Discovering authors too late…

You’ll see why I named this entry that way further down. Originally I had it sort of blank. Until something I discovered. Keep reading, and you will find out what it is.

Anyway, it is Friday… and I really am glad. It’s not that this week has been bad or anything, it’s just that I really want to catch up on some sleep and generally not have to get up tomorrow… so making it to – and through – Friday is important.

Mhari and I are doing okay. Our backs are bothering us, but no more than really is sort of ‘normal’. Part of my issues come from the fact that my ‘new’ desk is not yet fully ergonomic. Got the keyboard ‘tray’ Thursday, and it’s already helping. But things still are not all laid out right for good posture or comfort.

Thursday nights are usually TV night, but Mhari went right upstairs last night, so I did too and played Perfect World International until time for bed. I’ll give my views of that game below someplace. Or not. We’ll see.

Books of the week:
Looks like I got two books read this week. The first was Jumper: Griffin’s Story by Steven Gould.

Jumper: Griffin’s Story is set in the same ‘world’ as the Jumper movie, where there is more than just one Jumper, and they are hunted by a group that call themselves Paladins. Griffin is the ‘other jumper’ that appears in the film version of the story.

While I feel that the novel version of Jumper is a LOT better than the movie version, Griffin’s Story is quite good and follows the life of Griffin from BEFORE the happenings in the film. It starts with him as a boy, with his parents teaching him to be careful about his jumping and not do it where people can see and to not let people point anything at him. It then follows him through repeated times of ‘them’ chasing after him, and his growing up some and his continuing attempts to keep away from ‘them’. He discovers little of who these people are, less of why they are chasing him, but he does TRY to have a life. But again, the Paladins never stop trying to hunt him down.

There’s a lot of good writing here, with good times and bad times, living and loving, and a lot of character development. But the biggest thing it does is explain why Griffin is the way he is when David meets him in the film. There’s nothing new, really, about the Paladins here, and it leaves lots of room for the film, and other possible sequels. But also stands well on it’s own. It’s a quick read, and by the end you don’t blame Griffin for being the way he is in the film.

The other book I read this week (actually, I’m still reading it, but I expect to finish before I get home) is Confessions of a Werewolf Supermodel by Ronda Thompson. This is one of the books I picked up at Powell’s City of Books in Portland, OR back in August and its turned out to be really, really good.

It is about Supermodel Lou Kinipski, who is, as you can tell from the title, a werewolf. She’s smart, beautiful, and really doesn’t know about the supernatural world as this novel starts. She found out she was a werewolf on prom night when she killed her date who had taken her to the prom and all that just on a dare from someone else. He tried to force himself on her, and she reacted, killing him. Turning into a werewolf for the first time also resulted in turning her from a homely girl into a beautiful woman. She ran away from that horrible night seven years ago, ending up in New York and became a model, then a supermodel. And that’s where the novel starts, with her in the middle of all her success in her new life. But she’s been having nightmares and ‘outbreaks’ of fur, and it’s all getting a little crazy.

The characterizations are wonderful, and the main character is one you really want to cheer for. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this book. In just two days I am nearly done with it, and that’s rare for me. It takes the really GOOD books for me to go through them so fast.

So, in researching the links for this little blog part on this book, I discovered something that makes me really sad… It would appear that Ronda Thompson, author of more than 16 published books, died July 11th, 2007 of pancreatic and ovarian cancer. She was 51. One of the blogs of her passing I could find is by krysta-3 and can be found Here. Mrs Thompson’s obit can be found Here.

*sigh* This is the first of her books I have read. It was also the last novel of hers published, as it came out after she passed away. It was to be the first in a new series. She was diagnosed with her cancer only a week before she died… so I doubt there will be more. I do plan to read her ‘Wild Wulfs of London’ series, The Dark One, The Cursed One and The Untamed One even though the covers obviously aim them at the more at the Romance market than the Paranormal Romance market.


MMOs:
City of Heroes: Yup. Still playing. Still enjoying it. Our ‘Delta Squad’ or whatever we’ll call it, that we’re playing on Mondays and Wednesdays now are at level 20 as of Wednesday. Wow… we’re really moving along. And all this for the group that was supposed to not be worried about leveling or anything. *chuckle*

Perfect World International: Just started playing this one this week. It’s in ‘Open Beta’ in it’s english language incarnation. It’s been around elsewhere in the world (as Perfect World 2) for a while. I’m not sure if anything other than the internationalization is really new. Or if some of the game play dynamic is, too.

The reason I say that is that I got pointed to it by an article on Massively.com in which they mention that this game, while it is a micro-transaction based MMO, was originally planned to be subscription based and was geared to appeal to western players more than the Chinese version is. This got me wondering. So I followed the link and grabbed the downloader.

Yikes! While the downloader is small, the actual download isn’t. And it goes through hoops to install on your machine. FIRST, you download the 2.2 Gigabyte EXE file, which turns out to be a self-extracting 7-zip file. Running this unzips just over 2.2 Gigabytes of Installer! And running the install.exe from there, finally installs around 3 Gigabytes of game… So, if you don’t delete any of it along the way, that’s EIGHT GIGABYTES on your hard drive!!! Five of that you don’t need after you are done. Sure glad that hard drives are starting to come out in Terabyte sizes now!

So, after an hour or so on good broadband connection, you have downloaded the self-extracting zip file… good… Now you click on that and away it goes. Sure hope you changed the file path before you let it unzip… it defaults to unzipping into one of your hidden folders in your Documents and Settings folder (on XP) or Users (on Vista). And unless you know how to unhide those folders, it’s just vanished into the void…

Okay, installer found, and clicked on. And away we go, with anywhere from 5-20 minutes as that puppy first validates the files (though you can tell it to skip that part) and copies out all that data. At least in this case the default destination is someplace you can find it, and gives you some good artwork to stare at.

So, then the game launches, and of course it’s a launcher and a patcher. The patcher needs you to tell it where to look, but there’s only one selection… guess they plan to have more than one place, maybe this will be where access to a ‘test’ server/patch will be later on after it goes live.

And what do you have… well, first the patcher needs to update itself. Then the game files have to be updated. You know how these things are. You just installed a MMO, of course you need to be updated to the latest version before you play. It wasn’t too long a download and install. Maybe a good bio break is in order here. If you have a slower connection, dinner or lunch might be in order, or an episode of your favorite anime.

Okay, the game’s ready to go. Well, I have a very good video card and a large monitor, so I go looking for the graphics settings… there they are… but when I put it in 1650 x 1280 it doesn’t seem to really do anything. And clicking the Optimize button just sets everything back to minimum… hmmmm. I shrug, it’s beta, right?! Right.

So, into the game and WHAM… account creation. Oh, right… hmmm… gotta go to the website for that. No problem… off I go.

Okay… account name (good, the name is not taken), nickname (also not taken), email address (ok, never been used to make an account before… ), Name, and all that other stuff like password and the weird character thing to make sure I’m not a robot doing this. Got it… Oh, need to do that email validation thing like many forum boards… okay, that fine. Time to head over to my comcast email… and wait… and wait… and wait… Hurph.

I’ve run out of time for that day (Sunday). Next day the email still hasn’t come through, so I go through the steps again, with a back up account name, a backup nickname (as they are both already taken… Yeah, by ME!) and a different email address (gmail this time). Check the gmail account. Boom, it’s there, things are activated! I’ll be able to try the game… Tuesday, when next I have the time. (And the email to my comcast email STILL had not arrived).

Tuesday comes around and I finally can log in. I make characters. They let you make Humans (*shrug*) which can be Blademasters or Wizards. Blademasters default as Male, but CAN be female, and Wizards default to female but CAN be male. Then there are Winged Elves, which can be Archers (default Male, but can be female) and Clerics (default female, but can be male).

Then there is the Race that got me more interested in the games: The Untamed. They can be Barbarians – ALWAYS MALE, and Venomancer – ALWAYS FEMALE. What’s with this genderlock thing?!! They didn’t genderlock the Humans or the Winged Elves!! Anyway, the Barbarians can be Lion, Tiger, Panda or Wolf. The Venomancers are Foxes, Cats or Bunnies. The Untamed get to shapeshift into an set animal form (Barbarians get to be White Tigers, Venomancers get to be Foxes) around level 9. The Barbarians are your standard ‘Tank’ or ‘Stongarm Melee’ class. Venomancers are a magic-user/Pet class.

I designed a few characters. Their character customization tool is quite good. Sort of like City of Heroes once they added the scaling for all the parts of your character’s appearance physically. There’s a LOT of variance, yet its still somewhat limited. Some of the options are only available later after you have used the micro-transaction system to BUY those abilities. But you get a LOT of control with the free controls.

I decided that I would play a Barbarian first, and took the name ‘Rogar’ (I’m sort of staying away from naming characters Jethric any more… gotten too diluted in my mind, from the original). And into the game I went.

Remember that thing about graphics back before loading into the game… I went to the settings IN the game, and while Optimize still sets things all back to minimum, the game DOES support the high resolution my card and monitor combination supports, and it does it well. Things are REALLY good eye candy in the game. REALLY good at the higher resolutions. And very smooth. The music is REALLY good, too!

The game itself starts out very, very standard for a fantasy MMO. You get the typical instructions to see the first NPC who gives you your first ‘Kill X’ quest and away you go to kill 10 of those critters. (It’s the same for the Human starting area… I haven’t seen the Winged Elf starting area yet.) Then you get sent to town and to the ‘Elder’ and start getting introduced to all the sorts of vendors and NPCs you are going to be interacting with in play of the game. There’s the usual special icon above the heads of NPC’s that have quests for you, with a different one over their head if you need to turn in a completed quest to some one. There’s a quest tracker that displays the current goals (items you need to get, or monsters you need to kill) and all the other usual things you find in the modern MMO. There’s even a direct coordinate system which they refer to as a GPS that you can use and it will point you to any coordinates you enter, with a arrow on screen guiding you directly towards it. The usual inventory, the usual bank, the usual crafting systems. Remember, I’ve only scratched the surface of this game.

I’ve only started to see where they are going to be using the micro-transactions… it’s for buying pets that are different from the ones you get in questing, for the ‘mount’ you can get at level 30 (or is it 40?). For different sets of clothing that you can have your character wear rather than the look you get from the items you get from quests and drops and buy with in-game funds. The micro-transactions will give you more inventory space quicker than the collection quest for it will, and will give you access to a wardrobe for all your outfits you buy, and a cabinet to store things you make with the crafting system. Lots of things can be bought, but it doesn’t look like you are crippled or out-classed just because you don’t want to use the micro-transaction system. But the cool mounts… that looks like it requires using the micro-transactions. I’m going to hold off as long as I can. 😉

I’ve gotten my Barbarian to level 11 or 13. I forget. My Venomancer is level 5 or 6. My Blademaster is level 4 and I’m not interested in playing her any further at this time. I like using the swords, but I don’t like the starting area and low number of quests there. Maybe more just haven’t been implemented yet or I missed something.

I’m an alt’aholic as many people know. So I like playing multiple characters through the starting areas to learn the game and see what I like and what I don’t like. And so far this game feels sort of like I expect a ‘open beta’ to feel… not quite all there, and in need of growth and maturity. It shows promise, and I am very, very likely to play it for a while…

After all… it’s got furry races! Even with the stupid gender-lock!

Oh… and the account validation mail sent to my comcast account? It showed up Thursday morning. Looking at the headers comcast’s system held it in a que for 4 days for no good reason, before delivering it. Of course, the validation code is only good for 24-hours, so clicking on the validation link took me to a ‘sorry, request has expired, please try creating your account again, sorry for the inconvenience’. Comcast’s fault, not PWI’s.


I’ll be back next week. Where I might review the new S.M. Stirling novel, The Scourge of God: A Novel of the Change, which I picked up at the bookstore yesterday. But Mhari might beat me to reading it… or another book may catch my eyes first. We’ll see.

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