Interview With Texas Instruments

Sometimes my still being unemployed depresses me greatly (Although my periods of depression typically last no more than thirty minutes.)

The biggest problem in my job-hunting woes is the fact that the type of job I want varies greatly from what I have training in. I want to be involved in IT or programming, but I don’t have a lot of the skills necessary to succeed in those fields. I will probably always regret not shifting to Computer Science or even Computer Engineering early on in college. If I had I would’ve probably had a much easier time.

In any case, I’m going for an interview with Texas instruments on Friday. The job is not an optimum one for me — I don’t really want to work as a product engineer although I am qualified. (Heck the chances of my being accepted are probably too small for me to even consider — I have the requirements but I’m sure a lot more qualified people will be applying. I’ll have to wow ’em with my incorrigible attitude). But the pay is probably good, it involves overseas training and if I get accepted it’ll mean I have something to do in the meantime as I try to earn the skills needed for a job that I _would_ enjoy.

Hopefully the TI guys never read this. O_o

The One Where I Run My Mouth, As Usual

Well I finally decided to start a full-blown web journal. I used to keep one some years ago — I think it greatly helped me develop my english skills. Or not. Anyway, I tend to run my mouth off for paragraphs at a time anyway, and so many things run through my head at any given time it probably makes sense to put down at least some of it on paper (or in a computer at least.)

Anyway, I decided to make over this site because nothing much of anything else has been happening around here lately. With Mon in town, the two of us and David have been spending every other day at David’s wonderful airconditioned room playing Capcom vs SNK 2 and Final Fantasy X. Mon mentioned that modded PS2’s are now able to play copied PS1 discs, so it’s probably a good time to buy one now. Assuming of course, that I have cash.

I’m still for the most part unemployed. Oh who am I kidding, I’m still a bum. Or “employment challenged.” Whatever. At least Mon and David aren’t working either. =P I really need a job — seeing as how I really want both a new computer and a PS2. In fact, I’m already seriously considering a call center job, however dead-end it may seem.

Another time.

Hoshigami: Ruining Blue Earth

First off, I haven’t finished the game yet, I’m somewhere in Chapter 5. I stopped playing the game a month or so ago out of sheer irritation.

For the uninitiated, H:RBE is a tactical RPG for the PSX, released during the last year the PSX. The game is similar in some respects to games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre, with an emphasis on turn-based squad-level combats. Unlike FFT and TO’s similar Active Time system, H:RBE uses a system called RAP, where each character can perform as many actions as he wants provided he still has the RAP gauge to pay for it. The more RAP you use, the sooner your next turn comes, and vice versa. I bought this game hoping it would be at least comparable to either FFT or TO. Was I disappointed? Read on.

The Good:

* RAP. RAP is good. The fact that you get to decide how to allocate your time, and the fact that you can control when your characters get to act. This is good.

* Shoot. Shoot is good, a nice ability that adds a different tactical angle to the game, emphasizing the importance of position.

* Session. Since Shoot is good, it follows that Session must be good.

* Difficulty. Yes, difficulty is good, to a certain extent. Hoshigami brings a new level of difficulty to the table that we didn’t get to have in the ridiculously easy FFT. Veteran gamers were looking for a level of difficulty closer to that of the old favorite, Tactics Ogre. The game’s difficulty is actually still good (albeit good on the masochistic side) but the actual difficulty is overshadowed by the fact that it’s _tedious_. Read on.

The Bad:

* Lack of variation. You basically have only five things to do: attack, shoot, move, cast spells or use items. And spells do only one of three things: deal/heal damage, or create/heal status or break equipment. Where’s the Haste spell? Protection spells?

* Long battles. The lack of variation wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t have to endure it for hours at a time.

* No saving between successive battles. That was a bad, bad, design boo-boo. You’ve been fighting for hours on end, and you’re almost finished, when a lucky archer drops the bomb on Elena.

* Bad AI. You know what I’m talking about. Archers who don’t understand the trajectory of their weapons. Enemies who kill each other. Soldiers who attack even if the hit chance is 0%.

* Unforgiving design. Permanent death. Underlevelled party has no chance against higher level party. Masses of enemies thrown at you. It’s like the designers decided that instead of simply working on tactically challenging battles, they would throw lots of enemies at you, at higher levels than you would expect and hope that you have the tactical ability to overcome this. It was a good idea except for the fact that LOW-LEVEL CHARACTERS STAND NO CHANCE AGAINST HIGH-LEVEL CHARACTERS. Even if you’re only two levels behind, your damage and hit rate become so pitiful that you simply won’t survive one-on-one, what more two-on-one. The game would’ve been 300 times better if either a) story battles had the same level as you; or b) The number of units on each side are comparable. As it is, the only real reliable way to win in battles is through either Coinfeigms or leveling-up. Which wouldn’t be so bad except that…

* Levelling-up is tedious. Since you will almost never meet enemies in the Towers who are at the same level as yours, you’re stuck fighting lower level goons while occasionally hitting yourselves for EXP. And not only that…

* Levelling up Coinfeigms is tedious. Yes it is. The interface is so bad; every time you engrave your coin, you must go back to the top of the list of seals and look for the seal again. Given that you often want to engrave your coins multiple times with the same seals, the game becomes unnecessarily tedious. Adding to this is the “random” factor involved in engraving. I’m sure during development it seemed like a neat concept and all, but in practice all it means is that you have to occasionally save in-between engravings.

* Deity/DEV system. Good idea, poor execution. Some of the abilities are simply worthless, and some are strictly better. You will seldom need to change your abilities around. Status-enhancing abilities are generally useless at 10%, slightly better at 25%. Champion sounded cool, except in practice you never want to have anyone with low HP. Furthermore, the system is unbalanced. Sonova people simply suck, despite their HP Bonuses.

* No randomness. All battles are fixed. No hoping to meet an Uribo here, folks, each battle gives you the exact same opponents every time.

The Ugly

* that sad, sad battle theme. I end up unplugging the audio cord on the TV whenever I play Hoshigami.

All in all, what went wrong in this game? The thing is that the designers thought people wanted a difficult game, so they made a difficult game. The problem is that they achieve that difficulty through repetitiveness, redundancy and tediousness. On the GameFAQs message boards I read an analogy comparing Hoshigami to Chess. The difference between Hoshigami and Chess is that in Chess, both sides start with the same pieces, and you win or lose based on your own tactical decisions. In Hoshigami, not only does your opponent get more pieces than you, they’re all bishops and knights while you’re stuck with a platoon of pawns. And you have to play that game of chess some 50 times, without losing, ever.

Jobless: Is there even any hope?

I stood there wordlessly, inching my way through the unending mass of people. There must have been several hundred people crammed into less than two hundred square meters of mall area, interspersed with some twenty cubicles filled with various displays and banners. What madness is this you ask? What product could be so enticing that hundreds of otherwise sane people to participate in such a gathering, jostling for space and risking being elbowed, stepped on or maybe even pick pocketed? The answer was employment. That most important symptom of security that people crave especially in tough times such as these.

Yes, my friends, it is a job fair. Hopeful job-seekers from all over the capital converge upon this establishment in the commercial district and hope to find gainful opportunities in these otherwise difficult times. I am one of such hopefuls. Weaving amongst the crowd and perusing various company paraphernalia, I search for the perfect job for one of my skills.

Here’s one, an engineering job, sounds promising. Oh, it’s in Bulacan, a good three hours away from home. No thanks. Hmm, there’s an opening in this Japanese company. Wait, I already applied for that a couple of months ago. How about a teaching job at some technical college? No thanks, there are better schools out there for me to teach at.

I chuckle at my own audacity. For someone who had been unemployed for a good six months now I was being extremely picky. How many job applications had I botched over the past six months? At least three that sounded promising. And for no apparent reason aside from the vague “I wouldn’t like it there” or “It’s not the right job for me.” Sometimes I wonder what it is I really want.

Or maybe that’s the problem. For someone who spent the last few years of his engineering studies whining about how he should have shifted to another course, I had no real idea about what it was I wanted to do. Well, no practical idea at least. I know I eventually want to work in interactive entertainment software (read: computer games), but that’s not really a plausible option right now. Aside from that, nothing. I have no idea where to go or how to get there.

I know I need a job. Heaven knows I’ve sponged off my folks long enough. But what job? I look at the hordes of people applying for boring, everyday office jobs and I shake my head. I don’t want to end up some office drone who can’t break out of his routine. I don’t want a job that is tedious and boring. I don’t want to be some staff engineer doing the same things day in and day out. I want to learn, I want to be challenged, I want to expand my horizons. I want a job that’s exciting, constantly unpredictable, a job where being unable to adapt can only cause disaster. I don’t want a job that asks me to be tied down for two to three years. I hardly have enough attention span for a semester of classes, how could I stand being in the same job for several years? I don’t want a job that’s mundane, mediocre or ordinary. I want something different, something exciting, something that amazes people when they ask.

Maybe I’m being unrealistic or a bit too idealistic, as is common for me at times. But I remember one time when I asked one of the guys I went to college with what he was planning to do after his studies. He said something about joining a big company and rising up the corporate ladder. What kind of dream is that, to be someone else’s employee? And this was someone who would later on graduate with honors! I would rather be self-employed, risking my own money on a venture that may or may not succeed. If you fail, then you try again. At least you rise and fall through your own decisions, your fate belongs to you, and not to some anonymous board of directors.

Alas, that’s not possible for me right now, not when I don’t have a shred of cash. And until I do, I am left with little choice but to undergo some mind-numbing mundanity of a job. Gainful employment is a necessary evil for now, so onward I march, ever searching for an ideal job that will tide me through until such time that I find the means to take my destiny into my own hands. My time will come, someday.

Someday we’ll all look back and laugh.

So the ECE board exams are now over. Six months (okay three) of hard work and preparation (well alright, occasionally glancing at my books) and what do we get? A bunch of questions chosen seemingly at random. The Math and Electronics parts were good enough actually, and I felt pretty confident there. The second day was bad. The Communications exam might as well have been a random set of questions about cookie dough and displacer beasts. Me, Marc and Dennis went through at least a hundred questions in various topics an hour and a half before the exam but not one of the stuff we reviewed came out. Instead we’re bombarded with questions about obscure standards and various laws. *Sigh*

Or maybe I’m just sour-graping because I didn’t make the top ten [link broken]. Then again I was expecting at least Dennis to make it in, but no such luck. Are there any other UP studes in the top ten? I don’t know, and I’m not sure I care anymore. Oh well, that’s the breaks.

I finished Tales of Phantasia yesterday, finally. I must’ve been playing it for about half a year before I managed to finish it. Emulators are really bad for your attention span — I’ve got a Seiken Densetsu game near the end but I haven’t touched it for maybe a year now. Anyway, I went and kicked Dhaos butt, even though I wasn’t able to complete the better subquests, complete Arche’s spells or even get Gremlin and Shadow. Maybe another time. Or if Namco decides to be nice and release it for the PSX. Oh yeah, I put up the ending save state here [link broken]. Hopefully one of these days I can finish the Ranma RPG, SD3 and DQ5, not necessarily in that order.

So I’ve been playing Hoshigami lately. When I first bought it and tried it out I thought it was a horrible game. It’s quite hard, and you will easily die if you don’t know what you’re doing. Now I realize the reason I was having such a hard time was because I was trying to play it like FF Tactics or Tactics Ogre. Instead, the RAP gauge encourages an entirely different way of thinking. You have to learn how to conserve your RAP, to know how to use the turn sequence properly, when to shoot and when not to shoot, and when to attempt a session. Granted, knowing all this stuff doesn’t make the game that much easier — but I find myself enjoying it once I familiarized myself with the different tactics. Sadly, very few people will be able to appreciate this game. I’m in Chapter 2 and I’ve already burned 20 hours of game time and probably a lot more in real-time — I tend to lose battles often. =P

The following web sites are graciously hosting some of my fiction, so be nice and visit them: Icy Brian’s RPG Page and Laura’s Sailor Moon Shrine [link broken] (although why a SM shrine would have FF fanfiction is beyond me. =)

Last week we saw The Count of Monte Cristo. Two more weeks before Spiderman, and a full month before the next Star Wars movie.

Lastly, and have you ever wondered where you could get RPG Books online [link broken]?

Beavers and Ducks

April Fools day today. The Gaming Intelligence Agency says they’re shutting down, but it’s likely one of their famous AFD pranks.

Board exams coming up next week, Tuesday and Wednesday. I need to borrow a calculator — the one I have isn’t on their list. I really should study more but for some reason I’m really confident. promises to study more

So I applied for a job at ASTI. Sure it’s a government place, but I know a lot of guys there and it looks like fun. Interviewed last week, hope they call back.

And so another Holy Week went by uneventfully. Another 8-hour 7th heaven marathon. Another trip to St. Vincent’s for confession and way of the cross. So the wheel turns.

Local matinee idol Rico Yan dead at 25 last Good Friday. I’d tell you more about it, but the TV stations have already covered the story to death.

I saw the Star Wars trailer! Lots of fighting, and the Jedis look like they’re gonna get their butts whupped. Lousy title though.

Movies seen lately: Bandits and Ice Age. Oh, and for the umpteenth time, Austin Powers: TSWSM.

Random Links of the day:

Phoenix Genesis

12 Feb 2002

Website updates: New text files in features section!

Ack…haven’t been doing much lately. My time has been consumed by the evil monster that is Sierra’s Betrayal at Krondor. It’s an RPG based on Raymond Feist’s Riftwar series of books. Haven’t read the books myself, but the game is well done, and is still enjoyable despite its age (I think it was released in ’92 or such). The game was released by Sierra as freeware to promote the sequel, and it can be downloaded at happypuppy.com

The other thing I’ve been doing, is trying to catch up on my board exam review, and I’m fairly behind schedule. There’s around a month and a half left before the exam, but so far I’ve only reviewed most of the electronics topics. (The reviews are in 3 parts: electronics, communications and mathematics.)

Another thing I’ve been doing was working on my own RPG. The Palefire thing was great, but it seems no one in the group has time to do it anymore. While I still want to do Palefire, it’ll have to go to the back burner while everyone gets their acts together. Since I don’t have a new comp yet, no RPG programming of any sorts going to take place soon. Right now it’s mostly design, world-building, and setting the rules into place. I don’t even have a very solid plot yet, but I want to thresh out the world before focusing on the plot. Good luck to me.

Things I’m not doing: Learning more Japanese (which I promised myself I would do); Studying more programming (same); Writing fiction. I’d update the Mecis story but I found the first part of it severely lacking. When I have time, I’ll probably rewrite it altogether.

12 Jan 2002

Updates: Added Square NES ROMs, Programming section, updated links. Went back to text-based navigation. While image navigation is nice, it’s hard to update and slow-loading. Added links to funtrivia trivia quizzes.

It’s been a slow couple of days really. Some board reviewing, sporadic Japanese learning. Finished DW7 a couple of nights ago — finally! Currently playing on PS: Ehrgeiz Quest Mode! Kinda tough, tho. For the NES, a discussion on FFFade me download a whole bunch of Square NES ROMs! Also been playing a lot of Megaman! (finished 1 and 2 already, on my way with 3) Job fair next week atUP Eng’g. Also came down with a bad cold.