Sunday, February 24, 2008

Some new updates

For fun I added a forum to the site. I'm not even sure how helpful this will be but think it might work out to have some information posted there.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Leaving Warcraft

The other day, I decided to leave World of Warcraft for good. I sharded and sent all of my items to a friend, then deleted my main characters. The only one I have is the first character I made in December 2005, a level 13 night elf rouge, and the most recent character, a level 43 blood elf paladin that I was leveling with my girlfriend. I might delete the paladin but for now, leaving it if she wants to play.

When I deleted my main, a level 70 warlock, I had 27 days played. That's days of in game played, which equals out to about 650 hours. Then on my other characters, about 3~5 days more, or 72~120 hours. While I didn't play very seriously, I still spent a surprising amount of time in the game, and I really didn't even see but a few instances.

After thinking about the time spent in the game, I wanted to focus on other things but didn't want to have it be a distraction. So if I deleted the characters to the point where I would need to start from the beginning, it would be harder to jump back in. I don't think of the game as something bad, I had fun playing on and off for 2 years but after getting to 70 once, there wasn't much to solo, and I didn't like to spend time in a long instance for end game.

One thing I didn't want to do was just throw away all of the items. I ended up sending everything to a friend and he could use them so it was at least helping him out. Even if I was leaving the game, I still didn't like to just waste something if another person could use it.

In the end, if Blizzard came out with another MMO, I would play again but for now I want to spend more serious time learning to play the guitar, and studying for school. While I'm leaving I might come back to play again, it's a fun game, but just takes a long time to complete the higher level stuff.

Learning to play the guitar

I've been learning to play for the last two years with little success. I get interested and then I loose interest, or other things become more important, like gaming. So on the advice of my friend, I tried out a guitar learning series called Metal Method by Doug Marks. It's a dvd series how to play the guitar from a more rock style instead of a traditional style.

So far I'm just on session one but it's actually pretty nice. For starters, the first lesson goes over the guitar, good basics such as how to hold the guitar, then begins the first lesson. Here's where it's different from regular lessons, instead of having your play a chord, you play single notes on the first string. There's also a PDF included with the dvd lesson and a visual guide of the guitar tabs.

For the price of $15 per dvd, I think it's a good investment. Not too hard and the instructions of Doug Marks is very clear, he's easy to listen to, all steps are simple to follow. I'll be sure to post my on going sessions and how they follow up.

Dundracon gaming convention

The past weekend, Carol and I were at Dundracon in San Ramon. It's a gaming convention that covers all forms of gaming, except video games. At first I was a little hesitant to go, I never really played much except video games and some pen & paper RPGs. After I was at the convention I was really amazed at the amount of games available. There were miniatures, RPGs, board games, LARPs, etc.

On the night we arrived, I jumped into a World of Warcraft board game. Honestly, I can say the board game is too close to the actual game play of the on-line game. You spend a few hours choosing a monster to kill, turn in the quest, get loot/xp then repeat. It was very similar to the computer game, and after a few turns I started to wonder if there's something more to the game? Ironically, it felt too similar and didn't really show any major difference, which could be good and bad. Still it would be fun to play this with friends at a cabin trip.

The next day I attended a couple of seminars about Creating a Dungeons and Dragons character, to World of Warcraft vs Real Life. Then in the afternoon I joined a RPG game playing Ars Magica, a game based upon magic in early 1300 Europe. The gm was really great at balancing the game and the role playing part, actually was a really fun game experience. Especially having the other people in the game with everyone role playing made the game really work, and we ended exactly on time, solving the puzzle of the story as well. Even I'm normally not into role playing but really got into the story of this game.

Mixing pen & paper RPGs with computers

After playing a more role playing RPG I was thinking how could you bring such depth to a video game. Is it even possible? Something that is common is to play a pen & paper RPG but across the Internet. There's tool available for people to share maps, dice rolls, and other

RPTools has many tools available for the role playing game.

Dice Tool - A dice roller
Map Tool - Creates maps and sharing for other players

Another tool is from Fantasy Grounds, this is a paid version but allows similar controls.

Finally, you can use RPGGateway's play by post forum to find other players. This is a slower version as each action needs to be posted, then replied to but offers more time to think and write a response.

If I can get enough friends interested I could like to start a play by post game. Most of my friends we don't see each other so often and it would be great to keep in touch with them in a game.

The Rogue LX406 Pro 6 string bass

Last posting I mentioned I ordered this bass. Well it came in over last week and got a chance to play it a few times. I have to say that for $200, it's a really nice bass. My other bass is a old 1985 Ibanez 4 string, I wanted to try out something with more strings, settled on the 6 string version instead of the 5 because it's more similar to the guitar. After playing with dozens of bass guitars at my local Guitar Center I still think for the money the Rogue feels better, especially considering the price is cheaper than any P-Bass, even Squire.

I really like the matte finish neck, while it's wide for the 6 strings I can still reach the 6th string without much trouble. The body also feels nice, it's more square than I normally like but works and is balanced. The bass is also using active pickups, gives more power to the sound but you can turn it off as well. There are some negatives, I noticed on the fretboard, some chipping from light string slapping, and rough edges where the neck is bolted to the body. But considering the price, I can overlook these mistakes.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

How to party with yourself in World of Warcraft (Dual boxing)

I've been playing World of Warcraft for a few years now, on and off because of school or work. It's a fun game, my friends play and I currently have a level 70 undead warlock and a level 43 blood elf paladin. After I got tired of my warlock I started my paladin with my girlfriend, she choose a blood elf priest. Once we started to run through the old areas, I had my friend run us through a few harder instances with his level 70 mage.

After playing like this I really wanted to solo a instance using my higher level warlock but also play my paladin to level. I started thinking about how this would work and found a web site about Dual Boxing. Basically dual boxing is using two or more gaming accounts, either on the same computer or more to play at the same time. It sounds funny, but what you get is a very powerful combo of 2 or more players that you can control as one.

With a simple software like Keyclone you can control the characters pretty simple. Here's my testing done with two mages from the same computer.

It's not great, I am only level 2 but shows how the software passes from one screen to the next. Now it's not as easy as playing one character. A major problem I found is that questing items have to be picked up by both parties, so you need to keep switching screens back and forth.

So far, I really haven't had time to figure it out much but I think it's harder than I expected. A problem I'm having is keeping the two characters together, they keep running away from each other after a few minutes. Also many items in WoW need interaction such as right clicking gathering items and quest items.

It's fun but because of school and limited time. I'm going to hold off on any more testing until this summer.

Here's someone who's gotten the multibox idea down much better. It's in the battlegrounds and you can see just how powerful 5 people working as one becomes.

Cheap guitars and basses

In my previous post I spoke about cheaper guitars, actually a classical guitar specifically. I found another site which has a bunch of cheaper guitars, Rondo Music, which sells a majority of guitars for under $200. Their selection isn't bad, a good amount of guitars, basses, even a few 6 strings.

While I haven't ordered from them, I'm interested in their basses. For a total cost of about $200, I could order a nice 6 string bass. Normally to play a bass like this you need to spend much more money but for a non-professional like myself I rather spend $200 for something I wasn't sure about.

After checking out this site and then Musician's Friend. I ordered a cheap 6 string bass from Musician's Friend. It's a Rogue LX406 Pro, has decent reviews from the site and other review sites.

I have a older Ibanez 4 string bass and wanted to try out a 6 string bass. Since starting my guitar class I am learning to not use the pick (ironically just after I got used to it) and wanted to see how different it is to playing a 6 string bass. At the local Guitar Center I had fun playing the 6 strings there but after seeing the price tags near $2000 I decided it was beyond my price range.


Next week, my girlfriend and I are attending Dundracon in San Ramon. I have never been to a gaming event before but it sounds like fun. She already told me it's a big event with hardcore gamers, so expect the worst. Basically it's a large event with various types of gaming, from pen and paper like Dungeons and Dragons to miniatures to board games.

I'm more of a video gamer so playing non-video games is a different experience. Every other weekend I play D&D with friends but I'm still confused with the details of how the game works. Our experienced DM knows the rules pretty well so it works out. :)
What makes a guitar worth 10 times more?

Recently I started playing the guitar again, actually taking a class at my local community college. It's a classical guitar class, and traditional guitars are similar but use steel strings to the nylon of a classical guitar. So I went to Musician's Friend and ordered a cheap classical guitar for $100. Hasn't been delivered yet but for $100 doesn't look bad, decent reviews and for me and my skill will be perfect to use over the class into summer.

After looking at this guitar for $100, I saw some others twice as much and more. Now I'm wondering, just how much more can those guitars really be worth? Say, is the guitar for a $1000, 10 times better playing? Here's an example.

The Squier Affinity Series Telecaster sells for $160

The Fender Vintage Hot Rod Telecaster sells for $1600

Now the two guitars here look very similar but they are different in the details. One is made in the USA while the other is made in a foreign country. Also the other details such as craftsmanship, electronics, etc.

The main question would you pay 10 times the amount of the cheaper guitar for the better quality guitar? Will it sound 10 times better?

For me I think I wouldn't spend that kind of money but for a professional player I could see where he or she would need the better instrument. Just starting out minor defects with a guitar honestly are not noticed but for someone who plays hours per day, I'm sure they would stand out.

As I read on a forum about guitars, if you can tell the difference, then why waste your money buying the more expensive version?

Monday, February 04, 2008

It's cold!

I'm not sure if the weather is getting colder but am I getting less warm, but it's cold. I took a trip to the East Coast last month and it doesn't feel that much colder there than here, even in February.

Two failures in a row

Recently my home computer, which I just built from scratch two years ago had a problem. I couldn't turn the computer back on after a attempted upgrade of Vista. So I checked the computer and everything was ok, guessed it was the powersupply. Went to the store and bought a new powersupply, computer still doesn't turn on.

Now, I'm not sure what else is wrong and figured it's the motherboard. Well, it's an Asus which I've have great luck with before but there's a chance it would fail. I decided since I'm making a order for some major components, might as well order a new processor and video card to give the computer a full upgrade.

Ended up with a 6400+ AMD processor, Asus M2N32 motherboard, 4GB of PC6400 memory, and a ATi 3850 video card. Also threw in a new hard drive and powersupply for good measure. After all of these items, I neatly installed them and set up the computer. Got ready to power on and nothing again.

Now I was really stumped, I replaced everything from my old computer except two hard drives and the DVD writer. So I removed everything (including my neat zip wrap job) to test the motherboard alone. Since I have my old powersupply I tested the motherboard and it powered up! So I switched to my old powersupply, and nothing. So the new powersupply I bought was DOA. Then to make sure, I checked my old motherboard, nothing with either powersupplies, so the mother board was confirmed failed.

So I ended up first having a failed motherboard, then buying a failed powersupply. Rare chance but it does happen!