Monday, December 14, 2015

December! A bit of rant before New Year?

I haven't posted in a while (again), mostly because I didn't feel like I have any energy and time to rant about anything blog worthy. Living alone in Japan has been great, but it made me realize that the me before that wanted to live/work in Japan is very different from the me today (who also wanted to live/work in Japan, don't get me wrong).

I would always think that nothing is going to change. I'm not the kind of person that actively seek change, but it's amazing that despite that, things change not just externally, but also internally. Interests change. Motivations change. Reasons change. So on and so forth.

The most striking example would be fighting games. I wanted to quit fighting games so many times in my life that I have lost count. I started fighting games in 2004-ish I believe and have witnessed the death and incredible rebirth of not just the scene, but also the entire genre as an active member of the scene. I still remember having dreams of going to Japan just to play fighting games with the best. It was one of my many motivations to get better. When I finally got 12 years here however, I no longer has as that much interest anymore. The fact that I had not gone to Takadanobaba's Mikado arcade to play at its peak hours speaks for itself. Even when SFV is releasing, I find it difficult to justify investing time into it, let alone actually purchasing it. There still exists the possibility, but it's bleak as hell.

Well I'm not going to rant on about my fighting game career, but at this point, moreso than before, I'm willing to take a backseat and try to do other stuff.

I don't really know what "other stuff" really is. The problem now is that I have dumbed my goals down to:
- work in a Japanese company
- get a good paying job
- become a programmer
- work in the games industry

All of which I have already achieved.

So now what?

Honestly, I felt that I have already peaked in my programming abilities to the point where I'm more interested in managing and nuturing a team of programmers than improving on my own personal skills. Programming at this level feels very knowledge based. There isn't really any techniques outside of knowing if a method exist or not. It's not like drawing or playing an instrument where you have to train your body to improve. You just find or develop a tool based on other efficient tools to make life better for everyone. Don't get me wrong, it's a wonderful thing, but I felt that I should learn something else. Programming just isn't enough.

So I tried my hand at other things like digital drawing, relearning my piano, trying to relearn music theory to do arrangements, etc. Hopefully once I return from Japan in 2 years, I have a better set of skills.

Hopefully, anyway. It feels like it's time to prepare myself for the next set of goals I want to achieve.

But who knows.

Things might change again.


Aaaaaanyway, I officially discovered BL.

It was as eye-opening and somehow inspiring as the time I played an amazing H-game for it's mechanics instead of the H (/cough Sengoku Rance /cough).

I'm still trying to figure out why I like BL. Apparently, I only like a specific kind but then again, I can say the same for every other genre/topic.
It can just be a simple reason as "I just like moe, homoe or not".
I don't know.

Nevermind, I'll let the drunk ME figure it out > <

I'll just enjoy whatever I'm doing ^^

Sunday, October 18, 2015

October in Japan!

I have finally settled down and have enough space and time to blog a bit. 

Well, the pieces are slowly coming together in my stay here. SIM card arrived a week ago, allowing me to freely travel to...places (ie Akiba). Before that, Johnny and I were sharing this Wifi rent thingy. It has caused a lot of inconveniences mainly because we cannot be separated from one another, otherwise we would not be able to contact the rest of the world. Internet is a wonderful thing /sobs.

So how's my stay so far?

Before I left, I already know from a 3rd person point of view that I do not want to move out of my comfort zone, so I created like a bunch of er...barriers? Okay that sounded very 'chuuni' but that's the gist of it. At the same time, obviously I want to work in Japan at least once because it has been a lifelong dream of mine, after many many years of modifications.

So yes, I got homesick for the first week either ways. My colleagues helped a lot in making me feel at home. My crib is slowly shaping up and I'm settling down. Room at the moment is still a mess and lacking some storage space, but with the amazing Japanese amazon services, I can pretty much get anything I want from my house. 

It's only a month so far, most of the things they said about Japan is true. 

Alcohol is cheap; I already almost done with my small bottles of Bowmore 12 and Glenfiddich 12, and halfway through the 1000-yen huge Suntory bottle. 

Japanese colleagues get to know you by asking if you drink or smoke, which it is actually okay if you say 'No' to both (my team has very few people who drink). 

Service here is ridiculous. There is an amazing about of pride in being behind counters and making deliveries, etc. I mean, I know it's amazing since I have been to Japan, but to see the same guy doing it every single morning is something to marvel at in my opinion. It's so amazing that when you are feeling down, just buy something at the convenience store; you'll feel slightly happier.

I find it a nice place to stay overall. The weather now is also super good (it's Autumn now), 10 billion times better than the stupid retarded haze we are/were having in Singapore. 

What seems kind strange now is that if I were sent to Japan 2 or 3 years ago, I would probably be doing different things, like playing Kancolle and similar games, probably buying card games stuff (that's what I usually go Akiba for) and hitting the arcades. Now I'm like playing Touran because there's this character I really like (actually now it's like a few more of them), and also because the game is much easier to pick up compared to Kancolle. 

I think I'm becoming fudanshi?? (or was always one but didn't know?? /thinks)

I mean just yesterday I visited Akiba and it's like "omg kashuu cups" and "omg kenma towels". I just strolled through the entire KinMosa, GochiUsa and Non Non Biyori sections.



Tuesday, September 22, 2015

September 2015 Update!

Umu! Just nice 1 month before last blog post!

This month has been kind of hectic off-work wise. My stay in Japan is confirmed and I will be leaving on the 1st of October, so I was dealing with things like Visa, shipping packages and all the other annoying details. The stay will be for 2's the kind of duration where people think it's long but it's really not. 2 years of army, then 2 years of university, then 2 years of working in my company, then's just another 2 years.

This is my first time living away from my parents for a long period of time though, so it's kind of wktk. There's so many things I want to do that I hope that I have the energy to do them when I reach. Obviously the first thing I look forward to is the weather. Singapore weather destroys my mood every weekend. 

Being free of my responsibilities this month gave me some time to do some recreational stuffs! I have like, this stack of unfulfilled/abandoned hopes of dreams from around 10 years ago. Just random stuff like starting a webcomic. It just did not happen because I was more in love with maths than with arts at that time. Now that my pursuit for mathematical knowledge died down a bit, I guess I defaulted back to wanting to do more creative stuff.

Well, that kinda sounded sad but it really isn't. Think of it as I have reached a satisfactory point in a skillset and moving on to something new. Haha, feels like I waited 10 years for this to happen. It was all part of the plan of getting a stable job I enjoy though. The ideal was to be satisfied in what I enjoy first and during free time do what I enjoy second. Woo!

And in Japan too!

For those who didn't know, I have a tumblr and a twitch channel now ^^/ 

Friday, August 21, 2015

LiSA in Singapore 2015 recount!

I can't believe I forgot about blogging about this, but the truth is, the performance was so great that there really isn't much to say. It's pretty much close to undescribable, like most other concerts I attended.

The concert is what I expected it to be plus a bit more. Lisa is, as usual, energetic, engaging and terrific on stage. The plus side I got was that the VIP seats were extremely close to the stage, closest that I have ever been to a j-rock/pop concert.

Overall a great performance! Her hugging a minion passed to her by her fans and accidentally slipping and falling onto it was one of those once-in-a-lifetime bloopers that will never be released on any media, like how Minorin fell down the stage when I attended her concert 2 years back.

And...that's it! Anything more would be just me describing a regular awesome concert, going about "how awesome the guitar/bass/keyboard/sound system/pacing/etc" was. However, as much as I would like to end it here, there was one part that's quite annoying for me.

There were like 2 girls sitting in front of me who, I assumed, were huge fans of LiSA. There were sections where the crowd is 'not supposed' to sing along but they went ahead and sang anyway, which in some perspective I find it okay because, hey, they paid for their seats right, and from their perspective, they were supporting her.

The two girls kept turning around going "SHHH SHHH!" trying to silence the entire crowd. While I understand why they want to do so, I find that it is extremely annoying and disrespectful. In a sense, it seems as if they do not accept the crowd, who paid for their seats, to be her fans. Seriously they were staring daggers to the crowd behind them, trying their best at failing to shush them. It almost ruined the entire experience for me.

Well I won't talk so much about fans; all of them show their love for the aritste in different ways. I believe that LiSA need more fans that are as passionate as those girls, but it's what they did at the point that felt over the top and uncalled for...almost to the point where it feels un-fan-like.

Oh well I won't rant so much. The concert was great and worth every single penny. I'll definitely attend her concert when I'm in Japan ^^

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

August 2015 Update! SG50 version?!

Singapore's National Day has passed again, this time it's 50th year since independance. I'm personally not very patrotic when it comes to my country, but I do appreciate what it had done. Because of that, I don't really have many comments about what was done to celebrate this milestone. Some people say it's excessive, putting SG50 onto everything from locally themed apps, to fishcakes shaped to the number 50, some form of  50 extra something in any product. I just feel that it's fine. People are too whiney, seriously. I mean, it's okay to whine, but I feel that this kind of excessive celebration is justified.

Anyway, I got to enjoy the long holiday. My FF14 grind has finally stablized and I took lots of time off to practice my piano. I'm picking songs that are within the range of my abilities this time, so hopefully I'll get to upload more recordings. Hopefully.

Being a bit free during the long weekend, I realized that I have 10k yen unspent on the Nintendo eShop so I did some small shopping. I ended up buying 3 small games:

1) ハコボーイ. Pretty cool platformer game where you literally play as a box-shaped boy (we know it's a boy because he's trying to find box-girls...I guess?). It's your standard platformer with a novel mechanic, the kind of thing which you expect to see out of Digipen. I won't elaborate so much about the mechanic but it's pretty neat and you should spend the...what...500 yen to try.

2) 魔神少女. This plays like a repackaged Megaman. If you like megaman, you should try this.

3) コンビニドリーム. Basically you run a convenience store. What I find interesting is that it's made by Arc System works, who are famous for making fighting games like Blazblue and Guilty Gear. I totally did not expect them to make something like this. Probably it's an experimentation?

Moving away from games, I was initially planning to use this long weekend to plan for my yearly Japan trip in November. Unforunately (or fortunately?), there is apparently a chance I would be sent there to work. Obviously I'm happy to hear this, since it creates the best case scenario where I can just go Japan and do whatever I want without caring about planning any iternary, but at the same time it created the worst case scenario where I do not get sent and have to do last minute planning for my trip. The worst case is not that bad but well, it's annoying still. I do want to go there on November just to see Minorin at the Animax concert.

Why don't I go early this year since she holds a Summer Camp concert every start of August? Well, this year the timing is pretty bad and I'm not a fan of summer either. August is quite an incredible month though. It has animelo and comiket on top of the concert.. Wow, if I am staying for the whole of August in Japan, it will be an incredibly busy month for me lol!

Well, hopefully it happens. It feels like that's potentially alot of things for me to do in Japan. Going to arcades to spend precious time and money is just the tip of the iceberg it seems, thought I will probably end up dogging in FF14, but the alternatives are there at least!

No point talking more about it until it happens I guess ^^;;

Monday, July 13, 2015

Mid-July 2015 Update!

I haven't done an update so since I'm feeling kinda down recently, I'll do one right now in the middle of July.

Games are really awesome right. They take you out of the real world and let's you enjoy the virtual...yada yada, you know what they say about entertainment. Well, Heavensward just dropped around a month ago and I have been spending most of my free time playing it. As far as the overall feel goes, I think it has delivered at least to its expectations if not better. There is so damn much to do! Hopefully once I start clearing them, I'll have more time to go back to doing other things.

Aside from that, Hearthstone's not so bad. I managed to hit rank 7 before the end of the month despite not playing as much. I tried a variety of cheap decks this time like Face Hunter, Hybrid Hunter, Midrange Hunter, Aggro Tempo Mage and Patron Warrior. Face got me all the way to rank 13 or 14 I believe before running into Handlocks that run double healbots. Midrange/Hybrid hunter then got me up to 10 and Patron Warrior all the way to 7. It's really interesting to see how the meta shifts over time and over ranks.

Meanwhile, my Persona Q is slowly...making some

Now for more depressing news...mostly about the games industry because I care for it.

First, Iwata-san's passing. He's arguably the most engaging CEO in the games industry and possibly an inspiration of many aspiring game developers. It is truly a sad moment for Nintendo, for its fans and above all, for the games industry. Hopefully Nintendo recovers from it and continue creating great games. They just stepped into the social market, which is a big step but in the right direction imo.

That aside, a friend of mine discussed with me about starting his own indie game company. The last time I went to Casual Connect, it seemed that indie game companies are floating in SEA but now I know that Singapore is behind, if not sinking. Every indie game company I know are barely making ends meet. Some will probably be gone in a couple of years time unless they manage to land a crazy good title. Kinda depressing.

Starting an indie games company in Singapore sure is difficult. Basically what I heard is that you will get no funding until a playable version. 'Playable' is, of course, subjective but by normal means it takes like minimally 3 full months to create a 'Playable' version of a really small scale polished game. Money will then kick in through funding to keep everyone afloat to hopefully make their next game. Hopefully one day, one of your games will make it big and your company can grow.

Sounds nice in theory, except that there is no real incentive for people to stay in the company, I feel, other than your promises of a brighter future. As far as software development goes, there are so many higher paying jobs which practice better software development techniques compared to games so if you are your own boss running an indie company, you have to realize the 'competition'. I already have a couple of friends who are burnt out from a couple of years of games development despite studying to be a games developer for nearly a decade.

And this is just skimming the surface of the many problems that can occur.

Well, I'm not exactly rich, passionate or business-minded enough to start my own company. Just thinking of starting up an indie games company makes me jaded and tired.

Aside from that, Konami has done some questionable stuff a month ago from, I think, anyone's perspective. With Kojima Productions disbanded and the new Silent Hill cancelled, we can guess that internally, it's not very healthy. I do not have doubts that Konami will still be fine, but it seems like a mess in there so it will probably be some time before we hear any news I guess.

On the bright side, this weekend I have a LiSA concert and upcoming would be a Eir Aoi concert follow by maybe a Japan trip with hopefully another concert (Animax?), and following that would be AFA!

The best part of my 2015 is yet to come!


Friday, June 19, 2015

FF14 Heavensward existing class patch notes thoughts

Okay second part of Heavensward patch notes regarding existing class changes. Below are just some of my thoughts and speculations. Maybe in the future I can look back and see if they came true?

Disclaimer: Note that the only classes I haven't played are Ninja, Warrior, Monk and Archer so what I view from those classes are purely from a bystander perspective.

The existing skill changes compilation I read were from here. It seems like there's a lot of nerf in AoE damage, defensive buffs and debuffs. There are also buffs in attack skills in general.

Particular skill changes that caught my attention:

Enhanced Medica replacing Proshell  - This is incredibly awesome given that Cure III range is so crap. This means that we can be more liberal on our AoE heals. Proshell removal is probably just to balance between all 3 healers so when Scholars get paired with Astrologians, they don't feel like they missed out on anything.

Quick Stoneskin replacing Graniteskin - Awesome also. Graniteskin removal, like Proshell removal, is probably for balancing out the 3 healers. Quick Stoneskin is actually very nice for tank busting mechanics and PVP where cast time really matters.

Selene Changes - Wow, looks like a lot of changes for the Scholar pet. The 'mass leeches' skill can be useful I guess, but with statuses that cannot be removed, it's hard to conclude it's usefulness. It will probably be good in a couple of fights here and there though.

New Class Skills

Holy shit summoner. With all the AoE nerfs to Holy and Flare, They might very well be the best burst AoE class in the game with these new skills. I'm expecting a nerf coming their way because with Tri-Disaster and Dreadwyrm Stance, they might also be the best single target caster DPS (they already are currently, but this might put they waaay past BLM).

They ramped up Scholar's ability to heal, which kind of confuses me a bit because that is traditionally a White Mage's role. I'm not exact certain about what to conclude about Deployment Tactics, except that it can gives everybody a powerful shield. Actually the new Scholar skills made me wonder where both Astrologian and Scholar stands between healing and shielding. In general, Scholar seems like very well rounded healer now, instead of a shield specialist.

Black Mage
Ley Lines is the most interesting new ability in my opinion, specifically on a job that is as immobile as a Black Mage. Sharpcast looks crazy good on paper because it forces procs. The effect of Enochain + Fire4/Blizzard4 really depends on how good they are in the BLM rotation I think. As the description holds, they do not look very impressive. It might be just there to increase overall dps and make rotations a bit more complex.

Bards seems to get a more complicated dps rotation! Hooray! Getting their own version of fester seems fun too. I personally feel that Warden's Paean will become another class defining feature for Bard, unless Yoshida is a bastard and have 'un-Paean-able' statuses.

Pretty straightforward. They get their version of Grease Lightning. Wait, then what would that make the relationship between Dragoons and Monks? With the lack of new attacks from monks, it seems that Dragoons might becoming top DPS, but only if they manage to the new positioning attack right all the time to extend Blood of the Dragon (well done, I just realized I almost described Grease Lightning).

Yay, AoE attack. Tornado kick is weird, because at the moment, monks do not want to lose their Grease Lightning. Integrating it into monk's rotation might mean that Perfect Balance timing is more important than ever. In general, it feels like Monks are less reliant on maintaining Grease Lightning, since they can gain it back faster with Form Shift. This could translate to just better overall dps.

The Chakra mechanic looks like a throwback to Monks in RO1, so we might see Monks become more bursty depending on what they can do with it.

The support melee is more supporty! Now they can reduce enmity, which probably makes them best friends with Black Mages. Other than that, they just simple dps increase.

I really think this is Yoshida's secret favorite class now. They get dps increase and a 1 hit version of the old Manawall. Divine Veil is siiiiiick on paper and can prevent raid wipes or mechanics that constantly throws AoEs (like T11?). Oh and they get a form of  Lay On Hands, finally.

I was actually wondering what dps class this is, then realized it's the Warrior. At this point, I'm entertaining the thought that Yoshida might change the Warrior icon to purple. Warriors are still really good tanks if done right though. Also, having a TP restoring skill really helps since they cannot cross-class Invigorate. I think they will be really fun to experiment solo/duo dungeon runs with, since their kit is looking more and more akin to those solo classes in other MMOs.

White Mage
Everything is good here. Every skill just makes White Mages do what they already do better. Aero III and Assize is going to be awesome for clearing mobs with the nerf to Holy incoming. Asylum is always good to have; there is actually a similar skill in PvP. Getting our own small Lustrate is good (Tetragrammation). My only hope is that it's "Instant" is really instant unlike Benediction's.

Aaaand that's it!^^

Heavensward soon!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

FF14 Heavensward patch notes thoughts.

Preliminary Patch notes are out!

Here are my thoughts for most of them.

Let's start from the top. Real talk here.

Playable Content
New areas and stuff. Not much to comment other than graphics. Art-wise for normal non-snowy areas look very Vanguard:SOH style: lots of brown, lots of medieval, lots of ruin, lots of moss, and...brown. Snowy areas look very Everquest: Scars of Velious: mainly pointy stuffs and dragon-like stuff littered over barren whiteness. Quite lovely. I loved Velious in Everquest so I'm pretty sure I'm going to love this place. I would love to have our FC house in a snowy place!

Flying continents are always amazing, of course. Brings the epic feel to the game.

Nothing much here, except that Beast tribe daily quest allowance increased from 6 to 12, which means more free exp especially for Ixali crafters.

There's this new thing called "Temple Leves" which is basically giant leves that uses up 10 allowances. There doesn't seem to be much motivation to doing these except that it drops this thing called "amber-encased vilekin", which we still have no idea what it can be exchanged for.

Nothing interesting here. More FATEs. Much wow.

Treasure Hunt
Nothing interesting here. More map types, much awesome.

Grand and Free Companies
Company Workshops! This is puts some EVE Online into FF14. Basically, crafters (or rich people, usually they are both) within the FC can come together and craft awesome stuffs, like airships! I think this new feature is pretty nice and adds a whole new level of content for crafters. 

Speaking of airships, there's this new thing called Exploratory Voyages. If a Free Company has an airship, you can send it on one. From a glance, it seems like a very detailed super retainer. I'm quite interested in how much Square allows this to affect Adventuring. My speculation is that it won't affect that much, but on hindsight, I can see how you can implement it such that it does.

And finally, new company actions! Glancing thought, the Jackpot ones (increases MGP payout) is so smart, especially if it affects mini-cactpot (I don't think it...will for the giant cactpot one?). If so, I can see our coffers drain at every midnight now.

New furnishings...etc. The Triple Triad table is actually interesting. I'm wondering if others can spectate a match.

The Manderville Gold Saucer
[2.0] Players can now purchase up to three mini cactpot tickets per day.
Holy crap? It gets more expensive after each try but...holy crap?

Other Playable Content Stuff
Nothing much that we don't know about here. New sightseeing logs, Au Ra race, new hairs (I don't think they are that interesting). Being able to view weather forecast is cool. Flying mounts. Oh yes, flying mounts. Like many others, I'm excited to have one, but I didn't like the addition of griffons. I really don't think it belongs in a Final Fantasy setting at all. But whatever pleases the crowd right? Griffon + snow = profit!

Battle System
Okay I'm just going to talk a bit about the 3 new jobs. It's going to be interesting to see how all 3 of them works out and fit into the current meta. Just some thoughts off my head:

Dark Knights
Are Dark Knights going to replace Warriors as a preferred tank? Or Paladins? Which do they synergize with better? How mana or energy reliant are Dark Knights? This might affect synergy with bards and ninjas. Potentially, like Ninjas, their existence in a static that aims for optimization might change their lineup.

What support does Machinist provide? I don't think they are all out dps because then they would be competing with our 3 other melee dps for physical prowess. I don't think any melees will like it if Machinist does more dps than them, which means they might support based. If so, how are they compared to Bard, which already seems to have everything.

Astrologian seems hardcore, potentially. Also seems fun. I'm definitely playing one on release. Either way, the way their stances work make it seems like they synergize well with the other healers. There will probably be different playstyles depending on what your other healer is, which I thought is interesting.

Limit Break Changes
The limit break for ranged physical DPS has been changed to an attack to all targets in a straight line before the caster.
Sounds incredibly underwhelming and boring on paper. Sounds like AE limit break with less area and possibly more damage. If that's the case though, I can see how it replaces caster LB in certain fights though. Pretty safe move. Still much much better than Bards casting healer LB.

Attribute Changes
[2.0] Player attributes have been adjusted as follows:
- Skilspeed and spellspeed now affect damage over time and healing over time effects.
Finally. About time. Also, maybe SMNs can share gear with BLMs now? And very good news for WHM. We'll still need to see the formulas though.

- The effect of determination on auto-attacks has been reduced.
This is just to reinforce the skillspeed/spellspeed changes.

- Critical hit rate now affects damage dealt with a critical strike.
Wow. So it's crit damage AND rate now? Sounds really overpowering. 

- Certain attributes no longer affect parry or block.
No comments. 

Fantastic changes which opens up for more experiments with gear, depending on how well they balance. In the future meta, at best, we might be seeing different BIS for different fights along with different rotation with different BIS. At the worst case, we'll just go back to the 1 BIS to rule them all. 

Pet Changes
[2.0] Pets have been adjusted as follows.
- The base accuracy of pets has been raised. Furthermore, all pet attacks will now be treated as if attacking from the rear.
- Pets will now receive the attribute bonuses of food items.
Awesome changes for SCH and SMN. To be honest though, these should be in since day 1 so from my perspective it's more of a bug fix. 

- In order to receive the effects of the caster's spell speed attribute, all pet actions excluding auto-attacks have been changed to elemental damage.
This one is pretty rad. /shrug. 

Duty Finder Changes
Undersized Party allows you to bypass restrictions of a duty while Minimum IL syncs you to the duty's minimum requirement. Both are really really cool. Undersized Party allows for cool experiments like maybe solo warrior runs....would make decent online content for your blog or whatever. Minimum IL is lovely. It allows players to experience old content as close as possible to its release. Reduces the amount of "BACK IN MY DAYS" rants for old players, I guess.

Loot Rules can now be set
We finally have multiple loot systems: Normal, Greed Only, Lootmaster. To be honest, I can't believe it took them this long to implement this. Watch out, DKP loot system might be coming Weird though, to have DKP for 8 man runs. Must be more unnecessary than I thought.

Nothing much. New kind of hunt seal? I hate hunts so I'm not really interested.

Lots of interesting changes and fixes. We can finally figure out WHY we win/lose now that they are showing points gained from various sources. There are also new rules for Frontlines which I cannot wait to try out!

Tons of small, interesting things here. Let me cherry pick:

[2.0] High quality items can now be converted into normal quality items.
The ability to reduce HQ stuff to LQ is always useful.

[2.0] Players can now purchase replica Zodiac Weapons from Drake in the North Shroud (X:30 Y:20).
AWESOME! No more stupid WHM christmas tree stick!

[3.0] Disciples of the Hand and Land can now exchange blue crafter's scrips and blue gatherer's scrips for items and gear.
Looks like tomestones/marks/seals for crafters and gatherers. No idea what it is, but good to see content expanded for crafters and gatherers.

Recycling mechanic. Always nice in any MMO. We'll have to wait and see what things actually get recycled for.

[3.0] The crafting specialist system has been added.
Essentially means you cannot be a "Master Crafter/Gatherer". Er, this is good and bad. Good because market won't be flooded and a crafter can probably earn better dough. Bad for consumers because everything is back to being rather expensive. However, still good for the game in general because the market will be stabler. I won't go into details here.

[2.0][3.0] New minions have been added.
[2.0][3.0] New mounts have been added.
Yay! Sorry.

Nothing much here

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Casual Connect 2015 Report

A bit overdue, but I'm gonna just drop this here:

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Momoko In Eorzea Part 5: "Disappearance of Rai Dunia Side Story: Misadventures of Momoko and her Popotoes"

(This post is pure 'rant' style. I'm just going to type whatever's on my mind in attempts to recount what was on my mind with minimal vetting, if any at all. Sorry for any bad English you encounter. Please enjoy my verbal vomit ^_^)

Last Tuesday, our FC senpais organized a really fun Escape-style event for us which I had the honor to participate in. Let me do some small background information about me and riddles first.

Personally, I am terrible at riddles. If there is something that I'm terrible at doing in my life, it's riddles. I'm probably the kind of person who you bring to Escape games and confuses the heck out of everybody in the team. It could be because I am allowed to think without constraints and my brain is kinda trained to break puzzles more than to solve them (thanks Dungeons and Dragons -_-). It could be that I think too much or when I attempt to think 'out of the box', I went to outer space instead. It could also be because I am very detail orientated, which is possibly due to my stay in Digpen, which causes me to blow every detail out of proportion like those Illuminati videos on YouTube. I dunno. Maybe I'm just dumb. But how can I be dumb if I know I'm dumb?



That being said, it doesn't mean I don't like riddles. I still enjoy playing Professor Layton series, although I don't think I have solved any riddles other than those really straightforward-single-step ones.

Expectedly (or unexpectedly as my ego claims), I didn't get very far in the Escape game. I only managed to solve the first puzzle and that was with much hand-holding towards the end of the event. The organizers are probably interested in what happened, and here is a recount including my thought process in the whole event. Unfortunately I did not have many screenshots, so it will be mostly words.


The event started at the basement of the FC house. Cyrn-kun was there giving out the first clue:

{“Guys!! It’s an emergency!! The Baa is gone!! He left a note… His last words of farewell?
Hyur does not belong!! find the murderer at:
/tell them “YOSHIDAAA"}

How the heck did Cyrn-kun manage to pronounce those words? Must be an incredible Lalafell feat! Oh wait I'm Lalafell too. Hmm nevermind. I shan't think too much on that. Our dear FC leader, Baa-chan, is missing! We must find her!

Okay, really at this point, the puzzle seemed very easy. I immediately opened up my trusty Notepad++ and replaced the letters H Y U R with nothing. Easy Peasy! 

"twentseven Twentsix wln "

Wut? First things I spotted were a "seven" and a "six". So what is a "twent"? And why is one of it capitalized while other is not? It could be deliberate? Or it could mean that the murderer just happens to capitalize one and not the other. STILL I have no idea what is a "twent". Well, in a sense, it DOES look like "twenty" and if it is, it would make some sense. But the removal of 'y' is most likely more deliberate in my mind than it being a design issue due to the nature of 'HYUR' having a 'Y' foiling the organizer's plan to fully spell out the numbers correctly. And it could be that having 'HYUR' mattered more and hope that the players did not think too much about the lack of 'y'. Still, the removal of 'y' seems more deliberate so I went with that first.

"twent" still means nothing to me. Much less "wln". Standing outside the FC house, I semi-afk'ed to look at the words on Notepad++. I undid and redid the process to affirm myself that the removal of 'y' is indeed deliberate, for this case anyway. So I took a small leap of faith. Maybe I'm supposed to "/tell YOSHIDAAA" on a person named "Twent Seven". Who knows? Around this time, there was a PSA going around saying that we should  take into account the "lag" time with the NPCs that we /tell to. So I randomly decide to "/tell Twent Seven YOSHIDAAA", even though it is unlikely that it is the solution. And waited for the 'lag time'.

Then around 5 minutes later, Onion-kun walked up to me. I was mindblown. Did I get it right? How is it even possible? It doesn't even make any sense! Well, it does but it makes the least sense of all the conclusions I came up with. She then opened a trade window and passed me a bowl HIGH QUALITY MASHED POPOTOES. What could this mean?? Did I succeed? It makes no sense! Is it a clue? Popoto = potato = Titan = T? "Twentseven" = "T went Seven"? T = Titan, Titan = T? "Titan went seven?". Oh my god it's a completely logical(?) sentence! What's going on?! Do I sign up for Titan EX? Oh my god Baa-chan is a healer! Healers must go to 7 o'clock in Titan for Gaol mechanic! Then what does six mean then??

Many minutes went by trying to find out whether Titan killed Baa-chan and how. I still have no idea what "wln" or anything means at this point, but this went on until 15 minutes after Onion-kun told me to ignore the Popoto because it was a mistake. Why 15 minutes? Because my brain was still on tilt over the "Titan went seven" thing so I took that long to get it off my head before trying another lead. I guess my brain was proud that it reached that ridiculous conclusion and became attached to it.

I went back to the other conclusion about "twent" meaning "twenty". I think it was close to an hour into the event by then? Despite me saying that I ignored the Popoto thing, the Mashed Popoto was still in my inventory and it's giving me random signals to link it to everything >.<

Well, "twenty seven" and "twenty six" could mean anything. I thought they could be coordinates, room number, or even house number. I tp'ed to Ul'dah thinking that since it is a place of Lalafells, maybe it's where "Hyur do not belong". I was thinking maybe Raubahn is an exception and is a Lala-friend (you know like how elves have elf-friends?). Unfortunately, X:27 and Y:26 does not exist in Ul'dah. So I teleported back.

Okay, so the thing about teleporting for me is that I have the habit of opening the map first when I reach my location. I teleported back to the Goblet and I SAW NUMBERS when I opened the map! Surely, this must be the answer?? Desperate, I traveled to house #27, hoping that "twenty six" means room #26 at that house. And guess what I found there! A Lalafell standing at the entrance! I /poked, /wave, and ran circles around him without any response. Sadly not even a "/tell YOSHIDAAA" worked. On top of that, house #27 is a small house so there isn't a room #26. Dejected, I retraced my steps.

So it was around this time I was crying in the FC house and in FC chat. Since it was nearing the end of the event, Lumi-chan gave me hints and asked me to think about what "wln" means. FOR SOME REASON, my brain could only think of "wah lan", "WIN" and "western latern" (seriously, don't ask me where the last one came from). With Lumi giving me more hints, and me honestly trying very hard not to look like an idiot and cry/laugh in real life, I finally figured that "wln" means Western La Noscea (or as I like to call "Western La Nose Car").

At this point, I actually felt happy and sad at the same time. I felt happy because...well I solved the puzzle. I wasn't sad from receiving hints. I was sad about the fact that I felt happy. I was going full "mature kodomo" mode at my computer, saying things like "why am I happy over this?"

I finally teleported to Western La Noscea and moved to X:27, Y:26, which is at Aleport. I ran around looking for anyone I recognize but couldn't, so I started gauging how far can I walk before a coordinate changes. I walked towards the gate, and the coordinate changed. Hmm, the NPC must not be outside. So I walked down towards the port. I stopped at the Orwen, the NPC that hands Levemete, when the Y-axis turned to 27. Okay it must not be here either.

So again I'm stumped. I looked at all the players standing around and found one that belonged in an FC that is somehow very familiar and was pretty sure that a couple of their FC members raided with not just me, but our other FC members before. Maybe it's her. It must be her. I mean, what are the chances that a member of an FC, that has members that raided with members of our FC, is conveniently placed at the exact coordinates I'm at, right? Below is a screenshot of what I did:

She said "Please look forward to it!".


Bearing in mind the 'lag time' mentioned earlier, I waited. Soon after, she teleported away! "Yes!" I thought. "She's coming back with the next hint!". I mean, she was standing there the whole time, why only teleport now? Coincidence? Surely not!

For those who didn't know, the Aetheryte is right next to Delivery Moogle. I stood there in sheer excitement and anticipation for someone to appear there and walk up to me. A few minutes later, I think Lumi-chan was getting all worried and started querying for my location. Well, that confused me a bit. Isn't this Magatsu Kusanagi part of the plan? I figured it is okay to ask so I did. Lumi just went straight up "No"or something along those lines. Eh?!

Hmm I'll try to describe what it felt like with an embarrassing story that happened to me in Secondary School, so bear with me for awhile. Basically it was Home Economics. I was supposed to 'cook' cup noodles, so I did the right thing at first: put the seasonings into the cup, pour hot water, and wait. Then I just decided that I wanted dry noodles and poured all the soup out, thinking that it will still taste the same, but dryer. This feeling is similar to the feeling I had when I tried to eat the dried noodles with high expectations of its taste. It's like embarrassment, humor, amazement, disappointment and dejection all at the same time.

Aaaanyway, Lumi came out from where-ever she came from and I spotted her. She told me to follow me and I started to tail her. My first thoughts while tailing were "Ohhhh I'm so dumb! I didn't check the top of the wall!", the wall being the one was behind the delivery moogle and the Aetheryte.

Then she led me down towards Orwen, which I mentioned earlier, is the NPC that gives levequests.

Down? Why down?

Isn't this X:27, Y:27? Hey that's not...wait?

She opened the door behind him and entered.




I walked in and it appears that it is a tavern of some sort. Lumi walked towards the end of the tavern and I followed. It was X:27, Y27 while following her but when I reached to the end...

X27, Y:26.

Western La Noscea.




And that is the end of my story for this event. I hope everyone enjoyed the recount. I didn't bother (and didn't have time) to vet it so I apologize again for any bad English anyone encountered. I told myself to just type what's directly on my mind to make this recount as 'pure' as possible.

I would like to give a very heartfelt shoutout to all the organizers in our FC: Lumi-chan, Hanskun, Cyrn-kun and Baa-chan. I can really see the effort put in and I do hope you all had fun seeing how everyone tackled the riddles.

And also shoutouts to all the FC members who participated, turning this event to very lively and funny event. I was laughing at the FC chat most of the, when I'm not laughing at myself.

Special shoutouts to Onion-kun for providing a fantastic recount of the entire event for lost participants like me to read up and also making me tilt over a High Quality Mashed Popoto. For those interested in the walkthrough of the event, here's her recount in the form of a story book!

Another special shoutout to Laguain who was 1 step short of passing me another High Quality Mashed Popoto and hence also 1 step short of making this recount slightly more epic.

I really enjoyed it, despite not really going through all its contents. In a sense, I experienced 500% of the intended experience of the first puzzle, so I don't feel that bad. I really felt that this brought the FC closer, and one of the ways it did was to generate more internal jokes (somehow most of which revolves around me though -_-;;).

For those in FC who didn't participate and is reading this: You should really participate. Don't give up at the first puzzle and you might create your own little 'misadventure' like I did! (being optimistic ^_^;;;)

Honestly, it was way more fun than I thought, and IMO, more fun than an actual escape game, especially since it is homebrewed, has nothing physical involved and doesn't cost a cent. I could go on about how I really appreciate people who create and play games within a game, but that would be another topic for another time.

Hope you enjoyed the recount!

This is Momoko, signing off~!

PS: I just found that Magatsu Kusanagi was from SeeD, an FC that one of our ex-FC member: Snow-san, was in. A couple of my friends were in the FC too, which explains why I felt like she's the right person to "/tell YOSHIDAAA" to.

Last shoutout to Magatsu Kusanagi if you are ever reading this. Why on earth did you tell me "Please look forward to it!" though? Oh crap, maybe it's a mistell?!!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Momoko In Eorzea Part 4: "New weapons and getting ready for Heavensward!"

Heavensward is coming in around a month time! So some of us are kicking into the gear of clearing as much content as we can before it hits.

Well, firstly, we cleared T9 for the first time as an FC! It was a swell journey, hiccups here and there but we finally cleared it. 


I got my monetary goal! I think when I started this goal, desync level was zero, only had half my crafting levels at 50. Since then, I have been PVPing semi-regularly to farm wolf marks for i70 gear to desync and getting all my crafters to 50 (armorer is now 43!). It was painful trying to gather all the materials when you are not rich in game -_-

Anyway, now I can finally move on to other goals ^_^;;

Thirdly, I have been leveling my Black Mage. Black Mage is ridiculous in this game and I'm not talking about dps-wise, though they are the only class who are able to see sick numbers appear in one blow. 

The reason for trying out Black Mages, other than the novelty factor of 'trying out a new class', is because from a design point of view, Black Mages seem to get everything good. As I level up, the class felt exponentially better. What other Black Mages said is definitely true; past level 30, Black Mages just seems to become more fun. The other classes I played just do not have to same feel to me, although they are overall fun in their own right once you hit the max level.

Oh and lastly, I completed my Zeta!

Well I actually completed it a month ago around the time I went Tioman (if you read my previous posts), but there I was a little too busy to blog about anything since then.

Don't you think it looks like crap? I kinda miss my old staff. I took a picture of it so that I will feel miserable about my Zeta.

Heavensward in a month! Gotta get ready!

Monday, May 4, 2015

April 2015 update!

It's April and a month more to my birthday! 

So me and a group of friends did a 3-day Tioman retreat. For those who don't know, Tioman is a nice island off the coast of Malaysia. It's nice to experience life with almost no internet for 3-days. Some of my friends went for a full snorkeling, but I was more in a slack-ish mode and really only wanted to eat Ramly burgers, drink beer and sleep ^^;;

We did fishing though! We had pics of it too, but my friend hadn't uploaded it yet. It's pretty nice to see like...really blue seas and skies. I'll probably drop pics here when it's up...which is probably...gonna be awhile.

Also had a glorious BBQ at the beach in the night. I was mildly intoxicated enough to ask my friends (and Heber aka Johnny Tseng) to help me create this glorious picture for our FF14 Free Company!

All in all, the trip's pretty great! Took my mind off stuff in general. But damn the mosquitos at night are brutal -_-;;

Aside from that, I'm can't really say much about work stuff here, but things have been quite hectic. Lots of things are happening internally which I can't really say much about but from the company's general point of view, it's progress. I'm still trying to fit into my new role, and still trying to figure out the future. 

Because things are...happening, it emphasizes that I should not stay past midnight anymore. Which means that I need to somehow make myself tired and knockout at night, since for some reason, my brain gets active after midnight.

Other than that, I'm just going to share some stuff I thought about at the end of the month. Fighting games are pretty much done and over with to me. I haven't been training anything in fighting games for close to 2 months, and it looks like it's going to stay this way. This is mostly due to lack of time, and other dedications like side projects, FF and the desire to actually play more games. Street Fighter 5 don't really interest me all that much either. Mike Ross is right. You don't 'quit' fighting games. You just fade away from it. 

But I just started going back to Hearthstone! Like...finally. This is thanks to it being ported to Android phones. Been trying to see and watch what the meta is. Hearthstone is really a tilting as hell game but meeeeh there are some really cool stuff you can do in the game which I find pretty fun like Reincarnating Kel'Thuzard and stuff.

The year ahead is pretty exciting for me though! LiSA concert at July, Eir Aoi concert at October, I might fly to America at the end of the year and maybe even take the chance to drop by Japan on the way back!

Oh yes, the new Nagato Yuki anime has been airing for some time too...I hope Japan isn't flooded with merchandises by then -_-;;

Monday, April 13, 2015

Momoko In Eorzea Part 3: Final Cutscenes and Zodiacs

Man...I just finished the final cutscene before Heavensward


What an emotional cutscene. So damn much is happening and so damn much happened that it is impossible to talk about it without spoilers. I had many screenshots but alas I cannot share them without spoiling. 

But it was...a great closure before the expansion hits. Square Enix can finally make good plot?! What is this, 1994? 

Speaking of 1994, the new Magitek background music sounds so fitting after watching the cutscene. Good job pulling it off SE. You almost made me cry. And good job RNG, for rouletting this mount at the end of one of the cutscenes. AT CORTHEUS.


Speaking of crying, aside from that I finally got my christmas stick Zodiac Weapon!! Look at my disappointed face!

Seriously though, compared to what I had (look at the happiness on my face!):

This new weapon totally stinks graphically. I was prepared for the disappointment, but apparently it is so disappointing that one cannot simply prepare for it. The most upsetting thing is that I cannot glamour it back! They turned my shiny rod into a materia! Graaahh!!

Well, what's done is done. I guess I can only look forward and also look for a nice glamour for it in the future...

To Heavensward!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Momoko In Eorzea Part 2: Easter!

Hi all!

Easter has come and gone yesterday, both in Eorzea and in real life. Since this is officially the first time I'm doing an Easter related event, I actually consulted the Great Wikipedia to now more about it since I'm not Christian. As usual, Wikipedia was filled with too much random details that confused me, but what I do understand is:

1) Christian Holiday?
2) It's 2 days after Good Friday, which is a public holiday here!
3) Easter eggs started off red, symbolizing the blood of Christ
4) The eggs are a symbol of an empty tomb
5) Easter Bunny is Santa Claus of Easter

Now I'm an eggspert in Easter! (I guess not)

Egg yolks aside, I finally completed the Eorzea Easter event! I happen to have a set to dress for the occasion! 

You get to turn into a spriggen this time, though I'd wish you can get a nice spriggen outfit as a reward. Instead I got some egg-ly earring. It's a bit hard to see, but luckily I'm a Lalafell and I'm closer to the floor! (It's still kinda hard to see though...)

On to a sidenote, I completed the Moggle Delivery Quests over the weekend. The stories for each quest are actually not bad, with a few of them actually being good. The image below just me confused over how this scholar-ly looking Lalafell is actually a swearword-cussing pirate-sounding marauder named RATATA -_-;;


Ah, it was all worth it in the end ^_^

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Momoko In Eorzea Part I: Introduction!

Heavensward expansion is just around the corner, so what better time to jump start this little blog by chronicling what I spend most of my time doing after work: Final Fantasy XIV!

Let's go!!!

First, a few introductions!

A bit of myself. I have been playing MMOs since I was 14 I think (man it feels so long ago). Started with Everquest saving 1 dollar a day, then to the now defunc City of Heroes, to Final Fantasy 11, to Guild Wars, to World of Warcraft on it's launch, then to Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, then to Guild Wars 2 and finally here I am at Final Fantasy XIV. As one would expect, I'm no stranger to MMO mechanics as I have breathed them as much as I lived them.

Why FF14?

There are really a multitude of reasons. There is firstly, of course, the Final Fantasy brand. Riding chocobos in FF11 made me happy. Riding Magitek Armor on FF14 makes my FF6 fanboy scream in delight.

But aside from that, FF14 is polished and clean. I played so many MMOs and some felt clunky, slow and occasionally painful to play at certain parts, but FF14 has a very polished feel, much like WoW has.  If I have to bring up examples, Guild Wars 2 had an incredibly painful menu (I can't remember which one) which slowed my PC to a crawl despite me able to run WvW at 40+ fps.

Honestly I did not expect to play FF14 for this long, that's why I didn't start this earlier. There are points where I felt like there is nothing more to do and that there is nothing worth talking about, but that is because I have only been doing 1 kind of content. But hey, now there's so much stuff to do ever since I went into the crafting business and PVP. And since Yoshida decided to release Golden Saucer last patch, the things for the middle-end player base seems to be limitless, and it could only get better from here.

Unless Tree of Saviors turn out to be super kickass, I don't see myself stopping anytime soon, especially since I have invested so much time already in FF14, and that our little Free Company is so awesome to hang around. I even get to practice a bit of Japanese too with the Japanese players!

Eorzea has become like a third home to me much like how Norrath was mine a dozen years ago.

And our FC just banded together to clear the latest Steps of Faith Trial! The trial is so different from the previous trials that it's very refreshing! Instead of the usual tank/healer/dps fight, it's more of an objective driven fight. Maybe there are more of it's kind in the future? Some old dungeons have been playing around with this kind of idea for quite some time so perhaps we'll see more interesting mechanics in the future!

This is Momoko, signing off~!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Lantis Matsuri 2015 in Singapore!

I rarely type long posts but god Lantis Feastival was INCREDIBLE. Every singer was godlike, and seeing the audience so happy just makes me feel happy too. It's great that despite racial and cultural differences, we can all enjoy the same anisongs together!
Man where do I start. Choucho started off immediately with her soothing voice in her "Girls and Panzer" OP "DreamRiser". From there, everything just got better, with all the artists performing fantastic throughout! Man, there's so much to describe overall, so I'll just highlight what's personally incredible for me.

The very first thing that threw me off was Choucho, sang "Snow Halation". That was easily the first high point not just for me but the entire audience! Man all the Love Live fans got a treat ^^

The second high point to me was Azusa Tadokoro, an artist I'm not really familiar with (though I know where she's from), singing "Lost My Music"!! I threw me totally off guard! The last thing I expected was a Haruhiism song being played.

The subsequent artists did a great job. There was much "Kuroko no Basket" and "Free!" from OldCodex, Kensho Ono and Kenichi Suzumura. Thanks. Now not only I sang those songs in KTV, I sang them in live performance. ^^;;

Then Megumi Ogata just decided to make all of us feel old with "Cruel Angel Thesis" and "Densetsu Moonlight"! And she suddenly decided to have some sister-brother relationship with Azusa www.

But of course the best part of me is MINORIN! She's in Singapore for the first time, yay~! I shouted and screamed cues for the people at the back; the front VIP guys, thanksfully, got it all covered. The most incredible moment was when she started singing "Yuki, Muon, Madobe Nite". NEVER in my LIFE would I expect to hear her sing that live. It felt like the only way to listen to that is to travel 10 years back in time before she even started much of her singing career. That might...just be as special to me as listening to her "Shijin no Tabi" back in her birthday concert last year. すごく感動しました;; I finally get to hear Nagato Yuki's voice live!

And of course, as expected, she sang Paradise Lost and TERMINATED. 

Her performance was the 2nd last, and next was JAM Project. Honestly, I felt that I have spent most of my energy and voice on Minorin's part. There I was hoping that they do not sing a high opening (well, not-so-high at least) so that I have a chance to recover. 

But no...

Right off the bat, they start with GONG, the crazy high song comparable to SKILL that they owe us 5 years ago in AFAX! Drained and 'dying' after the song, pleading for the "YUNKER" drink that they were promoting during the intermission, Jam Project, without a frigging break, broke into the "CardFight! Vanguard" opening. And not long after, they decided to go into their individual songs! Man I felt so old when I ran out of breath singing Gaogaigar's "Yuusha no Tanjou". I really never thought Masaki Endou would relief my memories from AFAX ^^

And of course they closed with SKILL, which seemed to dare me to push my body past its limits. By the end of everything, I went home dizzy and tired as if I just went through 3 hours of basketball practice and slumped right to bed!

It was fantastic and overall a great concert for me! I think everyone else who attended enjoyed it too!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Death of Maxis, but of course, right?

Wow, last month was madness. Tons of crap happened. My mother's attempt at matchmaking, Chinese New Year, and a loooong mad rush to meet deadline at work. I was drained and on a verge of burnout the last couple of days. Thankfully, I think I'm better now.

I guess there's not much I can do about it but complain. Poor decision making, disrespecting pipelines, leading to risk quality assurance and if something goes wrong, I will be served on the palate. On top of all that, the risk vs reward is highly unfavorable. It was rather stressful and I will obviously try my best for the sake of my sanity to avoid such a terrible situation ever again. 


The month just zoomed past just like that. I mean, I like working on new stuff and gaining new knowledge, but to code with a leap of faith is just irrational and irresponsible.

And this morning I woke up to this:

Of course, it is impossible that the Maxis then is the same Maxis now. This just goes to show how fragile game industry studios have become, as if they wasn't fragile to begin with. In the end, your successful projects only allow your studio to sustain. 2 major flops and your studio is on a verge of death. Exceptional cases occur though, like Blizzard, but that's another story, much like how our conventional physics don't work for quantum physics.

You really know you are getting old when you see game studios that you used to love disappear, and how old game studios that are alive today are struggling to stay alive. Bullfrog is dead. Interplay is dead. Codemasters is dead. Westwood is dead. THQ is dead. Troika is dead. Paragon is dead. There is literally only 2 western studios which are still alive and I am still hoping for good games from them: Obsidian Studios (back then Black Isle Studios) and Firaxis games. Man, if Pillars of Eternity dies, Obsidian would be in an extremely bad shape.

And then there are those that completely lose you as a fan because of their change of direction. For me, that's where Bioware stands. I just cannot enjoy their current gen games as much as their older ones. Maybe because they set my standards too high with Baldur's Gate 2; everything they made post Neverwinter just felt cheap, and I'm saying this even after I understand and worked in a game industry myself.

But I'm just a rambling old man, possibly one that cannot move forward with the change in demographics. It has come to the point where I can barely afford time to play the kind of games I like, because there is another game I like better. Technology is evolving so much faster than we can evolve. More scripts are being ran, more excel sheets are being edited, so much code is being compiled and written, so much more art is being drawn. In the end, we are only human, working with 1 keyboard and 1 mouse to input our efforts.

Cheers to what the future holds!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

A few things I have learnt (Feb 2015 version)

In just about 4 months, it will officially be my 2nd year working in the games industry. I have been meaning to write about what I have learnt in my 1st year but since I was not doing any real development, I withheld such a post. Now that I was given a chance to handle bigger problems, I would like to think that it is nice to write something up here. So far I have had a hand in porting a game to a platform, created features for an existing game, had a hand in creating an app from ground up, among others tasks like maintaining servers.

There's a few things I have learnt and hopefully other developers will read this to get a rough gauge of what they can expect in a big game company, especially if you are working on maintaining social games. I'm going to leave the very technical stuff aside, like attempting to do unit testing or write safe code. These are more of things you do not really learn in school.

So here are 3 that I can think off the top of my head..

1) Follow existing conventions as much as possible.
This applies to everything. Code, excel documents, documentation, SQL scripts, etc. Usually, there isn't much of a written document on conventions; it is up to you to read what was done, understand why it was done this way, and follow. If there is a flaw or if you feel some way of doing things should be changed, complete your task first and bring it up to higher ups. ALWAYS discuss with the affected people if you are making changes, even if you are the lead. 

When the deadline is tight, there will not be time to do a full code review, so in a sense, everyone is responsible for their code. There WILL be legacy stuff that do not follow the conventions. These are basically stuff that went unchecked for whatever reason. Do not follow them, cut your future junior programmers some slack. When future programmers pick up your code and they start going 'is there a reason why this guy isn't follow convention?', it's going to eat up their time, and time is money here.

2) Readable code vs Optimized code
It is ultimately in the heart of every aspiring programmer to push for as much optimization as possible. But the amount of time it could take to develop it, plus the pain it might cost the next programmer to take over your code can be a high price to pay. General rule of thumb is, if the code has an acceptable speed, there isn't a need to optimize it. 

I cannot stress how important readable code is.  If you have to eat slightly more CPU or RAM just to make your code look nicer, I'd say go for it 100%. I have seen some optimized code that was a pain in the neck to decipher and could completely be avoided at no cost whatsoever. For example, I give you 4 variables to store your values in the database, but somehow you want to make use of only 1 variable to store 3 variables by using bit shifting/masking. Sure it looks damn cool if you are creating something for a school project, but the next programmer is going to take like 30 mins to figure out what you are doing AND why are you even doing it like that. 

The most frustrating conclusion any programmer want to make is "because the previous programmer wants to be cool shit". That's not cool at all.

Another good rule of thumb my colleague pointed out to me is to be able to write code such that it is understandable without comments. Comment ONLY when you are doing weird shit. Also, comment only WHY, not WHAT or HOW. WHAT or HOW should be inferred from your code. If you need to explain WHAT or HOW, time to refactor.  

3) Power must be controlled
Programmers are super powerful. I mean, they are the ones who knows (supposedly) the inner workings of every part of the project. It will come to the point where a workaholic programmer, for the sake of saving time, wants to do everything by himself so that his task is completed faster.  Really, to us programmers, adding an extra text to a properties folder is extremely trivial. Clicking on buttons to, say, generate assets, is also trivial.  

But when communication is difficult, like say your teammates don't work next to you, this can get out of hand. Even when we work next to each other, we had our own share of such problems. Committing text files is fine and all thanks to merging tools, but what about more complicated things like images, or even folder structures? What if the folder you are working on disappeared, or suddenly had files attempting to override your files because they have same name? It gets messy. At the worst scenario, you would have to delete your repository (because you cannot figure out the problem or because it is FUBAR) and re-setup your workspace, taking tons of time because of one innocent commit.

For such unstable pipelines, I think it is inevitable but to assign a go-to personnel in charge of it until a clean solution presents itself. Like no matter how inefficient it sounds, stability of the project is more important. You would rather 1 guy screw up, than a possibly 10 other guys screw up.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year 2015!

It's *that* time of the year again!

Time really flies when you are working. This year is the first year I spent all year as a working adult and before I knew it, 2014 has gone. What has happened over the year? It's hard to recollect either because too many things happened, or nothing particularly interesting happened. Time flies so fast it gets harder to tell what happened when.

A short summary of things that happened include my start of playing FF14, going to Japan to attend Minorin's concert and GGXrd's release are the 3 main awesome things that happened. Work this year has been pretty awesome too! Slowly getting where I want to be. It's funny how dreams and ambitions change over time, huh. Like how you realize you are extremely comfortable doing this one set of things and the realization of how uncomfortable you will be if you are in a position of your dreams. 

There's many things I want to do, and want to be able to do since last year, and the year before, and the year before that. In the end though, I just want to be able to do 3 things: make games, play games, go Japan.  I guess everything else is secondary and nice to have. Like how I really want to play more piano pieces, or make more games in my free time, maybe play more basketball, and sleep more! But free time doesn't come by easily as it used to, neither do I want to stop working. I guess it's more like I want more hours in a day? It's just impossible to have everything so I'm content with what I have.

Habits change too. I stopped drinking coffee regularly and have been looking into drinking different flavors of tea. I'm back to drinking coke for sugar rush if I need it. Kind of reminds myself of those days back in school! And it's awesome now that I'm working, I get to play games all day without anyone nagging on me ^_^. 

But even after working for a year, my body still isn't used to it. I'm constantly tired due to lack of sleep, mostly because I love playing games late into the night, so it's partially my fault for that. However, I'm not going to stop just because of that. I guess I have to find a better way to get some shut-eye or be more disciplined to sleep earlier. Hmm, I think that's a pretty good New Year's Resolution! 

My exhaustion has some side effects I think. I no longer have as much energy to care about my surroundings. Which is good, I think. It's about time I allow myself to be selfish, and care not about things that I cannot do anything about. Like when I upset someone accidentally over a minor issue, I would just get all upset too for like a week wondering how I can resolve it, creating weird ass delusions and plans, only to make a bigger sacrifice on my part to make another happy. Now I think, hey it's a minor issue, I'm really sorry, please get over it, hope you understand, the end. As much as I like watching drama, I hate it just as much. Drama is such a complete waste of energy; a hemorrhage. Such energy is better spent elsewhere! Oh well, let's end this rant. ^^

It's really been a good year overall. Things are most certainly slowly stabilizing and the rides are getting smoother and more enjoyable! ^^