@JD_2020 on Twitter
July 25, 2012Posted by on
Alright, here’s the deal. I understand this is a hyper-polarizing issue, so please keep the comments clean and mature, and above all else, productive. I mean no disrespect to anybody affected by a gun-related crimes. But I sincerely want to make my position known, and yearn to help improve the human race through thought reason and rationality – NOT fear.
We do NOT need stricter gun laws, nor would they result in less crime. Actually, making owning guns illegal would just make more upstanding citizens suddenly become criminals… Crime would increase instantly, intrinsically, because of this simple fact. Seriously, if guns were illegal in my country, I’d be a criminal because I would still find a way to get them. And I’m not a crazy murderous fuck, now am I?
I do not have this opinion out of blind partisanship. I am a registered Democrat, and mostly Liberal in my opinions on world politics. I always form my opinions through a process of deducing logic from careful thought, research, and evidence. In most cases this tends to align with liberal Democratic views, hence that’s my party, but I (unlike most) do not tow the party line “just because”, nor do I absorb and regurgitate other people’s words because I was lazy to do my own homework.
And I know that sounds a bit condescending, but it’s the truth. Don’t label me condescending just because I’m pointing out a sad truth – I wish desperately I were being truly condescending, because that would mean most of the world thinks rationally, and I’m just full of myself. But no, most of the world are followers. The blind leading the blind.
Another truth: Americans (and the world) tend to overreact to isolated incidents of mass crime. It’s because we as a species are fearful creatures. We saw this after 9/11 – Some bad people used airplanes – ONCE, ever in history – to commit a heinous crime, and what did we do? We racked up exorbitant costs creating agencies and placing travel regulations that further restricted our freedoms, and threw our nation into fear and turmoil. Let’s not get too far off-track, though. But I’ll pose a rhetorical question: Was there ever even an attempt of a similar crime since then? Did all this security successfully prevent a single thing? No. Not once. It was 100% a complete waste. You so much as raise your voice on a plane these days, and passengers will subdue you before letting something like that happen again, no TSA needed.
But back on track….
Every time there is a mass shooting, the world revisits gun laws. Should people own guns? Just how easy is it to purchase guns? The problem is, most of the people that talk about this issue have no idea what they are talking about, yet their voices are heard, and influence perceptions just as much as those who are informed. It leads to this terribly counter-productive degradation of rational thought that is then passed down generation to generation, and represents a measured de-evolution of society. It’s scary, way scarier than the chance I get mowed down by a maniac with a gun, let me tell ya’.
I don’t mean that in an arrogant way either. Allow me to explain: I just got done arguing with a person who believes gun laws should be more strict. Earlier today I had one with a person who thinks that nobody should own a gun, and they should be made completely illegal. Both of these people actually believe their words, despite the fact that both of them have never owned a gun, and have no idea what the purchasing process is like, nor had any idea what classifies a “military grade” weapon. They both thought “seni-automatic” means full-auto for crying out loud. So they were arguing for something they actually knew nothing about. How could those be their own thoughts? It’s not possible. They, like many others, were simply reciting someone else’s rhetoric.
First, let’s go over what I have to do to buy a gun:
- Must provide proof of residency in the county in which I am purchasing.
- Must have a valid photo ID issued in the state I am purchasing and have residency.
- Must submit to and pay for a background check upon every purchased firearm.
- Must submit my fingerprints upon every purchase.
- Must wait 10 days from point-of-sale, to actually picking up my firearm.
- Restricted to only one firearm purchase per grace period.
- Cannot purchase magazines with capacities greater than 10 rounds.
- Cannot have detachable magazines on rifles (must use a “bullet button”).
- Cannot purchase fully-automatic weapons without special permit (this is true of most states).
Now you tell me (perhaps in the comments below) – How exactly do you suggest we make that process more strict, aside from making it illegal altogether? And just how long and how much energy should we spend trying to figure that out?
People who argue gun laws should be more strict often times don’t understand just how strict they already are. It’s illegal to carry a loaded firearm in public in many states. It’s illegal to carry a loaded weapon concealed in all (or almost all) states without a special permit. It’s illegal to carry an UN-LOADED weapon in the open in some states (and/or just plain stupid, a good way to get shot by a cop with an itchy trigger-finger).
Now, in Aurora, CO, what Holmes did was very illegal. He still did it. You can’t purchase fire bombs in stores, they are very illegal. It didn’t stop him from finding a way to get or make them, did it? Why do people think had guns been illegal, he wouldn’t have just found some other way (on the black market, for example) to obtain what he wanted; the same way he got materials for his bombs? Do you really think what happened wouldn’t have happened the same exact way?? Just follow your own logic here; if that’s what you believe (guns being illegal would have stopped him from going on a shooting spree), then fire bombs should have never been rigged in his apartment. But there were… By your own logic, you have just contradicted yourself (“you” directed only at those supporting the argument I am referring to here).
Crazy people will be crazy, regardless of the law. Criminals are notorious for breaking the law. Why would you think bad or crazy people would abide by the law if it said “You cannot own guns”? Who could possibly argue or believe that?
But people do. They rely on “statistics” and “facts” as word of God, and throw logic to the wind in the process. Like studies that show gun-related crime rates in other countries are far less, per capita, than the United States. Many people think “It’s because they have stricter gun laws, or guns are illegal.” But they aren’t taking into consideration that their conclusion is inherently flawed. Maybe it’s not their strict gun laws; maybe it’s the better healthcare they have to treat mentally ill people. Maybe it’s the lower unemployment rate, so less of their citizens have to resort to crime to survive. Maybe it’s the environment in which they are raised (different media, different multimedia, etc). Maybe it’s a combination of all those things, and more. There are so many variables to consider, that no one study has ever (or ever will) adequately cover.
So to think that stricter gun laws – alone – would suddenly make America’s gun-related crimes decrease is an incredibly presumptuous idea, one backed by no truly scientifically sound data. It’s no better than a hunch at that point. I’m not willing to sacrifice freedoms for a hunch.
Now at the risk of sounding like a radical, I want to mention the most basic, fundamental fact that motivates me the most: It is my right and responsibility to bear arms. It is how my country was founded; citizens taking up arms against an oppressive government. Hell, by all indications, my current-day modern government may be encroaching dangerously on oppressive territory yet again. What if one day they are as-oppressive, if not more oppressive, than Great Britain used to be back in the 1700′s when they owned America? How will I secure my childrens’ futures if I sit back today and allow my government to systematically disarm me and my fellow citizens?
It would be terribly irresponsible of me, wouldn’t it? Can you definitively say the United States will never have a period of revolution ever again? I know I can’t say that. Imagine if back in the 1700′s, Great Britain made owning firearms illegal. Boy our world would be different today, wouldn’t it? Or would it… Maybe we’d have still found ways to get our firearms, and revolt. Whatever you believe in this regard, I’ve made my point!! Think about it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a crazed fanatic screaming out for revolution against my government – I am specifically *not* saying that. I am simply trying to make a point. Both on a practical level (bad people will continue being bad, even if it means breaking the law to do so), and on a less practical level (I may need to revolt against my oppressive government one day) – in both cases, the argument seems pretty logical here. Restricting gun laws are counter-productive, and only serve to hurt us, with very little chance of helping in the big picture.
Now, for some statistics since advocates of stricter gun laws seem to like to cite them so often….
Add up the aggregate gun-related deaths across America, including mass shootings, all-time. And it still doesn’t even come close to other deaths caused by much more common, more easy-to-obtain substances. Alcohol and Tobacco DEMOLISH the # of deaths by several orders of magnitude (add several zeroes on the end of the Gun deaths, and you’ll get Alcohol and Tobacco). Apples and Oranges you say? Alcohol and Tobacco aren’t violent crimes, those deaths are almost always accidental so it’s different. Okay then: There are almost as many Knife-related murders in the U.S. each year as Guns (I mean it, look it up). It’s like ~10,000 knife deaths, ~12,000 gun deaths annually, according to several reports. Should we outlaw knives, too? What about forks and spoons?
I am intentionally not sourcing my statistics for two reasons. One: I am trying to encourage positive behavior reform. If you want to argue with me, look up the facts yourself. You’ll find out your assumptions are probably wrong, and I succeed in improving your contributions to society’s current affairs. And two: No one report has it all, and every report tends to contradict another. The people who create the reports do it for a reason, and very few independent studies are truly independent (if you see where their funding comes from, you can get an idea for their agenda).
Nevertheless, I don’t want to be publicly humiliated by stating wrong things, so I’m not just blowing smoke here despite not citing sources.
Yes, people will do bad things. But do you really want to live your life in fear? Just how much freedom are you willing to sacrifice under the tattered veil of safety? Do you really believe making guns illegal (the strictest form of gun law) will stop bad people from being bad people? Why would that make you feel safer? I feel safer because I am armed. If I were in that situation, I’d have been able to fight back against the crazed gunman and save lives – possibly my own. That makes me feel safe. The real crazy thing here is, if I were carrying a concealed weapon illegally and killed Holmes before he murdered a dozen people in that theater, I’d be the one going to jail right now the way our gun law is currently written. To make that law even stricter would just mean to make that circumstance even crazier.
So that said, I’d like to hear your thoughts. Did I change anybody’s mind with this post? Please, I beg you, don’t dig your heels into the ground stubbornly just because your parents think something, or because you heard it on CNN, or because you’re a Liberal (which I am, by the way). Please think about what I’ve said here, do some research of your own if you don’t believe me, and really think rationally about this issue. Do you really believe more reform to gun laws is what we need to be laser-focused on right now? Of all the issues in our country (and world), is that the thing that needs our primary attention? Or any attention, for that matter, before the rest?
May 4, 2012Posted by on
When I heard Facebook would IPO around $30 – which in layman’s terms means each share of stock will cost only $30 initially – I started researching more about their IPO. I figured that, for the first time in a long time, I could buy a substantial position in a stock at a great price, for a company I think will eventually be trading in the hundreds of dollars range (like Google, and Apple). Meaning, I could potentially see a 10x return on my investment in a few short years.
After I started doing my homework, however, things started to get a little fishy…
For starters, What are some reasons that a company “goes public”?
- Raise capital.
- Improve the company’s public image.
- Attract better management and employees.
- Make the founders & investors wealthier….
Emphasis on that last bullet point.
I recalled back when they originally announced their IPO, Facebook stated they aimed to raise $5 Billion through the IPO, and were valuing the company at $100 Billion. When I started digging into their financials a bit deeper is when I started getting wary.
Facebook’s revenue in 2011, which was almost entirely advertising driven, was a mere $3.8 Billion – 12% of which was generated entirely through Zynga (social games, not exactly the most secure future). To put that into perspective, Apple’s revenue in 2011 was over $100 Billion.
Now here comes Facebook’s 2012 IPO, valuing the company at $100 Billion. How can a company be valued at $100 Billion when that company is only doing $3.8 Billion in revenue a year? That math doesn’t add up for me… Especially when you consider with 800,000,000 active users, that’s all that Facebook has managed to squeeze out of them is $4 Billion? How much financial growth can Facebook really expect to have? Even if they had every person on the planet using their site in a few years time, they’d only be doing ~$28 Billion in revenue if you extrapolate those figures out proportionately.
So when the math appears funky to me, it’s usually a signal for me to stay away from Wall Street. That’s when you lose the shirt off your back.
Then I read this little article, which basically says that Facebook founders and investors plan on selling more than $5 Billion of their own shares during the IPO. So precisely the amount the company originally sought to raise will actually be cashed-out. Remember that last bullet point? “Make the founders & investors wealthier.” Granted, $5 Billion is just a fraction of what the investors and founders own entirely, so they’re still holding on to the majority of their shares, but nonetheless it’s Wall Street getting wealthier through the common man.
So what? So the rich get richer, but I still have a chance to buy in at $30/share and sell while its trading in the hundreds of dollars range, I could still make a tremendous return on investment myself, right? Not necessarily… It’s not a given that Facebook will trade that high. For Facebook’s stock prices to go up to, say, $150. That’d give me a 5x return on my investment. That would mean Facebook’s valuation would be at $500 Billion….
… To put that into perspective, Apple’s valuation is currently at $500 Billion. Is it really realistic to measure Facebook’s worth (3.8 billion in revenues) up against Apple, which doing $100 Billion in revenue annually?
No, it’s not. It’s not even reasonable to project Facebook at half, or even a quarter of Apple’s worth anytime in the near future. What’s more likely is any number of things go wrong which wind up crushing Facebook. Frankly, I can’t even figure out where Facebook pulled the $100 Billion valuation from with only $3.8 Billion in annual revenue. It’s absurd.
So if Facebook’s stock price does triple, quadruple, or more in the months after its IPO, it will be for only one reason… Market manipulation. And the average Joe citizen, like you or I, cannot compete on the level of the Wall Street billionaires. They’ll always have the upper hand, and will always use us to line their own pockets further – Especially with such a high-profile public spectacle as the Facebook IPO.
So will I be buying into the Facebook IPO after all? Probably not. It’s relatively pointless at this point to participate in our stock market. Unless you’re in insider, you’re running an unreasonably high risk of getting abused. It’s best to earn your living the honest way.
Disclaimer: I am no financial expert, so take my advice with a grain of salt. This is a very elementary and trivial perspective on a tremendously complex and corrupt scheme. If anything, that’s more to my point.
April 12, 2012Posted by on
We’ve all had our run-ins with poor customer service. AT&T tends to have a higher frequency of such horror stories. Today’s is a little different. Not so much in the way that it’s a rant – this is a rant like any other, so strap in. What sets MY bad experience apart is the punchline. What’s the punchline of all this TL;DR cool story? My credit score has now been royally EFFED.
Let me give you a little backstory first. So when I left Treyarch in September of last year, it wasn’t just my employment that ended. My company phone line ended as well. Now, I knew I didn’t want to be an AT&T customer. But the only way to keep my phone # (since it was an enterprise #) was to port it out to another AT&T account – a personal account. Given that the Sprint iPhone was coming out a short 2 weeks later, my plan was as follows:
- Sign up for AT&T.
- Return the iPhone within 30 days (within their “buyers remorse” penalty-free window).
- Cancel my contract (again, within their 30-day penalty-free window).
- Get my Sprint iPhone (unlimited data FTW!)
And my plan went flawlessly…. Sort of.
At first it seemed fine. I went back to the store, returned my iPhone, told them I had gotten a job somewhere else and needed my number ported over to Sprint, and they totally were helpful and understanding and upheld their terms of service accordingly. I left the store a happy customer (of 2 weeks). Well a month later, I receive my AT&T bill in my inbox (note: I signed up for e-statements only). The bill was clearly an error, since I had canceled my contract right?
After calling AT&T, this is what they told me. Told me I had nothing to worry about. Another month goes by, and I get yet another bill – plus late fees. This time I physically go into the same AT&T store I originally got into this mess with, and they cleared things up. Apparently, I had to pay for the 2-weeks a prorated amount for the service I had used. The customer support rep I had called originally was simply misinformed. Okay, fair enough, they waived the late fee and I paid the prorated bill, and that was that.
I triply-verified with this douchebag – “So I am free and clear, yes? I owe AT&T absolutely no more money, is this the case?” – And he said “Yes.” I even had him delete my customer records from their system, as not to be bothered by it again. He said as far as AT&T’s billing department was concerned, “You don’t exist anymore, sir. You’re all set!”
A little aggravating, but at this point I’m fairly satisfied with their service…. I’m a reasonable guy, I get it, shit happens – it was nice for them to understand it wasn’t my fault and waive those late fees.
Fast forward to today – the first day I’ve heard anything about my old AT&T account.
What exactly did I receive? I received a letter in the mail from a collections agency, stating that they bought-out my account from AT&T, and I owe them an outstanding balance of $68 (which was precisely the late fee that AT&T wanted me to pay from several months ago, after they didn’t properly cash me out when I returned my phone). Plus, I now owe the collections agency all sorts of surcharges as well.
After feeling my core body temperature raise about 7 degrees, it’s at this point I issue this tweet.
Time-Out: I know some of my readers are a bit young to understand how credit works, so I want to explain why this is such a big deal. Once you start owing money in this country, you have a permanent record known as your “credit score”. This number represents to the rest of the world how good of a borrower you are. Any time you owe somebody money, and fall behind on paying that person (beyond their normal late-fee grace periods), you run the risk of negatively affecting this score. A score too low tells potential loaners not to go near you with a 10-foot pole. Now if you owe somebody money for long enough, no matter how moot the amount (in my case $60), and it goes unpaid for so long that a COLLECTIONS AGENCY gets ahold of it – you can bet your ass your credit score will tank. For just one indiscretion - in my case, an indiscretion I had absolutely no control over.
So I’m on the phone with this lady, Marie – nice gal. I warned her that I was in the red, and if I say anything to offend her while in a blinding rage to not take it personally. She seemed to play along alright, was very understanding as all customer service reps should be, and I didn’t take her head off too badly guys. I’ve been on her side before, I know it wasn’t her fault personally – but I made it very clear why I was irate, in-general.
She confirmed for me the following:
- The account was sent to collections mistakenly.
- The late fee that the store manager was supposed to credit back to my account, never got credited back.
- The prorated 2-weeks of service I paid was accurate, meaning had their store manager not screwed up, none of this would have happened.
- I had no address on file (WTF?) so AT&T never sent me any more notices after my final visit to their store (translation: I had no way of knowing I owed them money until the letter from collections).
Okay, so here’s AT&T “fixing the problem” for me. They say they’ll contact the collections agency, inform them that the account was sent their way by mistake, and have them remove me from their system. Furthermore, she “assured” me (sound familiar?) that I now owe AT&T absolutely ZERO dollars, and ZERO cents, and that my account is in good standing and is now closed (again….).
Then she tried to rush me off the phone.
“No no no, that’s unacceptable – what about my CREDIT?” I exclaim. You can’t measure the impact that this negative drop in my credit score might have on me. Future employment, buying a house, financing a car – anything that carries with it a credit check has now been jeopardized because of these asshats! “Oh I’m sorry, you’ll have to speak to my manager sir.” – You’re damn right I will, put me through!
After speaking to her manager, Michel Dennis, who sounded like a fat white lady who hated her life and was on a serious tough-gal streak, tried to bully me off the phone. Her words were, on paper, very politically correct. She was apologetic, profusely sorry for my inconvenience, and assured me they would do everything they could to make things right. Though her tone of voice had this hint of “Go fuck yourself” to it that really rubbed me the wrong way. Though, it made sense very quickly.
I asked her politely: “Can you please get in touch with the credit bureaus and notify them that this was your mistake, and return my credit score back where it belongs?” Her response: “Well unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do about that… Once the ding hits, it’s done and over with. Fortunately though it will rebound if you continue to have a good credit record. I’m sorry that’s the best I can say.” ….. “Excuse me?” I exclaim. “I’m sorry Mr. Olin there’s just nothing else I can do, we’ve done everything we can to help you.” – Oh boy…
At this point I begin to lose my cool. I reiterate to her the facts: I did everything right. You did everything wrong. I’ve never had a late payment on anything in my entire life. My credit score has taken a serious hit as a result of your company’s screw-up… And I’m the one that’s shit out of luck? “Yup.” (paraphrasing her response).
Astonished at the complete lack of care or common decency – her total and utter indifference to this situation – I ask: “Alright, I have total confidence that you guys have cleared this up on your end, and will get this collection agency off my back. However, how exactly does AT&T plan to compensate me for the damage done to my credit score?” This is what she told me, I swear to god: ”Well had you still been a customer with us, we could compensate you in the form of a credit to your account or free product… But unfortunately you’re not a customer with us anymore, soooo….” – Repeat that last quote, but with a cunty undertone in your voice…. “You’re god damn right I’m not a customer with AT&T anymore, are you mental???” I said that. Remember, I’m in the red right now. So I can’t be held accountable for the things I say… I warned them of this.
At any rate, I had her verify this was AT&T’s final stance on the whole thing, and I told her as politely and un-threateningly as I could that I would be writing my congressman, district attorney, and conferring with my own counsel on how to pursue this matter. She very brashly said she was sure, and hurried me off the phone.
So that’s where I’m at. I was serious – I spent a good chunk of today documenting all of this, and I sent off a nice long letter to Rep. Karen Bass (my congresswoman). I’m not entirely sure what outcome I expect… But I feel like somebody should be accountable (AT&T, more specifically). I told her about my customer service experience, and the fact that the first lady I spoke with – Marie – seemed to be following a very specific step-by-step guide as to how to open a case to recover my account from collections. Meaning, this happens to enough AT&T customers that they have internal knowledge bases that they disseminate to their Tier-1 customer support reps on how to handle this sort of incident. If it’s that widespread, something needs to be done.
I’m fortunate. I’ve had a pristine credit record my whole life, so despite this hit, I should still be able to carry on with my life the way I always have. But what about your average American who is behind on bills in this economy? Who owes student loans, and can’t afford to have interest sky rocket on them? I have to imagine this type of incident has seriously ruined some people’s lives, and that to me is absolutely unacceptable.
I don’t believe there is no way for a credit bureau to reverse a penalty to your credit score. I refuse to believe that there’s no way to undo a mistake like this. And if there truly is no way to undo something like this, then that’s got to change. Hopefully my petitions to various state departments will yield some sort of answer to these questions, if not some sort of change.
And maybe I’ll just sue AT&T over this… I mean, it is the American dream after all.
April 10, 2012Posted by on
While I know one night is nowhere near enough for a full picture or thoughtful review process of a game as massive as Firefall, I do believe there is an invaluable merit to first impressions. Here’s mine. Oh, and I’m not a professional games reviewer, so I adhere to no review standards – full disclaimer .
What I Loved:
I loved the universe you’re set in. As an RPG FPS, a level of depth and complexity to the world is paramount. Red 5 Studios hit the nail on the head in this regard. I’m also a big fan of crafting in my RPG’s, and it’s clear Red 5 is as well!! I like that the classes you play are all well defined, and in order to be an effective squad roaming the open world, it’s important to have teammates who know their roll – all solid elements that comprise a great RPG FPS.
The game is incredibly beautiful for a Free-to-Play game. In terms of visual appeal, you would think this game had a monthly subscription, or cost $60. It’s clear the team handled “Free-to-Play” properly, and didn’t read it as “skimp on quality since we’re giving it away for free.”
In short, my first night was incredibly fun! Despite the natural learning curve inherent in all new games – especially environment-driven RPG’s – I never had a dull moment in Firefall.
What I’d Love:
Bear in mind, this is an early beta build of the game I am playing. Invite only, in-fact. This means there are a ton of things the developers have restricted (made impossible to unlock or experience), as well as a ton of bugs. I won’t focus on a bug intentionally here – and it’s very well possible some of the things listed below are in the final game. They were not, however, in my first Beta experience:
- Fast recalling back to town. Since there is no apparent penalty to dying, I found myself just committing suicide rather than trekking all the way back across the world. Might as well just have a mechanism to get me back to town that doesn’t involve me kamikaze-ing to my demise.
- Faster leveling (which perhaps would require a higher level cap). It’s such a long road between any given levels – even Level 2 and Level 3 – that it felt like I wasn’t really getting much of any reward. We mined for a good 40 minutes without leveling up at some points (felt like an eternity). Especially since my next ability unlock wasn’t until Level 4, this was excruciating. After playing for about 7 hours, for example, I was only Level 5.
- More glider launchpads. Gliders are what allow you to move the fastest through the world, and are a ton of fun. I’d like to see them in more places, or even as an item or ability!
- Scaling difficulties around your Thumper. Your Thumper is a device that mines resources from the planet. These resources are how you craft new items, abilities, and upgrades. You call in a Thumper when you discover a rich mining vein in the ground, and then the noise the Thumper generates pulls waves and waves of creatures to the surface for you to fend off until the mining process is complete (generally takes 5 minutes for each Thumper you call down). The only problem is, these waves were a piece of cake (and as a result, started feeling tedious after a few hours of gameplay) once my whole team was Level 5 or higher. Granted, we only had a Light Thumper – a Heavy Thumper I suspect would mine a lot more resources, but also draw in fiercer enemies. Nonetheless, if we call in, say, 5 Thumpers in a row in the same general vicinity, it would be nice if the game knew we were on a streak, and ratcheted up the difficulty of subsequent waves accordingly. And perhaps the XP reward could also increase accordingly. Instead, we always knew what types of enemies were coming every time, and it got a little on the repetitive side.
- Nametags on the mineral readouts when you are using your Hammer! The way you discover rich mineral veins in the ground is by smacking it with a giant mallet in your inventory. A readout placard will appear on your squad’s screens indicating the % of each resource in that area. The only problem is, with 4 or 5 squad members all checking different spots for plentiful veins, and the way the placards are delayed in appearing (and can queue up so a few will appear in a row, like the notifications on Xbox LIVE), it becomes difficult to tell whose hit yielded the highest readout. If each placard just had the name of who hit the spot, it would make this process much more streamlined and less frustrating.
If I Had To Pick Just One…
If I could change only one thing about the game, it would be the scaling difficulty around your Thumper. Since it would seem most of your time will be spent using this device to mine resources, and also to attract hordes of enemies to harvest XP for leveling up, it is imperative this experience is the most fun experience in the game. Right now, there’s some room for improvement.
I can’t describe how much fun it was to see our Thumper get down to 20% health, and still have a lot more mining capacity. That real-time worry of: “Should we recall it now, and miss out on all these minerals???” – because if the enemies destroy it, you lose ALL the minerals it had mined (not to mention your Thumper!) This fear really makes you put your skills to the test. You feel this heightened level of excitement, which just makes you feel like more of a badass when you successfully fend off that last horde while your Thumper fills to apcity, ending at 8% health.
The only problem is, this happened to us maybe 3 times the entire evening. The rest of the engagements we fended off with our Thumper never reaching below 50% health. Meaning, the rest of the engagements (probably close to 100), were relatively forgetful. Of course you don’t want every encounter to be super intense, or it would de-value the excitement level and make the game too frustrating – but that’s why I think scaling these Thumper encounters is crucial.
This way, if we call in 3 or 4 Thumpers in a row, and feel we’re getting a little outmatched at that point, we will be more inclined to return to town, purchase new upgrades, etc. Or, at least we will relocate to a new mineral vein, and thus be exploring new parts of the world in the process.
The Single Most Fun Moment:
This was my fondest memory of the evening. I absolutely LOVED The Chosen invasions. Now I’m not steeped in the lore of Firefall yet, so to me, The Chosen are this class of very powerful enemy NPC’s that wreak havoc on various cities in the world of Firefall. They stage invasions on towns, as well as your mining sites. Anytime they are near, your squad is issued a side-quest to push them back. At first these were just like normal, slightly more challenging random encounters. But at the tail end of last night, one battle stood apart from the rest…
We discovered a Chosen ship flying 50 meters above the ground right on the beachfront of our home town, dropping more and more Juggernaut Chosen and Grenadiers to flank their standard unit. This shielded ship offered an entirely new challenge. I said over Skype to my squadmates: “Whoa, I’ve never seen this before…” and they paused and went “Uhhh… Me either!” So we had to quickly react, simultaneously investigating it and assaulting it Battle L.A. style – without fully understanding what it was!
The ship was shielded, offering a level of uncertainty. We had no idea how to penetrate the ship’s shield. So our only choice was to gradually push their front line back until we could get closer to explore it. Even now, we are not positive how we defeated it – which is cool I think! After 20 or so minutes of fighting, we finally disabled the shields – again, not fully understanding *how* is sort of cool in my mind. With the shields down, it allowed us to eventually destroy the ship, completing our mission, bringing with it a huge gamer-high and feeling of great accomplishment.
Despite how quickly as I was able to describe it here, it was so much fun playing out in person! From discovering this brand new *thing*, to having to react on-the-fly to their presence and immediately organize and stage a successful assault was the most amount of fun I have had in a video game in a long time. To top it off, I had a full squad of teammates playing their roles perfectly – the Medic was healing us, the Mechanic was repairing the Turrets and Healing stations – and we were all fighting as a single unit.
I’ll be playing the game again tonight . And tomorrow night. And probably over the weekend as well!
March 18, 2012Posted by on
Well, I wanted to tweet out a question that I knew would spawn off a number of conversations that would far exceed 140 characters. So here goes:
Will Facebook ever be usurped, as was MySpace?
The typical answer is “of course!” All good things come to an end, and Facebook will inevitably fall to someone else given enough time. That’s the rationale most people I talk to about this have, anyway. I think it’s a little deeper, and more complex than that.
Most people look at Facebook in its current form. They see it as a website they have to visit (albeit, one they visit a LOT, presently). Even with the mobile shift Facebook has seen, people still look at loading up that app as “visiting Facebook.” Right now, Facebook is a destination for people. But what people aren’t thinking about is: “What happens when Facebook becomes the source?”
Just how far off is Facebook from becoming the universal authentication / online identity registry for the entire connected world?
What I mean is, consider the number of apps that currently connect with Facebook. Now consider the rate at which businesses are embracing Facebook. Couple that with the direction Facebook seems to be moving with the Graph and other platform infrastructure (Google it, I won’t waste everyone’s time here)…. Hell, some companies / applications / games with their own separate business models and corporate structures are 100% reliant on Facebook for their revenue.
Facebook makes it incredibly easy to give companies access to an alarmingly well defined, well analyzed install base of customers who use Facebook every single day. It’s almost taboo if your company doesn’t connect with Facebook these days… Are we really that far off from a shift whereby all companies exclusively connect their users via Facebook?
Personally, I hate having different authentication policies & profiles for practically any site I visit on the web. I have never had my Facebook (or any) personal account compromised (excepting security breaches outside of my control). So for me, if I could authenticate with every site on the Internet, through Facebook? I’d totally be down with that! As I’m sure many other people would be as well – especially if (pronounced: “when”) security and privacy innovations are bolstered to further lock down my life should that fateful account breach occur.
So I guess what I’m asking is, can you imagine a connected world – Internet, mobile, you name it – powered completely and utterly by Facebook? Is that possibility practical? Rather than trying to comprehend the magnitude of such a question (and invariably failing, so just defaulting to “No, that’s not possible” as your answer), try asking the reverse: “What’s to stop this from happening?” If Facebook makes it so easy for businesses and governments to access its constituents – what stands in their way?
“Well the user, of course!” The users stand in their way, and people wouldn’t tolerate this kind of change. I’ve heard this argument once today. Facebook talked about a stat a year or two ago, I can’t find it now and don’t want to waste time sourcing it, but it said that the majority of users who “quit” Facebook, return. The social pull from their friends is too overwhelming to resist. If that social pull is too overwhelming to resist, do you really think if all your favorite companies and brands began utilizing Facebook for authentication, you could resist it? If the only way you can order a pizza online is by signing in with Facebook, would you really stop ordering pizzas online?
So ultimately, this feeds back into my original question: Will Facebook ever be usurped? If they keep innovating at the pace which they are currently setup to maintain, such that at a product level consumers always remain happy — And if they continue to colonize world economies, governments, organizations, and industries as they have been — Is there any real way to stop Facebook?
And if this is indeed the direction Facebook is heading, will that be too much power and responsibility for one company, public or private, to handle?
I expect a lot of people at all levels of society – consumers, businesses, and especially politicians – are asking these very same questions. Regardless of Facebook’s publicly stated and planned direction, I expect to see a great deal of scrutiny from world governments, beyond your average “company Xyz going public” probing.
What are your thoughts? Please share them in the comments below . Oh and if you liked this post, please share it with the buttons up top! <3
March 16, 2012Posted by on
Myoelectric‘s Zombies Ventrilo Montages are of my favorite YouTube content for a few reasons. First, it’s Zombies! Zombies (especially the Call of Duty variety) are near and dear to my heart. Second, most of their content comes from the PC, which is where my gaming roots come from. Third, they’re a hilarious group of people, whose comedic timing in their video editing is nothing short of genius.
I liked their Ventrilo Montages so much, I just had to participate in one. Back when I was still working at Treyarch, we recorded a bunch of games, which were combined to produce this remarkably hilarious video montage!
Now there are some references in there to previous montages they made, which were equally (if not more) hilarious. I’ve embedded them here for your viewing pleasure:
As bonus content, they’ve been uploading some of the raw full gameplays from our recording sessions on their YouTube channel. So head over there if you’d like to see more. Regardless of whether I participated in their content or not, I highly recommend their stuff.
March 11, 2012Posted by on
As you probably already know from Twitter, I attended GDC 2012 this year. The most you’d probably gather from Twitter, however, is that I drank, partied, and had good times with good people. But I want to make something clear… Much more goes on than just those things. And it’s important not to characterize GDC (or its participants, myself included) as one big party.
The much more boring side to hear about (albeit quite enjoyable to do in-person) are all the lectures, seminars, workshops, and of course exhibits. But the business that goes on during the day – often times behind closed doors – is simply not as exciting or even practical to go talking about publicly, so you naturally see less of it on Twitter feeds and Facebook timelines.
The night life, however…
Some GDC attendees choose not to participate in the after-parties, which is fine. Other people in the industry will thumb their noses at the mixers and parties that go on (as if alcohol and fun don’t belong at GDC? Or like they’re above it even?). But I’ve found some of the best business and networking goes on at such venues, post-convention business hours. And under the right circumstances, I’d even trade my expo badge in exchange for all-access to the after-parties and social mixers.
It’s not about getting a potential client or employer drunk, and building a deal on questionable moral grounds. It’s about taking what might otherwise be uptight business down a notch and breathing a little. Like in any good negotiation, it should just flow naturally and casually. Business (and networking) over cocktails is a great way to take the harsh edge off of things.
And don’t get me wrong, it’s not just about the alcohol either. I am a fan of it, believe me. But not everybody is – which is fine! Actually, if you choose not to partake in consuming poison, you’re probably smarter than I am. But you can’t just do business with fellow straight-edge persons like yourself. The mixer or after-party is a great place to catch people in a less scrupulous, casual environment, even if you’re not drinking that particular night. (For me, that’s usually because I’m hungover from last night!)
Of course the part about trading my badge for the parties was mostly a joke. Not all business is done at an after party, and in reality not much useful business typically is done at a party, period. However, the relationships built at a mixer often times lead to a more meaningful, professional meeting the next day or week, so it has its place in the order of things.
But yeah let’s face it, you’re not going to pitch a venture to an investment board with Party Rock Anthem blasting in the background at 140 decibels.
One last useful bit about after-parties though? They’re like a douche bag’s natural environment. See, during the course of your normal business day, in a formal setting, a douche bag can conceal himself quite cleverly. Often times you can never tell the douche bag apart from a genuine fellow looking to network or do business. You get a few drinks into a bona fide douche bag in and around a VIP lounge, however, and they suddenly feel more comfortable and at-home… They tend to let their guard down. Before you know it, he’s babbling on, boasting similarities between his life and episodes of the TV show “Entourage”… Bingo! Now you know who maybe isn’t such a good prospect after all.
Now that’s not to say everyone socializing at these parties are douche bags, because they’re not – so let me stop you right there Internet before you try to twist my words around! The analogy: I like honey, and bees like honey (arguably more than I do). That does not, however, make me a bee.
Bees are douche bags, though. Known fact.
March 3, 2012Posted by on
Alright. At the behest of the majority of my Twitter followers tired of reading poorly formatted TwitLonger rants, I have decided to start a blog where I can share my views and opinions (whether they be gaming, politics, or whatever) with anybody who cares to hear them.
I come from a web background, so setting up a blog was the easy part. The hard part was picking a domain name. After considering all the usual suspects (and discovering JD2020.com was taken by a fan…), I decided that the standard “FirstNameLastName.com” format was too boring for me. So I looked to one of my favorite JD_2020 memes around, #BlameJD, for inspiration. Frankly, I assumed the domain was taken long ago, but figured it wouldn’t hurt to see who owns it or when it would expire….
But, it was available! What are the odds? I ask not out of arrogance, but out of sheer probability. Ignoring who I am, or what I did in the industry for a minute – just imagine all the people that go by “JD” in the world. Wouldn’t somebody somewhere have created a parody site making fun of their buddy, blaming him for something stupid he did or something along those lines?
And yeah, in the Call of Duty community, Blaming JD became quite a common occurrence during my tenure. Hell, t-shirts were made. Considering all the parody sites that *did* exist poking fun at me, you’d think this, the most obvious .com, would have been one of them.
Well, it wasn’t. So now it’s mine! If you want a little more history on #BlameJD, click here. And otherwise, welcome to the blog. Hope to see some familiar faces join me as I continue to navigate through the industry!