Aion and why I like it (and you should too)

September 13, 2009 at 11:01 pm

Ever since I first heard of MMORPG's I always thought that the pricing plan was crazy from a consumer point of view. You pay $50 for a game and then pay another $15 a month to play it. Obviously it's good for the game maker, that's why a lot of places are trying to be "the next warcraft". Originally I said I wouldn't pay for a game and then pay again to play it. Later on, mainly once I got a good paying job, I changed my mind that I would get a game if I found one that was worth it.

I've played a few RPGs, all free. First notable one was called PlaneShift (fun fact: took me a good 30-45 minutes of searching to find it). Probably early 2000's. I never really got into it though and played it off and on for a couple years. The one I really got into was rappelz. This is a korean MMO. There are a bunch of these. A common thing with these is something called grinding. Basically you have no real quests to do and just kill monsters to get a higher level. That is another common thing with korean RPGs, extremely high levels that takes forever to achieve. Rappelz is "free to play, pay to win." Meaning while you could play for free if you wanted to get anywhere fast you'd need to pay. You would buy various items, usually they were timed so you have to keep buying them. This helped you level faster, which was really the only motivation in the game. Also the in game economy was highly inflated. A common way to make in-game money was to buy an item from the cash shop and then sell in-game at ridiculous prices. Even then there were luls in the game where the only thing you could do was attack monsters, grinding. In short, it got boring.

I then finally tried World of Warcraft. I really wasn't that impressed with it. It was like how I'd imagine a paid MMO would be. Obviously money wasn't as big an issue since you already paid to play the game you're not really gauged on in game items. I didn't find it all that interesting. Quests didn't seem to have a plot to it. You were just a random person that helped out random people and no real cohesion. I only played on a one week trial but I didn't really feel it was worth the price.

I've heard of Aion for a while now, mainly from people in rappelz who were annoyed with the money gauging in this "free" MMO. Initially I was drawn to it mainly because it looked pretty--what can I say, I'm a sucker for aesthetics. Also the flight mechanic and PvPvE aspect. PvPvE stands for player vs player vs enemy. Without getting too far into the story, there's 2 player controlled factions, Elyos and Asmodian. They are sworn enemies and are unable to talk to each other, similar to warcraft. There is then a third faction called Balaur that is entirely computer controlled. In between each of the player-controlled factions is an area cheerfully called the abyss. In this area both player-controlled factions and the computer controlled one battle each other in a king-of-the-hill type match. There are several structures in the abyss that all three factions are trying to conquer. Whoever controls the most structures gains benefits by taxing the other factions and several other things that can start getting complicated. In short, your faction wants to control as many of these towers as possible. During these battles it could just be the two player controlled factions. Other times the computer controlled one could swoop in. Some interesting scenarios. Let's say you are part of the Elyos faction. You are trying to take an area controlled by the Asmodians. You start attacking when the Balaur come in and start attacking the Asmodians as well. You could help the Balaur in attacking the Asmodians and then attack the Balaur afterwords. You can help the Asmodians attack the Balaur and then attack the Asmodians.

There are a few things I like about Aion. First is the concept of storyline quests. Instead of just helping farmer joe kill some monster that's messing with crops, you are doing things that help progress your own plot through the game. Even in warcraft I never really got that feeling of being anything more than a single person doing the dirty work of people without any real plot to it. Next is the PvP aspect. I usually stayed away from PvP in games but it was mainly because it sucked. Various classes were simply more powerful and matches were done and over pretty quick. The couple times I did duals in Aion there were enjoyable and I felt like things were more even. If you search on youtube for aion you'll see plenty of duals and in one you'll see one class dominates another while in another video, even with the same person, they can be demolished. It comes more to the skill of the player and not just mash attack keys.

The open beta of Aion ends Today with the full game starting next week. I'm excited about it and if I seem to fall off the grid next week you'll know where I am. Now how I'm going to juggle this with all my other hobbies like photography, gaming on ps3, watching tv and movies, working on this website and other internet things, and trying to keep my house clean still remains to seen.

Once I get into the game I'll add what my main server/character name is below.

Posted in Gaming. |

Privacy concerns with foxmarks / xmarks

April 13, 2009 at 1:30 pm

The foxmarks plugin is a very popular plugin for firefox that lets you sync bookmarks between computers.  I've used it ever since google bookmarks was cancelled and has worked great for me.

Recently they announced changing their name to xmarks as well as adding some new "features."  A lot of them revolve around bookmark discovery.  xmarks scans your bookmarks anonymously to see what pages have been bookmarked a lot.  It can then show a special icon next to something that has been bookmarked by other people.  Now they really reinforce that the data is anonymous but it's still a concern for me.  Bookmarks I really want to share I bookmark at delicious.  If I'm not saving it on there, I generally don't want to share the bookmark.  It could be private administration pages, for example.

Good news is you can opt out.  Login to your account and choose change your bookmark options (that link should take you straight to that page after login). remove the checkmark and save changes.  Alternatively it's pretty simple to delete your account entirely if you're really concerned.

Only other alternative I can think of is weave by mozilla.  It encrypts the data before sending it to the server so there's no way they can access it.  It's also possible to store the bookmarks on your own server.  To be fair xmarks offers this as well.  You also may want to go into xmarks preferences and disable all the suggestion links.  Although there's the privacy concerns but I disabled it only because that's extra network requests that are made and can slow down page views slightly.  May not be too significant but with all the other plugins I have the fewer extra requests I'm making, the better.

I'm still going to stay with xmarks.  Currently they support firefox, internet explorer, and safari.  I'm hoping they add support for a couple other browsers I'm interested in; Opera and Chrome.  Weave is still in alpha/beta.  As of writing they're at version 0.3.  I've used it before and worked more or less fine, had some minor stability issues that may have been fixed by now.

Posted in Security and Privacy. |

Now Using Kohana

February 28, 2009 at 12:06 am

After a couple weeks I've finally moved the site over to Kohana Framework. It's a fork of CodeIgniter but designed to take advantage of PHP 5.2+. It also uses a "cascading file system" which allows for several nice things, like making me a section to admin the site with. Can finally stop entering these blog posts in phpMyAdmin.

You shouldn't notice any difference with the site itself. It may be a little slower since Kohana doesn't have the all-or-nothing page cache that CodeIgniter had. But it's more powerful so I can cache just certain parts of pages. Once I implement a page cache again this site will feel just as zippy as before

Posted in Website. |

Ohayocon 2009

February 21, 2009 at 11:54 pm

Went to ohayocon over the weekend from January 30th to February 1st.  This is probably the third or fourth of these anime conventions I've gone too.  It's fun people watching since everyone dresses up as either their favorite anime character or just some random anime-looking person.

It wasn't that bad.  Wouldn't say it's the best one I've been too, but hasn't been the worst either.  One thing that I didn't like was that some of the rooms were literally 1/4 mile away if not further.  So you end up just staying in one area.  The biggest annoyance to me was the video rooms.  Typically there are 3-5 video rooms that show nothing but anime 24/7 during the convention.  At any point you don't feel like going to any panels you can go to a panel and possibly run into an anime you never heard of.  Well these didn't run 24/7.  In fact they ended really early to me, I think around 3:00 AM.  That may not seem too bad but I've done several marathons where I watch an entire tv series of 26 episodes over one night and end up not going to bed till 8:00 AM.  Usually conventions slow down in the mornings so I can grab a few hours of sleep.  I guess the positive side was I had plenty of time to sleep this time around and some pricey hotel rooms as well.  Perhaps that's why I like anime punch so much.  They have 5 video rooms and they make it a point to play things you haven't heard of.  Anime punch is April 10 - 12 in Columbus.  I'm still deciding about it but probably will.

I didn't bother even bringing a camera with me to this one.  Typically I take four pictures, and they all aren't that good.  So instead I'll just link to other people that have:

Posted in Anime. |

Moving to Kohana?

February 4, 2009 at 12:04 am

Now that I got the hang of CodeIgniter I just found out about Kohana, which is based off of CodeIgniter. I guess kohana started out as a port of CodeIgniter because ElisLab's developers were focused on their paid product, ExpressionEngine. The community at CodeIgniter got tired of waiting so they forked it into what has become Kohana.

Kohana has a lot of key features, including full php 5 support. CodeIgniter would work with php 4 and so some things that php 5 offered couldn't be used. What really got me interested is their views. The nesting of data is really useful instead of the way I have to do it in CodeIgniter.

So will I move to it? probably. I like that it's pure php 5 and is building a nice little community of ex-codeigniter users. My biggest gripe with CodeIgniter was when ElisLab showed off ExpressionEngine 2.0 and talk about how both ExpressionEngine and CodeIgniter would merge code bases... like a year ago. It was the reason I put off on making my own blog section but as evident here I got tired of waiting. I'll add functionality as I need it and who knows, maybe Kohana will have a blog module sometime soon if not already.

Posted in Website, Geek Talk. |

Just added comments

January 23, 2009 at 9:38 pm

As you can see I now have a comments system going. I'm trying out IntenseDebate. I've been anti-cloud computing lately but implementing it on a custom install was really simple, just a couple javascript calls. This does mean you will need javascript enabled to use it.

There are still a couple issues with it. I can't get the open id login to work. Also if I use a username and password to login, it forgets that info as soon as I refresh the page. Also if you don't register and enter your information manually, it doesn't save that info either. I have a dialog going with support and I'm sure it will be something simple.

So try it out and let me know if it works or not. You can use the contact form to get a hold of me if comments aren't working. Now next thing is making me an interface to add blog posts so I don't have to do this manually...

Update:
After playing with it some more I found the issue. In firefox I block third party cookies as they are generally tracking cookies or not good in someway. Well comments are going through IntenseDebate, which happens to be a third party, so the login information is being blocked. I added intensedebate.com to the list of exclusions and said to allow cookies from that site and things are working great. I noticed if you comment while unauthenticated it won't remember your information. This may be intentional. I've made a feature request to add a checkmark to remember that info so you don't have to register if you don't want. I've updated the comments page to mention the third party cookie thing.

Posted in Website. |

Finally have a blog going

January 11, 2009 at 1:12 am

Turns out it didn't take much to get the rest of the blog stuff working to a point I can use it. I backdated the previous info to when it was entered according to subversion. That's why there is stuff dating back to 2007 (wow, it's been delayed that long)

Still needs a lot of work before it's done. Categories don't have their own pages, no way to view previous pages of history, and there's no interface for me to create entries. Right now I'm creating these straight in the database, which is cumbersome to say the least. Also want to get comments working at some point.

I've had a personal blog going for several years now. I plan on using this one for things that may be useful to other people. Also as I research something and get a lot of information I'll mention on here. Not only for others but it would help me remember it as well

Posted in Website. |

Latest Status

May 19, 2008 at 12:48 am

To give an update on the new site, it's pretty much a waiting game right now. ExpressionEngine version 2.0 has been rumored to being released really soon. What makes this important is version 2.0 will be running CodeIgniter as the framework. This will allow me to have a feature packed blog that is seemlessly integrated to the rest of the site. This still hasn't been a set deal yet as I've been debating just building a blog from scratch. Hopefully it will be soon, and integration with current site will be as easy as they say.

Posted in Website. |

Old Links

September 30, 2007 at 4:10 am

You may notice that a lot of links are no longer functional. As mentioned above, I just built the initial site ensuring the highest traffic areas were still accessible. I've setup several redirects so if the old address gave you a 404 "File not found" message, try back later.

When I moved to the new server, I realized several areas of the site were never utilized or just very outdated. I've made my best effort to actually have it redirect somewhere, but some pages simply no longer served any meaningful purpose. These pages will return the status code 410 "Gone" which tells browsers and search engines that the request page has been completely and permanently removed. How your browser will interpret this will vary but should still mention it is permanently removed. If it was a link from another site, you should inform them that the link has been removed. If you really wish to access the page, you may contact me.

Posted in Website. |

New Site

September 30, 2007 at 3:57 am

As you can see I've finally updated the website. I've made mock ups a few times but figured the only way I'd ever actually use it is if I actually implement it. Because of that, a lot of content is still missing. I've kept the main items active (mainly the pc name maker). If you're trying to access something that doesn't work anymore, try back again later. If you really need something you may contact me and I'll see what I can do.

So what's changed? pretty much everything. The old site had a very old look to it. All the dynamic content was done using server side includes which worked fine at the time. Now, everything has moved to PHP and with the help of php accelerators it runs faster than before. This site is also now 100% css driven. It is also XHTML 1.0 compliant.

Another big change in this is building it on top of CodeIgniter. A problem with the old site was being able to maintain any sort of consistency. There were maybe three pages that used php, but all used different includes and connects in different ways and it was just more tedious than it should be to create a new page. With CodeIgniter everything is very structured. Entire new sections can be made relatively quickly. This makes it more worthwhile to put effort into creating something when I don't have to look at it as another place to make things complicated. The downside is this does slow things down slightly. But once I get everything setup I can start caching some things to speed it up.

Posted in Website. |

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