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Malik (6/25/12)

Last week was nothing short of a chaotic mess. Between emergencies, deteriorating environments at work, and enough stress to give a healthy person a breakdown, to get in even a single post was nothing short of amazing. Luckily, life is finally calming down a little.

I'm still delving into a second run of Saints Row The Third. After upgrading my PC and taking my chances on a new LED LCD IPS monitor, I had to give the game that was such an awesome part of this last winter a second spin. With the settings all on the highest they go, the game is like a new experience. I mean the polygon counts are better, the computer doesn't have nearly as many hiccups while trying to process the game (previously on somewhat low settings), and I've only experienced a single small freeze (20 seconds in the middle of one mission).

I've also found with a better running computer, I can do more of the side activities without as much trouble. The rampage and tank type missions are just a whole new experience in which getting a running combo is not an impossibility anymore. Yes, the snatch missions still suck but that's more of a matter of probably needing to wait until I gain some more abilities through gaining respect.

Another thing in my life that's like a new experience is the Sounders FC. I have not seen a sports team collapse at this level for far too long. I hope I never see it again for a Seattle team. I mean the Sounders started with the best start to a season in their short history. However, the last month has seen all defense die and the offense just seems out of synch. The worst of these is the defensive collapse. Seattle had a long stretch of clean sheets to start the season, but are now giving away goals like it's a clearance sale on goals ("take one goal, get a second and our dignity for free").

I think yesterday was the strongest example of a failure on defense. Both Portland goals were more like penalty shots than goals. The first one saw our defense leave a Timber open in the penalty box with not a single defender considering the obvious; this guy will score for sure without someone putting up at least a little pressure. Needless to say, that type of defense (or lack of it) led to another loss and the continuation of the Sounders winless streak...which is the worst winless streak in Sounders history.

Considering Seattle is getting ready to face San Jose (who is on top of the MLS and handed the Sounders their first MLS loss of the season), in San Jose, for the next game of the US Open Cup, something needs to change right now. Unless the team can light a fire under their lazy asses, the fourth run in a row for the US Open Cup ends in San Jose.


Malik (6/27/12)

Last night the Sounders, after only one day off, faced the San Jose Earthquakes in San Francisco. Somehow, they pulled out a 1-0 victory and are now going to face Chivas USA in the semifinals of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.

Now, I say somehow because there was no way for anyone to really watch this game without being in San Francisco. With how poor of a video stream San Jose offered on their website (via Ustream) and with how the field could not accommodate anyone else providing a live stream, the game was entirely a mystery to me. I tried watching, but it was just as exciting and informative as watching someone perform a Power Point presentation about a live soccer match. The video, when good, would play continuously for about 5 seconds before freezing. When it was bad, I was left with a giant "?" on my screen.

While the Sounders have looked like crap the last month, I think they deserved to win for no reason more than San Jose failing to provide coverage for the fans who can be expected to get to a nearly empty field in San Francisco. Well, having no good coverage of the game is one reason, and having nearly empty bleachers only makes it more important for the team to fail.

Anyway, I'm still in the land of stress and annoyances, so gaming is not a solid option for me right now. I'm now dealing with a stupid problem between my Radeon 7970, Windows, and my surround sound system. For some reason, the HDMI connected surround sound system is only being recognized by my video card and Windows as 2 channel stereo for the audio feed. I can get an occasional moment of 7.1 if I continuously unplug and reattach my HDMI cable. I'm hoping Diamond Multimedia (the maker of my 7970) support can help. Until then, my continuing spiral of PC annoyances shall march on. I could always try another digital coax connection for audio, but that will only go so far since my digital coax out on my PC is pretty sketchy at best due to my broken monoprice cable problem.

Sometimes, I think technology is just not meant for me.


Malik (6/29/12)

Yeah, I can finally have a post somewhat game related. First off, however, I'm happy to say I may have finally solved my Radeon 6970HD HDMI 2 channel and no channel sound issues. When I had my Sony 7.1 receiver on the other end of my HDMI cable, I would usually only get 2 channel audio, or sometimes I'd get a perfect picture but no audio option ("this device is not connected"). Well, I tried going with the Catalyst Control Center (CCC) version 12.6 beta which was supposed to fix the problems in 12.4 with HDMI. I also tried some new RealTek drivers, including the HDMI module. Well, all of these together led to never even getting 2 channel audio.

The solution? Getting pissed off. I just uninstalled all CCC and RealTek drivers and rebooted my PC. At this point, I had no audio even over my normal green audio jack on my motherboard. After about 2 minutes, Windows 7 jumped in and gave me generic drivers. I then put on CCC 12.3 (the version before the HDMI bug...and the lowest version that runs 7900 series chips correctly). One more reboot of the PC and my HDMI is looking very stable with 7.1 audio. I guess anger and rage can be put to a good use when the time is right. My anger said to kill everything (driver-wise) involved and start from scratch "to teach them a lesson."

Ok...I mentioned gaming would be in here. I guess it's not as much gaming as much as seeing a company flop in some really lame ways. It's been four months and Bioware finally released this week the Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut DLC. At a price of free, it's not bad. At a space size of over 2GB, it's a bit insane in size. I guess this means a lot of new content is in there. Wrong!

The extended stuff adds mainly about five minutes of dialogue for the three main endings. It also, supposedly, adds a few tweaked dialogue moments in the attack on The Illusive Man's base. I didn't see any of that...I just wanted to see the real ending. Well, the added stuff doesn't really add anything, except for more disappointment after waiting four months, losing all interest in this world, being dragged back in, and then getting five minutes of dialogue to explain what happened after the final events while showing some nearly still images.

Wait, five minutes of still images with some new dialogue (that doesn't play for the entire five minutes; lots of long pauses) takes of 2GB! What the hell? Does Bioware have that bad of a team for audio compression and data compression? I mean you get less content per time unit than the download takes to obtain.

I guess there are two other new endings. Minor spoiler coming. Well, it's one new ending, but you can jump into the final minute of it if you decide to shoot the ghostly little kid before the dialogue starts. I think that's a little nice since after beating the game, I think everyone wanted to shoot the damned brat in the face to retaliate for the failed ending.

Anyway, the endings are not improved, and they just seemed like a bad way for Bioware to once again drag players back to this disaster (PR disaster) and once again look out of touch with what one would expect from this game. I don't mean they expect a certain ending (indoctrination would be cool to see), but they expected a good ending that would really wrap up a three game epic that spanned well over 100 hours.

Personally, I'm feeling done with Bioware. I don't just mean because of one game ending. I think their response to this was beyond pathetic. If they left it as it originally stood, it would look less like they are wavering on what their vision for ME is. I also have felt that Bioware has been going downhill for quite some time. It's like I feel with Sqaure Enix. As time has gone on, they have tried too hard to cater to the casual fans and have steered away from the fans that have loved them from the beginning. It started with Jade Empire (that game was bad...lame setting, and one really pathetic combat system when compared to the stated goals of a truly fluid and complex combat mechanic). It then continued with the original Mass Effect (good attempt, but broken game). Then they decided to make Dragon Age 2 into some casual adventure of repeated environments instead of a solid RPG epic like DA:O. Then came the Mass Effect 3 ending. Then came their response to it. Then came the execution of their response. Bioware just doesn't seem to understand who they are and who their fans are.

Anyway, if you want to see how the red, blue, and green colors effected the universe in a more expanded way (well, more expanded, but still pretty shallow), youtube has them all. Just search for Mass Effect 3 Extended and you're set. I suggest adding "shoot" to see the hologram brat get shot and enraged. At least that was a little interesting. Also, try the new ending in which Shepherd rejects the decision. It ends like the shooting of the brat, but has some nice angry dialogue in it. I also think the rejection choice is fitting since the fans rejected the original colorful lights and then got the message that Shepherd gets when he rejects the choices; none of it matters and the Bioware...I mean reapers will still continue to take a crap on the Mass Effect universe.


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