Archive for gaming

My piece about Bitcoin

Posted in Economy, Government with tags , , , on April 21, 2013 by Bradley Hall

As some of you know, Bitcoins are the new cryptocurrency currently sweeping the planet.

People are touting this as the end of government-controlled currencies, and yes, it does seem like something that’s really cool, but is it the end of money as we know it? That we have no need for government-controlled currencies?

No, I don’t think it’s the end of the Euro, Dollar, Yen, or whatever. An example of this can be found on Mt. Gox, the main Bitcoin exchange site. They list several currency exchange rates. Currently, the US Dollar is worth around $125 per bitcoin.

Sounds great, right? Well, yes, but…

The Bitcoin isn’t like the US Dollar where you have two decimal places of currency, like $0.00.

The Bitcoin goes to eight decimal places, so it’s 0.00000000.

To make this explanation easy, let’s imagine that one bitcoin (1.00000000) is worth $100 USD. So then we can say with certainty that….

0.1 BTC is ten dollars
0.01 BTC is one dollar
0.001 BTC is ten cent
0.0001 is one cent

Anything beyond that is pretty hard to communicate in terms of USD.

Okay, so, now, I have 0.00369536 BTC.

In our example, that would be $0.37 cent.

Over the past few days, I’ve been working off and on on a few “get bitcoins here” sites, most of which give 0.00000020 or less.

Oddly, even Crowdflower has programs that pay in BTC, but not a whole lot, like above. And yes, most of the BTC I’ve earned came from a few things they offered. Now, what’s odd, is that Crowdflower also offers small assignments via Amazon’s Turk program, where some things might pay 1 to 8 cent or so per task.

That eight cent would be 0.0008 BTC. So compare that to the 37 cent I’ve earned so far, and you see that by using those programs is a humongous waste of time since the ability to get up to the top three rungs of BTC will take far longer than just earning regular money.

Crowdflower also gets to pay out far smaller amounts than if the payout was in a recognized currency, such as USD.

So then, how to get BTC?

Apparently you can mine for it using computer hardware, but of course, my computer is too old and slow to be able to mine, either solo or as a group mining effort. The “mining” is essentially making your computer crunch numbers in an effort to uncover and decode new blocks of BTC data.

There was an article on Boingboing a few days ago where a guy who joined a joint mining group wrote about it. He earned more money from ads attached to his blog post about mining than he did mining for the week after he wrote it.

Another way is to do work in exchange for BTC. But of course, the problem with that is you’re paid in BTC, not USD, and 99.9999999999% of companies only accept money in USD right now. And because of that, I can’t put gas in my car with BTC or buy groceries with it either.

I liken the Bitcoin as almost a real-world version of the Darknet Credits from Daemon and Freedom (books by Daniel Suarez), or even World of Warcraft Gold. They have their uses, but so far too few people use them. Of course, as I’ve read many times over, it’s still the early days and there’s still plenty of coins to mine.

Of course, who knows where BTC will go. The price jumps around so much. At one point, 1 BTC was worth $10, then it shot up to $240, and is now around $125.

Just looking at the exchanges and stuff on blockchain.info is enough to get anyone wanting to jump on the bandwagon.

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Tales of the Abyss

Posted in Game Reviews with tags , , on January 8, 2013 by Bradley Hall

tales_of_the_abyss_boxart

I don’t think I’ve done many video game reviews, but after spending nearly 60 hours playing this one over the past few weeks, I really want to, and also it’d help to get this site out of the dearth of material that’s been plaguing me over the past year. I only posted a handful of stuff last year? This year will be different.

Anyway, when I started playing Tales of the Abyss, I thought it felt very familiar. Turns out I had watched the first few episodes of the anime and had possibly played some of the original PS2 game.

They say that no one ever reads the same book, that when you read a book you compare the story to previous stories. So too with games. Once I was past the “this is familiar because of the anime” problem, it morphed into the “this is familiar because this is almost every game I have ever played” problem.

The story starts with Luke, a young noble who is forbidden from leaving his manor because he had been kidnapped when he was ten, seven years ago and lost his memory. A woman appears and attempts to kill his mentor, yet Luke interferes and somehow he and the interloper vanish only to be transplanted somewhere hundreds or thousands of miles away.

The two work together to get back home and along the way learn more about each other and their plights. Eventually they make it back and all’s good, or is it?

While a few things from nearly every RPG ever made pops up, there’s enough variety in the story and characters to make this a great way to spend nearly 60 hours.

The characters are all excellently written and acted. My favorite character was Jade Curtiss, a Malkuth soldier who always has something sarcastic to say or otherwise delivers the best comebacks.

Fighting in this game is reminiscent of Star Ocean and the other Tales games in that the player controls a character and the computer controls the other three in a massive free-for-all, though you can control the tactics of the other characters and direct them to use certain attacks.

The battles seem to be pretty easy. My entire party only died in battle once through the entire game. Battles play out by spamming the Attack button while having your other characters bust out with attacks, spells, and healing as needed.

One of the plots of the game concerns a clones and the original person, this was the story I was really concerned about. If everyone was born to fulfill some purpose, what about those that were created just because science said they could be and then discarded without a thought? As such, several of the clone characters have a drive and a will to survive, to be better than the original. A superiority complex. While others see themselves as inferior to the original.

In all, this was a fun game and I’d play it again. Once the game is finished, the player can use “Grade” – a numerical form of experience gained after battles (but different from normal experience) to use on different variables in a subsequent play through, such as keeping the old levels, the ability to gain more experience, keeping items, etc. I’ve not tried to play the game again with any of these yet, I mean, the game itself was 60 hours, do I really want to play it for another 60? One day.

Another thing I liked (and would love to see in future RPGs) is a journal feature. The main character suffered memory loss as a kid so he keeps a fastidious journal that’s updated extremely often. If you have no idea where to go, check out the journal, it’ll point you in the right direction.