Thoughts on Kevin Spacey Being Cut From Netflix

It was announced that Netflix has suspended (fired) Kevin Spacey from House of Cards (whom I believe he may have produced to an extent) after the allegations of sexual abuse came to light. Part of the situation might have been further exacerbated with him “coming out of the closet” at the same time, which was not ironically rejected by the LBGT community in poor taste and timing. In view of these matters, I wanted to provide some personal thoughts on the situation.

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Alienware Aurora R4 Wireless Failure

Last night, my wireless card on my Alienware Aurora R4 seemed to have failed without warning. Not sure exactly what happened but my system could not detect it. It freaked me out because I had done nothing and could not use any of the Windows diagnostic tools to recover it. Looking at the Device Manager, I could not see it neither.

What I found out is that the Alienware Aurora R4 has a rather common issue where you need to disconnect both the wireless and Bluetooth cables inside then re-connect them. It was a bit of a pain to do this since the cables are quite small and require tiny hands to perform the operation. However, after reconnecting both cables and powering back my Alienware Aurora R4, my wireless network came back.

This is a very strange error. I cannot think of anything that would cause this issue. The only thing that may have occurred is the fan since it’s the closest moving component. But even then that makes little to no sense as it’s far enough where it should not affect the wiring.

Diablo 3 Expansion Announced

Since I’ve been playing Diablo 3 far more than World of Warcraft lately, the breaking news of Diablo 3 caught my attention. I’ve read a few reactions online, but I want to take a moment to offer some suggestions based on my experience in Diablo 3.

The current progression in patches for Diablo 3 seem like the right move. Nerfing Inferno, introducing Paragon levels and monster power I think have made the game worth playing. Of course, PVP is still up in the air and many are anticipating that patch down the line.

That all said, I’m very curious about how Diablo 3’s first expansion will be treated. How will it integrate into the current game? What will happen to people who have worked long and hard, maximizing gear and hitting level 10 Paragon? What will happen to people who never made it beyond normal mode yet want to give the expansion a try?

My whole thought process is that Blizzard needs to immediately examine its past mistakes and realize that the first priority should always be not just making a fun game, but, more importantly, not pissing off its customer base. This is such a critical idea because of how World of Warcraft and Diablo 2 have devolved into these farming games and have ultimately turned a lot of players off. With that in mind, how can Blizzard avoid inevitably angering its player base?

I think that Blizzard needs to look at how Burning Crusade fucked over a lot of raiders when green gear far exceeded epics that took people months of earning. I have a sneaky feeling that Blizzard can be real assholes in this regard, essentially making the hard labor of people meaningless almost instantly. As a result, it’s important that they value the current progression of players in the game in taking into consideration how the expansion should work.

I feel that the expansion should add more levels. Of course, the question becomes how will that inter-operate with Paragon levels? Or how will it work with those who barely finished normal mode but stopped on nightmare?

I think what should happen is that there probably should be around 10-20 more levels introduced in the game as the cap before going back to Paragon leveling at Inferno. Perhaps for every 5 Paragon levels, someone will gain an additional level after 60 until a cap of say 80 is reached. But the expansion should start from level 30 on normal mode.  After that, nightmare will begin around 60, hell at 70 and inferno at 80.

I would make sure that the expansion between 30-60 is tuned such that leveling can occur fast if there isn’t a great deal of content (I’m thinking of Diablo 2 where we only got to see just one last act). At the same time, a toon going through normal mode shouldn’t be overwhelmed while those who have been in nightmare and hell can blast through the early phase until they reach the expansion’s version of nightmare

Where would that leave people who made it to Inferno and even hit the upper part of Paragon? First, I don’t think they should be forced to start at normal despite not finishing the first difficulty. I think they should be given an option if they meet a level criteria to skip into the next content zone and start from that point. That way they aren’t simply bored rushing through 3 parts of the same content over and over.

Next comes gear. This is a pretty sensitive issue, perhaps even more sensitive than leveling since real money probably is involved. I think devaluing the power of gear the way that World of Warcraft has done is a horrible idea. Those who have spent countless hours either farming or buying gear should be continuously rewarded for their effort. In this manner, I would suggest that the gear should last people up until Inferno at the very least. If not at least be given some boost in power so it scales for a bit into Inferno.

Of course, many people would also like to find items that can replace high level gear. That’s fine but I really don’t want to see a blues that exceed high end legendaries and set pieces for a while. That would imply that the hit points and damage done by mobs would have to be lower so that people who are well geared in Inferno can still make use of their items. You definitely don’t want a repeat of the entry point of Diablo 3 where Inferno was impossible except for the most hardcore players and cause the rest of the population to drop off after a week or two of futility.

Something else we’ll see are probably more mechanics for elites and champion packs. I heard that some of the problems initially were vortex + fire chains which would annoy the hell out of players along with the impossibility of kiting elites and champions on melee classes (btw whoever made that initial decision hopefully lost their job).

Content-wise, I hope we do not see the same bosses from Diablo 2’s extension. That won’t be fun. I think it was nice to have an ultimate enemy outside of Diablo himself. But it would be good to have multiple bosses and acts. I felt that Diablo 3 was underplayed with the last act being far too short and underwhelming.

What about new classes? I suppose that partly will impinge upon how PVP comes along (if it ever does). We saw the assassin and druid make their way into the D2 expansion, but then we lost other classes like the necromancer and paladin. Also, what will this mean for talents? Certainly, in an expansion you want to provide more abilities as characters level up. If not that then some other mechanism that allows one to boost their character. Honestly, I haven’t given much thought at this point in adding features for high level characters outside of providing more talents (and more spaces on the hotbar).

Regardless, I don’t know what type of classes should be added. I do feel that everything is pretty much covered at this point. It feels as though Diablo 3 had taken the WoW classes and integrated them together a bit (e.g. hunters being rogues + hunters, witch doctors as shamans + warlocks, monks being druids + paladins) So what can be left?

It really depends on the game play and the visual effects that can add, imo, that will make adding more classes worth the effort. One thing they could do is put more emphasis on a healer type of role. Unfortunately, I would hate to see Diablo 3 turn into a World of Warcraft in that regard. I’ve always felt that dedicated healer classes were probably one of the worst decisions a game could implement. Yes, you need healing in general, but I dislike the idea of depending on a sole class/role. This is a major issue in WoW at the moment, especially with group oriented situations.

In WoW, I think the issue has been attitude firstly. Too many healers who have huge egos or some personality problem because they know the importance of their role with regards to the entire group. Next, I hate the idea of emphasizing a role where the entire time someone is just waiting to react to cast a spell. I did hear that they improved the model for healing in WoW, but I still think it’s far from perfect.

I’m more of a fan of the archmage role from Bard’s Tale or the Bishop in Wizardry 6-7. In those situations, you had a class that could do decent damage and heal. However, they were relegated to either role and knew how to react at the right moment for the party. I guess Barbarian and Monk have something like that but it just feels odd. Either way, it is a non-existent role at the moment.

Beyond that I can’t think of any really solid class that isn’t somewhat covered. You can’t add utility classes to a game like this because they would get slaughtered. Of course, you could try reviving classic classes such as paladins, necromancers, druids, assassins, etc. But I can’t really see them adding much to the game, except maybe the necromancer. But I see the necromancer as just a wizard and witch doctor type with their summoning capabilities.

At any rate, I’m looking forward to seeing what the expansion brings us. Hopefully, they’ve learned a lot from the early failure of the design and make it so that progress is fun rather than a pointless grind tied to their piss poor accounting practices.

Also, let’s all pray that the lawyers and accountants have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH THE GAME THIS TIME.


World of Warcraft Needs A Massive Revamp of Classes

World of Warcraft originally allowed for interesting specs to come about as a result of a flexible talent tree. When Cataclysm came out, it destroyed the flexible system by forcing players to choose a talent tree from the beginning. Supposedly, the idea was to help “new players” in creating a more focused talent tree and removed “some unnecessary talents.” With Mists of Panderia, this talent tree will pretty much be non-existent in favor of the one that has evolved in Diablo 3.

However, the real issue is that the class system is narrowly defined into three types: tanking, damage and healing with a PVP equivalent for each side. PVP has been a massive thorn in the class system from the beginning since most of the real crying over overpowered classes have been as a result from arenas in trying to balance every combination. So the class selection is pretty much dull and narrow and just small variations on each type (for instance a damage-over-time vs burst damage, etc.)

At the moment, this issue kicks in when people have to work in PVE teams like raids and dungeons. If a healer or tank goes down, pretty much the rest of the group is in trouble. Although there are certain classes like druids and death knights that can perform a battle resurrection, you’re pretty much at the mercy of a random party generator in getting enough of those classes. Things become worse as an imbalanced party (say all hunters or rogues) can make an instance a pure nightmare.

The problem is that some classes lack any useful utility at all. Or their utility is really situational. From that, everyone then becomes dependent upon a few select classes, which just makes the game horribly frustrating. This is why I propose re-doing the way classes work in the game.

First, I think that the notion of tanking, healing and damage as pure roles should be eliminated. I think each class should have some capability for each role. My ideal class is the enhancement shaman. I like the class because you have good burst DPS, some healing (both AoE and larger ones) and some tanking (rockbiter on a weapon along with their totem to hold aggro). What makes the enhancement shaman for me interesting is how they can be used as to help with healing using Maelstrom Weapon. For instance, let’s say you’re fighting Yor’sahj and the Mana Void appears. Your healers will pretty much be at the mercy of your DPS until it goes down. However, a smart enhancement shaman could help with healing since their mana pretty much never goes down.

That’s just one example of a larger potential picture. I know Rift did something like this where each class could perform multiple duties. An example someone mention was how a rogue could be a tank. Why not? What if a combat rogue utilized stealth to evade damage? What if they put Tricks of the Trade on themselves to increase aggro on themselves? Or what if Beast Master hunters could tank by using their pets? In Icecrown Citadel, one of the bosses required an additional tank-like toon. It wasn’t uncommon to see a hunter or a warlock use their pets to hold some aggro for that fight.

The thing is that the ideas for sub-roles have been around for a while, but the expansions have slowly been eliminating them in favor of some delusional balancing act. Worse yet I think removing the more flexible talent tree system hurt the game in forcing players into a very simplistic mind set of playing their toons. People know only how to kill things for the most part but don’t know how to fully utilize their characters’ abilities. Also, I think that the whole balancing act ended up creating more confusing specs as each tree would get its turn for the DPS of the month award.

From my point of view, I see most of the talent trees to be pretty much useless. For instance, you have a survival hunter and marksman hunter trees. Originally, I believe that survival was more of a PVP spec or perhaps even a melee spec. But now it seems to play more like a damage-over-time spec, whereas marksman seems to do just burst damage. Honestly though, I think both specs are redundant. To me both are just “ranged specs;” the only true difference is that one gets an interrupt and some healing while the other gets a secondary CC. Beast Master would almost be useful except that it really just is a leveling spec. However, I’ve seen people level as both survival and marksman, so what’s the point of having a leveling spec? BM as a leveling spec made far more sense in pre-Cataclysm since you needed your pet to hold aggro. But once you hit 85, BM pretty much dropped off. Maybe it has some PVP utility but the real power lies in the pet’s ability to tank.

That led me to realize that survival and marksman should be thrown away in favor of just a pure ranged spec. Since MoP will get rid of the secondary weapon slot for hunters (or ranged for melee), survival pretty much becomes a meaningless class, something far removed from the original intent (which, imo, was more or less a Legolas-type of ranger who could dual wield and fight in melee). That leaves an open idea for the hunter. I think that an interesting possibility would be to add a healing type of spec for them. They currently have spirit bond and marksman hunter’s chimera shot functions as a healing type of ability. So what if they provided a group type of healing ability? Maybe this spec could have a pet that could boost healing. Part of the spec might have the healing impinge upon doing damage similar to how Chimera Shot provides healing to the hunter. Perhaps, the pet could provide low group healing while alive while Chimera Shot does burst healing to the person near the target (or to the shooter).

The revamped hunter idea I proposed here is just one of how I see revamping the classes in order to make them more useful and more interesting. But let’s take my hunter example further. The main idea I see with revamping the classes is to provide degrees of healing, damage, etc. Let’s say in the case of the hunter healing is weak, but that they could put talent points into a certain type of healing or more points into aggro generation, damage reduction, etc. rather than just critical strikes.

Or let’s revamp the enhancement shaman so that they can tank. Maybe their earthen shield is their major damage reduction capability. Rather than just restoration shamans possessing it, any shaman can take talent points to use it along with rock biter weapon. Part of their rotation might be to use a greater healing wave on themselves whenever Maelstrom Weapon procs. And rather than just dual wielding weapons, they could use a shield.

What about priests? Although Shadow Priests are the favored class to solo/level, I see disc priest as being redundant. Some people say that discipline priests are more PVP healers, but it isn’t uncommon to see them being raid healers either. Their main ability is Power Word Shield, which, to me, is where tanking might be a possibility. The problem is that I think discipline priests were designed more for PVP in mind. So having two types of healing specs can make things a little confusing, imo. I like the idea of cross breeding the discipline priest and shadow priest for a tank-like spec. You get the damage dealing capabilities of the shadow priest with the protective abilities of the discipline side. Perhaps, part of the tree would be sacrificing some damage with damage mitigation.

Then you have mages and warlocks. I’ve heard arguments of how Warlocks became mages via the Destruction talent tree since Burning Crusade. The truth is that fire mages and Destruction warlocks look the same: DoT type of classes that burn things. The only difference is that Destruction warlocks get a pet imp. Demonology warlocks had some differentiation both from their pet and the ability to transform into a demon. Supposedly, their pet can tank to a degree, but the damage done by the warlock consistently hurts the aggro of the pet. But when you look at things in the overall scope, you start to realize that Demonology warlocks aren’t that much different from hunters (except that some hunter pets do a better job at holding aggro).

Either way, that makes me think that Demonology has to be revamped to make it even more distinct from hunters. Or rather the warlock class in general. I remember how back in the day warlocks were some of the most feared (literally and figuratively) classes in PVP. Just DoT some hapless victim up and fear them. I don’t really see that playing style used much in PVE though and it’s sad because it reduces one of their more useful functions (worse yet , shadow priest have nearly identical abilities except that their playing style seems far easier by comparison). The thing that made warlocks powerful back in the day was their crowd control. Although crowd control made a return in Cataclysm, it feels as though every class has some level of CC and that warlocks aren’t that special in this regard anymore.

So what to do about warlocks? Again, I think the three specs need to go away. I don’t want another burst mage. But having a tanking type does sound useful. Still, that idea is too similar to a beast master hunter by itself. You need to add more spice to make this class interesting. I’m not talking about just a rotation where you press buttons according to a priority list. I’m talking about defining situations to make what you do more interesting. Maybe make a warlock more like a necromancer, where they can use dead bodies to siphon part of their powers. For instance, group healing might occur by using dead bodies to channel some ritual. Or perhaps those dead bodies might enhance the warlock’s (or their demon’s) power. If Blizzard doesn’t intend to add a necromancer class, I don’t see a reason why the warlock could not perform similar duties.

Then there’s the death knight. Originally, when they came out there was tons of controversy over them. Either they were overpowered in battlegrounds after hitting level 58, or they were confusedly played as tanks in instances. But the idea of both a heroic class and being able to tank or DPS in any spec hit a nerve with me. That nerve was that both ideas were interesting. It was the execution that stunk all this time.

My first death knight was a blood death knight. This was during Wrath of the Lich King. They were interesting in that they had good self-heals and some threat generation. Later, when I switched servers, I started from scratch and tried an unholy death knight. I got annihilated and went straight to blood after the starting zone because I missed the blood spec. Of course, the damage wasn’t as great but they still were pretty powerful and fun to solo. However, when I started hitting instances, I went to frost and found a fun, bursty-type of DPS class. Several patches later, I found frost to be almost as boring as an arcane mage since you’re pretty much hitting 1-3 buttons at most.

So in seeing the different type of playing styles, I thought a bit about how this class could be made more interesting. In the past, I think with blood vs unholy vs frost, what you see mostly (or at least originally planned) was a class that could tank via self-heals vs tanking with a pet vs a class that could tank with AoE abilities. That makes for more interesting conceptual game play. I think the problem in WOTLK with death knights was just that they could get squished since they lacked a shield and that their damage reduction abilities were far too spread apart between trees. Right now, Blood DKs are supposedly really powerful since their Death Strike sustains them (if you do doubt Blood DKs, go check out various videos of some that solo the Lich King or Cataclysm instances).

The thing is that DKs actually have some hidden healing talents. Better DKs use their Raise Dead capability. However, they also can use their Death Coil for minor ally healing. I don’t think I’ve seen any Death Knights use that ability, but it’s there. If the ability could be expanded, the Death Knight class could be even more useful. The thing is that you have to look at the class in relation to everything else, especially the paladin, which, is traditionally what a Death Knight is the anti-thesis of. That idea is what really drives a class more than this stupid idea of game balance.

For instance, before death knights in Vanilla WoW, shamans and paladins were really their faction’s respective opposites. Shamans were pagans, having melee and some ranged capabilities while paladins derived their powers from the Gods, had good armor but lacked ranged abilities. With the introduction of death knights though, I feel that this class is the true anti-thesis of the paladin since their abilities are derived from an unholy nature. So motifs like corpses, dishonor, and ranged attacks fall more into what a death knight can do. Since Death Knights lack shields, they ought to do more damage as tanks while paladins might be able to reduce more damage by having a shield.

Again these are just some suggestions and ideas for improving the classes. But I’m noticing is that what you really want are categories of abilities that fall into degrees of powerfulness. The special effects that go along with these abilities and the situations are what will make each class distinct. The main thing is the degrees of powerfulness. That’s where talent points should be used again so that people can define their utility in each area to a certain degree.

Now, here’s where the tricky part comes into play: raiding and instances. What happens now in getting rid of core role types and splitting it into separate classes? What happens to things like 25, 40 or 10 man raids?

Personally, I hate the idea of raiding. I think raiding is just a big clusterfuck pure and simple. I hate having to wait for 25 people to show up and I hate it even more when people come and go, drop groups, pull unnecessarily, etc. The only thing about having 25 people is just a big, disorganized mess. Some people may argue about the whole “epicness” of having 25 people simultaneously together. But I see the situation as just having more random variables that are out of control on average. Also, I hate the idea of grinding for gear. It’s stupid and pointless, not to mention it puts the focus of the game on the wrong areas.

But how do you deal with the MM aspect of the MMORPGs? Well, given that LFR is still in its infancy, we have to give it the benefit of a doubt and see it as a system that will be in place for a while. The more critical question is taking my idea of eliminating the simplistic DPS/tank/healing classes into more broader ones per class and seeing how they fit into raids, LFR and dungeons. One possibility would be to do a computation on the server end for an LFR that would determine whether or not you have enough points in healing, DPS and tanking to survive.  The problem is that really is just another form of gearscore or ilvl except that it’s placed on the talent tree.

In another model, you have pure versions of the three types of classes, except that each class can be of each type. In other words, a hunter can go tank or heals same with the rogue, mage, etc. That’s a good short term solution in that you eliminate redundant specs in favor of allowing any class to trade off. But for something like LFR, you’ll still encounter the problem where the vast majority of people only know one role. So even if a hunter could tank, they might not know how. As a result, you’re back to square one since people are just waiting for a certain type to enter the raid.

The last model is probably the most difficult to implement but potentially the most rewarding. The idea for this model is to eliminate pure roles from a raid (kinda like how PVE scenarios sound like they’re going). So instead of constantly waiting on healers to show up, anyone can heal. It then becomes the responsibility of the raid as a whole to ensure its survivability.

What happens if you get a situation where everyone just deals damage? Supposedly, in MoP they will be introducing a way to change specs on the spot for encounters. Depending on how that’s handled, it could be either really tedious or useful. I’m willing to bet on the later. Instead, I think what should occur is eliminating the idea of dual specs and making it so that you can purchase multiple specs instead. That might take care of some problems in providing more flexibility so that people aren’t forced to purchase a re-spec on the spot every time they hit an encounter.

Still that might not solve the issue of having enough damage, heals, etc. I think part of the problem in raiding is that it typically centers around fighting a single boss. Usually, the mechanics are pretty stupid. Two people trade off each other while healers keep them topped off while the DPS bring the boss down to health. Add a few more mechanics like adds spawning or the necessity to keep the raid up with raid-wide healing. Then you might have mechanics like moving out of fire or riding a drake. But for the most part the average raid encounter is stupid tank and spank.

The issue with this model is that you have a limited number of people absorbing damage while you have a limited number of people healing everyone up. I fail to see why the game has to be so limited in this manner. Why not have multiple tanks? Or what if spell caster likes a mage could provide some healing too? The problem with so many raid bosses is that they have wipe abilities where only tanks have enough life to withstand these capabilities and why you need certain classes to be able to top off these people.

These mechanics are too limiting. One this pretty much means that every encounter more or less is going to boil down to dealing with a single boss. And two, if it doesn’t deal with a single boss, then the encounter is about managing adds. But why can’t you have a big war where you have tons of adds, tons of melee just soaking up damage for the range to knock out? Can’t that be a raid encounter? And why just a single boss all the time? It feels like a stupid archaic arcade game where you fight all these smaller things leading up to the bigger thing.

The other thing is that some of these fights feel absolutely pointless. For instance, the dragon gauntlet before Ultraxion. All you’re doing is killing a bunch of adds for a few minutes and you can’t even loot them! Or the stupid slime encounter on Yor’sahj. What has colored boogers have any relevance in relation to Death Wing? But in each of these scenarios, you’re still dependent upon an egomanic tank or sleeping healers.

Now, I’m not sure how the PVE scenario thing might play out. What would be nice, if they took my suggestion for revamping classes, is that you pretty much “sign up” and the game does a check sum to ensure that certain minimum requirements are met. If not, then make encounters not boss centric but something more like a puzzle. You have to kill XXX in this section and that section. Or you need to solve a riddle by splitting up. Or maybe there’s a siege where your ranged are needed to take out people from a tower while melee hold their ground and absorb incoming damage from arrows.

At any rate, I think WoW has evolved to the point where it can be more than just hack-n-slash. Classes need to be richer. Raiding needs to be evolve too. Raiding at the moment is just for groups of people that have enough time to group up and coordinate against a boss. It can be more and linking that to how classes can and should do more will improve the game play overall.

Religion Is A Disease of the Mind

I believe that religion and the concept of God are a disease of the mind. There’s very few other ways to describe how people, which presumably are intelligent, can be afflicted by something completely illogical. Or perhaps it is logical if you examine the notion through the microscope of Social Darwinism/survival.

I think the concept of God has evolved to explain to unexplainable and provide people with a false sense of hope to carry on in their darkest moments. While some situation provides no outcome except a dreary end, the presence of God exist to console people in those last moments.

By this lens, it would seem that God is actually a beneficial construct of the human mind rather than a disease, which by definition is contradictory. However, I am one that believes that people should strive for truth by which the notion of a God construct defies. God interferes in people obtaining truth by creating a crutch whenever a situation beyond their control presents itself. Similarly, when an event that has us evade some horrible fate occurs, people are quick to credit God or some celestial being as opposed to chance.

Personally, I think the concept of God is for all intents and purposes harmless by itself. In other words, people are entitled to give credence to things as they see fit. However, the real disease aspect comes from organized religion; in other words, where a select few share their value system of what God is with others in a massively distributed system. This part resembles a plague.

My belief is that those weak of mind typically are the most vulnerable. The idea of coalescing and unifying rather than fending off the tide of peer pressure is far more appealing when confronted with such choices. I mean, organized religion does have its role in society. From a spiritual sense, people need religion to engage in society when otherwise isolated. Even if the guy next to you has absolutely no relationship whether by interest or biology, sharing the same religion will provide a social bond.

The most obvious danger though is when we return to the idea of how people manipulate the concept of God for their own ends, but this time in mass. This is the point of contention that I think is the most pernicious in religion. To sway the weak willed to a few’s bidding to me stinks of politics as usual. However, the masses being unable to desire for truth any longer now assault those who want to obtain truth. But it’s not a point of negotiation in this; they will impinge on others to suck them in and here the analogy of the disease is complete.

Some people may argue, “Well, how do you know God exists?” Naturally, any atheist might reply, “Well, how do you know God does not exists?” Here, we have a Mexican stand off. But for myself, I believe that if a “true” God exists, he/she would not exists as this idealistic, omnipotent entity they many may see as perpetually benevolent. How many times has one asked for something, done everything he/she could do to be a good person but received nothing for something that was so important to them? Shouldn’t the world be better if a benevolent deity exists?

The usual responses would be things like, “God works in mysterious ways” or “God helps those who help themselves.” These are evasive pieces of rhetoric that prove nothing on either side. All it proves to me at least is that the God presented from organized religion’s view cannot exist as is.

That is not to say that a true God does not exist. God might have been one interpretation of what the Sun was, as described by some historians and ancient religions. God also could be a highly advanced species that occasionally visit the earth for one reason or another.

Sometimes, I muse over the idea that God (or the Gods) are just an alien race who either created or discovered the earth and it’s inhabitants and decided to fuck with people. I feel as though we are nothing more than some social science experiment. Or at least we’re under scrutiny. If anything and that these beings were an advance species who came to Earth as observers, the first thing that they must realize about us is that we’re fucking stupid. People never take the most logical path and rely far too much on emotions and some obscure/abstract way of thinking that defies sense.

If we were an experiment and one decided to come down and ask me, “So what do you think?” I would tell them, hey, we’re a huge failure. We’re more like a disease than a lofty species. We take things for granted, are willingly blind to truth, have no desire to care for one another nor the things around us, and just frankly don’t deserve to exist anymore.

Maybe these creatures don’t have the answer to resolving our problems either and are just trying to figure things out for themselves. But you cannot hope to hold humanity as the great savior of the universe the way things are. We need to have real change. But I think no one wants it for better or worse and that’s why we are doomed.


Airplane Part of My New Fantasy Story

As mentioned previously, I wrote up a quick chapter that will lead into the fantasy component of my story. I would like to share this part with the world:

That night Keith was absolutely crushed. He had hoped that the little charms he bought and his prayers would be answered. Instead, deafness seemed to strike his supplication. Or perhaps it wasn’t deafness but just the fact that nothing out there existed. He sat in the hotel pondering his life. It was almost as if he were already dead. The emotions second by second dripped from him as his realization transitioned to simple acceptance.


But that acceptance was the muteness of an empty body.


Physically, he existed but his mind and soul drained away like a clogged toilet. In some ways, he already knew what the answer would be, but no matter how much he mentally prepared the answer was something he never wanted to hear.


He didn’t care nor need sleep. Well, maybe he needed sleep since the following day would be an intense bureaucratic orchestra of airport theater. But his life was meaningless so all that was just an inconvenience.


Eventually, he forced himself to sleep through the catharsis of tears and the gradual blanking of him mind. In the morning, he hobbled out of his tiny weekly apartment and took a taxi to the ANA Hotel in Akasaka. From there he waited patiently for a few hours for the Airport Shuttle to arrive. After boarding, he peered out the window at possibly his last glance at Tokyo and Japan. The images of the road and all the familiar sites of Tokyo like the Rainbow Bridge, Tokyo Tower, Fuji Television studio, the Midtown Project, Roppongi Hills, etc. flew by and faded away. He never gave a second glance to any site, letting the memories disappear permanently.


When he arrived at the airport, he listlessly went through customs, immigration and security. Each point felt like a lifetime being lifted away from him as he neared his plane. Eventually, he came to his gateway and sat at a seat, staring at nothing in particular. At this point, life was just a countdown to the next meaningless destination.


Towards the evening as the sky darkened around Japan, the plane was ready for boarding. He received a window seat near the emergency exit. He took to his seat gently but silently. Still suffering from a cold, he removed a Japanese mask to respect his neighbors’ health but beyond that he was just a shell waiting to return to his quiet, lonely room in Los Angeles.


Outside, the winds were quite heavy, blowing up respectable gusts. Inside, various passengers complained or worried about the plane’s safety. About ten minutes into the boarding, heavy drops of rain started to pelt the windows and gradually picked up. The captain told the passengers that they weren’t going to be deterred and soon thereafter began moving the plane after the final passengers were confirmed to be seated.


The plane had some competition that night in terms of the use of the runway as a few other flights had been delayed as a result of the storm. Since theirs was an international one, they could ignore some weather conditions. Eventually, it was their turn and the plane took without a hitch. Some passengers mumbled relief but Keith’s face remained impassive throughout.


Weary from the general lack of sleep and his cold, Keith started to nod off against the window. He peered outside at the dimming lights of the end of his days in Japan before even those diminished completely. Sometimes though he thought he saw other lights in the distance twinkling, at first believing that the wing’s blinkers or another plane or ship could be the source. However, the dense rain clouds opposed that idea for him. Then again his eyes had become poor over time and his mind often played tricks on him. For instance, there were times while walking he would swear that he was being attacked by a small dog or bug when the object in question was merely a large twig that fell next to him. After dismissing that idea, he tried to fall asleep again.


As the plane leveled out above the clouds, the turbulence eased slightly. Keith was able to see the night sky almost clearly minus the occasional flashing derived from the plane’s wings. He peered at a particular bright star, possibly Venus, Jupiter or Sirius. He admired the twinkling, the poignant spokes that emitted more brightly now that he was far above the city and atmosphere. His mind relaxed a bit but somehow he felt connected to the star as if it was able to speak with him. Then again his mind was always overactive, even after his latest emotional trauma. So he humored himself in conversing back with the star.


“All that I ask is to somehow one day be happy and find true love in my life.”


The star for a minute seemed to wink at him. But it could’ve just been something obscuring the object transiently. He looked around the cabin for the first time and wondered if there was anyone else paying attention. Everyone inside were either fast asleep, watching the tiny LCD screen or doing some other self-indulging activity.  He looked back outside to see the star gazing brightly back at him, this time barely flickering.


A few minutes later, the plane started to experience some heavy turbulence. He watched as the wings viciously shook while the seat belt sign flashed back on. The captain speaking in Japanese gave warning of the turbulence and started to dip the plane slightly to stabilize it. However, they were back in the clouds and Keith’s only companion of the night faded away.


With only dark clouds to stare at, Keith sank back in his seat, deciding to join the rest of the cabin in some time wasting activity. He tried the various movies but none interested him. Each one was a generic Hollywood plot that only updated the dialogue to match the current cultural fads. His stomach felt similar in terms of the idea of regurgitation so he scanned for something different. The Japanese programming reminded him too harshly of the realities he just left, so he avoided those vehemently. Instead, he turned his attention to the flight progress meter. The 8 additional hours gave him some bile in his stomach as he anticipated more bureaucracy upon landing.


So he simply changed it a last time to watch the boring point of view from the landing gear side. It had a bizarre calming affect upon him where his mind could relax as the emptiness of the dark skies complimented the black hole-like visage embedded inside of him. The camera was partly obscured by the rain particles but the high velocity in turn would cleanse it shortly thereafter. In the distance, he thought he could see the periodic flickering of lights from the occasional deep fishing boats. However, they were a fair distance away from land by now and the altitude and clouds would not permit such detail. It could’ve been another plane too, but strangely the lights had a celerity that defied the typical smooth glide of any normal plane.


Soon those lights all but vanished into the night and for Keith it could’ve been another trick by his overactive imagination or wishful thinking. A minute later, the plane started to ascend again above the clouds so that he could perceive the horizon.  Once more his tiny distant companion rose up loyally and Keith felt a small bit of serenity entering his body. Despite the easing of turbulence, the seat belt light remained on. Perhaps the captain or an attendant forgot to turn it off, he pondered.


Just then a thunderous blast shook the plane causing the plane to dramatically heave. Many passengers gripped their seats and moaned at the sharp descent. The captain managed to stabilize the craft even though it still felt slightly rocky. Curiously, Keith peered out his window, attempting to spot any particular cause.  For the most part, everything outside seemed normal. His companion continued to wink at him feverishly. It seemed to get brighter by the second; at first perhaps millimeters, then centimeters and eventually it became the only light in view. Or perhaps something was blocking the rest of the horizon.


From there, things occurred in blurred milliseconds. It was like a photo gallery with only the snapshots in between the most critical events being emphasized. Keith simply remembered an entity outside like a smooth perfectly sculpted metallic orb. The light that might’ve been the companion probably was the reflection of some other lights back at the craft. However, the orb seemed to possess a mechanism of illumination of its own, not generated by an external device that Keith could perceive. From the limited area of the window, Keith was for a single second bathed in the illumination. Then things grew completely fuzzy as the world reacted faster than he could imagine. Passengers with agape mouths being thrown about in chaos. The top of the plane ripped off with several unbuckled passengers being launched into the air. Keith’s ears nearly splitting as the plane descended into the sea. His sole reaction was lurching under the chair and quickly grabbing hold of his backpack, containing his most important possession: his giraffe. As the plane dropped, the last few seconds he could remember at that point was once again seeing the illumination bathe his body and a general calmness bestowed over him before he was knocked senseless.

Ever Wonder When and How You Will Die?

I used to worry quite a bit about when and how I would die. Would it be from a disease? A stroke? Car accident? Plane crash by terrorism? Or when. When I was too young? At my peak? Too old to care anymore?

I stopped wondering and started asking can it come sooner. The method won’t really matter but I anticipate that it will be a very lonely death. I believe I am destined to that. I think I have accumulated too much bad karma in my life. My biggest fear wasn’t stairs, nor a certain movie, nor the popping of a balloon or bugs. All this time it’s been dying in solitude.

If there was a single person in this world that I truly wronged it was my father. When he needed me the most, I did nothing to care for him. I didn’t do enough and let him die alone in a feeble, stroke induced state. Although I managed to see him one last time before he left the world, I feel that the damage I had done was enough. I could see in his eyes when my mom and I stood near his bed at the nursing home that we weren’t anything anymore because we left him by himself for too long. Now, I feel his retribution and the karma returning to me.

I suppose I deserve it. I was too selfish when I found out that he first got his stroke to provide him with the proper help. Now, I am paying for it.

Some people who read my Facebook may realize that I was severely hurt tonight. I think it’s the last time I will let myself get hurt like that. But I think it’s either my father’s curse (if you want to call it that), karma, or something that I’ve done returning to me. But I think it’s okay because I can move on.

I can move on in terms of accepting the fate of dying alone. I guess it’s the only righteous thing that I deserve. My ending will not be that of a fairy tale type. Instead, I will die quietly, alone, without mourning. I don’t mind. I don’t want people to mourn me. My life for the most part has been insignificant and I lacked something whether it was destiny, courage, size, looks, luck, etc. to go beyond my capabilities. My problem has been that I always aspired beyond the attributes given to me. I was not humble enough to accept the things granted to me and thus I took life for granted.

Tomorrow I fly out of Tokyo. In my recent fantasy novel, I had forgone writing a beginning that leads to my character entering into a fantasy world (similar to Thomas Covenant in Stephen R Donaldson’s White Gold series). The reason why is because I already knew the beginning but did not want to say it directly. Whenever I write something, it becomes true. So, I had waited until tonight to declare the beginning.

Near the beginning of my story, my character is about to leave Japan when the airplane receives some engine trouble. So it plummets to the earth and supposedly all the passengers die. However, I wake up in a strange world and am captured by orcs and tortured.

Originally, I did not want to write that part because I was worried that something good would’ve happened while I was in Japan (i.e. finding a girlfriend). But since that did not happen, I feel free to declare that as how my character entered the fantasy world. The thing was that my character left Japan as a result of being extremely sad and cursed the world for causing him grief. In turn, he enters a world that is able to accept him and where his existence has the potential to make a true difference and have meaning.

Some may call my writing a sob story that stinks of self pity. I call it therapy because I prefer writing something that helps me attempt to deal with my life. This story isn’t for other people, just myself.

That said, if tomorrow by sheer coincidence a UFO shoots my plane from the air and I depart this earth into a different realm or dimension, I won’t be scared nor regretful. I think I lived enough here on this world and am ready to accept whatever fate that may bring me.

First Pass Glimpse At My Classes

As a hobby, I’ve been designing the basic rules for an RPG system that I’ve always wanted to build/play. Taking from all my favorite games, I’m trying to concoct a system that is very character focused with an emphasis on variety. I’ve played one game, Elder Scrolls 4, which provided an incredibly flexible system in designing a character. In their system, you could either utilize a pre-defined class, or allocate points and skills to a dream class. While the level of customization does, indeed, make for an interesting game in terms of character generation, I found that the lack of focus did little for the game itself. Of course, the game was designed for a single player, so by using that premise, one would need a character capable of handling numerous situations.

However, one thing I’ve learned about so-called “all-classes” (that is, where you try to give every single ability under the sun to a class), they generally are either overpowered or overwhelmingly confusing. In a single player or character environment, I can understand. In my case, I’ve always felt partial to party systems, whether it was multiplayer or a single player controlling multiple characters. As a result, the so-called uber customizable system just never had a ring for me.

That all said, I wanted to share the various classes that I’ve defined up until this point. Now, there might be one or two that have little to no description. That’s fine. Part of what I have done is enumerate as many character classes and overlaps from the various games I’ve played over the years in an attempt to see how many I could come up with. More than likely at some point, I will remove some classes because they are too specific to a particular game (for instance, Bard’s Tale 3).

Without further ado, here is my current list of classes:

Fighter/Warrior – Tanking, Can use all weapons, armor, weapon specialization. Some inspirational leadership. Abilities geared for damage reduction from armor knowledge, increased number of attacks faster than most classes (per level), unlimited tactics (other partial classes may have limits on tactical combat such as fighting in the open vs sneak attacks)
Berserker – High damaging fighter, no shield, dual weapons, use lighter armor. Fast strikes that can encompass multiple enemies. May lose control and damage comrades. Immune to mind control during enrage. Recklessness makes berserkers vulnerable and more susceptible to damage.
Gladiator – Famous fighter. Sponsored by a patron. Receives periodic gifts depending on success in arenas. Reputation/social status play crucial elements to a gladiator’s elevation. Periodically, the gladiator must confront tougher challenges in order to progress further and receive benefits from their patrons. Besides random gifts bestowed by the patrons, gladiators may request from their patrons specific items that scale as the gladiator improves in levels. Can rally more followers because of his high reputation.
Barbarian – High Hit points, can use all weapons, use lighter armor, some magic resistance, fast movement. Limited rage. Jump assault, high evasion (for tanking) or massive single target damage. Requires more space for fighting. Decent food gatherer. Poor etiquette and may receive hostile treatment in towns/civilized areas. Limited stealth in uncivilized settings.
Paladin – Holy warrior, Wear all armor, melee fighter, minor buffs, limited healer, cannot use ranged weapons. Possesses abilities to thwart undead and demons (evil). Tanking capability involves heavy armor usage, shield blocking, resistances and self healing. Can wield special holy weapons that provide bonuses against evil enemies. Must follow strict ethos (PVP oriented?)
Knight/Cavalier – Noble warrior, wear heavy armor, melee fighter, cannot use ranged weapons. Inspirational fighter. Immune to fear. Shield comrades from fear. Tanking involves heavy armor usage, shield blocking, front line tactics. Higher level knights/cavaliers have best recruiting capabilities.
Ranger – Woodsman, wear heavy armor, dual weapons, ranged weapons. Limited nature spell power. Receives bonuses in natural surroundings. Best food gatherer and tracker. Some stealth ability, only in natural settings while wearing light armor and having no companions.
Hunter – Ranged assassin, focuses on traps, single shot damage. High understanding of anatomy provides best ranged critical hits in the game.
Archer – Ranged fighter, uses moderate armor, short melee weapons. Bonus with ranged weapons but generally specializes in a single ranged weapon.
Beastmaster – Ranged fighter, uses light armor, pets do primary damage. Can utilize more pets simultaneously at higher levels. Pets are trainable and can level. Pets can provide a tanking function.
Mage/Wizard/Magic User – Spell memorization. Requires concentration, verbal and physical components to cast spells. Moderate lore abilities. Increased enchanting capabilities. Very limited weapon and armor selection (cloth only)
Warlock – Demons, damage over time, curses
Conjurer – Summon creatures, create items. Manipulate matter (move walls). Conjured creatures provide tanking and other utility functions depending on the type of creature summoned.
Necromancer – Summon dead creatures, deals with death, convert dead bodies into personal army (percentage of abilities as in real life). More powerful undead types can be created from the dead as the necromancer increases in levels. Raised creatures have limited duration.
Monk – (Wis, Con) Martial arts expert, no armor, no weapons (primarily), some thieving, some priestly abilities. Improved immunities as the monk increases in levels.
Sorcerer – Spell Power. Regenerates over time.
Illusionist – (Dex, Int) Relies on trickery/deception, physical component, mental soft damage. Some thieving. Extremely powerful crowd control type of abilities (blinding, deafness, mesmorization)
Thief/Rogue – Stealth fighter, wears lighter armor, dual weapons, some range, advantage when fighting from the rear. Can construct traps of varying power. Usual thieving capabilities (pick pockets, detect/disarming trap, pick locks, stealth, climb walls, other forms of detection). Has some knowledge of poisons through alchemy.
Assassin – Evil thief, focused on killing, poisons. Bounty hunter. Some alchemy. High critical melee attacks while in stealth mode.
Swashbuckler – (Str, Dex) Combat oriented thief, focused on dual weapons and evasion
Acrobat – (Dex) Thief focused on evading attacks through agility. Very hard to hit in combat. Minor illusionist spells.
Bard/Lark – (Dex, Cha) Limited melee fighter, power from singing, light armor, light weapons, limited illusionist spells. Spells are invoked via singing.
Geomancer – (Str, Int) Earth warrior/mage. Limited melee, earth elemental magic school. Can wear heavier armor.
Alchemist – (Dex, Int) Relies on potions for effects, cannot be silenced, requires physical components. Requires a lab and beakers. Moderate healing capability but no resurrection abilities. Ranged AoE type of fighter. Can simulate a number of spell realms (except holy/unholy and arcane). Not a true spell caster. Therefore can wear light armor. Use specialized weapons (launchers)
Psionic – (Int, Wis) Mental spell caster, cannot be silenced. Requires that enemies have intelligence for efficacy. Light armor. Typically ranged fighter. Requires high degree of concentration for efficacy. As long as
Cleric/Priest – (Wis) Cannot use sharp weapons, moderate armor. Defensive magic and healing. Limited offensive spells. Holy power.
Druid – Nature priest, shapeshifter, can use sharp weapons, limited armor (non-metallic)
Shaman – Paganism, Elemental powers, melee fighter, totemic powers. Performs rituals with other shamans to boost powers. Offensive buffing and minor healing capability. Light armor
Death Knight – Unholy power, anti-paladin, no shield, disease, frost. Assaulting enemies drain power and transfer to the death knight. Induce fear, coercion (as opposed to inspiration). Limited necromancy. Code of contact is similar to a paladin’s in that their behavior is quite strict. However, this strictness is defined by their willpower, something they gain through increasing in levels.
Demon Lord – Demonic fighter, unholy power. Limited demon summoning (gate). Moderate melee fighter, utilizing hordes of minor demons to wreck havoc on their foes.
Samurai – Eastern knight, immune to fear, penalties to using non-eastern weapons, armor. Does not use a shield. Induces intimidation.
Kensai – Weapons specialist, no armor. Focus on a single weapon. Can dual wield with that weapon without penalty. High initiative. Cannot use ranged weapons. High parry and dodge. Limited multi-person attack. Extremely high single target damage as a result of concentrated attacks.
Bushi – Masterless warriors
Yakuza – Large gangs, information specialist
Ninja – Assassins of the shadows, specialized weapons, some alchemy
Sohei – Priest warriors of monestaries, can use heavy armor and weapons, but do less physical damage as a result of inability to specialize. Can use faith based spells
Shukenja – Eastern priests
Wu-jen – Eastern mages