(img src: http://sysmagazine.com/posts/164635/)
I’ve been a huge fan of OpenWRT ever since I saw Hak5’s WiFi Pineapple. Despite the fact that I have no real use for pentesting or serious network auditing, I was swayed by the prospect of a fully functional Linux distribution that could fit on my router. Turing your router into just another computer attached to your network is nice, it allows you to expand the functionality of what is traditionally just a cheap single-purpose piece of hardware.
Initially, all I wanted was the ability to ssh into my router and for it to handle my DNS, so I could ssh between all of the computers on my home network using their hostnames, rather than relying on my main desktop as a server (for the instances when my desktop is turned off, and I’m just doing work between my laptops). Pretty simple, nothing extreme. And OpenWRT fit the bill, so I went with it. While not a particularly active sub (comparatively), /r/openwrt does have some good posts, and /u/Gedrean posed this question:
So, I’m operating as the tech guy for a local small business retailer. We’ve decided to add in-store WiFi for our customers, but have come across a number of snags. Trying to set up a guest network on some of the routers we’ve tested has been tricky, in that some of them aren’t able to properly separate out the guest network traffic from the rest of the network, and one, the RV110W, has stability issues with guest wireless and routing.
So, I’m looking at the Archer C7 (
but may settle for the C5 if it’s sufficient in capaibilityC5 v2.0 apparently isn’t supported), and I want to know if this feature list is doable in OpenWRT:
- Separate out two wireless SSIDs with VLANs
- Separately manage bandwidth limitations on both SSIDs; both by client and overalll, as well as an overall bandwidth QoS system
- Allow UPnP on one VLAN but not another
- Still be manageable by WebUI
- have client isolation on one SSID (such that no client can see another or the router interface)
- Limit router interface access to one SSID/VLAN and not the other
- Possibly operate USB storage or USB printer, maybe by NFS, only accessible on one VLAN not the other
- Traffic logging or monitoring, to identify “problem” clients and maybe limit bandwidth by their MAC address to identify and solve bandwidth hogs.
Those are the super important tasks that are needed, most any other features are just gravy.
Can OpenWRT do this?
I was excited, because it’s actually a post I can respond to. The answer to Gedrean’s question is undoubtedly “yes.” Obviously the conversation we had was quite a bit more involved than just that, I’m always excited to help in any way that I can, the open source community has given me so much, it’s nice when you’re able to contribute, or give back and pay it forward. Thus, this got me thinking, and I made the mention that I would attempt to check off every item on his list by using my REALLY OLD Linksys WRT54G v4. I think it’s at least 10 years old at this point, but it’s still kicking, still stable.
Below are the tutorials and articles I’ve used to accomplish the various items on Gedrean’s checklist, though I had to have the help of another machine connected to the router in order to get network logging, network printing, and network storage to work. I suppose if you opted for a most robust router, this could easily all be handled by OpenWRT itself.
Configuring a Guest Network, including managed bandwidth with wshaper – http://wiki.openwrt.org/doc/recipes/guest-wlan
Regarding item #3… I believe since each VLAN has it’s own set of configurations, this should be possible simply by specifying that UPnP be disabled on the Guest Network’s config, though I’m not sure exactly how I would test this, and I don’t know that it’s that large of a security concern considering the Guest Network is segregated. It would be up to the end users connecting to your Guest Network as to whether or not they would want to take the risk. I found this article;
It’s informative and fairly complete and detailed, while still explaining UPnP in a comprehensive manner for non-professional network admins (such as myself). Not to mention, it deals specifically with Windows. I’m not too concerned with Trojans or Malware, since all of my computers are running different flavors of Linux. AND, since we’re enabling traffic logging, if you’re actually paying attention to those logs, it should be easy enough to blacklist MACs which are acting suspiciously. https://forum.openwrt.org/viewtopic.php?id=44368
Item #4 is easy to check off, and doesn’t require any special configuration, I believe luci is enabled by default on all prebuilt OpenWRT images. Personally though, I prefer to SSH into my router.
Items #5 and 6 are achieved by not broadcasting the SSID of your private network, and only broadcasting the Guest Network’s SSID. You can set ‘hidden’ to ‘1’ and disable broadcasting of the Main Network SSID. http://wiki.openwrt.org/doc/uci/wireless
Item #7 is an interesting proposition… Though I believe as long as your printer is connected to a machine on the Main Network, and isn’t on the the Guest Network, then it should be invisible to everyone who connects to the Guest Network. Regarding storage?? I wouldn’t use the router to handle this, NFS on a box you’re using as the print server should suffice.
Finally, item #8. The way I achieved this was to connect and use a netbook acting as the print server running Debian. You could just as easily use any machine running CUPS and PostgreSQL, or MySQL. I happened to have a netbook lying around, it’s low power and small, plus the LCD has started to die, so it’s really only good for SSHing into anyway. This tutorial;
Explains how to setup PostgreSQL on the Debian box specifically for use with OpenWRT. And then there is the actual logging of traffic; http://wiki.openwrt.org/oldwiki/netfilter.ulog.postgresql
The main issue that I faced with this project was just how SLOW the WRT54G is… I’m seriously considering the Archer C5 or C7 now, not only for the 802.11ac/5ghz capabilities, but just for the sheer fact that it’s newer hardware which should run a lot smoother with OpenWRT. Running the bash script in the guest-wlan recipe was impossible. Each command had to be issued separately to avoid crashing the router. And simply using opkg is extremely time consuming, as each command takes several minutes to complete. I think installing wshaper with opkg took around 30 minutes, and that’s a generous estimate, there was a period where I lost track of time.
As a side note, if you’re interested in setting up a print server on Debian, then the Debian Wiki entry is the best place to look.
So, it’s been quite a while since I sat down to write, rant, and ramble. But, an industry that I’m absolutely obsessed with–and the people who dare engage me in conversation regarding the topic of video games–continues to frustrate me to no end.
Why is everyone so confused by Valve’s strategy regarding SteamOS and Steam Machines (including the Steam Controller)? And, why am I met with such resistance when I propose that Valve may end up releasing HL3 for only SteamOS? Potentially tooling the experience to be skewed in favor of VR hardware… Initially for SteamOS of course, I’m sure it will be ported to other platforms later, but not until they’ve sold a few million units of the game. And it’s not like every HL/Valve fanboy won’t jump at the chance to run SteamOS JUST to play HL3 either, they all jumped at the chance to install the Steam client a year before the game could be purchased for the original Xbox.
Oh no! I can’t run Linux?!?! Valve, what are you doing? You’re throwing it all away and losing market share! Linux will never be an operating system for games, everyone knows that gaming only takes place on Windows!
Please feel free to ask any Linux aficionado, they’ll be straightforward about the failure of Linux on the desktop. Every year it seems could possibly be the year of the Linux Desktop, and most of us walk away disappointed. Though, regardless of its floundering and failure to hold onto market share in the PC desktop space, the “internet of things” and convergence of computing platforms and software as a service is slowly killing the vintage standards of 1996-2006 and web 1.0.
What I’m talking about is only one piece of a larger puzzle, with gaming media outlets trying to stay relevant given the rise of Twitch and YouTube personalities, and AAA developers spending large sums of money to figure out what to do next, how to interpret the market, and figure out new strategies that will propel them onto the next big wave of interactive entertainment… Be it payment models, or simply new ways to fuck the consumer with expansion packs and downloadable content. Meanwhile, the company responsible for the largest consumer digital distribution service already knows what they’re doing.
Should you ever bother to check store.steampowered.com/stats, you’ll see that 7-8 of the top 10 games played on Steam at any given time are all games that can be played on Linux. Combined, these games have an aggregate peak usage of about 19-20% of the total Steam user base. Dota2 and CS:GO hold the top two spots (respectively), and account for approximately 15% of the Steam user base, that’s roughly 1.3-1.5M gamers worldwide. Additionally, both of those games are host to user controlled/generated micro economies, and practically fucking print money for Valve, without the need for monthly premiums to its users. Dota2’s barrier to entry is merely an 8GB download, and CS:GO is only $15. Is there any reason why you should spend $400 on a virtual knife? No, but you can if you want.
For that matter, is there any logical reason to purchase a $400 “Heroic Murrissey the Smeevil” immortal courier for your amusement in Dota2, a game that literally costs you absolutely NOTHING to play? No. But there are people out there who will.
Granted, the majority of those players are probably playing those two games under Windows, but the main thing is that those games are available on Linux/SteamOS. And, that’s important. At least it is to Gaben.
You see, most people don’t realize that Mr. Newell spent 13 years working at Microsoft before he decided to leave and start Valve.
We want to make it as easy as possible for the 2,500 games on Steam to run on Linux as well. It’s a hedging strategy. I think Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space. I think we’ll lose some of the top-tier PC/OEMs, who will exit the market. I think margins will be destroyed for a bunch of people. If that’s true, then it will be good to have alternatives to hedge against that eventuality.
Look, I’m about as big of a staunch FOSS advocate as you can find. I’m well aware of the fact that Steam is really just another walled-garden of proprietary software, and it’s a shame that they’re desecrating the sacred ground of GNU… But, by the same token, they’re making huge strides towards opening up as much of their software as possible (without disrupting any contracts they’re bound by, or causing uneasiness among third-party software developers who use Steam as a distribution platform).
Granted I’m not getting completely hammered or obliterated, I still have work in the morning, but work is precisely the reason I’m enjoying my evening brew so intently on such a beautiful October duskiness.
The occupation I hold forbids me from divulging any of the juicy morsels that make up my waking hours, or that make them so interesting—which is primarily the reason I choose to bitch about videogames and comic books—but alas, I still feel the need to cathartically vent on the internet for all eyes to see. Maybe my incoherent rambling will actually inspire some deep reflection in others.
So what is there to talk about, if not for work, or videogames, or comic books? The abstract expression of “being”; the human condition for which we are all victims. Despite any social status or class by which you ascribe, we all fall quite classically in the vein children’s games such as shoots and ladders; beset to the emotion inherently connected with our super-ego and utterly divorced from the collective id.
I know I’ve written in the past about my exploits before becoming a taken man, or proclaiming purpose in my daily endeavors, the angst of youth and the road that has led me here, however, I haven’t been very diligent in keeping archives of journaling my experience. Additionally, my style—along with my prose—continues to evolve and mature as I, myself, find that I am ever closer to the reality of marriage. Even now, I can hear the whirl of a blender as my fiance works on dinner, combining the ingredients needed to form avocado and artichoke stuffed chicken breasts. I’m a lucky man. While I could get into the discussion of feminism and the paradigm of female obligation, I’ll refrain, since I’m a directly the beneficiary of an old-world style of courtesy, despite the lackluster husbandry presented by my personage.
There doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to complete the tasks I’ve set forth for myself, or to even satisfy the various personalities I must sate through the obligation of comforting emails, phone calls, and face-to-face interactions. I tell myself that I can do it, but in the end, I let myself down, and I concede to the notion that I’m not perfect, nor will I ever be. As the sun falls, my interest wanes with the waxing of the moon, I admit defeat and promise myself that, tomorrow, I won’t let others’ expectations bother me as much as they have today. Those expectations will inevitably bother me though, since, I certainly won’t kid myself. I’ve taken those expectations on as my own. But I take solace in the fact that I’ll be able to explain myself in a way that seems to curry understanding in my fellow man.
Lost in the abyss of modern consumerist character, we all lose that deeply socialist mentality and leftist psychology which seemed to serve us all too well as young idealist. Be it rent or a mortgage, a car note or repairs, the electric and gas bills; the prerequisite of social conformity and the daily deluge owed to the district of water in the morning before the start of the day. We ignore the dirty homeless based on the belief that karma and Luke 6:31 dictate a disposition toeing the line for capitalist credo. When is the common man ever a “Good Samaritan?” If I had six pack of cold alcoholic refreshments in my truck at all times, I would be happy to oblige the broken and dysfunctional compatriots of our sobrietist society, instead, I elect for the next best vice available to my grubby paws, cigarettes… Better than any spare change lying around, the act of sharing something so dear ingratiates me.
I suppose the best end to an evening like tonight is Star Trek on Netflix with my sweetie, and that’s exactly how I will end it. Save of course for walking the dog and cleaning up after her refuse. The end of every philosophical delight deserves the humility of picking up the shit our animals in keeping leave behind…
Never forget the animal in man. For we are all deserving of a kind and humane heart, to give of yourself and others–the ultimate exercise in modesty is that of digging a hole, only to spend the time filling it back up again.
Originally written on October 8, 2014.
It’s the time of the week again boys and girls.
Of the books that I picked up last week:
Uncanny Avengers #25
Absolutely amazing. Though, I don’t believe that my assessment should be all that surprising. It should be noted, but I won’t make a habit of mentioning it in the future, SPOILERS AHEAD.
Magneto is one of the most interesting characters in the X-Men books, as far as I’m concerned. His moral ambiguity often times makes more sense than the peaceful endeavors of Charles Xavier, and writers have been playing off of this aspect of the dichotomy in the X-verse for many, many years. What I find most interesting is how Remender views this dichotomy. On a recent podcast for Marvel’s website,“This Week in Marvel”, Remender mentioned how he hates comics from the 90s. Which is interesting, although the dichotomy I’m speaking of definitely existed in the 70s and 80s, I don’t believe it fully came to a head until the 90s and the introduction of the Acolytes, giving rise to Mr. Lehnsherr’s cult-leader status. The Brotherhood was even on par with the silliest of Mormon fundamentalists sects. The Acolytes on the other-hand were full-on Manson Family. For Remender to despise this era of comics so devoutly only to turn those stories on their heads is an exercise of literary prowess I haven’t seen since Bendis’ hayday with the House of M.
In the final pages of 25, Magneto beats Red Skull to within an inch of his life and then hurls a pile of bricks onto his head in an effort to put him out of his misery… Instead of adequately doing away with such an insidious villain, what rises from the ashes is a new and greater form of Onslaught, a shade of Max Eisenhardt’s personality we haven’t seen for many years. Personal anguish is always a popular topic, especially when your readers are so heavily involved in the characters the creators and writers have curated throughout the years. I’m eager to see what happens, and the implications it will have on the Avengers and X-Men books… And I’ll definitely call it as a I see it, if Remender pisses me off, I may very well be the first and only critic to make an attempt at castrating his creative control.
The march to Axis is complete and I’ve picked up issue #1 of Axis this week to see how this major cross-over event fairs in comparison with the Civil and Secret Wars which preceeded it. Especially now that the voice of reason once found in Professor X has all but vanished, only to be absorbed in the evil which the X-Men and Avengers now face… I haven’t read Axis #1 yet, but there was a scene whereby Rogue communicated on another plane with Xavier (Uncanny Avengers #24?), and I suspect that this will play a role in the overall resolution of the story arc and cross-over.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #38
What is there to say about TMNT? I’m a child of the 90s, and I won’t placate the matter by stating the fact that nostalgia necessitates more than a passing interest in a comic book franchise which spawned a marketing frenzy, by which my parents are still paying for in past-due credit card debt. Even if you don’t particularly care for the art style of the new book at this moment in time, and maybe you think the Turtles and Splinter look a bit strange, simply take note that Kevin Eastman is still overseeing the current stories we are able to enjoy. Unlike the cartoon currently airing on Nickelodeon, which is intended entirely for the new generation of young punks, the standard on-going comic series is definitely setup to please us old fogies.
There isn’t much going on in the series currently, but we just came off of the City Fall story arc not too long ago. Being entirely honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of some of the changes that were made to the mythology and lore of the TMNT (as of issue #1), but seeing Leonardo straight up decked out in Foot Clan garb—looking like a bad ass—held my attention and made me take notice. This is a book to watch out for the in the future, and despite whatever the cartoon series does for you, I think the comic itself has legs to stand on its own with true aficionados. It only took thirty years and selling out for Eastman to finally realize the true potential of his life’s work by returning to the fans who embraced him in the beginning. All the classic elements are still there and the Turtles themselves are still the characters you grew to love in the afternoon hours or on Saturday mornings.
Splinter is indebted to a psychotic mutant trying to resurrect an army and the Turtles are divided on whether or not they should play into the hands of such a lunatic (Donatello in particular). Meanwhile, a cyber-ninja codename: “Nobody,” has cropped up and is eagerly testing her abilities on local thugs. In the background we have our favorite non-mutant characters (April and Casey) fighting amongst themselves; as cheesy as it may sound, I have acid-like flashbacks to the 90s live-action movie, the characters talk in the same voices I remember from those wonderful Saturday mornings, and the child inside me giggles because I’m finally able to understand the adult context for which these wholesome stories of good versus evil are predicated upon.
Once upon a time… This comic used to be one of my favorites. Don’t get me wrong, Ron Marz is a great writer. In fact, my favorite Green Lantern story of all-time is Emerald Twilight.
When I was much younger than I am now, my parents used to own a comic book shop, and my enthusiasm for X-Men and Marvel trading cards, as well as the heavy speculation and lucrative nature of the comic book industry in the early 90s, quite variably turned my parents into entrepreneurs virtually overnight. For one of the only times they every ventured to be industrious in their sorted lives, it was something that had to be attempted… While this period of my childhood was short-lived, as the shop inevitably failed with the slow decline and ultra mass production of books, it remains a period of time in my memories absolutely overflowing with joy and pride. My parent’s attempt at obtaining the elusive American Dream flooded my pre-adolescent brain with colorful imagery inspired by writers and artists who felt the need to take risks and push a stagnant medium forward for the benefit of artistic integrity. Image, Valiant, Malibu… There were a whole host of previously unknown slaves taking charge and forging their own path to build legacies which have existed for at least a couple of decades. It was exciting, and the fact that the excitement felt across the country urged my parents into such unfamiliar territory is something that obviously hasn’t been easily forgotten through the haze of malted hops and bong resin marking the shameless angst of my teen years.
While still a good book for fans of the series, and even fans of The Darkness—as knowledge of Darkness lore definitely plays into the current storyline—it falls a bit flat to grab new readers of the series. I’m disappointed mainly because I haven’t been an aberrant fan for many years, I don’t know the history that has taken place in the last hundred issues, and I’m ignorant of any retconning, or other common comic tropes and story paradigms which creep their way into an established series from time to time, often with the changing of established creators, one to the other. I haven’t seen Michael Turner’s name mentioned in popular media, or in conjunction with comics, for over a decade now. And the last time I saw Mark Silvestri was with Messiah Complex in X-Men, after the events of the House of M. Even at that, he only did one issues (and what an amazing issue it was to see him draw the X-Men again).
I would have to say that this is one to avoid at all costs, unless you’ve been following and are definitely a fan of the series… Perhaps we’ll see something interesting with The Darkness happen in the year to come, but at this moment in time, you’re merely patronizing a mediocre soap opera. Marz knows what he’s doing, but he isn’t doing it for the sake of new readers or old fans.
In my visit to the LCS (that’s “Local Comic Shop” for you newbies out there in TV land) today I picked up the following:
Thanos: A God Up There Listing #1. Which is a print version of an online series from Marvel’s “Infinite Comics”;
Axis #1; and
My local purveyor of pulp narratives tipped me off to Sabrina last night when I went in to check on my order of “Low” issues #1 and #2 (first prints)…. Apparently the guy who has been doing Archie for the last 60 years has decided to take Sabrina the Teenage Witch and turn her into an actual black witch, doing away with all of the family-friendly bullshit associated with the TV show we all remember and love from ABC’s TGIF block of prime-time viewing. Unfortunately my purveyor didn’t have the latest Doctor Who comic, so I figured that I would take a chance, and take his advice.
Next week I’ll be sure to indulge everyone on my consumption this time around. But, remember, spoilers are most definitely guaranteed. Be sure to load up on your favorite issues, or pick up the tiles I’ve suggested to avoid having your expectations shattered within in a few paragraphs of a rant from a drunken geek with an agenda.
Good night true believers.
And apparently in Vegas as well… I already know that I’ll probably be made fun of for being too “hipsterish”, so have a laugh now.
As goofy as this may sound, this is something I’ve been looking forward to all day. Last Friday the old lady and I went out to a punk show (to see Agent Orange, but ended up finding out about a really good duo from Denver, In the Whale), and with the exception the last two posts, I haven’t done much of any substantial writing for a couple of weeks. So I’ve been itching to do another Beer Blog Friday.
To switch things up this week I dusted off and cleaned my growlers, it’s the only way to bring fresh from the tap home with you, without having to invest in a keg that is. And since I haven’t outfitted the man cave with a kegerator yet, growler it is.
Tonight I’m drinking two local varieties, and two brews that I’ve never heard or seen before. It’s all about the local brew this evening, because the demo guy from Brooklyn Brewery at Total Wine & More gave my fiancé the stink eye when she said she wasn’t a fan of beer… Fuck him though, paper labels and mediocre beer. I almost convinced the older couple who was actually enjoying their beers to buy a growler and pick up a local variety.
9/10, two thumbs up, Joseph James is one to watch out for.
The color is off with this beer… When I look at it, I don’t think “lager”, it certainly isn’t pale. The term IPL doesn’t fit this brew at all. There’s also too much malt, even though it carries with it a nice and heavy bitterness… There’s no other flavors that come forth which scream “India”. Hoppiness, if there is any, is far too subdued. I’m inclined to be judgmental on the head retention, but then I remember that it’s a “lager” (not traditionally know for head retention).
I wouldn’t write home about this one. It’s unique, but not memorable… However, at $4 for 32 ounces, carrying a nice 7.6%, it’s worth the purchase if you’re looking for something a bit darker and slightly more bitter than your standard affair, but doesn’t quite deliver on the hop of an IPA. It’s clean to the pallet, but looks muddled in the glass. Carbonation is lack-luster and there is virtually no head retention to speak of. Overall though, it’s simply not enjoyable to drink.
4/10, half a thumb up, worth a try at the price, but unless this is your particular brand or style of beer, don’t expect to come back for seconds… Though, since it doesn’t quite fit into a nice category, I don’t see how this would be anyones particular style of beer.
I’m disappointed in Barley’s, but I’m glad they’ve decided to try something different, and not simply try and brew what the popular style of the season is. Good effort. Poor execution.
Sure, there are plenty of articles and opinions out there regarding this game (some of them premature in their execution and analysis), and there’s certainly no reason for you to listen to me, but for all of the students and unemployed out there who have run through the soft and hard level caps in less than three weeks, bitching and moaning at Bungie for not delivering a perfect game, I would like to offer a voice of reason. Unlike the multitude of lvl 25+ characters running around in the game world, I just reached lvl 17 last night, and I couldn’t be happier with my experience. This game suits my schedule and offers what I expect from video games. It’s a short escape after coming home from a rough day at work where I get to blast a bunch of aliens in the face with cool guns, and watch as satisfying yellow numbers spawn from their decapitated heads. With the exception of a strange graphics glitch which has caused me to have to run a few story missions over again, and lose some intense crucible battles, all is well.
What I’ve found though is a complex system of mechanics that mesh well and play very well within the financial models that Activision has helped foster (namely Call of Duty and World of Warcraft). Really, it isn’t an MMO and it isn’t an FPS. It’s an experiment in economic viability during a time when the industry is shifting in various directions.There are two articles I’ve read recently where the writers seem to have their heads on straight, and their perspectives firmly planted in the realm of sensibility… One which has been published by a professional website, and the other was a Reddit post. Both of which fully describe exactly my sentiments regarding the game.
The first article details the reality of what “Destiny” the game actually is, versus all of the bullshit hype that most people have bought into. The second deals directly with the struggle of developing a AAA title in the current climate of the industry.
Though I wouldn’t know from personal experience, I have been following some Twitch streamers and watching various Youtubers… Destiny definitely doesn’t start until after lvl 20. And that’s when the game systems really start to open up, you have the ability to utilize and combined light infused armor to better your character, you’re able to get in on the epic raids (as opposed to just the Strike missions), and flesh out that sub-class that unlocked at 15.
Let’s face it, one of the greatest games of this generation has to be The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the development cycle of which was roughly 5 years. TES IV: Oblivion came out in March of 2006, Skyrim was released in November of 2011. There was no multiplayer component, and even after multiple patches, vanilla Skyrim is still fraught with senseless game-breaking bugs often ruining your saves. In this era, is there any reason you should be harboring multiple saves “just in case” the game screws up and you don’t want to lose the last 10 hours of your life?
The time between Halo Reach and Destiny has been about 4 years, almost exactly to the day even. Reach was released on September 14th, 2010, and Destiny was released on September 9th, 2014.
A shortened development cycle combined with an untested formula and grandiose ambition was bound to result in much of the fat (IE: the hopes and dreams of Bungie devs) being trimmed, and inevitably–yet unfortunately–the story being removed from the game. What kills me is that the story is there! But you have to access it through the mobile app or Bungie’s website via the “Grimoire”, which is analogous to the Codex found in the Mass Effect series. It makes sense though that this feature isn’t in the game, especially if they didn’t have time to complete it. The game was essentially done when they unveiled the “alpha” at E3 earlier this year. I’m sure the Grimoire was constructed as a way to shoehorn all of the story content into the game (though not quite successfully). All of the story which couldn’t be voiced and programmed in during the 4 months that Activision gave Bungie to push out a final product. Unfortunately for us–the gamers–much of the reason one would actually play an RPG is for the story, to feel important, and to know that your actions in game effect the universe as you experience it. And that isn’t there in Destiny. Your Ghost, the Speaker, the shopkeepers, the Queen, the mysterious ghostless Exo… None of them have any real personality, and there isn’t a way to speak with them between the menagerie of bullets and plasma bursts to find out what they have to say about the universe they inhabit. Nor do your actions have any effect on their disposition towards your character.
To put things further into perspective though, development of Bioshock Infinite started in February 2008, with the game finally being released in March of 2013 (again, we’re talking 5 years). A game whose sole focus is on delivering an FPS narrative, no multiplayer component to speak of. And, it’s a story which is entirely linear from start to finish, there’s no deviation or interaction with the characters other than what has already been predefined for you to experience…Game of the year all year! I do like the game, don’t get me wrong, but it isn’t fair to expect that level of narrative to be delivered in Destiny. Halo’s story isn’t even that epic or fleshed out.
Destiny was either going to be one or the other, it couldn’t be both, and if it was going to be, something had to be sacrificed.
Quite honestly, I purchased Destiny as a CoD replacement. I love competitive first-person shooters, what I don’t like is the fact that my character in MW3 has absolutely no relation to my characters in BO2 and Ghosts. And I can’t stand the fact that a bunch of 12 year olds are yelling at me screaming obscenities and insinuating that they plan to do malicious things to my mother, or, even worse, fantasizing about foul and grotesque sexual acts with my other relatives… Destiny solves this, I’ll get to keep my character and his progression, the chat system is simple and out of the way, and the community seems far more respectful. Also, regardless of my apprehension at playing campaigns when it comes to first-person shooters, I’ve actually gone through most of the “story” missions in Destiny. Unlike with Call of Duty, where I would invest maybe 2 hours maximum, and if I hadn’t reached the end I was right back on multiplayer not giving a flying fuck about the story. While the Crucible only has two real game modes for most of the week, “control” being the obvious and standard go-to, I didn’t play much else besides domination and search and destroy in CoD anyway.
For $60, the game is well worth it. It’s a solid FPS with every bit as much polish as the original Halo. It’s a game that offers a complex and intriguing leveling and skill system which has been promised to carry over into further iterations of the franchise, and while it doesn’t directly deliver on story, there has been a carefully crafted world full of lore to exploit further down the road. It certainly isn’t a 10, or a perfect game, but it has fulfilled its obligations in my eyes, and I look forward to seeing what Bungie can do in the future now that it has overcome the burden of releasing a new IP and introducing players to this strange new future.
If you aren’t a fan of Destiny and somehow feel slighted or cheated out of your hard-earned cash, keep your eyes peeled, because I have a feeling that Bungie will eventually make good on their promises and put your money to good use on the next go-around (possibly even with the upcoming DLC).
Originally written on October 1, 2014
Wednesday… The time of the week that has different meanings for different people. For the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco company marketing troupe, “hump day” comes to mind. However, for those of us who indulge in the ancient tradition of pulp narratives, it’s new comics day!
After a brief affair with my local chain, I’ve finally found a smaller comic shop that I enjoy. It’s proprietor is old enough to actually appreciate Valiant Comics and have an intelligent conversation regarding the recent appearance of Neil Gaiman’s Angela in the Marvel universe (I’m sure it was especially irritating to McFarlane that Quesada was the one to draw her promo illustrations when the announcement was made… “Ash” was cool and all, but Spawn would’ve kicked his ass and sold his soul to Malebolgia). The court case between Gaiman and McFarlane was certainly an interesting one, especially considering the nature of Image Comics and what the studio stood–and was started–for, the ideals that it embodied. The artwork it embraced, and the absolute defiance of traditional conventions, namely the fact that creators owned their own intellectual property. I can’t hate on Todd McFarlane (even though I feel his position regarding the character of Angela was a bit petty), he and Spawn and are the reason I became serious about comics. So, for the character of Angela to wind up in the hands of the publisher Image was founded to get away from is ironic in and of its own right. However, the fact that Thor is now a woman definitely trumps any other morally ambiguous or condescending arguments I could make at this point in time. The fact of the matter is, Marvel, now under the auspices of Disney, has actually done quite a bit for society’s views on equality, at least partially challenging standard social mores and perceptions:
A woman god, far more prophetic than a queen of the Amazon.
Miles Morales, a half-black half-latino Spider-Man… There’s only been one black “Superman” and Shaquille O’Neal ruined that for everyone.
The Falcon becoming Captain America… Granted, John Stewart comes real close, especially given the fact that my favorite DC superhero of all-time is the Green Lantern. And his first appearance came at a time when Marvel was looking towards Blaxploitation for inspiration on the fashion of their heroes, rather than simply placing heroes of color into already established and recognizable costumes (as was the case for Green Lantern at the time). Then again, Green Lantern-Green Arrow was really the only book DC had at the time willing to step up their game and challenge white patriarchy, additionally all super heroes at the time had pretty ridiculous costumes (in retrospect of course… hell even some of Jim Lee’s X-Men designs for the early 90s are starting to become seriously dated, even through the lense of nostalgia).
There’s a reason they call him Stan “The Man” Lee. And while he may no longer be at the forefront making decisions for an empire, it was certainly his inspiration that has created the culture at Marvel which has survived to this day. But I digress (as always).
Personally I’m excited about the coming Axis event from Marvel, unlike “Battle of the Atom” and my horrible distaste for Bendis, this event is being helmed by Rick Remender, and should prove to be superior to the last few events headed by Bendis. Remender has continually proven himself, in my eyes, and even friends of mine who aren’t into comics have somehow stumbled upon his work only to be blown away by the depth. His take on Onslaught should prove wholly entertaining, while not drawn by Joe Mad! the promo art has me excited. I only hope that I don’t get myself too worked up in the hype that my expectations far exceed the ambition of the guys behind the scenes.
This week I picked up three books:
Uncanny Avengers #25;
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #38; and
I would have picked up Thor #1, but it must have sold out, because I didn’t happen to see it on the shelves. If other reviewers find it to be interesting, then I may pick up on the second or third printing.
Looking forward to indulging myself and I’ll let you know what I think next Wednesday.
Originally written on September 8, 2014
For whatever reason, I have a sadomasochistic personality when it comes to computers and computing devices. This unhealthy relationship is only compounded when Linux enters the picture. It’s something I’ve been fascinated with since the days of The Screen Savers… I love to torture myself by trying new things I don’t fully understand.
Vivid in my mind are the days when Red Hat was the only distro included with books about Linux, while the mysterious Slackware was touted as the way to learn true *nix… In fact, I never did have much luck with Red Hat initially, it wasn’t until after I learned Slackware that Red Hat actually started to make sense. There wasn’t anything quite like the feeling that you were doing something… iniquitous with your computer. Making it do something that it shouldn’t be doing, something that the original manufacturers and programmers never intended.
In a way, that aspect of Linux hasn’t changed. With the exception of a brief affair Dell had with Canonical, and System 76 building systems meant for Linux, unless you’re in the server space, the only way to get Linux on your machine is to do it yourself. Although, this isn’t entirely true. Because, the reality is, the most pervasive and ubiquitous internet-enabled device these days is the piece of kit you carry around in your pocket. Sadly, although Android is built on the Linux kernel, it doesn’t share much with Linux distributions in the server and desktop arenas. It comes bloated with unneeded software, and shit that ruins the experience of holding more power in the palm of your hand than the entirety of which the astronauts had for the Apollo missions. These devices are plagued with the same type of shit I used to spend hours as a kid removing from brand new HPs and Compaqs with Windows 98, “restore disks” became common place, it was the first signs that giant tech companies didn’t trust the average consumer, they started omitting the basics like the operating system disk in favor of their bloatware… It seems old habits die hard, each hardware manufacturer seems to want to throw in their own graphical enhancements and tweaks too… It reminds me of looking at altered BIOS and Windows loading/login screens. Luckily there are alternatives, and once again, the community saves itself. ACTUALLY, there are several alternatives, but my favorite thus far isCyanogenMod.
Basically, it’s just a fork of Android without all the bloat (and god knows what else… Let’s face it, you basically have to sign away your first born to use the Facebook messenger app, who know what the hell Motorola and Samsung have thrown into their custom spins of Android). CyanogenMod is true open source and is optimized to run efficiently without all of the vendor-specific bullshit, yet still offers a nice unified user experience which is comfortably familiar.
Until now I haven’t had a device I’ve wanted to try it out on. I was a Crackberry user for a number of years, with my first Android device being the myTouch 3G. OR, for the rest of the world, the HTC Magic. There really wasn’t much of a reason to look for any alternatives to the pre-installed firmware/OS, since Android was only at version 1.6, and hadn’t quite taken over the market yet, it was essentially untouched, with only slight carrier branding. I literally wore the phone out, the track ball stopped working, the buttons became unresponsive, and eventually I had no choice to but to get a new phone. I wasn’t keen on extending my contract for another two years, or paying out an additional $30-40 every month on top of my regular bill, or for that matter, shelling out a wad of cash which could easily purchase a brand new laptop, one of which I’m sure would have gotten a lot of use, at least as much as the Dell Latitude D520 I’m currently writing this post on. That’s when I found the Star W007, an unlocked iPhone-clone from China running Android 4.0.3 ICS. The best part, it only cost me about $120 with shipping… Granted, it fucking took forever for them to get it to me, I must’ve waited at least 6 weeks for it to arrive off the boat, but I did eventually get it, and it has been a great phone. Though there is plenty of propaganda out there to desuetude you from using a phone manufactured in China… I mean, it’s not like official Apple iPhones are made in China…
Recently though, my fiance felt the need to upgrade. She had completed her contract, and she was ready to take on another $20-30 tacked on to her bill every month for the privilege of being one of the cool kids and getting a new LG phablet. She had been complaining about her Galaxy SIII’s battery life, the heat that it was now generating, a slow and unresponsive experience on the phone when playing games, or just surfing the web and getting on Facebook. Knowing that CyanogenMod has had great praise running on the Galaxy line of Samsung phones, I told her that I would take the phone if she decided to upgrade. I couldn’t be happier.
The whole process took me about 3 hours. Once completed though, no more issues with the phone itself. In fact, it’s running better than it had after a standard factory reset. And it’s getting better than 3G speeds as well as improved signal quality (H+ in areas where my fiance used to get little to no service). There’s no more overheating, and with the exception of poor battery life—which will soon be solved when the $10 aftermarket 2300mAh battery arrives—the phone is running better than it did when it was brand new.
Below are the links I visited and the guides I used:
- How to Install CyanogenMod on an Android Phone | Linux.com
- Samsung Galaxy SIII information from CyanogenMod’s website.
- CyanogenMod’s official How To install wiki page.
- A brief article on the “assert” checks in the install scripts for Android ROMs.
- Information on Google applications (including the Google Play Store) for CyanogenMod.
- The Clockworkmod ROM manager.
- Stable ROM images for the T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy SIII. Yes, I did have some trouble finding this link… if you don’t know that the T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy SIII is referred to as “d2tmo”, then you might end up accidentally installing the i9300 Samsung Galaxy SIII International version ROM. It’s imperative to have the proper ROM image, otherwise you could seriously bork your phone and brick it.
- A thread on the XDA forums. The 7th or 8th post down made mention of wiping the Dalvik Cache, which I had not done (since it wasn’t mentioned in any of the tutorials I came across). This was pretty essential, after being basically done, this was the one thing that got the phone to boot.
Clearly, it’s fucking easy-peasy if you’re running Win7, there’s an app you download and a QR code you scan with the phone you want to install CyanogenMod to, and BAM you’re done… Of course, I refuse to use Windows, so in addition to the links above, please note that my personal computers here at home run Debian Wheezy. As such, in order to execute some of the commands to push the ROM images to your phone you’ll need the Android developer tools.
While the Android SDK is readily available if you want to compile it, for a simple apt-get you’ll need to enable backports:
berkough@subcityculture:~$ sudo echo "deb http://http.debian.net/debian wheezy-backports main contrib non-free" >> /etc/apt/sources.list
berkough@subcityculture:~$ sudo apt-get update
berkough@subcityculture:~$ sudo apt-get install -t wheezy-backports android-tools-adb && sudo apt-get install -t wheezy-backports android-tools-fastboot
Happy hacking! I hope someone finds this compliation of links and resources to be useful… Who knows, maybe one of these days I’ll check out SailfishOS, or one of the other alternatives to vendor-branded and commercially-bloated Android.
White America, on the cusp of thirty, something happens… You’re about to get married, and you find yourself in the grocery store with a cart full of salt for your water softener, a 20 pound bag of dog food, and a bottle of liquid plumber while you peruse through the romance novels in the book section next to the gift cards. Is there a reason you’re buying the latest Susan Wiggs novel? Well yeah, your nana’s ninety-third birthday was this past Tuesday, but you’ve been too busy to invite her over for dinner like you said you would. You know she’s thinking it, that somehow you forgot, but she won’t say anything about it so long as you rectify the situation as soon as possible. So, while you read the back of the book, you also start to make a mental checklist;
“John Wesley Hawkins,” three names, dreamboat, check. “[W]as condemned to hang, accused of treason and heresy[,]” intrigue, check. “He’ll have to seduce the rebels’ secrets from a headstrong Irishwoman, but that shouldn’t be a problem for a man of Wesley’s reputation[!]” Dreamboat with a giant phallic personality, CHECKMATE! But, let us keep reading… “Caitlin MacBride is mistress[,]” using the word ‘mistress’ to describe the main protagonist, check…. WAIT a second. OF COURSE! This novel is published by Harlequin, you’ll be fine, and nana will probably tear through this four hundred thirty-nine page epic in less than a week, but she’ll be glad you thought of her.
As you make your way to through the 15-Items-or-Less cash register line, you’re thinking to yourself, “what will the lady behind the counter think? This is a strange combination of items to be purchasing on a Thursday evening in the mid of summer…” But you shrug it off and try not to notice her precariously snide smirk as the romance novel glides across the lasers, it’s a moment caught in slow-motion. And even though the other day you gave your nephew one of your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comics, it isn’t about being ‘cool’ anymore. At least not like it used to… You’re living life for different reasons these days. It does get better, and the insecurity you once had as fat pimply-faced adolescent seems to melt away with the years and the more booze you consume. But it doesn’t hurt that you’ve finally found a woman who appreciates your sensibilities, the same personality quirks you once questioned as peculiar are the very reason she loves you, and it’s her idiosyncrasies and peccadilloes which are the reason you love her. Yes, I did just rip off Robin Williams from “Good Will Hunting”, I’ll be happy to see the lawsuit in the mail, it’ll mean that someone actually gives a shit enough to read what I have to write about.
I’ve been trying to be interested in Twitch.tv, I really have. But there’s a part of me that feels as if my ill-fated attempted is a half-assed one at being cool. Suddenly GameTrailers is streaming live via Twitch, and Greg Miller, and Colin Moritarty are posting videos of them playing “Infamous: First Light” and “Super Mario Bros. 3” (respectively)… It feels too phony–very much in the Holden Caulfield sense of the word–it feels contrived, it feels like a last ditch effort to jump aboard a ship which has already sailed. Let’s face it, most things stop being cool the moment greedy corporations get their grubby hands and hairy palms all over it. That’s exactly what happened.
Last week we found out that Amazon had purchased Twitch. Granted, I’ll echo similar sentiments as Lorin Balmgarden, I use, and happen to like Amazon… But I like Amazon for purchasing unneeded crap to fill my house with, and tarnishing my credit score–HEY, it’s not my fault they issued me a credit card, and I can’t use it anywhere else BUT for Amazon.com, so I may as well take advantage, fuck the interest rate–but I digress. I like Amazon because it’s the bazaar of the masses, and even though I have Prime, I rarely take advantage of their video service, it sucks in comparison with Netflix (at least in terms of documentaries, which is my primary viewing experience with both companies).
I don’t feel that Twich has fully found itself yet, and had it continued on the path set by Justin.tv, we probably would’ve seen something quite beautiful flourish from the bud which started to flower. But, at this point, it’ll only be a matter of time before it degnerates into some crazed and schizophrenic service which requires Prime or [insert colloquial slang mis-used for a subscription service here]. But that’s okay, because I was never one of the cool kids to begin with, I didn’t, and don’t, get it. Sure, I’ll spend time with the occasional Let’s Play, and I agree that YouTube has taken their copyright infringement algorithm a bit far, threatening gamers when there is no reason to… And I could get into the whole “let’s play” argument, but first let’s finish with Twitch.
I’m a full grown adult with a nine-to-five job, I don’t have time to watch hopeless gamers demo an alpha version of Star Citizen, or cam whores play World of Warcraft. This is wherein lies the problem with Amazon’s acquisition. Does anyone think that the Amazon execs are really the type of people to sit at home on a Tuesday morning at 3 a.m. to watch someone stream World of Warcaft or Hearthstone? I sure as shit hope so, because if my own personal apathy is any indication of the typical Amazon executive, the service you hold so dear is fucking done with… Granted, it’ll be a slow and gradual change, but you can’t throw a frog-slash-lobster into the pot at full boil, you have to slowly increase the heat so they don’t know they’re about to be cooked and eaten.
Please don’t think I’m a cynic for no reason, I’ve been trying to figure out how I could go about streaming or doing a Let’s Play of Persona 3: FES for the longest time… I almost solved it too. Castawesome was just the project that I was looking for. I never got around to playing Persona 3 when it was originally released, and I was looking forward to sharing my experience with the world. But now I’m hesitant, I don’t want to be the next thirty-something trying to be cool like Greg Miller and Colin Moriarty…
Really, the only hope that Twitch has at this point is to become the only source for e-sports, or in the least, the first stop… For Amazon to broker deals with Valve to broadcast the International, or get into talks with EVO for 2015’s tournament, because, while the majority of gamers who broadcast their play for a small percentage of ad revenue will stick around because it’s all they know…Most gamers, much like the rest of the hacking and tinkering communities, will look for greener pastures, and eager to found new territory to call their own. It always happens, much in the same way that pornography continually pushes technological advances (the VHS, HD streaming, entirely all-too complex pay walls, etc). All of the cool kids are hipsters amongst hipsters who continually foster unbridled and unrivaled creativity… It’s the spark which can’t be captured, the firework which cannot be repackaged and sold but only held dear by those who were there to witness it at the inception, art which will only be revered after the artists’ death…
In the spirit of one of my favorite gaming industry commentators, god fucking speed.
Originally written on August 22, 2014
My “Monday Madness” turned into another “Thursday Throwdown,” and here it is Friday now… So I’ll make this post a Big Beer Blog Friday. Sit back and relax, it’s going to be a long one.
Firstly, I realize now that I didn’t mention this on EBA, welcome back Viking Brent! Glad you’re feeling better. I honestly didn’t think that you were going to do the podcast this week, so when I arrived at work this morning, I was pleasantly surprised.
Starting the night off with some fucking Clown Shoes… This particular variety is their “Brown Angel”–let’s just ignore the fact that the label shows a hot chick from behind and squatting… I MIGHT go there later, but for now, I’ll simply talk about the beer. It’s definitely more malty and more hoppy than I’ve ever tasted in a brown ale, this particular beer being a “double brown ale”. It’s rich without being too thick, refreshing but still creamy. I think the crème has a lot to do with the head. Trust me, I know how to properly fucking pour a beer, there was no escaping the monstrous foam that bellowed forth, like the Wonka-Mobile. I’m a fan. It’s bitter without having much of an after-taste… well, not much of an after-taste compared to the IPAs which I normally prefer. And, it’s dark and a bit chocolaty like a proper imperial stout without blowing your hair back with its ABV… Only 7% with this one, however, even though it’s labeled at 7%, I think they’re just being safe, it tastes closer to 6-6.5%, I’m certainly not complaining. This isn’t a beer that I’ve had before, and I have had other Clown Shoes varieties before, I’m not disappointed in the least with this Brown Angel. It’s definitely a brew I would recommend for any stout fan who wants to venture out of their comfort zone and experience some flavors they might not be used to, all the while still being able to enjoy a hearty and creamy brew. The label boasts a “floral finish” from the East Kent Goldings used, but, I’m not really tasting that personally… It’s mild at best, more akin to an “herbal” rather than a “floral” taste.
For the second half of the bottle, the pour didn’t yield quite the unruly head as it first provided… PRO TIP: you may want to drink this beer closer to room temperature if you’re planning on pouring it into a glass. Also, much like with any craft brew, you’ll get a different taste spectrum depending on the temperature you consume the beer. This Brown Angel has a lighter, less-thick flow the closer it gets to room temperature, which, may be more of what you’re expecting from a brown ale in general. It’s cleaner, less muddled, easier to pick out the “layers” described on the label. Yet, easily enjoyable at any temperature.
Obviously, it was slow news week, Jenna Pitcher felt the need to inform the gaming community that “FEZ 2 IS NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN”. I suppose the Zoe Quinn rumors were too salacious to report on. Last I checked, Fish’s twitter account was disabled/private, but apparently he was back at it again (if only for only a day or so) busy pissing off gamers who pop half-stock at the thought of the next Polytron game. Why this was on the front page of IGN I’ll never know, perhaps the keywods “Phil Fish” and “Fez 2” have some hidden SEO magic to them, thus generating enough clicks to sate the hunger of IGN’s commercial overlords. Initially, I couldn’t find the tweet that was mentioned in the article, but I found this to be interesting;
whoever made this you just made my daypic.twitter.com/puasDA5vO1
— PHIL FISH (@PHIL_FISH) August 18, 2014
That particular tweet was sandwiched in-between a plethora of liberal pathology about Michael Brown and other more appealing tweets…
Clearly there’s no reason unarmed men should be gunned down by those who proclaim to “protect and serve.” And, the para-military nature of law enforcement is a scary proposition, especially when they’re armed with DoD hand-me-downs in a post-9/11 world. But I digress, as much as I would love to talk about the news media circus surrounding this particular moment in history, I don’t have much of anything enlightening to say regarding the topic. Other than possibly pointing out the parallels I can draw with other “riots” in post-industrial America. But, I’m not really in the mood to pontificate on the intersections between race and class, and have this blog post degenerate to a level somewhere between a social science lecture and a history lesson.
Upon further inspection, and wading through the psychotic ramblings of a brilliant game designer, I did find the tweet IGN felt was newsworthy (and it was finally linked in their article);
seriously, shut the fuck up about FEZ 2. never going to happen. you don’t deserve it.
— PHIL FISH (@PHIL_FISH) August 17, 2014
Additionally there were several new, but, entertaining tweets whereby Fish was apparently, and sarcastically, mocking the world at large for making fun of his proverbial melt-downs. I do find it odd coming from a Canadian living in Tennessee, that might just be the way my mind works. It’s interesting none the less, did anyone actually think that Fish might still be working on Fez 2 in secret? Maybe this is his perverse way of letting us all know that development is coming along nicely. Anti-marketing, if you will.
When I first heard that Fish canceled Fez 2, and the rumors that somehow Marcus Beer was involved, I was saddened (Invisible Walls is still missed, and Bossman can’t quite replace Satterfield). But I wasn’t surprised, at least, not since watching Indie Game. It’s hard for me to excuse the irreverent masochism of Mr. Fish, but I do understand it (to a certain extent). Clearly there’s a reason people like Kojima make very few appearances in the media, and when they do, those events take place in heavily controlled environments. Additionally, when you have corporate backing there’s someone on staff who is paid to be your publicist, watching the things you say in public forums. I feel for Fish, his genius makes sense to me, and it’s a bit pathetic that he’s even spending his time on Twitter engaging in mindless dribble with phantoms and trolls, rather than working on a project that could change the way we view gaming, or alter our perceptions about what interactive media truly means. Then again, maybe I’m the only one that feels this way, but I LOVE “Fez”. My fiance and I have purchased the game for multiple platforms… Granted, if Fez had been published by EA I’d be complaining and whining about how my one purchase didn’t translate to owning multiple copies for all of my chosen gaming platforms. But since we’re talking about essentially a two-man operation, I’m more than happy to shell out the cash.
Is the gaming industry really that fucked up right now? Even as I write this, the news is changing by the minute…IGN is now reporting that Fish is selling Polytron and the rights to Fez. Of course there is no actual citation to their rumor. Where’s the link to the auction house? I’m in… I’ve got some investors that would be interested in purchasing an established IP currently generating revenue.
In other news, when is “The Witness” going to be released? As much as I would love to rant about the same topic as Jim Sterling , who really gives a fuck that Tomb Raider is going to be temporarily available only on the Xbone, I’m far more interested in the new vanguard of Western game design, a renaissance of developers only matched by the likes of Sir-Tech (ala Andrew Greenberg and Robert Woodhead), Lord British, Will Wright, and Sid Meier. The train wreck that is Phil Fish will have to be excluded from my list though, since he’s not making games any longer and selling his studio, but we’re at an interesting time in the industry. Below are the notable studios or individuals who have projects coming which I’m personally interested in;
- Jonathan Blow
- Basilik Games (proudly declaring their games to be DRM-Free)
- Sean Hogan and Jonathan Kittaka
- Harebrained Schemes
- Choice Provisions (formerly Gaijin Games?)And, I’m sure that I could go on… I’ll definitely be addingDynamighty to that list.
To finish out the evening I’m joining the Rogue Nation with their “Brutal IPA”. My apologies for the picture quality, I don’t know what’s going on with the light in my computer room right now, but it’s apparently not bright enough for my web cam… I love Dead Guy, it’s definitely the beer that put Rogue–as a full-fledged brewery–on the map, but every now and then it’s nice to see what other beers they have available. This particular brew caught my eye based solely on the artwork of the bottle. As I’ve mentioned before, painted bottles are the way to go, it’s clean and classy, makes you feel like you’re buying a high quality brew because they’ve actually taken the time to do more than slap a paper label on their piss water. That being said, this particular IPA is FAR from “BRUTAL”. In all actuality, it’s kind of a sissy IPA. The ABV isn’t even listed, which means that it’s less than 5%. Light and watery, not much body… Definitely bitter, it’s got some Chinook going on, but nowhere near the levels needed to truly be an IPA. Not much of a head… This beer was poured pretty aggressively too. I noticed while the glass was tipped that I wasn’t getting any head formation, and thus my glass was set down vertically and filled without much care. The head you see in the picture is about 5 seconds after it was poured, and clearly the retention is terrible. That means of course that they went extremely light on the malt with this one. And it’s noticeable in the overall flavor as well, there’s bitterness without much to carry it down the gullet. Somehow they managed to fuck it up even worse by not being able to maintain any type of clarity to the beer either.
If you’re drinking a light bodied and watery beer, you at least want it to have some translucence… Some might argue that this isn’t possible with “ales”, I disagree, and I’ll be sure to pick up some New Castle next time for comparison photos. You don’t always have to lager a beer in order to get to clarify. Overall, I’m highly disappointed in Rogue, I expected so much more from the term “Brutal”. It is bitter, and it does have some slight citrus hints, but it just falls short in every other area. There’s virtual no after-taste (some people, like myself, actually do enjoy scraping the bitter residue from their tongue the next morning), and I don’t think I could get drunk off of a 6 pack of this…. The 6-pack test is a good one. If you can drink a beer for 6 consecutive beers in a row, and you are still able to enjoy it, combined with the fact it fucks you up, either on or before the 6th beer? That’s a good fucking beer. Anyway, allow me to further admonish the gaming industry.
There’s probably about a 5 year window before we see the collapse of the gaming industry as it is today… I don’t foresee giant corporate publishers surviving in a world where pay-to-win, micro transactions, and mobile casualness is a reality. Granted, Squeenix has had some success. While I haven’t ponied up the cash for Chaos Rings, or any of it’s sequels, I haven’t seen a bad review for it either. And a number of reviews mention it’s just like the JRPGs of olde, which is highly intriguing for me. Especially given the fact that it’s one of my favorite genres overall. I cut my teeth on Final Fantasy, for whatever reason though, it’s hard for me to start an RPG on my tablet (I’ve tried with emulators). The tacticle sensation of a keyboard or controller isn’t present, without proper feedback, that sensation we’ve all become acustom to since the late 80s, I don’t think I could finish a full-on 30-40 hour epic. Despite my hesitation though, they’ve seemling done nice for themselves releasing the 3DS ports of Final Fantasy III, IV to Android and iOS, but I can’t say as I’ve been tempted to purchase them… Really I have, I just haven’t justified the money… Why spend $16 on a game that I’ve already beaten, a game that I already have on Psone, or a game that I would be more apt to purchase in original SNES cart form?
Alright, so maybe I lied… This 7 Hop IPA is much better than the aforementioned “Brutal” IPA by Rogue… Still a Rogue breed, and I would definitely recommend this one before I would the last beer. This particular brew is actually an IPA in proper form and presentation, it’s bitter with an aftertaste, not watered down, it’s got citrus rind to the flavor and full body to the texture… The clarity is even better than the Brutal. This one may even push me over the edge. But not before I’m able to discuss some seriousness as it relates to the games we love and cherrish, and the game we soon will find to be classic.
One of the topics I wanted to tackle tonight was “procedural generation”. It’s now become a common buzzword when describing games these days, or more precisely, when describing a method of game development, it’s a choice early on in the planning stages. “No Man’s Sky” sort of put it on the map for buzzword of the year, and placed it on the tongues the currently engaged. However “procedural generation” has been around for a very long time. In terms of games actually having been released in the last few years though, “Rogue Legacy” and “The Binding of Issac” make notable appearances in the general gaming lexicon, both of course are indie titles. But, I’ve been told that even Daggerfall and Oblivion have had some procedural generation components to them… My own personal experiences, particularly as of late, only deal specifically with a game released this past week; “CounterSpy”. FUCKING AMAZING.
The fact that every playthrough is a bit different definitely makes this game what it is, don’t get me wrong though… What this game does right is in alignment with old-school platformers more than anything else it has to boast for features (IE: RPG mechanics with enhance equipment and unlocks, and online competitiveness with leaderboards). Blackthorne-meets-Metal Gear Solid comes to mind. A lot of the reviews took issue with the story and the cliché tropes used in conveying the story, or lack thereof, when in fact, the game doesn’t even need a story to begin with. It does just fine on gameplay mechanics alone. Fuck Polygon for their score of 5, and fuck Moriarty for his score of 7 on IGN… CounterSpy is easily an 8+ in my book. It’s a new game with an oldschool feel and infinite re-playability. I thought for sure there would be a plot-twist, as I’m sure Moriarty and Frushtick were expecting the same thing half-way through, that’s why they bitched about the story to begin with. And I’m sure they played it on the advanced difficulties–only unlocked once you do a full playthrough–which is why they’re bitching about the mechanics, instead of focusing on the game up until the point where it becomes infinitely harder. OR, they were just playing a beta build and wrote their reviews before the embargo dropped. In which case, their insight doesn’t take into account the update that accompanied the actual release of the game, in favor of trying to meet deadlines, and release their reviews simultaneously with the game itself. Not willing to admit that the exponential difficulty increase was meant entirely for those folks that found the game fun from the get go, only jumping to the higher diffcitulties once they’ve mastered the controls. Personally, I’m glad to see a couple of LucasArt devs striking out on their own, away from Disney, or farmed out to EA, and working on a project that they feel passionate about. Moriarty has even talked about how he can’t play Dark Souls, for him to bitch about gameplay mechanics in an indie title is absolutely laughable. I’ve never received a tweet from Disney, but I did receive a tweet Dynamighty, and that makes me happy. On launch they weren’t looking to the press to comfort and console their conscience (yes that’s a fucking play on words, deal with it), they were on Twitter and eager to hear what actual gamers had to say. It’s an important distinction to be made in this new era. Especially when it’s not the media which makes a difference in sales, it’s the average person deciding whether or not they want to spend $15 on a game. Although, given the PS4’s library, it’s hard to imagine PS4 owners not purchasing this game, since they don’t have much else to play until Destiny comes out. It should be noted that I played the game on PS3, so it’s a very real posibility that the PS4 version does suffer from some of the bugs that Frushtick and Moriarty experienced. I didn’t see or experience them at all.
I’m slightly pissed that this is a PS-only exclusive (not that I would play it on an Xbox), but I have to hand it to Sony for their ability to court these guys, and somehow convince them that PSN is the platform they need to embrace. What we have is a game that could very well define the next generation of gaming, if only in its infant form. Not because it’s a spectacular game, but for what it represents in the long run. My props go out to Dynamighty, and I will cheers them with my final sip of this Rogue 7 Hop IPA. I wish them the best, and I’m looking forward to any game in the future that can bring forth the same type of emotion I felt when playing CounterSpy. It’s been a long time since I was able to sit down with my fiance and trade the controller back and forth between missions/levels, in fact, it’s been since “Might and Magic Clash of Heroes”. No gimmicks, no fucking 3D goggles, no motion controls. Just solid, straight-forward fun.