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Kvarven (BOF70) - K8
Fjell i Dalen: G=9 E=7
Boblycat has gotten a new shine, and we hope the tribe will be happy with the new technology which we hope will be a good platform for the months ahead. Some modules are not quite ready, so please do as our friend here and call me if you encounter problems or miss particular features.
In other news, my sturdy old siemens phone has died and become an ex-parrot. It looks battered and beaten after living in a homeless existance with me. I feel a bit left out without a phone, but in a way it's also refreshing not to have a phone and not have to do any support. I am also surprised to find that Siemens went belly-up in the mobile business. It's obvious to most people that I don't really follow new technology. I need to get my hands on one of them ifones.
Another thing that struck me is that a new Sony game, which hasn't even been released yet has gotten a three letter acronym. It's LBP of course. Impressive to be known with a TLA before release. But then again DNF did it before them, and it might be finished this year too. As if.
Ok, Microsoft was first. And they shocked us with one thing and one thing only. They stole FF13 being exclusive to PS3. First time ever with a Final Fantasy release on an xbox. Must hurt for Sony as that was one of the titles that tilted me and many others towards buying the PS3. Not quite sure why Squeenix does this as JRPG has sold miserably to xbox-users. Maybe because the JRPG-heads seems to favour playstation these days. Otherwise the Microsoft presentation didnt shock or stun anyone. Some casual stuff about people singing, a bit like singstar I guess.
Next in line was Nintendo. Nintendo is targeting casual gamers with gimmicky social games, which is great fun, for a short while. A few nice games, like Mario and Zelda, otherwise Wii has been a long yawn. Wasnt much to announce there, except playing some instrument thing. Not my cup of tea. Boring. Cant think of a thing that tilts me towards buying a Wii. However, the DS is still a pretty cool thingie. And the more shocking thing is that Rock Star announces GTA for the DS. Family-friendly entertainment on a Nintendo!
So next is Sony. They lost FF13 exclusiveness. Fair enough, but it is coming to PS3 but far too late for Europe. Squeenix promises to be faster, but bleh. Long wait. Little Big Planet comes in October this year. Big tilt towards ps3. But bleh, nothing spectacular either.
So my impression is that only Microsoft came with any real news this year. But gaming looks good for both 360 and ps3 ahead with games like LBP, FF13, God of War 3, Fable 2, Resistance 2, Fallout 3 (banned in Aussieland), ...
I have had my PS3 for almost a year now. and I've rarely had time to use it. Now that I finally do, I find that it's already outdated: the 1.92 firmware won't allow me to log on to the Playstation Store at all.
I would have upgraded the firmware without a second thought if it weren't for the "RSX issue". In firmwares prior to 2.10, the hypervisor contains a vulnerability which allows the operating system to access the nVidia G70-based GPU. My primary goal for bying the PS3 was to code multicore programs and playing with graphics, so I have some incentive to retain GPU access. Of course, downgrading firmwares isn't possible unless I buy a modchip, and this one is near impossible to solder.
However, even if I keep the RSX hole open by not upgrading the firmware, there's actually no OpenGL implementation that will work with the GPU. The closest thing is the Nouveau driver, but that's a long way off, and nobody appears to be working on the PS3-specific parts. I'm guessing that if anything will materialize from this, it will be far into the future.
All hope is not lost, however. There's a Cell-based driver for Mesa under development by Tungsten Graphics and friends. They claim to want full GLSL support eventually, but that will take a lot of time and effort.
I'll delay the firmware update for a few more days, and check if there are any opportunities I've overlooked. There's something fundamentally upsetting by being at the mercy of big corporations. I bought the box. I want to use it for writing my own programs. Why should that be such a crime?
It's been pretty quiet on this journal lately, mainly due to a rather hectic and vagrant life, interspersed with bouts with the flu (evil tongues suggested TB -- I will pay them no heed). Not surprisingly, I've been unable to find a suitable apartment for the few months I'm going to stay in Bergen this time around. The start of a new semester means most apartments eligible for short-term rent have already been taken. Anyway, what I have been doing, is getting up to speed on the first edition of Soverign Stone, an RPG by Don Perrin and Lester Smith. It's designed around the Soverign Stone game/fantasy world created by Larry Elmore, Margareth Weis and Tracy Hickman, who should be pretty familiar names among RPGers already. The main reason I picked up this game was that it's not a d20 system. Mind you, I'm not directly opposed to the d20 system itself, in particular I find the Open Content game license to be a brilliant move. To the mainstreamers among you: there is a second, d20-enabledTM release of Sovereign Stone. I do have a penchant for "alternative" systems, however. My fascination is particularly centered around the varying roleplaying game mechanics. I always found that a major part of the allure of moving to a new roleplaying system was to experience new game mechanics. What is it about game mechanics that I find so engrossing? Is it memorizing rules and hitting co-players or game masters in the head with them? No, certainly not. My intrigue with game mechanics is how it helps influence the kind of roleplaying a given system favors. Granted, any amount of brilliant game mechanics can never replace a good GM for this purpose. Unlike the GM, however, one can bring the game rules home, read them in quiet on a Sunday morning (before going to sleep), and plan character evolution. Now arguably, characters evolve irrespective of the game mechanics, if for nothing else, purely based on the story they are intimately involved in. I've had the fortunate experience of playing rule-less campaigns with some of my friends which were every bit as good as the ones we've had with rule-ful campaigns. But I like to play rule-ful campaigns, too, as long as the game rules are not forced on me like a straight-jacket. I want the rules to reasonably capture the idea I have of my character. From looking at a character sheets to be able to get a rough idea of how I should act out that character. In my opinion, some (very popular) game systems fall completely short in this regard, by having too complicated, rigid and involved rule tomes, but I will refrain from naming any in particular. So, how does Sovereign Stone (SS) stack up? The first thing that strikes me as an old ArsM player, are some of the deceptive similarities between ArsM and SS. Both are mostly light-weight systems. The basic rules of SS are described in only ten pages. Both have rather flexible magic systems, completely unlike some other very popular game systems. Characters are (of course!) without levels, but rather have skills which can be increased independently, bought with progression points on a pyramid-like scale. SS has a small and simple set of advantages and disadvantages, collectively called traits. These are akin to the ArsM virtues and flaws. The SS traits are classified as major and minor, as is the case in ArsM5, though SS is six years older. There are some similarities in terminology, such as storytelling, botches, ability, traits, but both "ability" and "trait" refer to different concepts. Of course none of these properties are unique to ArsM, but they are the some of the properties I genuinely appreciate from ArsM. As usual, there are more differences than similarities, many of which I find very cute (if that's an applicable adjective in this context). The first is that each skill and each attribute is a die. A strong librarian may have a strength attribute of d10. He may be a skilled Beast Handler (you'd be surprised at the level of politeness of the clientele in public libraries in this game setting) at the Journeyman level, d8. When reclaiming and overdue book, he would roll attribute + skill of d10 + d8, against either a defence roll of the loaner, or against an appropriate difficulty level determined by the GM. Another cute detail is that the magic system does not separate ritual spells from formulaic spells. Each spell has a difficulty. Some spells are insanely difficult. To pull off an insanely difficult spell, the caster can keep rolling his Psyche + Magic Skill (separate skill for each element) and acumulate the results until he reaches the Spell Difficulty. For example, to engage in the customary, friendly banter and nocturnal passtime of necromancers, the Raise Dead difficulty of 101 must be reached. In combat settings, each roll requires a full round action, and also incurs a Stun Point. A typical character has at least a dozen Stun Points (max of Vitality + Willpower), but after spending those, the caster falls unconscious. Spellcasters with the Spell Cooperation skill can work cooperatively on a spell, thus making insanely difficult spells only difficult. Do I think it's easily possible to capture characters in SS in a way which makes them more than just flat, boring hack'n'slash automata? Certainly, the focus of SS is not dungeon crawling. The rules make it pretty clear that encounters with monsters should be exceptional and highly cinematic. Each monster should be a fleshed out NPC which is dealt with only at the finale of the adventure, in a memorable showdown. But apart from the story-oriented spirit of the rule book, there are also some game mechanics which support a story-driven (instead of monster-driven) approach to roleplaying. Given the skill-focused system, one is of course much freer to focus the character development in a fine-grained manner, compared to the older level-focused variants. The traits give colour to the character, and the generally light-weight rules don't get in the way of the fun. Some of the finesse provided in ArsM is missing, though, such as each skill and characteristic (SS attribute) having a speciality, each character having a set of personality traits (quirks). Also the home, background, motives and future of the character is not pushed as the focal point of the storytelling. SS is clearly intended for a more happy-go-lucky fantasy setting, but there's nothing wrong with that. Again, good players and game masters easily work beyond such short-comings, so this is not a major issue. Once I can scrounge up some more free time, I look forward to field testing this setting and system. People in a resonable geographical vicinity with similar inclination are free to drop me a line:)