Friday Bullet Points Dipped in Nostalgia

It is raining again… which is a good thing in California… and a spate of different things have rolled across my screen, all of which interest me but which don’t quite warrant a full blog post yet, so we’re back to Friday bullet points.

Age of Empires Restrictive Edition

I was keen as mustard when it was announced last June that Microsoft was working on a remaster of the original Age of Empires.  While I was always more of an Age of Empires II – The Age of Kings fan… and I own the remaster of that already… I was still in for the original.

Age of Empires

After a long stretch of silence, there was finally some news about the game.

On the upside of things, the remaster will be available come February 20, 2018, so it will be here soon.

On the down side, the game will ONLY be available through the Microsoft Windows Store.  Leaving aside the whole “I don’t need another goddam Steam clone” and my lack of trust in Microsoft, the store itself tells me it won’t be available until the end of 2018 and that it won’t run on my device.

Also, it may require certain hardware

So I guess that pretty much lets the air out of any Age of Empires nostalgia I had as well as being a bad sign for any possible hope I had in their whole Age of Empires IV plan.

Rift’s Prime Number

From there we head over to Trion Worlds where their 2018 Rift On! producer’s letter.

Not a dye nor a floor wax

Trion looks to be eyeing the green fields of nostalgia as well, taking a card from Daybreak’s deck and promising something called Rift Prime, a subscription only version of the game that will come with a fresh server, reduced cash shop options, progressively unlocked content, and NO lockboxes.

I have said in the past that the one thing that would surely get me to roll on back to Telara was a retro server of some sort, so this sounds like it might be the time.  The instance group in pre-Storm Legion expansion Rift was one of my MMO high points.  Still, there are some mixed messages.

We plan to present RIFT at its roots as much as is possible to do, and look forward to sharing details over the coming weeks. The PRIME server will progress at a faster pace than the original launch and will eventually come to an end in spectacular fashion.

So back to the roots is good, and I expect that the servers will have to progress… by which I assume they mean unlock expansions… more rapidly that than the first time around.  I am curious as to what the spectacular end will be.

But then there is also this to wrestle with.

As a small teaser of what’s to come, dynamically matching characters to their current zone’s level, dungeons dropping loot specific to your character’s true level, caps on the number of professions available to a single character, and participation awards that carry over to your characters on existing servers.

Many upcoming live content changes that apply to existing servers will also apply to the new PRIME server, assuming they’re not restricted by progression locks.

That doesn’t sound very much like Rift at its roots.

Anyway, the current time frame is “spring” for Rift Prime which, as we recall from the Landmark launch, extends out to the first day of summer in the back half of June.  Syp goes on about the Rift Prime server idea at length, but I am waiting for more details before I crank up the thousand word minimum post-o-matic opinion machine.

Legendary Pokemon Return.. Again

It is an even numbered year so Nintendo is having Pokemon events to give away legendary Pokemon.

Didn’t we just get some of these?

Getting people to come to events to make Pokemon a more social game has always been part of the Game Freak/Nintendo plan, but didn’t we just spend 2016 having monthly legendary events?  And isn’t the ability to catch a bunch of these part of the sales pitch for Pokemon UltraSun & UltraMoon?

Oh well, if you missed out and don’t have the wherewithal for end game Pokemon, another series of events are coming for 2018 starting with a Dialga and Palkia event in February at your local GameStop.  In order to participate you must have a copy of Pokemon Sun, Moon, UltraSun, or UltraMoon.

Also coming up in February for Pokemon nostalgia buffs is Pokemon Crystal on the 3DS Virtual Console.

More on the Expense of Video Games

In something of a follow up on the raging discussion back at the end of November about how expensive it is to make video games, Raph Koster has returned with a new presentation and discussion about the cost of making video games.  So more charts and graphs and a list of suggestions await.  If nothing else you can bask in how little we pay per kilobyte of video game software these days I suppose, a measure which makes those old 143KB Apple II floppies seem like something of a gold mine.

Where Have All Our Video Cards Gone?

And finally, we can wistfully recall the glory days when we were able to go down to Best Buy and purchase a goddam video card.  Ars Technica has an article up about how all this Tulip bubble crypto currency boom is soaking up all the high end video cards.  I guess I will be stuck with a GeForce GTX 960 until this whole thing collapses.

Anyway, those were my bullet points for the week.  If you want more there are some over at Endgame Viable, most of which are not duplicates of items on my list.

Time and the TiDi Wait for No Man

So many pings.

Things have begun to stir in null sec here in the new year.  The Imperium has risen from its ratting and mining binge… krabbing is us… to focus on blowing something up.  It isn’t really a war.  We’re not off to conquer more territory.  Instead we are focusing on a Pandemic Horde Keepstar in the system 9-4RP2 in Cloud Ring.

And so the alerts have been going out to rally people to be ready to join the fight, even asking people to resubscribe their capital and super capital pilots.  This started in earnest after the first attack set a timer on the Keepstar, practically becoming the Jabber equivalent of the old “Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! See “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, Shirley “Cha-Cha” Muldowney…” radio ads as the directorate tried to get the troops rallied and eager.

I was eager myself, ever keen to be part of a big fight, even if it was only to be a timer fight rather than a possible kill.  The problem was the time.  Form up for the fight on Tuesday was slated for 18:00 and the timer itself would come up a bit past 20:30.  Those are New Eden times, which runs on UTC, which puts those event at about 10am and 12:30pm on a week day out here on the left coast of the United States.  Even though I tend to be early into the office, I am never so early as to be able to be home by lunch time.

Still, I had a hope of seeing some of the action.  If the fight developed into a big enough brawl, if the goal expanded beyond the timer and became a slug fest between super fleets looking for titan kills, time dilation could help me out.  I couldn’t get into the game until 23:00 UTC at the earliest, but if everybody was running at 10% tidi then a fight might still be under way.

To get myself setup for that possibility, I hopped into a stealth bomber, made sure I had a couple of bombs and a stack of torpedoes, and flew out to Cloud Ring so as to be pre-positioned for any fight.

The flight out went without incident, it being late US/early AU time when things can be quiet, but when I arrived in 9-4RP2 I realized I had to find the Keepstar still.  It doesn’t show up on the overview and I hadn’t bothered to find out even a general location for it.  But I saw we had some citadels in the system as well… more than a dozen, including a Fortizar.  I figured I could just hole up in one of those and find the fight when the time came, so I warped to one only to find they were all still in the process of deploying.

That meant no docking up for me as well as an interesting angle to the coming fight.  In addition to the armor timer for the Keepstar there would be a range of Imperium citadels coming online and vulnerable just to confuse the issue.  If the locals stuck to the Keepstar, we would have a bunch of bases in the system.  If they attacked the vulnerable citadels, they might lose the Keepstar timer.

Anyway, warping to a deploying citadel did help me out, as I found that they were all on grid with the Keepstar.

The Pandemic Horde 9-4RP2 Keepstar

The timer was running down, but the event was still about 15 hours away.

Distant Keepstar timer running

I looked around for a bit, then went off to make myself a safe spot.  I did not want to log back in on grid with the fight lest I find myself in the midst of hostiles.  Once I had a nice location bookmarked I uncloaked and did a safe logoff.

That long 30 second wait to be safe

The next day at the office I watched the pings come in on my phone.  There were early form ups, late form ups, supers and sub-caps, battleships and destroyers, and all the sundry in between forming up and heading towards Cloud Ring.

I saw a report of two hostile titans having been blown up, another that we lost the timer, and a third that because the Keepstar was again vulnerable that we were going to re-do the shield timer yet again to start the event again.  Taking a quick peek at the INN stream it appeared that we were doing the shield timer via a  mass of fighters that had somehow formed themselves ala Voltron into an Avatar class titan. (Source: INN stream and Joe the Barbarian)

A titan and the fighter formation compared

The overwhelming fighter super capital assault was enough to drive off the enemy.

There were more than 3,000 people in local at the peak of the fight, but by the time I got home, logged int, and warped onto grid that number had dropped closer to 30.  We had set the shield timer again, so success on that front.

The timer running again… cloaked Purifier in the foreground

We also seemed to do very well with our own citadel array as there was now a constellation of CONDI citadels around the target, including a Fortizar in which we could hide dreads and carriers.

The view from the Fortizar

In addition there was another Fortizar going online, just to add to the collection.

Another Fortizar deploying

That left the a growing Imperium citadel count in system.

Imperium Citadel Count in 9-4RP2

Even though I missed the fight, there was some upside for me.  Because the shield timer got set later in the day, there was a greater likelihood of my being able to get home and online to see the next day’s fight.

However, yesterday’s fight went even more quickly that the previous one.  By the time I got home the system had again emptied out.  We did win the armor timer fight.  That meant a six day wait for the final fight.

I was more than 2 hours late…

That will put the battle for the destruction of the Keepstar early Tuesday afternoon next week when, naturally, I will be at work.

But I have hope.  Timers are timers and not so serious, so people slack off.

This fight though, this could mean the destruction of a significant Pandemic Horde asset, so I suspect the defenders will be pulling out all the stops in order to get people in system and on grid to defend the Keepstar.

And on our side there are already ‘”fight coming” pings going out in multiple languages to make people aware of this fight.

Then there are the third parties who will show up looking for kills, and maybe even a Keepstar kill.

With all of that I have high hopes that it will be everybody to the limit and time dilation at 10% and the system still lagging for a long fight into the night, leaving me plenty of time to get home, get logged in, and get on grid to see how it plays out.

In the mean time the Keepstar waits.

Look, it is an unsubtle metaphor!  Imperium surrounding Pandemic Horde!

Of course, that is just my story.  I’m still sitting in system waiting for the big fight.  For what actually happened this week the following stories have been posted:

There are also a number of posts on Reddit with good pictures of the first two fights.

Now to see if Tuesday brings a B-R5RB level blood bath.

Winter Movie League – A Wild Four Day Ride

With the four day MLK holiday weekend in the US, week seven of the winter Fantasy Movie League was quite a journey.

Any week is a bit of a crap shoot when it comes to picks as you have to find the studio and industry estimates and figure out who is on the ball and who is way off base and craft your selection based on that.  But this week went above and beyond for a few reasons.

To start with, as I noted last week, the pricing was such that you had seven possible anchors out of a list of fifteen movies.  The list of options:

Jumanji              $293
The Post             $210
Paddington 2         $201
Insidious            $179
Proud Mary           $169
The Commuter         $143
Star Wars            $139
The Greatest Showman $132
Pitch Perfect 3      $70
Darkest Hour         $64
Molly's Game         $59
Ferdinand            $58
Coco                 $44
The Shape of Water   $41
Best of the Rest     $41

Then the filler movies were a bit on the pricey side, the gap between the top and bottom of the list being fairly narrow.  So you had to have some care in your pick lest you run out of budget to fill your screens.  Not that you need to fill them all.  The perfect pick the previous week had one empty.  But more than one seems dicey.

Then there were the estimates, which were all over the board.  I mean, they often vary, but this week they seemed to be more varied than usual.  I saw a gap of over $8 million for Jumanji across the sites I check.  But then it was a holiday weekend and some sites were estimating for all four days while others held to just Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, which just added to the mess.

And then there was the loss of the FML Nerd tool, everybody’s favorite lineup utility.  It was replaced by Moovee Picker, which has some upside.  It goes out and gets the weekend estimates from multiple sites, including a couple I did not know about, and puts them on the page for you and lets you weight them or ignore them completely.  But it is a bit quirky and was doing something very wrong in calculating early last week, though that was quickly resolved.  And, advanced though it is, it isn’t quite as clear and straightforward as FML Nerd yet.

Into this I waded, thinking I would eschew the old guard of movies and jump on the bandwagon with new flicks.  Surely The Post or Paddington 2 would deliver over a four day weekend.  Jumanji couldn’t hold on again, could it?

As the estimates started showing up I changed tack and started building up possible picks around an increasingly aged lineup.  As I fiddled with numbers strange selections seemed to keep coming up with as many as three empty screens.  That seemed like crazy talk to me.  It took all I had to leave one screen empty last week, three screens was asking too much.

Meanwhile the estimates seem to be fairly favorable for Star Wars and it seemed quite possible that it would be the best performer of the week, so I started messing around with that as an anchor.  Moovee Picker was telling me to go with seven screens of that and a single empty screen or to run with a screen of Jumanji, five screens of Star Wars, and two empty screens.

More empty screens!

So I was fiddling with various options and had picked six screens of Star Wars and two screens of Pitch Perfect just to see how it looked, then got distracted and forgot to go back and change it to a “real” pick until it was already too late.  So that was that.

My Winter Week Seven Picks and the Perfect Pick

It didn’t turn into a bad pick.  What was odd was what turned into a good pick.  Watching the estimates come it, Jumanji quickly asserted itself as being under valued and looked to be the best performer of the week, making crazy picks like three screens of Jumanji, one screen of Coco, and one screen of Pitch Perfect 3, with three empty screens, viable candidates scoring well above my own picks.  And nobody appeared to have predicted the perfect pick.

Then the final results came in and, in a final surprise twist, The Greatest Showman surged ahead and took the best price/performance title away from Jumanji, throwing the previous perfect pick estimate out the window and turning some of those three empty screen picks back into the crazy they seemed… or at least they were no longer close to winning picks.

The perfect pick for the week turned out to be seven screens of The Greatest Showman and one screen of Pitch Perfect 3, a selection that only 70 people went with for week seven.

Winter Week Seven Perfect Pick

This was the second time The Greatest Showman featured in the perfect pick, as it was also the anchor of choice for week five.

Meanwhile, in the Meta League, picks were all over the map with only two people sharing the same pick.  In the MCats League I was the only one willing to touch Star Wars and ended up in third place there, while in the TAGN League I was down in fifth position, the overall Meta League scores for the week ending up as:

  1. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $113,562,167
  2. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $107,543,193
  3. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $107,354,619
  4. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $105,892,743
  5. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $105,606,834
  6. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $105,147,520
  7. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $102,420,226
  8. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $101,236,413
  9. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $91,155,606
  10. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $89,498,523
  11. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $87,467,774
  12. Kraut Screens (T) – $81,300,678
  13. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $78,487,588
  14. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $78,487,588
  15. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $74,014,283
  16. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $71,506,998
  17. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $71,262,455
  18. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $46,438,006 (did not pick)
  19. The Bean Movie Burrito (T) – $12,696,661 (did not pick)

Meta League Legend

  • TAGN Movie Obsession – players from it marked with a (T)
  • MCats Multiplex – players from it marked with an (M)

Except for Ben, who anchored on The Commuter, the split in the league seemed to be between those who bet on older titles and those who went with week seven’s new crop of options, the latter faring poorly as stuffed bears and blaxploitation failed to carry the day.

There were also three people who failed to pick in the TAGN league.  This was the third week for one, which I assume means they have called it quits, so Movies Movies Movies will no longer appear on the list.  The other two will soldier on until such time as they hit that threshold as well.

  1. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $791,984,635
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $781,495,629
  3. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $745,782,776
  4. Wilhelm’s Broken Isles Bijou (T/M) – $730,683,318
  5. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema (T) – $718,957,999
  6. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $713,564,058
  7. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $709,656,758
  8. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $692,287,564
  9. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex (T) – $649,887,439
  10. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite (T) – $648,420,783
  11. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $631,202,778
  12. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $624,668,871
  13. Kraut Screens (T) – $621,497,319
  14. I HAS BAD TASTE (T) – $620,635,638
  15. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $611,433,939
  16. Joanie’s Joint (T) – $607,452,721
  17. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $605,523,895
  18. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes (M) – $560,141,308
  19. The Bean Movie Burrito (T) – $269,262,872

While Ben and Corr stayed locked in combat for the top spot, with Corr gaining no ground this week, the rest of the standings were stirred up a bit.  Pak, in tight contention with Aure and Biyondios last week for third place, did well enough to pull away from his rivals while I, hoping last week to even be in contention for third place, managed to follow Pak up the ladder a bit.

Now we are past the half way point of the season with just six weeks left to go and all the big holiday releases behind us.  Just the grim gray of January and February remain.  Will there be enough action in the box office to allow anybody besides Corr vie with Ben for first place?

The week eight lineup looks like this:

Jumanji              $290
12 Strong            $251
The Post             $209
The Greatest Showman $156
Paddington 2         $110
Den of Thieves       $94
The Commuter         $90
Star Wars            $85
Insidious            $74
Proud Mary           $65
Phantom Thread       $52
Darkest Hour         $47
Pitch Perfect 3      $45
I, Tonya             $40
Coco                 $34

Molly’s Game, Ferdinand, and The Shape of Water all fell off the list as did the Best of the Rest option.

In their place we have new on the screen 12 Strong, Den of Thieves, and Phantom Thread as well as the return of I, Tonya, which ended up being the Best of the Rest filler last week.

But in that list there are no huge stand outs for anchor.  Jumanji remains on top mostly by virtue of nothing else big having come along to cast it down.  12 Strong has Chris Hemsworth, which means we’ll have to at least watch it on video at home at some point, but I am not sure how big of a box office draw the somewhat obscure war story will be.  And after that only The Post and The Greatest Showman seem viable as anchor choices and I don’t really like either for this week.

For the first time since it opened Star Wars is no longer a viable anchor, being too cheap at this point, so it is now an expensive mid-pack filler.

As happened last week, there is no nice cheap $13 fillers if you go overboard on your anchor, so you can go with three screens of Jumanji without leaving a screen empty.  Maybe Den of Thieves will surprise, though they don’t have a big name besides 50 Cent as a draw, while Phantom Thread seems to be more art house Oscar bait than something with significant mass appeal.

And with everybody back at school or back at work, and no holidays in sight save for Valentine’s Day on the horizon, it seems like it will be a weak week at the box office overall.  A good weekend to stay home and binge on Netflix.  I know we have the first season of Outlander to finish up.

A Bit More Bag Space with WoW Patch 7.3.5

I do not write about World of Warcraft patch updates the way I do the ones that come for EVE Online.  Maybe the changes, or the game itself, doesn’t mean as much to me, or maybe the changes in New Eden have more impact.

But this patch is different.  This one has a few items in which I am interested.  And, at the top of the list is something they mentioned in passing back at BlizzCon, that people who have an authentication scheme hooked up to their accounts will get a boost in the size of their default bag.

This grain of sand has been an irritant to many, that one bag slot has been eternally locked in at 16 slots.  It was a fine situation as recently as 2007, but certainly since Wrath of the Lich King and the advent of 20 slot player crafted bags, being stuck with that one sixteen slot bag has felt like a bit of a cruel joke.  I’m busy filling up the bank storage on alts with 30 slot bags, but I still have that 16 slot bag mocking me in slot number one.

So now Blizzard could turn that grain of sand into a pearl, to complete the metaphor I started a paragraph back.  Now they could make us all rejoice rather than grouse and glare at that archaic sixteen slot.

So imagine my reaction to this line in the patch notes:

Accounts protected by an Authenticator and Blizzard SMS Protect gain four extra backpack slots.

Four slots?  That’s it?  We now get a 20 slot bag instead of a 16 slot bag?  Did I mention how many 30 slot bags I have on hand already?

Plenty of 30 slot bags on hand since Draenor

Color me a bit disappointed at the paucity of this size increase.  If Blizzard wants to play the nostalgia card, 2009 bag sizes is not the way to go about it.  Or 2007 bag sizes if you want to count the Harris Pilton Gigantique bag from Burning Crusade.  The game is littered with larger bags, none of which you can put in that first bag slot.  Ugh!

I won’t grouse too much.  My main is literally hauling around so much stuff of late that four slots actually matters.  But don’t expect me to be too thankful given my overflowing supply of 30 slot bags.  I should have known Blizzard was off the mark when it came to bag size when they threw away the name “portable hole” on a 24 slot bag.

Anyway, enough of that.

Also part of the patch is something else I have had my eye on, which is the expanded zone level scaling.  Zones throughout World of Warcraft will now scale, withing set parameters, so you need not worry about out-leveling a zone you want to finish… at least not as quickly as before.

The basic story, which I am stealing from the Icy Veins post, is:

  • All starting zones scale up to level 10.
  • World of Warcraft Vanilla (Eastern Kingdoms & Kalimdor) scales up to level 60.
  • At level 58, players can choose between Outland or Northrend (capped at level 80).
  • At level 80, players can choose between Cataclysm or Pandaria (capped at level 90).
  • Zones still have a minimum level requirement.
  • Dungeons also scale
  • Quest rewards scale up to your level.

Further details, like the zone listing and minimum level requirements for specific zones are part of that post (or this one at Blizzard Watch which also has the dungeon levels) .

Why am I interested in that?  Well, on my long Azeroth “to do” list there are entries about running through some expansions on the Horde side of the world.  I’ve already done post-Cataclysm 1-60 and most of The Burning Crusade as Horde, but would like to run through Wrath of the Lich King and Mists of Pandaria on that side of the divide as well.  Being able to go straight to Northrend at 58 will be a big help, as will being able to spend 22 levels there.  I have a level 57 orc hunter ready to go on that front.

On the other hand, I am not sure how this will play out for anybody coming to the game for the first time.  There are still people who do that.  My daughter is trying to recruit a dungeon group from some of her friends, most of whom have never played WoW or any other MMORPG. (Still a niche market.)

This does change the nature of the leveling experience yet again and I am not sure if the freedom of action as to which zones you can play through will have enough structure to it to keep people on track.  But then the old “if you are level n to n+5 you must be in zone x!” system wasn’t always that great either, and Blizz has gotten better at telling you where you ought to go and all that.  We’ll see.  The only thing I know for sure is that somebody will hate the change because somebody always hates every change.

In addition to zone and dungeon scaling, all dungeons now use the “personal loot” option, where you no longer roll for loot… or have a master looter… instead the game picks people from the group at random and gives them a loot drop appropriate to their class and spec.  Again, I am sure somebody will hate this.

And with dungeon scaling all holiday dungeon events will now be available for anybody level 20 and up.  I will have even more shots at the headless horseman’s mount this year.

I was interested to see that, as part of this, Blizz also decided to simplify the whole “I have to buy yet another flying skill” issue by rolling all the simple, level gated flying options into the Expert Flying skill.  With that you’re good to go, no more Cold Weather Flying and what not.  You still need achievements for Draenor and the Broken Isles, but that unlock is account wide, so if you main has it you’re good with any alts.

With all of that there is also now Ulduar Timewalking and some achievement changes related to that, some class tweaks, a new battleground, updates to the S.E.L.F.I.E. toy (while some other toys have had their ability to cause other players to take actions restricted), and a new WoW Legion quest line that will take you to Silithus.

So that is another WoW update.  You can peruse the patch notes yourself and find analysis on all the sites that cover WoW.

I am still waiting for them to fix the spiral ramp up to the flight master in Thunder Bluff to stop it from dismounting you, the way they fixed that stretch in Stormwind that used to do the same when you were riding to the flight master, but I suspect my waiting for that will be in vain.

This being a WoW patch with some significant changes, other people in the neighborhood are also discussing it and what it portends.

Addendum: Bag space upgrade confirmed.

Four more slots

I want more, but I’ll take four.

Moving to the Nintendo 2DS XL

My big Christmas gift this year from my wife was a Nintendo 2DS XL.  I mentioned this unit previously as it seemed an attractive addition to the Nintendo handheld family.

The 2DS XL

The word “New” in the “New Nintendo 2DS XL” indicates, in one of those confusing naming schemes, that the unit is part of the current generation of Nintendo 3DS hardware that includes several upgrades, including new controls, Amiibo support, and an upgraded CPU, the last being a key selling point for me. (Also, it should not be confused with the slab-like Nintendo 2DS, a different beast entirely.)

This unit replaced my old, first generation Nintendo 3DS XL.

The buttons I was missing on my older unit

The first of the “New” generation of 3DS hardware showed up on our shores back in 2015 and I have been eyeing them since the latest generations of the Pokemon series… and all I ever really played on my Nintendo handhelds over the years is Pokemon… started to seem like too much for the older processor.  Load times, scene transitions, and points during the story when there was a lot going happening on screen were noticeably slowed down.

This has actually been the case since Pokemon X & Y, so I started to consider the new hardware once it was announced, but really stuck out with Pokemon Sun & Moon.  However, my Pokemon playing tends to be a seasonal thing… I play for a few months, finish up the Pokedex, then stop until the bug hits me again or a new release shows up.

However, the new New 2DS XL seemed liked a good point to finally make the upgrade.  The 2DS XL has all the stuff of the “new” generation, lacking only one thing, 3D support and, frankly, 3D is a very minor gimmick with Pokemon titles.  The 3D slider on my 3DS XL was set to “off” probably in excess of 99% of the time.  Meanwhile the price of the 2DS XL was a good $50 less than the same generation 3DS XL.  For $50 I was quite willing to give up 3D support.  So it was on my wish list and showed up for Christmas.

Of course, once I had it I had to move everything from my old 3DS XL to the new 2DS XL.  Nintendo has a few options for that, one involving simply moving the SD card from the old unit to the new.  However, my old 3DS uses a standard size SD card while the “New” generation uses micro SD cards, so that swap wasn’t an option.

Furthermore, as I quickly found out, I had upgraded the SD card on my old unit to a 32GB model, the largest officially supported by Nintendo, and have used up a chunk of the space by purchasing a few titles, including the new Pokemon UltraMoon, from the online Nintendo shop, so they are stored locally rather than being on a cartridge.

The 2DS XL however not only had a micro SD card (SD card in my DS?), but the factory default size was a meager-in-2017 4GB in size.  I remember seeing my first 1GB hard drive back in 1990 and it was the size of a cinder block, so sometimes I have to check myself when I complain that 4GB is “small.”  Anyway, I had to order a 32GB micro SD for the 2DS XL.

Once that arrived I set it up and started the big transfer.  I decided to do it over Wifi because that seemed to require the least intervention on my part which meant, I hoped, the least chance of me screwing anything up.

There is a built-in process that allows you to do the transfer, you just have to setup the sending and receiving systems, get them in sync, and kick off the process.

The two units warming up…

The first attempt failed… though not because the time was an hour off on the units.  Something timed out on the first attempt and it punted the process.  However, on the second attempt things seemed to get connected correctly.

Of course, because it is Nintendo, there has to be a cute progress graphic.  In this one little people “build” the progress milestones.

Building our way to the 25% mark

After that seemed to be going, I went off to watch a movie with my wife.  Of course, because it the transfer was happening over Wifi and involved gigabytes of data it took a while, running out to the three hour mark easily.

Working on the 75% milestone a couple hours later

It is definitely a process you don’t want to sit around and watch or set in motion when you have a time constraint.  And clearly it is something to do with the power supply plugged in on both units.

In the end however, the transfer was successful.  All of my applications and user information was moved over successfully.  The process then wipes the old devices, so you don’t have double versions of things, and then you are done.

After that was done I finally got to try out the unit and I have mostly good things to say about it.

It is fast, noticeably so compared to the old unit, and is physically much lighter as well.  The screens are good, the case is easier to grip than the slick surface or the original design.  I really only have two gripes after using it for a couple weeks now.

First, and the more minor of the two, is the cartridge slot.  That slot has traditionally been uncovered and on the back of DS units since at least the Nintendo DS Lite.  On the 2DS XL it is on the front left of the unit under a very cheap feeling cover.  I suspect that if I changed cartridges often that the cover would break sooner rather than later.  It is really a flimsy piece on an otherwise solid unit.  Fortunately, I don’t swap cartridges all that often.

The second gripe is about the new stylus that comes with the unit, which is smaller than the one on the 3DS XL.  I have big hands, so it took me a while to get used to the old stylus.  Swapping that out for an even stubbier little stylus is a bit of a pain.  And given that this comes up in every review of the unit I’ve seen, I suspect I am hardly alone in being unhappy with this change.

Also, because even the old stylus is a bit small, I’ve lost a couple over the years, so I bought a bag of 20 replacements a while back which work with the new unit, but which do not fit into the stylus slot.  I can use my grandfather’s bottle opener strategy out on the farm, where he made sure there was one within reach of any place he might want to open a beer.  I have enough left in my supply to put one or two near any location where I play.  I just have to worry about them getting swept up or stolen by the cats.

Other than that I have found the unit to be an excellent replacement for my old 3DS XL and would recommend it as a possible path forward for anybody on the older hardware who didn’t care about the 3D feature.  It certainly satisfies my Pokemon playing needs.

Honest Trailers – Kong Skull Island

I love Honest Trailers, but this one is a special one as they get the director, Jordan Vogt-Roberts, in on the act and have him list out what he thinks is wrong with the movie.

 

Also, I almost never watch Honest Trailers unless I have already seen the movie… so I’ve seen Kong: Skull Island… and it’s not so bad.  I mean, it is a monster movie, so you can’t take it too seriously, but it was a perfectly fine Friday night on the couch film.

Happy Fifteenth Trogday

It was 15 years ago today, over at Homestar Runner, that Strong Bad email #58 introduced the character of Trogdor the Burninator.

The Homestar Cast

Back in those days, before YouTube was a thing, the now dying and soon to be dead Flash format was all the rage and the whole Homestar Runner site was created in it.  Now you have likely have to activate the Flash plug-in to see any of that and probably cannot see it at all on your mobile device.

But back then, in the dark days before YouTube, Flash was the shit for movies and games on the web.

Fortunately the Homestar team has moved much of their work over to YouTube, including Strong Bad #58.  (They also still produce new content, like the latest entry in the Dangeresque series.)

Now you too will be able to draw a dragon.

In celebration I am wearing my now somewhat aged Trogdor T-shirt today.  Meanwhile the Brothers Chap have converted the Trogdor Flash game over to HTML 5 so you can give that a try.

For those too young or who missed it back in the day, the Homestar Runner Wikipedia entry… or the Homestar Runner Wiki, because the internet will obsess about anything and everything… are there to aid your journey.

And if you are in or around Decatur, Georgia today there is an event to celebrate Trogday.

Keep on burninating!