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All about news and updates of the (MMO)RPG games I play and general news that I deem important enough

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Preparations for streaming foing well
23 May 2015
Posted in General

The last couple of days I've been making preparation for the streaming schedule starting next Wednesday. And while I'll start with only 2 hours on one day a week, the preparations I've made are aimed to expand when my schedule allows it (read: when hospital visits are less frequent).

The first couple of days I mainly tested the stability of the stream and maximum quality I could establish on 720p. From the looks of it that's all okay now, though one thing still remains and that's keeping the stream open on one of the monitors locally. I have no problem watching some one else's stream for hours, but the moment I have my own stream open in any of the browsers on my system it just hangs after a while. The only solution I have found to get around this is by using the 'pop out' function in the FireFox browser. Perhaps it's time to upgrade the DLS line I have afte rall..?

Then the hardware issues, and those were odd ones. First off, when using the Creative Soundblaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Champion's front panel, both the headphones and microphone created a lot of noise. This happened yesterday after I bought a clip-on microphone (the Sennheiser headset I ordered is no longer available ) and gave it a test. After playing around for a couple of hours with driver settings, sound settings (and those are a lot with that card ) I figured to open up the PC case and see if there was something weird. And I was right to open up the PC case. The cables that go from the Soundblaster card to the frontpanel (which are way too long I might add) were lying on the GPU. No wonder that both the headphones and microphone had so much interference. After lifting them up all interferance was gone!

Last but not least, the most important thing to troubleshoot: the streaming software. As I mentioned before, I'm using OBS for streaming and the software is just running GREAT. But the troubleshooting comes to the stuff I'll be streaming. Just plain streaming is no problem at all, but when I want to be heard when speaking through the microphone and I want to have the option to add music played by an internet radio station. The trick here is to get the volumes well balanced where none is over shouting the other while I can speak normal and you can hear me. After dozens of tries by recording all those sounds locally it seems to be working.

Then my twitch channel itself. I have added (or rather replaced) 5 link images there, all in the same artstyle as the blog. The one you might wonder about is the 'Support the stream' one. While streaming dost cost money, I will donate half of the support to charity. The main charity I will donate to is Stichting Zwerfdier (a stray cat shelter in my town where I work as volunteer), but I'm open for suggestions from you as well.

The only thing left to do is make some more artwork for things that happen during the stream. New followers and donations are shown in the stream and I'm still using it's 'default' notification art for it. I will make something similar to the art on the channel for it later on as well.
And there's also a donation ticker I want to add to the stream. I'm not sure if I'll make one myself or will look for a program that already exists. The good thing to make something myself is that I can make it do whatever I want it to. On the other hand, why invent the wheel again when it's already done? Perhaps first see what's available before I decide to make something myself..?

I hope to see you on my stream coming Wednesday. I'll start off with Pillars of Eternity in Iron Man mode which might be very interesting to watch. Bets are on for what level I'll reach with it

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Tales of Symphonia 2nd seal
21 May 2015
Posted in PlayStation

I haven't played Tales of Symphonia for a while thanks to that boss of the 2nd seal (which is labeled as very hard by most players) and because I was playing Star Ocean: The Last Hope when I was playing on the PlayStation 3. Today I picked up Tales of Symphonia again because I so desperately wanted to get past that boss. While fighting I decided to record the battle so I could show how I did it.

Before I laid Tales of Symphonia aside I already tried to beat this boss for a dozen times at least and obviously without any success. This was a month ago for sure. When I picked it up again today I tried with my original party to no avail. The walk trough suggests to take Lloyd, Colette, Kratos and Genis and leave Raine out of the party (though she's an excellent healer). It also tells me to get enough apple and orange gels with me (30% HP and MP regen) and I also had 5 life bottles (resurrection) with me. In all fights I ran out of life bottles and apple gels, which kinda made it a party wipe in the end. I also tried a lot of parties including Kratos, but somehow he's a lasy ass that sticks to healing (even if Raine is set to healing amd Kratos to damage) and that didn't work either. Not to mention, his healing powers totally suck compared to Raine

In the end I gave a party of Lloyd, Colette (as the walkthough stated no choice for her ), Raine and Genis a try. I set Lloyd's EX skills to taunt and tough, basically making him the tank of the party, while Collette and Genis were set to do burst skill usage and Raine set to pure healing. This party setup really paid off, with only Collette to die once because of that massive water AoE that this boss does. I did use a lot of gels though to keep Raine alive (somehow she forgets to heal herself most of the time) and keep the MP of both Raine and Genis up so they could keep using their skills.

I know I said I decided to record the battle, and after half a dozen tries I finally had that lucky 7th battle that succeeded with the above party. Sadly though I totally forgot to record this battle and I don't have the footage to show you

Now that I've defeated this boss and have released the 2nd seal I'll be playing Tales of Symphonia a bit more again. Not alone because I want to play through the game itself, but also because from this game on I have all other games in the Tales series and I want to play them in order. Okay, I gotta admit that Tales of Rebiirth and Tales of the Abyss are not completely legal (ISOs for the emulator), but I will try to get them for PSP and PS2 legally as well...

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Today's hospital appointment
20 May 2015
Posted in About me

An other week, and other appointment at the hospital. Today the gastrointestinal doctor was up to see if she can determine the cause of my B12 deficiency. She also had access to the bloodresults which the reumatologist requested and she she could almost certainly rule out gluten allergy. And having the blood works available, the B12 serum in my blood was off the scale: >4400 - the hospital's lab couldn't get a higher value There was also a 'red' result for one of my kidney functions (kinda forgot which it was, but I'll hear that next week from the reumatologist) which was requested because of that low 24-hour urine cortisol level.

I have asked around about that extremely high B12 serum value, and it's no problem at all. Any excess B12, like most vitamins, just leaves the budy through urine, but that does mean that the kidneys have to be able to filter it out of the blood (hmm.... one warning value on my kidneys, hope it's not the one related to filter out B12 from my system). But once again, I'll hear about it next week and will see (hear actually) what the values mean and how to go further (which is most likely wait for the follow up appointments from the 2 specialists I've visited today and last week).

Okay, then the gastrointestinal doctor's appointment. She took the low B12 score very serious (unlike the neurologist last week). As said, she ruled out gluten allergy as a cause because that's not been found in the blood works. There are however a couple of other reasons that can cause the B12 deficiency and she starts at the top of them (thank God - the bottom would mean an anal examination ). But the oral examination won't be a fun one either though. I'll have to 'swallow' a tube with a camera at the end so they can peek inside my stomach and my duodendum and they will take some biopts then as well...

The appointment for this examination could be done June 2nd. But for once I asked if it could be set on a later date, so that I could have it when I had to go to the hospital for a neurological appointment. Luckily that was possible and now the appointment is set on June 15th in the early morning.

And speaking of appointments to the hospital... The hospital is in Amsterdam and I live in Alkmaar. Though it's 'only' a rough 50km away, it takes a lot of time and money for me to go there. First off time: I travel by train and metro (in Amsterdam) because I don't have a driver's license AND parking is a huge issue almost everywhere, making the trip more expansive than public service to start with. For me the trip costs between 12,50 and 18,50 (depending on the time I travel - I have a 40% discount card for the train after 9am). These travel expenses are not covered by ANY health insurance, unless I take the most expensive one and that'll cost me an estimated 300/year extra. It's a good thing I own a house and can subtract the travel expenses from my income at the end of the year...
Secondly time. And that's even less a bigger issue than traveling by car. A single trip takes me about an hour. If I'd go by car I'd take me about the same time, but in a car (even on the passenger's seat) I just can't travel relaxed. In the train I can sit back on those pretty comfy chairs and doze off with my favorite music playing on the MP3-player.

For now I think I'm pretty appointment free until half June. Then all hell breaks loose again and I have 4 appointments already, not counting the follow up from the reumatologist...

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Getting the hang of Might & Magic: Duel of Champions
20 May 2015
Posted in Computer games

I'm still very happy with that Humble Might & Magic Bundle that I bought early this month. Though I'm not overly playing the Might & Magic adventures and Hero games, I am pretty active in the Duel of Champions card game that came with the bundle.

In the mean time I have bought a couple of packs and special cards from the sales rewards I had from the G2A goldmine (it's finally been added to my account after all that time) and I have added an extra 28 to buy 2 booster packs of the latest expansion. I know... They're virtual cards and it's a lot of money to waste, but the same can be told for a lot of DLC of a lot of games or the monthly subscription to MMORPGs. I enjoy the game enough to warrant a 28 purchase for a 'free2play' game.

I have played Magic: the Gathering for a couple of years back in the late '90s and loved it! With the experience of building decks I had back then, I'm making my current decks. Though Duel of Champions is about getting your opponent down (or under) 0HP, I like to make massive decks (I did that with M:tG as well ). And right now I'm playing with an 'Academy' deck that's very slow and pretty passive aggressive, making the games take pretty long to resolve. Below are the final turns of what's so far my longest game - 19 FREAKING TURNS!

Of course, a 'passive aggressive' deck also can take a lot shorter and do a lot more damage, whish is what I experienced this morning. This game only lasted 11 turns (showing the last 2 of them in the video) and ended with a BIG BANG.

Oh yeah, I loose a lot with that Academy deck as well, but so far I'm at a 2 out of 3 win rate with the deck. Not to mention, it pisses off a lot of players because it takes an average of 25 minutes to play through the game

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Upgrade VDSL for upload speed?
18 May 2015
Posted in General

We currently have a 32Mbps down and 3.2Mpbs up VDSL speed. This is a bit higher than our actual speed should be (30/3) but I'm not complaining. With our house being around 500 meters away from the street's distribution point, we should theoretically be able to hit around 38Mpbs down as maximum speed. That speed can only be obtained from the next speed tier our ISP offers and that's 50/5.

And that 50/5 speed is kinds tricky. Everywhere you look for information about VDSL and maximum speeds you only see information about download speeds, while for me upload speed at the moment is more important if I'll start streaming on a regular basis. I know fiber (50/50 minimum) should be a solution,  but in our city (Alkmaar, close to 100K citizens) there's not fiber available (yet) because it's a bit out of the regular route of the big cities

So today I contacted my ISP with the question if I'll upgrade to 50/5, what would happen to the upload speed. And as expected, the service representative I spoke to didn't know the answer to that. Yes, she knew that the distance from the distribution point to our house would influence the maximum download speed (40Mpbs I heard - guess they upgraded the cables and connections a bit?), but download speed? That kinda beats her  She was very helpful though and tried to contact technical support instead but she couldn't get through. As a final alternative she decided to ask her supervisor, and there an answer came.

When I upgrade to 50/5, the maximum upload speed that can be managed is the same as the maximum download speed (40Mpbs in my case). With the ISP capping the upload speed to 5Mpbs, it should be no problem at all for me to hit 5Mpbs. I even could get speeds up to 8Mpbs upload because that's the maximum that my ISP allows as upload speed And with me having 3.2Mpbs instead of 3, I guess I could hit 5.5Mpbs or so when I'd upgrade...

Next I'll have to talk to my son and wife though about this upgrade. It's not the raise in monthly subscription being a problem (only 4 extra), but more see if and how my upcoming streaming schedule will affect the regular use of our internet in general. Though the 5.5Mpbs would allow me to stream on 720p without a problem, if either of them (and most likely my son) starts using the upload bandwidth as well, there still might be a problem while streaming...

For now I'll get started with streaming on the 3.2Mpbs we have right now and see how things will turn out. After all, I'm planning to stream when my son is to school so it should not be a real biggie. If at any rate the stream will be a bit unstable I think I'd have to upgrade for sure. Though I'd much rather have a fiber connection to my home, but I fear that'll take yet an other year (which they said last year as well...)

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Pillars of Eternity - Maerwald
17 May 2015
Posted in Computer games

My progress in Pillars of Eternity goes steady. Only a few deaths so far, and mostly because of my own fault (and now I'm so glad I don't play in Iron Man mode yet ). Going through Act 1 of the game I have to visit Maerwald in the ruins of Caed Nua. These ruins once were a prosperous village but after two wars it's become the ruin it is today. Under the ruins of the main house of the village are the dungeons where Maerwald should reside. Going in there triggers one after an other spirit telling their stories of long past.

Then you finally meet Maerwald. Well, finally..? Having Mechanics 3 it was hard not to open the door and take a peek. Behind it, Maerwald is and he's not quite himself. After a long conversation with him (or very short if you decide to rush through the valuable dialogue ) he turns on you and below is my encounter with him...

Yes, I clearly was way too early in his room. He kinda was able to wipe most of my party with one blow (didn't see it coming either - good lesson for the next time), and my damage to him was a bit too low as well...

After a restore and restart I decided to skip him for now and first go through the whole dungeon ahead. Though it's still a pretty tough dungeon, so far I'm managing to survive it. Though I did have to setup camp to heal a bit. Some of the spiders and beetles in the dungeon really can get to you...

I'm still very happy to have bought this game from the money I had for my birthday. It certainly is worth every cent spent! With that, the current game is now running for 5 hours and I have enjoyed every minute of it - it's been way too long a RPG could get me focused on it!

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Yesterday's hospital appointment
16 May 2015
Posted in About me

Yesterday I once again had an appointment in the VUmc in Amsterdam. This was a follow-up appointment with a neurologist after the appointment I had nearly 2 months ago with the reumatologits.

First thinsg first - the intake. His first remark about the 114 value of my B12 being "That's not so bad" kinda set the tone on how I'm thinking about this doctor. He might be the best specialist of the neurological department there, but if he things that a 114 value of B12 is not that bad, he should do his homework again! This made me very happy that the neurologist (who acknowledges that 114 is way too low) sent me to him with a clear question.
Other parts of the intake also showed that this doctor doesn't know shit about B12 shortage. I said I was fatigues and was no longer working on my mail route because of the fatigue I experience and then he dares to ask me if I'm practicing sports - ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!?

Then the physical exam. Well, that went well. Reflex tests passed but all on a lowered scale, but at least the reflex was there. Then he took a closer exam of my feet (where the majorty of the pain I experience is) and he 'tickled' with a cottonswipe. To me that fealt like he put the edge of a knife under my feet and scratched it hard and that feeling was there will about half an hour after he did it.

That pain sensation on the light touch however did point to a possible nerve disorder (He mentioned it, something starting with ANA or AMA or ANE/AME but my memory is so bad on those things and I can't find it on the net either ) and for that he decided to let me undergo an electromyography (EMG). Basically they'll put electrodes under my feet and this way they can see what's possebly wrong with the nerve ends in my feet and why I'm experiencing pain instead of tickling. And this exam basically was why the reumatologist sent me to this doctor in the first place.

Sadly though, because the VUmc is a big-ass hospital, they have as big-ass schedule problems. Therefor the EMG can't be done before June 15th, well, it could on June 10th, but that was around 8.30 which means I have to rise extremely early to get there (around 90 minutes by train/metro if I don't miss anything). And with the pain in my feet rising over the day I thought that was not an option, and thus the later one on the 15th was made (at 11am BTW). The next Friday (June 19th), I have to go to the hospital again for the results and see how further...

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Starting streaming schedule
13 May 2015
Posted in General

I'm gollowing Geek Gamer Girl on twitch and yesterday evening we (most people watching) were discussing starting to stream on twitch and how to attract followers. It was some good info I heard there and most importantly the thing about attracting followers. The basic advice for this is to setup a personal schedule when you'll be streaming games and FOLLOW THAT SCHEDULE! It doesn't matter if I stream only for 1 day a week for 2 hours or every day, all day long - just keep true to the schedule and followers will come by their self then.

Looking at my current agenda and openings to stream on scheduled times, I can only come up with Friday around noon (Central European Times - GMT+1, GMT+2 now with summertime). The only problem though, the rest of the month I'm pretty busy on hospital visits and other appointments, making me not able to setup a schedule for the rest of the month.
Alternatively I could pick Wednesday as my weekly streaming day to get started (the other day each week I certainly can make time), but next week I have an appointment at the hospital and it would get me started only one week earlier. But with the summer kicking in here in The Netherlands, I'll open the doors to the street for some fresh air an catch some sun rays, Wednesday around noon would be a problem. That afternoon the schools are out and there will be a lot of extra noise from the street to enter the mic (and this the stream).

Along with that, I decided to buy a gaming headset to supply myself with a good mic. The mic used in my webcam just sucks and is extremely sound sensitive, and with OBS not having a 'minimum activation level' for a mic, you really hear everything. Using a good headset, the mic near the mouth is less sensitive and you'll hear less environmental noise (which might make the Wednesday an option to stream as well).
The headphone that I have ordered is a Sennheiser PC 320 G4ME. I know Sennheiser to be a good brand and if the range used for their headphones become a bit wider the sound will become a lot better as well. This one has a range of 15Hz to 23Khz. Though this headphone will in no way be comparebly with my (30 year old) BeyerDynamic DT990 headphones, I think this Sennheiser one will give me a pretty good gaming experience...

Please stay tuned to more info on definitive dates for my streaming schedule both here and on my twitch page!

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Elita: Dangerous and VoiceAttack
10 May 2015
Posted in MMORPGs

I watched GeekyGamerGirl on twitch two days ago and she kinda got me into Elite: Dangerous. Mostly because of the speech recognition that can be added with VoiceAttack. I realize that's an extra $8 on top of Elite: Dangerous, but looking how she played the game it's certainly worth it!

So I downloaded the VoiceAttack software, dropped GlaDOS in it (pretty scary thought though to have her run my ship's computer ) and got started with it. Not having bought VoiceAttack yet, I had to make a selection of what I'd use for now. Of course 'Good morning Sara' was one of them to get GlaDOS booted. Then going through the commands and targeting and next seemed to be handy to get to know GlaDOS (or rather the VoiceAttack software...)

Now here's the problem, I'm a non-native English speaker and when you (the reader, not the VoiceAttack software) and I have a conversation you'll know what I mean. But that darn VoiceAttack software... A command as 'target' is understood as 'direct' most of the times. I know I could simply change that in the VoiceAttack software, but the thing has to learn to listen to me instead of me kinda lying to it. Alternatively I decided to use 'lock' to select my target, but the VoiceAttack software thinks I'm saying 'log'. Though that's an understandable mistake, I'll go for that right now.

Having played a lot with the VoiceAttack software yesterday, I figured it might also be my Windows administrative localized settings. I had set my Windows (7 Ulitmate x64 BTW) to English (UK) because I hate all those weird US differences to the language (armor instead of armour to name one). Switching the administrative localized settings to English (US) *Blegh* kinda did solve a lot of listening problems for the VoiceAttack software. I know that I didn't learn Cambridge English at school, but I thought that I spoke generally English English instead of US English. Well, it seems that my accent itself is more US English than English English Guess that's one of the things to happen to non-native English speakers who watch way too much tv and listen to way too many US (music) artists...

Yesterday I gave GlaDOS an other try with the English (US) settings and things went a whole lot better! Aside from a few misunderstandings she's really listening to me, though there's still one problem left. When I say 'Speed 50' the ship's speed should be set to 50%, but instead VoiceAttack hears 'Speed 15' I know it might seem a common thing for misunderstanding but when I say 'Set speed to 50%' GlaDOS understands it and I'm flying on 50% of speed. I know I could set the 50% speed command to be understood as 'Speed 15' as well and I think I might as well add that to VoiceAttack too - it kinda seems silly to tell GlaDOS 'Speed 25', 'Speed 75' and 'Speed 100' along with 'Set Speed to 50%'

And speaking about Elite: Dangerous, me talking to GlaDOS and twitch, I'm seriously thinking to start streaming Elite: Dangerous on a frequent basis with the webcam on and chat along with the viewers. Having looked at GeekyGamerGirl I saw how much fun it could be...

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Pillars of Eternity bought
09 May 2015
Posted in Computer games

I thought that the boxed edition of Pillars of Eternity would be a a DRM free copy of the game, but GOOGLEing it, I only found references to the kickstarter boxed editions that are actually DRM free. The boxed editions that have been released after the game's release will obtain a Steam key instead SO I turned to Good old Games and bought my DRM free digital copy of the game there...

While I already started playing the game with the 'pirated' copy of the game (is it pirated if I really intend to buy the game but have to wait for it's release?) I decided to start anew now that I had the game legally. With that I also decided to stream the game's progress.

Where last time I played a druid and had to get used to the game's mechanics, this time I decided to make a ranger and play the game on normal difficulty. I know, playing a ranger is not really my 'normal' choice of character, but I figured having a companion pet would keep me pretty safe from melee attacks and add my love of RPG pets in general to the game, and I was right about that!

I also noticed while playing that Pillars of Eternity gives you a different game experience with each character class you play. Right after the storm hits that caravan camp (or what remains of it ), with the druid character I had the option to safe the caravan leader and get him to join me through the ruins. As you can see in the video (around 17 minutes) that choice is not there and I have to let the guy die. I'm not sure if this is because I'm playing an other class or that it's because I had a ranged weapon equipped at the moment. It's just small things like this that make a game worth while for me!

As you also can see, there's a huge similarity with the Baldur's Gate game in general. Though the Obsidian team has nothing to do with that game (they are with the Fall Out RPG series and PlaneScape:Torment for the story), I'm glad that they did take this approach. I'm not talking about the whole isometric view here, which the games have in common (PoE is made with the Unity engine BTW), but the build up in acts and the 'paper view' between scenes when you're doing something. I only miss that low narrator's voice that was used in Baldur's Gate though - it would be totally awesome if that was added there

In general I'm very happy with my purchase of Pillars of Eternity, even when it's not a physical box. If you want to follow my progress, you can watch it on on my channel or on DailyMotion (feel free to comment there or here).

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