Wednesday, April 28, 2010

WotC survey

I decided to take advantage of the survey offered by Wizards of the Coast and put some commentary into the "Additional Comments" field at the end (limit of 500 characters).

So far, the experience is much like the WotC websites. Really pathetic.

Here are my comments as I wrote them, according to the character tracker on the survey site I wrote 498 characters. I'm not going to count, just complain about the problem and link back here:

It would be nice for WotC to fix the mess that is the "website". Get rid of the multiple interfaces(sites), update the content/directions, provide better pathways to content so users don't have to memorize how to get back to content. I love the game, love the content, but I HATE (yes, I'm that passionate) the website(s) that you guys offer. Maybe have some of the creative team for DnD take a stab at website design?

Ugh, I'm getting annoyed just thinking about the website.

Have a nice day!

My hope is that someone at WotC will take a look. They seem to be ignoring their forums regarding the problem that is their website.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dungeons and Dragons Our Family Adventure

We ran our first trial of D&D 4th edition this evening. The kids did well, only stumbling on mechanics, and picked those up ok.

JT is a Halfling Ranger
Hannah is a Deva Warlock
Melissa is playing a Halfling Bard (no bugbear character races)
and Greg is a Goliath Fighter

The group would be better with another person or two, but since I'm learning to DM 4th edition style, it's better to have folks who won't rules lawyer or complain when I don't know the rules off the top of my head.

I really enjoyed this evenings adventure, because things are really streamlined with 4th edition. I haven't played since 2nd Ed. came out, and the changes make game play much smoother, especially for folks who have never played before.

I would recommend watching the Robot Chicken videos posted at www.wizards.com and/or Youtube for those looking to see how game play has changed since earlier editions. Wikipedia also has descriptions of the variations between the different versions of AD&D.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Windows 7 - Impressions

I've been running Windows 7 beta and release candidate versions since January 2009. The first version I ran had IE8, which was very buggy at the time. By late spring, Microsoft was into the release candidate stage, and allowed folks to download a copy that would last for about 1 year.

Since I knew I didn't want to run Vista on my gaming laptop, I was happy to have an alternative until I could acquire a licensed copy of Windows 7.

Recently, while shopping at Costco I found a family pack (3 upgrade licenses) for $129. Since this is the price of the single upgrade license, I figured it was a good deal, and purchased it. To date, it's installed only on my primary desktop, however the gaming laptop will get it's copy sometime before the release candidate starts it's downward spiral.

I've been impressed with Windows 7. It installs easily, and worked with most hardware without any problems. The only real driver I found lacking was for the video card, which was resolved with a quick trip to nVidia.com.

In addition to easy installation, Windows 7 has done a good job of reducing the number of UAC dialogs, so they usually only happen in a few cases (software installation, significant system changes, etc). This was a major grip of folks when Vista came out.

Performance wise, it's close to Windows XP. Boot times are good, there are no strange slowdowns like I experienced with Vista.

One problem area came with my Windows Home Server. Since Windows 7 was released well after Windows 7, the WHS connector software wasn't designed to keep the Windows 7 Action Center from warning about backups. Microsoft released a beta "Power Pack 3" this summer which had Windows 7 functionality. The full release was just a few weeks ago in November.

For gaming, Windows 7 works really well. I've yet to find a game that doesn't just work. I haven't tried to go back a decade and try any DOS games. ;)

I've run Windows 7 on a variety of systems from a Dell D610 laptop with 512MB RAM to my home desktop with a Core I7-920 with 12GB RAM. The Dell D610 runs ok, though I can tell that an extra 512MB ram would make operations smooth. It has a little stuttering when loading applications.

Overall I'm pleased with Windows 7. It seems to have all the new Vista features without the bloat and annoyances that Vista had.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Borderlands

I've been playing Borderlands, a mashup of traditional FPS and RPG elements.

I found the game easy to begin playing, and easy to pick up again each session. You progress through a fairly limited storyline via quests that earn you experience, cash, and equipment. Along the way you meet folks who provide you additional quests that help round out your characters equipment and advance your level.

Borderlands is designed as a co-op game, with up to 4 players using any mix of the 4 available classes, Siren, Soldier, Hunter, and Brick. While the playthroughs are entertaining solo, adding one or more friends to the mix can greatly increase your enjoyment of the game. Along with the increased enjoyment comes increased difficulty, so don't expect a walk in the park. Also, the host's progression through missions dictate which missions the group can complete.

After completing the game, you get a second "playthrough" where everything is tougher, but the rewards scale with the difficulty. I found only one encounter to be very difficult in Playthrough 2, but after a few tries I was able to complete it.

After completing the game a second time in Playthrough 2, your continued adventures are mainly to level (assuming you haven't reached the max level, 50) and improving your weapon skills and equipment.

The game is available for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3. The first of hopefully many expansions is due in the coming week.

This was a fun game, and has the potential to be fun for a group to play through together, maybe at a small lan party.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Soda Can Robot Bug

Thursday night the kids asked me to help them put together a robot using a soda can kit.


The difficulty they encountered was trying to handle many small parts while turning a screw and/or nut. Some of the steps were hard even for me.

Overall, it's a fun little kit. The electric motor spins an off-balance weight, which mainly creates vibration in the robot. When placed on the floor, this vibration plus resistance on the floor, results in the bug moving. In our case, it made small circles about twice the size of the robot.

The kids were happy with it, so it wasn't a waste of time.






Friday, November 20, 2009

last.fm

Last night I saw that there had been an update to the xbox 360 recently. Reading the information about the update I learned that last.fm was now integrated.

I recalled that my brother-in-law Greg became a fan of it on Facebook, so I decided to check it out. After a quick download, it asked for a username and password. I promptly entered his information and started browsing the options.

I was pleased with how easy it is to find music I like (80's, rock, etc).

Today I tried it on the PC and so far it's been a terrible experience. IE won't load any music while Firefox plays for a while then stops. I've not tried Chrome yet. If it has problems with Chrome, it's likely to be abandoned by this guy.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Blog - What I'm finding Groovy

Groovy stuff for the day:

Google Wave

I received my invitation to Google Wave the other day. I have 2 contacts who are also Wave users, though we haven't started a wave yet. I've invited 3 folks, but who knows when Google will send those invitations. I'm thinking this will be a replacement for the various chat programs I use.

Google Chrome OS

Rumors were that Chrome OS would be released this week. In a way, it has been with the code becoming open yesterday, however Google announced today that they would not be shipping the OS this year. I can see pros and cons to their idea. Time will tell when/if this is a viable product.