Wednesday, June 15, 2016

On Orlando

It's been difficult to put into words exactly how I've been feeling regarding the Orlando night club shooting. Immediately, words like “horrendous,” “domestic terrorism,” and “cowardice” come to mind, but these have been used over and over again, and I like to avoid the obvious. So we'll try a different approach.
It's come out recently that the shooter frequented Pulse, the gay nightclub he would come to attack, in the past for almost three years. Apparently, he'd been on a same-sex dating service. He'd even asked out another man who had not yet come out himself. Yet the shooter was married to a woman.
This, to me, is emblematic of one thing: he was very, very confused. He was completely lost about who he was, and was dishonest with himself about what he wanted, what he could not help but want. I just don't know how he got from not knowing who he was, to deciding that the best course of action was to murder fellow community members.
What I do know is that if you are similarly lost about yourself, please, know that you are not alone. You have never been. You've always had allies in the various communities you belong to. Whatever you may end up being, you'll get there. It takes time, and it takes courage, but you'll get there. So please, don't give up. I believe in you.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Grammasters 3 Contest

So Netflix--you know, the company behind some of the biggest, most successful original content on the internet--has decided to offer four people the opportunity to travel to their sets and shooting locations, all travel expenses paid for, and post images of what they see to Instagram. And they will also get paid $4,000 for their two weeks' worth of work doing this. Am I gonna try for this?

You bet your sweet ass I am.

First thing's first, the deadline to apply for this thing is March 6th, 2016. So if you're like me, and you love to procrastinate until the absolute meaning of the word has lost all value, you'd better get that sweet ass in gear, cause that deadline is four days away (as of this writing).

The good news is it's pretty easy to apply, and if you're a sociophobe, the actual application process, at least at first, can be done entirely online. Or over your phone. All you have to do is "hashtag your top 3 photos with #grammasters3 on Instagram" by the 6th. In Netflix's own words, "We're looking for TV & movie fans with a talent for taking pictures. Choose photos that show off your interests or passions."

The potentially bad news is that there are some restrictions. Every Grammaster "must agree to the use of his/her name, voice, biographical information, image and/or likeness for advertising, publicity and other purposes, in all media." That last part is intentionally vague, and it does kinda bother me, in all honesty.

So let's say I get selected to be a Grammaster. What exactly is "all media"? What defines that? Netflix ads? Sure, no problem. In-app quick reels? Understandable. Bus billboards? Hmmm. Magazine ads? That could potentially imply that I personally read such-and-such magazine.

For that matter, I would be surrendering certain rights to my "image and/or likeness" to Netflix. Now, realistically, that may just be them covering their butts; let's say they used my face to promote a show or an actor. Then that show was controversial, or that actor was a douchebag. Suddenly, I could be woven into whatever scandal there is. Could I get all upset for defamation of my character? Nope, cause I signed over my being. But that's just a severe potentiality.

I'm still gonna try for it cause I like to travel. The money's just gravy.

http://grammasters.netflix.com/
http://grammasters.netflix.com/terms/

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Destiny is unplayable without The Taken King

(I have been waiting to post this until various gaming websites get back to me on whether or not they want to publish this article on their sites, but it's been months, so fuck it.)

When the price of Destiny's newest expansion, The Taken King, was announced, I chose not to buy it for the $40 Bungie decided it was worth. You see, I decided it was not worth $40 to me; I had bought both previous DLC, pre-ordered them both for almost the same $40 back in Year One, and was being given no monetary reward or loyalty discount on the price of the single new DLC. Period.
And despite current reviews of The Taken King being generally positive, I still have doubts that the $40 price tag was justified. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I stuck to my guns (FPS gun pun lol). This meant that I was essentially locked out of new pieces of content. Fine. This was to be expected. If I haven't bought new content, I shouldn't be able to play it. What was completely unexpected, however, was that previous content I had been able to experience before the release of TTK was now mysteriously inaccessible. There seemed to be a paywall in place for stuff I had already bought.
So what is it like trying to play Destiny without The Taken King? Basically, it's awful and you can't, but let me explain just how awful it really is. Let's dive into this mess.
 
This is the main planet-selection screen. See those locked and grayed out areas in the lower left? Where is the Daily Heroic Story? What happened to the Nightfall Strike? The locked options are DLC-only, but what about the others? It's possible that these are inaccessible until I reach the new max level. But if I don't have the new DLC, is it even possible to reach the new max level? Meh.
I had enjoyed watching the cinematics for the previous DLC on this page, as well. They were above the Tower, remember? They're gone now, and the one for TTK requires the purchase of TTK. Sigh.
Let's see what the Vanguard Strike Playlist has to offer.
 
Well, damn it. One locked option and one grayed-out option. Wait, I do have a third option. It's not locked or anything!
Oh, it's the level 20 Playlist . . . and it's easy difficulty . . . Hooray?
Screw it, we're gonna go to the Crucible and just shoot some people. PVP has never been my cup of PVtea, but if that's all I can do, so be it.
 
Oh, fuck me, come on!
Despite my general dislike of PVP, I actually kinda enjoyed the territory-squabble of Control matches, but that's not even a visible option! Though, to be fair, it's probably just buried somewhere in the digital tumblers of the DLC-lock. It's not gone forever, it's just gone for now.
So much for that, but I still wanna kill things. Specific things. We should see what sort of bounties Petra has today. Let's head to the Reef.
 
Wait, where did all of her bounties go? Can I just not do them anymore? It's a good thing I'm already rank 3 with the Awoken Queen, cause it doesn't look like there's a way to actually raise my standing anymore.
That was actually one of the more fun aspects of House of Wolves, getting to chase down powerful enemy targets. At times, it was a real challenge, too. And there was a certain pseudo-social interest found in helping a random stranger kill something. You didn't even have to team up, you could just find people who were also hunting the same thing you were.
At least there's always the Trials of Osiris stuff. I have never touched it before—see previous not-into-PVP point—but perhaps I should now. That Disciple of Osiris dude offers some crazy-powerful guns and armor, maybe now is the time!
No, now is NOT the time! There is literally nothing I can do with this guy. I imagine that a week later, there will still be nothing I can do with him.
Guess the only thing to do is visit the Tower. Hey, I'm still missing a couple Hunter cloaks from the Speaker (I main a Bladedancer), so maybe I can finish that bucket list.
Sweet, krispity Jesus, the Speaker has some upgraded cloaks! Oh, I have to be level 40. And what the hell are Legendary Marks? Should I just toss aside my Vanguard Marks? How can the entire currency system of the last populated city on Earth be changed so often? That cannot possibly make for a stable economy. One minute, this currency is good, the next minute, well . . .
At least I can purchase some new Ghost shells that were probably supposed to be in the vanilla game to begin with. You know, since that option screen was always there in the character menu, just mocking me. Alright, what else can I do?
I know, Eris Morn! Good old Eris always has some bounties for me. They're not new, but it's something I can actually do.

Turns out, no, she does not have any bounties for me. At all. I dunno where they went, but they're not here. Eris does sell some of those nifty upgraded cloaks, but they also cost Legendary Marks. Goodie for me.
After doing some googling, I found out that Legendary Marks can be acquired through Daily Stories, Daily Crucibles, and Vanguard Heroic Playlists, which, again, I do not have access to as per the first screengrabs. Grumble grumble.
Wait, Tess Everis is back. And with a shiny new shop, too!
 
And her shop, the Eververse, offers something new! Something actually new, holy shit! There is a god, and he cares about me after all!
 
Okay, so they're emotes, but I guess that still counts as “new” content. It has no baring on the game itself, and is purely cosmetic, but . . . What is this Silver? Yet another new currency? I have to use this Silver to buy emotes. Alright, but how do I get it in the first place?
Oh.
Oh, I see. It's a microtransaction system. It appears we have reached that point.
Okay then.
Look, I get that MMOs need to evolve to keep the current player base interested and entice new players to join the ranks. It's simply the nature of these kinds of games, and there's nothing wrong with that, but this is taking it a bit too far for me. New storyline missions and new social areas for Destiny represent the overall game moving forward, which is really cool, but stripping away access to previous content is a devolution. When World of Warcraft, for instance, launches a new expansion pack, it generally doesn't actively prevent you from doing things you used to do in-game. This is a step backward, and I say that as someone who stuck with Destiny when his friends who also played rightfully stopped playing.
And the thing is, it's soured the whole game for me.
I can still do some things, but not much at this point. It's like there's all this new/old stuff out there, visible to me, but just beyond my reach. I can see it, but I can't touch it.
 
Maybe I just need to come to terms with the fact that in order to access the same new old content, it's now going to cost an additional $40. Is it worth it? I genuinely do not know, but being one of the dwindling naysayers in this desert of sword-wielding yes-men and -women is getting me nowhere. I dunno, maybe I'm just too damn stubborn for my own good.
Or maybe that's not it at all.