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Because the Internet

April 17, 2014

I’ve spent a bit over a week getting re-acclimated to Tera, working on faction and running solo dungeons and the like, so I figure it’s about time I found a guild that I can run group dungeons with and maybe even tip a foot into the new 10 and 20-man raids.

So I’ve been running around trying to keep track of the guild names floating over character heads.  The game lets you look up how many characters are in a given guild and how long they’ve been around, which is pretty helpful.

There are also a surprising number of Elin-only guilds, or at least guilds that seem to have an Elin focus.  I’ve been looking up guild web sites for those as I spot them, and looking up (to name a few) “elins master race”, “The Elin Tea Party” and “Elinu no Kishi” took me to guild web sites, message board posts, that sort of thing.

Then I looked up a guild called “Touch Fluffy Tails”, which I thought was a pretty clever name, and that lead me down one of those metaphorical rabbit holes.  Rather than a handful of Tera-focused results, I got page upon page of stuff.

Apparently there’s an eroge series called Monmusu Quest, or Monster Girl Quest, which, well, it’s just what it says on the tin.  It’s an eroge where all of the female characters are monsters of various types, one being a nine-tailed fox named Tamamo.  It’s been fan-translated into English, which is pretty uncommon for eroge.

Anyway, at one point Tamamo makes you the following offer:

tft1

Which of course gives you these options.  I’m not sure what Poseidon’s Bell is, but I’m going to set it aside:

tft2

I rather suspect very few guys have gone the Fried Tofu route, but that’s just a hunch.

Apparently it’s one of those things that have, well, taken on a life of their own, because (in addition to guild names), you get stuff like this:

keep_calm_and_touch_fluffy_tail_by_a_loyal_knight-d5hsa58

done by this gentleman, which really makes me want to put it on a mousepad or something to confuse people.

You also get a song NAMED Touch Fluffy Tail, which is surprisingly catchy as long as you’re not paying too much attention to the lyrics.

I confess that I dropped the 99 cents on iTunes and put it on repeat for about an hour this afternoon.

Anyway, I remain amazed by the ability of the Internet to take something insanely obscure and just run with it.

Hora Hora~

 

TERAble Twos

April 16, 2014

I’ve gotten to put aside a couple of games this week – my six month nostalgia kick with EQ is decidedly on the wane and I finished Project Diva 2nd# on Hard – so my evenings and lunchtimes are considerably more open. It turns out I’m still married, so my wife has been taking advantage of having a husband again to catch me up on some movies.

“Frozen” is pretty dang enjoyable, as an aside.

I’m back at the DVD conversion project and can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel. When I left off, I was down to only about 200 DVDs to rip, encode, tag, import into iTunes and back up. Unfortunately, these are all anime DVDs so that means a lot more work – it isn’t like your average movie which is rip, throw into handbrake, spot check and go.

Still, it’s coming along. I set up an encode job for Marmalade Boy this morning before I left for work, and that was a series I had been putting off out of fear – it’s 76 episodes and a movie and has some peculiarities to the title layouts that make things tricky. Having it done, presuming I actually have the appropriate audio tracks and subtitles etc (I’ll know tonight) will be a big relief.

Oh and I’m back playing Tera again, but it doesn’t have the same potential to take over my entire evening that being an active raider in EQ made for.

When I stopped playing, about 18 months ago, it was because the grind to 60 got to be soul crushingly grindy towards the end and there wasn’t honestly a lot to do once you GOT to 60. I can’t speak to whether the grind to 60 is still there or not, but there is a ton of stuff to do at 60 now.

I haven’t checked out the new dungeons yet, or the 10/20 man raids, because I’m not geared for them yet, but there are some daily faction quests and a soloable dungeon that are designed to boost you up to the point where you can participate and I’ve been doing those pretty regularly.

There’s a daily limit on the faction quests and a daily limit on the number of times you can run through the solo dungeon, so it prevents me from getting sucked in for TOO long. Usually I’m done with all of those just about the time the game pops up its “You’ve been playing for an hour” warning.

Oh, and Elin bunnyzerkers are still amazingly fun to play. No ankle is safe from a tiny bunny girl and her giant axe.

OSX, SMB, M O U S E

April 12, 2014

I run an i7 Mac Mini for the main file server here.  I’ve been using Minis as my main server for a few years now; they’re quiet, don’t take much power and are pretty much rock solid boxes.  The only reason I’m not still using the 2006 Core Duo mini as the main file server is that it’s useless as a VM host.

OSX, on the other hand, has been a mixed bag.  Through 10.6, it had an SMB implementation that Just Worked.  In 10.7 and 10.8, SMB was a little less stable – small file transfers generally worked, but trying to copy anything over three or four hundred MB to the Mac would time out.

In 10.9, SMB is now the default server protocol, so I figured things would get better – and they did, for a while.  Then I upgraded to 10.9.2 AND upgraded my main Windows PC to 8.1 and things went all to heck.  I was back to needing to restrict myself to small file copies and I flat out couldn’t stream any video from the Mac – VLC would give me a “Can’t open MRI” error and MPC would just hang.

Apparently there’s something with the SMB3 protocol that Mavericks doesn’t like.

The best solution I was able to find involved disabling SMB2 and SMB3 on the Windows 8.1 box, and this seems to be working so far.

If you’ve bumped into this post with the same problem, here’s the MS KB article that pointed me in the right direction: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2696547

Basically you run these two commands on the Windows side, and reboot:

sc.exe config lanmanworkstation depend= bowser/mrxsmb10/nsi
sc.exe config mrxsmb20 start= disabled
When you want to turn SMB2 and SMB3 back on:
sc.exe config lanmanworkstation depend= bowser/mrxsmb10/mrxsmb20/nsi
sc.exe config mrxsmb20 start= auto
To be honest mostly I’m putting this up here so that I’ll run across it in a few months and remember to re-enable SMB2 and SMB3 and see if it’s working yet.

初音ミクの大冒険

April 10, 2014

Cleared Project Diva 2nd# in normal mode this evening, so I’ve unlocked all the songs.  I COULD put it on the shelf now, if I felt like it, without too much guilt, but… I think I’m going to play through the rest of the songs on Hard, at least, because I’m not quite ready to put Miku aside and she makes a good lunch companion.

I’m going to try my best to ignore the existence of the “Extreme” difficulty except in special cases.  The final song in 2nd# was not nearly as insane as the final song from the first game in Hard, but I don’t think it’s physically possible for my fingers to tap the buttons fast enough to finish Extreme.

I DID clear みくみくにしてあげる♪【してやんよ】 on Extreme, and that’s the next-to-last song, but that particular song is a lot easier than its placement would suggest.   I’ll probably take a crack at Melt and World Is Mine too, just because they’re fun songs.

So between the two PSP games and the two iOS games, I’ve tapped and flicked my way through four different Miku games.  I still have the PS3 game to play, too.  Life is good.

I got 39 problems…

April 8, 2014

…but Miku ain’t one.

pd2cover

Kingdom Hearts isn’t the sort of game you can play on your lunch breaks, so I’ve been bringing my PSP and Project Diva 2nd# to work to fill out the middle of the day.  I was a little nervous about doing this, to be honest, because the first game was one of the most horribly addictive things I’ve ever played.

It turns out that I was right to be nervous, because it’s just as good as the original game at reaching its tentacles into the part of your brain that makes you go back for “just one more song”.

The game is, well, it’s a rhythm game.  You watch music videos, little targets in the shape of the PSP face buttons pop up on the screen, matching symbols fly across the screen at the targets, you push buttons more or less in time with the music and hopefully you are pushing the correct button at the time the symbol hits its target.  Project Diva 2nd# adds a couple of new mechanics – there are some notes where you have to push a button AND the d-pad at the same time, and there are some notes where you need to push and hold a button for an extended note.  Neither of these is especially tricky to get the hang of, but they do add some complexity.

What can be tricky is tuning out the music video that’s playing in the background, because there are places where it seems calculated to draw your eyes away from the marker that you’re supposed to be hitting.

Exhibit A:

mikuplot

In the first game, the grade you received upon passing a stage was entirely based on your score, and the score was heavily influenced by the number of notes you could chain in a row.  This meant that was quite possible to miss a comparatively small number of notes over the course of a song and be penalized much more harshly than if you missed the same number of notes over a short period.  When I was trying to unlock the last couple of outfits, this lead to quite a few rage restarts brought on by having a derpy moment or two halfway through a song.

Your numerical score for a stage in 2nd# is still chain-based, but your grade for a stage is now based on the raw number of notes you hit.  This means that recovering from a derpy moment is just a matter of accepting that you’ve made a mistake, getting refocused and hitting that next note.  There’s no need to start over and there’s no time really to dwell on having messed up.  This is a rather positive life philosophy, come to think of it.

There are a bunch of new features that I haven’t looked at too closely.  Apparently you can do custom songs now, and there’s some DLC that I won’t ever be able to download from the Japanese PSN, but setting those aside still leaves you with a game that’s pretty much the same as the last one, just with some new songs and with a couple new mechanics.

The perfect second helping, in my opinion.

3DS first thoughts

April 3, 2014

The pretty princess pink edition is actually a two tone affair. It’s more white than pink when it’s open, which is actually quite appealing. I also like the shade of pink used in the 3DS more than the pink from my Coral Pink DS lite.

The 3D effect works surprisingly well as long as you’re holding the system at the right angle, and watching the intro movie for Kingdom Hearts DDD was all it took to convince me that it was legitimately cool. It doesn’t take much for the screen to go blurry, though.

Nintendo’s eShop is a mess. I was able to find Senran Kagura Burst in it because I knew the name of it, but I cannot figure out how to simply browse all games. This may be more of an issue because they have an April Fools thing going on right now so many of the icons have been replaced with pictures of Nintendo villains.

I thought that connecting the 3DS to my Club Nintendo account was supposed to register it, but it didn’t – I had to go to Club Nintendo and manually enter the PIN / serial number from the system.

Tying downloaded software to a system instead of an account is dumb, but there’s been enough said about that by other people that I won’t get into it.

I’ve actually stopped using screen protectors on phones / tablets / anything with a glass screen, but the abuse I put my DS Lite through playing Ouendan and The World Ends With You means that it was Not Optional. The Hori-brand 3DSXL screen protector is the only screen protector that I have ever used that went on without any fuss.

Physically it feels very solid, with nice tactile buttons and a screen hinge that clicks into place with a solid and satisfying feeling. I may lose the stylus soon though, I keep forgetting to put it back into the side of the system.

I haven’t tried any DS software yet so I don’t know how difference in screen ratio will affect things. I understand that, even though the console IS region locked for DSi and 3DS software, it isn’t locked for DS titles so I should be able to use my Japanese games. I’ll be quite fussed if that turns out not to be the case.

I’ve had my DS lite for a good eight years and it’s held up to a serious amount of abuse and served as both a fine games console and the best kanji dictionary I’ve ever owned. Hopefully I’ll get at least as many years of service out of its successor.

Win, THEN Gloat.

April 2, 2014

For the first couple of years of Everquest, one common player complaint was that your actions didn’t really have any impact on the world. You could kill the Big Danged Dragon terrorizing Ye Auld Frigid Northern Plains, but she’d respawn in a week – and if you tried and failed, it wasn’t like she went and wiped out the nearest town out of revenge or anything like that.

So, when the second expansion pack (“Scars of Velious”) came out, the developers put in a couple of events where your actions decidedly DID impact the world and had a real effect on other players.

One of these was a quest for a dwarven ring.

Not THAT ring, this isn’t Lord Of The Rings Online, but still a pretty neat ring. It was the end result of a weeks-or-months-long quest where every step of the quest gave you a ring that was just a little bit better than the one before and where the last ring was a seriously powerful magical item. As you might guess, every step got just a little harder, as well – you could pretty easily get the first ring or two by yourself or with a friend, but once you got up into the 7th, 8th, 9th rings you needed to have quite a few friends who didn’t mind spending an hour or two to help you get an upgrade.

The 10th ring was something special, though. Doing the quest for the 10th ring involved actually putting yourself (and twenty or thirty of your closest friends) directly in the middle of an all-out war between a city full of dwarves and their frost giant enemies, with the ideal outcome being that you won the day for the dwarves and they gave you the 10th ring out of gratitude.

For the duration of the war (at least two hours, often more), an entire game zone was given over completely to the war. Nothing that you could normally do in the zone was available as long as the war was going on, so normal hunting and questing was completely out of bounds. Furthermore, if you LOST the war, the dwarven town got wiped out and stayed wiped out for a few hours – so, no bank, no merchants, no quest NPCs, nothing except dead dwarves.

Having a Ring War start in the middle of the day was something that seriously inconvenienced a lot of people for the duration of the war and had a strong potential to make things even worse for more people for MUCH longer if the dwarves lost, so it was generally a good idea to bring an overwhelming force for the war, and pretty common for people who just happened to be in the zone to help out even if they were generally unhappy that any other plans they might have had had been derailed for one schmuck who wanted a new piece of jewelry.

The quest NPC to start the whole thing only spawned once every 24 hours, too, so there was occasional competition just to be able to start the war, and occasionally the quest NPC would get killed because another person wanted to get some questing done and didn’t want to be interrupted by an all out Dwarfs/Giants war or because they didn’t like people in the guild that were setting up to do the war or blah blah blah drama.

This came up a few days ago because I realized that one of my character had the 9th ring, had gotten it ages and ages ago, and was actually high enough level to easily do the entire Ring War by himself. The ring itself is pathetically outdated now, so the only REAL reason to do this was for a sense of closure and for a nostalgia fix, but nostalgia is pretty powerful.

Anyway, I started the Ring War, set myself in front of the main gate of Dwarf Town, and set about killing the giants who kept storming the gates. After about an hour and a half of this (and, honestly, well after the point I really should have been in bed), my wife came in to see what I was doing.

I of course gave her the whole story, full of all sorts of historical context about why this was Such A Big Deal Back In The Day and how it used to cause So Much Drama when a guild would attempt it during peak hours for the server and so on and so forth.

Anyway, I wind up with “and I’m standing here because if I stand here it means that giants can’t get past me and get into the city”

So she asks me how I’ll know when I’ve won, which is a valid question, and exactly what I need to do TO win, which was an even more valid question.

And I explain that, well, if you ignore all the other trappings of the war, the only thing you REALLY need to do to win is to keep a single dwarf alive, and he’s BEHIND ME so he’s perfectly safe. I may have been a little smug about this, if I’m honest.

And then I turned around to see two rows of giants standing in an honor guard formation on both sides of the city gates, because at some point or another during the evening at least one giant actually managed to sneak past and kill that particular dwarf.

Not exactly my finest hour.

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