Tuesday, June 17, 2014

How CarMax Escondido ruined my month.

I've been to three different CarMax dealerships this month alone, mind you it's only the 17th, and this is by far the worst one. I've never had so many issues buying a car. Ever. Nothing better than going in with a car and leaving without one. 

The first car I bought, the check engine light came on before even getting home. So I returned it within their 5 day policy agreement. Nothing too major there, except I had to find out how to get it to them since it wouldn't start the next day... So much for their 125 point inspection. 

Then I ended up going to Riverside to pick up my next car (I live in San Diego) because I couldn't wait 5+ days to get another car, especially when it would now be out of their 5 day return policy. So I go up there, get a new car. This one has problems on the way home, steering is messed up, broken electronics, just a mess. Again. So much for their 125 point inspection. Again. 

So after that I came to here to check out yet another car. Then I had some real problems. First the car was ok, needed some break fluid and coolant, nothing big there, though the cars back seat fell out as it wasn't attached and the side foot panels fell off when I closed the door. Again, what happened to that 125 point inspection? Are the inspectors blind? 

Next I get to processing for my financing and holy hell did this turn out bad. I got a cheaper car but I suddenly had to pay more of a downpayment and all these other checks AND my MANDATORY overtime at work cannot be calculated into my total pay?! That's nearly half my income!

So now, since I had to sign the car over before I turned it in, I'm out a car as they refuse to reverse the paperwork for my car, my credit now has three checks of which they told me they wanted to run my credit again knowing I wouldn't get the loan, for cars that were awful and had major engine problems. Then to top it all off, I CAN'T GET HOME AS THEY REFUSE TO TAKE ME BACK HOME! SERIOUSLY?! I live over an hours worth of driving away! Am I expected to spend a hundreds of dollars for a taxi?!

Never, ever come here. I've never had this kind of terrible experience before. Now I get to find out how I'll be getting to work tomorrow. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

My (positive) experience with PS+

One thing that's nice about Playstation Plus so far are the trials. There's about 100 games available for a 1hr trial. The trials are the full game so if you choose to buy the game you only have to download a 100kb download to unlock it. Any trophies gained and story you've completed you get to keep whether or not you buy the game either. Thanks to this, I know that some games I thought I'd want to get I've come to learn otherwise while finding out games I didn't think I'd be interested in are actually quite fun. 

Another awesome thing so far is also the fact that every game that's free on Playstation Plus I get to keep as long as I have PS+. So that means, so far since getting PS+ a few days ago that I have gained XCOM, Battlefield 3, Jet Set Radio, Saints Row The Third, LittleBigPlanet Karting, Labyrinth Legends, Pinball Arcade, Malicious, Machinarium, Knytt Underground and Oddworld: Munch's Odyssey to my PS3 collection. Also, If I ever get a vita I also will have Knytt, Metal Slug XX, Gravity Rush, Pinball Arcade and Zero Escape. Some of the games that are for both utilize cloud saving and allow me to use the same save file on vita and PS3 as well, which is awesome. 

For $50/yr and I got all this in the first 3 days, that's pretty epic. I didn't even download all the free games because I knew I wouldn't play them all because I wasn't interested in some of them. There's also new games each month available to download as well, apparently it's two new PS3 games a month and one or two vita games. 

And people wonder why I like my PS3 more than 360. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Xbox One making another 180 and confirming self-publishing

While at first this sounds great, they've already burned so many bridges with nearly every indie developer that's worked with them at this point that no one really wants to go anywhere near them. One indie developer (specifically the man behind Retro City Rampage) said, and I quote:

"After my experience working with them to release on Xbox 360, I have no interest in even buying an Xbox One, let alone developing for it. The policy changes are great, but they don't undo the experience I had. I'm not ready to forget what I went through. Working with Microsoft was the unhappiest point of my career. Policies are one thing, but developer relations are another."

That's pretty heavy and was the resounding remark from indie developers that have worked with them. Phil Fish was quoted from an interview, which he was asked: "Interviewer: Is there a chance to see your next game be ported onto next gen consoles?   Phil: Not Xbox." 

Then there's the fact that Microsoft has shown that they don't even know what they're doing with their own console, yet it's supposed to come out in less than 4 months?! What are you doing! Do you even know? This is news to every indie developer, excluding maybe Notch, but that's it.

They haven't even talked about how it'll work in the marketplace. What they've said so far is that it's all going to be in the same place, but what does that mean? It's now a Windows 8 console, which developers already don't like the Windows 8 platform as it is with major players like Gabe Newell, who happens to be the owner and creator of Valve and Steam, saying that Windows 8 was basically trash for gaming developers. If it's going to be anything like the current Microsoft store, which it most likely will as the majority of the UI looks incredibly similar/the same as Xbox 360, then that's just another reason to not develop games for it. Sony has a very distinct section for Indie titles to make them easy to find. Sony also holds a huge number of exclusive indie games that will be big seller indie titles, such as the next game from Supergiant Games, those guys that made a little game that no one's heard of named Bastion. The game in question is named Transistor by the way.

At this point, all Xbox One really has going for it would be Halo, and that's not saying much as Bungie isn't even making Halo, they're making Destiny, which is available to PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. You'll also notice that more games this year were demo'd on a PS4 and not the usual Xbox, including Bungie's new title Destiny. That wasn't a coincidence. The PS4 is easier to tap into its full power as they don't have esRAM like the Xbox One while also having GDDR5 RAM instead of DDR3. 
This has turned into the Xbox One-Eighty at this point. Here's to expecting the console to have a defective rate due to increasing changes during the final stretch as well as being rushed to retail at the same time as the PS4. I wonder what will change next. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Worst hotel for the price? We think so.

So my girlfriend, younger brother and myself are going to anime expo this weekend. So in order to avoid sleeping in a car or something we decided to get a hotel. You know, something that shouldn't be all that bad, especially if you're staying at a hotel for a few days and you spend $100+ a night, right? Well, we've all been fooled! This... This is the story of our first night at the Radisson hotel in L.A.  

So we get there after a decent drive to L.A. And it's pretty late since we had to go to work before driving, so we're all a little tired and hoping to just get into the room, eat some food and hit the sack. Normal, right? Well the check in process was just fine. It was nice and painless and we went up to our room, got in there and from that point on it was downhill. 

The first magical room we got was pretty bad. The fridge was broken, the thermostat was diagonal on the wall, the hair dryer in the bathroom was hanging off the wall, the faucet was leaking and to top or all off there was blood on the sheets of one of the beds as well as some dirt. We were all pretty blown away by the level of quality when the room is $100+ a night and they only have $30 valet parking to boot. We called and asked them to bring in some new sheets, which we waited about 30 more minutes before calling again and asking where our sheets were and where the coffee pot was that we asked for before we realized the damages; so they gave us a new room just as they should have in the first place. 

Next room was better in the sense that the sheets didn't have blood stains and dirt all over them. The fridge wasn't broken as well... Because there wasn't one in the room at all. The sleep number mattresses controllers were broken, and the tv didn't work (we did check to make sure it was plugged in). Then we decided to go down to the front desk to talk to them in person to see if we could get these fixed, but the elevator never stopped at our floor after 17 minutes of waiting. So lucky us, we got to hike down 8 flights of stairs to get to the front desk. 

So after taking to the front desk again, they offered us a different room with normal beds and no tv at all... Wait what? So we are supposed to accept a downgrade and supposedly there's no monetary difference between the two rooms so we won't get any kind of money back on this downgraded room?! Hell. No. We were sent to another room at this point as they're acidly trying to get us the hell away from the front desk, and rightly so. 

So, room number three. This room is a floor above the second one so we grab our stuff and hit the stairs. Again. We get into this room and it's finally decent. Yeah sure the beds are broken, the walls are paper thin and the air conditioner must be ancient as it barely pumps any cold air out of it at all, but it's 11:43 at this point and we're all exhausted at this point from the workday, driving and then the stair trips so we finally just say $@#% it and stay in this one. It was obvious at this point that we weren't going to get a room where everything works and we all just wanted to go to sleep and get ready for anime expo tomorrow. 

What we learned from this experience? Never, ever stay at the Radisson hotel. Ever. Oh, and to top it all off, they have no self parking and the valet parking is $30/night. Fuck. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Surgery... On my face! And child trauma abound.

So I just had my surgery today. Since I can remember I haven't been able to breath out of my nose. My mom thinks that it's because of an accident I had as a child that was pretty awful. I'll go into more detail on what that is later but I have to say that she's probably right. Even if she were to be wrong it wouldn't change the fact that I haven't been able to use my nose for breathing for many, many years. If it has been messed up since the accident then it would be around 20 years or so back when I was about 4 years old. 

Well, as for what happened that was a fairly awful accident when I was a kid, that's an interesting one. I was being a kid and doing something that I'm sure most kids have done at some point. I was spinning in circles to get dizzy and see the different lights and what not when I was outside with my friend, like most kids do, but not everything went according to plan this time around. My mom came out and said that I should stop but of course, being a kid and feeling like you're invincible and all knowing, I shouted back "No!" and kept on spinning. My mom comes over to grab me and stop me before I get too dizzy and fall, but it was too late. 

I spun enough that when I did stop, my eyes rolled into the back of my head and I dropped face first into gravel. You can guess how this went, except you'd be wrong in how much damage this fall did. 

When my mom picked me up, the impact did more than anyone had expected. Since I fell unconscious, I wasn't able to put my hands out in front of me, and my face was the only thing available to break the fall. As she lifted me up, there was already blood everywhere. I had broken one of my front teeth in half and the other one decided it was a great idea to aid my jaw in biting completely through my tongue. Then, even better of my other front tooth, the one that went through my tongue, it ended up falling/breaking out and getting stuck in the newfound hole in my tongue. I also smashed my nose pretty well, and it's been very slightly crooked ever since. 

So it was just a tad worse than the usual fall a kid has, but only a little. I was really good at getting hurt, just ask my parents. Thankfully I have an amazing mom who did everything she could to make sure I was ok and took me to the doctor more times than most kids and always found great doctors. If I didn't have such an amazing mother, I wouldn't have made it this far in life before getting myself killed or handicapped. 

Anyways, I've finally had the opportunity to fix my nose and be able to breathe from it. I don't even know what it's like to breathe with my nose. I'm really nervous as it's a lifestyle change. I'll be able to run without getting winded nearly as easily; my favorite foods may taste different as I may gain a sense of smell (I currently can't smell nearly anything); I'll sleep much better than I ever have; it may even fix my very consistent, as in 3 times or more a week headaches. 

I'm really excited and exceedingly nervous. I'm nervous for things like my favorite foods tasting different. I live to eat and would be exceeding sad if my favorite foods were now disgusting. They again, all the perks that will be so exceedingly beneficial to my every day life from this surgery make it all worth it. 

You only get to live once and this will make my life much better than ever before! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Diablo 3 and what should have been

Well I have to applaud Blizzard in all reality. From a business stand point it would seem like you're on the perfect track to make the shareholders at Activision very, very pleased.

You've taken a game with so much hype built around it, a game with a rabid and wildly large fan base, a game vaulting off of the massive success of the previous generation - and you've turned it into your sacrificial lamb.

I understand that WoW is dying. The cash cow that you have been able to depend on to fill your coffers is finally drying up. It had a great run. MoP is not likely to defibrillate the failing heart of what was once the WoW empire, and you know this. Starcraft 2, while an amazing game, cannot replace this cash cow - then again it wasn't meant to. How could it? Your business foresight is very, very attuned. Because of this you carefully planned your next chess move: Diablo 3.

What better way to birth another golden goose than to bank an entire game off of the most addictive part of what Diablo 2 was: the item grind. Pure brilliance. And so, from the ground up, you formed this game to be solely about item exchange - this would be the titan built to replace WoW's subscription based bankroll in the form of micro transactions.

Except one thing: you're boring.

On May 15th 2012, after nearly a decade of anticipation, we were given Diablo 3! Except, it's not quite Diablo 3. It's a slimmed down, cut up version of the Diablo 3 everyone was taught to expect. Except, it wasn't given to us, we still had to pay you full price for it: $60.

My how the mighty hath fallen. Why is it not Diablo 3, you say? Well let's see. Anyone remember all those teaser videos spoon fed to the community over the past 3 years? Videos slowly leaking to us glimpses of the content we could expect to experience? I do.

From nearly FOUR years ago:

@2:10 "These current weapons just won't do!":


I guess scrapping this idea all together was more developmentally cost effective.

@6:30 "Let's see what a real fight looks like."


Indeed, lets. I'm still waiting, actually. Is it just me or does that environment look entirely more engaging than the atmosphere we've purchased at release?

@2:00 Did he say randomized, dungeons, quests and encounters?


If their idea of newly generated fights, quests and environments is a continuous cycle of the same things from a pre-conceived list, he's spot on!

So where's the beef? - some might say. The beef is that this is not Diablo 3, this is an imposter. A hologram. An artificial replacement. A lame duck substitute for what hype built it up to be. A cut up and slimmed down version of what should have been. In essence: a slaughtered, sacrificial lamb.

That leaves myself and thousands of others saying indeed, where is the beef? Blizzard's answer: there is no cow level. But hey, we got rainbows and unicorns!

Is anyone still in complete denial about how truly boring this game is or have people started to shake off the honey moon dust?

You eliminated enchanting, PvP, pet companions and other things from the release version so that you could market it as part of a later expansion for more money. (This is a trend in gaming that several developers have been following; withhold content you've been advertising for the past two years and charge a premium for it at a later date. I shouldn't have expected Activision-Blizzard to be any different, and that is my fault. I wrongly assumed this group was made of trend setters and leaders, not followers - so shame on me.)

You didn't include a single player mode because you can't make money off of people if they aren't using the AH in a multiplayer format. Less work for you in the development stages, and forces people to engage in the micro-economy that your bankroll is based on. Again, brilliance. Which leads me to my final point:

There is so LITTLE dynamic to this game I cannot believe it took this many years to create it. In fact, I don't. So why the long wait? I'll tell you: economic law.

More specifically, the legality and complications that stemmed from the idea of a multinational game built around a Real Money Auction House. This process, I imagine, took years to iron out - while the game itself probably took no more than a few actual working years to complete (and it truly shows).

It doesn't take an overly intelligent mind to figure WHY they would want to use a RMAH and get a cut of (a lot of) the transactions. That's fine. Here's the problem: you built the entire game around a pure gear grind, and then force that gear grind to revolve around the AH, specifically the RMAH. There is literally no other dynamic. When you build a game from a purely business stand point, you're not building a great game - and a great game this is not.

In conclusion, gamers, do you really want to spend your time on yet another slave-like gear grind? If so, eat your heart out. You'll find no better place to do it! If not, there are a plethora of other games out there much more deserving of your $60, I promise.

Diablo 3 was built around Activision's greed. Participate at your own will.

Gamers hold grudges and people aren't going to forget this disaster. If you obliterate your true fan base, the pillars of your success come falling soon after.

I give this post less than a few hours before it is deleted by Blizzard moderators. Can't have that bad flavor out there, can we? Truth hurts.

Regards, a long time fan.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

"Bastion" Game Review.

First game I've beat this year is a good one, thankfully. I finally beat Bastion. I bought it last year during a Steam sale and played for the first 2-3 hours of it then quit. I did this type of thing A LOT in '11. Too often, honestly. I beat a small handful of games in 2011 and that's going to change, so here's my thoughts on the first game I've beaten this year: Bastion. 
Bastion was one of the games I looked at all the time whenever there was someone talking about it. They always said how awesome the game was, how amazing the narrator was and the phenomenal soundtrack tied into the game. I thought they were exaggerating. I was wrong. From the get go, you already feel like something big has happened. The simple fact that you start the game lying in bed and there's little to no ground around you. There's a piece of a wall, some floor, your bed, you and nothing else. From the get go you know something has happened and it's something big. 
So the first thing you do, of course, is get out of bed. This is immediately recognized by the narrator, who in my humble opinion has a fantastic voice, with the best part being that the gameplay continues. The simple fact that the game is narrated as you progress without it interrupting the game makes it feel fantastic. The whole game is told through the perspective of the narrator as he recounts your tales of dread, angst and woe as you venture through the completely decimated world and it makes the game feel fantastic. It makes it feel as though you're playing a story that's being told to you as it happens while also making you feel as though you are the story teller. It's a quite awesome experience and the story becomes so engrossing and in-depth the further you go, which keeps you playing.
As the kid wakes up and you move, the world rebuilds itself around you. This game is an extremely gorgeous game to watch as you're playing it. The walkway, ledges, barricades and whatnot rebuild as you move with possible holes in them that allow you to fall into nothingness. You don't die, though, which is great. You fall back onto the walkway, take a bit of damage, and the narrator makes a small quip about it and the game continues. The artistic touch on this game really shows with how the world reacts to your movements and actions as well. 
Then there's the score. The score for this game is one of the best I've heard in a very long time. I loved listening to the music in this game. Enough that I bought the soundtrack for it. I haven't bought a soundtrack for a video game in who knows how long, but I did for this one. It's a fantastic score with memorable songs. A masterpiece you could say. It's very well integrated into the gameplay also as you move from world to world to world as well as event to event. Then there's the "Grammaphone" as it's called in game which lets you listen to the majority of the soundtrack. 
Then, of course, there's the gameplay. The most important part of the game. The gameplay and flow are very smooth with a leveling system and a variety of awesome weapons. The leveling system is easy to understand with the ability to customize what your levels do. You gain a flat amount of health with each level followed by choosing a "Spirit" at the Bastion. You choose the spirit at the distillery which gives you some kind of perk with an example being the "Squirt Cider" which gives you a flat +10 health or the "Mender Mead" which gives you the ability to gain some health back with each successful counter-block. 
They did an amazing job with the weapons also. My personal favorite combo was the Breaker Bow and the Brusher's Pike while swapping the Bow for the Dueling Pistols depending on the situation. There's a huge variety of weapons with 55 different combinations total while also giving you the ability to upgrade and customize your weapons allowing for very personalized load-outs. For instance, the first tier of upgrades for the Pike you can choose from either +15% crit chance or +50% reload speed for throws. 
Overall for this game, it's a wonderful experience with a deep, rich story and a very polished experience. I would recommend this game to nearly anyone and everyone to play. Games like this really don't come around too often. When they do, though, they're games that shouldn't be missed and this is easily one of those great sought after games that doesn't come around too often. With the addition of a very low price point ($15) it's a must have.