Thank You Creative Labs!

I installed Windows 7 on my old machine (about five years old) and the first issue I had was finding hard drive drivers that Windows 7 could use. Unfortunately, there were no 64 bit drivers so I was pooched (I didn’t look too hard since I had the 32 bit ones) unless I installed the 32 bit version of Windows 7 so I did that and all was well…

Except no sound.

I hung my head in dismay. I can remember trying to find Creative Labs Sound Blaster drivers back when I was installing Vista on that machine and it was a pain. I can remember trying to find those same drivers when I was doing a clean re-installed for that machine. But for Windows 7? I thought I was doomed.

I almost didn’t go to the Creative Labs site for driver support figuring it was going to be painful but I went anyway.

It wasn’t painful at all.

They had an autoupdate that recognized the hardware was a Sound Blaster Audigy 2 card! But it wouldn’t update.

Well of course it wouldn’t! There were no drivers on there to actually update! So I went looking for drivers armed with the knowledge that the card was at least recognized for a change. The driver package was one but Audigy package and it even said for Windows 7 use!



During the install I heard the typical Windows prompt sound and it dawned on me, it works!

Thank you Creative Labs, I was expecting a painful nightmare but it turned out to be quite painful.

I wonder how my newer PC will handle Windows 7?

I’m a PKer…

Well, second party wipe for my D&D 3.5e Eberron campaign which I was DMing.

After an epic battle against a Githerzai Mindmage who ended up fleeing the scene, the group settled in right near the battle site to rest the evening and then raise their fallen Wizard from the dead.

The Mindmage picked the start of the Raise Dead spell to appear and attack the group. The imagery of that was too much to resist and it really put a roleplay based challenge to the party’s Cleric – who was opposed to casting the Raise Dead spell to begin with since the Silver Flame’s teachings go against that sort of thing.

The Cleric had 10 rounds worth of casting to go to bring the Wizard back. Because of the situation, I was upgrade the Raise Dead spell to a True Ressurrection but make it a ‘borrowed time’ sort of deal where the Flame only granted him life for about a month.

Unfortunately it didn’t get that far. There were a couple of screw ups on both sides; they only caught that Break Enchantment was a 10 minute casting (100 rounds) after having used it twice and I realized that Psychic Dominate wasn’t like Dominate Person, you actually had to concentrate to maintain it. Things went bad really fast when the group’s War Mage failed the Will save to resist the Dominate later on the Mindmage managed to snag the two melee types and both healers.

Three rounds later the Silver Flame Cleric remembered he couldn’t be charmed or dominated as benefit of one of his Domain abilities. The Mindmage turned the remaining guys on him. Once he was done in, they were turned on each other while the Warlock in the group fled. The only survivor was the Favored Soul of Dol Dorn (somewhat appropriate given he’s a God of Strength .. kind of). The Mindmage knocked him unconscious with another failed Will save, teleported him outside and set about stripping the memories of why he was her all the way back to the start of the campaign – when he set the last two on each other he promised the victor a great reward, the reward of living on without the memory of having slaughtered comrades.

So ends the campaign.

I do have a possible follow up idea but I think I’d be happier just stepping back into the player’s group. For the most part people enjoyed the campaign and I’m happy they did, I had a lot of fun with it too.

The follow up idea would have put the party back into the ‘evil’ camp, which they really seemed to enjoy a lot… should I be worried? They would be playing the role of a group Nerull worshippers sent into Eberron from Greyhawk with plans to foil the hidden God building power on Eberron.

That sort of thing was supposed to be the higher level content for their evil campaign if they accepted the hidden God, they would be battling against his enemies and eventually I would have shifted them over to Greyhawk.

The whole idea for that came about because of the protests about some of the mechanics in Eberron. The main protests being around Clerical powers and how it worked on top of some of other ones like Action Points… which the group made liberal use of. I don’t think that’s a mechanic that will stick around though.

So now I’m going to focus on creating my character for Scott’s campaign. I think I’m going to take Ysh’s comment to heart and go with the Cleric of Thor but I’ll modify him a bit to make him fit in better now that I have an idea of what the group is coming in as.

Originally he was going to be a really young man with the typical teenage sense of invulnerability topped off with some raging hormones (I’m mid-life crisising so this is an opportunity to be young again). It probably wouldn’t be too much fun to play for the others and given the current DM, he probably wouldn’t tolerate that too much.

The Goblin idea would have been simple to bring in as is, but I could see myself RPing it into a corner because he was based on the sneaky market Goblin who conned players into buying overpriced mundane items as spell components. I could see myself continuing that trend and calling on the group’s large brutish warrior types to protect him only to discover he wouldn’t be backed up.

Really, that sort of thing needs to be worked out and I’d need another player to agree to play along seeing the value of having the Cleric of Hermes around from a survivability stand point but I’m not sure if any of the players would go for that and if the DM would be okay with that sort of thing. I’ll see about it next week when we work on characters.

No Post Today…

I’m way too busy doing some work stuff to get time to post here today. I will say that I’m still alive and playing WoW, though not tonight because I have D&D.

Two hundred imaginary and valueless points to anyone that sees the humor in this post. Keep track of those points, they have no value at all…

Unwarranted Wife Agro?

Is it unwarranted if you actually ask (a first for me) and get a “sure” back? Or is “sure” sort of like “fine” but in a “yes” sort of way? (i.e. “sure… if you want to sleep on the couch” only they don’t actually say the, “if you want to sleep on the couch” part)

Yesterday I was running some dailies before supper, went and had some supper and came back to turn it off because we were going to go to the grocery store. I catch that a guild group was looking for a tank for the heroic daily so I actually said, “Let me check with the wife.” I called upstairs, “Can it wait a half hour?”

“Sure,” is what I got back from the wife.

I the group gets going and I’m rushing a bit – never good as a tank. We lose some people on the first boss because some mobs went out of my taunt range to squish the healer. I think we had already lost the mage (he was a PUG) due to poison damage. The encounter is already started though so we exit to reset, come back in, rez up and rebuff.

This time the healer stays a little closer to me and I pay attention to curing poison (something I slack on because I usually don’t have to do it). I don’t blame the healer, I’m just used to having a shaman as a healer (that isn’t always you Tim; Mike and Justin too hehe) so I save the global cooldown for building more threat.

We get through the boss and are on our way to the next one which goes better. Cool.

At around this point I can hear the kids getting restless and I can hear the wife sorting it out – which is good, they have to learn patience. The wife comes down and says, “What? I’m waiting so you can play your game?”

“Yup, I’m almost done and you said it was okay.”

She goes back upstairs as we start the fight with the last boss. It’s only a couple of minutes long and we actually got an achievement for killing it fast. The dust settles and I realize it is quiet upstairs. I grab the daily quest item needed from that mob and the Mage opens a portal to Dalaran which I hastily jump through. I thank everyone and log out.

I go upstairs saying I’m ready to go only to discover they’ve already left.

There are a couple of observations here.

1. The kids start being pests and impatient so she gives in.
2. Even though she said it was okay to hold off a half hour it wasn’t once she realized it was so I could play a game.
3. The kids have her patience.
4. It really is better to ask forgiveness than ask for permission when they change their minds after they’ve already agreed.

Bud Light’s sales guys are soooo right.

When she got home I helped her bring in the groceries and helped get the kids ready for bed. I then read them two books and tucked them in.

When I got downstairs I was met with a cold reception – no room for me on the couch except at one end where her feet were.

“You’re expecting me to rub your feet, aren’t you? You do know you said I had 30 minutes and if I have 30 minutes, I have 30 minutes no matter what it is for.”

“Go play your game.”

That’s worse than, “fine”.

“No, it’s okay, I’ll sit and watch something with you,” painful sigh.

“Well there is nothing on,” she said. I new it was a trap.

“I’ve got some of The Unit recorded if you want to watch one,” because she’ll be asleep when the clock hits 9pm. She knew I was thinking that so she stayed awake long enough to spite me. After The Unit was over (9:30pm) she was excited to see the season finale of In The Dark was on (internal groan).

In The Dark is a reality TV show where they stick three men and three women in a house that is divided in two with the only connecting room being pitch black. Couples meet and talk in the dark, make a connection, or not, then ask to go on a ‘date’ in the dark room after that.

Great TV.

Two of the girls didn’t like their guys while those two guys were pretty excited to see the girls and the last guy wasn’t too sure about how he felt about the way the last girl looked but she was impressed with his looks.

The first girl was an idiot (if I had to watch it, I’m going to blog about it and make the rest of you suffer too). She was a Yoga Instructor who thought the world of the guy until she saw him. He wasn’t hideous, he was tall, well dressed and seemed average build – not muscular. She thought he was scruffy looking and had a potbelly. Look who’s talking chicky. For a Yoga Instructor you don’t seem very fit. So not only was she a hypocrite but she was shallow too. Dude, you lucked out by her not being interested in you.

The second girl was a stuck up prude who wasn’t all that  bright. She was immediately iffy about the way the guy looked, he was average height, seemed well built and not bad looking (but what do I know?). He also dressed nicely and was well groomed. She left him hanging and was all upset afterwards. What ever. The guy didn’t stand a chance because you were too uptight to begin with.

The last girl wore a hideous dress and was a little meaty, not obese, but she had some more to love. She had a really pretty face but I think the dress she wore really detracted from that. It was black, high neck, long with white emphasis on the design and it had this big white buttons. WTF? Are you trying to look good for him or are you dressing for work as a school teacher? The guy was young, seemed party-focused and superficial. He was making lots of comments about looks being important and not knowing if he could get over it. He saw her and was really indecisive. In the end he came out to give her a try.

So either the girls were shown to be really superficial because they ditched the guys despite claiming to have a good connection and liking their personalities a lot while or the guys were simply desperate.

Again, great TV.

The wife went to bed after that so I hopped back on the computer to tidy up some loose ends. I’ll be honest, 10 pm is not my ideal bed time. I’m usually not even close to tired.

I puttered around on my Druid alt for a bit (level 8 now, /flex) and I can’t wait to get her to the level where she gets the cat form. I’m aiming her for Feral simply for leveling purposes then I’ll likely stay as Feral/Resto. She’s twinked with the PVP Heirloom shoulders (+10% xp) and the PVE leather BP (+10% xp) – both of those items are aimed at melee. I figured if she’s going to be Feral DPS for leveling, might as well have the melee leather heirlooms. As a bonus I can pass them between her and my Rogue.

I switched over to Lannister for a second and people were preparing a 25 man raid on Sarth (big dragon). I ended up joining in on that and we decided we’d do it with 20 people for the achievement and we did it pretty easily even after the initial pull screw up that seems like it is a tradition now. Last time I tanked it, I went to the left to pull while the other tank went to the right. Only being awesome like I am, I also nabbed the wandering group as well which meant all sorts of wiping. This time we only got the two stand-still groups and pulled them together for some massive AEing.

Credit to our healers on that one, they did a good job healing even when I accidentally got some agro. hehe

I logged Lannister off after that because it seemed like the usual night owls were turning in for the evening early so I hopped on as Olen (Shadow Priest) to give TourGuide a shot in Zangarmarsh.

I hate Zangarmarsh.

I think I hate that it is out there in the open and it is such a difference from the other areas – really, BC expansion zones are all really different without any nice flow into eachother as far as terrain goes. But I hate Zangarmarsh the most because of the colors, mushrooms and the feeling that you’re underground without actually being under ground. Oddly enough, I think I would have been fine with it if it was underground.

TourGuide helped prioritize and order which quests to pick up, where to bind and when to do turn ins. Really it’s a planner and doesn’t really reveal where these things are outside of some short descriptions – but that’s what QuestHelper is for.

Hey. I’ve done that zone three times now, I don’t really care about spoilers because it’s be spoiled already the first time I went through with Smaken.

I made some good momentum with it once I sorted out which quests were already done. It does add an interesting point of view on when to do things and what order to do them in.

I was in bed by 1am and up at 6am. All is good except my hands smelled like feet when I woke up.

On Dany Heatley Asking For a Trade…

My first thought was, “Holy shit!”

Why? He’s accounted for a fair portion of Ottawa’s scoring over the last few years. I also can’t see getting equal value back because there aren’t too many 50 goal scorers left in the league… well, aside from Ovechkin and I seriously doubt Washington will give him up.

Do I feel betrayed? No. He’s a hockey player, he does that for a living and he wants to be happy with what he’s doing. He hasn’t said he hates Ottawa and doesn’t want to live here, in fact, he said the opposite. His complaints and reason for moving has been ‘hockey related’.

Do I think he’s a selfish asshole like a lot of people have been saying? Nope. He’s doing what he thinks is best for his career. He’s not chasing the money, he already has that, and he has openly said that if a trade doesn’t get done he’s going to honor his contract, show up for camp (in Ottawa) and play as an Ottawa Senator.

I do hope he stays in Ottawa and the coaching staff can resolve his sense of having a “diminished role”. The interesting thing is that he said it was an issue even before Clouston that after the first couple of years here (under Murray), his role has diminished.

What does that mean?

I’m not entirely sure, but I can make some guesses.

Alfredsson plays it all. He’s on for five on five (first and sometimes second line), four on four, penalty kill (whether we’re down one man or two) and on the powerplay – sometimes even as a fourth forward hanging back on the blue line.

Dany Heatley is on for the first line and the power play. People think he’s complaining about being moved to the second line power play late last season but he’s no idiot, he must know that Clouston was trying to open up some more offence from multiple lines. Previous coaches were attempting this by moving someone onto the first line while keeping the Spezza and Heatley combo going. Maybe Spezza can work with others on the first line and Heatley can bolster the second line to the point where it actually has some offense and Ottawa stops being a one line team.

No, I think it’s simply that he’s being pigeon-holed as a goal scorer and he doesn’t like it. How many of you would like to be pigeon-holed as some very specific role when you feel you have a whole lot more you can do? Back when he first got here, he was seeing a lot of ice time which included the penalty kill.

Why did that change? Was he a liability? I don’t think so. And when you trade off a guy like Vermette, you’d think he might end up on the PK again.

I don’t know, maybe the coaches were trying to ensure he was rested for each of his shifts so they used him less.

The guy wants to be more involved in the success of a team (apparently he has been talking to the many different coaches Ottawa has had over the last couple of years) so fans are blasting him for it?

My thoughts are: good for him. He’s tried talking to them and that didn’t work so he should do what he can to ensure he’s happy with what he’s doing for a living.

I know the fans and media are making a bigger deal out of it than anyone else.

As an Ottawa fan, I hope he doesn’t get traded and things get resolved so he’s happy here. I honestly don’t see what we could possibly get back in exchange for him and if it ends up being more than one player (which it will have to be), we’re going to have fun with that because our roster is already pretty damn full.

The World’s Toughest Audience…

Gordon, from We Fly Spitfires, had an entry that reminded me of what I meant to blog about – the MMO audience… only he isn’t only talking about the audience.

Most MMO players (at least the ones that blog about it… kind of like me) are like that guy that eats around the mold on a hamburger bun and all his fries before going back to the cash and complaining that their is mold on the bun. Of course, he wants another entirely. Oh, and the fries too.

We pay for the box, like we do for any other game. That box almost always comes with a free month subscription so we’re really just paying for the box, like we do for any other game. Then we get to play it for a whole month.

There are very few non-MMO games out there that ever last me more than a month. Some don’t even last me a week (FPS, RTS types) or much more than a night (TBS or Spore). Very few games last me more than two weeks, these are usually the ones with lots of content and things to explore (CRPGs). The select few that last more than that have been sandbox type games like usually coming out of Bethesda’s shop (The Elder Scrolls series and Fallout 3).

There are two RTS games and one FPS game that I had on my system for a good length of time and those are: Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War (I loved the unit upgrades, squads, base building, point holding and the awesome animations in it), Rise of Nations (I liked the advancement and taking over the world aspect of it – go figure) and Quake2 (I got into the multiplayer community).

Everyone has their favorites that they can play over and over. Some people enjoy getting together for a FPS party or even some sort of virtual sports league. These games are great when you find them, of course, they don’t have the back end sustaining requirements a MMO does.

Gordon has an interesting thought, which I’ll quote:

This is my dilemma with Champions Online. I think it’s fun and I bet it could easily last me a month or so before I got bored. Even if that only amounted to 60 hours of play time, it would be considered decent value for money by non-MMO standards. However, compared to MMORPG standards, that’s a pretty poor lifespan.

I’d go for it if I was him. If he liked it and thinks it could be fun for a month then the 60$ (or however much it is where he lives) will be worth it.

He raises a few questions before that bit which are:

Does every MMO need to have long term appeal? Does it always need to be the game that we move our entire guild to and play for the next two years? Can’t it just be a bit of fun for a few weeks, just like any console or single player game?

Every MMO needs to have long term appeal simply because it needs to be able to sustain itself.

That’s their need, not ours.

Yes, it needs to be the MMO that grabs you, your friends and maybe even family so you all move over to play it for two years.

Again, that’s the game’s need, not yours.

It can be a bit of fun for a few weeks, because that’s your desire for the game. It will not be like any console or single player game (unless the evil Soloers-In-A-Massively-Multiplayer-Game – a.k.a. SIAMMG… wait, that doesn’t really work out to anything, does it? – have their way with the genre) simply because you own the client software but not the servers.

This is the main difference. For all those other games you paid the same amount of initial fee that you shelf and come back to a year later, you can’t do that with a MMO unless you shell out another 15$.

It’s a gamble. If you pay that 15$ are you going to play it for two days then remember what you hated about the game or why you got bored of it?

Here is one illusion MMO players tend to trip over.

“Well, they’ve had three expansions since then so there is a whole lot of new content!”

Yes, yes there is. But you have to buy the expansions and most expansions tack content on to the end of the level range. Did you hit max level last time you played? Because you’re still going to have to get through that content to get to the newer stuff.

Heck, I’ve done that, but in my defense SOE was sneaky enough to drop some breadcrumbs into various level ranges making the new content more accessible so it wasn’t an entire loss.

Back on topic, we’re very critical of MMOs because we’re investors. With the purchase of that box we’re investing in that game with time and money – the company running the game only really sees one of those, guess which one? (I’ll give you three chances)

That investment can go sour. (Wikipedia, land of the dead MMO apparently)

That makes us armchair critics, backseat drivers or sideline strategists because you don’t want to lose your investment. You can’t help but get frustrated when people, who aren’t equally commited to the investment, pop in and then leave.

What do you mean the game was boring? I love it!

It’s a direct slap in the face because you have an investment to protect… only indirectly. Ever notice you might become tech support for the game?

Did you do this?
Did you try this?
Oh, flip this setting and it will work better.
You’re getting a crash? Update your drivers and check this patch out over here…

Or maybe some sort of sales guy?

Do you know you get a free mount next month?
Oh, yeah, the lower levels aren’t so interesting but it gets fun later on. Give it 30 levels.
You know the game only really starts at max level, right?

You’ve got an investment to protect. If all these people leave, servers will close, or merge and suddenly that investment isn’t going to look so secure anymore.

MMO devs want a smooth launch so they put up servers to account for the expected number of people on release day only to be closing or merging servers a month or two down the line. Syncaine wrote a bit on this sort of thing happening, calling people “WoW Tourists“. Personally, I don’t think WoW caused this, I didn’t start with WoW and I’ve been touring MMOs for quite awhile but I will say WoW definitely amplified it.

I prefer to call these people, “chumps”.  That’s right, I’m a chump too. We buy into the hype and want to invest. Once we get it, we hang on to it for a bit then cut our losses. Okay, so maybe “chump” isn’t the best name because cutting your losses can be a smart thing.

Of course, MMO developers take an even bigger risk because they’re on the other side hoping to some how handle the tidal wave of new subscriptions while being able to sustain the game after the first couple of months on top of satisfying their actual investors – you know, the ones that sunk money into the development of the game before it was on the shelves in the local (or virtual) shop.

Maybe they’re the “chumps”?

They do all that work for a chance at making a portion of the money Blizzard is making while dealing with a massive audience who all seem to have an inflated sense of entitlement thanks to their investment of 15$ a month.

I’m going to go get some coffee now, it’s free for me so I’m not investing anything in it other than what it takes to wander over to the machine.

Champions Online Innovation…

.. some people are saying CO doesn’t bring anything new to the MMO genre. I beg to differ.

You have interactive environment pieces that you can pick up and use in combat. As I noted, several times, in the Netherdemon video in the previous post,  you can pick things up and throw them. To throw them or smash someone with items you pick up you need to target them and either press one of the numbers or Z to throw the item at your target.

I’ve actually been having fun with this just recently while my son was playing.

Lamp post? Tear it out of the ground and smash someone over the head with it while saying, “Need a light?”

Food cart? Pick it up and heave it at someone crying, “FOOD FIGHT!”

Chair? Club them over the back and tell them, “Have a seat!”

Flower cart? Pitch it at someone and shout, “Flower delivery, someone loves ya!”

Trash can? You get to use the classic line, “Taking out the garbage!”

No, the heroes don’t say anything like that, but wouldn’t it  have been nice?