Saturday, December 21, 2013

Free Zen from Microsoft?!

Microsoft's Bing is their attempt to be relevant in the search market. One of the nice things with them being so far behind Google is they're trying hard to get new users! One thing I love is their rewards program - use Bing, earn points, and get goodies.

One of their rewards is a gift card from Rixty. On their reward site:
Rixty is a universal prepaid card for over 1000 multiplayer & downloadable games, virtual worlds and mobile games. Whether you love the hottest games from Bigpoint, Perfect World and Aeria Games, kids' games like Roblox and WeeWorld, or first-person shooters like CrossFire, Rixty is the only card you need to pay for them all. You can even get downloadable games from top web stores. Rixty – one card, over 1000 sources of fun online.

So, earning 525 points will get you a $5 gift card to Rixty. Presumably, that will result in $5 worth of Zen (500 Zen). Not bad, eh?

If you want to sign up, you can do so here.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Dilithium Tracking 8/22/13


And, just a week later, looks like the market volume has rebounded a bit! Offers to buy Dilithium have gone up. Its interesting in that in the past month and a half offers to buy Dilithium and Zen have been a bit apart. Usually they tend to be a bit closer in volume! Interesting.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Dilithium Tracking 8/15/13

Is it? Could it be? Movement! After being so flat and dull for the past few weeks, the Z:D rate has jumped up a bit to 1:115. What could have caused it? Good question. One could hazard a guess, but I suppose I could probably listen to this week's podcast to get a better idea ;)

I'm currently quite interested in the Elachi Lockboxes coming up. The new ships are visually interesting, and the crescent weapons looks very nice. Between them and the Tal Shiar lockbox ships, I'll be busy for a while. Thankfully for me, Master Keys are on sale. If you're looking to buy them, now is a good time to do so provided you're doing so with Zen. Oddly enough, a quick check on the Exchange shows them being 1.49 million EC at a minimum. I suppose the combination of the sale and the Lockbox Special are keeping prices up. Normally, a sale on Keys means the EC price goes down as well.

Of course, that's still price competitive with selling Fleet Ship Modules, which are starting at 5.82 million EC at the moment. Anyhow, onto the data!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Dilithium Tracking 8/8/13

Its a nice, quiet week once more. The Z:D rate has been pretty darn steady, trading volume seems good, and a good number of people are making offers for Zen if you're in need for Dilithium right now. Certainly more offers than there's been for a while! There's a new cosmetic project going up for the Fleet Dilithium Mine called "the Motherlode," which might be fun as well.

But for now... onto the data!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Dilithium Tracking 8/1/13

Another quiet week of numbers, it seems. Massively has been doing a nice bit of interviews with Dan Stahl (part one and two), which has some nice food for thought about the future. I've been working a little on my Romulan character, getting Lockboxes opened up for Lobi, and all has been pretty nice, really.

Now, that said, the number seem pretty good to me.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Resuming my routine.

Ah, the joys of starting back at square one…

I’m going to have to thank my friend John for introducing me to Maui Paintball back in March. I hadn’t played paintball in nearly two decades, and its so much different now than it was back then! Which is fair! I’m certainly a lot different than back then too.

So, I’ve been going at least once a month since then, participated in two tournaments with Team Scrat (a more wonderful bunch of lunatics I do not know), and even got my mom to play. But, I really have to thank paintball for one thing more than anything else – its getting me to exercise.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

/Dilithium Tracking

/Not too much opining this week. Last week Kevin Ly asked if I could share the Excel spreadsheet I've got my data on. I think I'd like to do that. Question is, of course, Google Docs or Microsoft Office Online? Dropbox? Arg... So, if you've got some feedback into that, please let me know! Just be gentle when you see the spreadsheet! I'm not exactly a trained professional here ;)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

[STO] Dilithium Tracker 7/18/13

Three statisticians went out hunting, and came across a large deer. The first statistician fired, but missed, by a meter to the left. The second statistician fired, but also missed, by a meter to the right. The third statistician didn't fire, but shouted in triumph, "On the average we got it!"

Its been a while since I've done looked at averages. Now, I have to fully admit that my data is a merely a small slice of what Cryptic has available to them. Moreover, I would imagine that Cryptic has access to economists and statisticians if they need a consult. I've got Excel and no formal instruction in the field. But, hey, when has that stopped me? While I'll warn against looking too much into my numbers and charts, its still interesting to look at. But first, our normal compound view of things...  

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Dilithium Exchange 7/11/13

Today is a big day! Steam's online summer sale continues, so that's always big for someone. Microsoft announces its formal reorganization, which will have effects on the PC industry for years to come. Nokia announced the Lumia 1020 with its 42 mega-pixel camera (well, sorta... marketing math). And now? Pacific Rim is opening. Well, assuming you've got a midnight showing. I'm not sure what the economic impact of giant monsters fighting Kaiju will be, but darnit, there ought to be something measurable.

I do apologize for being so late with this week's update. And now, a more serious look at things after the break ;)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

[STO] Dilithium Tracking 7/4/13

Happy 4th of July to our US players! And if you're not a US player? Well, give me some holidays I should keep on my calendar and what country they're for! You know, I can't quite remember any holidays in Star Trek, but I'm not exactly an expert in trivia and lore. Ah well. Side note: I'm currently playing STO on my laptop, which is running the preview for Windows 8.1. Works great, no issues, except that it seems I've lost some controls for my Skydrive online storage. That's not so bad - its all automatic and I generally want it synced, but that'll definitely affect your connection while up- and down-loading. For instance, its been struggling to upload a 1g+ video file over consumer-grade broadband (I don't even want to think how slow that is), so I've been having rubber-banding while attempting to play. Before I could simply turn it off for the time being, and resume later. Will need to suggest that... Otherwise W8.1 is fine and dandy for me.

Now, onto them charts!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

[STO] Dilithium Tracking 6/27/13

Ah, computers. They're wonderful when they work, and, well, discouraging when they don't! Due to technical issues I missed tracking 6/24/13, so there'll be a hole in the data there. I also missed 6/21/13, but that's just my fault! Nobody to blame but myself...

Due to some loose screw in my head, I'll be trying the Windows 8.1 preview, so if my computer blows up and there's no reporting? That might be why. In the meantime...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

[STO] Dilithium Tracking 6/20/13

Greetings one and all! By now I hope you've heard about the Dilithium Mine Outpost. I've personally not had a chance to check it out, but it should be an interesting new addition to the game. Looks like we can all read up together, perhaps :) I should also mention I'm debating the value of the By The Day chart. Right now its so cluttered its really hard to glean a whole lot of insight! Reducing it from 8 weeks to 4 weeks, however, doesn't seem to provide enough. I'll be pondering this, but if any of you Excel fiends out there have some advice, I'd love to hear it.

Any now for the charts!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

[STO] Dilithium Tracking 5/30/13

Steady as she goes! The Legacy of Romulus has launched over a week ago, and folks seem to be enjoying themselves. My friends are thrilled with the new content, but it seems the post-update jitters are still there with the servers. Hopefully they'll be fixed soon, so it'll be smooth sailing from here on out

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

[STO] Dilithium Tracking 5/23/13

   And we have Romulans! First off, I'd like to welcome anybody who is getting into Star Trek Online with the launch of The Legacy of Romulus. Its a great game, a fun community, and one of the best MMOs out there if you're looking for something different than the norm.

Secondly, I'd like to apologize! For whatever reason I didn't log yesterday's data! Eeek! I think I did, but either I forgot to save or my brain stopped working. Regardless, here comes the data!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

[NW] Neverwinter's economy hit with exploits, so I'm resetting.

You can read all about it here. Massively usually does a top-notch job, so I'm glad they're covering this. I'm also glad Cryptic is handling this swiftly.

However, this is both causing me to restart my Astral Diamond tracking and giving me a reason to restart my Astral Diamond tracking. The vast gaps between rates means that the methodology I used for Star Trek Online is insufficient for Neverwinter right now. Maybe it'll be okay when things settle down, but for now? Its simply too volatile.

I'm not sure how I'll deal with it just yet, but we'll see!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

[STO] Dilithium Tracking 5/16/13

   We're inching closer to the release of The Legacy of Romulus! People are playing on test, dev blogs are coming out regularly, and seems that City of Heroes alumni Matt Miller (aka Positron) is also doing some work with Cryptic! He tweeted:
If you play #StarTrekOnline, this weekend is Open Beta for the Legacy of Romulus expansion.
Followed by:
And if you play, you can see what I've been up to. I worked on creating the Klingon Tutorial #STO#LegacyOfRomulus
I'm really looking forward to trying it out now. Apparently its a contract gig, but hey, maybe it'll lead to a full time position. As an ex-Cryptic employee, he'd be coming around full circle! And, regardless of which game he worked on, having such an awesome developer on the team would be fantastic. Maybe they could get Melissa Bianco next? But, you didn't come here to listen to me rant on like a fanboy, so here's the data!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

[NW] Watching the beginnings of an economy.

Cryptic’s newest game, Neverwinter, is currently in open beta. Based on Dungeons & Dragons, it takes place in a fantastic fantasy world, with an action-based combat system, a mix of overworld and instancing, and is currently diverting my gameplay time away from Star Trek Online.

One of the similarities between Neverwinter and its siblings is that it has a time-based currency that can be bought and sold with Zen. Much like Questionite and Dilithium, Astral Diamonds are awarded in-game and can be used to purchase things, including Zen. Of course, right now the economy is just starting, there’s precious little in the shop, and the number of people playing is relatively low.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

[STO] Dilithium Tracker 5/9/13

Won't be long until The Legacy of Romulus is upon us. Moreover, Star Trek: Into Darkness is staring down upon us. All in all, I'd say its great month for Star Trek fans. In the meantime, Star Trek Online is continuing on, the economy is still going along, and Neverwinter (now in open beta) is showing a brand new economy as it tries to find its legs.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Game Dev Tycoon: your first combos

Game Dev Tycoon is available for a variety of platforms, and is just a great little game. No DRM, even! I’ll be posting impressions later on, but for now? A little something to help you along!
When you make a new combination of game type and genre, you get a  New Combo x.2 bonus for it. But, if it’s a Great Combo? Add in another .2. You’ll go from x1 to x1.2 to x1.4!

To help you out, I sat down and went through the first six genres and available combinations I’ve found so far. Use the garage studio to experiment; each genre and game style has things they like during development. As such, go through the various combinations, figure them out, regardless of whether they're a one-time bonus or not. It'll help in the long run.
Fantasy + Action = Great Combo
Fantasy + Adventure = Great Combo
Fantasy + RPG = Great Combo
Fantasy + Simulation = no bonus
Fantasy + Strategy = Great Combo
Fantasy + Casual = no bonus
Racing + Action = no bonus
Racing + Adventure = no bonus
Racing + RPG = no bonus

Racing + Simulation = Great Combo
Racing + Strategy = no bonus
Racing + Casual = Great Combo
Sports + Action = Great Combo
Sports + Adventure = no bonus
Sports + RPG = no bonus

Sports + Simulation = Great Combo
Sports + Strategy = no bonus
Strategy + Casual = Great Combo
Military + Action = Great Combo
Military + Adventure = no bonus
Military + RPG = no bonus
Military + Strategy = Great Combo
Military + Simulation = Great Combo
Military + Casual = no bonus
Medieval + Action = Great Combo
Medieval + Adventure = Great Combo
Medieval + RPG = Great Combo
Medieval + Simulation = no bonus
Medieval + Strategy = no bonus
Medieval + Casual = no bonus
Space + Action = Great Combo
Space + Adventure = no bonus
Space + RPG = no bonus

Space + Simulation = Great Combo
Space + Strategy = Great Combo

Thursday, May 2, 2013

[STO] Dilithium Tracking 5/2/13

Greetings and hello! Just a friendly reminder that today will be the last day you'll be able to run the Crystalline Catastrophe event (10am, PDT)! Its pretty short, so even folks in Hawai'i can squeeze one last attempt. Provided they're up early and eating breakfast at the same time, mind you. Speaking of which, many people have already completed the special Reputation project, receiving 50,000 Unrefined Dilithium, 1,000 Fleet Marks, and a non-combat Crystalline Shard pet.

Speaking of which...

Friday, April 26, 2013

[SlowCarb] Week 4!


Week 4 and doing pretty well! I’m not entirely sure how I should decide which way to really track my weight. The weekly, predictable fluctuation makes me wonder if I should pick the results from a certain day (say, Friday or Saturday) as my milestone or not.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

[STO] Dilithium Tracking 4/25/13


Another eventful week. If you've been in the market to buy Dilithium with your Zen, this has probably been a fantastic time for you, relatively speaking. While we've not hit the same levels seen last year, its definitely a possibility at this point. If you're selling Dilithium? Its still a pro-Dilithium market, in my opinion, and I've been cheerfully selling at current prices.

The Z:D rate has been steadily climbing, while the top 10 offers remain relatively low in volume. I'm still holding to the theory that the big Zen spenders who are willing to pay a premium on their Dilithium are not active in the market right now, opting to wait for The Legacy of Romulus. There was a massive drop in trading after the announcement on March 21st. It did start to recover, but then something else happened.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

[STO] Dilithium Tracking 4/18/13

The Market has been dramatic as of late! The Top 10 offers have dropped again, and the Z:D Exchange Rate is going back up. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing; the rate is still overall pro-Dilithium, but people buying Dilithium with Zen are getting a little more for their money. Why the relatively sudden change? I’m not sure. I’ve never been able to really figure out a correlation between the Z:D rate and offer volume.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

[SlowCarb] Now on Week #3


So far, so good! I’m actually cooking at home a lot more now, which makes life easier on my wallet. I managed to survive not only a vacation but having my in-laws visiting from the mainland. Obviously, the trend is for Sunday and Mondays to have a spike in weight (Saturday is my cheat day), with it coming down by the end of the week.

I am exercising on a MWF schedule(-ish), doing kettlebell swings, Turkish get-ups, and trying to walk/jog after to cool down. No idea if I’m putting on musicle or not. I do find that my GymBoss is helpful, though; I’d rather focus on form, and I have harder time doing that when I’m counting reps. I’m not training for paintball specifically, but better cardio and less weight should offer enough of a boost that I’ll be happy.

I’ll definitely have to buy a copy of The 4 Hour Body later, since I need to return my brother’s copy soon-ish.

For more reading?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Almost 2 weeks into The 4 Hour Body


My brother is lending me his copy of Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Body. I’ve skimmed it for the most part, with the only section I’ve really read is his Slow Carb Diet. Surprisingly enough, my dear mum has joined me on this, and that makes things a bit easier than going solo.

So, not quite two weeks thus far, but I’m pretty happy. The food is reasonably good, I’m getting used to how to order when I eat out, and while the progress is a lot faster than what I’m used to, its still there. I don’t view it as a long-term thing necessarily, but we’ll see. It makes me think of the crash-diet a doctor put my friend on because he was diabetic, and needed to lose a lot of weight, fast.

More later :)

[STO] Dilithium Tracking 4/11/13


Looks like trading is back to normal, but wow! Z:D is at a relative high, still hovering around 1:100. Its dipped below 1:100 around the end of March, but that’s about it. Right now people buying offering to buy Dilithium is really driving traffic, though. If you go by Wednesday’s sampling, there’s 635,877 Zen difference between the top 5 pools to buy Dilithium and the top 5 for buying Zen (so, $6,358.77).

Thursday, April 4, 2013

[STO] Dilithium Tracking 4/3/13

Looks like the Dilithium Exchange is trying to get back to normal after a big drop last week! Wow! Trepidation over what the surprise announcement really put a damper on trading. Of course, it wouldn’t have been so impressive if not for the relative high volume we’ve been experiencing as of late. It’ll be interesting to see how things go while the new update is in testing.

Starting this week, provided I don’t screw it up somehow, I’ll be cross-posting on Priority One’s website. It’s a great opportunity, and I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes. Of course, the day I need to work on everything is the day Live Writer/Blogger go weird on me... ah well.

And now, on to the data!

Monday, April 1, 2013

[STO] I'm on Priority One's podcast! :D

I am really honored that Tony contacted me for an interview! And, I'm moderately horrified at how lousy my microphone's sound quality is. Wow, poor guy. Anyhow, you can listen to the podcast at:

And be sure to subscribe! They've got news, talk about gameplay, and all sorts of neat stuff :)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

[STO] Dilithium Tracking 3/27/13


I’ve had a great week off from work! I got to play paintball on two different days at Maui Paintball, got to see my visiting sister, and generally just relaxed! I won’t be playing again until the end of April, but it’ll be in a charity tournament to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. So, er, yeah, I’ll need to get in better shape in the next month...

A very awesome surprise is I got to chat with Tony from Priority One Podcast. So, tentatively speaking, you’ll hear me on the April 1st show next week!

Anyhow, Zen and Dilithium trading has really dropped since the Legacy of Romulus announcement. The Z:D ratio has been going up as well, and we’re over 1:100 again for the first time in a while. I suspect there’s a good number of players who aren’t participating in the market right now, opting to wait for LoR to come out. Now, are they saving up their Dilithium and Zen? Are they taking a break? I really don’t know, and I suspect your guess is as good as mine. Anyhow, now for the rest of the data...

Friday, March 22, 2013

Privateer Press’ Modeling & Painting Vol. 1: Part 1

I recently bought Privateer Press’ Formula P3 Modeling & Painting Vol. 1: Core Techniques. As a relative new comer to painting miniatures, I felt it’d be a helpful introduction for me. They had a nice little sample, which gave me some nice ideas, plus a helpful trick for painting gold metal.

I went ahead and ordered it. Since I’m watching this a bit at a time, as not to be overwhelmed, I thought I’d share my thoughts as they came.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Legacy of Romulus and Z:D hits 1:100.

For the first time since December, we've hit triple digits. Will it go higher? Maybe, we'll see. I suspect today's announcement of Legacy of Romulus, the next update/expansion, will have people trying to hold on to Dilithium, but that doesn't quite explain what's going on. If anything, hoarding should cause people to pay more for Dilithium, right?

On the other hand, it could also be that people are holding off buying it for the time being. Without as many people willing to pay a premium for Dilithium, the people who are buying want a little more for their Zen than they've been getting. Which, honestly, is reasonable. Also, I sort of wonder if this will signal a pre-update lull for the game, while folks decide to hold off playing as much until the update comes out.

The new update will be free, but will likely have a sizeable addition to the Z-Store. I've got friends already noting they'll need to buy more character slots, more ship slots, etc. I'm not a big player for alts in the game, but I could easily see myself wanting to get more ships. If anything, I've been turning into Jay Leno in-game.

Should be interesting! Supposedly the KDF and new Romulan faction will have a 1-50 content spread, which is good. Cryptic hired one of the writers from City of Heroes, so this ought be good. I wish they'd pick up Matt Miller and Melissa Bianco, as they were two of my favorite devs from Paragon Studios...

[STO] Dilithium Tracking 3/21/13


A shadow looms. What is it? Well, I’ll find out in about 6 hours as of this writing. Okay, no I won’t, I’ll be asleep. But, the sharp drop in trade volume today is almost certainly because of it. Something’s coming, and I’m assuming people are holding onto their Zen and Dilithium until they know what it is.

This is definitely a relative high for Z:D. It hasn’t been to 1:99 since December, really. Its still an amazing rate for people buying Zen with Dilithium, but if you want to buy Dilithium? This is a better time than its been in a while. Of course, by the time you read this, everything may have changed.

Now, the charts:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

[STO] Dilithium Tracking 3/14/13


Past 8 weeks

1/14/2013 88 88 87 87 85 85 84
1/21/2013 84 87 90       92
1/28/2013 94 94 92 91 89 89 90
2/4/2013 90 91 91 91 92 91 91
2/11/2013 91 92 91 91 90   90
2/18/2013 90 92 94   91 90  
2/25/2013 91 91 90     88 88
3/3/2013 89 89 89 90 90   90
3/11/2013 90 90 91        


By the day

By the week



Thursday, March 7, 2013

[3/7/13] Dilithium Tracking

Sorry its late; been sick the past few days. Back to bed after this!


1/7/2013 89 90 95 90 89   88
1/14/2013 88 88 87 87 85 85 84
1/21/2013 84 87 90       92
1/28/2013 94 94 92 91 89 89 90
2/4/2013 90 91 91 91 92 91 91
2/11/2013 91 92 91 91 90   90
2/18/2013 90 92 94   91 90  
2/25/2013 91 91 90     88 88
3/3/2013 89 89 89 90      

image image

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dice charts for Space Hulk: Death Angel and Gears of War

One of the coolest parts of any board game would be the custom parts. But, one of the worst parts of any board game would be the custom parts. Particularly custom dice. Why? Because they’re harder to fake having, to improvise. So, as a result, I figured I’d better map the dice on these two games, lest I lose them, the dog eats them, or they go off to the 5th Dimension without me.

[STO] Dilithium Tracking 2/28/13


Onward and upward, I reckon? It seems there’s a lot more Dilithium and Zen trading hands than I’ve seen in a while. That said, it also seems that the Z:D ratio' of being under 1:100 is pretty much the new norm. I figure with people getting to where they want to be in the Reputation system, they’re using their Omega and Romulan Marks to buy Dilithium to sell or use for Fleet projects. So, why is the price not really going adjusting much? Seems that people are willing to pay the higher prices for Dilithium, and sellers are more than happy to sell at that price per Zen.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

[STO] Averages 2/27/13

More playing with numbers! Sometimes I feel like an old druid or something, looking at numerical guts in an attempt to predict the future. Well, not quite. More like looking at the data, all spilled out on the floor, going, “Well, that’s interesting.”

Average Z:D

Average Buying Zen volume



Average Buying Dilithium volume

Average Buying Total Voume



So, what can we see here? I’ll go ahead and say that this is almost like a Rorschach test due to the lack of better information. I’ve never made it a secret that my way of getting data is limited, and is at best the tip of the iceberg. We can’t see the successful transactions, nor can we get a full picture of offerings (ie, entire the 1:25 to 1:500 range).

That said, I think we can say that trading seems to be up, with more offerings being up on the board than before. Now, whether that means the number of successful transactions is up or not is impossible to tell, simply because when the Exchange updates itself, you only see the difference between successful sales and new offers being reflected. If there’s 1,000 successful transactions and 1,005 new offers, then the volume will go up 5 since those are unfulfilled, whereas if it’s the other way round it’d go down 5.

Makes me curious as to what could be done to get Z:D prices to be more pro-Zen (ie, favoring players spending money on Dilithium)? I’m honestly not sure what the “ideal” price is, mind you, and suspect there isn’t one. Dilithium buyers would love to have it be 1:500, but Dilithium sellers might sometimes dream of 1:25...

Is this something you’d like to see on a monthly basis?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

[STO] Dilithium Tracker 2/21/13


Well, I think its safe to say whatever rut we saw pre- and post- Season 7 is over, at least for trading volume. Wow. How long will it last? Not a clue. But, overall, it seems there’s a lot of people buying and selling Dilithium (although there’s a sharp dip recently – wonder if I messed up recording a number?).

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

[STO] Dilithium Tracking 2/14/13

Happy Valentine’s Day! This time of year I’d normally be complaining that City of Heroes was rerunning the same event as last year, and that Halloween plus Christmas got all the developer love.


Can’t do that anymore. So, be sure to enjoy your games, whatever they are, while they’re still around. Anyhow, enough of that, and onto the data!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Painting the Gears of War: part 4

Last night I got around to priming the individual COGs; Cole, Baird, Dom and Fenix. Rather than using the gesso like I did the Locust, I used Army Painter’s spray primer. The reason why is I didn’t want the primer to shrink away like the gesso does, and the thinner layer of the stuff meant I should have a little more detail with the figures.


Why the concern? Because they’re the player’s pieces, I wanted them to be better looking and more detailed than the Locust. They are the heroes, after all. Moreover, unlike the Locust, they’re well defined characters as a group, the protagonists of the series, and really the guys you spend the most time with in game. As such, they really deserve more attention.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Painting the Gears of War: part 3

The Drones, the Boomers, the Theron Guard, the Kantus, and the Berzerker. Primed and painted. I started with them Saturday night, did a bit more Sunday, and finished up tonight. How did it go? I think it went along pretty decently!

[STO] Buying Zen with Energy Credits 2/11/13

Last October I posted a blog on buying Zen via Energy Credits. Well, since then the Z:D rate has changed dramatically, and I wasn’t sure how the requisite bits were being priced on the Exchange. Now, both of these factors are constantly in motion, so it was, and is, a snapshot at best. So, time for another snapshot.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Painting the Gears of War: part 2




“I beheld the wretch - the miserable monster whom I had created” ~Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

The Tickers more or less done, I turned my attention to the Wretches; a very annoying enemy in the Gears series. Why? Because they bounce around like they’re on pogo-sticks.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Painting the Gears of War: part 1

Gears of War is probably one of my favorite gaming franchises right now, and definitely one of my favorite things on the Xbox 360. Its an excellent, well done 3rd person shooter from Epic Games, and one I’m actually really annoyed that is on the 360 only. Only the first game is on Windows, and its not on the PS3 at all. Really, its one of those games that could’ve been truly huge, if not for the fact its tied down to a single system.

Anyhow! There is a board game based on the series, published by Fantasy Flight Games, designed by Corey Konieczka. I don’t actually know who the guy is, but I do know he made Space Hulk: Death Angel the card game, which I also have. Given they mentioned him by name, I’m assuming he’s actually a big deal, and from my play-through a few Saturdays ago? I can understand why.

But, I can give my impressions of the game another time.

[STO] Of Fleets and Bases.

On the official boards I've seen a number of requests to make life easier for small fleets to advance in the Fleet system. Now, looking at the fact that the size of a fleet doesn't directly correlate to the amount of people (the fleet I'm in is small, has a high number of contributors, and is pretty high up there, or so I'm told)? The problem isn't the size of the fleet! Its the number of people pitching in. Anyhow, this is my suggestion from off the boards.


If you look at Dave Ramsey's recommendation for getting rid of debt, he uses what is called the Snowball Method. He admits it isn't ideal mathematically, however, its easy to understand and it works for people mentally. This idea, this mentality, works for exercise and fitness goals, weight loss, etc. Have a plan, go one step at a time, and you'll get there.  That's the problem with the current system - you're presented with these large, gargantuan projects that can be summed up with one word: Intimidating. As such...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

[W8/RT] DiceGod

The Windows 8/Windows RT marketplace is still pretty young. There’s a lot of room for growth, niches to be filled, and things to be made. As a long-time table-top gamer, there are a few apps that can really make things easier on me, especially if I’m the GM for a given game. One such app is DiceGod.

A glimpse into madness, or "Why I love Windows 8."

I wrote this up as an email to an acquaintance of mine, and figured I ought share. Now, keep in mind - I understand myself to be irrational and flawed at times, so if you don't agree with me, that's fine! I'm nuts! Really! Just be polite about it and we'll be fine :)

Since we never quite got around to it during the show (understandable) or lunch (likewise understandable), I figured I'd just go over the reasons I'm one of the Windows 8 fans.

First off? I've got a taste for doomed things. Well, not quite. Perhaps. Its a coincidence, perhaps. But, there's OS/2, BeOS, the Sega Dreamcast, NeoGeo Pocket Color, the Palm Pre, etc. In fact, once I decided I really loved PCs and Windows (really around Windows 7's public beta), then the real rumbling of us being in a "post pc era" started catching on. I even liked and admired Microsoft's work on Vista, believe it or not.

Its rather odd being a banshee. I suspect the good folks at Microsoft sighed in relief I didn't buy a Surface RT.

Seriously, first off; I've seen and used the Metro design language since 2006? 2007? with the Microsoft Zune. It was original, it was functional, it was sensible, it was an example of what Microsoft could do when they turned off the xerox machines and did something. A good example, at that. My third generation Zune flash-based player, complete with that weird squircle thing (you could touch, swipe, and click) was fantastic. The Zune software got me to leave iTunes; it was simple, worked quite nicely, was very straightforward to me, etc.

I started following the Windows Phone development in 2010; it was an evolution of the Metro design language. Initially rumored to be the "Zune Phone," when details started coming out it was clear it wasn't just that. In fact, while it certainly had commonalities, they definitely built upon it. The design team took the portions that made sense, but added more to it while not compromising the minimalist aesthetic. Moreover, it wasn't a simple adaption of the computer desktop to a phone (which Microsoft had done before), rather it was an original take on things, which is what I appreciated about the Pre (which I still feel has the best phone multitasking metaphor to date).

But, the most impressive thing? Microsoft did something that was out of character; they broke binary compatibility. There was no backwards compatibility between the hardware or software of Windows Mobile 6.* and Windows Phone 7. Moreover, the problem that plagued Windows Mobile (wildly varying hardware configurations and all the associated issues) and now frustrate Android developers? They were doing away with by requiring licensees to follow minimum specifications and a set platform. While there were a good number of areas for OEMs to differentiate themselves (both software and hardware), there was a basic level of expectation that all phones would meet. It was like Microsoft realized their greatest strength was their greatest weakness - their OEM partners - and they were doing something about it finally.

Now, this isn't why I love Windows Phone, so I'll leave it there. However, that is available for later discussion if you like. I should mention that there's an irrational element to what I like, if not love, but its well rooted in the appreciation that with my usage? I can get away with choosing based on aesthetics :)

Now, Windows 8 and Windows RT. First off, learning it would have the Metro interface (now called "Modern," I think) and was looking towards the post-PC era. Microsoft's past tablet initiatives were interesting, but I felt they were impractical for most people. Seeing them address where the market was rather than doubling down on their strengths? Taking a risk? Interesting!

Then later on, I read up on the changes they were making under the hood. Yes, the operating system was going to be schizophrenic. Metro was going to be sandboxed and separated from the desktop. The two didn't especially want to interact. Trick being, of course, OS/2 was the same if you had it running Windows 3.x (one of its selling points and downfalls, ironically enough). Apple's OSX ran itself, but would also start up OS9 as the Classic Environment for a few versions (I'm sure you remember that). That's before you even get into virtualization or emulation. So, in a way, an OS wanting to be two different operating systems isn't so foreign an idea to me.

The key element, however, was WinRT. A new API that was exclusive for Metro. Apps in that environment could not access Win32 (there are exceptions for browsers, maybe some others, but on the whole...). Again, a baby step of trying to get rid of dead wood. Not as dramatic as Windows Phone, but regardless, it was something that felt very uncharacteristic of Microsoft. Programs were sandboxed, could only interact with each other in specified ways, and those ways could expand as you gained applications (which is very much reminiscent of BeOS).

Additionally, the integration of Microsoft's SkyDrive and other cloud services? Much like a smartphone and tablet, it makes for a good, smart use of online. Pulling down my settings, my contacts, letting me access my SkyDrive up and down, etc? Fantastic. But like my Windows Phone and Xbox? Downloading and installing an app, a game, whatever, is one and the same. There's not separate download then installation processes. Once its downloaded, its available. Updating? All centralized for all apps. Want to uninstall something? Simply right-click then hit "uninstall" - its gone instantly, with no mess, no crap left behind clogging things up. Expected on a good smartphone, but revolutionary for Windows when compared to "Add/Remove Programs."

The UI was more than simplified; it feels very, wonderfully consistent. While the full-screen (and 1/3:2/3 split screen) feels abominably wasteful for large screens, its fantastic on smaller ones such as laptops. It feels quite good, honestly, and makes use of the metrics Microsoft got of most Windows users who use almost everything at full screen. Switching with a mouse, keyboard shortcuts, etc., is just fine. Trackpad gestures are great. Get it on a touchscreen and its very nice. A lot of the superfluous elements are out of sight until they're needed , maximizing the available space.

On my desktop, however? I simply switch to the desktop. The x86 version of Windows 8 is more fully functional than the ARM-based Windows RT. The changes made for Windows 8/RT on the desktop are very good, but I wouldn't necessarily say they're worth a full version release in and of themselves. That said, they are still good, and continue polishing the excellent work done with Windows Vista and 7. The lowered memory overhead is great, the reworking of Windows Explorer, good compatibility, etc. Its Windows 7.1, arguably.

Looking at it as a whole? Windows 8/RT is probably the closest we'll see anytime soon to Microsoft having a do-over, a "from scratch" OS. Its not as bold as Apple going from OS9 to OSX, but then Microsoft went through that ugly phase going from Windows Millenium/9x (which was arguably still a grotesque DOS based mess) to Windows XP and the cross-platform NT kernal. Paul Thurrott, the great MS cheerleader, argues that the ill-selling and rather confusing Windows RT tablet OS is actually a glimpse at the future Microsoft wants.

Apple's relatively ruthless culling of dead weight, old features, etc., often annoys me (recently got rid of my iMac), but I feel its a not insignificant factor in why OSX has evolved so well. Microsoft and their dependence on enterprise/business can't make moves like that, but even glaciers move. It will likely take 10 years for the vision being around, getting tweaked, etc., before its fully accepted, but I do think its necessary movement. Win32 will likely stick around for quite some time, but for the professional market. The consumer market? Or those without IT? I think that WinRT is really where they need to be looking in the long term. The problem with Windows is that I feel its traditionally ill-suited for its market position with the general public. If Apple went ahead and licensed out OSX? That'd be preferable. Sadly, the hardware dongle that OSX requires... :p

Still, its Microsoft being smart about it, finally. They're going at the only pace they realistically can (slow, pulling along 10+ years worth of luggage), going about it sensibly, and honestly they're letting Google become the new 90's Microsoft with Android becoming the new Windows. Much like the Windows Phone, its a middle ground between Apple's total control of the hardware/software (ie, a Mac is a singular product, not two separate products) and the mess of Android being a free for all between the OS, hardware, etc, but the freedom that goes with it. There's a clear mandate of how it should be handled at a minimum (reflected in the problems OEMs are having with W8 being on fundamentally W7 hardware), but even then I'm finding it to be competent on old hardware like my desktop PC and laptop.

The learning curve, the "its different!", "not what I'm used to!" etc., is what's causing the most fuss. Ironically, the Mac users are the ones coming into Costco and warming up to it. My sister in law has had the most positive response from them; they're quick to experiment, pick it up, and even happily buy. The PC users who are simply used to older Windows and fancy themselves power users (but probably aren't) are fussing and kicking up a storm, which is a pity. Its perfectly usable, if not more so, with a keyboard and mouse. Keyboard shortcuts are smart, the search is fantastic and more functional/flexible, and its great. Very seriously, I do no miss the Start button because I feel its actually less efficient, not as fast, and not as flexible.

And again, must say, I'm being irrational and emotional, but that's me and tech ;)

Bottom line for people? Give it the chance it deserves, and the time it needs. Its excellent! When I use Windows 7 and Vista, it really does feel like a step backwards.  Again, I've upgraded both my computers with it, and really enjoy it. Once you get past the learning curve, I hope you'll feel the same.

[STO] 2/7/13 Dilithium Tracking


Well, as an encouraging sign, the total volume seems to be doing pretty well these days!  In fact, it looks like we had a high point just a few days ago, but it didn’t seem to be a fluke so much as just a high point. Certainly, its not anomalously high.

Offers to buy sell Dilithium seem to be up as well, but I don’t know if that’s because there’s more Dilithium to go around, or because folks are trying to get the price back down.

Monday, February 4, 2013

[STO] PVP as War, PVP as Sport.

In the middle of last year, I read a little on a thread about "Combat as Sport versus Combat as War." It was referencing a very long opinion post for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition (currently in development). Intriguing as it was, though, is was concerning a tabletop role-playing game. Could it offer anything worth noting about Star Trek Online's PVP?

I think so.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

[STO] Averages!

I’ve recently been wondering about how the market has been doing. Its all well and good to look at charts, but sometimes it’s a bit much to take in at once. So, I decided to break my combined chart down into its independent pieces. I also put in a line with the average over the measured period. While not exactly a baseline, its still a useful thing to see. So, as such, we’ll be looking at:

  • Zen:Dilithium Exchange Rate
  • Top 5 trading pools for buying Zen volume
  • Top 5 trading pools for buying Dilithium volume
  • Top 10 trading pools volume

We’ll be covering the period from September 19, 2012 until February 2, 2013.

Friday, February 1, 2013

[STO] 2/1/13 Dilithium Tracking


First off, let me apologize for missing a few days recently. In the general scheme of things, it should be okay since I’m more trying to track trends than anything else, but I’m still disappointed with myself. I’ve got my desktop back up and running, though, so hopefully everything will back to normal soon.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

[STO] 1/24/13 Dilithium Tracking


Is it really almost the end of January already? Geez. No wonder I’m remembering to write 2013 instead of 2012 on my paperwork. Sorry I’ve been out of the game lately; hopefully I’ll get my desktop back up and running within a week or so. I do miss gaming that isn’t on my laptop.

Now, for data...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

[STO] Dilithium Tracking 1/10/13


Sadly, I missed Sunday, January 6th. So, there’s a data point missing. I do apologize for that! Anyhow, school is presumably back in session, the holidays are over, and there’s a little rise in the Z:D rate. Anyhow, here’s the data!