Life Rears its Ugly Head

January 14, 2012 2 comments

So… the laptop-on-bus thing didn’t work out.

Warning: this is pretty much just a rant – something I want to write just because it’s been much too long since I’ve sat down and written anything.

I’m still working the same job, but I’ve been looking for somewhere else to go.  I’ve done a lot of thinking about work and life, and the conclusion is that I absolutely have to find another job,  because I have no future if I stay where I am.

I’ll just say it now: I hate my job.  But I’m going to try to be fair and lay out how I feel about it, and hopefully this will make some sense.

I’m a tech writer at a small company.  Objectively speaking, my job is not that bad.  The hours are flexible, the dress code is relaxed, the people are nice, and there is pretty much no office drama to speak of.  The work is relatively easy, but boring.  The pay is pretty bad for a job that expects university and a post-graduate education, but it’s not exactly minimum wage, either.

My job is the perfect place for a 50- or 60-something who just wants something to ride to retirement.

It is absolutely not the kind of job for a 20-something such as myself, who is trying to start his career and figure out what he wants to do with his life.

The problem is that this job does not have any benefits for the future.  It makes iterations of the same existing products, so it rarely creates anything new.  It uses very few tools that are used in the business.  There are no senior workers at the company in my field that I can learn from.  There is no chance of going to conferences to meet up with like-minded people that I can learn from, or network with.  There is no chance of a salary increase.

This means that if I stay here, I will not learn any new skills that carry over to future jobs, will not find anyone that I can learn from, and will not be able to save up enough money for things I may do in the near future.  Namely, things such as getting my own place and starting a family.  It will not help me find any future jobs, aside from incrementing the number of years I’ve worked in the field.  In fact, it may harm my prospects of finding work because if I stay here, I’ll become someone who has years of experience on paper but barely knows how to do anything.

In the two years I have worked here, my job has worn me down more than I would have thought possible.  I think very differently compared to the way I did before, and I have become much more cynical.  However, I think I have learned a lot about life in the process.  I want to write something out about this sometime, but with my update schedule, it probably won’t happen anytime soon.

 

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Categories: Life

Another Meme Form

March 20, 2010 6 comments

From Thomas.  The topics he picked for me are Touhou, KyotoAni, and Ragnarok.

I toned down the questions a little though, as the originals are a little too fangirlish for my tastes.

Touhou

  1. The first character I liked:
    Ran Yakumo.  First Extra boss that I faced, back when I was really into Touhou.   I loved everything about that boss fight; the patterns, the music, and the way the difficulty hit me in the face (I had only seen and 1cced Normal at the time), forcing me to give it everything I had just to see the next spellcard.  No boss fight or Extra stage after that was nearly as fun.  That, plus I’ve always liked the “right-hand man” archetype and feel sorry for the way she gets treated by Yukari.
  2. The character I unexpectedly ended up liking:
    Kisume.  She’s such an insignificant and completely random character, but the sheer silliness of a random girl in a bucket (and the fanart) eventually won me over.
  3. The character that everyone likes but I don’t:
    Marisa.  I just don’t find her very likable.  She’s kind of a jerk, and is very annoying to fight in IaMP.
  4. The character that I like but no one else does:
    Most Touhou characters tend to have a decent number of fans.  I guess I’ll have to say Ran again here.  Fanartists tend to put more effort and variety into drawing Yukari and Chen, while Ran is usually limited to Tenko/CHEEEEEENNNNNN memespam.
  5. The character that I think is the best looking:
    That really depends on the fanartist.  Sanae, Yukari, Orin and Hina all look great in fanart.  Among others.
  6. The character I’d want to be like:
    Maybe Yuyuko?  She lives a carefree and happy life, but underneath that silliness is an incredibly intelligent and perceptive person that always makes the right call.
  7. The character I’d slap:
    Unzan.  The dude takes swings at me all the time, so I think I should fight back.  Though it’s probably not a great idea to get into a fight with a giant cloud that can crush you with fists several times the size of your body.
  8. A pairing that I like:
    Not on a romantic level.  I like Yuyuko and Youmu because the contrast between their personalities is an endless source of amusement.  Maybe also Yuyuko/Yukari because of the themes of friendship and loyalty.
  9. A pairing that I dislike:
    Yuyuko/Mystia – the I EAT YOU RAWRR thing lost its charm pretty quickly.  Same with Tenshi/Yuka, etc.
  10. Favorite character:
    Sanae.
  11. Five most favorite characters:
    Sanae, Patchouli, Shanghai, Suika, Satori.  Not so sure about those last ones.  It’s hard to rank exactly when the cast is well over 80 characters at this point.
  12. Five least favorite characters:
    Shou, Marisa, Wriggle, Unzan (SCREW YOUR FISTS), and Pyonta (Suwako’s hat.  The hat itself looks cool, but why anthropomorphize it?).
  13. Which character I am most like:
    Sanae.  Appears talented to some, but can seem very ordinary when placed near certain people.  Easily outshone by others and often winds up forgotten in the background as a result.
  14. My deep, dark fandom secret:
    Well, it wouldn’t be much of a secret if I wrote it on my blog.  But I guess I can say that I think I’ve gotten much worse at these games and have lost most of my motivation to play.  The charm is just not there anymore.

KyotoAni (FMP, Kanon, Lucky Star, Clannad, K-On)

  1. The first character I liked:
    FMP is the first anime I watched out of all of the above, soo…
    Female character: Tessa.  Cute girl who is one of the commanding officers of an elite army, designed her own submarine and has a cool-sounding name taken from a Ferrari.  What’s not to like?
    Male character: Sousuke from FMP.  It’s rare to see a male lead that is both a badass and funny as hell at the same time.
  2. The character I unexpectedly ended up liking:
    Tsukasa from Lucky Star.  I usually don’t like the token dumb girl, but Tsukasa was a strange exception.
  3. The character that everyone likes but I don’t:
    Konata from Lucky Star.  Again, not that I dislike her, but it’s just that I don’t find her particularly remarkable.
  4. The character that I like but no one else does:
    I’m fairly sure everyone I like in this list has his or her own fan following.  But I suppose Kotomi seems relatively unpopular compared to the others.
  5. The character that I think is the best looking:
    Akiko from Kanon.
  6. The character I’d want to be like:
    Akiko again.  She’s a background character who is impossibly good at everything, knows everything, but is happy to let people figure things out for themselves.
  7. The character I’d slap:
    Gaul from FMP.  Bastard deserves a good beating.  With a mech.
  8. A pairing that I like:
    Non-romantic again.  Probably Kagami and Konata.  Jokes bounce easily between them and they have some “daww” moments when they drop the comedy and actually be nice to each other.
  9. A pairing that I dislike:
    The comedy duo in Lucky Channel.  They weren’t really funny most of the time, and it was always kind of annoying to see them pop up because it meant you were about to get another 5-10 minutes of filler.
  10. Favorite character:
    Probably Akiko.
  11. Five most favorite characters:
    Akiko, Sayuri, Tessa, Kagami, Mio.
  12. Five least favorite characters:
    Random antagonistic people from Kanon/Clannad, like student council guy in Kanon or the soccer club guys in Clannad After Story.  There are at least five of them across the two series.
  13. Which character I am most like:
    Yukine from Clannad, maybe.  If you ask for help, I’ll help in any way I can, but you can also walk right past my room and finish the entire series without ever knowing I was there.
  14. My deep, dark fandom secret:
    I didn’t like Clannad After Story so much.  The whole thing was so relentlessly depressing that it eventually broke any emotional connection there was between me and what was happening on screen.

Ragnarok Online

(Questions modified to fit classes rather than characters)

  1. The first class I liked:
    Priest.  Was the first 2nd class that I made.  He sucked, but my later priests got better as I learned more about the class and various builds.
  2. The class I unexpectedly ended up liking:
    Wizard/Hwiz.  The server I “grew up” on was full of people who either went Soul Strike or relied entirely on FDing everything, so I wasn’t particularly interested in Mages at first.  I only came to like them years later, when I met a very skilled wizard who taught me the finer points of playing a wizard.  It turns out there are all sorts of neat little tricks you can do with wizards that combine certain spells, an excellent sense of spacing and timing, and movement cancels to make it all flow together better.  It made me realize how rare it was to see a good wizard, and how skill-based the class really was.
  3. The class that everyone likes but I don’t:
    SinX.  They are very strong, but ease of use, clear favoritism from Gravity and high killing power means that this class strongly amplifies the Internet Fuckwad rule.  The power gets to the heads of most people and then all of a sudden those players can’t stop waving around their e-peen.   Most of the assholes I’ve met on any server main a SinX.
    Secondary and far less venomous choice: Pally.  I acknowledge their strength and worth in a party, but I just don’t like playing one.  It’s not my style.
  4. The class that I like but no one else does:
    Gunslinger.  I admit that they are terrible (worse than useless in most builds) and inferior to Snipers in almost every way.  But a lot of people don’t seem to realize that a properly built and equipped Desperado Gunslinger turns a precast portal into a meat grinder more effectively than any melee class.
  5. The character that I think is the best looking:
    I like the brunette kafra with the ponytail. Best looking class is probably female Priest or HP.
  6. The class I’d want to be like:
    I suppose I’d go with High Priest.  Not for the religious stuff but because they are extremely versatile and helpful in any situation.
  7. The class I’d slap:
    SinX for obvious reasons.  Biochemists with Vanilmirths are second for similar reasons.
  8. A pairing that I like (not romantic):
    Knight with Priest: Not particularly special, but this setup has nostalgic value to me because I spent many hours leveling with a good friend this way.
    Bard/Clown with Taekwon Ranker: Maybe it’s just an eAthena thing, but Magic Strings-boosted kickspam = awesome.
    Taekwon Ranker with Priest: Another nostalgia thing.  This is how I met the aforementioned wizard player.  My TK partied with his priestess and we just intuitively worked together incredibly well, usually without any need to say anything.  We were each so pleasantly surprised at the other’s play that we spent a good while after the party trying to push some of the better drops we found towards the other person as thanks.
  9. A pairing that I dislike:
    Biochemist/Creator with Lex Priest: Now I know how useful this is (I’ve mained Creators on several servers and I definitely try to tape a Priest to me) because of the power and cost of Acid Demo, but this setup is not much fun for the Priest because you are only a slave that is expected to press one button and nothing more.
  10. Favorite class:
    High Priest.  Like I said, useful in any situation, absolutely vital in tougher ones, and lots of fun in parties because you always have something to do.
  11. Five most favorite classes:
    High Priest, Sniper, Biochemist (preferably a Lif), Lord Knight, Scholar.
  12. Five least favorite classes:
    SinX, Biochemist (Vanil), Champion, Paladin, Ninja.
  13. Which class I am most like:
    Archer, I suppose.  I do know how to use a bow, and I tend to be the random guy in the background.
  14. My deep, dark fandom secret:
    Every now and then I feel vaguely like playing RO again.  But that never lasts long because I’ve been fooled too many times.
Categories: Anime/Manga, Games, Touhou

Modern Warfare 2

March 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Another game I forgot to mention last time.

This is one of those odd games that felt incredibly awesome while you were playing it, but seems rather bland and unremarkable when you think about it after it’s all over.  Technologically, the game is a good step ahead of the first.  The graphics improvements look great, there are no more infinitely respawning enemies that spam grenades at you, and the voice acting is top-notch as usual.

It’s a little odd how this game isn’t nearly as impressive or memorable as the first Modern Warfare.  I’m not really sure what happened.  This game has a number of missions that feel as good as some of MW1’s better offerings (though they never quite live up to the best missions in MW1), but other parts of MW2 fall utterly flat and only feel like filler with high production values.  There are a number of points where the game obviously tries to do a repeat performance of some memorable event from MW1 (such as bunkering down somewhere and holding your ground until backup arrives) but they don’t work nearly as well.  Those moments don’t feel as intense while you’re going through them and are less satisfying to complete.

Modern Warfare 2 clearly tries to be more dramatic and epic than the first, but this also backfired.  The additional in-game “dramatic moments” fall into a similar pitfall as summons from older FF games: cool to watch the first few times, but too many of them too often and you start wishing that you could just play the game.  The story starts off nice enough but eventually becomes so over-the-top that it barely makes sense anymore.

Don’t get me wrong – I still enjoyed this game and I still think it’s good.  It’s just that once it’s all over, you look back and realize there are very few things that MW2 improves on over the first game.  It’s as if the developers were so caught up in trying to make everything more awesome that they forgot they needed good substance to back up all that flashiness and drama.

Categories: Games

Games and Skill Level

March 10, 2010 4 comments

Oh geez, people that carry smoke clouds with them on the bus…

I don’t consider myself a particularly competitive person when it comes to games.  I’ll strive to improve my skill level at anything I decide to play, but I don’t buy into the “play to win” mentality.  It’s a very narrow-minded view that ignores many reasons for people to play games (such as, you know, fun).  To be honest, I hate that crap because I feel it’s contributed to a trend in online gaming communities where people openly and unapologetically act self-important, arrogant and obnoxious.

A lot of people online make skill level personal, treating wins as proof that they’re better than someone and taking losses like personal insults.  While I think the way people act in a game reflects on their personality, I try to keep the way I regard someone separated from their skill level and just try to play the game.  For me, the ideal competitive situation involves people trying their absolute best to mercilessly kill each other when playing their game (whether it be a video game or a sport), and then heading out for dinner together once it’s all over.  Maybe that’s why the local Blazblue community is so appealing to me – they did exactly that.

I used to be much more competitive about things.  I have held unhealthy obsessions with certain games, which resulted in me spending far more time on them than most other people.  Naturally, the extra time spent meant that I eventually got very good at those games.  That’s not a boast – I’m not proud of that knowledge and skill because I don’t think it was worth the time spent to gain them.

Some people strive to be the best, and for some it is their only motive to work at something.  Maybe some are aware that there are many other people that are striving to do exactly the same thing, but hold this mindset regardless, thinking that he or she will simply beat them all and then all will be well.  That spirit is admirable, and it is even more admirable if you can maintain it over a long period of time, but I no longer think this is the way to go.

Let’s say that you – despite the fact that many, many people are striving for the same goal and may have more time, talent, or effort to spend than you – somehow become the best at something.  Everyone acknowledges you as the best, and you defeat every challenger to your title with almost casual ease.  What then?

Why did you spend so much time and effort on this?  To prove – whether to yourself or to others – that you are the best?  Did you enjoy all that practice or was it just a grind to you?  If you only wanted to prove something, then once you’ve proven it, was it really worth the time spent?  There are plenty of things in life to which your skill level at this one thing means nothing, and there are many people who simply won’t care.  If you enjoyed the competitive aspect of the game and thus enjoyed that climb to the top, good for you, but now that you’re the best, can you really say that there is any competition left?

Competitive games tend to be the most fun when you have someone at a similar level you can play with.  But if you’re the best, then you’ve isolated yourself.  You’re left waiting for someone to improve to your level and continue that competition.  In highly competitive fields with extremely large playerbases, that is likely to happen sooner or later.  But in smaller communities, depending on how far ahead you are, that may never happen.  At the same time, your status separates you from others that you once played with.   Less people may be willing to play you because the skill gap means that they will feel like they are bashing their head into a wall and you may simply be bored by the lack of challenge.

So after a certain point, your efforts to become the best will actually result in less play at the game you loved so much.  Your status and skill level may isolate you to the point that you are bored by everyone that you play.  In the end, you may end up dropping the game altogether because there is nothing left to do.  Is that really the result that you wanted?

It’s something to think about when you tell yourself that you want to be the best.  It’s natural to want to climb any skill ladder that you join, but you have to be careful not to go overboard on it.  Everyone knows that it sucks to be at the bottom of the ladder, but few seem to realize how lonely it must be at the top.

Categories: Games, Life

March Update

March 9, 2010 Leave a comment

I’m not dead.

First things first – I found a job and have been working for the past three months. That and the hideous commute that comes with it means much less free time, which is one of the reasons why I haven’t written much here lately. I’ve had a lot bouncing around in my head though, which is why I’ve decided to just carry the laptop with me to write during said commute.  But before I write about any of that, here’re a few short updates on games I’ve played lately:

Mass Effect 2

It’s a little odd how they’ve overhauled the entire system.  While Mass Effect  1 was more RPG than action, ME2 is more action than RPG.  So much so, in fact, that the game is now almost like a third person shooter with a lot of RPG elements.  The production values are still there though, and the presentation of the game is absolutely top-notch.  Like ME1, you can tell they really put a lot of work and attention to detail into making this game.

The cinematic touches they’ve added to the game, combined with the continuation of the story, fits fairly naturally with the same style from ME1.  I still can’t decide if the more dramatic moments feel awesome or cheesy.  It walks the line between those two.

Bioshock

This is one of those games that I meant to catch up on when I got my computer last year, but for some reason it never really clicked with me when I first played it.  But with Bioshock 2 out this quarter, I decided to give it another shot, and it felt a lot better than it had before.  I suspect it has something to do with how the work life has affected me these past few months, but I’ll get into that in another blog post.

The game does a great job of creating atmosphere.  The water effects are still beautiful despite the game’s age, and the entire city of Rapture has a sort of eerie beauty about it that shows up now and then if you look past the typical horror elements (though the focus of the game is in its atmosphere, characters and storytelling, so it doesn’t prioritize scaring you over those things).  The biggest disappointment with the game, however, is the fact that the PC version was clearly an afterthought.  There’s a bug in both Bioshock 1 and 2 where the physics are locked to 30 fps, regardless of the speed at which the rest of the game is running.  The problem is that most gaming PCs these days can run the game at 90 fps or more, so the physics always jitter and look like they’re moving in slow motion in comparison to the rest of the game.  Imagine how much this destroys the atmosphere that the rest of the game tries so hard to create until you learn to ignore the physics.

Anyway, physics crap aside, I enjoyed this game, though probably not as much as many other people because I wasn’t all that absorbed into the story or characters.  I’ve moved on to Bioshock 2 though, and I’ll probably post thoughts about it when I finish that.

Blazblue: Continuum Shift

I’ve always thought Blazblue looked pretty cool since the original version (Calamity Trigger) game out, but have lacked a console that has the game.  Cheatah aka kousaka recently told me about a nearby arcade that has a Blazblue CS machine, so I’ve been dropping by there every now and then ever since.  It’s been rough – everyone there is really good, the only fighting games I’ve really played are EFZ and IaMP, and I’m unfamiliar with arcade sticks on top of it all.  I’m willing to keep trying, though.  It turns out there’s actually a fairly active scene here, and everyone I’ve met so far have been really nice people.  I’ve only played in online fighting game communities until now (which is plagued with lag and people acting like douchebags because of the internet factor), so the prospect of playing a decent-sized community of people in real life is quite appealing to me.

I’ve been trying to pick up Lambda (the nerfed successor of Nu-13) and it’s been confusing in some ways and strangely intuitive in others.  Gameplay-wise, she’s a ranged character that lives off of zoning and lockdown but is vulnerable to rushdown, much like Mio in Long Range mode.  What surprised me though is how straightforward her tools look from watching tournament videos of her.  She has an instant overhead in her 2147D, both melee and projectile launchers, and a command dash that lets you fake the melee launch into a throw mixup.  And all of the above can be comboed if landed successfully.  It looks obvious, but usually I take forever to learn any sort of mixup or tactics for fighting game characters.  Maybe Lambda is just really straightforward in this aspect.  But having said that, just having an idea of how she works is completely different from actually incorporating the proper use of those tools into the way I play her.  That’ll take a lot of practice.

Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth

Typical Phoenix Wright-related goodness.  I like how they managed to make the same mechanics that we liked from the older games work just as well outside the courtroom.  They also managed to minimize the supernatural aspect of the Phoenix Wright world, which is good.

The references in the game continue to amaze me.  They even managed to slip in an “over 9000” joke this time around.

Left 4 Dead 2

I can’t believe I forgot to mention this game.  It’s basically exactly how a game sequel should be.  Valve kept all the good aspects of the original game and improved on the original formula by adding small (sometimes very subtle) adjustments that added to the experience.  The new infected classes throw a huge wrench into the way they are played in versus mode, the new items add interesting strategies to use as survivors, and sheer level design played a large part in rebalancing the entire game to accommodate the abovementioned changes.  Unfortunately I don’t have the time to play much these days, which has seriously screwed with my improvement in it, but this is one of the few games I’ve gladly spent over a hundred hours in.

So much for “quick updates.”  I’ll write about a few things in more detail later.

Categories: Games, Life

A bad idea.

November 22, 2009 1 comment

I’ve recently run into random forum threads about Twilight and its mixed reception. Hearing about rabid fangirls on one side and people facepalming on the other, I decided to look up some reviews, blog posts, quotes, and plot synopses to see what was up.

Bad idea.

That was spread out over the past two days. Today, I went with some friends to watch 2012.

Really bad idea.

In such a short time, I’ve been exposed to so much raw, dense and potent idiocy that I think I’ve taken years off my life. I feel a strong urge to study.

Categories: Life

Danmaku Shooter Guide

October 10, 2009 1 comment

As a final project for one of my courses, I wrote a guide that explains basic patterns and strategies for danmaku shooters. I picked the subject because I’ve been meaning to put together something like this for a while now, and also because I know a few people online who would be interested in reading something like this. I’ve repackaged a copy of it to be put up here. It’s in PDF format.

Link is here.

It didn’t come out as well as I would’ve liked, but hopefully some people will still find it helpful.

Categories: Games, STGs, Touhou