“I am fearful when I see people substituting fear for reason.”

The above is, as always of late, a movie quote. Who said it, in what movie, and when was that movie released in the USA? I will post the answers at the end of next week’s blog. Is the movie quote thing getting old? If so, I’ll drop it and go back to my old boring ways. 😉

No Matthew McAndrews’ Modem problems in this post. Mostly because of work stress and Mhari not feeling well I forgot to update the comic site yesterday. I’ll deal with that tonight, then post here with a comic strips only post. Sorry about that.


Health and Well-Being: Like I mentioned above, work is stressing me out this week. My boss is out on vacation and I am the person people are coming to for answers. But most of the time I don’t have them. And everything is under a heavy time pressure at present. Very heavy. Add to that Mhari’s worries about an upcoming surgery (it will be late in April), and her not feeling at ALL well this week, and I’m something of a mess. Not sleeping well, etc. Other than stress- and worry-related things, I’m doing quite well.


MMOs:
Mabinogi: I downloaded the beta for this and created my first character last week, but didn’t get a chance to play any until this week just before the beta closed and it went live on Thursday. It is… cute. It has traditional MMO components, but with a lot more weight on the social and crafting side. And it preaches morals some. Not a lot, but it is there. And it also tries to teach you about learning, proper diet, healthy living, etc… as they all have a direct effect on your character. The game has a very extensive crafting system, and is highly skill based directly next to a level-based system as well. You can advance in skills completely without leveling up, though leveling up does serve a purpose of giving you ability points with which you ‘buy’ new levels of your skills once you have used them properly long enough.

There are many better places than my blog to learn about this free-to-play MMO. Start with Nexon’s Mabinogi Site itself. The download for the client is almost a gigabyte in size, so be ready to wait a while while downloading. But the install is fairly good and fast once it gets going.

The graphics are not going to stress anyone’s system, at least not as far as I can tell. You start at 800×600 resolution and can’t change that without getting all the way into the game. Also, there is no support for 1440×900, which is the native resolution of one of my LCDs.

The style of the characters is all cute anime in look. And the interaction with NPCs is so like some of the anime-style ‘story games that come out of the Asian side of the world. The combat is a very interesting system similar to paper, scissors, rock, but with a little more complexity. You start out with assistance in what your opponent is going to do by icons that show in a ‘thought bubble’ above their head. They appear above your head as well. If they do Attack, you can (and should) Defend or Counter-attack. If they Defend, you can Smash (which gets through Defend). If they do Counter-Attack, you can Defend rather than Attack. If they Smash, Counter-Attack is also good. Or just trying to avoid the attack (which doesn’t work very well). There are a lot more complexities, like ranged combat with bow or crossbow (and more?), or magic (Lightning, Ice and Fire to start with, we varying special side-effects of their use in combat).

This game costs nothing to play in the ‘basic’ manner. And nothing is really out of your reach as a free play game. But if you want to store lots of stuff in your bank, use ‘storage bags’ and get other excellent extras on different days of the week, you have to pay in Nexon Cash. 5000 pts costs $5, 10,000 pts is $10, 30K is $30. 30 days of ‘Fantasy Life Club’ is 14,900 Nexon Cash, or about $14.90. This includes ‘Extra Storage’, ‘Nao’s Support’ and ‘Advanced Play’ (which each cost 9,300 Nexon cash for 30 days if bought seperatly).

The ‘Extra Storage Service’ (9,300 Nexon cash a month, or included with the 14,900 month Fantasy Life club) gets you

  • The ability to buy and use Storage Bags – These give you more inventory space – Which you will really need as many skills and quests require special tools, and those tools take inventory space when not in use, especially if you are also carrying weapons. AND the stuff you collect takes space. Very like Diablo in how the inventory works.
  • Double Bank Storage – Again, very welcome, as you are going to be wanting to put all your books someplace, if you intend to keep them. Me, I throw (drop) them away. They really need a ‘delete’… people are littering the place with books and you can only pick up things that belong to you.
  • Character tabs in bank inventory – This lets you share things between your characters that are on the same account.
  • Creation and Management of a Guild – Yes, guild creation does not appear to be ‘standard’. But you only need this to create and manage one. Not to belong to one.
  • and Personal shop – From the description this lets you buy and sell items with other Fantasy Life Club and Extra Storage buying members. I think you still need to buy a very expensive in-game license to do this, though. VERY expensive.

    Next is Nao’s Support Services, 9,300 Nexon cash a month (or as part of the 14,900 NC Fantasy Life Club) includes:

  • Resurrection by Nao – This is a special resurrection that avoids the ‘death penalties’ of a normal on, and as a side effect will ‘bless’ all your items for a short time. Also apparently the chance of failing at being able to fix items will be greatly reduced, and the rate at which the durability of items decreases is reduced. So you will spend less time repairing and replacing worn items.
  • Birthday present from Nao – Once a week (matching whatever day you created your character on), you will get a ‘gift’ – This can be so very, very many different things.
  • 20th Birthday Present from Nao – A rare accessory if you keep a character around for 20 weeks. It will have special enchanted attribute points. Whatever those are.
  • Emergency Escape Bomb – You can have up to 3 a day. If you are surrounded by more than you can handle, you can use one of these to knock down (KO?) all the monsters in the area.

    And there is the ‘Advanced Play Services’ for 9,300 NC a month (or included in the 14,900 NC Fantasy Life Club):

  • Full Recovery Potion – Every Monday you will get a Full Recovery Potion – This recovers all of your HP, MP and Stamina in a single use.
  • Dye Ampule – Every Tuesday you will get one of these things which will let you change the color of your fabric clothing items.
  • Recover Booster – Every Wednesday you get one of these. When it’s used, the recovery of all your HP, MP, Stamina and Injury points will be MUCH quicker.
  • Party Phoenix Feather – Every Thursday you get one of these. They will resurrect ALL KO’d party members during a battle… except for yourself.
  • Waxen Wing of Goddess – Every Friday you get this one. This will teleport you to any town you have visited in the past. (I know for a fact that these sometimes appear as dungeon treasure, as I have gotten one)
  • Skill Reset Capsule – Ever Saturday you get this. It will reset the skill of your choice by one level (the lowest level something can go is ‘F’). All the ability points you put into that skill to get it up that level will be returned to be used elsewhere, if you want. They note specifically on this one that it can’t be traded…
  • Camp Kit – Every Sunday this is given to you. It lets you create your own camp and password-protect it. This camp also acts as a spawning point you can ‘go back to’ when you are KO’d in the field.
  • Remote Bank Coupon – This is a ‘randomly received’ item. It lets you do what it says… you can use a bank from anywhere in the world.
  • Remote Healer Coupon – Randomly awarded, this one, like the Bank Coupon, lets you call on the services of the healer shop from anywhere.
  • Remote Blacksmith Coupon – Like the other coupons, but to access the Blacksmith shop from anywhere.
  • Remote Tailor Coupon – Like other coupons, but for the Tailer shop.
  • Advanced Phoenix Feather – Resurrect anyone, anywhere, even if they are nowhere near you, just by typing in their name. Randomly received item.
  • Tendering Potion – This seems to make monsters think you are weaker than you are. I don’t quite understand it. Randomly awarded.
  • Campfire Kit – Lets you build a campfire without the skill or supplies you would otherwise need to make one. Randomly awarded.

    So this game is working on the ‘quality of life costs extra’ or ‘Micro Transactions’ business model. You don’t HAVE to pay a monthly fee, but if you do, you’ll get all this ‘cool’ stuff and be something special. Without it, you can still play, but life will be much harder for you. Yes, the first tastes are all free… They even have ‘Trial’ versions of all these things that last for 1 week. Just to get you hooked.

    I’m going to fiddle with this game some more on the free level, maybe do the trials of the packages… but I doubt I am going to stick long with the game.

    Second Life: Messed with it some. Played some solo Devil May Care, did some easter egg hunting, and bought free bunny avatars and not-free ones.

    Eve Online: A couple missions here and there. Nothing special. Going to try some of the dual boxing stuff this weekend if I can get out from under work. (I might be working from home all weekend – ICK!).

    City of Heroes/Villains: Only did Monday and Wednesday stuff. I plan to do Villains stuff tonight… but work is conspiring against me.


    Answers to last week’s quote:
    Quote: "Gosh, you’ve… really got some nice toys here."
    Said by: Batty, played by Rutger Hauer
    In the Movie: Blade Runner
    Which was released in the USA in: 1982


    Due to stress… I didn’t bother with any trivia about things in the quote above. I’m just glad that I found one by someone who hasn’t gone and died… But that is one of the hazards of pulling quotes from 20- and 30-year old movies, I guess.

    May everyone reading this have a good weekend. I’m going to try to get some rest between working and dealing with dust-laden computers.

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    “Gosh, you’ve… really got some nice toys here.”

    Happy SPRING!

    The usual quote. Who said it, in what movie, and when was that movie released in the USA? Answers next week.

    Here are Matthew McAndrew’s comics for this week (the second strip will come up blank until I get home and remember to update the site):

    Matthew McAndrews’ Modem Problems #440 – Stella’s Lab – Part 10 – March 17th, 2008

    Matthew McAndrews’ Modem Problems #441 – Isn’t It Sad… – March 20th, 2008


    Health and Well-Being: I am mildly depressed. I can tell because I am not much interested in anything really. And I really, really have to resist the sweets… as they give me a momentary high before the drop is worse than the high. Mhari’s doing okay. She’s got difficult things coming up, but she’s doing well so far. Now if she could only find a decongestant that didn’t either conflict with her meds, or cause her nasty headaches… she’d be all set.


    MMOs:
    City of Heroes/Villains: We played. We had fun. We continue to do so. Looking forward to Issue 12. We did the Striga Isle task force Monday (the one in the volcano) and it was fun. My character, Professor Thrill, actually got out before the place blew up. Only one other character on the team managed that. Fun TF!

    Eve Online: Yes, I played it a little with one of my characters. Did two missions. Was rather fun as they were not just run of the mill things. One was a mining mission, and the other was an encounter where experimented upon critters had to be destroyed (along with the lab they were experimented on) and environmental terrorists/fanatics came to try to stop me doing that. It was different. And I liked that.

    Second Life: I spent some time online, went exploring. Played some Devil May Care (sometimes also known as SL-ingo). Hung out with some friends. Generally kicked back and relaxed in a online world where there is no XP grind…


    Answers to Last week’s Quote
    Quote: "I was wrong. The journey was worthwhile. Finish it for me."
    Who Said it: Rhun, played by Robbie Coltrane
    In what Movie: Krull
    What year was it released: 1983

    Robbie Coltraine is, of course the actor playing Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter films, which is one of the things that brought doing this quote into my mind. And something that didn’t link them for me originally is revealed in the trivia for Krull. That is that another actor, Michael Elphick did the voices for the character rather than Mr. Coltraine.

    On a disturbing note, many of the quotes I have been doing of late have been made by people who have passed away since they said them. In this quote I had thought I had avoided that. But Mr. Elphick passed away in 2002 of a heart attack… so the trend continues. :<


    Well, that’s it for this post. See folks next week with the answer to this week’s quote…

    “I was wrong. The journey was worthwhile. Finish it for me.”

    Another quote from another movie. Who said it? In what movie? And what year was that movie released? I will have the answers at the end of next week’s entry… or you can leave your guesses/answers in comments to this post.

    By the way, Whyaylooh… don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone it was your birthday yesterday. Honest! Happy Birthday!!

    Here are the Modem Problems comic strips from Matthew McAndrews’ for the week:

    Matthew McAndrews’ Modem Problems #438 – Stella’s Lab – Part 8 – March 10th, 2008

    Matthew McAndrews’ Modem Problems #439 – Stella’s Lab – Part 9 – March 13th, 2008

    Health and well-being: Okay, I’m mostly recovered now from the side-effects of the clerical error. I am feeling better, with only the usual aches, pains and discomforts that are a part of life. The world is SO much easier to deal with this way. As is the overtime I have been working.


    MMOs:
    City of Heroes/Villains: Wheeeee! They have announced Issue 12. Go on over to their website if you want to get the whole list of things. Things from it that I am interested in are the Villain Epic archetypes. These are new character types that you can create because you have reached level 50 as a villain. Of particular note about them is that they were not originally, according to a posting a a dev (Positron) made, planned for Issue 13… but brisk sales of the valentine’s day Wedding Pack enabled them to get them fast track budgeted to be done earlier. I wonder if he said that just to point out that there could be good benefits to ALL players from the work done for the ‘for pay’ little add ons. Hmmmm.

    Other things I found that perked my interest besides more content are the ‘Gameplay Improvements’ such as new power tray configurations, chat UI improvements and a much needed redesign to the contacts display. The Level Up Boost and Real Numbers additions don’t really interest me much. Over all what interests me is that CoX is continuing with the tradition of putting more content and interesting items into the game. And with this release with it’s UI improvements, they are starting the road to evolving the way we play the game. The UI was starting to show it’s age. It’s good to see that the makers of the game recognize that.

    Now… I’m really hoping that Lucky Issue 13 will include Base Building UI and system improvements… I really hope for the abolishment of rent in the form it is currently done, and that they will put in a base building system that still supports the existing bases, but provides tools where it’s not such a PAIN to build and modify one’s base… of course, I would also like to see the viability of ‘personal apartments/hideouts’.

    Second Life: Yes, this is back in my blog. Mostly because I have been spending time over there again. It’s a very relaxing place to be after having played so much in the endless goal grind of a MMO. And totally BECAUSE I have been getting a little more active there, and not the other way around, I am enjoying reading The Making of Second Life by New World Notes’ Wagner James Au aka Hamlet Au (formerly Hamlet Linden). Its been an excellent read. Many of it’s sections are available to read online if you scroll way down on the page I linked to. I was there, in Second Life, from just after the War of the Jessie Wall to shortly after the advent of the CopyBot. I haven’t been very active there since they "Took away all the things that made it fun" as Mhari puts it. But I haven’t completely left. I still like going there and talking with friends that still go there. I like role-playing when I happen to find like minded folks. And I just like to explore and find out what imaginative/crazy things people may have come up with in that world.

    So long as you don’t get mixed up in ‘drama’ in Second Life, the place is a low stress, low demand place. It’s full of ideas, new and old. Hamlet Au calls it Bebop Reality, and that really does seem to capture the feel of the place. I may spend a little more time there. Might start clubbing a little again. Go dancing, socialize. That sort of thing. We’ll see.


    Answers to last week’s quote
    Quote:"Sloppy with your drink?… Get this boy a bib!"
    Said by: Robot Gunslinger played by Yul Brynner
    In the movie: Westworld
    Released in: 1973

    Yul Brynner passed away in 1985 and in a taped TV commercial message that he recorded early that year (on ABC’s Good Morning America in January 1985) he said: "Now that I’m gone, I tell you: Don’t smoke, whatever you do, just don’t smoke. If I could take back that smoking we wouldn’t be talking about any cancer. I’m convinced of that." He died of Lung Cancer in October 1985. The recording was turned into a public service announcement and played for a while.

    In researching for this trivia information, I discovered The Yul Brynner Head and Neck Cancer Foundation. You can watch his PSA Commercial there on their site, if you want. And there is a lot of information there about Oral, Head & Neck Cancer.

    Mr Brynner’s character in Westworld was a homage or spoof of the character he played 13 years earlier in The Magnificent Seven right down to the costume he wore. Even some of the promotional posters for the two movies are similar.

    Westworld contained some of the first computer digitized images that were used as a part of a feature film to be the Gunslinger’s point of view in the movie. At the time, it took eight hours to produce each ten seconds of the Gunslinger POV.


    Thanks for reading!

    “Sloppy with your drink?… Get this boy a bib!”

    As always, it’s a quote from a movie. Who said it? In what movie? And what year was the movie released in the USA? I will post the answers at the end of my blog next week.

    This week’s Modem Problems comics from Matthew McAndrews:

    Matthew McAndrews’ Modem Problems #436 – Stella’s Lab – Part 6 – March 3rd, 2008

    Matthew McAndrews’ Modem Problems #437 – Stella’s Lab – Part 7 – March 6th, 2008


    Health and Well-Being: The big news here has to do with Clerical Errors. I was the victim of one. I got caught in a Catch-22 when I followed my doctor’s orders and waited for my prescriptions to run out before calling him for refills. His office insisted that I have my pharmacy contact his office first by FAX. But since my prescriptions have expired, I can’t use my on-line pharmacy’s functions to do that for me because I no longer have access to a expired prescription. So I called my pharmacy and they told me that my Doctor’s office would have to FAX in things to them and because of the expired nature of the prescription and HPPIA regulations could not FAX my prescriptions to my doctor for review. So I called my doctors and they refused to FAX anything to my pharmacy without my pharmacy FAXing them first. GRRRRR. I was fed up. Disgusted and annoyed, I let it go over a weekend. The following week I called my Doctor’s and finally got them to TALK TO MY DOCTOR and get my prescriptions from him. After a number of calls back and forth across a few days, I got fed up again and told them SEND THEM TO ME, make them out for on-line fulfillment. It took them a couple of days to do this, then a couple of days through the mail. Another week had passed. I filled out the mail in paperwork and sent them in… another few days lost.

    By this time my meds we almost gone. It takes 5-14 days for what were now NEW prescriptions to get processed, once the on-line pharmacy gets them in the mail. An extra couple of days were taken while the on-line pharmacy tried to contact me to find out which blood meter I use so they could send me the proper test strips… they were contacting me by HOME phone… during the day… while I was at work, and wouldn’t let my wife handle this… again, due to HPPIA rules. FINALLY, I happen to be working from home and they call again. That’s straightened out… and I am now out of meds.

    Another weekend passes, and I get a recorded message on my HOME phone telling me that my prescription shipped… This was last week… Monday as we get home from dinner (we left around 5:30 or so, got home at 7) and there was a UPS slip on our door… they had tried to deliver while we were out… and the meds arrived through them at last on Tuesday noon time… it took EIGHT DAYS to get to me! I had been off my meds for 11 days… and I was a mess.

    Well, I am back to being properly medicated again. Now I am dealing with the issues that always happen with these medications when you start taking them from them no longer being in your system. It’s almost as bad as not being on them. But slowly getting better…

    Lesson learned: DON’T LET THE PRESCRIPTIONS EXPIRE before kicking in the processes… And I won’t when next this sort of thing happens. And when I visit my doctor next, he is going to HEAR my opinion of his office crew that didn’t listen, and didn’t help much at all. Had they just explained things, and listened to me when I said that I was ‘out’ of my meds, we might have gotten the mail order way of doing it done at least a week faster, and I would have only been off my meds for a couple of days, at most.

    Anyways, Mhari is doing mostly okay. She had some issues with one of her shoulders, but I apparently I got it with a little adjustment I was able to do.


    MMOs:
    City of Heroes/Villains: It was some good sessions this week. Due to my late hours and my messed up health condition, I only did the two regularly scheduled hero sessions. None of my ‘optional’ one.

    Starting today, and for a week, and during some other weeks through the rest of the year, the Rikiti Invasions return! That’s going to be FUN! I look forward to it.

    Champions Online: Not a lot to report. But they did show some stuff on Stronghold. Looks cool.


    Answers to last week’s quote
    Quote: "You want foot in face?"
    It was said by: The Master, played by Angelo Rossitto
    In the movie: Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
    Which was released in the USA in: 1985.

    Angelo Rossitto was one of Hollywood’s busiest ‘small’ actors. He stood only 2’11" and appeared in over 70 feature films between 1927 and 1987. His best remembered role on television was ass ‘Little Moe’ in Baretta in the 70’s. When he appeared in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome he was 77 years old and nearly blind. His final appearance in theaters was as ‘Tinker’ in From a Whisper to a Scream in 1987, which also had Vincent Price in it. He passed away in 1991 due to complications during surgery.

    As a final note on MMBT, the Wilhelm Scream is used three times in the film, according to IMDB.


    That’s it for me this week. Thanks for reading…