Archive for April, 2006

Unexpected Results

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

Huh.  I had thought the Video Game posts and the “Daily” posts would be separated, but apparently not.  To those of you who don’t share my gaming enthusiasm…it’s not required reading.

Anywho, I’m planning on putting in an application to County Market for an overnight stocking job.  That sounds like uber fun to me.  I would be so happy to get that position…but then I don’t know what I’d do about college.  I suppose I could always try working while taking classes…choices, choices…

Well, I have my immediate future relatively well-planned out.  I’m going to try to pick out some devotions for tomorrow.  In fact, as soon as I turn off the Lappy, I’ll ask Billy about borrowing prayer books.  The actual choosing will have to wait until tomorrow, however; I need to sleep tonight.

But not before I relate this one experience.  I don’t know why I feel the need to narrate this, but here it is.

I remember this one time I was taken to Great America.  It was, of course, a blast to ride all the roller-coasters I could.  In the line leading to the…Whizzer, maybe?  I remember Wizard, but it was later proven to me that it doesn’t exist…regardless, I got bored waiting in this line.  So I started looking around at things, and ended up seeing this odd bulge in the back pocket of the jeans the guy in front of us (my father and I).  Curious.

So I reached out and grabbed the thing in his pocket.  It was a purely logical line of reasoning: I see something, I want to know what it is, I get it.  Looking back on it now, I’m a bit shocked at the lack of awareness of personal boundaries.

It turned out to be his wallet.  Not knowing what a wallet was, I asked dad about it.  I don’t remember his exact reaction, but I’m pretty sure he was taken by surprise.

I leave you with a Billy quote: “So, assume a spherical cow…”

Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

I ended up talking to Billy about this particular Super Nintendo RPG on the way home from dinner at Rich and Anne’s house.  So cool a hobby, I thought you would enjoy it!

The game centers around Maxim, a monster hunter with an obscure past…and that’s all I’ll say about the story.  Other than it’s good.  (I don’t like spoilers.)

Lufia II is at once both the typical RPG — epic storyline, turn-based battle system, level up! – and a uniquely innovative RPG.  A lot of which involves battles.  Which is logical, really; half the game is battles, so it better be a good system. 

The basic structure is pretty standard: decide everyone’s actions at the beginning of the round, higher speeds go first.  And there’s the usual commands.  Attack, Defend, Magic, Items, IP…wait, huh?

Innovation 1: IP!  I don’t know what the “I” stands for, but I like to think it’s “irritation”.  Because that’s how IP works; as you take damage, you gain IP, which can then be used to unleash attacks on enemies or enhance/heal the party.  Very similar to the Limit Break system from FF VII.

The main differences, though, are that the IP actions are determined by the a character’s equipment and that different actions cost different amounts of IP.  So, instead of learning powerful moves that (in general) have a long charging period, you might decide to keep the robe with a party-healing IP ability over the no-IP armor.  And then after using that particular ability in battle, use a less-powerful IP move to increase someone’s strength.

Another detail I find interesting about IP is that it’s measured as a percentage rather than points.  So, I guess it’s “Irritation Percent” rather than “Irritation Points”.  But I like points better. ^_^

Innovation 2: Magic.  Not the magic itself, or even the fact that you have to purchase spells.  Rather, it is the fact that you can cast any spell on any number of enemies or allies.

For instance, if you’re focusing your attacks, a Spark spell can be cast on the single lizard you want to finish.  Or, you can use the same spell to just get all of the slimy buggers.  Or, you can cast it on the two you’ve already damaged, and focus you’re other attacks on another one.  Another scenario: Strong can be used to heal one person, everyone, or the three who are actually hurt, thus saving MP from being wasted on mending a fully healed character.

With all the games I’ve played, this is the only instance I’ve seen of being able to be so specific with magic targets.  Which is too bad; I really enjoy being able to do exactly what I want with a Droplet spell.

There is a price for such control, however: the more targets included, the weaker the spell.  And that makes sense.  A Fireball should cause more damage whole than split up into four pieces.

As a minor point, the spell names are occasionally…interesting.  Fireball, fire damage, yup.  Dorplet, water damage, okay.  Strong, heal HP…um, makes sense, I guess.  Fake, increase agility…a bit less…logical.  Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that.  Nothing like a unique spell name foster nostalgia.

Innovation 3: Capsule Monsters.  They’re little companions that, once you find them, join you on the battlefield and help out.  The fifth party member!

Of course, you can only have one fighting at a time.  And the lack of control over their actions can be annoying (No, don’t heal the guy with full HP!  The one about to die, save him!  Grrr!).

The other aspect about them that is at once refreshing and restricting is that they evolve.  By eating items.  But not just anything; no, most things they’ll just gag at when you feed it to them.  They’ll tell you what they want.  When choosing what to feed them, they appear at the top of the screen with a box next to them showing “Buckler” or “Fairy Wings”.

Innovation 4: Moving Monsters.  Maybe not so much the fact that they’re moving, but that they only move when you do.  You can really pick and choose your fights, so long as you step right, and you get all the time you want to think about it.

Which reminds me about another big part of Lufia II, the puzzles.  They start out real easy, but there are a couple that I’ll never forget.  Like that one in some palace place with the red and yellow tiles (It’s been awhile since I played).  Think of it like a human-sized othello where you pick up the tiles and try to turn all of them one color in a certain number of moves.  The first two are okay, but the third one, that one always kills me.  Every.  Time.

I first played Lufia II when I was fairly young — I don’t know exactly when.  As such, I recall having a tough time figuring out how to do anything but attack.  See, the way the cursor’s set up, you have a five-square panel on screen, with each square corresponding to an action: up for magic, left for items, right for defense, down for IP, and center for attack.  What I didn’t realize, however, was that the cursor defaulted to the middle square.  That is, whenever I wasn’t pressing a directional button, it stayed on attack.  When I pressed up, the cursor would move up, but when I let go it would go back to center square.

It took a great while for me to grasp the idea that I could press A while holding up, instead of pressing up and then A.  Battles were pretty straightforward for awhile.

Perhaps that setup itself could be considered innovation #5: Dynamic Command Selection.  Certainly makes for a nice change from point & click.  Er, point and press would be more accurate, I suppose.

And yet, the most amazing part of Lufia II, in my opinion, is the Ancient Cave.  This is no dungeon for the weak of heart, or short of time.

First off, it has 99 floors.  99 floors.  Granted, they’re randomly generated and of varying sizes, but that’s still a heckuva lot of dungeon-crawling.  Secondly, you start out at level one.  No items, no spells, nothing save the party and thy trusty capsule monsters.

Combine that with the fact there are no save points anywhere, you can only leave through the use of an item that can only be found after the first 20 floors, and that you can’t even keep any of the loot in red chests…quite the feat, eh?  Oh, and supposedly there’s a really strong boss at the end.  Due to the nature of in-game rumors, I’d say that’s probably the case.

So now you’re asking yourself, “What’s the point?  Besides trying to go insane, that is.”  The point is that there are, occasionally, blue chests lying around.  The treasures found in these chests are always powerful, and you get to take them with you when leaving the Ancient Cave.  Oh, oh yeah.

I once tried to get all the way through the Ancient Cave.  I got pretty far; floor 74 or 75 I seem to recall.  This was spread out over the course of three days where my SNES was constantly on.  I ate, I slept, but my dear, precious Super Nintendo kept going.

It was really too bad that I got careless and died and lost all of the cool stuff I’d acquired.  But at that point, I don’t think I was caring as much as I had been.

I’ll never forget you 8-headed Hydra, with your freaking eight physical attacks in a row…NEVER!!

And thus ends my recounting of Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals.  Or, if it’s biz cas fri, L2: ROTS.

…Worst…abbreviation…ever

Can’t listen to just one

Sunday, April 23rd, 2006

Windows Media Player is a dangerous tool.  Especially when mixed with HoI.  Jeez, almost 3 AM and I still haven’t brushed my teeth…

Nothing deep tonight I’m afraid.  Sleep well all, whenever that may occur.

A piece of advice…

Friday, April 21st, 2006

On HoI, I posted in the music thread basically the same message I had a few posts back.  Expanding musical horizons, band suggestions, etc.

I have learned this from the responses: Be careful when you ask for advice; you might get a bit more than you bargained for.

I got a lot of suggestions (there are a freaking ton of rock bands in existence), along with both an appraisal and disapproval of my choices from the initial responder.  He told me to stop liking Evanescence because it was too angsty.

Yeah, sorry, but no.  It’s not really something I can turn on and off.  And maybe I want to feel angsty sometimes.  Ever think of that?  Eh?

Yeah, his personality is a bit more…assuming than I’m comfortable with.  He kinda gets on my nerves.

Anyways…Night all.

Edit: And maybe the length of Dream Theater’s songs is part of what makes them cool!  Y’know, so they’re more like art rather than 3 minute jingles!…too drawn out…*grumblegrumble*…don’t appreciate…*mutter*…

Burn Baby

Wednesday, April 19th, 2006

I made a fire today.  It was a grand pillar, only made possible due to the assistance of my lovely nieces Georgia and Maya.

Of course, there was a point to making this particular fire, outside of burning things.  Rather, the objective was to burn a specific set of things through the combustion of other, more natural things.

Let me simply say that there are fewer blank pieces of paper in the Bakery.

In other news, the Customer From Hell visited work today, and he decided to check out at my register.  So your mother worked for the company for 25 years, is a lifetime associate, and holds some shares of stock.  That’s great.  That does not, however, give you the right to complain and yell and treat people like absolute trash to get what you want, aka, “money”.

He didn’t yell at me, per se, but he sure chewed out my manager.  “Don’t say another word to me,” he said, “Just give me my money so I can get out of here and never come back.”

There is no excuse for that.  Especially since your mom paid for it with her credit card, thus entitling you to a gift card.  If she really did work here for 25 years, then I’m sure she’d respect what’s known around here as store policy.

Ugh.  Such injustice…ugh.  I’mma stop spewing poison now; probably doesn’t help anybody.

Let’s see, ending note, positive ending note, what can I…oh!  I took steps to create a savings account with EmigrantDirect so as to put my money to work.  $3,000 dollars transferred to Chicago in the blink of an eye…pretty crazy.

Well, as soon as it’s official, anyway.  Hopefully it’ll be useful in the long run.

Return to normalcy, I guess…

Tuesday, April 18th, 2006

So, back in the ‘Bana.  Yee-up.  That’s me…

Oh, I guess it would be interesting to know that I have applied for a receptionist position at the Volition offices in Champaign-Urbana via the internet.  We’ll see where that road leads.

And, because I said I would, a couple quotes from the Bakery:

Maya - “Are you made of not sleeping?”

Georgia - “And there’s plenty of chocolate in space!”

Life Passes By

Monday, April 17th, 2006

I feel I’ve gone through the ringer, physically, emotionally…man.

I hope to get back to my regular schedule sometime soon.  For now, though, I suggest visiting http://www.askaninja.com/.  Seriously, go.  Now.

Gonna be late. Joy.

Thursday, April 13th, 2006

Yesterday I was hungry, dehydrated, and exhausted.  I went to sleep at 9:00 PM and woke up around 7:30 this morning.

And yet I’ll still manage to miss the bus it seems.

*sigh*

Edit: Didn’t actually miss the bus.  So that’s something.

I is tired.

Wednesday, April 12th, 2006

Boy, things are starting to really catch up with me.  I took a half hour nap today coming home from work, but I think I need more.  And more food wouldn’t hurt either, methinks.

So brain dead right now.  Sorry…need to cop out tonight…

Finances Suck…Logistics Suck…

Tuesday, April 11th, 2006

I talked with my dad today.  He wanted to get ahold of me so as to figure out what happened with an overpayment he made to the U of I.  Apparently, if I haven’t used it for schooling purposes, I have to pay state taxes on it.

I have no patience for this kind of thing.  All the twists and turns and intricacies of finance; I get tired of it all rather quickly.  My checkbook is proof of that.  I haven’t written in it since it got wet.  Around six months ago.

Really, it wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t let the information pile up like this.  Writing down what I’ve spent while I’m spending it is no problem; going back six months trying to find all the money I’ve spent and calculating it all at once is hellish.  This would be solved if I carried my checkbook and pen with me everywhere…but jeans aren’t exactly conducive to such item placement.

Some might argue that video games are filled with intricacies and rules and such.  I would counter that they’re infinitely more fun.

Oh yeah, and I don’t have health/dental coverage since I’m not an active student.  Yay.

Anyway, the thing that stood out for me in the conversation was the revelation of a possibility: I could stay here in Chambana at the Bakery and try U of I for another semester.  Efficient and convenient.  Providing my continued boarding is desirable.

See, I had been thinking about checking out this other college in Beloit.  Beloit College it’s called, for some reason.  They have a great creative writing program (supposedly), I could minor in music fairly easily (it seems), and it’s smaller (definitely).

The only thing I know for certain I’m going to do is to visit this “Beloit College” and see what’s up, hopefully talk to a program advisor of some sort.  It sounds great…but then I’d have to leave where I’ve just gotten settled into.

Argh.  Thinking too far into the future makes me anxious.  And mentally.  Paralyzed.  Nngh…

Backing it up a little, here’s the plan: e-mail Ravi (Beloit Contact), visit Lindenhurst (mom), and…well, work I suppose…

On a completely different note, there’s something I need to admit to.  I have fallen grossly behind in my dental duties.  The past two days I’ve been making valiant attempts to make up for it, but it’ll be slow going to make up for my negligence.

And sugar.  Really need to hold off on that for…lessee…I think two and a half months now…