Yearly Archives: 2006

New Year's Eve

It’s around 7 PM on the 31st of December.

Around this time it starts to become dangerous to walk upon the streets of Metro Manila. In fact, I would never go out on the streets after dark on New Year’s Eve. People are starting to throw their pyrotechnics around, and no matter what community you live in, there’s a chance of some reckless kid carelessly tossing some dangerous firecracker somewhere in your direction.

Around 9-10 PM it will be impossible to walk the streets.

I also have this irrational fear of getting hit by a stray bullet on New Year’s Eve. Sometimes you can catch me compulsively looking up to the sky even when there aren’t any pretty lights.

The Rock Says…

I was going through the bookstores at yesterday’s sale day at SM North, hoping to find some bargains. I found a copy of The Rock‘s book, The Rock Says going for the bargain basement price of 50 pesos (roughly 1 US dollar). What a steal!

In case you’ve been living under, well, a rock, you’re probably aware that The Rock was one of the most popular, most electrifying men in professional wrestling, lovingly termed “sports entertainment.” As a wrestling fan, such a book is a real page-turner for me. It details the story of Rock’s childhood, his football days in Miami up to his days in the WWE leading up to his historic Wrestlemania XV match with the Rattlesnake, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. As a fan whose view of the wrestling industry has been limited to what I’ve seen on television, the book gives a good look into the inner workings of the industry. The history, the way things are, the pitfalls, the demons of the wrestling biz are explored by The Rock’s stories, especially his days of growing up to become a third-generation wrestler.

There are people in the world who don’t “get” professional wrestling, wondering why others like to watch it when it’s “so obviously fake.” Those people miss the point entirely, and reading “The Rock Says” might do give them some insight as to why it’s called “Sports Entertainment” these days. But for wrestling fans, especially those who grew up watching the trade blows with the likes of Mankind and Steve Austin, the book is just one hell of a ride.

8-Man Drafts on MTGO

One of the nice things about Magic: Online is the concept of “Nix Tix”. Basically, for a few days during holidays, 8-man drafts no longer require the usual 2 tickets to play. You simply need the product used for the draft (3 booster packs) in order to join an 8-man draft. And since the payout is also in booster packs, distributed as 4-3-2-2, you can basically keep playing 8-man drafts for free as long as you get at least two wins per draft.

I just finished the fourth draft off an initial 3-booster pack (12 dollar) investment, so I basically got 13 packs for the price of 3. I finally lost in round 1 of draft 4. It’s addictive, I think I’ll play some more!

(Nix Tix weekends are a bit hard on my credit card…)

Japan is Furious about Dragon Quest IX

Via

insertcredit.com

:

Apparently, DQ IX coming out on the DS is a big deal over in the land of the rising sun. And the fact that the combat system will be action-style instead of turn-based. Did they really expect the game to keep doing the same thing again and again

forever

? Anyway, the DS is a better platform for it…Square-Enix already has one flagship RPG series on the consoles (Final Fantasy), and none yet on handhelds, so why not just move their second-oldest title there?

The Next Generation of FAQs

Something I didn’t expect from the Youtube phenomenon: apparently, FAQ writers can now link to instructional videos for difficult to describe game walkthroughs. If you don’t have any idea what I mean, an “FAQ” is a document that helps someone to do a particular thing by providing answers to Frequently Asked Questions. In my case, I most often read FAQs for video games to help through the difficult spots, usually from GameFAQs

. (Prideful Disclaimer Note: I usually only look for FAQs after I’ve finished a game once, so I can see what stuff I’ve missed…Final Fantasy XII is the first FF game I’m playing for which I’ve looked at an FAQ before completing it…it’s because I’m old and don’t have much time to dick around =p)

Here’s an example I found while trying to find out where the White Mousse mark in Final Fantasy XII is: FF12 White Mousse Location on Youtube

The Escapist – The Rise and Fall of Troika

Awesome article in The Escapist titled

The Rise and Fall of Troika

, which gives a good view of the problems facing game development studios with regards to production/publisher issues.

I got the link from the

blog at rampantgames.com

which I’ve been following for a while now. I find the articles about the indie gaming field very enlightening, and I have to say going the route of an indie game developer is much more appealling to me especially after reading about all the issues game dev studios have with big-time publishers.

Am I still thinking about getting into game development? Maybe, but not as much as before. I’ve come to realize that one of the important reasons I want to make games is because I love

playing

games. So actually, as long as there are good games coming out, I don’t think about it much. And I suppose I’m not yet brave enough to embark on such a risky venture for myself, but maybe someday…

The Meaning of Christmas

When you’re a kid, the days leading up to Christmas are full of wonder and anticipation, and you eagerly await that time when the gifts under the Christmas tree are finally handed out to the recipients and you tear open those packages with such enthusiasm and disregard for the effort put into wrapping it.

As an adult, the days leading up to Christmas are filled up with days of overtime as you struggle to meet year-end targets, constantly having to attend gathering after gathering, and worrying about whether you’ve gotten the right presents for people.

In my case, since people should be well aware by now that I am pretty much an incompetent shopper, they know better than to expect me to get them something nice (if at all). Don’t get me wrong, I’m fairly generous. If you ask me for something as a Christmas gift and I could afford it, you would most likely receive from me a gift-wrapped bundle with said gift. But to expect me to be able to think up a gift for you by myself? You would be placing too much faith in me.

The above explains why I’m also hardly excited about Christmas presents anymore – I don’t expect them. People are great in that they give you stuff, but I wouldn’t be disappointed if someone chose not to get me a gift; even someone close to me, like say my parents. Not that they ever fail, mind you. I’m pretty sure every year I get at least one new article of clothing. Which is good because otherwise I’d never get any new clothes at all.

I’m not saying I’m a scrooge by the way. I like Christmas, I still do. But it’s no longer the gifts that I enjoy. It’s the festive mood that it brings out of people. The priest at Mass today that we Filipinos are the best in the world at celebrating Christmas, and that’s a fairly good exhortation. People here change in December, even the grumpy ones who don’t particularly like holidays and festivities and socializing (I’m partly guilty of that – I’m no social animal) I think that’s a lot better than presents any day of the week.

Spare Time

Today is the first day of my four-week hiatus from week, after an exhausting three-day overtime streak I basically collapsed into bed last night.

Over the past week people have been asking me why I would take a month-long break from work. Am I going somewhere out of town? Sightseeing? By sheer coincidence I was also looking over a copy of The Little Prince, and one of the chapters there echoed perfectly my sentiments about all these questions: why are all you grown-ups so worried about so-called “matters of consequence”?

I just want to take a break. Isn’t that reason enough? I want to have a period of time where I am entirely free of responsibility, with no agenda or itinerary or plan whatever. One day I could just decide to walk around the city, or even more likely, stay at home and have a DVD marathon. I’m going to spend some time by myself doing things that I enjoy, things that I don’t usually have time for when there’s work. Unfortunately, I am neither a born tourist nor a born shopper, so those are not the things I’m going to do.

My mother even thinks I should visit some tourist spots so that my break is “productive”. I’m not really sure how walking around and looking at stuff could be considered productive. I’m no tourist; I’d prefer not to spend my time doing something I find quite a bit boring. Granted, since I don’t have any planning whatsoever, I may very well decide to go sightseeing or whatnot. But I sure as hell wouldn’t plan it.

I actually have a to-do list of things I want to accomplish during the break. But everything is optional.

Hong Kong – After Landing At The Airport

I remember looking for the signs that would tell me where to find the A11 bus that could take me to North Point. My instructions were to find the McDonald’s inside the airport and look for the exit nearby. Sure enough, the signs pointed me to the bus terminal. I bought a ticket, and as I arranged my luggage for easier carrying I didn’t notice that I had dropped the just-purchased ticket to the floor. A pretty Caucasian girl picked it up and smiled as she handed it back to me. I smiled back and gave her my best “Thank you very much.”

I got on the bus and took a seat near the back, hoping that I would be able to see clearly out the window so as not to miss my stop. Seated on the row of seats in front of me were seven women, some middle-aged, some looking like they had just gotten out of high school. Even if they were speaking English I would have been able to identify them as Filipinas. From their dialogue I could also tell they were domestic helpers. Apparently they’ve never met each other before today, and here they were talking amongst themselves as if they were long lost friends. I guess when you’re a long way from home any connection is a welcome one.

One of them is the central speaker, she’s apparently been in Hong Kong for more than seven years now and had just come back from a vacation in the Philippines. She answers some questions from the others: what can I do on my day off? where do I go? how can I call home? She tells them stories of her life in Hong Kong, how the family she works with has been really good to her and they get along well. If you’re lucky, you will be assigned to a family like mine, she says.

They miss their stop; I guess she’s not as familiar with Hong Kong as I assumed. I look out the window and spot Victoria Park, and I know I’m getting near my stop. I get off the bus at just the right place, and I look for the staff quarters.