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inane
Words are hard.
Keep in mind I'm just a guy who enjoys music.

10 Alcest - Kodama: It's a typical Alcest album. I guess I wish they'd done things a bit different, it sounds a lot like the previous album IMO.
09 Airbag - Disconnected: If you liked previous Airbag albums, you'll like this one. Slow, subtle, melancholic, awesome guitar solos by Bjørn Riis.
08 Metamorphosis - The Turning Point: This was tough to even get a hold of, same as that other album, Dark, a few years ago. It was released just a few days ago and I had to import from .. Switzerland, I think. Dark'ish Progressive Rock, lots of heavy guitars.
07 The Pineapple Thief - Your Wilderness: Bit of a pleasant surprise, since I haven't really listened to Pineapple Thief all that much. Progressive Rock, slightly leaning towards Pop. Accessible.
06 The Aurora Project - World of Grey: Progmetal band from the Netherlands. Hmm. Their website says Progmetal anyway, I don't entirely agree. Though there certainly are heavy passages, and I love those. Album deals with current issues. War, media, internet activism. Reminds me of Mr Robot. Also, their new guitar player is doing a pretty good job.
05 Karibow - Holophinium: A band I wasn't at all aware of before this album. I don't know how I found out about them, might've been through morow.com. In this list one of the more mellow bands. Progressive Rock, yes, but as Pineapple Thief, accessible IMO. Very enjoyable melodies though, and subtleties you don't immediately notice.
04 Dante - When We Were Beautiful Whoo German Progmetal. I love when rhythms get confusing, and they certainly do in Beautiful Again. Also, Top 1 Hottest Album Cover of 2016.
03 Antimatter - Welcome to the Machine: Well and here's entry number one that made me think I should've called the list music releases instead of albums. You know what? I don't care, it's my list dammit! Anyway. This is a single. It's got the titular track and two live recordings of older Antimatter tracks. More often than not I dislike covers of songs I love. This one is an exception, it's dark and slightly melancholic, typically Antimatter. It just feels right. Also, some electronics involved which usually isn't my kind of music. Again, Antimatter being an exception to that rule, since I'm quite fond of those older tracks that had a lot of them.
02 Ayreon - The Theater Equation: And here's the other one. I love Human Equation, I love that people worked to get this on stage, and I love that most of the original cast participated, even though none of them are actually actors. Mikael Åkerfeldt is missing. Not exactly a disappointment as such, since Anneke van Giersbergen is brilliant and having Fear sound so different from the album was a surprise. But still, I would'be loved to see / hear him on stage. Also, Mike Mills is awesome ... I actually had a hard time deciding whether to put this in the top spot. In the end I decided to go in this order just because this isn't actually an album. Strictly speaking.
01 Opeth - Sorceress: It's just another great album by Opeth. It is, again, different from the others, but I love how they keep doing new stuff. Some people disagree. I don't care ... Another reason I decided to place Sorceress first, the Opeth show I went to was Top 1 for me this year. Ahh, memories.

Here's a preview of next year's Top Ten:

01 Ayreon - Whatever the new album's called

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inane
So let me tell you about my experiences playing this. I've played for about 7 hours and just got what I'm pretty sure is the Good Ending. And I'm not so much disappointed in this game as angry. It could've been such a good game, if it wasn't for all the bugs and strange behavior breaking it.

First things first, what is it anyway? Mechanically, I guess it's an action adventure. You fight opponents, attacking them by clicking on them. You also use special abilities, try to block attacks at the right moment, some special moves triggering when you successfully chain attacks, etc. Fighting looks kinda cool (especially once you unlock abilites) and is quite hectic.
Now, storywise is where it gets interesting. The setting is, you're playing a retired adventurer / scoundrel who decides to join the rebellion when he finds out about the atrocities the Emperor (who used to be a good guy) had commanded. During cut-scenes, you get to choose how to continue. Thing is, your choices will inevitably lead to you losing the game. The first playthroughs are about finding out which choices are wrong, and in the process finding four fundamental truths that will help you uncover the right way to go. You will need all four before you even get the choices required to get the Good Ending. Before that, after each loss you will get a bit of a reward, and then the game will rewind and restart, giving you more options, and also frequently reminding you of any truths you've uncovered that might be relevant to the situation.
I really like that concept! Also, the story is real cute and often funny. Same goes for the characters. I guess that's why I'm so angry at the game being stupid and breaking so much.
BTW, each playthrough is around an hour give or take, depends of course on how quick you're going, how much exploring you're doing, and how often you're diverting from the main path to collect items. I played through it seven times to collect all truths and find the Good Ending. When you consider that there are 24 (?) non-Good endings, I only got 6 of those ...

So. Things that irk me (please keep in mind that I played a few hours, not hundreds):
  • On one occasion textures didn't load. I tried to continue the game, because quitting would've meant re-doing the entire level.
  • I had to restart a level three times, repeatedly going through the same lengthy dialogue, because one fight kept bugging out. First time, after the fight my character only moved in slow-motion and I couldn't do anything about it. Second time an opponent fell part way through the floor. I could still see it, but not attack. So the encounter never ended.
  • Every time you encounter enemies, you're locked in an arena area until the fighting ends. So imagine my surprise when I ran into a single opponent outside such an arena, without an actual encounter even triggering.
  • Enemies' path finding frequently sucks, they get stuck around corners, they don't activate when they spawn too far from you.
  • Enemies announce their attacks with an exclamation mark above them. You better click on them then to counter, or else they'll hit hard. Also, such a hit will stun you for a bit. Also also, multiple opponents might attack in such a way at the same time, and you can only counter one at a time. Also also also, you're a melee fighter, so you'll pretty much always be right in the middle of them.
  • You have different swords (like, Ice Sword, and Fire Sword). Their abilities are activated though, they use up energy, and the energy by far doesn't last the entire fight. It took me a while to learn to just quickly light them up right before hitting an opponent and disabling them right after.
  • Once you've collected all available upgrades for your Swords and Gauntlet, all pickups will be health ones. Which is utterly stupid considering your Swords use Energy, which you could find pickups for before you maxed out all your stuff. Now it only auto-regenerates at such a slow rate that you'd need to leave your game running for maybe half an hour to max it out. Or you use one of the gem slots in your gauntlet for a gem that restores 5% sword energy on enemy kill. So much for choosing your favorite setup among 7 available gems for your gauntlet.
  • BTW, pickups frequently spawn in spots you can't get to. Health and Energy pickups will often be thrown directly at you, so you can't really choose to use one of your swords to regain health because there were a lot of energy pickups. Nope, you'll pick up the energy despite being full already.
  • Oh, the combat. It's so weird. You struggle a lot early on, but when you unlock the various swords (I used the Ice Sword pretty much all the time) and some abilities, the fights get easier. The game throws more opponents at you at a time to offset your new-found tricks, but it's not enough. The game gets easier the more you play.
  • Why did it take me just 7 playthroughs to get to the Good Ending? I deliberately made some poor choices I thought. Do I care enough to go through all the other options just to find all the bad endings?
  • Last but not least, the controls. Ugh. Mouse+RMB to move, RMB to attack. I so wish I could've moved with WASD and used the mouse to point in the direction I wanted to attack. 7 hours into the game I still used LMB trying to move somewhere.


So. Yeah. That's what I think about Stories. Lots of wasted potential.

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inane
So, Konzert gestern. RPWL hatten ein zweiteiliges Konzert angekündigt

Set 1: The Man and The Journey, in dem sie Pink Floyds 1969er Tour covern. Ist ... durchwachsen. Und zwar nicht, weil RPWL das nicht leisten könnten, sondern schlicht, weil Pink Floyd in der Zeit sehr seltsame Musik gespielt haben. Ich bezeichne mich selbst als Pink Floyd Fan, aber mal von Cymbaline abgesehen ist das meiste aus der Zeit nicht so mein Ding - vieles ist für mich überhaupt nur im weiteren Sinne "Musik". Dementsprechend, na ja. Interessantes Erlebnis, muss ich aber nicht nochmal haben.

Set 2: RPWL History, ein Querschnitt durch RPWLs eigene Kreationen. Zum großen Teil Songs die ich toll finde (nur Breathe In, Breathe Out mag ich nicht besonders), aber bis auf einen (Home Again) hab' ich die auch alle schon mal live erlebt. Dazu muss ich aber auch sagen, dass Home Again zu meinen Lieblingssongs von RPWL gehört, seit ich es zum ersten Mal auf der 9 gehört hab. Und This Is Not A Prog Song, das ich als Albumversion nicht so besonders finde, ist live immer wieder witzig, weil die Band kurze Ausschnitte aus Songs anderer Bands anspielt. Und dabei ersetzen Sie dann gern Worte der Original-Songtexte mit PROG. Und bei jeder Tour sind's andere Songs, ist also jedes Mal 'was Neues, und immer ein Rätselraten, was es jetzt gerade für ein Song war, weil's teilweise nur wenige Sekunden lange Ausschnitte sind. Und natürlich machen sie sich dann auch einen Spaß daraus, Songs reinzubringen die man kennt, die aber absolut nicht PROG sind (Hölle, Hölle, Hölle). Riesenspaß jedes Mal.
Und dann war da natürlich noch The Gentle Art of Swimming. Jedes Mal wenn ich das höre werde auf's Neue daran erinnert wie toll dieses Lied ist.

Insgesamt also, teilweise klasse, teilweise nicht so. Wobei das überhaupt keine Aussage über die Fertigkeiten der Bandmitglieder ist!

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inane
wheee I'm blogging.

Anyway, we played 3 rounds of Hero Realms this past weekend, and since some people seem to be curious and haven't got their copies yet, I decided to note down the thoughts and impressions I have on the game.

First and foremost, Hero Realms is not just a re-skin of Star Realms. You will feel right at home with Hero Realms though, if you're familiar with Star Realms. The core mechanics are the same.

Here's a quick Star Realms - Hero Realms translation guide:

Star RealmsHero Realms
BaseChampion
OutpostGuard
Destroy BaseStun Champion
ExplorerFire Gem
ScrapSacrifice

Well then, here's mechanics that are basically the same:
You start your game with 50 health and a ten card deck of basic cards. Some money, very few damage. You draw five cards from your draw pile (except for starting player who draws three, second player drawing four if there are 3+ players). You buy better cards from the trade row, which shows five random cards at a time, or you buy some Fire Gems. Purchases go in your discard pile, and you re-shuffle when you have to draw but don't have any cards left in your draw pile. Money is pooled and you may purchase multiple cards as long as you have the currency for it. Damage is also pooled and distributed as you like.
When you play a Champion, it stays in play until it is stunned. It then goes to your discard pile. Champions have a health value which has to be reached in order to stun them, otherwise damage would fizzle. Guards protect the player and the other Champions from damage and have to be dealt with first. Regular Champions may be stunned, but you can also choose to bypass them. Non-Champion cards (called Actions or Items) are discarded at the end of your turn.
The player whose health is reduced to (or below) zero first loses. (Variants exist for 3+ players)
The central idea of Ally Abilites exists in Hero Realms and works just as it does in Star Realms. There are four factions, and cards might have an ability that triggers when another card of the same faction is in play (and under control of the active player of course).
You will also find abilities you know from Star Realms: "Target opponent discards a card", "Draw a card", "Sacrifice a card from your hand or discard pile", "Sacrifice Fire Gem for damage", etc.

So, here's what's different (keep in mind I've played three games, and I haven't actually seen all the cards):
Champions come into play "prepared" (i.e. untapped). You activate their ability by "expending" (tapping) them. At the end of your turn, you prepare them, so they'll never be expended during your opponent's turn.

Non-Champion cards are either Actions or Items, all of which can have types that abilities might refer to.

You will find many abilities that depend / trigger on requirements not seen in Star Realms: "If you played two or more actions this turn, draw a card", "Gain one life per Champion you have in play", "Gain one damage per Guard you have in play" (notice the difference between Champion and Guard), "Deal 3 damage to target player and all of his Champions (Guards don't protect from this)", "Stun a Champion that has been damaged this turn", "Ally: Prepare a Champion", "Gain 2 damage if you played a 'Bow' this turn" ...

The base game comes with starting decks for four players. The optional character packs (currently Fighter, Ranger, Thief, Wizard, Cleric) are custom starting decks with different cards, one minor (once per turn) and one major (once per game) ability, custom health tracker cards, and different starting health. Bonus / promotional cards include a single player / co-op challenge, with more to follow. The Campaign Starter Kit hasn't been delivered yet. From what I can tell, it'll be like Star Realms single player missions, but played cooperatively. The plan is to include persistant items that you can find / acquire in one mission and keep for the next. Also planned is a deck for a GM type player who opposes a group of cooperative players (i.e. asymmetrical multiplayer).

<tl;dr> To summarize:
Hero Realms is a hugely expanded adaption of Star Realms, set in a fantasy world instead of a Science Fiction one. It's more open and acts as a foundation for various different play variants, in a way that Star Realms has been too limited to be.

Non-Verdict:
I don't feel quite ready to say whether it's better or worse than Star Realms. I've played over 1500 online matches in Star Realms, according to Steam I've been running it for 500+ hours, and I've had the game before it became available through Steam. And let's not forget the Android app that I'm using on both my tablet and phone. Compared to that, I've played Hero Realms for ... 3 hours maybe? As such, it's new and exciting, while also reminding me of a game I love. It has potential, more than Star Realms in my opinion. We'll see what WWG makes of it.

My friends I played with enjoyed it too, generally (I think) more than Star Realms. This might, in part, be due to them feeling without a chance against me in Star Realms for some reason though.

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inane
I'm just going to gather my thoughts on the Spiel'16 convention here ... Keep on mind that this was the first time for me to visit such a convention ...

So. Yesterday's been pretty exhausting, but also a lot of fun. I got up at 3:00am, left home around 3:30 and drove to our meeting spot to meet with friends. We continued on to Essen, which took about 4 hours 15 minutes (close to 400km). We arrived way early because I'd insisted on leaving early to avoid bad traffic. Well, we arrived 2 hours before the convention opened. We walked to a bakery for some coffee / hot chocolate and breakfast, then returned to he entrance and waited to be let in.
Once inside (around 10:00am) we were overwhelmed by the sheer size of the thing. One of the first booths was from a game store and we were all just finding a dozen things we wanted to buy. We did not want to carry around our purchases all day though, so we decided to come back later. Opposite was a booth showing off a game called The Vampire, the Elf and the Cthulhu. We sat down for a demo game. In the end we weren't convinced though, in part because despite helpful people at the booths introducing you to the games, it's tough to learn new games in a crowded and noisy environment. In the end I think we'd figured it out, but mechanically we weren't convinced.
We did spend about an hour playing it though, and then realised that with the size of the convention, and us being there for a day only, we don't really have the time to playtest games.
So we continued through Hall 1 of the venue, stopping here and there, looking at games, checking prices at the many many sellers, buying stuff, etc. We left Hall 1 at around 12:30 or maybe it was 1:00pm? Anyway, continuing at this speed we wouldn't be able to even visit all the halls. So we did a sort of quicker run through of the other halls, and certainly missed out on a lot of stuff. Towards the late afternoon we decided to go back to playtest Mansions of Madness (pretty sure it was the new second edition). We had to wait for a bit to get a free table, but once there we sat down with someone at the booth to explain things to us. They had a timer at each table, and play time for this one was limited to an hour. The game can be described as a mix of Betrayal at House on the Hill (mechanically) and Arkham Horror (thematically). In fact, some of the game art looks quite like the latter on, and some of the same people were involved in both. So thematically it's players (as investigators) being confronted with varying Cthulhu related plots, mechanically by visiting an old mansion and discovering new rooms, items, events etc. Now the big difference is, that instead of a huge complex manual, the game has a helper app (apparently available for Android, Apple devices, Mac and Windows). The app conveys huge parts of the story, and, interestingly, varies it every time. There are difficulty settings, but it also personalises the events by using the names of the characters, and mixes up what's happening, and creates the layout of the mansion differently every time. I quite liked the idea, in particular because in Arkham Horror, when playing it for the first few times, you spend a lot of time looking through the manual and re-reading how encounters play out, etc. With this game though, you just let the app do the mathy and ruley things by tapping a few buttons. Attacking a monster in the mansion? Select the active monster in the app, hit attack, select attack type (e.g melee, ranged, magic), and it'll tell you what to do, and not in a neutral, manual-like fashion, but including flavor texts. I quite liked the idea of having an app, and we discussed this among ourselves during and after the game. Things I think are worth noting about the app:

  • Despite being about as complex as Arkham Horror, the game is a lot easier to get into, because you just need to know a few basic mechanics (like how rolling dice works) and the app will tell you all you need to know when you need to know.

  • It'll also keep score for you (e.g. how much life a monster has left).

  • Updates to the app mean potential for new variants of stories, or entirely new stories, to be introduced continuously.

  • The app is required to play. If you want to play, you'll need someone with a tablet (phone's too small to be really useful) or a notebook, PC, something. The battery ran low on the tablet while we were playing, if it runs out, game over.

  • You really need to hand the tablet around so each player can use it. Alternatively, find a solution where everyone can see and use it simultaneously. In my case, I'm thinking my wall mounted TV (which is hooked up to my PC anyway) + Windows version of the App (free on Steam) + wireless mouse / keyboard to hand around + placing the table in front of the TV in such a way that everyone can easily read stuff off it. Works for me, might not work for everyone.

  • Especially with Android, you might run into problems with market fragmentation. Don't have a tablet with recent Android version? App might not be available. Or the developer might at some point in the future stop supporting the app for your version of Android. Who knows?

  • More sinister (and I can't tell how likely that is), this app solution might introduce a sort of planned obsolescence. A few years down the line, the app might be pulled from stores (this is totally an option for the Google Play Store, iTunes store, and Steam) because the publisher thinks it's time for you to buy his latest game. They could also make the app stop supporting the base game and require you to buy physical addons. Less sinister, but how about advertising your latest game in the app?

  • Minor gripe: We're playing a physical board game. Don't make me do minigames on the tablet.


All in all I want to keep playing it, and I feel you just have to figure out how to best deal with using the app for it. Friend of mine already decided to get this game for Christmas. Looking forward to playing.

Anyway. We finished the game (losing) and decided to leave the convention half an hour before closing (7:00pm, as opposed to 6:00pm like I thought I'd read somewhere) so we could be the rush to the exits. Found the car and headed back home. I'd thought finding the way back to the autobahn from the convention area wouldn't be hard, but as it turns out the road Waze wanted me to go was actually blocked so we wasted a bit of time trying to find a different way. Another good 4 hours of driving. Got home around 11:00pm and went to bed around midnight.

We've already decided we're going again next year, but next time we'll get hotel rooms and stay for a minimum of two days, possibly the entire four days. It might also be a good idea to plan ahead: Plan your walking route through the exhibition halls so you miss less stuff. Walk the entire thing on day 1, then return the next day to the booths you want to playtest at. Buy stuff on the last day you're there, towards the end of the day (so you don't have to carry stuff all day). best deals might be towards the end of the show, when exhibitors realise they'll have to haul back everything they're not selling. Make lists of stuff you want to playtest / buy by taking photos of the games, and of the booth numbers printed on labels at every booth. Those labels have hall number, rows and numbers to make them locate easy.

Random bit of information, I lost 2kg between yesterday and today. Didn't eat much, walked around all day. Also, sore shoulders from backpack filled with White Wizard Gaming booth.

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inane
This is ridiculously annoying. I was going to play Witcher 2, and there's just so much that seems rushed and unfinished.

Every time you want to start the game, the launcher just hangs there for half a minute before it lets you do anything. It's a fricking launcher, what's taking so long?!
The game itself has a tray icon and informs you that indeed, the game is running, right when it's going full screen.
Funnily enough the tray icon doesn't go away on its own after you quit your game. It disappears as soon as you move the mouse over it. You know what kind of programs do just that? Chrashed ones.
The game itself becomes unplayable if you made the mistake of setting your keyboard layout to german in the launcher. WASD / cursor keys don't work so you can't move.
The tutorial is a messy mess. It shows you too many things in too short a time. It tells you to wait for an icon to appear and then click, but the icon never shows. It tells you to use an ability, but the ability fails every time you try, and the game doesn't give any feedback on what went wrong.
Once in the actual game you see cutscenes that seem like rough drafts. The sound levels are off, and you can clearly understand everyone but the main character. In fights you just mash the attack buttons which seems to work just fine, even though it got you killed in the tutorial.
At one point the game informed me that a quest I didn't know I had had failed. At the same time a tutorial message showed me something which I can only assume was important, but it disappeared about the time I was done reading the "quest failed" message. I haven't figured out how to re-read the tutorial message, even though earlier it said I could see those when pressing TAB.

Honestly I'm not sure I should bother. Of course not playing 2 I will not pick up 3 either ...
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inane
So here's the thing. Me and two of my colleagues usually got into work around 7:00am, and left around 3:45pm. One colleague arrived around 9:00am and stayed until around 6:00pm. Now that colleague is on parental leave for a year, and our boss asked us to get organised in such a way that someone would be in till at least 5:00pm. This week I'm on late shift, so I slept in today and planned to arrive around 8:30am. One other colleague had the day off, and the one who was supposed to be in early was stuck in traffic and actually arrived after me.

Which means instead of someone being in at 7:00am I was the first IT guy to arrive at around 8:30am. And due to some DC issues one of our offices couldn't actually work. The fix was easy enough (reboot the DC and tell users to reboot their machines to get rid of any lingering issues). It's just weird that we started early and late shifts to better cover office hours and the first noticeable result is people not being able to work for an hour and a half. Because I would've been in at 7:00am if it wasn't for my late shift. Hell I was actually awake in time for the early shift - I just stayed in bed quite a bit longer.

So. Yeah.

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inane
Well.

I just finished watching the last episode of TNG. I never realised before that the entire trial thing that the show starts with comes around full circle at the end. I did watch the "All Good Things ..." episodes as a kid, but I've never seen TNG in order, so I didn't realise that those were the last episodes to the show. Q still is one of my favourite characters, and I love how he seems like an antagonist at first, but in the end it turns out that he isn't, not quite anyway. And that realisation coincides with Picard's realisation of it. It's quite neat really.

So anyway, now that I've re-watched all of it, I'm pretty sure I've actually seen all episodes before. One didn't seem quite familiar when I watched it a few weeks ago, but thinking back I do recall some aspects of it from my childhood, so I just might not have seen all of it, or forgot about it, or something. Seeing them in order does make things more interesting though. As a kid I just watched them when they happened to be on, I don't remember actually making time to watch TNG as a kid though.

Heh. I'm not going to revisit TOS, DS9 or Voyager though. I never actually really liked those ones. Maybe I should go and rewatch MacGyver. Or Knight Rider?? X-Files???

Then again maybe I should just watch those hundreds of episodes I already have on the computer. Never finished Mr. Robot, or Jessica Jones. I've got plenty of unwatched episodes of Castle, Supernatural, Burn Notice, Game of Thrones, I stopped bothering with Doctor Who and Breaking Bad ... There's just so much ...

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inane
Well, news for today is that the SlySoft website has been shut down. They used to develop and sell AnyDVD among other things. Now AnyDVD was difficult from a legal point of view. For example, advertising it in Germany was illegal, and Heise got into trouble just for writing an article about it.
The reason this upsets me (other than the fact that I bought a lifetime license just last year) is that I need it to play the BluRays I purchased on Kodi.
So, consequences? I've still got the software running, I've got its installer, and the license I bought. As far as I know it's been able to decode all the BluRays I currently own, so it's very likely it'll continue to do so. As to new BluRay purchases? AnyDVD might not work on them, and I don't know any other way to get BluRays to play on Kodi. And I sure as fuck won't buy PowerDVD or any such bloatware just for BluRays.

So. I'm not going to get any more BluRays. Well done, Content Industry.
<slowclap>
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inane
Short version of the problem:
The YouTube addon for Kodi uses the YouTube API. The addon uses keys to authorize with the API. YouTube can blacklist a key for abuse of the API. Since the Kodi addon is too popular, it's being blocked.

Solution (one of several):
Go to the Google Developer Console
Create a project, open the API manager, select YouTube Data API, click Enable
Create an OAuth ID of type "Other", save the resulting JSON file.
Open the JSON file in a text editor and make a note of the strings client_ID and client_secret.
Create an API Key (type "Browser"), save key.

Log out of the YouTube addon in Kodi, close Kodi.

Open this file in notepad or another text editor
%userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Kodi\addons\plugin.video.youtube\resources\lib\youtube\client\login_client.py
In the sections 'youtube-for-kodi-quota', 'youtube-for-kodi-fallback' and 'youtube-for-kodi-15' (replace with your version if you're not running Isengard) replace key, id and secret with the data you generated above.

Restart Kodi, follow the login procedure for the YouTube addon. You're now using your own personal credentials to access the API and therefore are unlikely to be blacklisted for spamming it.

Source: This thread on the Kodi support forum. Feel free to read all (as of writing) 208 pages of this thread for more details. I wrote this summary so that other might more easily find a solution to this problem that appears to resurface every few months.

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inane
Amazon Prime ist irgendwie ein ähnliches Thema wie Netzneutralität. Die Internetprovider, die alle die Netzneutraliät loswerden wollen, stellen sich eine Zweiklassenkundschaft vor, in der Einige mehr bezahlen für ordentlichen Service. Der Rest zahlt auch, halt weniger, fällt aber hinten runter was Qualität angeht. Die können ja mehr bezahlen wenn sie unzufrieden sind.

Amazon macht's mit Prime genauso, ist ja kein Geheimnis (Notiz: Ich beziehe mich hier ausschließlich auf den kostenlosen Expressversand). Prime-Kunden werden bevorzugt behandelt mit dem Ziel, dass letztlich alle Kunden Prime abonnieren. Dann wären wieder alle gleich, nur dass alle für einen Service bezahlen von dem dann niemand mehr was hat. Tolle Idee von Amazon eigentlich.

Früher hab' ich Sendungen, die auf Lager waren, üblicherweise zwei Werktage nach Bestellung gehabt. Heutzutage ist das Prime-Niveau, die Normalen müssen länger warten.

Ich hab Dienstag was bestellt, "Versand"bestätigung hab ich Dienstag Abend noch bekommen. Versand bedeutet aber nur Übermittlung der Sendungsdaten an den Transporteur. Der Status hat sich seit Dienstag nicht mehr geändert. Wenn nicht gerade das Tracking kaputt ist, dann liegt meine Sendung also seit zwei Tagen fertig in deren Lager.

Da ich als Adresse die Arbeit angegeben hab, bringt's mir nichts wenn das Samstag kommt. Ich brauche die Sendung für Sonntag, weil Geschenke. Wird also voraussichtlich nicht rechtzeitig ankommen.

Welche Konsequenz ziehe ich also? Ratet mal ...

a. Prime bestellen damit das nicht mehr passiert.
b. Geschenke im Laden kaufen, Sendung retournieren weil sie nicht rechtzeitig angekommen ist, und in Zukunft noch mehr auf Alternativen zu Amazon ausweichen.

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inane
This entry will contain spoilers for Edge of Tomorrow.

I was talking to Chrischi last year about a certain thing I like in fiction. That thing is Time. It's not time travel as such, because that suggests some sort of control over the destination (like in Doctor Who, or Back to the Future). I enjoy those movies / TV shows that are more along the lines of mysterious things happening to the protagonists that are potentially related to weird things happening to time.

EXAMPLES!
Groundhog Day, of course. Guy relives day over and over again. He doesn't seem to have any control over it and doesn't know what to do about it either. As far as I remember we never find out what actually caused it either. For the most part this is a funny / romance movie of course, not much in the way of scary that I like for that premise.

Død Kalm (X-Files episode). Chrischi and me were watching this, which caused our discussion. In the end the viewer gets a sort of scientific explanation for the accelerated aging process the ship and everyone on it is subjected to, but until then the episode is scary as hell IMO. Keep in mind though that I remember watching this one as a kid too. It was scarier back then.

Timescape (TNG episode). I remember this one fondly from watching as a kid. The crew encounter pockets of temporal disturbances (areas with time running faster / slower). Before they figure out what's going on the effects of these were really quite scary.

Time and Effect (TNG episode). I found this one while trying to find the episode above. Typical Groundhog Day setting, but still I liked it very much back then.

Mystery Spot (Supernatural episode). I watched a lot of Supernatural last year I think, getting up to date to the (then) most recent seasons. Again this is a Groundhog Day setting (it is kinda popular it seems). Considering that Dean dies over and over again it's quite hilarious, but gets more serious towards the end.

The Langoliers. Is it even time travel? I watched this many years ago and loved the premise. Airplane passengers find themselves in an almost deserted airplane and manage to land at an airport, that's also missing people. The explanation at the end is not exactly time travel, nor is it a parallel universe. It's just people getting out of sync with their time and being literally late. The movie itself isn't rated all that high, but the idea behind it (I assume it's based on a book) is awesome.

11/22/63 (Stephen King novel). Now this novel is far from perfect for me because it doesn't focus enough of the scary weird stuff. Most of it is about that guy living his life in the past. But there were some very cool themes:
- The idea that time doesn't want to be changed and tries to prevent it. The graver the changes the protagonist attempts, the tougher are the obstacles "fate" puts in his way to stop him.
- The reset that happens when he travels back again. And in combination with that, the slightly crazy homeless person he encounters after going back, who does not reset but seems dimly aware of him coming back. And don't even get me started on that yellow card that guy has on his clothes. Wasn't it a slightly different shade of yellow the last time the protagonist saw him?? (and later still, BAM, it's black. What does it mean??).

Edge of Tomorrow. Chrischi gave me his BluRay of the movie after we talked about this. It's Groundhog Day all over again, but with Zerg rushes instead of groundhogs. Even though the concept isn't innovative anymore I still enjoy finding out what characters make of it. Sadly towards the end the movie abandons the concept to make a run-of-the-mill action sequence. Then reintroduces it at the end as a Deus ex machina to make everyone survive, because clearly you can't have a proper ending to an American AAA action movie with the main characters dead. Also I never quite got why the General insisted on him being on the front lines in the first place.

And, yeah that's it. There's some of my favourite implementations of "weird things happening to time" in fiction.

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inane
Finished the game today. Story makes up for annoyances I ranted about here. Get it, worth it.

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So I bought Stasis a few days ago. I'd been looking forward to its release ever since I heard of it. It doesn't quite live up to my expectations though, unfortunately.

To give you an idea, Stasis is an Indie Isometric Science Fiction Horror Adventure Game. The protagonist wakes by from stasis on an unfamiliar space ship that obviously is severely damaged. Thing is, the last thing he remembers is going into stasis next to his wife and kid in order to start their vacation. The goal of the game is survival, finding out wtf is going on, and finding your family.

[Spoiler (click to open)]
Now, I really like the setting of the game. You soon find out that the space ship you're on is owned by a big corporation conducting illegal experiments (DNA manipulation and cloning) on humans, on this very ship. They're totally ruthless, and collect stasis pods anywhere they can get them in order to use their contents for their experiments. Naturally the protagonist is frantically trying to find his family.

Unfortunately, that's all I really like about this game. Graphically, it's okay. The setting is visualised well enough, but it does look 10+ years old. IMO that's acceptable for a small independent developer though.

What most irks me is how far fetched some of the puzzles are. Early in the game, you need to fake a leak on a tank. Having only very few items, I decided to try to use a glass shard on my character, thinking he'd cut himself for a few drops of blood. Well, what he did was thrusting the shard into his intestines, killing himself.
Killing yourself is ridiculously easy in the game.

Here's another example of a puzzle that I didn't like: There's a gas leak, and I'm convinced I'm supposed to blow it up. I've got a lighter, so I place it close to the leak. What you're supposed to do is go to a save place and use a stick to prod the lighter so that it ignites the gas. Thing is, the game requires you to do it from a certain place. If you prod it from the wrong position you'll die in the explosion, but being as close, just in a different position, prodding the lighter works without you getting killed. What's worse, once you plant the lighter nothing will happen, but if you go close to the leak again it'll suddenly explode, killing you! Why does it explode when you get close? Why doesn't it when you keep your distance? That doesn't make any sense!

Another puzzle is not a proper puzzle at all IMO: You arrive at a tube station. The tubes are used to transport stuff from one department to the other on the ship. There's several things wrong with this puzzle actually: First of all, you'll find a box addressed to <some department>, and below are three connected symbols - when I saw them I thought abstract floor plan. They're just two colours, forming what looks like rooms and connecting passages. Now close by is a terminal that let's you enter the intended destination, you have to choose from different symbols on three positions to get the correct one, i.e. the one showing on the box.

Seriously, WHY THE HELL would you have a process to input the target destination in such a complicated way? The transport boxes have the destination written on them in plain text, so why would the destination selector be encoded at all, and in such a weird way? What would actually make sense is a simple list of available destinations to select one from. So this is an example of a puzzle that's just there for the sake of itself.

The second reason this entire puzzle feels stupid, you find several boxes with different destinations. When you enter any of them though, the terminal will simply say "no destination set". What should happen, you should be able to enter the transport and be shipped to a wrong location. It might be a dead end, or, seeing how happily the game will kill you, you might end up crashing or being jettisoned into space.

Instead, the only destination the terminal actually accepts is the one you have to go to because of the plot. I was so angry when I realised I couldn't travel to the wrong destination ...


So that's a few reasons why I find the game disappointing. I'll probably still finish it because I want to know what's going to happen. But I'm in no hurry really...

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inane
If downloads / installs fail, and you use Avast antivirus, add an exception to the GOG Galaxy program directory and any downloads directories you configured in GOG Galaxy.

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inane
The game I bought yesterday, which almost made me forget my bedtime, is called Human Resource Machine.

I'm in at least two minds with this.
Quick description, it's a puzzle game by the guys that did World of Goo. In it you play a guy / girl in an office, and you have to solve problems. These involve a conveyor belt labelled "IN" that has boxes with numbers / letters on them, and another conveyor belt marked "OUT". You're tasked with moving the boxes around, some should go from IN to OUT, some need to be discarded, some need to be combined, some might have to be reordered.
You have a list of commands at your disposal that you drag&drop into the right order to form a program. Since the boxes are random and change every time you (re)start a level, you need to find a general solution. Once you think you've got it right, you hit play and your guy / girl starts performing the actions. It all looks rather cute and adorable.

It starts out quite easy, with a very limited selection of commands available. Soon the problems become more complex, and an incentive is added to try and solve them in as few steps as possible, or with as few commands as possible.

Now, for the most part I'd say the game is a lot of fun. It doesn't teach you coding, but it gives you a general idea of the kind of thing that goes through a coder's head. Like, cutting a problem into little pieces that can then be individually solved, and generalizing the problem in such a way that your solution works all the time, and not just for a specific set of inputs.

Now what's difficult with this game IMO is the fact that the problems become more complex, but the tools you get don't keep up. When I quit and went to bed yesterday, I was thinking about how to do a fibonacci sequence. Thing is, you only have addition/substraction, increment/decrement 1, and a jump to, jump when 0, and jump when negative. Any if..then..else, or for/while loops you might need, you'll have to construct from those tools. Sure possible, but it's very fiddly. At this point, the game stops being about finding a solution to a problem, and instead becomes about trying to keep track of your own spaghetti code. (also, I want my recursion ffs!)

I do believe this is all intentional though. It wouldn't take much to introduce those concepts, but it'd make the game more abstract too. This way it stays closer to an assembler like complexity.

Then again, I haven't actually finished the game, so I'll see if they do introduce new things later on ...

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inane
Vor zweieinhalb Wochen war ich bei der hiesigen Commerzbank. Eigentlich war ich auf dem Weg zur Post um ein PostIdent für eine Finanzierung zu machen. Aber da die Finanzierung über die Commerz Finanz GmbH läuft und ich irgendwo gelesen hatte dass die Legitimation auch "in einer Filiale" gemacht werden kann, bin ich halt zur Commerzbank.

Dort hab ich die Unterlagen und meinen Perso vorgelegt, davon wurde eine Kopie gemacht, und das ganze wurde in der Hauspost eingesendet.

Toll, dachte ich.

Heute erhalte ich also Post von der Commerz Finanz GmbH mit der Bitte, Unterlagen nachzureichen, und zwar PostIdent. Ein Anruf später weiß ich, dass die Commerz Finanz GmbH garnicht mit der Commerzbank zusammenarbeitet was Legitimation angeht. Darauf würde man ja auch in den Papieren hinweisen. Dass die Legitimation "in einer Filiale" stattfinden kann, meint eine Filiale von MediaMarkt, wo ich gekauft hatte. Nicht aber in einer Filiale der Commerzbank.

Das ist ja super gelaufen. Ich warte jetzt seit über zwei Wochen sinnlos auf Rückmeldung, weil die in der Filiale zu blöd sind zu wissen, dass sie garkeine Legitimation für Commerz Finanz machen.

Toll. Jetzt muss ich die Tage also doch nochmal zur Post wegen PostIdent.

Und dann kann ich wahrscheinlich wieder ein paar Wochen warten. Denn die brauchen ja schon zwei Wochen alleine dafür zu prüfen, ob die Unterlagen vollständig sind.

</vent>

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inane
I finished watching Dark Matter. First few episodes were kinda meh, then it got good though. Last episode was like WHOA WTF!

Problem with the pacing of the last two episodes though ... [Spoiler (click to open)]
Okay, the crew's search for an intruder went on way too long: The viewer already knows that the attack on the android did not come from an intruder but from someone the android knew and trusted. So showing the rest of the crew searching for an intruder for several minutes in a dramatic and thrilling way is a waste of the viewer's time. Seriously, it wouldn't have made any sense for them to find anyone. Sure, show them searching uncuccessfully. Don't make it that long though.

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So once again I've been unable to watch Twitch.tv for hours now. Even 480p doesn't work. I've been googling about that and it seems that this has been going on for years for some of my ISP's customers. The general gist (though unconfirmed my Telekom) seems to be that the routes Telekom uses to connect to the likes of Youtube, Twitch, and Vimeo are regularly overloaded, most often in the evening. Telekom won't change their peering though because those services produce a lot of bandwidth, yet refuse to share the cost of improving the connection.

WHICH OF COURSE I DON'T GIVE A FLYING FUCK ABOUT GODDAMMIT.

Telekom, you're my service provider, I pay A LOT of money for your service and this is unacceptable. Am I supposed to pay yet more money to some VPN provider just to make my internet connection work properly?!
(Yes I'm venting here but do I intend to write a slightly more polite e-Mail to them as well).

Just to give you an idea, the trailer available here just stops after two seconds. I actually wanted to see that show, but now that I'm aware of the problems streaming vimeo I can't buy it. It's ON DEMAND but I won't be able to watch it whenever the hell I like.

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inane
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inane
For the longest time we've had competitive board games, then came cooperative games (e.g. Pandemic). Now we've got cooperative games that include betrayers who secretly work against the common goal (e.g. Betrayal at House on the Hill, Resistance, Dead of Winter, Panic Station, Saboteur); some of which just might have a betrayer and nobody knows for certain.
So I was thinking, do we have this secret traitor mechanic in coop computer games yet? I can't think of any, except for trolls in team shooters killing their own guys.
Panic Station lends its setting for such a game IMO.

The Setting: Space station overrun by an unknown alien species. The station is a maze of small'ish rooms, the rooms being randomized for each new game. A team of maybe 4 players, with the task of searching the station for the source of the aliens ("The Egg") - and destroying it. You encounter alien critters that aren't particularly fast, but resilient: You need the firepower of several players at once to deal with them. One player caught out on his own will get eaten.

The Gameplay: One of the players randomly may or may not get exposed to alien bacteria, spreading quickly through his body to his mind, manifesting one central thought: Protect The Egg. This will probably happen during entry to the space station, or shortly thereafter.
To protect The Egg, the player can either outright kill his team members, or try to be sneaky and infect them. Bite them in the neck, something like that. Should be possible in the close confines of the space station. Killing them will be more risky, especially when he's outnumbered three to one.

Also have teamspeak to either talk to all other players, or just one selectively. Infected players can coordinate without the others knowing, and non-infected could voice their suspicions to their team mate. Which would be particularly hilarious if his suspicion was off and he was confiding to an infected player ...

You know, that sort of thing.

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inane
Im Moment hab' ich echt alles mögliche. Seit über einer Woche quäle ich mich mit einer Entzündung am Po rum, die einfach nicht besser wird. Sitzen, stehen, gehen? Tut weh. Liegen, geht so.
Gestern kam dann noch was Neues dazu. Eigentlich war ein Spieleabend angedacht, aber da nicht gut sitzen kann hab ich abgesagt. Dann wollte ich stattdessen Tron auf Neu schauen. Aber gegen 20:00 fing ich an im Minutentakt zu gähnen, obwohl ich nicht so müde war. Und zittern, obwohl mir nicht kalt war. Also in's Bett, trotz warmer Temperaturen unter der Decke. Dann nach 2 Stunden war das Zittern plötzlich vorbei und ich hatte nur noch heiß. Das wurde erst gegen 3:00 etwas besser, und ab dann konnte ich etwas schlafen. Und heute bin ich kurz nach 7:00 aufgestanden, weil ich von so lange im Bett Liegen Rückenschmerzen bekomme.
Morgen glaub ich erst Mal Arzt.
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inane
I guess that was a bit of a personal highlight for me in yesterday's Game Night. Dead of Winter is one of those games that comes with a lot of goals and variants to play. You either select a common goal from 20? 30? available ones, each lists an estimate of how long it'll take to play (we always take a lot longer though - our "short" game took like three of four hours). Each common goal also has an easy and hard mode for even more variation.
The idea of the game is each player controls 2 characters (can change to more / less during the game) in a winter world overrun by zombies. Each character has unique abilities, and some are better than others in fighting zombies or finding usefull stuff. You cooperatively try and organise a small colony of survivers, dealing with frequent crisis and trying to reach the common goal. To make matters worse, every player also has a secret personal goal, some of which can be traitorous. So you have to cooperate while not entirely trusting each other.
Yesterday's game was quite nasty - our common goal was to collect 2*num(players) medicine (so 8 in our case). We had 6 rounds to do that. One of the early crisis also required to collect medicine so we couldn't contribute at all to the common goal. We also needed medicine so that our characters wouldn't die (the morale sinks every time soneone dies, once it reaches 0 the game is lost - and it started at 5). To make matters even worse, after the game was over it turned out that two players' personal goals also required medicine. For my own goal I had to collect 3, another player 1. Despite all of that, we *almost* made it. Pretty much the very last dice roll in the game killed us in the end. Our morale was at one, and one location had one survivor, 3 sound markers, and 2 free slots for zombies. Now, the sound markers were neccessary in order to find the final medicine we needed. Each sound marker means a 50% chance of a zombie coming up to the location, and if all three triggered a zombie the location would be overrun and the local survivor killed, which meant reducing the morale to 0 and losing. And of course all three dice rolls for that location did trigger a zombie. If one of them hadn't we would've one the game. So. Very. Close.

I want to play more games!

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inane
Another game we played is Race for the Galaxy. This game has been available to us for more than a year, and we played it for the second time yesterday. We need to meet more often for games.
Anyway, Race for the Galaxy is a card game in which you try to get the most victory points my settling and developing better and more efficiently than your opponents. There's really no direct interaction between players, everyone's doing their own thing.
Since we haven't played very often, none us knows all the cards in the game and what they do, so it's a bit trial and error for all of us. I got second in our game yesterday, in part because I got lucky with my card draws. I was up to 7 military strength and then towards the end got two military worlds that cost 6 and 7 respectively and had huge amounts of victory points.
Now the first few times I played this I was rather overwhelmed by all the symbols. There are plenty of basic ones that are described on your played sheet but you still have to keep all of them in mind in order to play right. There's also plenty of more uncommon symbols that are explicitly explained on the card they occur on. Another aspect that makes it more difficult to get into the game is that your hand cards are those developments and settlements you play, but at the same time they are your currency to pay for playing them. So you might think that all three cards in your hand are useful to you, but you will be able to play but one of them and use the other two as payment.
Anyway, I feel this is a game that we need to play a lot more often in order to get a more fluid game running and get more experienced in what all the cards do and how they synergise. 

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So we've had another Game Night yesterday, me and three friends. We played several rounds of Coup. Now, in german we have this wordly wisdom "Ehrlich währt am längsten" which basically suggests that honesty pays off in the long run. Now let me tell you this is the wrong strategy for Coup. The game is about bluffing, counterbluffing and potentially calling your opponents on their bluffs. It's a lot of fun, very stressful (in my opinion) and I'm terrible at it. We played four rounds and I actually won one of them too, mostly because my final opponent made a rare mistake in claiming that he had an assassin when all of them were already uncovered.
Anyway, I love this game, as I do Resistance (which is about trying to sabotage a team while trying to stay undercover). 

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