Archive for December, 2010

The Pig Girl, Part 14

30 Dec

It was Douglas and Richard’s last day inside the old rationing station, and that was difficult to comprehend. The powder drum had run dry years ago, the water tasted rusty and odd, and as far as space and insulation went, there were probably better buildings on that block alone. But even with all of that considered, it was home. It was where they’d been holed up for four years, and you can’t spend four years in the worst place on the planet without it growing on you a little, and vice versa. They’d left their mark on it—their scratches and notes on the walls, their fortifications on the windows—blocking them all, so that nothing prowling around outside could see in without difficult–their smoking rack against the wall, and their modest library in the old, disconnected ovens. It was a little cramped, but it was still a home. They even kept the floors clean.

As they packed the bag with food and books, cleaning out cabinets and boxes, neither Douglas nor Richard said anything. But they both felt it. It was a raw, sweet, sad kind of feeling neither had thought they would ever feel again.

Richard was the last one to finish preparing, and broke the silence.

“Right, I guess that’s about it.”

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29 Dec

If I’m to be fully relaunching my Unfit for X-COMmand series, I’m going to end up LiveStreaming the show on a weekly basis, which means I’m going to want to pin down a broadcast time. That’s why I’m asking you guys, a little tentatively, what the best time for you to sit down and watch the show would be.

A few guidelines:

  • I’m running on Pacific Time, so remember to factor that in if you live in–for example–Stockholm.
  • I cannot broadcast Monday or Friday evening.
  • If I were to record on weekdays, I would have to roll at either late afternoon or evening.
  • I’m not going to do the show too late my time, because I’m already dealing with personal incompetence on an appalling scale, and don’t want to see what horrors fatigue will bring down on my crew’s head.
  • Each recording session will last for probably thirty minutes.

Also, keep in mind that I’ll still be posting up a Blip version, so don’t be counting on the Stream won’t be your only chance to see the show.


The Cyrodiil Look: Cahmel’s New Travels (Let’s Play Oblivion, Part 15)

28 Dec

When we last left our royal hero, he was storming off the job for the second time that day. It’s probably a little too much to ask that my job make sense, but if I’m going to put up with the usual military-grade Bethesda frothing nonsense (“frothsense”), I better be getting paid more money than I could scrape up redeeming empty potion bottles. Getting paid peanuts to prop up and jiggle a terminally ill economic model is not my idea of a rewarding adventurer career.

So, what now? So far, the institutions of Cyrodiil have managed to ruin stealing things, fighting people, and gambling—that leaves me with drug use and public nudity, and the last time I tried to make a career out of those two things, seven towns ended up issuing a shoot-on-sight order. No, you know what? Screw it. I’m going the teenage bum route and putting off getting a job until I’ve “traveled the world,” or at least those parts of the world no further than a balmy jog from the nearest McDonalds. There are still plenty of towns I haven’t seen yet, which means there’s a nonzero possibility that there’s some place, some misty, hidden valley, where the ladies don’t look like sourdough sculptures of Andy Rooney.

So, there we have it, then. My new goal is to start wandering around the cities, towns, and hamlets of this great country, searching with a careful eye and a patient soul until I discover my purpose. In this instance, “my purpose” can be taken to mean “a place that serves alcohol.”

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The Pig Girl, Part 13

25 Dec

Bad news is, the Pirates of the Burning Seas video turned out to be completely unusable. As it turns out, FRAPS didn’t record the Skype call, or, for some reason, the game audio. Or my microphone. I’ll find some way to make Jibar make it up to you next week make it up to you.

Leader awoke a little at a time, taking in consciousness like breath. The room was quiet and dark; if he lay still and didn’t open his eyes, he could keep the echoes of his dreams trapped inside his skull, there until they became too faint to understand. Leader was in no hurry to get up. There was nothing out there that wouldn’t wait for him.

When he was good and ready, when he’d slotted each and every thought into its proper place, he pulled himself up off the carpet. Still barefoot, he crossed the ruined, patchy floor, sometimes trodding on something rough or sharp hidden in the shadows. When that happened, he’d stop and grind his foot into it a little harder. He barely felt anything; he’d developed calluses tough as bone on his feet and hands.

There wasn’t much to look at outside the window. It wasn’t even dawn yet, and the window faced an alley anyway. Nothing in the alley but soiled paper and animal carcasses, most of them long since decayed.

A glance outside the room revealed that most everyone else was still asleep. Pipe Wrench was curled up nearby, so close that Leader almost struck him when he swung the door open. Bare Hands’ bag was empty, but she was nowhere to be seen.

Leader shut the door.

Time for some breakfast. This consisted, as per usual, of jerky. Leader wasn’t sure what today’s piece was made of; he threw it all into the same bag, and when left to sit together, it all ended up tasting the same anyway. It tasted good, though; smoky, sweet, hearty. He ate it slowly, tearing off small pieces at a time. It was better than powder on its worst day. The drink was even better: whiskey, little enough so that the bottle would last, little enough so that it wouldn’t affect his thinking. He took a small sip from the bottle, then poured a little into his half-finished skullcup, for comparison. The drink taken from the skull did taste differently—a little bit like hair. Not what he’d have expected.

It was going to be a good day.

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Conversations from Jackasstown

24 Dec

(Be sure to check the new double-length Cahmel below.)

Tomorrow, I’m going to post a video of Jibar and my shenanigans in Pirates of the Burning Seas.

Pirates is something of an interesting MMO. From the name, concept, and genre, you get a host of expectations that are universally not positive. One would expect its creators to be a group of suits who jumped on the Pirates of the Caribbean bandwagon a couple years after it’d made the rounds, and the resultant product to be an ugly, barely-playable pastiche of pirate elements and whatever WoW’s doing these days aimed at sucking in people with lots of free time, bandwidth, and extra money to buy pets and other premium-account fluff. Instead, what you get is a game made by people who clearly care about authenticity, to the point where the biggest requirement for allowing custom flags, sails, and ships is not that they fit PG content requirements, but that they are representative of the period. Seriously, they won’t allow any flag designs that use too-bright colors, art styles that didn’t exist back then, or anything anachronistic, like dinosaurs. The creators of the game clearly care about the history and color of the setting. It’s a bit of a shame that the players really, really don’t.

The thing you need to know about Pirates of the Burning Seas is that it has a very in-depth character creator, like a naval-era City of Heroes. You can make Fu Manchu, you can make a cowboy looking dude, you can make a fop with a pinkish wig and a Van Dyke beard who wears a pork-pie hat and has a glass eye. When faced with this vast array of choices, pirate-side players inevitably let their creativity run wild and design their own brand-new, totally unique carbon copy of Captain Jack Sparrow. Sometimes it’s palette swapped, and sometimes, if you’re super lucky, you get a name that *isn’t* Jack Hawwk or Jack’s Sparrow, two names that I have actually seen while playing this game. Or sometimes you’ll get a girl–or someone piloting a female avatar–who’s usually just a generic pirate skank. One of the Antigua players who seems to crop up a lot is named Violet Ho. I think that’s Hawaiian.

Anyway, I’ve been screwing around with it. Like all free MMOs, the chat can get a bit…interesting. It seems to get a little smarter at night, which is actually when the upcoming exchange took place. I thought I’d share it as a sort of follow up on my old tales of squirrel vending in World of Warcraft–people seemed to respond pretty well to the chat log portions, so while I had this one lying in my screenshots folder, I figured I’d share it.

The context was that a slightly off-color joke was being made around one of the players, Cathy, who was in on and encouraging the thing. It was at that point that  someone decided they were superior as hell and weren’t going to take it anymore. This player was named Arthur Coonstun, for reasons I’d prefer not to explore. I won’t tell you my name; see if you can guess.

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A Cahmel Carol

24 Dec

(For those of you who’d like me to move on from making fun of the opium-logic hash that is Oblivion’s setting…well, I guess sorry about that.)

My opponent was going to kill me: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. He had made such a claim no less than three times during the bout’s duration, and was more certain each time, more determined to support his assertion with violence of the most exquisite quality. He had, as his taunts would have it, fought mudcrabs more fearsome than I.

Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly feeble about a mudcrab. I might have inclined, myself, to indicate a rat as the weakest monster in the trade. But the wisdom of Bethesda is in the comparison; and my unhallowed words shall not undermine it, or the LP’s done for.

Wait, actually, I guess that’s what I do here.

The mention of mocking Bethesda brings me back to my intended point. There is no doubt that Bethesda’s world is frequently illogical and strange. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing risible can come from the story I am going to relate. If we were not perfectly convinced that Dwarf Fortress was a hateful work of bastardry, then the Saga of Boatmudered would provoke only confusion. Similarly, it is necessary that you grasp Bethesda’s dementia before embarking upon the following tale.

I had fought long and hard against my opponent from the Yellow team, I wearing the uniform of the Blue team. Though his iterations of the same two insults were many, and his pathfinding was odd, and his blocking verged on the cheap and frustrating, it was I that was eventually victorious. It was a harsh battle, one that provoked much bloodletting on both fronts.

I had entered into an arena to battle an opponent sight-unseen, and had emerged, scarred and barely alive, as the sole survivor. We had both put our mettle to the test, as they say, and our metal besides. To be frank, my victory can be credited as much to chance as the strength of my sword-arm; I was not much eager to try such luck again.

Still, I had to return to the fightmaster, and in doing so, receive my well-earned profits for  the day’s brutality. I brought him news of my narrow victory; he rewarded me with jubilance, a slap on the back, and fifty gold coins.

“Fifty coins!” I cried. “Don’t you know that I had risked my very neck, sir? That was an affair of life and death, you cheap son of a bitch!”

“Be that as it may, that was but an entry-level bout. All new applicants receive only fifty gold coins in wages.”

“Fifty gold coins! It’s a wonder you have any fighters at all!”

“I do not follow,” he replied, a look of confusion upon his face.

“Then allow me to restate the issue, in a way your frail potato-mind can grasp.

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A Very Cahmel Christmas, Part 1

21 Dec

EDIT: Due in part to its length, and in part to showstopper glitches with the game, the next Cahmel Christmas will be up ASAP, probably tomorrow-like.

Cahmel the Red-Handed Raider

Cahmel the shiftless vagrant

Left his thieving asshat bros

Their economic model—

You would even say it blows

All of the other bagmen

Made him jump through lots of hoops

Just so they’d let poor Cahmel

In their inbred Thieves’ Guild loop

Then one fed-up afternoon

Cahmel came to say

“You know, you guys just ain’t that bright

I’m gonna go and pick a fight.

“I’m fed up with all you losers,

And how you make me prove my worth

I’m finding a new career path

Off your stupid Waterfront turf!”

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State of the Holiday Skarn

20 Dec

Haven’t done one of these here’s-what’s-gonna-happen-this-week things in a bit, as they’re just a smidge redundant, but since we’ve got Christmas week coming up I thought I’d give you an idea of what to expect. Obviously, since there’s the obligations of family, tradition, and good cheer to be observed, my update schedule will be affected not in the slightest.

As you may recall, Jibar mentioned that there would not be a JaR update this week, since he didn’t want to update on Christmas. Well, apparently I’m the Scrooge to his Cratchit, because I’ve got a shovelful of intermission-grade content to upload my own damn self. It won’t be Synergy, and it’ll be a bit on the short side, but you ought to enjoy it nonetheless. It’s got pirates in.

Anyway, that’s the skinny. I’d go into more detail, but there are some carolers on the lawn and I managed to get a couple firebombs through my parole officer’s last inspection.


Unfit for X-COMmand, Episode One

17 Dec

You have no idea what I had to do to get this video working, and if you’d like that state of affairs to continue, you have my full support and understanding. If it turns out that you would like my feverish self-flagellating midnight rant, just mosey right on to the next paragraph.

First, I had to install the codecs for the DOSBox recorded footage properly. Then I had to edit the video, which only took about ten minutes. Then I had to spend about fifteen minutes getting the Audacity audio synced with the video, largely because I hadn’t given much thought to how I’d do that back when I recorded the damn thing so I didn’t leave any obvious markers for myself, like a pattern of mouse clicks early in the video. Then I discovered that none of that Windows Movie Maker project file mess would actually turn into a real boy, on account of some unspeakable technicality of .avis.

The solution? Run the raw recording file through VirtualDub. Oh, after downloading VirtualDub. For this step, it’s very important not to look up some way to get a handle on output quality, so that way, you’re left with like a 10 gig file that runs slow as molasses.

So I plugged that puppy into WMM, then trimmed it up a bit. Then came the part where I synced the Audacity audio with it again…except this time–since this new .avi file doesn’t run cleanly–it took about an hour. Rest assured that this was the most fun hour in all of mankind’s recorded goddamned history.

So I turned that into a .wmv…and then discovered I’d accidentally turned the game sound off. And, because apparently this is my own personal Gross Incompetence* Celebration Day, I’d also accidentally deleted the massive video I’d pulled off VirtualDub, thus precluding me from making another, sound-enabled copy. I discovered this after about a half hour of searching and vague error messages, mind.

What I mean to say is, the first episode went off without a hitch. Very excited for everything to continue to go perfectly.

(There’ll be one or two more episodes yanked off this master recording, and then I’ll start streaming them as I do them.)

*Or, as I like to call it, X-COMpetence.


Double Video Fun Time

17 Dec

There are–will be–two updates today. Both will be videos, and both will appear in this space within the next 24 hours.

One of these–JaRtermission 2–is uploading as we speak, and will be added to this post as soon as I wake up. Actually, if you read this post at least three hours after I write it, there’s a good chance you can already find it right here on our channel page as the most recent video uploaded.

EDIT: And here it is, formal-like.

The other video is recorded, edited, and would be ready to go–if Windows Movie Maker wasn’t throwing up a glitch I’ve never seen before in all of my long, long experience of Windows Movie Maker throwing up glitches. This must be how Magellan felt. While he was being torn apart by poison spears.

The new video represents the first entry in the new series I was talking about, by the by. I’ll give you this hint as to what it is:  I suspect the problem lies with the way DOSBox records .avi files.

So, as of the time this post is written, all of today’s content is pending. Have a leering vagrant to wash the bitterness away.

Taste that bumleer.