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Game Services, Wallets, And Funding

Game Services, Wallets, And Funding

Over the weekend I was alerted to the PSN flash sale that was in effect until Monday afternoon (Real Coast Time). Most of the items on sale were for PS3, the PS4 items weren’t really all that sexy, but there were a few nice, deep discounts for some Vita titles like Freedom Wars, which is one that friends had been playing for some time.

I had thought that I had wallet funds in the PS Store, since I had used a store-bought card a while back in order to buy some DLC for Rocksmith, but when I went to the PSN store to verify this, I found an empty balance. I swore that there had been money there, because I know I was purposefully keeping it in case there were more Rocksmith songs I was interested in.

This morning, I went into the transaction history, and found that my PSPlus service renewed, and that it had used the remaining funds in my wallet first, and then took the remainder from my bank account. This kind of annoyed me; I understand the logistics of it, naturally, but in my mind (at least), I put money into the wallet — be it PSN or Steam, or XBL — for the purpose of some immediate purchase, or in the event that I see something down the road that’s new or on sale. To me, the idea is that the wallet is like a holding pen, a place where I can put money away for a rainy day for a very specific purpose.

The PSN renewal is (again, to me) a “maintenance fee”, and I’d rather have it be withdrawn in toto from whatever non-wallet funding source I have set up. Taking money from the wallet almost feels like having your parents take money from your dresser-drawer savings account in order to pay your auto insurance; yes, it’s technically coming from the same place (me), but there’s a psychological difference between a stash and an official funding source.

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How Comic Books Got Me To Love TV

How Comic Books Got Me To Love TV

Maybe the title goes a bit too far. I’ve never really been in love with TV. When I was younger, my brother and I would be home alone during summer vacations, and if I got to the computer first (we actually raced from our rooms in the morning to the C64), my brother would spend the day in the recliner watching TV. We were extremely productive youths.

It’s not a habit I’ve ever taken up. I liked TV OK, but not enough to make it my primary mode of entertainment. My wife also likes TV a lot, so history repeats itself: while she’s watching The Voice or something, I’m over on the computer.

When shows like Arrow and Agents of SHIELD debuted, I wasn’t too excited bout it. For one, I liked the Marvel moves, but I am not a Joss Whedon fan by any stretch, and the show bears his distinct mark. And Arrow was on “The CW”, which means I’m way outside of it’s core demographic and expected it to be all 20-somethings-playing-teen-angst.

But I started watching Arrow backlogs because folks were talking about it on Le Networks Sociale, and I was extremely impressed. I went back in time to catch up on SHIELD and was initially less impressed, but the end of the first season improved significantly. Then The Flash debuted (with tie-ins to Arrow), and of course you can’t access any Marvel property without accessing all Marvel properties or else it won’t make any sense, so there’s that.

Now they’re talking about another DC spin-off called Legends of Tomorrow, linked here, today! and it looks just as awesome.

Of course, no discussion on comics would be complete without taking a side in the DC vs Marvel war. I have to side with DC, but only because my familiarity comes from the screen translations. I’ve got not desire to spend $5 on a 20 page comic book that I can complete in the bathroom and still have time to kill. But the Marvel adaptations seem to be very reliant on periods of lighthearted comedy mixed with over-the-top action (my issue with Mr. Whedon’s style), and an insidious plot to punish you with continuity confusion if you skip a movie (Hi, Ant-Man). DC’s shows, so far, have been more serious, and to me, more in-depth. I blame the fact that they’re on The Cwuh for the focus on interpersonal relationships and for The Flash‘s almost sophomoric vibe, but I’d rather have human drama over threat-of-the-week drama any day (which is why I love Battlestar Galactica so much).

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My New Test For Blogging

My New Test For Blogging

I’ll try and keep this short: I get a lot of ideas for posts over the course of the day. Some of them are pretty involved, but some are just thoughts that I’d like to write down and/or get people to comment on.

I’ve got a weekly schedule, three days a week, released at 10AM. I’ve been hesitant to throw in these smaller twig-posts for two reasons:

  1. I don’t want to overload people with multiple posts per day, partly because it ends up being spam, and partly because I’m afraid it might dilute the reliability of my three day 10 AM schedule in people’s eyes.
  2. I don’t want to include Tuesday and Thursday in my usual rotation because I feel I regularly have enough content for three days, but not enough for five. Plus, a lot of these posts (like this one!) aren’t feature-length.

So in talking with Pete of Dragonchasers fame, I stream-of-consciousness’d an idea that goes a little something like this:

  • Monday, Wednesday, and Friday posts will remain scheduled for 10 AM. These will invariably be the “featured posts”: the over-wrought, long-form posts people love. They’ll be under the FEATURED category, and I’ve enabled the rotating billboard at the top to display FEATURED posts.
  • Other posts will be categorized as appropriate, and can show up whenever. They’ll be presented in your RSS reader, but I’m looking to get feedback if multiple posts per day, with no set schedule or warning, is going to be annoying if they’re being advertised through social media.

Other ideas are to take up a side-bucket like Anook where I can post these one-offs, but I’m keeping that as a last resort option. Blogging here on an independent platform allows for the greatest reach with the fewest barriers to distribution, which makes it the best option.

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All About That; Shadows of Shallamas

All About That

When I was in high school, my brother was learning to play guitar, complete with lessons and all that, but I wasn’t super interested in doing the same. He had a few guitars, and at some point he bought a cheap Ibanez 4 string bass because why not? But he wasn’t interested in it, after playing around for a while, so I took it. I still didn’t have a super interest in the actual act of learning, so I just took the shortcut of dealing with tableture and banging on a few songs that I liked.

I stopped dealing with it about 20 years ago, and my bass kind of languished in the closet until my nephew asked if he could borrow it. I told him he could have it. I figured that was that.

But I really wanted to just bang around with it again, so when I mentioned off-handedly that I was considering buying a cheap bass to have, a friend mentioned that he had one that he wasn’t using that I could have. Well I couldn’t pass that up!

Now I have the uphill battle of trying to get back into this. I want to actually learn something this time because as nice as it is to be able to Rock Band some songs on a real instrument (I should say Rocksmith, I guess), not having the ability to know why or to find alternative fingerings for difficult stretches was something that did bother me.

That, and I need to re-develop all the callouses. I bought some flatwound strings this time around, and that’s a weird new experience. I’m used to the normal round-wound strings with ridges, but these are smooth and feel almost like plastic. Supposedly it gives a different sound, reduces the “sccrreeeee” sound on slides and unfortunate fret changes, and is also easier on the fingers.

Shadows of Shallamas

Our PbP session for Numenera has been filled!

The first official step is for everyone to get the source materials. I bought the Core and Player books in PDF form because they’re cheaper and I didn’t have to leave the house. The players should only really need the Player book, unless they want the whole shebang provided by the Core — lore, tables, representative creatures, etc.

After that, we’ll get together via post to hash out people’s characters.

During our previous to current D&D game, I started the characters out with a little PbP adventure that explained on how they actually got together as a party, and I’m working on that same scenario  for this group. Called Shadows of Shallamas, it’s a kind of murder mystery that I hope will allow the players to approach a common goal from different, individual angles. I’ve put down the synopsis and have created some of the NPCs on, but that’s about as far as I can go without knowing how the character’s will be starting the game.

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