Back in the Saddle

Seriously?! Has it really been around three months since I posted in this thing?

I really shouldn’t be surprised. I have a terrible habit of getting really hung-ho about stuff like blogs and then just losing interest. Well, that’s not accurate. It’s more that I have a thousand other things that I decide to do.

So. What have I been doing for the last few months?

Well, let’s see…

  • Started a successful Brony group at Blizzard, who’s had one major event and is about to have a second.
  • Made it through an entire week without the kids or the wife as she took a vacation up in Reno while I remained working. That was a strange week. (And yes, it was really just a vacation)
  • Had issues with panic attacks on and off.
  • Successfully won NaNoWriMo 2014, making it my fifth year running.
  • Finished my rewrite of the webcomic novella Stormhaven into a full novel clocking in at 84K words.
  • Helped launch Warlords of Draenor, one of the most successful expansions Blizzard has ever released.
  • Played WAY TOO MUCH Warlords.
  • Before Warlords launched, I managed to secure the Challenge Mode: Gold achievement for Tyrimon, my Paladin, getting me the special transmog set and the now-impossible-to-obtain Pandarian Phoenixes.
  • I also managed to get Heirloom Weapons from Garrosh Hellscream for all my major characters and managed to get Laura a Heroic Kill of Garrosh as well before 6.0.2 launched.
  • Made it through Tali’s birthday party and associated events.
  • Attended my first Blizzcon as a Blizzard Employee and worked my first Blizzcon as a Blizzard Employee (I helped out with the SC2 tournaments…funny because SC2 isn’t something that really grabs me).
  • A thousand other things that I can’t even process.

I’m still doing the Pony thing. In fact, after today, I’ve decided I’m even more into it than ever before. I’m going to make it my mission to get it through people’s head that being a fan of MLP:FiM isn’t a disturbing or weird thing. Now there are always going to be ignorant people who don’t want to learn things. I don’t care about them. I care about the people who have brains and who just don’t know.

Because I used to be one of them.

I’m not leaving Blizzard anytime soon. I’m making a difference there. A big one. 🙂

But right now, I’m just dropping by to say I’m here.

Next week, I’ll have something more substantial.

Until then, good luck and have fun!

-rks

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NaNoWriMo Status: Victorious^4

National Novel Writing Month 2013

Well, let’s talk about the most important thing first shall we? After all, this is supposed to be a writing blog.

For the fourth year running, I have claimed victory in National Novel Writing Month. I’ve even already added my badge which you can see to your right if you’re on my main page.

Here are the stats:

Novel Name: “The Crafters of Taylin: Book III – Between Magic and Steam” by Ryan K. Stansifer

50,000th word: “Shall”
Final sentence: “…Vreen’neba nodded. “Head to gardens at the rear of the building. I shall summon an Elder Guide for you. They should be with you within a quarter bell.”…”
Characters: 278,510
Pages (paperback): 133
Pages (printed): 236

Date Completed: November 27, 2013
Time Completed: 4:02PM

Special Note: For some reason, when I first hit 50K and posted it into the verification program on the NaNoWriMo website, it showed that I was 300 words short! So I had to work for another little bit before I actually won. 🙂

And for the first time, I have donated to NaNoWriMo and purchased a Winner shirt too. I thought considering my circumstances, I needed a little reminder that I managed to pull this off.

I’ve been working on it on and off since then. I’ve taken a few days off, but today I punched out over 2200 words and I’ll admit it felt really good to do that. I want this story to move along. It feels different with this story. I feel like I have some serious momentum…and that it’s going places. I do worry I’m spending a bit too much time gawking at the scenery, but we’ll see. I’ve been told I often skimp on that, so maybe I’m just fixing it now.

Anyway, that’s the big thing. Huzzah!

And just for fun…here’s a Wordle Word Cloud of it!

NaNoWriMo 13 Word Cloud

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II

This was a little something I got myself this week during a few of the Steam sales. I’ve been wanting to play this game for a while now and I found I enjoyed it. In fact, after finishing it, I decided to do a rough review of it, just for fun. I’ll post this in the Gaming Section later.

Review of The Force Unleashed II. (Warning: Minor spoilers to follow)

Well, I just finished Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II. I liked it. And I know the true purpose of this game was really to feel as if you had complete and total control over the Force…and then some. In truth, to become a wrecking ball of Force Power. And I felt that sense. It was pretty freaking amazing. The sequence at the beginning of “The Return” was just amazing and audacious as hell. The boss fight when going after Kota? Even more amazing.

The cons though? Far and away the game felt too short. According to my playthrough, it was a little more than 9 hours. Now, it’s been some time since I played the original (which was just as fun), but I felt that this was a lot shorter. I also felt a little disappointed by the lack of environments. The fact that you don’t ever actually face off against Boba Fett bothers me. I felt like I missed an entire level.

And there were a few points where the combat was hard. I know they were going for the “special moves” style but while I played it on a 27” iMac on Boot Camp, I often didn’t see the special move button until it was too late. I often found myself just punching the random buttons I’d seen them to be and hoping I got lucky.

The story was solid…for the most part. But some questions are never answered…especially regarding what happened with Juno at the end. (I don’t think that’s too much of a spoiler). And the ending was a bit too much of a cliffhanger for me…especially since what we see at the end is obviously not the end result before the events of Episode IV. What can I say? I’m big into continuity (I remember the first one was an excellent example of working perfectly within the canon established by the movies).

Characters were pretty good. Starkiller was a bit…one sided, but the voice actor did a great job delivering those lines with the passion that was needed. Kota was a great version of a Jedi General we don’t often see…the rough and tumble brawling Jedi. Vader’s voice? Pretty darn close to the original James Earl Jones…as was his dialogue.

There’s only one hiccup…I think there was actually a choice at the end of the game…as I saw it for a brief second…but I think for some reason my version of the game (Steam) skipped it. Huh.

All in all, probably give it a 7/10.

Gaming Expanded

I enjoyed the double XP weekend in SW:ToR in the last few days. I managed to hit 45 with Jedi Lyssinna and took down the “Fallen” story quest line.

Haven’t played WoW much. But there are some other games I’m looking forward to playing soon. I’ll let you know what’s active next week. 🙂

I did also finish Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Now this? This was freaking fantastic. I loved it. I loved every freaking moment of it. It was a hell of a ride. That one requires a lot more time to give the story its due, so I’m not doing a review right now. But if I had to give it a score right now it would probably be a 10/10. Even better than the original. I can’t wait to get my hands on Uncharted 3.

New Equipment

Well, I don’t know if I mentioned this last week or not, but I ended up getting an Apple TV recently. I was pretty much forced to do it when I discovered that my Mac Mini 2009 would not play any DRM-enabled purchased content from the iTunes Store. I tried troubleshooting it for quite some time until I found that there was just nothing I could do. I couldn’t even find a single reference to the issue. I tried AirPlay, but that didn’t work either. The only way I could have fixed it was to remove the DRM from the episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and I didn’t want to do that. I could have gotten a refund on it, but in the end, I decided another solution was better. So we got an Apple TV which I found to be a better idea anyway. It takes the strain off of the poor aging Mac Mini and I’ve found I really enjoy the true AirPlay capabilities of it, along with the cool ability to do slideshows while playing music. The interface is clean and easy to use, though I did have some trouble with iTunes Match (which I got along with it).

However, this has led to another thing. I’ve been having serious issues with my sound system. When I played ME3: Citadel a couple weeks ago, during the fight scenes, the audio started to become severely garbled. We’ve had situations where the dialogue suddenly drops out from the sound, leaving only the music and sound effects. Or it might just die entirely. It’s all very random. In truth, the system is at least 8 years old now and it’s finally starting to show its age.

Our current sound system is JVC TH-C6. If you’re curious, you can find the old CNET review here. It was a very highly rated system and has served us great. In fact, the way I got it is pretty funny.

I used to work for the CompUSA in Reno, Nevada. Now while there, I was our Lead Merchandiser. I was in charge of sales, special sales, clearances and more. I single-handedly made our Gaming Department the ONLY profitable gaming department for stores in our region. Now, we had one of these things on demo, but one of the standing speakers was broken. And while searching our back stock, I realized we had one new in the box. The unit by then was what we called -N66 status, which is pretty much the deepest level of discontinued we got. So I went to my store manager, told him we had just a couple left and I wanted to blow them out at $100. He agreed…and I immediately bought the new one in the box. Now, according to what I can find, this unit usually sold for something like $400+. So yeah, I got it as a freaking steal.

Ah…good times.

Anyway, it’s time to retire the good old boy. And after taking an enormous amount of time researching things, I’ve decided on the Sony STR-DH540 5.2 Channel 4K AV Receiver 725 Watt Receiver and the Yamaha NS-SP1800BL 5.1-Channel Home Theater Speaker System to replace it. Hopefully these will turn out well. There’s also the possibility that a family member might be able to get something even more awesome, but since it’s Cyber Monday, I want to grab these deals before they vanish. If they come up with something better, I’ll return it. The sound is just getting so awful, but I want to get something that’s going to last me for a good long while and it looks like these things will.

Cartography Coasts

Well, I promised you all that I’d give you a guide on how to make cool coasts in Pixelmator, right? Well, I’ll be posting that in the Dreamer section in just a few minutes. Ha! I’m actually making you GO TO MY WEBSITE instead of just reading these emails (if you’re reading by email anyway). If you want to see the difference, check out last week’s post. I’m very happy with how they came out. And I might just give you guys a work-in-progress of the entire map sometime soon!

“Creating Coastlines for Maps in Pixelmator”

That is if I can find more than one person willing to leave a comment that they want to see it. Heh.

Ponies

I can’t wait for the weekend. It’s Caitlyn’s 3rd birthday party. It’s going to be awesome…because it’s Pony themed.

What? Don’t act like you’re surprised.

In fact, have some Pony.

You might also want to watch it on the Hub Network to pump up the ratings a little.

Castle-Mania…Scooby-Doo would be very proud. There’s even a Pony of (Fore)Shadow in it!

Anyway folks, I’ve rambled on for far too long already. If you’re reached this far, you get an invisible secret internet cookie.

Good luck and have fun!

-rks