Sunday, December 28, 2008

So far, so good

A couple days ago, I started playing Guild Wars. I didn't get it for Christmas, though - it's been sitting in my office for quite some time now, waiting for me to get around to it. I decided that now was the best time, considering that I now have a laptop and thus can play and spend time with the wife simultaneously.

It took forever to install, but once that was done, I had no technical problems. The control interface is quite good, and works well for laptops. I was expecting something like what the Oblivion uses, where you use the mouse to turn left and right (not good for the touch pad dealie on my laptop), but that is instead controlled by the A and D keys (Q and E strafe). Combat is fairly simple as well - you might call it a "point and kill" interface.

I haven't yet done much in the way of multiplayer yet. All of the adventuring that I've done so far has been solo (my entire experience with other players was asking somebody where to get materials to have a bow crafted). The game is pretty well suited to the "Lone Wolf" adventurer, as you only encounter other players in certain areas (unless you're part of an adventuring party, of course).

This is the character that I"m currently playing:

His name is Lucien Kharval, and he's a seventh level Ranger/Monk. He kicks @$$ with a bow & arrow, and he's also pretty handy with a warhammer.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I have a bad feeling about this...

I just got finished reading this post on the Slice of SciFi blog. Go ahead, read it - it'll only take a minute.

Let me get this straight. Warner Brothers has essentially bought the movie rights to a collection of short stories whose only common thread is that they were written by the same fictional character. Warner Brother apparently believes that these five tales can be lumped together into one movie.

My concern is that they're going to try to make a single story out of this, rather than presenting an anthology style movie. This would undoubtedly defeat the individual stories.

Anthology movies have been done in the past (Twilight Zone, Cat's Eye...). Maybe if somebody framed this with words like "remake" or "reimagining," it could happen. Hey, it worked for Charlie's Angels...twice.

Maybe I'm just being too cynical...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Just when you thought it was over

The tale of the Xbox 360 remote control continues.

Clearly, the remote control hasn't been returned to the store yet. As it turns out, this is a good thing.

My brother in law was over today. Being a video gamer of epic proportions, he decided to play with the remote control to see if he could get it to work. I wasn't there (I was working at the time), but my wife says that it took him about 2 minutes to get it to work. Guess what the problem was.

It wasn't the batteries.
It wasn't that I wasn't pointing the remote at the 360 (duh).
It wasn't a blocked infared sensor.
It wasn't the immense distance between my 360 and my sofa.
It wasn't that the drapes were open.

Apparently, it's necessary to change one of the Xbox 360's settings in order for it to accept input via the infared sensor.

This information was not in the instructions that came with the remote, nor was it on Microsoft's website. Even the tech support drone who "answered" my e-mail didn't know that this needed to be done.

It's difficult for me to express how much I was angered by this complete and utter lack of competence.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Customer service FAIL

This is a follow-up to my previous post about the Xbox 360 "universal" remote that didn't work with the 360.

One thing that I didn't mention in my previous post was that, while I was searching the internets for a possible solution to my little problem, I submitted an online help request to Microsoft. In my request, I described the problem pretty much the same way that I described it here, albeit in more professional language. I told them what I had bought, described the steps that I had taken to correct the situation, and mentioned that their online troubleshooting guide provided little information on what to do with a remote that won't work with a 360.

Today, I received a reply from "Xbox customer support." The following is the important part of their message, copied and pasted for your amusement.

I am sorry to hear that your console is unable to detect the Xbox 360 Universal Remote Control and I understand that there is no visible damage on the infrared sensor of the console.
Things to try:
. Make sure that the remote control has new batteries.
. Point the remote directly at the infrared sensor next to memory unit slot A.
. Verify that the infrared sensor is not blocked or covered.
. Make sure that you use the remote control no more than 10 feet from the infrared sensor on the console.
. Close drapes and blinds during daylight hours to minimize any ambient infrared light.
I made it clear in my help request that I had read the troubleshooting guide, and their reply is nothing more than a direct copy of said troubleshooting guide.

How ****ing stupid to they think I am?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Money (almost) wasted

I bought a Universal Remote for my Xbox 360 today. I figured that this would make it a bit easier to control videos watched through my 360.

Here's the remote that I bought:

Looks pretty nice, doesn't it? Well, looks can be deceiving.

When I got it home, I pulled it out of its plastic package (the kind that's difficult to open without C4), installed the batteries, pointed it at the 360, and hit the power button.

Nothing happened.

"Maybe the 360 needs to be turned on manually, since this obviously isn't a Bluetooth device," I thought. I got up, turned the 360 on, and hit the Xbox button.

Nothing happened.

I tried moving closer to the 360. I tried cleaning the infared ports on the 360 and on the remote. I tried changing the batteries. I tried programming it to work my TV (maybe it won't work until it's programmed).

Nothing happened.

There's a pattern forming here, and it's not good.

I scoured the internets, but the only advise that I could find was to change the batteries. Yeah, that's it...and that's straight from Microsoft.

At least we kept the receipt - this "universal" remote will be back at Target in no time.

Let this be a warning to all Xbox 360 owners - don't bother with this device.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Remembering a Fanboy Moment

My friends and I have decided to play some D&D. Specifically, they're going to start adventuring in the Forgotten Realms, under 3E rules (I'm going to be the Dungeon Master).

As part of my initial preparations, I pulled out all of my old RPG books. Among the old D&D, GURPS and Star Wars sourcebooks, I found something that made me chuckle. It's a book that I bought about ten years ago (toward the end of my first "Gaming Phase"), and I'm pretty sure that it qualifies as my most ridiculous fanboy purchase ever.

It's a reprint of an old First Edition D&D sourcebook entitled Unearthed Arcana. This book is loaded with spells, magic items, and other information to enrich a campaign with a lot of magic. As I recall, it cost me something like $7.

Considering the fact that First Edition tomes are something of a collector's item, and knowing my players' fascination with all things magical, I bought it.

Not bad, right? Well, there's something that this picture doesn't show you: the size of the book. Here's another image, with my 3E Player's Handbook as a size reference.

It's freakin' TINY! even the text inside the book was minituraized!

I don't know why I bought this book. Attempting to read it is pretty much a guarantee of ocular damage, yet I shelled out $7 (or so) for it.

This isn't the only first edition book that got the mini treatment. I remember seeing miniature copies of the Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide and Monstrous Manual alongside the one that I bought.

Clearly, Wizards of the Coast/TSR knows exactly how to make money on the dorks that comprise their customer base. They certainly lured me in.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

One for Chris

On Thanksgiving, my brother and I were discussing some of the more bizarre Xmas tree ornaments that we had inherited from our parents' collection. One of these ornaments, which is on my tree right now, is an elf's head. Obviously intended to be used to create a cute little elf toy, this thing somehow became a tree decoration instead. Make no mistake, this thing is creepy - it looks like it's just floating there, grinning at you. Anyway, Chris said something about this elf head that I thought would be hilarious as a caption for a picture of the thing. Check it out: