will be before we can traipse about some High or Low Fantasy setting the way we plod along the streets of Liberty City. I wonder how long it will take before the UI of MMOs is cleaned up and streamlined and instead of watching meters and bars and numbers all the time, we're watching how our characters react to situations and doing our best to stay behind our shields or behind some form of cover, ducking out only to let loose an arrow.

I wonder how long it will be before the NPCs in our online spaces are just as alive and active as those found in Rockstar's latest game. When will the Dwarf in the Inn get pissed at us for standing on tables and throw an iron flagon at our heads? When will the consequences for killing a kobold's nearby companion do more than add experience to our little bar?

I look at games like GTA and I say to myself, "Man... this would be fantastic in an MMOG." It doesn't have to be an urban sprawl. It doesn't have to be about crime, and drugs, and gangs, and sex. But when will the worlds we inhabit in an online space act more like the worlds we're seeing built in an offline space? Obviously, we may be a few years away yet. But now, more than ever, with the rise of this particular genre we're so very close to making an online world more like the real world, and less like a graphically enhanced spreadsheet.

I can't wait.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Time Is Near...

I tried playing a game last night that made my video card on the PC start to overheat. It made my system chug so hard, I wanted to cry. It's a great game... but my 4+ year old system is not going to cut it. The new PC I mentioned before is going to have to come before Conan releases, because I really doubt I'll be able to play it if I can't play this other game.

The good thing is, we go to get our taxes done this weekend, my first design project for real-world money is coming along nicely, and if all goes well by early or mid-April I should have my new system... with plenty of time to spare before Conan hits the shelves.

Wish me luck, folks.

Oh! I also forgot to mention that I'm now totally and utterly famous. Tom Cruise ain't got sh*t on me. That's right, Lost In Hyboria has hit the big time. The Official AoC community site has gone and pimped us out. Mad props to them, yo.

(I really can't pull off that lingo, but I'll be damned if it isn't fun pretending I'm on Pimp My Ride. Yo, danks Exzibit!)

Anyway, that's it for me again. I don't have much I can chat about gaming wise, due to the fact that I'm so busy ramping up content for the AoC site. So until my load lessens, posting around here might be kind of sparse. But I appreciate you lot coming around, anwyay. :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Lost in Hyboria - Ten Ton Hammer's Very Own AoC Comic!

The first issue of my new breeding ground for cartoon awesomeness is up over at Ten Ton Hammer's Age of Conan site. It's more of a teaser this week, but don't let the name fool you... the thing took a lot of work. Probably more than a normal strip would.

Check it out at the link below and be sure to let me know what you think on the forums there, or here in the comments! New episodes every week on Wednesday is the goal.

Lost In Hyboria - Teaser Issue

Discussion on the "teaser" - LINK


Monday, March 10, 2008

New Cartoon Incoming at TTH

My compatriots at TTH have kindly indulged my idea to start a new comic for AoC on our site.

I'm busy scribbling up some characters for the strip, based on Machail, Martuk and myself and if all goes well we should at least have a teaser up this Wednesday.

I'm very stoked to be back to cartooning. As school winds down, and TTH ramps up it feels refreshing to shift back to what I love again. Throw in the search for a new job in Web Design and Development and things are looking up for yours truly.

However... I still don't have much gaming-wise to chat about as I've been more than busy with getting content ready for the AoC TTH site. I'm likely going to cancel my Gamefly subscription until after the launch, because I'm not even really playing the 360 right now.

What am I playing, you ask? Well... not much of anything really. But let's put it this way, I'm certainly not bored in my evenings. :)


Friday, March 7, 2008

1st TTH Article Posted!

A Future So Bright - MMOG Times Are A Changin'

Stagnation is a term often associated with the videogame industry. Like movies, when a trend is caught onto, it often gets used time and again until no one ever wants to see another rehash of what started said trend ever again. It is in this way that art finds new means to express itself. The same can be said about the MMOG. For all that we love these games, there's always room for improvement. The number one item on the list? Combat.
We pull our targets sheepishly away from their blissfully ignorant comrades, whittle away at their HP with abilities triggered by the mere press of button, and then venture onto the next fiendish foe that, until we enter a certain invisible radius, is blissfully unaware of us. This is the way of the sword (or blaster) in just about every MMORPG to date. It works well enough, but some developers and fans alike see the need to shake things up, and that's just what we are witnessing with the batch of games on the horizon and a few that have already broken ground. The tried and true combat mechanics are being tested, reshaped, and reinvigorated by new takes on the fundamental interaction players have with a virtual world.
Go ahead and read the whole article here.

Then chat it up on our forums here.

Hope you guys enjoy it!

My Forthcoming New PC

I haven't made any purchases yet, and I likely won't for another 1-3 months (hopefully just the one), but here's what I am thinking for my new set up. I can't believe how much this system is going to trump my current one for nearly 1/3 of what my current one originally cost. If only I knew then, what I knew now.

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-M57SLI-S4 ATX AMD Motherboard
Processor: AMD Athlon 64 X2 4000+ 2.1GHz Socket AM2 65W Processor
Video Card: EVGA GeForce 8800GTS 320-P2-N811-AR Video Card (320MB)
RAM: 2GB (all I need for now, upgradeable to 16GB if I ever need to rule the world from my PC)
PSU: Rosewill 500w Stallion Series
HDD: A Seagate Barracuda 3.0GB/s 250GB SATA drive

Throw in a nice dual-fan case, a PCI coolant fan (AMD chips run hot), some cheap speakers and...

My grand total for all of this comes to: $652.02 with shipping.

I am one happy camper right now, especially since some of these prices could fall more in the next month or two. Playing some of the games I have been on my current AGP card has been a trial in temper, especially after being used to my 360's smooth performance in 1080i (no HDMI cables for that thing yet, nor will I probably for a while).

But with money coming my way thanks to taxes and some design work, this little system is but a month or two away I think. Can't wait to take the day it all arrives off and piece it together. I'm sure I'll want a new monitor shortly thereafter, but the 19" 4:3 LCD is good for now.

What say you fellow geeks? Does this set up look good for the price or what?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Keeping busy...

So no new post today either... I know, I know. I'm a horrible Blog-parent.

But I am playing a game. I just can't talk about it, of course.

I will have my first article on TTH up tomorrow night, so I'll post that link and whatnot here once that's up.

One last note, I recently got Jade Empire from Gamefly... and I'm afraid after Mass Effect, I'm just not impressed by it. More detailed impressions tomorrow if work moves utterly unbearably.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Another New Blogmate

Just a quick post that I've added Hexx to my blogroll of to the side here. Dude covers all things WoW and MMO in general, so be sure to give him a look. He's one of many that keeps me filled in on Azeroth while I'm not there.

In my world, there's not much to chat about just now and I'm still watching over my shoulder. Expect something of more substance this evening when I'm safe at home working on AoC stuff.

Cheers, folks.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Nothing new today... but I try my best, if not for your amusement then for mine, to think of something quick to write up on the slow days.

Here's today's musing then... how do you know when it's time to buy a new computer?

Easy. When a certain game you're dying to play looks like poo on your current configuration and still manages a feeble framerate. Looks like I'll be in the market for a new system this summer... and I'll be building from the ground up this time.

When I bought my current Dell, it was right before the real switch to PCI Express GPUs occurred, and thus my Dell is equipped with a now extinct AGPX8 slot. I've about maxed out on what I can get from an AGP card, so as AoC, WAR, Champions Online, and many others approach I see a certain need to upgrade.

The problem is, it being a Dell PC, asking for the ability to simply switch out my MoBo and piece in what else needs replacing is like asking Bono to shut it about the starvin' children. It's just not a very good expenditure of effort.

So building a new PC it is.

Wish me luck, I'm sure I'll need it and I'll keep you posted as purchases are made.

Oh! I also began my position at TTH last night officially, so keep an eye out at our Age of Conan portal for all the best-est news and insights to the game from yours truly and the mega-excellent/awesome Machail and Martuk.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Still Being Watched...

Boss is still on my tail folks. Though one would think my astronomical numbers would allay those worries of hers. Oh well, everyone has to suffer the radar once in a while, right?

Had a great weekend, and many thanks to those who wished me a happy birthday. Played a lot of Rock Band on Thursday night with my wife and best buddy, followed by a late night marathon of Assassin's Creed in order to finally beat the game. It was great, by the way. Not Mass Effect Great, but definitely one of the better titles from this past year.

Saw Semi-Pro on Friday and laughed till I hurt. Will Ferrell + short shorts + 70s soul + Jackie Earl Haley as "Dukes" = best comedy I've seen in a while.

Relaxed the next two days, watched Raiders of the Lost Ark (I finally got the boxed set!), and then went to bet late last night dreading the thought of returning to work. Breaks are never long enough, are they?

Oh! I did get The Long Holloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, a collection of 13 special issues of Batman that was intended to be the spiritual successor to Frank Miller's Batman: Year One. It was worth every penny. If you're a fan of the Dark Knight and have not read this one, go get it. I was hesitant to pick it up, but those fears were washed away after about 3 pages.

I love Graphic Novels. The true evolution of modern literature. No doubt about it.

But as much as I'd like to stay here and talk about the previous statement, I must be getting back to work. Look for more later, in case something awesome happens on the internet.