A longer 1:30 version of the song from the commercial.

Posted by Djarum, filed under mp3, Music. Date: March 5, 2013, 12:34 pm | No Comments »

03  Mar

Posted by Djarum, filed under Music, Videos. Date: March 3, 2013, 12:51 am | No Comments »

So I did actually get a copy of Diablo III launch night, thanks to a friend at Blizzard whom will remain nameless to whom I am eternally grateful. I have been playing pretty regularly since launch and I have to say that all things are not well with the game.

I know, I know pretty much all you have read about Diablo III since launch has been people complaining about one thing or another. I am sure you have read it all and probably are as sick of it as I am. But it doesn’t mean the game is not a mess at the moment and I think I have figured out why.

Diablo and Diablo II were both Action Role Playing Games, hell they basically invented and perfected the genre. They are both easy games to learn to play and are rewarding for nearly any type of player if they have 10 minutes to play or 10 hours. The ARPG genre is wonderful in that respect as you can sit down, discover new ways to play it, get rewarded and most importantly have fun.

Fun… you know the whole reason why you play a game. That thing where you do something for no reason other than enjoyment; see also anything that is not a chore or work.

Diablo III on the other hand seems to have not been designed for this thing called “fun”. Seemingly the design of the game seems to be radically different than what most players want or expect to be able to do. See the massive nerfs to pretty much anything but doing what the developers want you to do; which is start a game, progress through the entire Act/Storyline, kill Elite mobs, get the buffs from them and hopefully get some loot from things you kill, if you can actually kill them. Sadly this design philosophy contradicts pretty much the entire reason why people play these types of games and how they play them.

In a MMO like World of Warcraft one takes on quests and follows a loose storyline to gain loot, IE items and money. In such a open type of game it is a needed element as you need some structure to allow people to play and to lead them to where you want them to ultimately go. It works quite well as Blizzard themselves learned after you reached the level cap many people who were not interested in either end game raiding or PVP had nothing to do anymore. They then created daily quests to do to try to appease that playerbase to various levels of success.

In Diablo III it seems they tried to do much the same thing, which is give a questline and much handholding through the entire game. Ultimately this is done less for a narrative reasoning but more to attempt to keep the playerbase to play the game as they designed. What the problem is that which works for a MMO like WoW does not work for a ARPG like Diablo. Diablo is about one thing and one thing only: loot. The game is effect a giant casino game with pretty colors. You farm various things over and over again to attempt to get that jackpot of loot. You kill things>you get loot>you have fun.

Right now all three of these things are in short supply. First off whomever is in charge of the class ability decisions right now needs to have their head examined. I will come out and say it, ALL THE CLASSES ARE SCREWED RIGHT NOW. The design philosophy oh “If something is working too well or is too good it must be nerfed.” is not only short sighted but ultimately dumb. This is not a MMO, we have no need for class balance. I understand that they want all abilities and builds to be viable but perhaps instead of nerfing the stuff that is obviously working, how about you focus on the things that are not working and instead perhaps bring them in line with the things that are working. Wizards, Demon Hunters and Monks have all been utterly devastated by the recent nerfs and poor Witch Doctors can barely play right now. Diablo is not a game about balance. At a certain point you want to be able to get to a point where you are powerful so the mobs that used to give you trouble eventually become a joke. This brings in reward and fun.

Secondly the design philosophy of playing through the Acts to kill Champion packs and Elites to be able to get gear and the only way is frankly dumb. Instead of effectively forcing people to play the game as they want or envision perhaps the best idea would be to perhaps embrace the new ways people have found to do things. Things like stacking Gold Find to break Pots is a brilliant idea and if someone is having fun doing that then it should be embraced instead of killed. Blizzard is acting like the little kid on the playground when they don’t get their way they take their ball and go home. Many of the “fixes” in the last several patches have tried to punish the people who don’t want or don’t enjoy playing the game as Blizzard designed it. This is ultimately only hurting Blizzard as they turn more and more people off from being able to play and enjoy the game there will be less people playing it.

Which ultimately leads too…

Thirdly, the Auction House… I am actually a fan of the auction house. Well, at least the Gold Auction House. I think it was one of the few things missing from Diablo II and may have stopped the proliferation of the shady third party sites. The problem with it in Diablo III is that they did it all about as bad as they possibly could have. First off I am level 60, I haven’t had a single item drop for me that I could personally use since the teens. For a game that is ultimately about loot, there is a major problem here. I don’t want to use the Auction House solely as my option for gearing up my character. It is much more satisfying to fight and earn something on your own. As it stands I know of no one that is or even can do this. This is a problem. The Auction House should be a resource of last resort or convenience.  It should not be factored into the drop rates of anything. But here in lays the problem with this, the Real Money Auction House. Blizzard can’t make their 15% if people can earn (yes I said EARN) the gear they want, especially on the end game gear. While I understand how and why the design choices were and are made it doesn’t mean I agree with them or that they are right. There will always be a market for people that will spend real money on perfect items, however small that is. That is what the RMAH should be for and if Blizzard wants a cut of that more power to them. But a majority of the player base wants to be able to earn their items mainly by playing the game or if their luck is incredibly bad by the gold they earned by playing the game on the Auction House. As it stands right now none of these things are happening and in turn people are not getting rewarded and having fun.

So what have we ultimately learned by this long winded article? Mainly that the developers right now have the wrong mindset to how to properly design the game. They have taken too many of their design choices from MMOs which does not ultimately work in a ARPG. The game is just not very fun to play at the moment for a multitude of reasons not just what I have wrote about here. I have hope that in time the game will someday become what we all want it to be, but I fear that the bullheadedness of the developers will continue for some time due to recent postings about upcoming changes and patches.

Personally I am likely done playing for awhile. I, like many people, am just not having any fun playing it. I can see a fun, good game lurking underneath the surface and when it finally comes around I will happily come back to play. Until then there are plenty of games for me to play where the goal is to actually enjoy myself.

Posted by Djarum, filed under Review, Video Games. Date: June 21, 2012, 3:58 pm | No Comments »

So I won’t be getting a Diablo III Collectors Edition. This isn’t due to a lack off effort or planning on my part either. Here is the sad story of how I won’t be enjoying Diablo III tonight.

Back in February I decided to preorder a Collectors Edition from GameStop.com. I had the money and really wanted the extras in the package. Ok, to be honest I was slightly obsessed about getting the Diablo skull, take that how you will. I placed my order and took ease in the fact that I wouldn’t have to worry about getting a copy anymore.

Fast forward to last Thursday, May 10th. Around noon I received a mail stating my order had been canceled. I called their customer service line to figure out why my order was canceled as I have plenty of money in my bank account and I hadn’t canceled the order myself, let alone less than a week before the game was released. After about a hour of being on hold and dealing with a representative whom couldn’t tell me anything other than, “Your order had been canceled, sorry about your luck.”, I talked to a manager who informed me that GameStop was not receiving enough copies to fill their orders. I was told that they were trying to get more copies but they were not hopeful. Needless to say I was not pleased not only for my order being canceled but it being less than a week before release so my hopes of actually getting a copy elsewhere was next to impossible. Add to this the fact that GameStop would do nothing to ease the heavy burden not placed on me.

I went around to various retailers locally to see if I could get a copy and they had all sold out themselves.  I had resigned myself to trying to get a copy waiting at a retailer at midnight on the 15th. Later that night I saw that Walmart.com had opened up their preorders and I luckily scored another copy from them. I was saddened to see it would not come until the 22nd at earliest but I was just happy to get a copy.

Around 8:00 PM tonight I received a email from Walmart.com stating that my order had been canceled due to them not getting enough copies. Needless to say I was livid. To add further insult to injury they had already charged my card for the game and I would not be receiving a refund for 10 days. So not only did they take my money and not give me my game, I don’t have the money now to try and get a copy elsewhere tonight.

I am pretty distraught over the entire ordeal. I have been crying a bit. It might be silly for a grown man to cry about not getting a video game but the Diablo series has meant a lot to me over the years. Also you add the fact that I did everything in my power to get a copy and I am still sitting here tonight without a copy and no way to get a copy at all.

So in closing Dear GameStop and Walmart: You ruined what was supposed to be a enjoyable experience for me. Thank you for screwing over not only me but probably thousands of other gamers who are stuck in the same situation tonight. I hope we all band together and sue your asses over it like I hope the Aussies do to GAME. Needless to say I will NEVER shop at either of your businesses anymore. I will take my dollars to establishments that don’t take advantage of their customers.


Posted by Djarum, filed under Personal, Video Games. Date: May 14, 2012, 10:53 pm | No Comments »

There has been a lot of talk in the last several days about Ubisoft’s controversial decision to not release a version of the new Ghost Recon game on the PC. Their reason; piracy.

Ubisoft more than any other publisher in recent memory has tried to blame their poor sales of their PC games on piracy instead of the truth. They have released cruddy ports of lackluster games with draconian DRM. People aren’t buying your games because “they are just pirating them from the Pirate Bay”. People aren’t buying them because they are rubbish. When is the last time you have read anything about a Ubisoft title other than the silly DRM included? That’s right you haven’t.

Gabe Newell of Valve Software has basically said it best that if you make a quality product, give it a fair price and make it easily and simply available you don’t have a piracy problem nor a sales one. I don’t hear Bethesda, Activision or EA complaining about PC piracy effecting the sales of their latest games and all of their latest big titles have been available pirated either before or right at release.

Piracy is the boogyman excuse in the PC gaming world for the last several years, as if publishers just discovered the practice and that it hasn’t been going on since the beginning of computers. The real facts for it becoming such a hot topic now is that the large public companies whom publish terrible games need excuses for the shareholders why their awful games aren’t selling. The world of video games is still basing itself on the Hollywood movie model of production which in the modern game development world is quickly starting to run to the end of it’s course.

Where with Hollywood you can release a couple of bombs but a cheap movie that becomes a hit subsidizes the losses of the failures. With the ever rising costs of creating video games even a crappy shovelware title costs a great deal of money and manpower to create. It is not like the 8-bit days where a publisher like LJN could get a license, put 3 guys to make a game regardless of quality and shove it out the door in a couple of months and recoup the costs and then some. Even a terrible game, and this is according to Ubisoft themselves, $18.8m-$28.2m to create. This is not counting the marketing that is put behind it as well.

I think the best solution is this, publishers need to stop trying to over saturate the market with software. We all need to take a page from the book of developers like Blizzard, Valve, Nintendo and iD. Make a quality product, release it when it is done and support it post release without nickel and diming you without crazy DRM. Sure you might not have a new version of Call of the Battlefield Hero Creed every year. But, you will have a fanbase whom will be glad and eager to put down the cash for your title.

Gamers are pretty smart, crafty folk. We can smell a lemon.

Posted by Djarum, filed under Video Games. Date: November 26, 2011, 12:38 am | No Comments »

Steve Jobs is dead. It still hasn’t quite sunk in yet. I found out at work from a coworker and hoped it was a cruel joke.

Unlike many of the things you may read today about Steve’s passing I am not going to run through a list of accomplishments and talk about how he was a visionary. Instead I am going to talk about he directly effected me.

As most kids growing up in the 1980s, every school I went to was full of Apple IIs. The very first computer I touched was a Apple IIe and it changed my life. The foundations of all my computing skills came from those lowly Apple IIs, I learned to type on one, I learned how to program in BASIC on one. It started a love affair that has turned into a obsession at times.

The first computer I ever owned was a Macintosh Classic, from that I got online for the first time although it was not really what we consider the internet today. I learned HyperCard on that system. Also I started my first hacking adventures on that machine. I probably loved that computer more than any other in my life.

I didn’t own a cellphone until fairly recently, the iPhone really has changed my life in a million different ways. I really do feel lost without it.

Steve Jobs has influenced and changed everyone’s lives in so many ways. The 3D animated movies you watch, having access to a music store anywhere at any time, even that crappy Breakout Clone on your crappy 1952 cellphone is because of him.

We lost a great person today, one that perhaps comes once in a lifetime. I know the plans he had for the future are still in the works and we will continue to feel the effects from him for some time.

I just want to say, Thanks Steve for all you have given me.


Posted by Djarum, filed under News, Tech. Date: October 5, 2011, 10:38 pm | No Comments »

So after seeing the amazing set by the Arcade Fire this weekend at Coachella the main question on my mind was, “HOW THE HELL DID THOSE BALLS WORK?!”

A little bit of information came from someone who got one and ripped it apart for the sake of knowledge. Now today we have more information about them from the folks who did it along with learning that it is a part of a larger project. Very cool if you ask me.

Posted by Djarum, filed under Music, Tech, Videos. Date: April 18, 2011, 12:56 pm | 1 Comment »

So I was listening to Geektime on Sirius/XM last week where the hosts never had a compelling reason to jailbreak their iPhone/iPad. A caller tried to explain some but did a awful job. So, here I come to swoop in and do the job right.

First off a disclaimer: jailbreaking while legal does void your warranty with Apple. Know what you are getting into before jailbreaking your device and do your homework before hand. Redmondpie is a great resource for guides and Jailbreak Matrix will tell you if you can jailbreak your device. All Apps are on Cydia which is installed when you jailbreak and is the Jailbreak App Store.

Got all that? Good then here go…

1. BiteSMS

Lets face it, if you text at all on a iPhone you have grown to hate the native Text Messaging App. It is clunky, when you get a text you have to jump into the app to reply which is extremely annoying when you are doing something in another app, you are limited to a few text ringtones. I could go on and on forever. Apple has not done any work on the stock Text app since the release of the original iPhone and it shows. So what is the solution? BiteSMS. It has every feature you wished Apple would put into the native app and a bunch you never thought about but once you have it you never knew how you went without it for so long. If you need one feature to push you over the edge to use it here you go.

Never again will you have to leave a app to reply or compose a text. Heck, you don’t even need to unlock your phone to do it. It is my number one used app on my iPhone and has paid for itself tenfold.

Learn more about it at www.bitesms.com

2. GV Extensions for iPhone

Do you have a Google Voice account? Would you like to have your Google Voice SMS and Call Features work seamlessly with your iPhone?  Well here is your solution. Since Google introduced the Android your hope for a official solution is pretty much never going to happen. While there is now a official and several 3rd party Google Voice apps none of them are really user friendly, especially compared to using the service on a Android.

Now you are asking, what do they do and why should I want this or be excited? To quote the website “Phone GV Extension and SMS GV Extension are system extensions (NOT standalone apps) that seamlessly integrate Google Voice phone and messaging capabilities (phone: Direct Dial mode and Call Back mode; SMS: Send and Receive) to iPhone.” To dumb it down you can call using Google Voice using the native Phone app and send and receive SMS for free using the native Text Messaging app (or BiteSMS which takes over for the native app).

If you are a Google Voice user (and if you are not you are missing out) this makes your life a ton easier. I won’t go into all of the features of Google Voice but it is things you will most likely use and it is free. Being able to have unlimited texts for free is worth it alone. The only downside to using Google Voice for your text needs is the lack of MMS, but if you don’t need or use it you can save a ton of cash every month by dropping your texting service.

To learn more about the apps go here.

3. 3G Unrestrictor/My3G (Both of these programs do the same thing but each has different ways of doing it.)

You ever want to Facetime or Skype on 3G or need to download a larger app off the App Store while on 3G? Well here is your solution. It allows those things by tricking applications into believing they are on WiFi, even though they are on 3G or EDGE. It might not be a must have all the time but when you need it, it is a life saver. For the record I prefer 3G Unrestrictor but both work just as well.

4. MyWi or TetherMe

Up until a few months ago AT&T did not allow tethering on the iPhone at all and until even more recently there was not a official way to use the iPhone as a wifi hotspot. Well if you have a jailbroken iPhone you would have had these features for years now.

MyWi turns your iPhone into a wireless hotspot so you can use your wifi devices anywhere. It is a stand alone app that does not use the current native solution and works on all iPhones. TetherMe on the other hand enables the native tethering without having to pay your carrier to enable it. So if you have a iPhone 4 you can enable the native wifi hotspot.

I don’t have to tell you if you are a traveler how handy these apps are. I was recently in a hotel that charged 40 dollars a night for internet access. Spending 20 dollars one time is a lot better than swallowing obscene hotel prices.

Also for you wifi iPad owners both of these apps work great with your iPad, in fact MyWi has a addon that automatically connects your iPad to your iPhone when it needs the internet and shuts it back off when done.

I could honestly go on forever with fantastic Jailbreak apps and tweeks.

Lockinfo for making your lockscreen more than wallpaper and time.

Winterboard allow you to theme your phone to allow things like this.

LiveClock that animates the Clock app on the homescreen, Weathericon that puts live weather infomation on the Weather app and thousands more tweaks and apps.

If this has not convinced you to at least try out jailbreaking your device than perhaps you don’t use your device as much as I do. Go ahead and try it, if you don’t like it you just have to restore your phone back to normal and there is no trace of the jailbreak ever again.

Posted by Djarum, filed under Tech. Date: March 27, 2011, 10:29 pm | No Comments »

The sudden and unexpected demise of the White Stripes came as a shock to many people. The rumor mill was that they were to make a new record and do some shows this summer. While we do not know what caused the split, we can start to see some of the fallout from it.

Today we saw the release of the Bonnaroo Lineup and with the leak of the Lollapalooza headliners last week. The reaction to the headliners have been mixed to say the least. What is very interesting about them both is that they both seem to lack a big name at the top of the bill, a anchor. Could have the White Stripes been signed on to be at one or both and then backed out at the last minute? After the sudden cancellation of last White Stripes tour and several year hiatus it would have been a huge booking. But sadly we may never know the truth as the White Stripes camp is notoriously tight lipped and I doubt C3 and WMA would want to talk about being burned.

Posted by Djarum, filed under Music. Date: February 15, 2011, 7:41 pm | No Comments »

The wonderful Tom Brevoort Executive Editor at Marvel just asked some interesting questions on Twitter just now.

What could Marvel be doing better? Where are we dropping the ball?

Along those same lines, I feel a real ebb in the overall enthusiasm of the readers, not just Marvel’s. So what’s got you down on comics?

I will totally be that guy right now and give a non-140 character response. Yes, I am a dork. You shall deal with it imaginary people in my head!

Overall I want to preface my ramblings with this; I am extremely happy with 99% of Marvel’s output currently. I think they have been putting out some of the most entertaining and compelling comics around right now. Also, they have the best writers in the entire industry making their characters and books interesting and revitalized in a way they have not been in decades.

That being said one of the few problems is that as Johnathan Hickman, writer of the absolutely fantastic S.H.E.I.L.D, Secret Warriors and Fantastic Four, has said there are so many big names in the room that they kind of suck some of the air out. While he was talking more about the big talent writers on staff, it is also true about the books being published. We have four Avengers books, two Hulk books, soon to be two Captain America books, etc all being made right now. Hell, we have FOUR fucking Deadpool books right now.

The problem I feel is that while the sales for these books maybe higher than lets say a Iron Fist or Ghost Rider, I think that having multiple books out for popular characters is actually doing more to hurt books like those. I know as a reader I have limited funds to buy books a month, as do most folks. It is not a hard choice to make between a higher profile book like a Avengers title and a Atlas book, especially when the Avengers book is tied directly into the overall focus/event in the Universe at the time.

Perhaps a solution is to bring back a digest series ala Marvel Comics Presents again. Except instead of filling it with lackluster creators and bland to bad stories make it a enticing title to both creators and buyers. Have it as the title where every creative team can take whatever character they want to do a story with but a series can’t be supported can go. Fill it up with your top talent, and it is a perfect place to put people who do fantastic work, have great sales but are extremely slow as you can wait to put their work in until it is finished. Make it Giant-Sized (40+ Pages) and at five bucks it would be a bargain. You can use it as a way to entice people to want to work at Marvel. You have a idea for a Paste Pot Pete and D-Man story? This is where you can do it.

As for comics in general I think most of my concerns are towards the future. Namely, online and future readership.

Marvel has by far the best online presence of all the major publishers. That being said there are room for improvement there; namely price and availability. I think that not releasing things day and date online is costing sales. And as more people have devices to read comics digitally you are going to be costing yourselves more and more sales. I think moving to a day and date release for all books would be in your best interest in the near future. Those who are collectors are going to be going to the shops on Wednesday anyway. You are not going to lose any ground there. What you will see is more people being involved in comics if they are not weeks or months behind online. Which in term is good for the entire industry.

On that same token I think that lowering prices digitally of books would also increase sales. New stuff at two bucks and older stuff at fifty cents sounds like a winner to me. The current prices are not as compelling as either a snap buy or a serious reader. When you can go to your local shop and pick up 99% of the stuff for under a buck, $1.99 doesn’t sound like a good deal. You can buy Angry Birds for .99 cents or a song on iTunes for less and gives you more for the money. Also consider pricing stuff in bundles online ala albums. “Infinity Gauntlet Saga” (All the Infinity Gauntlet books and tie ins) for ten bucks is a hell of a deal. Perhaps doing some creator commentaries for books as well as a added bonus would be nice.

Now with the future readers. It is not really talked about but the bulk of US comic readership is in their late 20s-early 40s, basically the kids that grew up in the last heyday, of the 80s and early 90s. We grew up and now have the money to afford $3.00+ books for 22 pages on Wednesday. Sadly the kids these days are no interested in it. Why? Well a couple of reasons. First is the 900 pound gorilla called Manga. I have a niece that we take to the comic shop every so often to pick something out. While her father and I try to get her to buy something like Spider-Man or X-Men she ultimately buys some sort of manga. Why? It is easy, for the same price as a issue of Avengers she can get a issue of Shonen Jump which has a ton of stories in it and is the size of a Sears catalog when we were kids.

As a kid it is not hard to make the choice of more for your money. Kids don’t care about glossy paper and state of the art coloring. They just want some fun stories and a good value. So, instead of doing the same thing of making “kid friendly” books that haven’t worked for the last two decades how about you use the manga publishers ideas to your advantage? Print old stories with perhaps one new series, in black and white, on cheap paper and sell it for five bucks? Imagine a kid seeing a book with Spider-Man, the Avengers, Iron Man, Fantastic Four and X-Men all in it for five bucks? As a added bonus you are giving the kid a history lesson in the Marvel universe at the same time. You already have the material, it is another way to make money on the work and you are bringing new readers in.

That is ultimately what we all want. For the characters we love to continue to be loved far beyond when we are dead.

Posted by Djarum, filed under Comics. Date: September 7, 2010, 7:34 pm | No Comments »

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