Posts tagged “computers

Portal 2 TV Spot

That is the Portal 2 commercial. I don’t have anything to add other than it made me actually giggle out loud.

I probably should actually play the first one….

~Donna

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The Netbook and the Gaming Table

The addition of small, very portable computers has really changed a lot of the way people view computing. I own a couple, and tend to carry the Sony Vaio P around like a security blanket. This means, then, I have access to a lot of data, even when not connected to the internet. This has held true for the other class of portable computing devices, the crop of e-book readers. I’ve found it useful to keep my gaming notes, especially for RPG games, on computers and have caught chatter from other roleplaying and GMing friends about the coolness of having whole RPG sourcebooks and manuals on their Kindles.

So what has the lightening of the gaming bookbag done for you, if you’ve switched to using electronic tools?

I’m not a huge tabletop gaming person, but the games I play all seem to have some new enhancement. With the ability to carry quite a bit of data around, having all my notes for games is easy, when it all fits in my purse.

For myself, my main tool has been Microsoft OneNote, which is a data collection and organization product that is often included in the more complete versions of Office. It’s a good buy on it’s own, if you’re a Windows user. I make use of a lot of personal notes when playing a RP MUSH, keeping track of my evil plans, notes on stats and specific game files I use often but need to view offline, etc. This picture is a snippet of the gaming section.

Each little portion of my character’s activities has a section, and pages within it. The main screen shows a rumor posting that relates to a plot I was working on. As a player, it helps to copy certain useful information into a form I can carry around, search, and add to. How many of us in online gaming have remembered reading something before, something a character said, but not the specifics? Handy now to slap into a searchable database.

Obviously, from a GM’s point of view, finding a software package for their platform and creating a database like this could mean not having to repeatedly create things each campaign. OneNote, as well as Evernote and other data organizing packages, allow you to create a page and then save it as a template to use over again. With OneNote, you can print a PDF right into it, and then overlay more typing. It’s a great way to create character sheets, if you lack a PDF writing app. It does take time to build up a treasure trove of your own information in any database, and that can be daunting to some, I think. Not everyone is confident with computers enough to take up a database application and turn it into something that is readily useful. I find OneNote to be very easy to use, and am interested to hear what others use to store their campaign notes.

While even Microsoft OneNote runs on a netbook quite well, if you’re into lightweight, there’s the Tiddlywiki option. A Tiddlywiki is a single file you open up in a web browser and manipulate right there. It’s all saved in one file, but due to the magic of Javascript, you can create chunks, called tiddlers, and hide and show them as needed. The blank file without modifications can be found at www.tiddlyspot.com. M Thomas at his RPG Dumping Ground blog, has written an excellent introduction to the plain TwiddlyWiki file, and his blog looks interesting for RPGers as well: http://rpgdump.blogspot.com/2010/02/using-tiddlywiki-part-1.html. However, with the flexibility of Tiddlywiki, there is already at least one ready-modified file devoted to tracking RPG campaign information.

As with any of the Tiddlywikis, just go to the blank one and Save As the file to your local disk, and there you can modify it. Narrator’s Helper, by the Flying Turtle bloggers, is located here: http://flyingturtle.deepeningdays.com/narratorsHelper.htm

I won’t go into detail about the file, only to say that the author has added a number of new features to the TiddlyWiki, including the ability to roll up NPCs and track their hitpoints and damage, as well as rolls based on their stats, right in the wiki file itself. Most of the improvements involve handling random number things in games that use dice, in addition to all the tagging goodness of the TiddlyWiki. If you’re the light programming type, I encourage you to download the file and try your hand at a customization. Share what you create with us, too!

Lastly, I wanted to mention the iPod Touch/iPhone devices. There are quite a few handhelds out there with their own app stores and such, but this is just a sampling off my own iPod Touch.

  • Armory: If you’re into World of Warcraft, you may have known about the Armory app for iPhone. This is a slick little app that shows your character stats and equipment, just as it is in the Armoury website. Nice graphics with page turning sounds. However, I have found it not to work if you have an Authenticator on your account.
  • Authenticator Mobile: Speaking of.. if you do have one, or wish to secure your WoW account, the Authenticator for Mobile is a free download out of the App Store. This is a program that generates a unique timed number that must be typed in when logging in. It’s an excellent idea to help keep your account from being hijacked (as mine was last week), and you don’t even have to dish out the $6 to buy the fob one off the store.
  • Pocket MV: For those who are sucked into the virtual world of Second Life, there is Pocket Metaverse for accessing that graphical world right from your iPhone. Unlike some lightweight apps, this one allows map viewing, limited movement, chatting, inventory manipulation… the next best thing to actually logging in. For those on netbooks or older laptops that can’t handle the client, it’s a good option, even if it eats battery power like Oreos.
  • Dice Rollers: There seem to be a number of them, such as Crit, Dice Bag and Motion-X Dice. Your mileage may vary, as I haven’t tried any of them, but those are free for the download.

I’m sure the new iPad will open up things even more, and the touch capability with the large screen should tempt programmers to create new tools for us gamers. Be nice to your programmers, convert them to gaming, then maybe they will gift us with cool.

I’ve kept to what I know here, but if anyone has cool tools they’ve found useful on portable devices, please share with us in the comments!


Little by little, we improve the rig.

Yesterday two things happened: our new, fresh blood for the Shadowrun game my husband runs arrived at my house to work on his character, and so did my new ATI 5770 card as well as my stonky new headphones from Sound Blaster. The former was very quiet and my husband got off work late so we didn’t get much done — but there’ll be more on tabletop in the coming weekend. No, today’s post is about technology! Shiny, shiny technology.

I was nerd enough to take the plunge on the WoW headset. I didn’t do it just for the geek factor, though. No! I researched. I had originally been intending to buy a RAZER product, but while we’ve done well with Razer mice, the headphones came fairly poorly reviewed, especially in the range I was looking at (around $70). The mic break and there were a lot of failed headsets within the first six months of use. So I looked up some other headsets and found that the headphones were fairly well rated and I decided ‘what the hell’. Why not.

I could not be happier with these babies, let me tell you. They’re large, and encompass my whole ear, but don’t GRAB my tiny little head like it’s in a vice. It’s comfortable even with my glasses on. I have some complaints with the mic position, but the noise canceling works; I popped on to an allied guild’s vent, said hello to some friends and talked with them for a while in a way I could never have done before. The sound incoming was excellent and from all reports, the outgoing was also good, I was very clear. The THX and other items also really helps crisp up the sound, so if you have the urge to play with those, I assure you, this is not a bad buy!

Being a cord sound purist, though, I did not get the wireless ones. USB cable plugs right into the front of my box, I don’t have to fuss with unplugging my speakers, and BAM! I’m good to go. I’m pretty pleased with the purchase– we’ll see if they last. But honestly, after my last headset– that I could only wear without pain for about thirty minutes–it’s a really nice change.

The card is also very awesome; I now run WoW on max settings without any issues at all. In fact, it’s made play easier. I got popped into Heroic Halls of Reflection, which with it’s tight LOS mechanics, has always been a cluster of magical effects that choked my older card and caused lag issue. Not good when you’re on DPS, and death when you’re heals! But I ran it TWICE yesterday and not only did I get to really appreciate the gorgeous mist affect laying over the floor of the instance, but I didn’t have any graphic lag at all. We smoked both runs and I consider that card $120 well spent. I shortly booted up Dragon Age: Awakenings and gloried in the smoother movement, the prettier graphics (also at max!) and tonight, I’m probably going to buy the Dawn of War II pack off Steam (since my DoW2 is attatched to my husband’s Steam account, from when we were sharing one) and glory in commanding my tiny marines up close and personal.

The next purchase will be a new monitor. I’m eyeing a 22″ widescreen from Samsung; currently I’m running on a 19″ that’s about 3-4 years old, and it’s a little trooper. Not a single dead pixel! Samsung’s goods have really impressed me, so I will probably stick with them (or possibly go Toshiba; our TV is Toshiba and oh the prettiness when I pop in a PS2 or 3 game!)

Speaking of PS3 — I haven’t had time to pick up Heavy Rain again; the frustration lingers, and weirdly, I don’t like to play it alone. I like having my husband there to sort of ‘co-op’ it, with ‘look at that’, ‘X, X, HIT X!” and so forth. Maybe it’s beacuse I haven’t been on a console regularly in about a year and a half, and maybe because the game regularly creeps me out. I really do want to finish it. I think I’ll make it a priority over my four day birthday weekend when I’m home waiting for things.


Deadline

At this very moment I’m doing a write up about Planetside. Not a full review, mind you. Just a basic overview of the game with some first impressions. I still haven’t decided how I feel about this MMOFPS. I’ve been playing FPS games since the beginning of time and online since Quake World. So this isn’t really new territory for me, but it is different.

The article is due tomorrow. And as usual I’m writing it the night before. Although technically it’s due today since it’s after midnight. Still it’s only about half done and it’s 2am. I’ll get it in on time. I always do. Only once have I ever missed a deadline.

I should get back to work. I’ll make sure to post up a link when it’s live on the MMORPG.com website.


A Piece of History

Not really about gaming, but I stumbled on this today and thought it would be good to share. This was the beginning and without it we wouldn’t be sitting here right now and you wouldn’t be reading this.