jackofallgeeks: (pl4y with 3vil)
I like MMOs.

I've played World of Warcraft, The Matrix Online, Guild Wars, Dungeon Runner, City of Heroes, City of Villains, and EVE Online.

Some are better than others. WoW has arguably the strongest base, but CoH/V gives you great control over customizing your character. GuildWars is subscriptionless and generally good; Dungeon Runner is subscriptionless and mediocre-at-best. EVE Online is a very cool idea, but comes of as dull and confusing. In fact, the only reason I've played EVE at all is because I got a free trial of it. After two days, I still don't know what I'm supposed to do or how to improve my character, so the odds of me *paying* for the game are slim.

The point is, though, offering a free trial is probably the best thing an MMO can do right now. "The first taste is free," and if your game can deliver then they'll come back for more. That's part of the trouble I'm having right now, or rather, that's the problem I wish I was having.

Tabula Rasa is out. It's a new MMO, big whup, but instead of being another Fantasy game (as it seems most MMOs are), they're taking a Sci-Fi track. That's nothing new, The Matrix Online and EVE Online are both Sci-Fi, but not being "another fantasy game" is at least a step in the right direction. In my opinion, Matrix was half-cocked and EVE is not-even but still, two points for effort. Tabula Rasa is even supposed to play less like a standard 3rd-person MMO and more like a 1st-person shooter -- hitting your target is still based on stats and die-rolls, but the look and feel (I'm told) is FPS. That's a good mark, too.

The trouble is, I can't seem to find a free trial to the game. Which is a HUGE obstacle to even giving the game a shot. To buy the software is $50 right now, and then to get a month's subscription is $15 additional. I'm unwilling to pay $65 on a game sight-unseen when there are other quasi-similar games that I already have a feel for. If it was, say, $20+$15, or maybe even $25+$15, then I might be willing to give it a shot, but $65 is just outrageous, *especially* when I have no idea what the game is actually *like*. If I'd paid $65 to get EVE Online I'd be pissed.

So, I'm stuck. I'd like to give Tabula Rasa a shot, I think it looks like good stuff, but I thought the same of EVE before I played it. I'm not saying that Tabula Rasa and any other MMO that tried to break onto the scene without a free trial is going to fail, per se, but I am saying it's unlikely that I'll be playing.

That being said, I'm going to hop onto CoH/V.

Edit: Apparently the $50 buy-in includes a month of playtime. That's still $35+$15, which at least brings it down to an almost-reasonable level. I still have my reservations.
jackofallgeeks: (pl4y with 3vil)
So, as my time here in Monterey swiftly draws to a close, I prepare to make my final purchace at The Game Habitat, the local game/hobby store where I've been spending the bulk of my weekends, playing MtG, chatting with the owner about any number of things, and buying a handful (or six) of boardgames and RPG books. The Game Habitat (which the owner wanted to name 'It's All Fun and Games' but his wife nixed it due to the intentionally implied 'until someone loses and eye') is one of the best local game shops I've ever had the joy to patronize (that's not the right word, is it...?), due in no small part to the great people I've met there, and I'm really going to miss it.

But that's not the point of this post. The point is I'm getting ready to buy a boatload of games, mostly RPGs, and as many of you on this list (1) play RPGs and (2) live in the area I'm moving to, I thought it'd be an idea to let you in on what I'm getting. Any opinions you have are unlikely to change *what* I get, but I'd really like to play (most of these) with you guys.

I already have most of the new World of Darkness, as as I've always liked the *idea* behind WoD, I'd love to play this new, more-integrated incarnation. In particular, I just picked up Changeling: the Lost and so far it seems to be everything I wish the Dreaming had been. I think, maybe, with a different storyline and slightly more organization and cooperation, it might be nice to try a game of it with some (or most) of the players I originally met at Loki's attempted Dreaming game. I know I'd like to see my character re-rolled in the new setting, and I *know* I'd like to see how our characters might've interacted if the game didn't... collapse onto itself.

Along similar lines, I've really liked the looks of Scion, and the second book (and thereby second arc of the story) comes out in another week or so. I think there's a lot of potential in that game, and who *doesn't* want to play the son of a God?

I just picked up the core rules for Savage Worlds -- a $10 core that supports some half-dozen or so separate, fully-functioning games. Of those, I intend to get Deadlands (supernatural horror in a twisted Wild West during the Civil War era), Rippers (supernatural horror in Victorian/Industrial setting, where people become monsters to hunt monsters), a game set in the middle of the Vietnam War (with a healthy dose of supernatural horror and a basic assumption that everyone will die withing a session or three), and Necessary Evil (a game where all the superheroes have been killed in a great betrayal and it's left to the super villains to protect planet earth from invading aliens -- LOTS of potential if thew villains are well-crafted, believable villains and not just the "you can't destroy the earth, *I* want to!" kind). I, uhm, tend towards supernatural horror, I think...

I'm also getting the Legend of the Five Rings game; I don't actually expect to *play* it, except with maybe my brothers, but there you go.

There may be a handful of others -- I already have the newest rules for Shadowrun and Ars Magica, both of which I'd love to play, never mind possibly treading into RIFTS...

Seriously, people, I *want* to RP. Honest-to-god table-top RP. I don't even mind (so much) if I have to be the one running the games -- I plan on having a house so I can certainly host games. I've time and again been denied playing in games, and I'd like that to change in the next couple years.

Heh heh, I'm starting to sound desperate, huh? Heh. Yeah. I'ma go now.
jackofallgeeks: (Setsuna)
Tonight was definitely one of the best nights of my life. It was just great.

Friday nights are Draft nights at the Game Habitat (the game shop I'm always referring to). We usually get a mid- to large-sized draw of players, and it's a nice time, usually whittling down to The Usuals by the end of the night. Saturdays are Constructed tournaments, which usually draws significantly fewer players -- almost always just The Usuals, and the games run a bit timelier because we're all playing decks we've personally tuned to the event. I like these a little bit better, partly because I feel more comfortable with my weapon of choice, and partly because there's less riffraff (and, as noted, I'm kind of an elitist). It's just the regular guys; we all know each other and we all kick around for a few hours with our shared hobby.

Tonight after the tournament (Haven beat Rob in the finals; I was running an experimental B/W deck dubbed "Save the Pandas" by it's original creator), a group of us went around the corner to Denny's. We ate some food, drank some coffee, chatted a lot about MtG, The Game Habitat, Judging, problem players, everything. We also played a cool little card game called Gloom, which I very much want to get now; it's loads of fun. Haven, Brent, Chris and I played a couple rounds of it.

After all that I drove Haven, Brent, and Chris to their respective homes. We got to hear about when Brent got beat up by a swan, and the strange wordplay games Haven and his siblings (Lyric, Cheer, and Eden; their parents were hippies) play. Then Brent asked what the band was that I was playing -- ThouShaltNot, which I admitted was Goth music. And apparently both Brent and Haven like Goth music (in retrospect, I think the large-gage earrings Brent has should have tipped me off), and Brent asked if I'd heard of VNV Nation -- if you're keeping score at home, VNV Nation is one of my three favorite bands! So he asked if I know Apoptygma Berzerk and was surprised when I said I did -- no one knows Apoptygma Berzerk, and he thought he was showing off.

So we got into this whole thing about my 'other life' as a Goth, and I told them how Leslie says "deep down inside I have black little heart that bleeds mascara." We got into talking about Goth clubs, anime conventions, leather pants, and randomly making out with Mint.

At one point Haven said, "It makes sense now: it only sounds like giggling, it's really the laughter of the damned!" We all laughed a lot. I laughed myself to tears -- which was bad, as I was driving at the time. My sides *still* hurt, I laughed so much.

So the three of us have decided we seriously need to hang out more, outside of weekly MtG events and stuff. They both already have my email (JackOfAllGeeks) and apparently they both envy me for it -- "We didn't I think of that," Brent said.

A very awesome night.
jackofallgeeks: (Default)
Thanks to Gameswap, I'm now the happy owner of Deus Ex, Final Fantasy VII, and Final Fantasy Chronicles (that's Final Fantasy IV and Chrono Trigger).

As soon as I have free time again, I'm so playing Chrono. One of the best games ever made for the SNES.

I need some tea.
jackofallgeeks: (Geeky)
So, a friend of mine recently got a message from LiveJournal telling her that her password was weak and that she should change it. Like so many users, she's was confused, because surely there was no way that anyone could guess her password. Someone else commented that they got the same, and their password was really hard to guess, too.

The thing is, yes, 'wubbliewoo' may be very hard for a human to guess, but we're not concerned with people sitting at the login screen trying to guess your password themselves. The problem is that a computer program may be trying to crack your password, in which case 'wubbliewoo' is trivial.

Special attacks aside, a computer program can do a Brute Force attack, where it tries all possible combinations of characters based on the alphabet in use and the length of the password. It tries 'a' then 'b' then 'c' moving onto 'aa' and 'ab' and 'ac' into 'ba', 'bb', 'bc' until it's trying 'hyttj' and 'hyttk' and so on. It tries everything, and when it finds a match, it has your password.

Brute Force will find your password, guaranteed. But it's a relatively slow process, if you make your password sufficiently difficult to guess 'for a computer.' This means a long password made of characters from a large alphabet. If you have only lower case letters in your password, you have an alphabet of 26 characters. If your password is then 4 characters long, there are 26^4 possible strings it could be, from 'aaaa' through 'zzzz'. That's nearly 500,000 strings, but we're talking about a machine that can make hundreds of thousands of guesses in a second. if you add a capitol letter to your password (even one capitol is enough to make the program have to try harder) then your alphabet is 52 characters, and 52^4 is a lot bigger than 26^4. Generally speaking, a strong password is considered to be at least 8 characters in length, using three of the four types of characters (upper case, lower case, numbers, and symbols). This puts you in the range of 92^8 or so, which will take a computer 6 to 12 months to break -- and presumably you'll have changed it by then. These policies about password make-up and duration aren't made to make your life difficult -- I've personally used a program that could crack a 52^8 password in under 5 hours, max.

The math in all of this is fascinating, but I'm saving you all from most of it.

"But how will I remember it?" My friend asks. Well, if you have a weak password, it's not hard to do minor changes (as far as a human's concerned) that will make it significantly harder for a computer to guess. The password 'foobar' is not the same as 'Foob@r', and just those two changes bump it from a 26^6 password to a 92^6 password. Additionally, though they say "don't write your password down," as long as you aren't concerned about someone in your immediate vicinity cracking your account, and you take precautions to keep it mostly-hidden from visitors, there's no reason not to. it's a bad idea for a manager to write down his password at work and leave it on his desk, but an LJ password at home is a significantly different situation.

DO NOT post your password online, anywhere. Seriously. if something's online, it can be found, period. The internet is so complex, and the 'rules' can be gotten around so simply by someone who knows what they're doing, that it's just a supremely bad idea. I'd advise stenciling your password to the side of you monitor before posting it online; much, much safer.

Caveat: OK, I really don't like making people paranoid, so I thought I'd add this in here. Yes, the internet is a dangerous place. if it's on here, it can be found. And yeah, if someone wants to crack your password badly enough, they will. But that brings us to the biggest protection anyone has on the internet: you're simply not important enough. And I don't mean that personally; in general, none of us are that important. If someone got my Bank info, he might be able to get, I don't know, a couple hundred dollars. If they hijacked my LJ, they could probably make me look pretty bad socially. But with the effort needed for either, the pay off just isn't that big. Now, someone like TheFerret, who's so well known her gets a mention in blog entries totally unrelated to him by people who don't even read his stuff -- he might want to be particularly careful about his security. The point is, you aren't important enough to put a lot of effort into, but if you have a weak password, it's not a lot of effort. No one's going to run a program for three months to hijack your account (unless you're the aforementioned TheFerret, maybe), but if they just have to run it for 5.2 seconds, it's trivial. The point is to make the payoff not worth the effort.
jackofallgeeks: (Default)
Emily: So it was weird; we fell asleep together watching a movie, and then woke up together, and we kissed. I've never had that kind of attention before.
Anastasiya: Try dating him. (Points to Andrew)

So, just a few quick notes. I helped Anastasiya move into school today, which became an all-day affair. Met her roomies and her friend Emily, who was very cool but a little sun-baked. Also realized that, between classes restarting, watching my siblings for mom, and my impending move West, I may not be seeing much of anyone anymore. It makes me rather sad...

I emailed Suzannah four days ago, saying, in short, "I like spending time with you, but it feels like you're ignoring/avoiding me; I leave for California soon, I'd like to see you before then." I haven't yet gotten a reply and, with her classes starting on Monday, I'm not sure there's time enough for it to matter. Which makes me very sad.

I have my apartment leased. I plan on flying out there September 12th. I'm going to be mailing most of my stuff to me. I'll need to buy a bed and a desk, and my parents are going to buy me a bike. Which I'll probably end up naming... I made a bet that I wouldn't... I need new clothes, too; NPS has a dress-code, similar to what I wore during Highschool, but I don't have those sorts of clothes these days. I'm rooming with Stephen, who I barely know, and was having a pretty nice conversation through email with Brian, another NPS'er who I hardly know. Brian has a buddy who's going to be going to MIIS, and we all agree that mingling between the schools will be a good thing. Those at NPS said MIIS is where the military sends it's girls for Master's Degrees. -smiles-

I should go, now. I have to pack up some stuff, and mom wanted to be on the road by 9am. Whee.
As a parting thought, GEEK in binary: 0100 0111 0100 0101 0100 0101 0100 1011
jackofallgeeks: (Goofy)
I was just talking with Claire (heeee) and gleaned a few interesting tid bits. I dare not record what I've learned here, for fear of losing my edge, but it was enjoyable. She got upset at me for it, and I told her she had plenty of stuff to hold over me, even if she didn't know it. She's got access to the, uhm, sources, where she can find out exactly what, too. I'm not going to say, uhm, anything about these sources here. that'd give it away. And what's the fun in that?

Claire also says she got pleather pants. Yes, pleather. Fun stuff.
Right.
No comments. ^_^*
She dam well better bring them, too, I wanna see.
It's only fair, after all....

We got to talking about how much of a bookworm she is, and I rather envy her for it. Admire is prolly a better word, because envy has a negative connotation. I wish I could read like she does. I also went into how I'm not a good Computer Geek, either. I don't know my computer's specs. I spent highschool out socializing instead of re-wiring my motherboard in my parent's basement. I'm moderately concerned with my general appearance (some whould argue that I'm moderately-to-highly concerned). I only know of so many different video games, disturbingly few of which are mainstream computer staples. And I don't speak Geek.

Claire said I was too hard on myself. I prolly am.

Along those same lines, I've made a few small steps towards learning C++. My friend, Louis, gave me a burned copy of his compiler, and all his C++ progs from highschool, but they're rather sloppy, and not very well documented. Jim, down the hall, said he knew SOME C++. Aaron gave me his C++ progs from Sophmore year at College Park, and they seem to be alot neater and better documented. In all cases, I've LEARNED very little, and I think I may well go out and invest in a "Learn C++" book and just study on my own. Hell, that's how I did all of Highschool.

Just cause it peppers the post with more computer-jargon which I love oh so much, Aaron did go over a couple of his projects with me. He pointed out that C++ "includes" where-as Java "extends", and pointed out a header, though I'm really quite baffled as to what that actually DOES. He tried explaining pointers, and I think I picked up on it, and he showed how to declare variables, and cout and cin (see-out and see-in) statements, each of which is alot better than Java's equivalent commands (System.out.prntln to print stuff, and almost no way to accept input from the user except through the command line, applets, or interfeces and a little code-word). Generally, I like to consider Java the "Windows" of programming - nice for the average computer user, but if you really want to be able to DO anything (much of which could skrew over your entire system) you have to know C++. That's why I want to learn it - it's so much more flexiblel, and once I puzzle it out, oh the power.

OK, enough meaningless babble. I'm sure there's something I could be doing, and if not, you know what that means! Sleep!
jackofallgeeks: (Contemplative)
It doesn't think. It doesn't feel.
It doesn't laugh or cry.
All it does from dusk till dawn
Is make the soldiers die.

-Onean children's rhyme


Do Not Overestimate The Power Of The Dark Side )

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John Noble

August 2012

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