Firestream.net

Just a blog.

TUESDAY - SEPTEMBER 2ND, 2014

'a barren wasteland' for iOS is free this month!

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This is a little text game I made a few months ago. I've decided to make the iOS version free for the month of September! It's a navigation based story with multiple endings. Check it out and let me know what you think!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/a-barren-wasteland/id865225071?ls=1&mt=8

SATURDAY - AUGUST 30TH, 2014

What a month! Change is coming.

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The past month goes down as one of the craziest months I think I've ever experienced. Everything that has happened has led to a change of jobs, something I'm extremely excited and ready for. At the same time, it's been very hard to leave my company of 9 years for something new. My thoughts and emotions have been all over the place for many weeks now, but things are finally settling down in there and change is coming. I'm going to really miss the group of people I work with, all of which are very talented and just plain awesome people.

Also, I'm back into gaming, something I did in fact attempt to 'quit' a month ago. Technically, I still haven't played any games for 38 days now, but that's not important. Basically, I have this thing where a lot of times I play a game, I think about stuff I could make for said game. That has led to many websites, apps and other projects, which is cool except that I end up starting a lot more than I can really handle. It took 'quitting' for a month to really understand that and see where my problem was. I'll admit, I feel foolish for the entire thing but am going to do my best to just laugh about it now.

My main projects, HaloSphere, LegacyStats and GalaxyWarfare are still running, and all are receiving updates again thanks to some awesome volunteers. None of my sites will be closing down, but my involvement in them will be minimal, at least for now. Once the dust settles I may attempt to get back involved in the sites I have.

TLDR: I temporarily went insane and got a new job.

SUNDAY - AUGUST 17TH, 2014

Garmin VivoFit mini review

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Well, I actually returned the Garmin VivoFit I had last night. I liked it for the most part, but it didn't feel 'worth it' ultimately. Here are my brief thoughts:
- very comfortable
- band comes loose very easily, giving me the feeling like I'd probably lose the thing eventually
- love that you don't have to charge it
- the 'lazy meter' fills up really fast. I guess that's a good thing, but for me it was staying full most of the day
- nearly impossible to read screen at night or in dark room, no backlight
- the Garmin App is really lacking compared to the competition
- you have to sync manually, which isn't a huge deal, but the price point of the device made that sting a little

In the end, it was too expensive for what it was. The entire thing felt like it shouldn't have cost more than $100, if even that. I like the idea of it more than the actual device.

THURSDAY - AUGUST 14TH, 2014

Fitbit Flex mini review

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I had a fitbit flex for 2 days. Not what I wanted, but here are my brief thoughts:
- very comfortable
- did quite a bit of tracking, probably the most of any fitness band out
- needed a screen very badly. I hated wearing something that didn't provide info on my wrist
- loved the silent alarms feature
- the companion app is pretty good, but I couldn't find a way to see friend stats for comparison from it

The bottom line was that I need a watch on something I wear on my wrist at the very least. Decided not to keep it for that reason. The fitbit force (which has a tiny screen) might come back out later on, but who knows.

Bama 2014 for iOS 3.1

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I updated Bama 2014 for iOS to include a searchable roster, thanks to @joescii. The app is 'in review' right now, so maybe it will get approved today sometime. Here's a screenshot of the new section:

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It's a free download on iOS:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bama-2014/id552802580?mt=8

MONDAY - AUGUST 11TH, 2014

Doorway Photography

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I've got a thing for doors, especially on old buildings or abandoned places. I've started trekking around where I live to start getting photos of cool old doorways. I'll be posting them on my once-dead tumblr account here and there as I get time to find them. There's a link to the left and the address is http://doorways.firestream.net

THURSDAY - AUGUST 7TH, 2014

Android 4.4.4 on Galaxy Nexus

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Got Android 4.4.4 running on a Galaxy Nexus. Sweet upgrade, best version of Android yet as far as I can tell. Ran into a few problems after the flash though, including some notification issues and home button not working. The fix was easy though, in my case. Just run the setup wizard again from adb. Command:

adb shell am start -n com.google.android.setupwizard/.SetupWizardTestActivity

WEDNESDAY - JULY 9TH, 2014

Introducing LegacyStats.com

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Long post, get ready! TLDR at bottom :)

Years ago (2007) I made a Halo stat tracking website called HaloCharts. It was a fun hobby project that turned into a pretty big website and community. It was a great ride and a lot of work, but ultimately had to close down in 2011 (for a number of reasons I won't get into). After nearly 3 years of dabbling in various other projects and websites, I've decided to build a new site in the same vein as HaloCharts, but with a few differences to keep things manageable.

Since HC's closing in 2011, I actually reopened the site twice in different ways. The first was just a forum that a few of the old HC regulars hung out at, but that only lasted a few months. Then about a year later it opened again in a more private, invite-only fashion that has been up and down with activity since then. I rebuilt a few things for Halo 4, including some basic stats and a signature maker. I also built a Halo Career tool that essentially went viral for a day and attracted some 30,000 people in 24 hours time. I've been torn on reopening HaloCharts in a more public way for about a year, essentially watching to see where Halo goes and what else is on the horizon, like Destiny.

At the same time, I actually created a Destiny site called Cult of Destiny, that was invite-only and really was a place for me to write some code that I'd been wanting to write. I started that site prematurely, around the time of the first Destiny leaks and didn't do much to really push it anywhere since it was built around a game that was 1.5 years away still. Hard to run a site on a game that isn't out! I bought a few other Destiny related domain names in the last year as well, really unsure on what I wanted to do and which game franchise I wanted to focus on.

Then it dawned on me to do something like HC, but not around any single game franchise. I attempted this once before, I think around 2010, called FPSCharts. It had some Halo stats and some Battlefield stats in a single place. It hosted a forum that got taken over by spammers too and was a big mess. I still felt like the idea was sound, but the execution failed. FPSCharts in name forced me to stay with FPS games, and at the time really limited me. So all of this has just been thoughts and ideas in my mind building up over time, but nothing was working out.

I really have to consider where I'm at with things in order to build something that is compelling and fun. If I'm not enjoying the work it takes to build something like a HaloCharts, then I will fizzle out and move to the next thing. A hobby has to be fun right? I felt like going with HaloCharts again or CultofDestiny could be fun in their own ways, but also essentially forces me to pick a game franchise and go all-in, which isn't how I operate anymore. I play a ton of different games, usually at the same time, and rarely do I finish a game. Nothing wrong with that, haha, but I know that in order to build something fun I need it to be flexible enough to allow me the freedom to work on what I feel like working on and not get bogged down with any one thing too much. Like I said, HC was awesome, but it was more work than I can describe. It was a 2nd full-time job without the pay.

With all that said, it was clear I need to build a website that focuses on more than just Halo or Destiny. Those games can have a lot of focus, but they can't be the only focus for what I'm wanting to make. Finding a good name was pretty hard, honestly, because just about every domain with the word game or play in it has been snatched up and usually just by a squatter. I went through hundreds of combinations before I found LegacyStats.com was available. I think it speaks to what I want to make clearly. A site to show your Gaming Legacy, with the inclusion of as many different games as possible (with at least basic stats for each). The second focus being more on Groups and Clans. HaloCharts had a strong group system, and I believe LegacyStats can have this, but even better. These 2 focuses can lead to a site that is easy to use and should be compelling to players of many different games out there. It can also act as a jumping off point to larger, more in-depth stats sites like BF4Stats, HaloTracker and DestinyTracker.

Lastly, the site will steer away from things that caused drama and extra work, the biggest of those being global leaderboards. There will be other sites that offer those for Halo and Destiny, so I don't feel the need to attempt to tackle them, especially for the number of games I hope to grab stats on. I'd like to believe LegacyStats can be a fun place to just come and hang out, talk about a lot of games, check out a lot of high-level stats and start a group or clan for whatever you're playing at the time.

So that's the history of where my head is at currently. I think the name is spot on, I'm happy with the logo and initial look and feel of the site. I would love to see LegacyStats work together with other gaming communities out there also, similar to what HaloUnity did (another site that I started but didn't work out). Time will tell!

http://legacystats.com

TLDR: HaloCharts is now LegacyStats, except different.

TUESDAY - JUNE 24TH, 2014

Destiny Shirt Design Desktops

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@spawnling had the idea! Enjoy!

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MONDAY - JUNE 23RD, 2014
TUESDAY - JUNE 10TH, 2014

My time so far in the Destiny Alpha

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Surprisingly last week, I was invited to play in the Destiny Alpha. The entire thing took me by surprise, so I want to thank my Bungie friends immensely for the opportunity (especially @Halcylon). The timing was perfect since I had just picked up a PS4 the weekend before.

So where do I begin? How do I even write about this game, what it's trying to do, where it's going and so on? It's been boggling my brain since I first picked up the controller to play it. I don't think I can write something that will go into huge amounts of detail about the various aspects of the game, but I do think I can write about how the game felt and how it made me think. It was a curveball for sure.

Every game nowadays seems to pretty much have a storyline, some main characters, etc, including a protagonist and an antagonist. There's a start and a finish, usually, and a lot of things to see and do on the way to the end. Destiny has these things too, but with one major difference, YOU. Destiny is all about the player, it's all about what YOU want to look like, what YOU want to do, where YOU want to go, how YOU want to play and so on. When the alpha starts, you are presented with a character creation tool with seemingly endless amounts of options, colors, etc. I spent a solid 30 minutes here just messing around with how I will look as I play. Even the cover of the box art illustrates that this game is what you make of it, it's your own Destiny to play. You may play the game completely different from somebody else. I'm looking forward to my own experience of the 'full' Destiny.

To further the customization aspects of the game and it's focus on you as a player, you'll quickly see that there is just an absolute ton of gear to find and earn. In about 6 hours of playing I had quite a few pieces I could switch between. I had whole bunch of guns too. You'll be loot hunting for a long time to come and all major pieces of the game work together to make the hunt for better gear a rewarding thing to do. I ended with some stuff I couldn't even wear thanks to the level cap (8) in the alpha.

The next thing I found to be quite clever is how you get around, from solo/coop play to The Tower to PvP. You simply fly there using your ship. When the full game ships, I would guess you have to earn the first ship, not sure, but in the Alpha you start with one. I could go to Old Russia, The Tower and The Crucible (PvP). If you're by yourself you only see your ship. If you're in a fireteam, you see their ships too. It's a pretty cool animation and it does vary based on where you're heading. I hope that there's a tad more interaction in it down the road, but it's the coolest loading screen you've seen. It does make things feel seamless as you don't end up having to traverse through menus too much to figure out where you want to go.

The game handles wonderfully. The controls are tight, not surprisingly. The guns are awesome. The skills you earn based on your class are awesome. The combat and AI seem really good. The difficulty is somewhat on the easy side, but let it be known you can explore to a point where you get yourself in trouble. I found this out as I went down too deep in Old Russia and was immediately killed. There's an endless number of quests you can do down on Earth, all of which vary from cleaning out enemies to finding computer data. I've played against a couple "bosses" that were very challenging. While you're doing these things you might run into a Public Event which are very fun. For me at least, I could wander around forever just looking at all there is to see.

The graphics were top-notch with a lot of variety. Same goes for the music, which I do hope can continue to be awesome in the future. The alien variety is great and we're only scratching the surface. Everything just felt really polished, from the UI to the game mechanics. Destiny seems to combine a lot of different games into one massive experience, with plenty of innovation as well. It feels like a cross between Borderlands and your typical MMO, like Final Fantasy XIV, with the gunplay of Halo and progression like Battlefield, or some strange hodgepodge of those games. It's got it's own personality though. The style of the game is something I've found to be great since the very first leaks oh so long ago.

The newest trailer sheds a little more light on the storyline than we've seen so far. The Alpha doesn't give you much story, besides quests really. It's a good taste of what we can expect when the game ships this fall. I'm pretty sold based on my time with the Alpha.

If you're looking for some PvP insight, check out Obi Wan Stevobi's writeup:
http://www.bungie.net/en/Forum/Post?id=65325489