No Google Reader for YOU!

March 14, 2013 13 comments

Yesterday when I went to read my RSS feed, I got the same popup most other users of Google Reader got: the service is going away in a few months, apparently for lack of users.

Which is mildly ironic. I have a blog, a lot of people I know have blogs (which is how I got to know them) and a pretty large proportion of us seem to use G-Reader to keep track of each other’s posts. According to one article I read yesterday – I didn’t bookmark it and can’t find it now, so you’ll have to take this on faith – RSS feeds are for nerds and nerds don’t need dedicated stuff because they can find other ways to do what they need. And they’re nerds, so they can suck it up. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, direct RSS feeds aren’t “sexy”, apparently. Ah, right. I never realised that what I want from my software is sexiness.

The author did have a point. RSS is kinda nerdy and there was no easy way to explain what Google Reader does. Or did. But just because something isn’t easy to explain (or grasp) doesn’t mean it’s useless or that it shouldn’t be used. If that’s the equation we’re making today, then it’s not just MMOs that are dumbing down.

Anyway, I’ve been looking for alternatives. A friend kindly pointed me in the direction of Feedly, so I’m trying them out first. They were slammed yesterday but seem to be doing a little better this morning. I have to say, I do kinda like the magazine-like presentation. I could like this service. And if not, there will be others out there.

Because if there aren’t, I’m not going to be reading very many more blogs. It may work for some, but I cannot and will not use Facebook and Twitter to keep track of what 100+ people post and when. Yech. I want my feed to be there when I need it, and I don’t want to have to ‘llike’ a bunch of FB pages and trawl through my timeline.

If you ask me, it had nothing to do with popularity, or not directly. Ultimately Google Reader went away because it couldn’t be monetized.

Categories: Misc., Site Tags: , ,

SimCity – mea culpa

March 9, 2013 6 comments

While lots of people are probably going to say this isn’t enough, it’s still nice that they’re trying to do something.

The full post is worth a read – it’s pretty short, but I don’t want to reproduce it verbatim. TL;DR below.

So what went wrong? The short answer is: a lot more people logged on than we expected. More people played and played in ways we never saw in the beta.

OK, we agree, that was dumb, but we are committed to fixing it. In the last 48 hours we increased server capacity by 120 percent. It’s working – the number of people who have gotten in and built cities has improved dramatically. The number of disrupted experiences has dropped by roughly 80 percent.

So we’re close to fixed, but not quite there. I’m hoping to post another update this weekend to let everyone know that the launch issues are behind us.

And, by way of apology, “we’re going to offer you a free PC download game from the EA portfolio”. Again, lots of folks will say that’s like piling poo on top of crap, but I like that they’re trying to do something, even if it’s not something that costs them all that much in terms of bottom line. ANY effort to make things right is better than no effort at all. Mistakes (or major screwups) happen – what matters to me at the end of the day is acknowledgement and some attempt to fix things down the line.

SimCity: oh sh*t patch

March 6, 2013 2 comments

So, presumably EA woke up this morning and saw the shitstorm. (Actually it’s very likely most of them worked through the night. I actually love game people, I just hate the way launches are always poo.)

They’re rolling out a server update. Since I’m not sure everyone can access that page, here’s the text:

We are working hard to resolve a problem that is at the heart of the issues which some players have reported. Namely:

Trading not working consistently

  • Unable to load/claim city errors
  • Getting stuck in a loop in the tutorial

To that end, we are currently rolling out a server update which we believe will improve performance considerably. This will involve restarts over the next 4-5 hours across all of our current severs. Minor player impact may occur, such as trading not working consistently and the region wall not working occasionally. We appreciate your continued patience and support while this fix is being deployed.

Please continue to check back here for updates

It seems the tutorial-loop issue may be fixed already, or that could just be because I finally thought to run the game as admin. Then again, it still wouldn’t let me play. It probably knows I should be working.

Sim City mildly blues

March 5, 2013 6 comments

I haven’t played enough to have much of an opinion yet. However.

EDIT for full disclosure – after trying to get into a game for half an hour, and then trying to create my own game for another half hour, I’m rapidly sliding out of the “Oh, silly EA” opinion chair and into “You guys just had to force us to play online and you just had to fail to have the server infrastructure (or whatever it is) to cope.”

During the ENTIRE development process, did nobody stop to say “You know, this game will be utterly unplayable if the servers aren’t working, and yet we’re not calling this an MMO?” – or, for that matter “Is it really wise for force the internet connection thing on people for a single-player game? We haven’t done it to the Sims yet, maybe we should hold off on doing it to Sim City…”

I now bring you back to the original, less bitter post.

1. When I buy what has been a single-player game (with recent multiplayer elements) since the late 80s — and I too had SimCity 1.0 on my Mac SE — I expect to be able to enjoy a single player experience. Meaning I should still be able to play if the servers are down.

2. If you’re as big as EA, PLAN FOR LAUNCH. This really isn’t rocket science anymore and saying “Oh, we didn’t expect the internet!” really isn’t an excuse.

3. The cities are too fecking small. I don’t care if I can play 16 cities at once in the same region. What if I want to play one giant, single-player, orgiastic megalopolis? Too bad, so sad, go back to playing the game in the single way Maxis feels you should be able to. Shame shame shame.

4. Did Microsoft give Maxis design lessons? Because it sure feels that way.

5. EDIT – And what’s with the crappy zoom out distance? That’s just nasty.

I guess we’ll see how it goes. I’m sure this version has some interesting new things to offer, and there are some cool new features (like non-grid roads, because not every city in the world is designed the way American cities were), but I’m still a bit peeved.

If I wanted launch day bullshit, I’d have bought an MMO.

SimCity bah

I can haz RAT?

January 28, 2013 6 comments

I’ve been using the same mouse for almost a decade. Why? Because I’m left-handed, which means a good mouse is hard to find; they’re all ‘ergonomic’ now, except that they’re anti-ergonomic for the 10-20% of the population who isn’t right-dominant and can just STFU and learn to mouse right-handed. Also, because it was a wireless mouse with instant response in games, because it was really heavy (I hate light mice), because the clicky buttons (all 3 of them) were soft and easy and because I’m resistant to fix something that ain’t broken.

However, it did broke. The rubber covering on the mouse wheel eventually developed cracks and, try though I might to remain loyal, things just weren’t working anymore. It gets annoying to be constantly wheel-clicking when you mean to wheel-scroll. I wonder how much gunge is in there, too, after almost 10 years of near-daily use. Ewww.

I did some research and started out by getting a Razer DeathAdder because it’s one of the few that comes in a left-handed version, but it’s too big for my hand. (Specifically, the left- and right-click buttons are too widely-spaced for short fingers, so beware if you’ve got smaller hands.) So yesterday we trekked into town (instant gratification > cheaper Newegg) and, with some trepidation, I got myself a Cyborg RAT 7, figuring I could return it if it didn’t work for me. I didn’t really expect it to work for me, but I wanted to try it.

RAT7

It’s a weird-ass mouse. It looks like something out of a computer game, or a normal mouse that’s been assimilated by the Borg collective. But ERMERGERSH! it’s freaking HEAVEN. Despite its rather intimidating and very right-canted appearance, it’s actually easy for me to use left-handed. The thumb-rest has become my pinky-rest and I don’t need a stinkin’ thumb rest, so we’re good there. I can even reach the side-buttons (for a right-handed thumb) with the bottom part of my pinky finger, so they’re not entirely out of play. You can alter the mouse’s weight by adding or removing little round weights underneath, though it’s pretty much perfect for me out of the box. It glides easily, the buttons click easily – perhaps too easily for some, it takes very little pressure – and it looks BADASS.

What more could I want?

Well actually, I could wish the two primary click buttons were interchangeable. What’s with this new trend of not letting people switch the main left- and right-click buttons? Is this another FU to left-handed mousers? (The Death Adder was the same.) Is there some deep and meaningful hardware reason why, with a million other programmable buttons on the damn mouse, the primary buttons can’t be altered? Seriously? I’m already considering removing the RAT-specific driver to see if the basic Windows mouse driver will let me swap those buttons around; I’ll lose some extra functionality, but it might be worth it.

This would be the absolute, never-use-another perfect mouse for me if I could only switch the primary buttons so the left-click is under my index finger and not my middle finger – which is odd, actually, given that I’ve been mousing left-handed with right-handed button configs for over 20 years now. I think it’s because the RAT is that good and that comfortable… and ironically, I can’t.

That aside, I can already recommend this RAT for anyone who wants a rodent that’s on the heavier side. The extra buttons are not intrusive and I haven’t hit any by accident yet – which, as any left-handed mouser will know, is quite a design feat.

Oh, and I also got a keyboard yesterday. It’s mechanical (anyone remember the old IBM keyboards?), sounds like I’m directing a firing squad as I’m typing this, is backlit (enough to be seen from the moon if I turn the brightness up to 100), and is already a million times better for typing than my old keyboard was, even if the keys are a tiny bit smaller. I can’t wait to see how this stacks up the first time I have to type 8,000 words in a day – the old keyboard used to give me meatsack hands at the end of crunch days. I’m told mechanical ones won’t, so we’ll see.

razer-bw-2013

Categories: Misc. Tags:

Gimme some beta

January 26, 2013 8 comments

Because I’ve never complained of having burned out on beta testing and I’ve never said I wouldn’t jump on hype-wagons anymore. No sirree. Anyway, that was a long time ago and I’m pretty sure the opinion statute of limitations for blogs is about 15 minutes.

So. The Elder Scrolls Online now has a beta application page, here.

If you’ve never played any of the single-player RPG versions, a) you probably won’t care about this and b) have you been living under a rock?! I sank a jillion hours into Skyrim most recently – actually no, I wanted to sink a jillion hours into Skyrim and kept getting stymied by work, but I did play as much as I could for a while and lots of fun it was too. (Apart from the fact that PC players got their bug issues addressed and Xbox players like me just had to suck it up and STFU).

Gamers have been clamoring for a multiplayer online version of TESO for centuries (in blogging years), so here it is. Come be part of the development and help make a kickass game. Or, if it’s going to be an FFXIV-type of bust, at least you’ll know ahead of time.

I appear to have only one problem right now. Clicking the “COMPLETE BETA APPLICATION” button makes it go from blue to brown, but otherwise appears to do nothing at all. I sure hope they haven’t just received 4 5 7 versions of my beta app…

EDIT: Well, I hope you have better luck than me. None of my browsers do anything when I click the apply button. According to one wiki it goes to a confirmation page. Bah humbug.

Categories: MMO Tags: , ,

Kickstarting Pathfinder Online

January 14, 2013 5 comments

I really shouldn’t spend money when my 2012 Q4 taxes are due, but I did it anyway.

Bill Murphy must have hit just the right button on Facebook because I read his post, clicked through, and pledged $35. I liked the possible benefits if this project ever comes to fruition.

However, since I’ve only just heard of this game and haven’t acually read anything about it yet, and because said tax payment cheques have to be in the post today and I’m about to go out… I’m an ignorant dork who just pledged some money.

If you’re also a dork who likes sandbox MMOs (ignorance is optional), consider pledging. There are 9 hours to go and the funding goal is almost reached.

Click here to find out more.

PS: There’s even a token woman in the long list of dungeon designer geeks on that page! Go tokens!

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